Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Old Man from Sverdlovsk

Last week, I went down to the U-district one morning at about 9AM. I was walking down University Way when I saw this old man that I've seen a bazillion times before. He lives in the U-district. I know this because he almost stepped on me once coming out of his apartment building. (I was sitting on the stoop waiting for a friend I was meeting.) I have known for some time that he is Russian, because I've heard him arguing with employees at Magus Books over the prices on old Russian books. He has a WONDERFUL accent. He wears a long coat and a gray cap, which together make him look like he stepped right out of the USSR of the 1970's. His coat is tan and a little dirty, and he has at least one hearing aid. His nose hairs are long and his teeth are kind of ground down, maybe even rotting a little. I think he is kind of a pest for local merchants, but he FASCINATES me. He's like a character out of a Samuel Beckett book! I had never talked to him before, but I've always watched him whenever I've had the chance. I've noticed that he's very friendly, and talks to random strangers on the street all the time. He knows a few words of Chinese and Spanish, so if he meets someone that speaks these languages, he tries his phrases out on them. I've wanted to talk to this old man for years now, but I've been hesitant, partially due to shyness, partially because I'm not sure how sane he is. But after the last time I overheard one of his arguments with a Magus cashier, I vowed I would talk to the man the next time I saw him.

And so it went like this. He was standing on the sidewalk in front of the UW bookstore, squinting at a handwritten sign that was taped to a lamppost. He seemed to really want to know what the thing said, but he appeared baffled by the script it was written in. I hesitated, then walked up to him. "It's Korean, sir." He looked at me, and said, "What language is this? I can't understand it." So I repeated, "It's Korean." Then he asked me what country I come from. I told him, "This one. But I'm from a different state. Colorado." He scratched at the stubble on his chin, and said, "Ah, yes, Boulder, Rocky Mountains, very nice. Yes, but what country do your parents come from?" "This one," I told him. "Yes, but what country did your great grandparents come from?" So I started listing my ancestry. Ireland, Scotland, Germany, The Netherlands, blah blah blah. Then I asked him which country he comes from, even though I already knew. "I am from Soviet Union," he said. "Ohhhhhh, which city?" I asked. "Ah, you know Soviet Union geography!" he said, pleased, even though I had exhibited no proof of such knowledge. "I come from Urals," he said. "Oh, near Yekaterinburg?" I asked. "No, Sverdlovsk," he said. Ah. Yes. The nature of this man's eccentricity was becoming clear. (Yekaterinburg was called Sverdlovsk during the Soviet era.) I told him that I was studying Russian, and he had me tell him all words that I know. "Chelovek. Koshka. Spahseebuh," I listed for him. (Person. Cat. Thanks.) "Ah yes. Spahseebuh, thank you very much!" he said. He then asked me how I learn Russian. I told him that I learn from books, and that I have met a few people from Russia who help me. He said, "You mean people from Soviet Union." "Uh... yes, people from the Soviet Union," I corrected. He then asked me to tell him which cities they all come from. So I listed cities, making sure to say "Leningrad", not "St. Petersburg", and ending with, "And I also have a friend who, like you, is from Yek... I mean... Sverdlovsk." At this point, he INSISTED on writing his name and phone number down for me. "Give my phone number to your friend who is from Urals. He is my countryman, he must call me." I stuttered, "Uh-h-h-h-h, I don't know when I'll see him again, but I'll try to remember to bring your phone number to him." We then spent a few minutes talking about Russian authors. (He likes Pushkin and "classic Soviet authors like Gorky" and some other names that he mumbled incoherently.) Then he shook my hand, reminded me again to give his number to my Ural friend, and we went our separate ways.

This man is an absolute jewel! I wonder if I could get him to start having lunch with me sometimes...

