Tuesday, October 31, 2006
So you can see that I really did not know anything about men.
After thirty years of careful, exacting field research, I have enough material on the species. I feel selfish keeping it to myself. So, men, here you go.
The top five things that you men THINK we want:
1. Ripped muscles--Guys, we really don't care about a six pack. Try to keep in shape, and a huge protruding stomach is a gross turnoff to be sure, but honestly, an evening spent cooking dinner for us will pay off quicker and more profitably than an evening in the gym popping protein pills.
2. A ten inch penis--I'm going to be brutally honest here. No, I'm NOT going to say that size doesn't matter. Yeah, you thought that I would espouse the party line, huh? Wrong-o. Ok, I once had a boyfriend who had a slight (ha!) problem in that area. Yeah, it mattered.
If you are grossly underendowed, I encourage you to take advantage of the many caring people on the internet who want to help you with the problem. If not, forget it. Just let nature take its course. Oh, and a cuddle sometimes without wanting more? Yeah. It is nice. Take one for the team.
3. A big ol' honkin job--No. I've dated millionaires. I've dated poor boys. It's not the job, or the salary, it's the fact that you actually HAVE one. Live within your means. Don't borrow money from your woman. Don't work 100 hours a week. Do care about OUR life. Don't think that if you make more than us that you are superior. A person's value as a friend, lover, life partner, etc. does not depend on the size of their paycheck.
4. Hair--Ok, I'm prejudiced. My man is bald. Has been bald since he was a teenager. If you're going bald, just deal. Don't do the combover bit. You aren't fooling anybody. Forget the toupee. If you must get a weave, fine. I don't care one way or the other.
5. Fancy clothes, car, etc.-- You know what? Convertibles are the most overrated thing in the world. It's either too hot or too cold. It's windy. Is it worth going into debt just to drive around the ten days out of the year that the weather is perfect? If you want one, fine. Just don't think that it's gonna get you laid. Um, clothes? Ok, the stained shirt that you bought at Dollar Plus ten years ago isn't a turn on, but you don't have to go all metrosexual either. Clean clothes that fit and are reasonably up to date. I like a man in a white shirt, jeans, and cowboy boots, just fyi.
The top five things we REALLY want.
1. I hope you dance. Why are men so resistant to dancing? Why are we women glued to the TV watching Dancing With The Stars? Why don't you want to get up and take a spin on the dance floor with us? You think "people are watching"? You pussy. People are busy getting drunk. Just get up and dance. I don't care how bad you are. And don't make me pump you with liquor to cajole you into dancing. It's no fun if you're so drunk you're stepping on my feet.
2. Write a damn love letter once in awhile. My 8 year daughter found some of my love letters from an old boyfriend. She teases me about it--Is he your boyfriend, mom? Well, not so much, but....they are so beautifully written I can't bear to throw them out. It's all a part of my history, yada, yada. I don't mind if my husband has some old love letters by the way. I think I can literally repeat every love letter I've ever gotten, word for word. They mean that much to me.
3. Two Profitable Hobbies: Guitar-- If you're already employed and all that, you might not have time to take lessons, but I can tell you that a man playing the guitar and singing softly to me makes me want to put on a Victoria's Secret outfit, if you get my drift. If you don't have time to play the guitar, how about photography? Buy a camera and photograph me. That works. Works just peachy keen.
4. A nice guy--Yeah, I've heard all the bitching about how you nice guys get screwed over. Bull!! I'm sorry, but you just might be a nice, BORING guy. I don't like nice boring guys, but I prefer them over mean, boring guys. Truly, what is the alternative? Do you want to torment your woman? Do you get off on that? Come on. Just be decent. Caring. Thoughtful. Honest. Hold a job. Pay your bills. Don't live with your mother. But do be nice to her when she calls.
5. LISTEN. I feel that it's a vitally important and interesting thing that my 2nd grade teacher once yelled at me for picking my nose in front of the class. If you listen to that story, I promise I'll listen to your blow-by-blow rehashment of the latest football game on the telly. Major, major excellent brownie points if you actually remember the story 48 hours later. I do not hold out much hope for this one.
posted by lorrie (21+) & roger (21++)
madeleine (8) & meredith (6)
born in china, queens of carolina
The author of the open letter above is Lorrie, an ill tempered, foul mouthed adopted Southern Belle who adopted two kids from China. She's a reformed lawyer, currently teaches at a community college, and likes to smoke, drink, and blog. Her husband, a man of sterling character and many fine qualities, does not like to dance.
My letter is here:
An Open Letter To Some Of The Men In My Past
You were a Swedish conceptual artist who invited me out on a date and forgot to mention you were gay. You played footsie with me over dinner, then snogged me in a dark alley behind the restaurant. I was a little tiddly or I would have thought that it was a little strange that when you felt me between the legs you said, “Wow, it’s so weird, feeling nothing jutting out there. Weird, but in a good way.”
Thank you for telling everyone the next day that you “just kissed me because I seemed to want it.” Thank you for teaching me that not having a penis is not a crime, unless you are a man. And that getting off with a girl is a little bit stupid if you identify as gay.
You were an Australian accountant living in London. We met at a German conversation class, where, you said, you were learning German so that you could converse with your German girlfriend. Did that girlfriend ever exist, Dave? I’ll never know. At the end of each evening class we would all go to the pub and have a bit of a laugh. You were very amusing, for an accountant, and although you wore glasses and your hair was kinky, you were geek-sexy. I realized you were fairly immature when, after everyone had gone home one night, you said you had missed your last train and could you stay at my flat? Okay I said, and put you in the spare room. I suppose I should have realized you were a dick when you came into my room twice during the night and said you were scared of sleeping on your own and could you get in with me? I told you to piss off and then, weeks after the German class ended, you kept phoning me up asking me out. So, in the end I thought, okay fine, and we went out on a date and got blind drunk and had some rather functional sex, like I was a prostitute you’d paid for the night and you’d better get your monies worth. Like, you’d wake me up every hour and just get on top. By the morning I was sober, not to mention a little sore.
When I saw you in the cold light of day, I made the mistake of laughing at your very hairy chest and started rubbing it for fun. And you said, “Can you please stop doing that, you’re creating static electricity.” I thought it was funny that I was generating static electricity, but you’d lost your sense of humor. You were dying to get out of there, even though I’d made it quite clear I thought of you as nothing but a (rather poor) one night stand. Thank you for teaching me, that while there may be twenty-three go rounds, for you, there is only one position in a one night stand. Your ‘girlfriend’ is welcome to you.
I dated you when I was eighteen. I thought you were very deep and meaningful because you listened to the Smiths. We went camping and watched the sunrise on the sea. I didn’t want to go all the way with you, I suppose, because I didn’t fancy you all that much, but it was all very romantic. You wrote me love poems. Then I started at university and started shagging someone else. You might have still had a chance if you hadn’t sent me some stuff copied from a German porn magazine with Emma and James inserted in the text as the protaganists, i.e.
“Oh, shove your great German sausage deep into me,” sighed Emma. “It is so huge and wide and red.”
“Yes, yes, of course,” said James, “I am dying to perform the Geschlechtsverkehr with you (bit of info: did you know that sexual intercourse is translated in German, literally as ‘genital traffic'?)
For some reason, this porn letter turned me off you, so I sent you the old dear John letter. Why then did you come up to the University and stick a note on my door asking to meet you at the Cathedral? When I didn’t meet you, why did you phone me a year later telling me you were “still a bit upset at the way things ended between us.”
I can only hope you’ve gotten over me now.
Thank you for replying to a personal ad I put up on the Internet. While I appreciated your offer to play naked squash with you (“The grounds are totally secluded, we will have total privacy. You have not know exhilaration until you have played squash naked,”) you must understand that I had a small voice in my head telling me you were a raving lunatic who enjoyed taking young women away to secluded houses and murdering them. You may have just wanted a game of squash. I’m sorry if I judged you unnecessarily, and if your intentions were honorable.
