Nothing Up My Sleeve

Jon Gallagher

The Question….


Okay, so I’m sitting at the kitchen table, eating a stack of pancakes smothered in syrup, watching my four year old daughter snarf down a bagel with cream cheese.  It’s a familiar scene at the Gallagher house that happens about once every 24 hours, usually in the morning, with no hint that the world is about to change with one simple question.

“Daddy,” the four year old begins, making sure she has my undivided attention.

“Yes, Sweetie?”

“Can I see your penis?”

Pancakes with syrup practically came shooting out my nose.

It took a few seconds to put my eyeballs back in my head and reattach my jaw.  There are some questions you are never prepared to answer and this one just shot to the top of the list.

As soon as I was able to regain the power of speech, I said in a rather hoarse voice, “What?!?!”  Maybe I had misunderstood.  Maybe she had asked for peanuts.  Or a pencil.  Or ANYTHING else.

“Can I see your penis?”

Nope.  I hadn’t misunderstood.

“Sweetie, where’d you hear that word?”

I wouldn’t be getting an answer right away.  She was too busy laughing.  I’m not sure if she was laughing at my reaction or the funny sounding word she’d just produced, but one thing was certain: she had an uncontrollable case of the giggles.

I excuse myself from the table and walk as calmly as I can to retrieve my cell phone.  Meanwhile, from the kitchen, I can hear, in between fits of laughter, “I want to see your penis.”  This further confirms that I didn’t misunderstand what she had just said.

While we do have family members who have babies, none of them are male.  I could immediately rule out my daughter seeing a baby boy getting his diaper changed.

My daughter is also enrolled in the Bright Futures program, so there’s a chance that one of the little boys in her class has mentioned this particular part of the anatomy to her.  Whichever the case, I decided that I needed to find out more.

I call my wife and interrupt her commute to work.  “Honey,” I say, with as much control as I can.  “Do you know what our daughter just said to me?”  When I tell her, I hear laughter, followed immediately by what sounds like her cell phone being dropped.

So far, I’m the only one who hasn’t found this development in my daughter’s short life to be side-splitting hilarious.

I finally get the story from my wife. 

We’ve enrolled my daughter in swimming lessons at the Riverplex in Peoria.  So far, the only real thing she’s learned is how to get wet, but that’s beside the point.

The Riverplex is a ultramodern facility that features all sorts of fitness stuff like classes in aerobics, treadmills and stationary bikes, a running track, several basketball courts, a water playground, and enough swimming pools that would accommodate a small town.  Swimming lessons are given for all ages.  They’ve spared no expense in making this place easy and fun to use.

One of the things they’ve done is install dressing rooms, not only for men and women, but also for families.  The family dressing room is meant for people like me who take their daughters, or mothers who take their sons.  Those dressing rooms are partitioned off so that members of the opposite sex don’t get a free peep show.  One of the rules of the Riverplex is that if you have a child who is opposite YOUR sex, you must use the family dressing room.

The night before all this started, my daughter had had a swimming lesson.  One mother, who was either too stupid to read the rules, or was just stupid enough to think that they didn’t apply to her and her son, decided to use the women’s locker room to change her son from his bathing suit into his street clothes.  The kid was probably five or six, according to my wife’s calculations.

When the woman stripped her son of his swim trunks, he was as naked as the day he was born.  Unfortunately, he was a little more active than the day he was born and as soon as he was totally in the buff, he started parading around the locker room, showing off his stuff.

My wife said that my daughter got a real good look while his mommy beamed a proud look at her son.  Naturally, my daughter was curious about the added equipment that the boy had that she, of course, did not have. 

This prompted the discussion between my wife and daughter about the difference between boys and girls, and what that thing is called.  My wife said that she kept it simple enough that she didn’t think my daughter would even remember it 24 hours later.

No, but she sure as heck remembered it 14 hours later!

My wife tends to share my outspokenness so I ask what she said to the mother of the exhibitionist.


She was too busy having the conversation with my daughter.

I called the Riverplex shortly after hanging up from my wife and voiced my objection to a little boy in the women’s locker room in a very diplomatic way.  I explained what had just happened at the breakfast table and again, I was rewarded with laughter. 

I also told them that if it happened again, my money would be finding a new home rather than with them.  That seemed to get their attention.  At least, the woman I was talking with quit laughing, then got very serious.

I accompanied my wife and daughter to the next swim class.  This time there were explicit signs posted on the doors of both the men’s and women’s locker rooms, telling patrons that if they had a child with them of the opposite sex, they MUST use the family locker room.

Sometimes the squeaky wheel really does get the grease.

And for those perverts who are wondering, no, I didn’t show her.

For the rest of you, some weeks after the incident, yes, I now find it funny.  Funny enough to write about anyway.  Just as long as it doesn’t happen again.