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Smells Like Pee

On rainy January Saturdays at the University of Washington, Suzzallo Library becomes a warm, safe place for all the "lost" people of Seattle. There is the young Asian-American man, dressed in nice slacks and a button-up shirt, who at first seems quite sexy until you realize that he is wandering around aimlessly, having vivid and aggressive conversations with the air about malfunctioning photocopy machines and home foreclosures. At one point he yells out, "What are we going to do with all these foreclosed homes?! We gotta buy food! We gotta buy clothes!" At which point my favorite librarian (middle-aged bearded man who wears giant t-shirts, a beret-like hat, and shorts year-round) tells the young man kindly that he'll have to lower his voice or be asked to leave. Then there's the homeless African-American man in the tassled beanie who also has aggressive conversations with the air (usually in the 4th floor silent study cubicle area). Today, he's snoozing harmlessly in Suzallo Cafe's overflow seating room, his bags strewn all around him. Both of these men I have seen before. Today there was also a new homeless man, middle-aged, white, who sat down at the table next to me in Suzzallo Cafe, slumping half-comatose over some damp bagels I am pretty sure he dug out of the trash. He had a well-worn paper cup filled with some kind of sickiningly sweet tea. The smell of the tea mixed with the smell of him, which was definitely the smell of pee. Stale, musky old man pee, swirling in the air with the creamy sweetness of his tea's cardamom. Nothing like it in the world. He stretched his arms up in the air and yawned, and where his shirt lifted up, there were tiny red sores all over his belly. I was attempting to eat pork tacos. His pee smell got in my nose and in my tacos. But I didn't want to be the holier-than-thou bitch who makes a show of packing up and moving to another table just because a pitiful, stinking homeless man has seated himself too near for comfort. He looked so sad and pitiful with his second hand bagels. So I sat there and ate my tacos without breathing through my nose. If there is one skill my travels to other continents have given me, it's how to swallow successfully when I actually want to gag. (Goat blood stew in Kenya taught me that.)

Blue-Eyed Bridge to Sverdlovsk

In her midnight ears, it’s Ilya Lagutenko (Новая луна апреля). Repulsive girl salt is the only evidence of what January winds have evaporated from her cheeks. It turns to moondust and casts mercy on her graceless stumbling when she’s chasing ghosts through unlit suburban forest parks. What you can’t outrun, you can escape on swing sets at any age, so long as it is past midnight. This is the secret to her happiness, to her seemingly infinite batteries. While her obsessions and gatekeepers sleep, she time travels. She taps out spells and target dates in magpie Braille on her woolen coat sleeves. Before embarking, she tosses her conflicting forces into the battle ring, letting them tear at each other’s throats. But she quickly grows bored with it and doesn’t stick around to watch how it all turns out. Instead, she’s off through the trees, straining to hear bizarre male voices over the sound of the wind. Those voices are simultaneously near and far, and are cruelly bewitching. She’s a sucker, and falls for it every time.

On the other side of time’s bridge, she encounters an old man who is stuck in Sverdlovsk, twenty years ago. Before they have even had a conversation, she’s photocopied him, placed his doppelganger in her stories. She’s appointed herself his guardian angel, always keeping an eye on him from around corners, always on the lookout for gutter-punk kids who might dare harass him. But whatever he truly is, it’s not what she thinks. She’s stuffed his doppelganger like a piñata. She’s filled him with gold coins and silver confetti. She’s a sucker, and lays traps like this for herself every time.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Eternal Opposite Day

I suddenly understand that my reality is stuck on Eternal Opposite Day. So from now on, I must do the opposite of everything my whims tell me to do. I have to lavish adoration on the things I think bore me. I have to shrug my shoulders apathetically at the things that intoxicate me. I have to allocate more time to the people I don't think I need to spend time with, and allot little to no time to those I am dead convinced I must see CONSTANTLY. When I have the urge to do something publicly, I have to keep it private. When I feel I HAVE to do something IMMEDIATELY, I must instead wait.

I get it now. I can do Opposite Day.