I was twenty six and old enough to know better when I met you, a man of about fifty. You said you would take care of me, that I was “a little seed that just needed careful nurturing to grow.” I never seemed to understand why, every time you took me to a restaurant or pub, you seemed to have forgotten your wallet, and I had to pay for everything. I cheered up considerably when you said you had purchased a little love nest for us both on Portobello Road. You told me the number of the flat and when I went to check it out, I found it didn’t exist. I began to realize you might have an ulterior motive for dating me, i.e. robbing my flat, when you asked me to have a key cut for you so that you could “surprise you in the morning with fresh croissants and orange juice and slip into bed beside you before you woke up.”
I got my own back one evening, when I invited you to dinner with my mum and dad, two people who loathe each other and hadn’t seen each other for years. When you turned up your face went white. You probably thought I was getting serious and wanted to introduce you to my dear parents, when in fact I just wanted to get rid of you. My dad was drunk and was having a go at my mum. He is an upper class twit and was yelling, “My dear, you are just a fucking Austrian peasant!” And while they were having a screaming row, you looked like you were going to cry. You’d thought I was a bit of posh who you could get some money out of, but now you were having to deal with her awful dysfunctional family, and you didn’t like it one bit.
Well, I hope it taught you a lesson, you self-deluded old fool.
Click here to check out the other open letters this month, and to get more info on the blog exchange:
Saturday, October 28, 2006
For those of you who think porn is just a bit of harmless fun, let me now inform you that it is more, much more than that.
In fact, it is a little known fact that porn drives the development of technology.
Of the multitude of examples in which this has happened, here are a few:
When video tapes were first produced, there were two kinds of video tape, Sony (VHS) and Betamax. Because VHS video tapes were cheaper to produce, porn makers began to use these to distribute their films. The earliest home video rental stores were almost exclusively pornographic. Consequently, families started buying video recorders, ostensibly to watch ET, but really to watch Debbie Does Dallas. As a result of this porn revolution, eventually there was a VHS player in every home, and Betamax died a death.
When the iPod Video first came out, within a month, porn producers had converted their movies to iPod format and were selling pay per view for the iPod. The movie producers figured out how to do this for free, and now everyone does it (Apple twice tried and failed to block porn makers from converting their porn movies to iPod format). The porn on the iPod has not helped the iPod sell per se, but it has put the iPod on the cutting edge, and has helped it sell well for five years, while other similar products have bitten the dust.
Currently there is a war on among the producers of high definition DVDs, between Blu-Ray and HD DVD. The porno people have started backing HD DVD as standard and soon Blu-Ray will be dust.
How funny that in the future, in the history of technology books for schools, you will have to include these pertinent facts. Or maybe not. How many history books really tell the truth?
The only confusing thing in this history of porn being on the cutting edge of technology, is why pornotube should have developed now, after the non-porn site, youtube. And how does pornotube make any money? There are so many mysteries in the world, and yet so few answers.
I imagine that in London, whenever someone says, “Hey, didn't I see you on the tube the other day?” there will be lots of confused faces. Since the tube is the name for the London subway, anyone who has posted their face on pornotube will wonder, did she recognize me from pornotube or did she just get a glimpse of me on the subway?
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Maybe it's because she was brought up with five people in two rooms (no running water) in post war Vienna, or maybe it's because she raised me single handedly on about £10 a week (seriously), because my dad didn't give her any child support. Whatever the reason, my mum is phenomenal at saving money. Point one, she never goes to restaurants. It helps that she's a brilliant cook and can make a parsnip and an Oxo cube taste like something phenomenal. She also doesn't own a car, would take a taxi only if...actually there are no circumstances where she'd take a taxi, tailors her own clothes that look as good as anything Dolce and Gabbana can produce and has a very strong work ethic.
In one of those strange genetic misshaps that happen sometimes, while I have only spent maybe one week in total of my life in my dad's company, I have inherited all his traits. I will sometimes fly off the handle at the slightest thing, like he does (one time he got impatient mashing some potatoes and flung the bowl against the wall, as you do). I've also inherited his talent for writing, being a pseudo-intellectual (and if you don't believe me, go to his website to find the answer to the question, is Patrick Morris a serious musical maverick, or a grand wizard of post modern cultural vacuity? Answer: he is both), his ability to spend huge sums of money with nothing to show for it, and the propensity to eat and drink everything in sight until he pickles his liver or explodes. He also has zero work ethic (apart from composing his tunes), and has often declared that only the proletariat should work (easy enough to say when one has a trust fund).
Why couldn't I have inherited some of my mum's qualities? She has only ever had averagely paying jobs, but God, can that woman save! When she would fly to visit me in Baltimore from Vienna she would get a really cheap flight, which was cheap only because you had to change in London Heathrow and get to Gatwick for your connecting flight in UNDER AN HOUR. I said, wasn't that stressful, to which she replied, "Ja, but I saved three hundred Euros, so what is the problem?"
But of all the ways my mum has got money for nothing, the following tale takes the cake. In fact, it takes the whole bakery.
Last spring, my husband's fifty year old uncle, Uncle Sean, who had been a heroin addict but was cleaning up his act, decided to take a five day package holiday to Vienna. A few days into the trip, my husband's dad phones me from Ireland and says that Uncle Sean died while staying at the hotel, and that the family have been trying to talk to the Viennese police to sort out releasing the body (they wanted it shipped home for a Catholic burial), but weren't making much headway, since the police only spoke German etc. etc. Could I call my mum who lives in Vienna, and get her to sort it out?
So I tell her the story and she is happy to get her teeth into the project. She goes round to the hotel and discovers that Sean spent the first three days of the holiday locked in his room, and, she notes, did not partake of the free breakfast, nor of the clean sheets and maid service. After a few days of no one going in or out of the room, apparently the management opened the door and discovered the body. Doctors concluded that he'd died from a methadone overdose, probably taken purposely. And while this was all very sad and tragic, mum had a few unanswered questions she wanted answers to. Such as asking the hotel manager,
"His body was removed from the hotel on the third day, but he had paid for a five day vacation, correct?"
The manager looked at her blankly. "So?"
"Well, it is obvious, is it not? He should be given a refund for the two days he did not stay at the hotel."
"But he's dead," the manager pointed out.
"Nor," she went on, "did he use the hotel facilities while he was staying at the hotel, so he should have a refund for those days also. Your behaviour is outrageous. Do you really think you are going to get away with this?"
Apparently, she went on and on until she got the dead guest's package holiday refunded.
The woman's a genius, I tell you. A financial genius!
All of which begs the question, why do I never think of things like that?
Monday, October 23, 2006
'I'm sorry I didn't know where the clitoris was, or, more to the point, where your clitorises were. I was a horrible wreck of dry humping, fingering teen lust who pinned you to couches and carpets and danced all around your deserving buttons of love without so much as grazing them....
To be honest, you should be pissed at my dad. We never "had the talk." I had no diagrams to work from, no explanation of the intricate workings of the little man who steers the canoe. Everything I knew about sex was gleaned from Cinemax's presentation of Emmanuelle in Bangkok.
I asked my father why he never clarified the finer points of clitoral massage with me way back then, but he just said that wasn't really part of polite conversation and he'd prefer not to discuss it. So I asked him if he knew where Mom's clitoris was and he hung up on me. I took that as a no.'
All of which got me thinking about what I learnt about sex as a kid. It was all rather vague, I recall, not to mention confusing. My mum had told me that to make a baby, the man gives the woman a seed, and I always had this vision of my mum and dad in a bathroom, for some reason, and him very seriously handing her a lentil and sticking it in her mouth (I don't recall my mum saying where the seed went).
Then, when I was about seven, a friend and I found a discarded porn magazine in the street and studied the images with a great deal of interest. I had a notion that this had something to do with making babies, but it didn't seem to correlate with the solemn handing over of a lentil in a bathroom.
When my mum found us looking at the mag, she didn't get angry, she just went into a long rambling spiel about, "This is what two people do when they love each other." I wanted to point out that in some of the pictures there were three people together, or more, but figured it would be better to just keep quiet.
