All you ever wanted to know about the “missionary position”, but were afraid to ask

I had to laugh at the explanation offered by the Straight Dope as to why the sexual intercourse so-called “missionary position” got its name.  I won’t repeat it here, because this is a family-friendly blog and I don’t want to shock those with delicate sensibilities;  but it’s not rude, and it’s funny.  Click over there to read it for yourself.

It reminded me of one of my more amusing encounters when I first came to the United States, on a seven-month church mission tour in 1996.  I was traveling in clergy attire;  black shoes, socks, trousers and blazer, and a black shirt with a so-called “clergy collar“.  I happened to land in Chicago, after traveling from South Africa via Amsterdam.  In those pre-9/11 days, security was more relaxed, but it was still apparently the practice for customs and immigration officials to randomly select a few passengers and interview them more closely about why they had come to the USA.  My name ended up on that list, so along with half a dozen others, I was ushered into an examination room. It held a long wood counter, behind which sat uniformed officers with clipboards and pens.  They fired questions at the interviewees, noting their replies.

I happened to be sent to a position occupied by a young female agent. She began running down the list of questions:  name, address, age, etc.  She didn’t look up at me at all, only down at her clipboard as she wrote down my replies.  The crunch came when she asked, “Employer?”  I replied, “Catholic Church.”  Without missing a beat, she demanded, “Position?”

I couldn’t resist it.  I replied, solemnly, “Missionary.”

She looked up angrily, ready to rend me for being a disgusting, sexist pig, only to find me tapping my clergy collar with my forefinger.  I repeated, mildly, but with emphasis, “Missionary.”

She blushed scarlet.  Every other agent behind the desk suddenly had a coughing fit, or had to stop what they were doing and lower their heads, shoulders shaking.  Before I knew it, another agent tapped me on the shoulder.  “That’s all, padre.  Thank you.  Have a nice visit to the USA.”  He ushered me out, as quickly as possible.

I’ve never forgotten that.  I still giggle at the memory.



  1. Good for you!

    My gut reaction when they ask me "Are you a US citizen?" is to counter with "Do I look and sound like a Mexican?" Then, I have quickly stifle myself because Americans come in all sizes, shapes and ethnicities. I wonder how many times they see that stiffing and slight glare of 'how dare you ask me such a question' in a day.

  2. Judy,
    I once worked with a former Border Patrol Agent who had a blonde female ask him that very question when he was performing a bus check on the southern border. The agent was a 6-foot blue-eyed blond and both of his parents were born in Mexico. He pointed to his name tag and said, "What does a Mexican look like?"
    Since I've arrested illegal Germans, Swedes, Poles, and even Canadians (among others), I don't find your comeback all that funny.

  3. So, you've been a troublemaker since you first hit the bricks here?

    Well done, sir!
    It explains why you fit right in.

  4. Old 1811 – for what's worth, you missed "… I have [to] quickly stifle myself…".

    Stifle – verb
    2.restrain (a reaction) or stop oneself acting on (an emotion).

  5. In response to the question about why have you come to America, the business traveler said to my coworker, "We are hear to erect an organ."
    My coworker referred him to secondary with the comment, "Is it OK to come to America for erections?"
    Yes, it was for a church's new pipe organ.

  6. Judy,

    Actually, I did see that. I was just saying that I think the "comeback" is inappropriate, whether or not you actually said it. (And, of course, the blonde in my story actually said it.)
    But as always, it's America. You go to your church and I'll go to mine. But if nobody appreciates my stories, I'll never get to tell them about the 400-pound murderer.
    Vaya con Dios.

  7. That reminds me of the time my family and I were mocking the poorly-written job application that our former church sent out to prospective music ministers (the previous minister was horrifically libeled and slandered by the then-new Senior Pastor and the elder board, which was what led my family to ultimately leave that church).

    Anyway, Mom, Dad, Little Brother, and I were sitting around the dinner table, snarkily (it's a word, goshdangit!) commenting on the quality of the application, when we reached Question Six, which read, and I quote: "What is your favorite position?"

    I thought it right away, but before I could say anything, my father, my ultra-prudish, ultra-straight-laced, ultra-socially-conservative Father said, with a completely straight face, "Missionary."

    All three of us looked at him, jaws agape, for at least ten seconds. Then Little Brother and I absolutely lost it. Mostly because neither of us cold believe Dad had actually said it. And Mom, predictably, didn't get it, so she, predictably, asked me what was so funny. I pointed at my father and said, "I AM NOT EXPLAINING THAT! I AM NOT EXPLAINING THAT! YOU SAID IT, YOU TELL HER WHAT IT MEANS!" That clued her in, and she wasn't sure whether to start laughing herself or start reaming Dad out for telling such a dirty joke at the dinner table.

    In the end, I think the four of us couldn't stop laughing for a good ten minutes.

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