Friday, January 21, 2011

South Dakota Billboard Treasures (East Coast Travels: Part 5)

Eventually, we made it to South Dakota, where wind gusts blew powdery, fog-like snow across the road, making visibility challenging half the time. In addition to gigantic, creepy dinosaur statues leering over the interstate in the snow, I-90 billboards in this charming state read:

World’s Only Corn Palace!
South Dakota: Home of Laura Ingalls Wilder.
Abortion Stops a Beating Heart
Wall Drug: Singing Quartet! 172 Miles
Dick’s Autobody 24 Hour Toe [sic] Service
Wonderland Caves!
Wall Drug: Shootin’ Gallery! 130 Miles
Discover...Prehistoric Indian Village!
Las Vegas Style Slots!
Wall Drug: Black Hills Gold! 103 Miles
Cabela's. Exit Now.
After You Die You Will Meet God
Wall Drug: Garden Burger! 98 Miles
Vet's Whoa N Go
Alligators Reptile Garden
Wall Drug: Free Ice Water! 76 Miles
Murdo is the Place to Stop
Welcome to Plankinton (I misread it as “Plankton” at first)
Wall Drug: Boots, Buckles, and Belts! 55 Miles
Cabin Fever Motel RV Park
Happy Campers’ Campground
No Growl No Howl Prairie Dogs Ranch Store
Wall Drug: Donuts! 42 Miles
Petrified Gardens: Here Under the Bridge (with a downward pointing arrow)
McNasty Brothers Comedy and Music at the 1880 Town
Ed's Oasis
Wall Drug: Traveler's Chapel! 26 Miles
Sioux Motel
The Rusty Spur: Steak and Spirits
Don’t Forget, Your Sins Will Find You
Wall Drug: Homemade Pie! 10 Miles

Jesus Christ, what was this Wall Drug? They seemed to have EVERYTHING! I found go there...@_@

Did I mention that we had nothing but South Dakota radio stations to listen to?

On New Years day, we drove through Powderville, Montana. The town has one street. We stopped at a gas station/feed store. An old cowboy wearing a white Western shirt and a sweat stained white cowboy hat stood behind the cash register. On the opposite wall, there was a WWII memorial, which included a fascinating array of various artillery shells. At a table in front of the cash register, three old men and one VERY handsome young man with bad teeth and Carhart pants were playing cards. I asked them if there was anywhere to get a bite to eat in town. The old men just started laughing hysterically, taking me for a city slicker. (It seems my Silt, Colorado roots are no longer visible. Maybe I should start wearing Wranglers again.) The young man stood up to his full, beautiful, dark-haired height and said, “You can get pizza down at the bar.” I squinted a little so I wouldn't see the details of his teeth and thanked him with an adoring grin.

And the rest of the trip was roadtrip bleh.

Boston & Surprise Road Trip (East Coast Travels: Part 4)

Despite the snow, we were able to catch our train to Boston the next day. On the train, we met a wonderful Serbian fellow, whom I bombarded with questions about his country. (There is only one region I am currently as obsessed with as I am with Russia, and that is the former Yugoslav countries. Oh, and a side note: I'm pretty sure I have alienated that Serbian guy for all eternity with the creepy Sandman Moon email I sent him upon returning to Seattle. But he SAID I could email him with any questions I wanted!!! People just don't know what they're getting into when they give me free rein like that...) In Boston, my husband and I learned the true meaning of "high-speed wind". My husband was carrying a gigantic chessboard he bought at a specialty shop in New York, and as soon as we walked out of the train station, the wind caught it and almost tossed him Mary Poppins style into the sky. We trudged through the slush and ice crystal wind to our hostel, which was so warm and cozy that it was most certainly the best place on earth. That night we had wonderful Boston pizza, and we spent the next two days taking Brett Doll to Harvard, M.I.T., and Dunkin' Donuts. On my own, I walked a bazillion miles through shin-deep slush to what is probably Boston's only Russian grocery store. (Once again, my husband had no interest in going with me on my nerdling adventures. He went and visited "cooler" places.) I bought pickled green tomatoes and fell in love with an old Russian man in a fisherman's cap who was standing in front of me in line.