My friend and I had had the foresight to tear some of the pictures out of the magazine before my mum found us with it and threw it away. See, we knew that we weren't really meant to be looking at it, although we didn't know why, since all these people licking each other's extremities were meant to be loving each other. All very confusing...
Well, time went by, and at some point I figured out that the seeds involved in the exchange weren't lentils. Then I started to develop an interest in boys. Well, maybe 'interest' is a bit of a strong word. I mean, sure, I fancied them, but going to an all girls school, they were a bit of a mystery. But only in the sense that astrophysics, while mysterious, is not necessarily a subject I feel compelled to find out more about.
It was no surprise that I only lost my virginity at the relatively late age of seventeen. I just didn't have that flirting gene, nor the ability to stand outside the local boy's school flicking my hair back and giggling at the boys' jokes. And as for the fact that some girls would watch the boys doing soccer practice and try and flirt with them, I was like, are you joking? Standing around in the freezing cold just to see some blokes running about in shorts? I don't think so.
I mean, why go to all that bother, when come Saturday night you could go to a house party, sit down on the sofa next to a teenage boy with a massive quiff (this was the era of the psychobilly, if any of you can remember that far back), and engage in a stimulating discussion.
Him: So are you a psychobilly?
Me: (Lying through teeth, because I want to impress him) Yeah, I am, but I haven't got my hair in a quiff today, I ran out of hairspray.
Him: So do you like the Guana Batz?
Me: Er, yeah, but I'm more into, like, King Kurt.
Him: They're good.
Him: Do you want some of my cider (in the UK cider is alcoholic).
Me: Okay. I take a swig from his bottle of cider.
He lunges at me. We lock face. Snog for a while.
Him: Do you want to go into one of the bedrooms? I've got a condom.
Me: No, I don't think so, I don't really know you.
Him: Oh, go on.
Me: No thanks.
He removes hand from my breast and starts rolling a joint.
Another successful night. Embellished story at school on Monday: "Yes, Neil did ask me out, but I knocked him back. He's far too immature."
Yeah, I really don't think I had any kind of good conversation with a male until, at seventeen, I switched to a mixed sex comprehensive school, because the swotty girls school I was at was killing me with boredom.
Once I started having boys as friends, I learnt that, much as I had suspected, boys really weren't all that interesting. Although I didn't give up. I knew the devastatingly attractive ones were out there, just not at my school. For one, there was Jean Paul Belmondo in Au Bout de Souffle. For another there was Alain Delon. And okay, yes, they were French film stars from the sixties, but that didn't mean that a fascinating sophisticated man might not be out there for me somewhere, now did it? I had to be prepared for sex. Alain Delon could accost me at a bus stop at any time.
Yes, I decided, lost as I was in my Gitanes-tinted fantasy world, it was time to go on the pill.
That didn't last long though, because my mum found my secret stash and flushed it down the toilet before giving me a long talk about holding on to my virginity and one's body being a precious gift that you gave someone when you were in love with each other. I thought it was bollocks, really. After all, my mum and dad had probably loved each other when they conceived me, and now they lived apart and had barely a civil word to say to each other. I think it would have been better if she'd said, like my friend Sally's wild mom, "Here's a bumper pack of condoms. Give sex a good whirl, and you'll soon realize that doing it with teenage boys, or in fact, with anyone, really isn't all that it's cracked up to be."
All of which begs the question of what I'm going to tell my daughters about sex when the time comes. I mean, Scarlett knows the biological aspect of sex, and she and Sausage have always got dolls up their jumpers ready to be born. And are always breast feeding them, so I don't need to worry that they won't be good mothers. It's just, I really don't want them to be mothers for a very long time.
What I'm thinking about is, what am I going to tell them about the emotional component or even the physical component of sex. My mum cloaked it in a world of romance and love, when maybe she should have just talked about the realities. Although, that said, we did know a woman, while I was a teenager, who had drawn her son a diagram of the female genitals and had instructed him on how to stimulate them, and I remember praying my mum wasn't going to have such a talk with me about male sexual functions, because I would have died of embarrassment. But I reckon talking about it, however embarrassing, will definitely prevent an unwanted pregnancy, if not the heartache associated with early love affairs.
Here's another bit of advice for all you guys out there with sons. After reading Emlyn's letter to his first girlfriends, you know what to do. As soon as they are of age, you need to have the 'what to do with a clitoris' talk, (assuming you know yourself). I suppose I have to be an equal opportunity sex educator and tell all you mums out there to show your daughters how to correctly handle a penis, by doing stuff to bananas.
Okay, now call me prejudiced if you like, but I reckon a penis is a lot easier to handle than a clitoris. The clitoris is like an old car with a cranky engine that needs to be coaxed into life, slowly, and needs a lot of patience, until it is finally up and running, while the penis is a finely tuned racing car that goes from 0 to 100 mph in a matter of seconds. Frankly, whatever you do to it - within reason - seems to get a pleasurable response from the car, er, male.
Although I am sure all you men out there will beg to differ on this point...
Sunday, October 22, 2006
"I feel that you're not listening to me."
"I feel like you're always accusing me of not listening to you."
Look, it's hard, almost impossible, especially for the British person (of which I am one), to articulate his or her feelings. But think of all those times you showed your feelings for your friends non verbally, not by sincere and embarassing heart on sleeve chat: "I value you as a friend," or even, "I love you." Something about being told I love you from friends really makes my skin crawl. I guess beneath all the loud mouthed Austrianness, I am an emotionally repressed British person who does not particularly enjoy declarations of love, or hugs. I admire people who can wear their hearts on their sleeves, but it's just not me.
Where was I? Yes, you can indicate to someone that you love them a lot more easily by just showing them. Think of all the friends you've cooked for, you've rolled spliffs for (not me personally, I'm crap at it, I mean you), the friends you've bought gifts, dinners, drinks and fags for, you've written letters to, you've held their hair back while they puked into the toilet after a bender, all the friends who've slept in your bed while you slept on the couch, who you've made breakfast for, who you've made those tape compilations for (do you remember doing that? Drawing pictures on the tape insert and hand writing 'Mix tape for Jane, Summer 86' on it in swirly pen). I wonder how the kids do that now, it's probably something to do with iPods or God, will someone under thirty please enlighten me?
I don't know what it is about me. Okay, a lot of people on first meeting me call me obnoxious, too direct, insensitive, a blabbermouth and deeply negative, but of those that do go on to like me, they usually end up being kind of in love with me, in a platonic sense.
The worst time this ever happened was when I went to University, and because I really fancied his friend (who I ended up dating), I befriended a guy called Brian. Brian was kind of unnatractive, tall and skinny, with broken veins on a protruberent nose, but he was actually a good laugh, so eventually we really did become pals. That's not to say he didn't have problems. When he first arrived at college, he told a load of stories about all the women he'd shagged in his past, and finally, after he realized everyone knew he was a virgin, he pulled that old chestnut out of the bag: I have just discovered I'm gay and I'm going to explore my sexuality.
Except that, in the two years I knew him, no one seemed to want to explore their sexuality with him. One thing I will always regret is that he took some nude photos of me and a friend drinking sherry in the garden. I'm sure he still has them. All perfectly innocent, but as you will see, Brian turned out to be nuts. I just hope I never become famous and they come to light!
Anyway, nothing tipped me off that Brian was a raving lunatic until one night, when I got back to the house I was sharing with him and two others, and found that he'd tossed my belongings and clothes all over my room, as well as smashing my perfume bottles! Lovely!
My first impulse was to ignore the whole incident and go to bed, so I walked past him to the toilet, wearing knickers and a t-shirt (he was in the sitting room with some friends), at which point he said:
"Oh, you think you're so sexy, don't you, always walking around in your knickers."
"Sexy?" I replied. "I don't think so. I'm just wearing this t-shirt because I'm going to sleep in it. In any case, why should you care, even if I chose to walk around in the nude? Aren't you meant to be gay?"
He started taunting me some more, until I snapped, "What exactly have you been doing to my bedroom?"
