One Saturday morning, I raped my grandmother’s couch. I was twelve, though, so I’m not sure it was rape. You know what? Let’s call it Stupidity.
Disclaimer: If you’re offended by explicit language and graphic descriptions of sexual activity, stop reading now.
If, however, you’re holding onto guilt about some crazy weird sex shit you’ve got going on (whether it be in your mind, your bedroom, your grandmother’s bedroom), read on and know that you are NOT alone.
My grandmother Nana was a very nervous person. All the old home movies that feature Nana, you’ll see that she puts her fist in her mouth and keeps it there, biting down on it hard as if it’s some kind of salve to ease her nerves.
You could not blame Nana for her anxieties. In 1941, my Cuban grandfather basically said to his wife, “Yyyeah, this husband-slash-father-of-two thing? Not really workin’ for me.” (He said this in Spanish).
And then he ditched for the States, leaving Nana to raise two girls on the island of Cuba by herself. Not a whole lot of “abandoned women support groups” in Havana for Nana to attend then. She struggled. She got nervous. A lot.
In 1974, Nana was hit hard with cancer. We used to visit her in the hospital when I was a child. My brother would warn me not to laugh when she farted. “The cancer medicine makes her fart, John! If you laugh at her farts, I’ll fuckin’ kill you!”
After Nana died, my family moved to a big house in Larchmont, New York. The house was big because Nana was supposed to live with us but unlike many happenings in Larchmont, Nana’s cancer and subsequent death was not planned.
My bedroom inherited Nana’s big green couch so I could have friends over for sleepovers. Nana’s couch was sturdy, heavy and it had two thick gigantic back pillows like giant erasers and they fit together like stiff puzzle pieces and together they formed this tight CRACK.
My mother took very good care of that couch; she took good care of everything. She was always maintaining and cleaning. In fact, my mother cleaned before the cleaning lady cleaned. My mother was to our cleaning lady what a fluffer is to a porn actor. She had made up words. Instead of dustpan, it was “the scooper upper”. Also, Comet was the answer to everything. She scrubbed out everything with Comet. I swear she looked up recipes that used Comet.
Me? I masturbated.
My mother scrubbed, I rubbed.
But it took a very long time for me to actually RELEASE anything when I masturbated. I don’t know why that is. You’d think that once a pubescent boy starts masturbating, the Department of Semen would be fully ready for action. Not so with me. Perhaps it had something to do with the Energy Crisis.
I used whatever I could for visual aids. Closing my eyes and reaching down to touch myself, I would visualize the scene in “Planet of the Apes” where Charlton Heston and his fellow astronauts get naked and jump into the pristine pond together. Or I would look at the back section of The New York Post (my father would bring it home from the city), because there was always a tiny ad in the back for gay porn theaters in Times Square that featured “All-Male” cinema with Air-Conditioning!
One Saturday morning, like 1976, I woke up with a hard-on bigger than my grandfather’s drinking problem. This hard-on was ripping through my Star Wars pajamas, almost ripping the Millenium Falcon in half.
And I just HAD to put the erection SOMEWHERE. I felt like my mother, when she redecorated the house. She’d be holding some giant planter or something in her arms. “Now where the heck am I gonna put this thing?”
That was me with that erection. Just where the heck was I gonna put that thing?
And then there it was, the place I where would put my erection. That CRACK between the green pillows of Nana’s couch. The crack was tight, waiting for me. “Fuck me, John,” the crack seemed to hearken. “Call me, I’ll arrive! When you’re ready we can share the wine.”
I was ready.
I lifted my skinny frame up, pulled down my Star Wars pajamas…
and proceeded to…
Insert my penis into the crack.
And I started to fuck that crack as best I could.
And I was close to some kind of release…
I peed into the crack.
I just knew I had to…
Oh my God. I urinated into the crack between the green pillows of Nana’s couch.
I looked at what I had done, and then…
I went downstairs, heated up a Grape Pop-Tart and sat down to watch “Scooby Doo’s All-Star Laff-A-Lympics” on ABC.
I went from deep horror and shame to excitement for Scooby Doo. Funny how that happens when you’re twelve.