On the way back to the hostel, I was damp and shivering, and the slush was freezing into ice under the setting sun, but I couldn't help stopping at an intriguing used bookstore. Behind the counter sat the most disgruntled man in Boston. He was middle-aged, sexy in a bespectacled, dandruffy kind of way, and apparently too well educated for this world. Like Seattle's Twice Sold Tales, this store had cats!!!!!!!!! One of the cats was sleek and happy looking, but the other looked awful. It had Samuel Beckett boils on its black and white face, and its fur was falling out in chunks. "Is that fella okay?" I asked the man, who had pulled the plague-ridden creature onto his lap. "He's sick," the man said icily while petting Mangy Cat possessively, looking at me suspiciously, as if I might try to steal the wretched creature if he let it out of his sight. Right about this time, I realized the pickled tomatoes were leaking brine onto the carpet. I also felt a strong suspicion that whatever the cat had was contagious to humans. So I quickly paid for “Sexuality and the Body in Russian Culture” and a chess puzzle book and then fled.

By the next morning I had a cold and a fever. I sucked pickled green tomatoes, hoping the brine would have the same effect as gargling with saltwater. After breakfast, my husband and I headed to the airport, where we waited eight hours before Jet Blue decided to tell us our flight was cancelled. (The airlines were still in chaos from the big snowstorm. Pilot shortages, etc.) Jet Blue gave the option of a ticket refund or rebooking on the next available flight, which was not for another ten days. We took the refund, and tried to rebook with another airline, but by then, tickets were almost $1000. Trains were all booked up. So we rented a car and drove from Boston to Seattle, across Minnesota snow, South Dakota desolation, and Montana mountain passes in exactly three days. I still had a cold. (Whine.) It was awful at the time, but now it seems romantic. On the first night, we stayed at a hostel in Buffalo. In the hostel kitchen we met a man with a graying beard who claimed to be a “priest” of Judaism. He wore a black robe over black jogging pants. He was poring over Hebrew texts, talking loudly to himself, saying things like, “Ah, now I see! It was not Zion! It was Mount Tabor! Now I have to go back!” He then decided to corner my husband and give him a lengthy account of the evolution of Semitic languages. “And you see, had those ignorant hikers in Iran known the difference, they wouldn’t have gotten themselves into trouble,” he yelled down the hall after us as I dragged my husband away from the kitchen.

Brighton Beach Russian Neighborhood (East Coast Travels: Part 3)

We stayed at a youth hostel in mid-north Manhattan. We took Brett Doll to most of the expected sites: Times Square, the Brooklyn Bridge, Columbia University, Rockefeller Center, and Wall Street. We even took him to rub the balls of the financial district bull! But these were not my favorite sites in Manhattan. Most of all, I loved our hostel and Harlem. I wasn't impressed with 5th Avenue or Times Square. Brett Doll wasn't either.

At our hostel, I befriended an Austrian girl with green streaks in her hair, as well as an older women from New Orleans who cooked greens and gumbo in the hostel kitchen every night. She told us that she comes to New York every year for Christmas, just to see snow and the city. On Christmas day, my husband and I ate our Christmas meal in Chinatown. The following day, we went separate places, because he had no interest in going on my most exciting New York adventure with me! So as the snow began to fall, I was on a subway to Coney Island. Brooklyn was quite different from Manhattan. Lots of immigrants, no crowds of tourists, no luxury brand stores. From Coney Island, I walked past a creepy looking amusement park, now dusted with snow, to Brighton Beach, which is New York's big Russian neighborhood. By now, the snow was coming down pretty hard. I giggled to myself in joy at the first sight of babushkas in furry hats pushing rosy-cheeked grandbabies in strollers. Russian drivers honked their horns impatiently at each other as the snow worsened. Ruggedly handsome middle-aged shopkeepers smoked cigarettes in navy blue coats out on the sidewalks. I soon found heaven, a.k.a. St. Petersburg Bookstore, which is about the size of a typical Barnes & Noble. As I wandered stupid-eyed down aisles of beautiful hardback Russian classics and history books, getting in everyone's way, a young salesman kept giving me the stink eye, as if he could see through to my soul and KNEW it didn't speak Russian, so what the hell was I doing here? Finally I shrugged at him and grinned, and he walked away, seemingly disgusted. Oh, teen angst!