To which he replied, "I hate you. I've always hated you."
"O-kay," I said, glaring at him. "So that's why you've been following me around like a lap dog for the last two years is it?"
"I've been reading your diary for a year now."
"Interesting, was it?"
"I know all about your sexual fantasies."
"Good for you."
I still really wanted to ignore his pathetic attempts at being a psycho, but now he had got to me, and I'm afraid I lost it. I grabbed him by the scruff of his shirt and threw him onto a table, before getting on top of him, and started to punch him in the head, until someone pulled me off.
Admittedly, that was a case of platonic friendship gone disastrously wrong, but was it really platonic, I don't think it was on his part. Would you read the diary of someone you hated? I know I wouldn't.
Apart from that, most friendships I've had have been generally more positive than those of a sexual nature.
And what about you? Do you have any tales of friendships that went really, really bad?
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Mundane indeed! My blog! I mean, really!
Today I'm performing a vital service to my readers. I'm dispatching some advice which may keep some of you out of trouble.
What I'm basically saying is: Don't Sleep with the Au Pair.
I don't mean from a moral point of view. Just that it could land you in hospital. My friend Cheryl, who coordinates au pairs locally, said they recently had an incident where a mother came home to find the au pair on top of the husband, and naked, obviously, and um, interacting with her husband in a non-verbal fashion. As far as I can tell, the au pair wasn't doing anything wrong. The girl was home. She was theoretically 'watching' the kids. It was the husband who should have been at work.
Well, apparently the wife didn't see it that way. She grabbed a baseball bat and started whacking the husband and the au pair. The police arrived and both the au pair and the husband had to be taken to hospital (don't worry, they have both made a full recovery!)
So the moral of the story is, if you must get an au pair, get an ugly one, preferably one with a moustache. Actually, talking of moustaches, Cheryl said they also have male au pairs on their books. I was quite tempted to get one actually. "Yes, I see," I said to Cheryl, "you can get me a nineteen year old Swedish male au pair to help me around the house." Goodness me, I was thinking, when she mentioned the price of hiring such a 'manny', that's cheap. And unlike a vibrator, he would never run out of batteries. "Hang on Sven," I'd say, "I just need you to do some heavy lifting in the bedroom." And he'd be awfully happy to help, because he'd be committed to helping the family, and he wouldn't want mommy to be bored.
And then my husband would arrive home and find me on top of the manny, and reach for a baseball bat.
No. It's not worth it, even to have a Swedish hunk on tap all day. And let's face it, he might not want to continuously perform, he'd probably point out some tedious section in his contract that specified that 'employees cannot be asked to perform services above and beyond the call of duty.' Like having sex with me could ever be a chore! But anyway, I'm just saying, the reality might not be as rosy as the fantasy.
So basically, I'm telling you, sleeping with the au pair, don't try it. Or if you do ...at least go to a hotel.
Another bit of advice I can give you is: don't marry a younger man. Mine is eight years younger (27) and while I don't usually notice the age difference because he is more mature than me (who isn't?), sometimes the age gap gets hammered home. There was one incident a few years back where a woman at a party mistook him for my son. I'm usually not that touchy, but that really got under my skin. Demi Moore look out! Today Ashton adores you, maybe he will always adore you. But sooner or later you will find yourself in a Dorian Grey situation. You will be the picture up in the attic, getting older and older, while your husband's portrait remains as unlined as the day you met him.
Take this incident. While the kids and I were away over the summer, my husband had been going to Lowes to buy supplies for a bathroom he's building. Yesterday he went there with our three year old daughter, Sausage. Apparently, some check out girl he's been chatting to over the summer, asked if Sausage was his little sister. He laughed and said, "No, she's my daughter." Apparently, the girl's face crumpled like a paper bag. Apparently she is Armenian and he thinks she was angling for an American husband (he's not even American). Apparently, she said, "I thought you were nineteen."
I believe everything, apart from that last bit. Come off it, he looks at least twenty-one!
Monday, October 16, 2006
Yesterday, my husband dragged me along to a suburban party near Fort Meade, although an American suburb is a suburb, and we could have been anywhere. We entered a community called Ferndale Glen or maybe it was Wuthering Heights, I forget. All I know is that the name conjured up images of brambles and nettles, twisted old apple trees and rolling hills.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, there wasn’t anything rolling or gnarled or natural about this community of homes. In fact, there were just clipped lawns, clipped hedges and dozens and dozens of cloned houses, clad in shiny grey vinyl siding, their expressions as blank as if they’d been injected with Botox.
While I fought the urge to turn the car around and get out of there (impossible in any case, since my husband was driving), he was looking around with interest.
“Go on, say it, you’d really like to live somewhere like this, wouldn’t you?” I said. “I don’t get it. I mean, look at these houses, just look at them! That one has got grey stone crazy paving on its front. I guess the owners were trying to express their individuality.”
“I’m not saying I’d want to live here exactly, just that the houses are a nice style. I agree the vinyl siding is awful, but what about if it was done in brick?”
“They don’t make any new houses in brick here. And even if they did, the house would still be set in the sort of clipped, sterile environment that would make me want to kill myself.”
He gave his usual resigned sigh, and we agreed to disagree.
I have to admit, the house we visited did look pretty good from the inside, with high ceilings and a lot of light. But it still didn’t make me want to live there.
The party was hosted by Melanie and Dan. She is reed thin, white skinned, with long red hair and a morose expression like she’s carrying the weight of the world on her shoulders. He is Polish-Korean, and very sweet, but it always worries me that national security is in his hands, because while he works at the NSA writing code to prevent people tapping into US military secrets, he also has trouble with basic things, like remembering what day of the week it is or whether Clinton is still in office.
When we got there, Melanie was having a fit because her mayonnaise jar was out of date, and decided to send Dan out to the supermarket to get more. This is why I usually try and avoid these suburban parties. They make you realize just how square you have become. In my misspent youth back in England, you’d be sitting in your living room drinking with chums, and then at some point someone would be designated to put on an old overcoat and go to the end of the street (yes, there are off licenses at most corners, what a wonderfully civilized place England is, oh God I am beginning to sound like Bill Bryson) for a ‘cigarette run’ or a ‘beer run’ or maybe a ‘munchies run’ or even a ‘chocolate run.’ But at no point did anyone making a sandwich question the fact that a mayonnaise jar was badly out of date and cry, “Ye Gods, someone must buy some fresh mayonnaise as a matter of urgency! Go at once and procure me a jar.”
When Dan did eventually come back from his mayonnaise run, that was not the end of the matter. Oh no.
“What is this?” Melanie said, fishing the jar out of the bag and screwing up her face. “Canola Oil Spread?”
“I dunno, man,” said Dan, scratching his head. “It was in the mayonnaise aisle.”
“This isn’t even mayonnaise,” she hissed, before turning round and smiling at the guests.
Like I say, Dan is a very nice guy, I just don’t feel one hundred per cent confident about him writing uncrackable code and keeping this great nation safe.
I’ll give him this, though. He is very knowledgeable. About gerbils. It took him quite a long time (two years), but eventually he figured out that if you put a bunch of gerbils in a cage, their number is going to keep growing and growing until you don’t know what to do with them.
A few months ago he told me, “I have too many gerbils, I don’t know what to do.”
I said, “Put them out in the garden. They’ll soon run off, die, or get eaten by eagles.”
He declared this was too cruel and offloaded a lot of them on pet shops, and then someone (definitely not him) figured out how to tell the sexes apart, and now they have two boys and two girls in separate cages.
But here’s the thing. Even with that situation, recently the whole lot escaped and the males managed to impregnate the females in seconds while they were running about on the floor. Also, once the female gives birth, she is ready, WITHIN THE HOUR, to be impregnated again. All I can say about gerbils is, don’t do it.
I also learnt a lot about Doctor Who from a man who had me pinned in the corner and had watched every episode several hundred times.
“But didn’t the show get cancelled due to lack of ratings in 1989?” I said, dying of boredom.
I may as well have called his mother a whore.
