It was a typical evening dinner at my parents’ house. My brother and I both were both in town visiting, so my mother did what she does and cooked a huge, tremendous meal. Really, it was full of love.
At my mother’s table, any topic of conversation can come into play. Having four brothers and too many nephews to keep count, the topics tend to lean in one direction. In typical Castle fashion on this particular evening, the conversation turned that corner.
It doesn’t really matter how the word queef was brought up. Actually it does, but some might take offense to it, so I’m going to leave that little detail out so as to not upset anyone.
But it happened. Someone said queef. It was my mom, and the boys in the house lost their minds. Multiple mouths spat tea across the table, plates upturned and a roar of laughter echoed across the golden plains of West Texas.
I looked down at my plate avoiding any kind of eye contact with anyone in my family. Anyone.
“What’s so funny?” My sweet mom asked.
My thirteen year old nephew whispered, “Nana said queef.”
I squelched the laughter I was keeping at bay.
Another nephew choked on his fried okra. I watched my brother beat him on the back while focusing intently on his corn on the cob.
“What is so funny?” Mom asked again, laughing along with the rest of us who had now lost any resemblance of control.
Tears poured out of my brother’s eyes onto his red cheeks.
My dad laughed his one-of-a-kind laugh. We were a mess. All of us.
“Is queef a bad word?” Mom said again
“Oh my god, Nana said queef again,” my older nephew said.
“Stop saying queef, Mom,” I managed to get out through bursts of laughter.
“Why? What’s queef?” My mom asked.
The sound of laughter and silverware scratching plates ceased.
Everyone looked at me. The only girl.
Like it was my job to explain female bodily functions to MY MOM!
“I’m not telling her,” I said to my brother.
“You have to. I can’t,” he said, shaking his head.
“I CAN’T EITHER.”
“You have to, Mandi.”
“Tell me,” my mom said.
“Tell her,” my dad chimed in.
“No, you tell her, Dad.” I said to him. He shook his head at me.
We were all still sporadically laughing at this point, but the mood in the room had gotten a little more…tense.
I took a big drink of my sweet tea (the strongest liquid courage you’ll find in my mom’s house) and walked over to where my mom sat at the table.
I leaned in and whispered, “a vaginal fart.”
A little louder this time, “a vaginal fart.”
“Mandi, you’re gonna have to talk louder and quit laughin’. I can’t understand you.”
I cupped my hands around my mouth and said quietly into my mother’s 74 year old ear, “A queef is a fart that comes out of your vagina, Mom.”
Her blue eyes widened, and immediately, she filled the room with the best sound on Earth, her laugh.
I returned to my seat and started to put a bite of mashed potatoes into my mouth when my dad said, “So, what is it?”