My husband had given me twenty dollars cash for the day, so I had to plan my spending wisely. I wandered over to the page-a-day calendars and was thrilled to find that they were only a couple of dollars each. I found a solemn looking one with Russian saints and went to the checkout line, where two Russian women so blond and beautiful that I kind of wanted to hurl myself off of a bridge greeted me politely in Russian. "Uh..." I said, sounding like Beevis AND Butthead. They smiled politely and gave me my total in English. "Spahseebuh!" I said shyly as they handed me the bag, and they smiled with that "Awwwwww, isn't she cute for trying?" look that gracious foreigners give endearingly oafish Americans.

I spent the next hour self-consciously exploring little Russian grocery stores and bakeries. Everything I bought got bagged individually in plastic, and I was too out of my element to protest and whip out the cloth grocery bag I keep in my purse at all times. I walked the whole length of the street before my hunger finally grew larger than my shyness. I almost went into a Uighur restaurant (I haven't had Uighur food since I was in Chengdu, and it is absolutely amazing!), but I finally decided that since I had come here to experience Russian culture, I ought to choose a Russian restaurant. So I walked into a place that looked simple enough on the outside, but which turned out to be rather fancy on the inside. The waiter had beautiful blue eyes, and that was enough to enchant me, despite the fact that he was built like a Hummer. (I like my men scrawny.) He looked at me disapprovingly as I sat down, because the tablecloth got caught on my bags and it nearly sent the crystal glass and porcelain plate crashing onto the floor. My cheeks turned darker red than the walls. Bovine American!

I was too embarrassed to walk out upon seeing the expensive entree prices on the menu. So I ordered a bowl of soup, telling the waiter (who obviously didn't give a shit what my reason was) that I'd had a late breakfast. The soup was one of the most amazing things I have ever put in my mouth. (And I have had some DELIGHTFUL things in my mouth!!!!!) It was a lamb, dill, and garlic soup. I forgot my embarrassment and slurped it up like Goldilocks, watching MTV Russia with wide eyes on the restaurant’s TV. A beautiful blond Russian couple walked in and I almost choked on a piece of lamb. (No one should be allowed to be so gorgeous.) After finishing, I sat there awkwardly again, watching the waiter walk past me several times. In some cultures, you wait for the waiter to bring your bill. In others, you yell out, "Hey waiter!" I don't know what the Russian tradition is, but we Americans just sit there clearing our throats passive-aggressively until someone notices us. I got the feeling he was going to purposely ignore me until I grew the balls to speak up about what I wanted, but I never did, so he finally pitied me and brought me my bill. I paid, then spent five minutes bundling up again and saddling myself with all those plastic bakery bags. As I walked out, bags bumping into everything, I squeaked out a pathetic "spahseebuh" to him where he stood drying wineglasses behind the bar. I thought he would roll his eyes, but he surprised me by smiling warmly and waving goodbye. Oh those blue eyes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

As I walked out, I accidentally slammed the door into another waiter, who was out smoking a cigarette on the sidewalk. But he was a wonderfully lecherous middle-aged man and seemed thrilled to be an obstacle for a clumsy, Russia-enchanted lass. Had he asked me to, I would have run away to the creepy Coney Island amusement park with him, but he only grinned silently at me with fairytale wistful eyes, so Brett Doll and I went on our merry way.

Oh, yes! I did forget to mention that Brett Doll was with me on this adventure. Here is a picture of Brett Doll with his favorite place in the Brighton Beach neighborhood:

Magic Corsets and Lingerie!?!?!?!?!