He pretended he hadn’t heard me.
“What actually happened, was that a movie company bought the rights to Doctor Who, and thus the show had to go off air,” he explained. “Then they made a really bad movie that tanked, and eventually the BBC bought back the rights and started making the series again.” He gave an ecstatic, broad grin as if he’d just said, “And that’s how we avoided a terrorist attack by Al Kaida.” (Doctor Who Fanatic is another one who works at the NSA).
After I’d escaped from him, I got talking to Melanie’s eccentric mother. I mean, she doesn’t look eccentric, she’s a very pleasant looking sixty year old pediatrician, but she’s nuttier than squirrel shit.
She always discusses my writing career in awed tones, as if I were an author bringing in a couple of million a year.
“So what project are you working on at the moment?” she said.
“Well, I’m beginning to think that the only thing that sells is something high concept or an erotic romance. I can’t begin to understand why anyone buys those erotic books, each plot is exactly the same, but they have huge sales.”
“Yes, I guess those romance books are escapism, pure and simple, I find them boring. I read The Cell the other day by Stephen King. What a load of rubbish, it’s about how cell phones trigger explosions, basically an anti cell phone message. King hates cell phones. Well, that’s because he doesn’t need one. He sits in his house all day in Maine, writing his books in longhand.”
“What didn’t you like about the book?”
“Well, I like to learn something from each novel I read, and with this I didn’t learn a thing. King was talking about some guy creating bombs from scratch and hadn’t researched bomb making at all. He was just like, ‘he put together a bomb from some dynamite he had lying around the house.’”
“Seems a bit sloppy.”
“It was rubbish, I tell you.”
“Can’t say I’ve read any of his books. Like Harry Potter, they just don’t appeal. Anyway, what do you think I should write, I mean, in the high concept soft porn realm?
She thought for a moment.
“What about the Man with Two Penises? Do you think people would buy that?”
I didn’t bat an eyelid. Like Kevin Charnas, I am used to people coming up to me and telling me weird shit.
“Right,” I said. “And how would that work?” The concept made me feel a little sick.
“Well, I don’t know. You’re the author.”
“I suppose it would depend where the penises were located. If they were on the man’s pelvis, say, ten centimeters apart, I guess two girls could have sex with him at once, and he could have two orgasms at the same time. Or he could have sex with one girl with one penis and then after that penis was recovering he could use the other one.”
“Well, I think it’s a great idea. Think about it.”
Hmm. I’m not so sure. Would you buy it?
Friday, October 13, 2006
I am in quite a good mood today, because I just received a royalty check for a book I wrote six years ago called Lured by Lust.
(By the way, has anyone else noticed the striking resemblance between the model on the cover of Lured by Lust, and thinking man's pin up, Nigella Lawson? Is there something we should know, Nigella? If so, love, it's nothing to be ashamed of. We've all been there. Desperate for cash, you answer an ad for 'models' and find yourself in a disused warehouse, wearing stick on nails and a bad wig, being asked to look sultry despite the fact there's draft blowing up your skirt and the photographer's trying to grope you.)
Want to hazard a guess about what Lured by Lust is about? If you answered: a bisexual nymphomaniac working in a London art gallery, you are right on the money. Receiving the check got me to thinking, why is the only book I wrote which is not out of print, the only one making money, the saucy one?
It's not like I haven't tried. I wrote what I thought was a really good psychological thriller called Guilt ,which failed to set the literary world alight. I've written chick lit until my ears fell off, but while publishers say, "wow, this is wonderful," they also say, "this theme has been done before, so we can't buy your manuscript. Go back and spend another year writing a novel we don't want to buy. Oh, and good luck!"
Maybe it's time to wake up and smell the coffee, and realize that the only thing I will ever be good at is writing erotic romances for people without the imagination to think up these sorts of masturbatory scenarios themselves. Yes, I think I will set set off on another erotic voyage. I've got a few ideas percolating in my head, but it would be great if you could give me your sexy plot suggestions, i.e. wealthy fortyish woman meets much younger man on a cruise ship, and offers him a million dollars to sleep with her. While they're on the cruise ship they fall in love, and at the end of the trip he's handed her the money back. All together now, aaah!
Your plot idea will be shamelessly utilized and you will not get any of the royalties, but you will have a deep warm sense of satisfaction, knowing you have helped make me rich.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
What have you done?
(X) Smoked a joint -- not keen though, makes me fall asleep or get paranoid or indulge in wild sexual situations that are often unwise
( ) Done cocaine -- no, I spout enough nonsense not to need stimulants
(X) Been in love -- twice, maybe three times
(X) Had a threesome -- yeah, twice. One involved three Scots (technically a foursome?) The other time involved two Eastern Europeans, but rich ones, so they didn't have large moustaches and wear polyester flared pants, or at least I don't think they did ....
(X) Been dumped
(X) Shoplifted--mostly make up as a teen
(X) Been fired --more times than I care to mention
(X) Had feelings for someone who didn't have them back--too many times to count
( ) Been arrested
(X) Made out with a stranger -- I lost my virginity to a stranger. I don't think we said a single word to each other, it just kind of happened. I was nearly seventeen and desperate to get rid of the damn thing (my virginity) and we ended up in a bed at the end of a party, and...did it.
(X) Gone on a blind date--I did the equivalent of on line dating years ago, back in the days when people sent you hand written replies
(X) Lied to a friend--white lies mostly
( ) Had a crush on a teacher
(X) Been to Europe --I was born there!
( ) Seen someone die
( ) Been to Canada --beautiful british columbia!
( ) Been to Mexico --I live a few miles from Mexico, but I've never been over the border
(X) Thrown up in a bar -- yeah, we often used to throw up half way through the night when I was younger, so we could carry on drinking for the rest of the night
(X) Seen the Rocky Horror Picture Show
( ) Purposely set a part of yourself on fire
( ) Been snowboarding
( ) Met a celebrity
( ) Met someone from the Internet in person--I was dating before Internet dating was invented
( ) Been moshing at a concert --What they hell's the point? You just end up in a pool of lager with cigarette butts in your hair.
( ) Gone backstage at a concert
(X) Laid outside in the grass and watched cloud shapes go by
(X) Made a snow angel
(X) Flown a kite
(X) Cheated while playing a game
(X) Been lonely--Yeah, mostly in London. It's quite a lonely city.
( ) Fallen asleep at work--surprisingly, no. I did throw up once at work after a particularly heavy drinking session though.
( ) Fallen asleep at school--surprisingly, no.
( ) Used a fake ID--you don't need them in the UK
( ) Been kicked out of a bar--surprisingly, no. I have crawled out of one though.
( ) Felt an earthquake--no earthquakes in the UK
( ) Touched a snake
( ) Read “War and Peace”--but I will one day
(X) Slept beneath the stars--on a beach in Spain, several times. It was windy, freezing, and utterly unpleasant.
( ) Been robbed--I look too shabby to rob
( )Won a contest
(X) Run a red light
( ) Been suspended from school--Surprisingly, no.
( ) Had braces
( ) Felt like an outcast
( ) Eaten a whole pint of ice cream in one night--Surprisingly, no. I can only manage about a half pint.
(X) Had deja vu
( ) Totaled a car--my Dodge is covered in scratches, bumps and bruises, but it still runs.
( ) Stolen a car--wouldn't know where to start. I used to steal fags in a newsagent where I worked as a teen, ditto chocolates in a chocolate shop and food in every restaurant that has been unfortunate enough to employ me.
(X) Hated the way you look--I guess as a teen I hated that I was skinny and flat chested
( ) Witnessed a crime
(X) Been to a strip club
(X) Been to the opposite side of the world--been to Sydney and Byron Bay, Australia. Absolutely fantastic.
(X) Swam in the ocean--England is surrounded by ocean so it would be hard not to.
(X) Felt like dying--giving birth x 2
( ) Cried yourself to sleep
(X) Sung karaoke--Abba's Dancing Queen, usually while dancing on the bar
( ) Paid for a meal with only coins
( ) Done something you told yourself you wouldn't
(X) Made prank phone calls--I was about ten
(X) Caught a snowflake on your tongue
(X) Been kissed under the mistletoe--possibly, but who isn't blind drunk at 12 on New Year's Eve.