Later, I returned to my bedroom and there was my mother, grasping a can of Comet and sniffing Nana’s couch.
“DID YOU WEE-WEE ON NANA’S COUCH?!?!” she howled at me. (Wee-wee was my mother’s made-up word for urine).
“For Godsakes, John Dayton Cerna, did you wee-wee on Nana’s couch?”
“No,” I lied. “It’s–It’s–um– I meant to tell you, Mom — um, that’s Edie-poo’s wee-wee.”
Now, Edie-poo was our family cat. When we first got the cat, my brother Tommy said (with some disdain), “All that cat does is eat ‘n poo! Eat ‘n poo, that’s all that cat does!” so my Mom named the cat “Eat-’N-Poo” which evolved over time into “Edie-poo”.
“WHAT?!” my mother cried to me, shocking me out of my Saturday morning. “EDIE-POO’s WEE-WEE?! You’re telling me that Edie-poo backed into the space between the pillows and wee-wee’d?! Why would she wee-wee here in this crack?!”
“Mom, I don’t know,” I lied, “but it was Edie-poo! She just backed into the pillows and peed. It was crazy!”
Poor Edie-poo. She wasn’t even in the room to defend herself. I imagined her completely livid, talking like that cat on Mr. Rogers. “Meow-are you fucking kidding me-meow? Meow-you throw me under the bus-meow, you couch-raping sex addict meow-meow?”
I could see Nana looking down in horror, biting her fist. “That little faggot fucked my couch! He laughed at my cancer farts and now he fucked my couch!”
My mother sniffed again and again, like Dian Fossey sniffing gorilla piss.
“This is not Edie-poo’s wee-wee, John Dayton Cerna,” she said quite sternly. “This is human wee-wee. Edie-poo’s wee-wee has an acidic odor!”
The acidic odor was the glove that didn’t fit. The scent of Edie-poo’s wee-wee was her strongest defense. But I stuck with my Edie-poo defense. I didn’t budge. I was like a Republican; I just did not break.
“Gonya God-aho!” my mother cried again. “This is not Eedipoo’s wee-wee! You’re going to tell me, young man, why on EARTH you defiled my poor mother’s couch!”
And then it all came up…
this shame inside me, this embarrassment, watching my mother kneeling on the couch, sniffing, muttering, “En el nombre de Dios, sé que esto no es de Eeedipoo pipí, ¿qué le pasa a mi hijo que iba a hacer una cosa así?”
My mother held her glove-covered hand up to hit me.
I stood there and I shook.
I wanted to say, “I’m sorry. I am litter, I am filth. I peed on Nana’s couch, I did, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”
something amazing happened. My mother quietly said, “Okay, honey, just go. I’ll take care of it.” When she said those nine words, her voice had a sage and soothing quality, like Yoda’s did when he talked about the Force.
And with her yellow latex gloves, my mother scrubbed the wee-wee out forever and never brought the subject up again.
When I was 42, I talked about it with her. “Can you imagine, Mom, if you hadn’t forgiven me? If you had punished me? You really could have fucked me in the head.”
And she replied, “Oh honey, you were already fucked in the head. You raped your grandmother’s couch, for Christ’s sake.”
She was kidding, of course.
But she taught me two things.
1. Forgive yourself for your crazy sex shit. Even if you’re into furniture.
And 2. Laugh about it.
Because in the end,
All will be erased anyway.
Seriously. One day, sooner than you think, this entire planet we get by on will get erased…
just scrubbed out forever…
by a big
Some years later, my family moved to a smaller house in Larchmont and Nana’s green couch got put out on the street. I remember seeing it there on the curb, so lonely, so done-in for. Kind of like Nana was in that hospital room, all by herself, dying of cancer and farting uncontrollably but still so happy to see me.
If I could go back in time, I’d walk up to Nana’s couch. Gingely I would whisper to it, “You were the first, Sleeper Couch. And you’ll always be the first. Thank you, Sleeper Couch. I’ll never forget you.
JD Cerna is a GLAAD-Media Award-Nominated Writer and Performer.