And here's his favorite street on Coney Island:

By this time, the snow was getting pretty bad, so I decided I had better head back. Good thing I did, because just a few hours later, subways in "The Burbs" started shutting down. Here's what New York looked like by the time my husband and I walked to an Indian restaurant to get dinner:

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Washington D.C. (East Coast Travels: Part Two)

By that afternoon, we were on a train to D.C. I made the mistake of telling a nasally, hippopotamus-shaped woman sitting next to us where we'd be staying. Turns out she too was staying at the D.C. youth hostel. When we got off the train, she asked how we were getting there. "We're walking," I said. "Can I walk with you?" she asked. "It's over a mile a way," I told her. She looked hesitant. She was weighing which was worse, physical exertion or loneliness. She decided to give exertion a try. It only took a couple of blocks for her to start whining about her knees, and one more block for my husband to start carrying her suitcase in addition to his. When we stopped at intersections, she panted heavily and squinted intensely at me from under her fleece-lined, ear-flapped hat. The hat made her look like the fat kid no one likes in elementary school. "This is too far to walk," she said. "I dunno. I walk several miles every day, so it doesn't bother me," I said facetiously. "That's why you're skinny as a horse," she sneered. Halfway to the hostel, we passed a beautiful synagogue. I commented on it, and she said, "Yeah, it's pretty. Do you have a preferred religion?" I told her that I have no preferred religion, but that if I were to choose one, it would probably be anything but Christianity. She gave me a condescending look and said, "Well I believe in salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ." Conversation was over. I ignored her for the rest of the walk.

Later that day and the next morning, my husband and I walked to all the famous sites in D.C., and took pictures of Orange Clouds's Brett Doll in front of them:

Then it was back on Amtrack to head to New York. We arrived at Penn Station during evening rush hour, and it seemed so surreal to me. The reason why is that until this moment, my brain believed incredibly dense crowds could only be composed of Asian people. This is because my only prior experiences with such dense crowds were in Bangkok, Chengdu, and Seoul, where the density came with a din of languages I could barely understand. Now here I was, surrounded by an overwhelming amount of people, speaking MY LANGUAGE. A New York Giants game was going on that night, and obnoxious groups of men on the sidewalks were bellowing out predictions of who would win. I felt like I was in an alternate universe.

East Coast Travels: Part One

There is nothing like a three-day train ride through the Midwest in the middle of December to reveal what a marriage is truly made of. My husband and I had a sleeping car room, the kind that are about 3' x 7' with a pull down top bed, and with two seats that can be converted to a bottom bed. The two seats face each other, and that's how we sat for three days, through Washington, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois, my feet in his lap and his in mine. We read books, we ate Korean pumpkin candy, and we discussed some very difficult things. In a 3' x 7' space, all falseness gets stripped away. You at last speak truths you've been afraid to even think. And if your love is real, those truths are accepted with calm understanding and bravery. By the time we got to Chicago, we didn't have any new answers to the daunting questions in our marriage. We didn't carve out our futures into stone. But whether or not we stay married for another month, year, or four decades, I know one thing for sure: our love is real, and my husband is by far the coolest, bravest, most accepting man I have ever known.

We weren’t supposed to stay the night in Chicago, but snow in the Midwest delayed our train by so many hours that we missed our connection to D.C. Amtrak put us up in a nice hotel, and the next morning we trudged through the snow in leaky shoes to explore Chicago. Walking through downtown, my dear Korean husband said rather audibly, "Chicago has many black people." My first white-guilt instinct was to hiss, "Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!" Then I thought about it for a second, and instead told him about the Great Migration in the early 1900’s. My husband's response: "Do you know Michael Jordan? Chicago Bulls?" I blinked at him, puzzled. "Well, I know OF him," I said. "Makes sense," my husband said. "What makes sense?" "Chicago has many black people. Michael Jordan is from Chicago Bulls," he informed me. Thankfully, I was spared from having to respond, because a teenage boy in sagging pants was swaggering up to us. He asked us for a quarter for bus fare. I told him we didn't have one. "Can I kick it wich y'all tonight? Y'all cookin' tonight?" he asked. I laughed and told him we weren’t. The kid went on his way, we went ours. After a few minutes, my husband asked me what the kid had asked for. (He couldn't understand the kid's slang.) When I told him it was money, my husband said, "He should not touch sleeping lion." "Eh?" I asked. "I am sleeping lion. He should not ask me for money." I didn't ask for further explanation on these words of wisdom from my husband.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

FFD Condoms 2

I just wanted to thank those of you who commented on my FFD Condoms post. I love the things you all had to say. I love hearing all of your thoughts, because you help me see things that I never would have thought to look for.

