My mother reads my sex columns.

Shocker #1: Your son doesn’t like girls (come on, not that much of a shocker).

Shocker #2: He’s started dating boys (logical next step).

Shocker #3: He writes detailed accounts of those dates (among other things) and publishes them in a biweekly newspaper column. (Oh. Dear. God.)

“So … I guess you’ve given up that whole running for president thing, huh?”

Actually, I’m determined to be the first gay … in fact … the first sexually liberated king (okay, queen) of the United States.

My mom sends me a little congratulatory e-mail after reading the week’s article, usually referencing some obscure line to let me know she’s absorbed every gory detail.

“I didn’t know you had a thing for librarians.”

“Since when do you have baggage?”

“Never get in a car with people from Manchester.”

“I had an inkling you switched to boxer-briefs.”

“Oh … is THAT what you do at football games?”

The list goes on. I never told my parents I was writing a sex column, of course, but my mother stalks me online. As I imagine it, she climbs out of bed and heads straight for the computer, where she Googles every derivation of my name to see what I’m doing in public. After some coffee, perhaps a scone or some spotted dick, she checks the Yale theatre Web sites. She goes to the gym for a little while, and after a brief shower and a protein shake, she reads the YDN cover-to-cover. So when she read a scene theater review that quoted me with the tag, “Callaghan is a columnist for the News,” she was a bit thunderstruck. He is? Since when? What does he write? So she searched for my moniker in the YDN archives, and began reading my columns. All of them. And I’ve said some things that have made more than one editor cringe, let alone a mother.

She sent me a little note after her afternoon of absorbing all the fine literature: “Congratulations on being cast in that show … since when did you become a columnist for the Daily News?”

My e-mail response: “AHHHHHHHHH. Hahahahahahahahahahaha. What do you think?”

Mom: “They’re really fun, but the subject matter does make a mother blush.”

Me: “I’m glad you like them.”

Mom: “I haven’t told your dad.”

Me: “You can tell him.”

Mom: “No, I don’t think so…”

Me: “You want me to tell him?”

Mom: “Yes.”

Me: “No.”

Mom: “Okay.”

And apart from that brief e-mail exchange, we haven’t discussed it … except for that biweekly one-liner.

My father reads my sex columns.

My mother finally raised the issue over their weekly Friday sushi dinner (their nod to lapsed Catholicism is sushi on Fridays). The condensed version goes something like this:

Mom: “So … Chad has become a columnist for the YDN…”

Dad: “Wait, you know about his column?!”

Mom: “Wait, YOU know about his column?!”

Both: “WHAT?!”

Dad: “I haven’t said anything. I thought he might be embarrassed.”

Mom: “I’ve read them all.”

Dad: “I’ve only read a few.”

Mom: “They’re pretty entertaining.”

Dad: “Among other things.”

Both: “Wow.”

But so far, he hasn’t mentioned it to me. As far as I know, my father doesn’t know that I know that he knows I write a sex and dating column. Well, I guess he does now. Hi, Dad!

It’s the oldest taboo: parents and sex. More than Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas, more than brown shoes and a black belt, more than liquor and beer, parents and sex are two things that definitely don’t mix. At least, they shouldn’t.

Unfortunately, my literary sexual liberation seems to have released my parents from their sexual gag order. Apparently, I’ve opened the floodgates: discussion of bedroom activities is no longer taboo in my household. This is the line: (————); this is my parents crossing the line: (CENSORED). Granted they keep it pretty tame, especially in comparison to my public pronouncements, but one foot over the line is one foot too many. It’s totally a double-standard, but I don’t care. They’re my parents. Every so often, usually after a few glasses of wine and a fabulous home-cooked meal (my dad makes the best beer-can chicken — just shove an open beer can up that chicken’s *ahem* and stick the sucker on the grill), they’ll make an allusion to getting frisky.

Chad: “I’m not that dense. I understand what you’re talking about; I’m not stupid.”

Dad: “Oh, that’s right, you go to YALE.”

Chad: “Yes, I do.”

Dad: [further suggestive allusions followed by a not-so-subtle spanking gesture]

Chad: “Repressing this memory. Repressing this memory. Repressing this memory.”

Mom: “Oh come on, where do you think you came from?”

Chad: “Leaving now. Homework time.”

Mom: “It’s summer.”

Chad: “Bye!”

It’s a twisted little ritual, but I guess I’ve been asking for it. At least they don’t publish their love life … I’m doing it for them. Hi, Mom!

I have friends who say they like to imagine their parents having a healthy sex life. Wouldn’t it be great if we were still having good sex at their age?

No. I’m going to die young and wildly successful … before I hit 30.

I like to imagine that my parents had sex once. My brother was adopted. Some of my friends in grammar school had some pretty attractive parents. I can understand if those kids liked to imagine their parents having a very healthy sex life.

Strike that, still gross.

I can understand if OTHER kids liked to imagine those parents having a very healthy sex life. But when it’s your parents … man, that’s just screwed up. Or knocked up, as our presence proves. The same friend who likes to imagine her parents having a healthy sex life also asked me if gay men have Electra complexes instead of Oedipal ones. Freud would say the anal fixation is complex enough.

I’ve become better friends with my parents since going to college. We drink together, we take vacations together, and we actually enjoy each others’ company. Like my dad said:

“It’s so great when you actually like your sons as people.”

Ditto, Dad.

“And it’s so great when I can actually enjoy your mom as —“

“DAD! NO!”

“As a person. She’s a person, too!”

Yes, she is. A celibate person. My mother is a nun.

Chad Callaghan has never walked in on his parents having sex. He swears.