( ) Had a bonfire on the beach
(X) Crashed a party
( ) Seen a tornado--tornados are rarer than sunshine in the UK
(X) Had a wish come true--I got pregnant three months after I made the wish on New Year's Eve, and I hadn't even met my husband at the time.
( ) Gone bungee jumping
( ) Gone parasailing
(X) Screamed in public--giving birth x 2
(X) Told a complete stranger you loved them--Almost. I picked up a guy on the Tube once late at night. I was blind drunk and started chatting him up, and he took me back to his house for a cup of tea, we dated for a while. I guess he felt sorry for me.
(X) Had a one night stand--on numerous occasions
( ) Kissed a mirror--huh?
( ) Had a dream that you married someone
( ) Gotten your fingers stuck together with super glue
( ) Been a cheerleader--No, we think that's a joke in England
(X) Sat on a roof top
( ) Talked on the phone for more than 6 hours straight
(X) Stayed up all night
( ) Not taken a shower for three days
( ) Made contact with a ghost while playing a Ouija board--Nah, it's bollocks innit?
( ) Had more than 30 pairs of shoes at a time
(X) Gone streaking--while a student, drunk, usually up and down the street, in an English winter
(X) Been skinny dipping
( ) Been pushed into a pool/lake with all your clothes on
( ) Had sex in a public or semi-public place--no memories come to mind
(X) Been kissed by a complete stranger--see loss of virginity
( ) Broken a bone--I am a klutz, but never managed that
( ) Caught a butterfly
(X) Mooned/flashed someone--took top off at a party once many moons ago
(X) Had someone moon/flash you
(X) Cheated on a test
(X) Forgotten someone's name--all the time
(X) Slept naked--always do
( ) Gone white water rafting
( ) Seen the Grand Canyon
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
I put on my best top. The one without any snot wiped on it. I was sassy, I was relaxed, I was going to walk around among the funky little stalls and not give a damn that I was the only one over thirty, who didn’t have a washboard stomach and tattoos and piercings and a waist the size of my wrist. And I think I would have got away with looking quite cool too, only there was one problem. Well, three really. We brought the kids. Scarlett, Sausage and Kira’s son T. who is three.
Firstly, because I hate driving, we crammed the three car seats into the back of my sedan. Then we drove to the festival accompanied by the radio and the kids doing an ear piercing rendition of Super Freak:
"That girl is pretty kinky!
The girl's a super freak!
I really love to taste her!
Every time we meet!"
Hmm, let's just hope they don't repeat those lyrics at pre-school.
Anyway, we eventually arrived at the venue and paid ten dollars for parking. I had a splitting headache and wanted to just lie down under a tree.
After that it was just averting one problem after another:
1. Getting the kids to stop climbing trees overhanging the filthy black oily water.
2. Telling the kids they couldn't go for a ride on a boat because neither mommy was going to fish them out of the filthy black oily water if they fell in.
3. Going to Kira's friend's stall who makes funny hats and having a near miss when Scarlett and Sausage nearly poured bright blue ice cream all over her funny hats.
4. Telling Scarlett it was all right to model a hat but not to put her sticky, ice creamy fingers all over it.
5. Finding a place that sold ice cream without milk for T. who is lactose intolerant. Eventually we settled on a snow cone.
6. Stopping the kids from running upstairs in a tattoo parlor where someone was being tattooed, possibly somewhere indecent.
7. Trying to stop T. from being frightened of a pantomime horse that was running rampant.
8. Trying to stop Sausage from peeing on the ground among a crowd of three thousand people.
9. Finally going to Super Fresh for food and trying to stop the kids ramming the shopping cart into the backsides of the shoppers.
What happened to the al fresco meal? The lager or the nice relaxing day out? It certainly didn't happen. But in a funny sort of way, it was a fun day out.
What event did you recently attend with kids that wasn't quite the same as you remembered?
Monday, October 09, 2006
Today I am awarding the legendary Kevin Charnas a ROFL Award for this most hilarious post. For those who don't know Kevin, he lives in an apartment complex peopled by freaks. He believes it's his Howdy Doody face that makes his neighbors try to seduce him or try and show him their operation scars. Sometimes he wishes the wierdos wouldn't approach him, but knows that his abject humiliations can only lead to some of the funniest posts in the blogosphere.
Go on, check him out. If you don't laugh, check your pulse. You are probably dead.
Click the button below or go here to see a list of the other awardees.
Saturday, October 07, 2006
I didn't want to go through all that again, so I begged my husband for a reprieve. How was I going to watch my obscure French black and white DVDs in which nothing happens save a lot of people staring out of windows smoking cigarettes and crying, not to mention my trash reality TV? And when I thought of all those hours training Scarlett to use the DVD remote. Such a terrible waste of my energies. She’d perfected it too, seamlessly pressing the buttons to forward, play and eject. Even three year old Sausage could put DVDs into the machine without getting her sausage fingers all over them. We were making progress with the concept of 'Mommy is old and needs a lot of sleep.' Some days I was having lie-ins to oooh, six forty-five, due to the finely tuned routine I had got them into, that they should creep downstairs and slot
But no more. I was told in no uncertain terms that the TV was going on a package tour to Cancun, and he wasn’t yet sure if it had booked a return ticket.
And then, after some initial hystrionics, a surprising thing happened. It's actually better for all of us. I don't watch TV until the early hours, ending up with too little sleep. Scarlett has emerged as some sort of creative genius, making little picture books filled with stories of mermaids and girls who eat bugs. We play board games sometimes (yes, boring as hell, but the kids like them) and Sausage is not constantly pounding her fists on the floor crying, "Dora! I want Dora." She's also sleeping later. Usually she crawls into bed with me in the middle of the night and wakes up at six and screams, “I want movies!” She now lies there quietly until seven, muttering in a melancholy and deeply resigned voice, “TV gone holidays?"
Every morning the kids look downstairs to check on the TV and are always surprised to inform me it is "still on holidays." I hope it's getting a good tan.
So, things are going quite well, although I may have to get the TV back from Cancun for when schools close for snow closings as soon as one flake of snow flutters from the sky. Otherwise I may go nuts.
I also had a run in with the tooth fairy the other day. There's been quite a run of bad luck on that front actually. Scarlett lost her first tooth in the playground. The second one was lost by, er, me. She'd given it to me to look after. I put it in a Ziploc bag for safekeeping and then lost it.
Next, I found myself taking dictation from Scarlett. The note read:
Dear Tooth Fairy
My mother is an idiot who lost my tooth. I hope this will not jeopardize me receiving a quarter or more if possible.
Obviously, after this letter was written and put under her pillow, neither my husband or I woke up to exchange the note for the cash, and I woke to find her screaming her head off at five that I'd upset the tooth fairy with my note and that she hadn't left any money. I got out of bed and kind of smuggled a quarter in and said, "Whoops, it must have dropped on the floor. The tooth fairy isn't angry, really."
Whew, that was a close one.
For anyone who likes a good escapist read, I am posting a blog novel called Confessions of a Cake Addict here. It's about a cake addict with a lot of emotional problems who finally beats the bulge, and is not at all autobiographical. Check it out!
In other news, I said to my husband today, "Don't you find the day to day grind of marriage incredibly boring? Don't you ever have the desire to just run away from it all and indulge your wildest fantasies?"
I thought he'd say, "Yes of course, I've always dreamed of flying to Las Vegas on Hooters Air and staying in the Caesars Palace Hotel and watching the sunset in a jacuzzi with a bevy of topless beauties, before gambling away a hundred thousand dollars at poker. But I don't because I'm a mature, responsible adult."
Instead, he just said, "No."
Not to be put off, I said, "Well, how would you feel if I took some time off to travel round the world to find myself?"
He said, "Sure, that's fine, but don't be surprised if I've changed the locks by the time you come back."