Popper's Dreamland

I know I am not the only one who believes that if you listen with truly open ears and mind, you can hear the universe speak. It can be difficult to do at first, sometimes because of all the static in the airwaves, sometimes because of your own fears. You have to be brave enough to hear things that you have always known to be true about your abilities, but that you have been terrified of testing your skills at. You have to be willing to believe that a door is truly a door, even if the place it appears is in the middle of a cloud or rainbow.

In my strange little world, the universe has been doing more than just talking lately. It's been calling to me shrilly, with sounds that I can only compare to Scandinavian kulning. (Sound clip here.) Despite the unmistakeable nature of the sound, I keep second-guessing what I am hearing, perhaps because so many people around me scold me and warn me and tell me to do the exact opposite of what is being said.

This is why my wild bird twin, Slumberland, couldn't have picked a better time to start his blog, Popper's Dreamland. He has always had an uncanny ability to sense when I am doubting myself, and he helps me escape it in the nick of time. Slumberland is a master of silver dream magic. He creates islands covered in spider silk palm fronds and snow queen feathers. Then he builds bridges to those islands out of stars and snowflakes, and gives me funny, sparkly blue shoes with curled up toes so I can walk across those bridges.

Borrow my funny shoes. Go walk there, too.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

FFD Condoms

The other day I was talking with a male friend of mine. He was feeling somewhat frustrated over how long it takes women to be willing to have sex in the early stages of dating. I gave him my theory on the matter: Women actually DO want to have sex on the first or second date. Women like sex JUST as much as men do, possibly even more. But culturally, women are taught to hesitate. I think a lot of this goes back to teen virginity loss. What happens if a high school boy shows up to school on a Monday and tells his friends he lost his virginity over the weekend? He gets high fives. What happens if a high school girl does the same? Chances are pretty good that her friends will tell her she’s acting like a slut. Especially if she hadn’t been dating the boy for very long. So girls get the impression (both from their culture and from other girls) that they must develop some sort of deep, meaningful, committed bond with a boy before having sex with him. This sucks, in my opinion. It sucks for young men, because they aren’t looking for a deep, committed relationship at that age. And it sucks for young women, because emotional attachment becomes a burdensome prerequisite for indulging in wonderful, wonderful sex! Really, if young women were encouraged to desire outside of the box, they also wouldn’t be looking for a committed relationship at such a young age. They are taught to think that’s what they want. And the misery that results affects both them and their male partners. (Emotional suffocation.)

So here’s my solution. Fuck on the First Date condoms. It will be a line of condoms marketed specifically to young women. Maybe the wrappers will have something like a pattern of Coach purse C’s across them, or cute pink anime creatures. On the back of each condom wrapper, a bold quote or question will be emblazoned (in the spirit of fortune cookies). Such as... “Have you told the hotty pants next door that you want to fuck him?” (Teens will collect the wrappers and decorate their lockers with them.) The goal of FFD Condoms will be to tear down the shame and vulnerability women have been enculturated to feel about having sex prior to developing deep emotional attachment. Wonderful happiness will thrive as a result! Women will no longer feel like they must control and snare men in order to have legitimate sexual enjoyment. Men will stop suffering the pain of blue balls. And just imagine how fun it could be... Men would buy cardboard heart-shaped boxes on Valentine’s Day filled with FFD condoms AND chocolates for their favorite ladies. And women would never respond with scathing remarks like, “You’re such a dog!” or “What do you think I am, a piece of meat?”

How do I know this will work? Because I have always been the kind of woman who fucks on the first date, and I have found it to liberating and quite enjoyable. I’ve gotten a lot of criticism from both male and female peers for that, and it used to make me feel ashamed. Luckily, I tend to be so passionately absorbed in my own desires that I am rendered oblivious to what other people think of me until after the fact. So even in my younger years, when I apologized to everyone for everything that I was, I never did stop being a fuck-on-the-first-date kind of lass. And that, my friends, is a beautiful thing.