You’ve got parents. If you’ve got parents, chances are they have fucked. If they’re still married, it’s possible they currently fuck each other. If they’re divorced, they probably fuck other people, and with a kind of gleeful urgency that had long ago deteriorated between them because you–like all children–are a selfish, needy, boner-killing little monster.

But just because you know in the back of your head that you are in fact the byproduct of sexual congress involving your mother and father doesn’t mean you’re at all comfortable with the thought of them having sex. Nor should you be, because we as children construct a beautiful narrative in which our parents are saints with no desire for pleasure and, separate from that, everyone should really just give up seeking physical gratification of any kind once they hit forty, and the ones who don’t all become those terrifying old ladies outside dive bars smoking Capris and aiming hungry looks at drunk guys in denim jackets as their skin weeps off their faces.

Unfortunately, all parents fuck (except mine). We all lie to ourselves and pretend it’s not a thing, and if this were an advice column, I’d say charge ahead with that logic: although you exist because your parents had sex, they don’t have sex anymore (the Gloss cannot abide the legal ramifications of the Misanthropologist being an advice column, though they have not explained to me why). But today’s column is not about the fact that all parents fuck (well, yours), it’s about how to grapple with what happens when you accidentally interrupt their fucking.

Let’s first tell a story: A friend of mine was on a family trip to London when he was in high school. Enjoying a night on the town, he made an impromptu stop back at the hotel room for his jacket. His parents were supposed to be at some restaurant nearby, no doubt paying loads of money for terrible food. He opened the door and found himself confronted with his dad mounting his mom. On the couch. Like savages.

Our friend walked into a terrible situation, I think we can all agree. What he did next was impressive and we should all follow his lead, by turning lemons-that-look-like-our-parents-fucking into lemonade. So: his parents scrambled off each other. After a beat of silence, standing in the doorway, he said, “I’m really sorry… I was short on cash.” His father peeled a hundred pounds out of his wallet and told him not to come back. For a long time.

We should all be so lucky. Because our friend calmly assessed the situation, determined the best course of action and then made a series of silent, rapid-fire decisions, he ultimately profited from the nightmare that was walking in on his parents mid-coitus. Despite the face full of dad-peen, he made one hundred quid. Even back then the pound was like two times the dollar. So, that my friends, is what we call a wash.

Now. If you were to find yourself in this same lucid nightmare, no longer able to deny what has long been a vague truth unacknowledged, you’ll be glad to have memorized this extremely handy checklist of What to Do When You Walk In On Your Parents Fucking (And How to Profit From it).

1. Breathe. Breath deeply. In that initial moment of shock and abject horror, it will feel like all the air has been sucked out of the room. There is a scientific reason for this: it is actually the full force of your fragile web of lies crashing down around you. So, instead of dropping to your knees and cursing this godless plane of existence, you must saturate your lungs with beautiful, life-giving oxygen. This will better enable you to act with prudence in the crucial coming moments.
2. Clear your head. It is at this point, a litany of questions will flood your already over-stimulated brain. They will resemble this: how did I get here? What did I do to deserve this? Why does it look like that? You need to purge these questions from your head, because histrionic self-pity will get your nowhere, neither out of this situation nor into $100.
3. Make your presence known. If you expect to gain anything from this, you musn’t turn tail and run. If you do, your parents may never know what damage their selfish and disgusting behavior has caused, in which case they will not ply you with gifts and money.
4. Try lightening the mood with a one liner If your parents have a sense of humor, this could go over really well. Like, “Hey, did anybody order a pizza?” or if you’re really playing in the big leagues, you could make a cheesy face and say, “Need a hand?” (this is exactly the reason the Misanthropologist is not an advice column)
5. Be brave. Tell yourself: they’re supposed to be more careful and what they have done is unacceptable. You have the advantage. Your parents fucking is actually like a bear: no matter how terrifying, it’s more scared of you than you are of it. Remember this.
6. Extort them. They are weak now. Your parents want you to believe they are saintly, non-sexual beings whose only pleasure in life is supporting you. In other words, this is a prime opportunity because they’ll do anything to keep that lie alive. Think of whatever you want and casually mention you were just looking for it, be it money, jewelry, a nice meal, whatever.

If for some reason you forget this list in the heat of that terrible moment, lucky for you, your parents’ excruciating embarrassment has a half life. So: if you drop the ball and run away, just wait it out for a couple days and give them a false sense of security, then lock yourself in your room and refuse to eat. They will totally give you money.
In closing, interrupting your parents amidst the physical act of love may resemble a perilous sink or swim situation, but instead of clawing your eyes out and dropping the ball like Oedipus, realize you’ve actually stumbled onto fertile ground and can make some quick cash. You deserve it.