Dad, What's a Brothel?
Let me just be REAL honest with you. I was a prude for most of my life. And honestly, there’s nothing wrong with that. But bottom line for me is that my life didn’t have nearly as much color until I… just basically became less of a prude J
I remember coming home for Christmas break during my first year of college… I went to a party with a bunch of friends from high school and had a beer. ONE BEER. I nursed that sucker all night. People were literally SHOCKED to see me with a beer in my hand. “CLAIRE STEADMAN WITH A BEER?!?!? WHAT IS HAPPENING TO THIS WORLD?!?!?” Part of me loved doing something that was unexpected, and part of me felt really guilty for drinking under age.
If you knew my dad, you would know that he was the COMPLETE OPPOSITE of a prude. He did all the things. He lived for being a rebel and ruffling feathers. We had an unconventional relationship, but we were always kindred spirits. He was an artist in every sense of the word. Stubborn, hilarious and gentle. And he totally got me. Which also means he LIVED to make me uncomfortable and would take any chance he got to break me out of my shell a little.
Our road trip from L.A. to Eugene was no exception. I was 20, and he was moving back to Eugene to be with my grandparents. I had the summer off so I told him I’d come down and drive with him back to Oregon.
Have you ever driven through the Sierra Nevada Desert? Freakin DESOLATE is the only word I can think of. Although, most deserts are likely described that way. Anyway, we were on day 2 of our trip and this was before the days of GPS on our phones. So I was trying to navigate a real life paper map and at one point I realized that we were lost. Like really lost. Like driving around in circles lost. Dad was convinced we were, in fact, NOT lost. Until we ended up at this ONE intersection for the fourth time. He finally acquiesced to my request of pulling over so we could both look at the map together. We found a random lot that seemed like a good place to stop with a grey, rundown, one story building. I found it odd that there was this random building in the middle of NOWHERE, and when I looked up, I read the sign on the building out loud:
COTTONTAIL BUNNY RANCH
My dad chuckled – the kind of chuckle that meant he knew something I didn’t – with his whole body.
You guys, I didn’t know what a brothel was. And I think he knew I didn’t know. Because I probably reacted in a way that I thought we just pulled up to a regular gas station or a dollar store. So I said (and I’ll never forget this moment for as long as I live): Dad, what’s a brothel?
Yep, I asked my dad was a brothel was.
WITHOUT MISSING A BEAT, he said: Well honey, that’s the kind of place where, if you have $50, a nice young lady would…
STOP RIGHT THERE. DON’T SAY ANYTHING ELSE. I GET IT.
He was belly laughing. In fact, I don’t know if I’d ever seen him laugh that hard. I remember him telling me that day how proud he was that HE was the one that taught me what a brothel was.
I remember saying to him how appropriate it was that it was him. He taught me all the inappropriate things.
In 2015 at his memorial service, I gave the eulogy. Until the moment I stepped on the stage, I had no idea what I’d say. I could hear his voice telling me to tell the standing-room-only audience that story. So I did. And we belly laughed.