The first (and most important) rule in the good girls’ code was simple.
“Don’t have sex.”
Not because of health risks, the possibility of pregnancy, or emotional ineptitude.
“Because good girls wait until marriage.”
“Correct, anak. If you don’t have respect for yourself, a man certainly won’t.”
“What if you’re engaged? You and your future husband love and are committed to each other, so why can’t you do it then?”
“If you’re waited all that time, it’s sayang to have sex then.”
“But if you’re going to be together forever anyway, then how is it a waste?”
“Just listen to me, I know from experience.”
Being your mother’s best friend meant being privy to things a daughter should never have to know. Compartmentalizing had become second nature. While Mom would confide in me constantly, I knew better than to tell her everything.
“Anak, last time I was here, the salespeople kept bothering me.”
“It’s Victoria’s Secret, Mom. I’m pretty sure they get paid on commission.”
“They kept following me around the store, asking to help me find what I was looking for.”
“That’s their job.”
“Why are they so nosy, anyway?”
“Why do you care if they know what you’re buying? What did you need, a new bra?”
“Well, I was looking for crotch-less panties.”
Silently, I cursed scientists for pursuing worthwhile research instead of creating brain bleach.
“They don’t sell those anymore. You’ll have to buy them online at from a different company.”
Setting boundaries with my mother became increasingly difficult from college onward. She claimed she wanted to know about my life, yet overreacted whenever I was upfront.
“I just wish you could be happy for me.”
“I’m supposed to be happy you lost your virginity to your boyfriend?”
“God! All those years I talked to you, you never heard me.”
“No, Mom. I listened, I just don’t agree with you.”
“It’s because of your friends, isn’t it? They’re all having premarital sex, so you wanted to be like them!”
“I think it’s sad that you think I’m worthless because of the status of my hymen. I’m still me.”
“You always said you would wait until you were married, like I did.”
“Yet you still harass Dad about his ex-girlfriends from thirty years ago.”
“So you’re mocking me and my choices?”
“Maybe it would’ve been good for you to date and sleep with other people.”
“I’m not a child anymore. I haven’t been for a long time.”