My mother never trusted my brother and I in the bathtub alone for too long.
She knew our three-year-old, TV-watching brains were hotwired for action and violence.
If left alone for too long, she knew one of us could easily become the victim of drowning, suffocation by shower curtain, you name it.
Soon, mom would be coming through the bathroom door.
To make sure her boys hadn’t killed each other.
Before that moment, though, my brother and I had already safely gotten out of the tub, and were standing wet and naked, discussing that old cartoon, Underdog.
Specifically, Sweet Polly Purebred.
“What’s that thing between her legs?” I said.
My brother shrugged.
This had become an on-going topic of conversation.
My brother and I were completely mesmerized by that strange upside down triangle-of-sorts we’d spotted between Polly’s legs.
The triangle just below her belly button and slightly above the place where her thighs met.
The triangle was nothing like anything we’d ever seen on TV superheroes like Superman.
Or Batman and Robin.
Those were guys with real crotch bulges.
Like they were packing rocks in their underwear.
But not Polly—and that understated triangle between her legs.
To better improve our understanding of that triangle, my brother I figured we should try to recreate it.
“I’ll go first,” I said.
I bent slightly forward, tried tucking my tiny, soap-slippery penis between my thighs.
It sprang back out.
My brother laughed.
After a few more attempts, I finally achieved my goal.
“There’s that triangle,” said my brother. “Like Polly.”
“Now you try,” I said.
He imitated the pose.
“Look,” I said. “We’re Polly.”
In unison, we sang: “We’re Polly. We’re Polly.”
That’s when our mother came through the bathroom door.
“What are you doing?” she screamed.
Since I didn’t fully understand that I’d just transformed myself into one of her new twin daughters, I was stunned by her reaction.
I snapped to attention. My brother snapped to attention.
Our tiny penises sprang out from between our legs.
“Don’t ever let me see you do that again,” said mom.
“But what did we do wrong?” I said.
Mom began crying.
My brother and I began crying.
Through my tears, I again asked that question: “What did we do wrong?”
All mom could say was: “Just don’t ever, ever do that again.”
Without another word, she dried us off, got us dressed and put us to bed.
Alone in our dark room, I whispered to my brother: “We did something bad.”
And so that night we made a pact.
We never watched Underdog again.
We never, ever wanted to be Polly Purebred again.