I can’t believe I had to explain the phrase “put out or get out” to my 17-year-old daughter. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad, but I definitely felt the jagged edges of the generation gap.

While on an evening walk so I could enjoy my new contact lens prescription and hence the bluebirds, distant leaves on distant trees, and neighbors getting out of strangers’ cars, I found myself laughing at an old joke from when I was 17. For a split second, I’d wondered why the neighbor was being put out of the car until I saw his gas can in his hand and his gas-less car nearby.

I explained to Shannon that during my high school years, the one thing a girl never wanted to hear from her date was “Put out or get out.” In other words, “If I don’t get sex, you can walk home.”

The joke was the guy who’d heard all his buddies bragging about the girls they’d “had,” and so he got the homecoming queen out to a lonely parking spot at the end of their date and nervously told the amorous girl, “Get out or I’ll put you out.”

Hey, it was funny in 1979.

“I don’t get it,” Shannon said. “It’s kinda rude.”

I had to explain that being stranded on a dark country road was a real fear for teen girls in South Georgia back then. After all, there were bobcats in those woods.

Seriously. This one time, in a corn field around midnight under a full moon, I got furious at my date and headed back to his pickup truck—and realized 6 feet from the truck that there was a bobcat standing between me the open door to the cab. Good thing I could run faster than my date, but I digress. Yes, there were real bobcats in those woods and no girl wanted to get stranded.

I explained that back then, we girls would keep a dime and later a quarter inside our shoe in case we got stranded and had to walk to a payphone—and yes, I ruined a pair of mauve suede six-inch heels cutting across a freshly plowed peanut field to the nearest building with a phone, but that’s another story, too. Yeah, just country boys and girls gettin’ down on th’ farm.

I had to explain about payphones, too, and that the coins weren’t simply something for us to jam up the guy’s nostril if he threatened to put me out.

“That would never happen now,” Shannon said, realizing how times and technology have changed teenage dating. “If a guy said that to me, I’d just pick up my cell phone and call you and say, “Hey, Mom, can you come get me, ‘cuz this bitch is acting ridiculous!”

Yeah, that’s my girl.


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