Both of Rory’s parents chuckled at the imagined picture of their son and Mr. Ludtmann. Hearing her husband’s laugh, Susan relaxed too. “Mike, I feel like you’re blaming me for this whole thing, and that’s unfair.”

“Not blaming you, Susan. I just feel like I was caught not knowing what was going on.”

“I should have told you, I know. I just feel like it’s impossible to talk to you about this kind of thing.”

“Why, Susan?” I asked.

“Well, it’s never a discussion. Mike acts like he knows what should happen. Rory tried to talk with his dad about it.”

“How did that go, Mike?”

“Not very far, I guess, ’cause I didn’t know much about what was going on. I figured he might be having sex with Jen when he brought those books home from your office. Uh, I read them, too. I was looking for answers, I guess, trying to find a way to talk to him. I knew it shouldn’t all fall on Susan.”

I thought about Rory’s thirst for information, how helpful this dad might have been. “Did you ask him how things were going with Jen?”

“Maybe I think I’ve got to have all the answers. A simple question, ‘How are things going?’—I tried. I did say I’d be willing to talk about any questions he had, but I didn’t ask.”

“Where’s it stand now, after he was caught at Jen’s house?”

“Well, I yelled at him after I got that phone call. I don’t want him having Jen sleep over, but I don’t want to sound like Mr. Ludtmann, either.”

“Is there a way you could spend some time with him?” I asked.

“I could. Maybe I’ll volunteer to be the parent chaperon for that away football game he’s got coming up. I suppose we could talk about the whole thing.”

“You both read those books. You could talk about them.”

“Yeah, even getting started with the sex stuff is hard with Rory.”

“You don’t have to be an expert. Just try to start a conversation with him.”

“For me, that’s the hard part.”

“Mike, that’s the most difficult thing for a lot of parents.”

Mike is like most dads, and even some moms, parents that have trouble even beginning a conversation with their teens about sex. For Mike, it was easier to tell Rory what to do—’Don’t have Jen sleep over’—rather than find out how things were going.

I did hear back from Rory after he and his dad drove to the weekend football game. They had managed a conversation about sex. Mike stayed off the topic of Mr. Ludtmann, and Rory didn’t ask if he could have Jen sleep over…. Apparently, Mike shared information and, even more important, some of his own stories. The conversations had begun.