I'll say one thing for him, he has some good answers.
Thursday, October 05, 2006
A thousand lost kisses
It was embarrassing, thought Colleen. That’s what got to her more than anything. The fact that she, who had always thought herself above this sort of thing, had got herself into such an embarrassing situation.
She didn’t know how it had happened. One minute she was having a conversation with her son’s maths teacher, Steve, a man she had spoken to on maybe half a dozen occasions. He was a perfectly pleasant looking man, with dark blonde hair that grazed his shirt collar, green-brown eyes that were fixed on hers, and rather unkempt fingernails, with which he kept flicking through her son, Andrew’s, maths exercise book. He had been talking about the fact that Andrew was a talented student, that with a bit of application, a bit of effort, there was no doubt he could get into Cambridge. But the fact was that he didn’t seem to be making much of an effort. And the way things were going, well, it looked as though he was barely going to pass his Maths A-Level.
She nodded and promised she’d have a word with Andrew. Not that having a word with him was going to be easy. Andrew was hardly ever in, and when he was, he remained inconspicuous, sustaining himself on bowls of cereal eaten in his room. The only time she could be certain he was there was when she smelt marijuana smoke seeping out from under his door.
If she was honest, thinking back on the events of that evening, she’d been quite keen to get away from Steve. It was the end of a long dreary parents’ evening, and he’d been the fourth and last teacher to inform her that her son was a write off. She wanted to go home and just go to sleep. Maybe she’d have a word with her husband, Robert, a lawyer who worked long hours. Maybe she’d be able to make him see that if someone didn’t do something about Andrew, he would be a lost cause.
“The problem is, he doesn’t seem to listen to anything I have to say,” Colleen said to Steve, who was looking at her expectantly. Her fingers were idly tracing the message, ‘Fuck School,’ which someone had scraped onto her metal chair, when he’d suddenly leaned forward and pressed his knee against hers.
“I can help,” said Steve, who was, she gauged, about ten years younger than her. “If you like.”
His knee was still there, butting against her naked flesh. For some reason, her body sprang into life. The knee against hers jolted her awake. A flush went through her, and for a moment she was perplexed, could not place the emotion. And then she realized it was desire, and she blushed and looked at the floor. And he was still staring at her, and she knew that he was up to something. Was trying it on, in point of fact. What a funny thought. She almost laughed. And yet at the same time she was, what? Flattered? It was years since anyone had flirted with her, and even then it had usually been some drunk at a party.
“Help?” she’d said, a little hoarsely, and glanced around the hall, where the other parents’ chatter made up a background roar.
He rested his fingers on her bare knee and again the blood swirled up behind her eyes. She thought she would faint. There was nothing about him that was exceptional. Maybe it was just the fact that he had noticed her, had noticed that she was something else, besides a wife, beside Andrew’s mother, besides a GP who looked down people’s throats and took their pulse rates and scribbled out prescriptions.
“We could meet up some evening,” he said, removing his fingertips from her knee. Her skin started to ache, it wanted the fingers back there. It wanted the fingers to move up her thigh and keep going until... “And talk,” he said, interrupting her fantasy. “About Andrew.”
“Um, right,” she’d said, jumping up. “Yes, if you like.” She’d thrust her card into his hand, then walked to the toilet and splashed cold water on her face.
When she’d got home, Andrew had been out and Robert asleep, and she’d lain there beside him, her face burning with excitement and fear.
And now, here she was, sitting in a pub, miles away from the town centre. Well, you couldn’t be too careful, could you? She’d thought about him for the four days since the parents’ evening. She didn’t understand what was happening. Was anything happening? Was she about to have an affair? How could that be? She’d never had the slightest desire to do so before, and okay, her marriage to Robert had become rather lacking in passion these past few years, but she’d never doubted that he loved her, and that she loved him in return.
When she saw Steve, she started to panic. She had half hoped that the moment of madness had passed. That the sexual charge she’d experienced at the parents’ meeting would have disappeared, and he’d have returned to the unassuming school teacher he’d been before, like a carriage turning back into a pumpkin at midnight.
But it was not to be. As soon as she saw him, she wanted to touch him. Wanted to put her arms around him, to bury her face in his neck. What would he smell like, she wondered? How would his bulk feel, on top of her? Would he be gentle, or rough, would he care if she came or would he keep pounding away until she either died of boredom or faked an orgasm, as she occasionally did with Robert?
“I can’t believe you showed up,” he said, his face ruddy from the cold outside.
“I said I would, didn’t I?” she said, as she remembered his phone call, which had been tense, exciting and abruptly curtailed when Andrew had walked into the kitchen. “I just don’t know what I’m doing here. I mean, setting up assignations with your pupil’s mother, it’s not exactly ethical, is it?”
He looked hurt. “I don’t make a habit of it.”
“I’m sorry,” she said quickly. Why was she trying to have a row? She hardly knew him.
There hadn’t been too much talking, about Andrew or anything else. Or maybe there had. It was hard to remember anything they’d said to each other. There was only the unspoken agreement that now there was no going back.
And now, here she was, in Safeway’s, two days later, buying mince for the family dinner. She was going to make lasagna. She was too much in a daze to contemplate tackling anything more complicated.
What had happened was that after a few pints, they’d walked down the street towards his car. They’d got in and he’d leaned towards her and brushed his lips against hers. He’d grabbed her arms, through her thin coat, and pulled her towards him.
It was like kissing underwater. She was submerged and her limbs felt weightless. She had never felt so free, so unaware of her body. For a long time, forever, they’d kissed, not coming up for air. His body had been warm and heavy against hers and suddenly she’d wanted him to fuck her, she couldn’t remember ever wanting anything so bad. And at the point where she thought she would die if he didn’t, he’d peeled off some of her clothes—it was too cold to disrobe completely—and had entered her. It was like in a dream, where everything fitted into place, without any awkwardness. It didn’t just feel like sex, more like something else entirely, a vacation from herself.
Afterwards, she didn’t want to get out of the car and leave him. But she did. The street was so cold, and for a moment she forgot what she had to get home for. And really, what did she have, just a sullen Andrew, demanding money or asking whether she’d washed his jeans and a hundred other pointless little demands that made being around him such a terrible strain these days. And Robert, of course. But he had always been married to his career, she’d known that when she’d met him. That had always been okay. But she wondered if it was now.
And since that night in the car, she’d carried her mobile with her always. Steve was always phoning. It was so exciting, when he’d call while she was at work. He’d be saying something really obscene and if someone else was in the room, she’d just reply as if he was a patient, “Yes, that does sound nasty. I’d take her straight to the emergency room if I were you.” Their conversations caused her no end of amusement.
Now she stood at the chilled meat section, smiling to herself as she thought of him, when a toddler ran into the back of her leg, and she swiveled round, holding a package of refrigerated mince, and glanced down at the boy. His hands were smeared in chocolate and were bunched up in her clean beige skirt.
A young woman with glossy chestnut hair with a tired, anxious face ran up and said, “Come on now Jake,” while trying to prize the child’s fists from her skirt. “I’m so sorry about your skirt. Do you need a wet wipe? I think I have one somewhere.”
“It’s okay, it’ll come out in the wash,” she said, anxious to get back to daydreaming about Steve.
And then, while she was standing there, her hand now numb from the meat, Steve was suddenly there. He was coming towards her. What a delight. What a thrill! She stepped towards him.
But he did not see her. He simply bent down and grabbed the boy. The child squealed and giggled, but eventually let go of her skirt. And now Steve was carrying him off.
Steve handed the child to his mother, who was now trying to jam him into the trolley and attempting to fasten the seatbelt against his squirming body.
Only now, finally, did Steve notice Colleen.
“Oh, hello,” he said, flushing.
As Colleen stood there, trying to take in the situation, the child began to wail.
Why hadn’t she realized that Steve might be involved, might have a child, might have a life outside of the sex they’d had in the car?
“Hello,” she said brightly, finally finding her voice. “I didn’t know you were married.”
“I thought I mentioned it?” Steve said, stepping towards her. “Didn’t I?”
“No, you didn’t,” she said, coldly.
“I’m sorry, I should have. Oh, what difference does it make?”
And even as he spoke, she realized what a terrible mistake she’d made. He was right of course, what difference did it make if one or both of them was married? And yet, somehow, inexplicably, it did.
And as she stared, she could have sworn that the glow that had radiated from him ever since they’d become involved, seemed to have disappeared. He was no longer the lover, the desired, the man who had brought her unexpected pleasure.
He was just a man. And she was a fool.
“I’ll call you later,” he said, giving her a sly little grin, before moving off towards his wife and son.
But she knew she would never take his call.
She was still holding the icy package, which she now dropped into her shopping trolley with a thud. And as she walked away, pushing the trolley, she felt the sharp stab of regret. Regret for all the kisses that would never be kissed, the promises that would never be made.
Monday, October 02, 2006
Daisy and Darren have one daughter, but since her birth six years ago, they’ve failed to procure another child, even after utilizing IVF, Clomid, Viagra suppositories and many joints, all to no avail. Daisy finally cut soy milk and wheat out of Darren’s diet, which apparently made his libido come back with a vengeance. But it was too little, too late. They have failed to make a little Darren.
The doctors can’t really find anything wrong with either of them. So while Darren is away, she’s started having odd ideas about going to a nightclub and seducing someone while she’s ovulating and seeing if she can produce a baby. But she’s scared about this option. Not scared of the moral implications of sleeping with someone behind Darren’s back, after all it is for a good cause, providing a sibling for their daughter.
No, she’s worried that the average specimen that can be trawled from one of Baltimore’s premier night spots might not be all up there on the IQ points. Since Darren has it all on paper: a PhD, full head of hair, as well as being an alumni of Cambridge, she’s keen to draw from a similar bank of egg heads. And the problem with men in nightclubs is that they will say practically anything to get you into bed. I mean, they might tell you they have an MBA from Harvard, when really they just have a qualification in plumbing. How on earth do you separate the wheat from the chaff? The last thing she needs is a good looking guy who ends up with having the IQ of a functional retard. She might as well sleep with George W Bush, although he’s hardly good looking. Well, he’s not too bad, I suppose, compared to his mother.
Oh yes, Daisy’s set her heart on her own baby genius. She finds herself surfing the Web looking at strange sites called Egg Heads Donate Sperm and Genius Sperm, where genius’s post their photos and qualifications and you can choose whichever genius you want to father your child. They then send you their genetic material in the post for self-insemination at your own convenience. These sites even give you stats on rates of insemination per sperm donor, and whether the child usually ends up looking more like the father or the mother. So she’s looking at all these photos of geniuses and trying to find one that looks like Darren. And wondering if she should send off for sperm in a bag.
Since Daisy is South American, I said, wouldn’t you be better off hanging around a building site and seducing a Hispanic for a quick game of hide the salami in the Port-o-Potty, or failing that, if you really have got your heart set on a genius, and are worried about your embryo being infected with venereal disease or HIV, how about going to some dreary freshman disco at Johns Hopkins and then popping the cherry of some physics, engineering or math student (so many swotty, four-eyed, pus faced men to choose from, so little time). The advantage is that because 99% of incoming freshmen have never been anywhere near female flesh, they will be sure to ejaculate in seconds. As far as I can tell, it’s a win-win situation.
I’m just trying to be practical. Darren is unemployed, and they can hardly afford to get one of those adorable babies from China for $40,000 a pop. Lest you think I make fun of her too readily, I’ll turn the discussion back around and make fun of myself. It is a little known fact that, at one point, I was even more obsessed with having a baby than Daisy.
It was back when I was twenty-eight. Suddenly I couldn’t look at babies without crying. I wanted one so, so bad. So, okay, I didn’t have a boyfriend, but that wasn’t going to hold me back. No way. So I asked for opinions about what to do. A lot of the suggestions were too disgusting to mention in such a clean and family orientated blog. In the end I just asked all the guys I knew whether they wanted to father a child. I knew them all quite well, I knew their IQ points, good points, bad points, knew essential things that I needed any child of mine to have, practical things like the ability to make cordon bleu meals, play violin to concert standard, drink excessively without having a hangover and not having a small penis. So I asked around these friends for interested parties, and I was actually about to procreate with the violinist, when I started to have doubts about the whole dubious plan. And a few weeks later I met my husband and everything fell into place. I even managed to get pregnant while we were living in separate countries (although we did admittedly meet up occasionally). All I’m saying is that I am not condemning Daisy for her bizarre cravings regarding baby making. I’ve been there.
One day you’ll be able to buy genetic material at Superfresh, but until then, I’ll watch and wait and see whether Daisy ever gets her hand on some genius sperm. One thing that's wierd about this particular genius website is that they send you the vials of sperm for free. They claim it's because a charitable foundation is footing the costs, but who knows who's behind it all? It could just be Dr. Frankenstein himself, trying to fill the world with evil geniuses
Sunday, October 01, 2006
Why organic food is a con
by Emma Kaufmann
When people ask me if I buy organic food, I say, "No, it's far too expensive." Which it is, of course. But the main reason I don't buy organic food, is that it isn't organic.
Of course I'm not happy about the way conventional produce is grown - with soil pumped full of chemicals, vegetables that are often tasteless and covered in pesticides. But if you think you are doing something ethical by buying organic or are getting a superior product, think again.
Let's leave aside for a moment, the small scale farmer who sells his stuff at the Farmer's Market, and investigate the huge companies that produce and manufacture organic foods. The results aren't pretty. Organic products are almost as chemically ridden as their conventional counterparts, workers are mistreated in the same way as those working at conventional companies, and the impact on the environment from the waste products from organic farms is not as negligible as it appears.
The US organic industry is now worth $14 billion, and is dominated by huge food processing corporations. General Mills owns the organic brands Cascadian Farm and Muir Glen. Kellogg owns Sunrise Organic. Seeds of Change, an organic company that sells rice, grains and complementary sauces, has been owned by M&M Mars since 1997.
And if you think that organic's profitability means that their workers get a fair wage, think again. The profits go to retailers and wholesalers higher up the food chain.
According to a report published last year by researchers at UC-Davis, a majority of 188 California organic farms surveyed do not pay a living wage or provide medical or retirement plans. In fact, most organic workers earn the same as those in conventional fields.
As to the question of whether it is better for you, there is no scientific study that proves that organic foods are healthier or better for you than conventionally grown foods, and a recent study states that organically grown foods have about one-third of the pesticide residues of conventionally grown foods.
Part of the problem lies in inconsistencies in labeling. A product with the USDA Organic label on it is not necessarily organic. This article highlights the fact that the United States Department of Agriculture does not know how often organic rules are broken and has not consistently taken action when potential violations were pointed out.
"The USDA has failed to enforce the regulations," said Jim Riddle, former chairman of the National Organics Standards Board and an appointed adviser to the USDA when the organic standards were enacted in 2002.
Additionally, much organic food is produced overseas, where there is even less oversight. Mr. Ronnie Cummins, director of the Organic Consumers Association in Finland, Minn. states that consumers buying soy milk or tofu, "have no clue that in the case of soy milk and tofu, it's actually coming from China, where organic standards are dubious and labor standards are abysmal."
But what about environmental impact, isn't it better to farm organically? An article in the magazine Nature, tells us that organic farming is frequently as damaging on the environment as its conventional counterpart:
"Competitive organic farmers keep their fields clear of weeds through frequent mechanical weeding - a method that damages nesting birds, worms and invertebrates - and high use of fossil fuels, which greatly increases pollution from nitrogen oxides. A single treatment with innocuous herbicide, coupled with no-till conventional farming, avoids this damage and retains organic material in the soil surface. Similarly, although use of manure means higher, beneficial levels of earthworms in organic fields, there are numerous problems with the use of manure, including possible effects on human health."
What about if you care about how eggs, meat and poultry are produced, isn't it better to eat organic? Well, yes, but you need to be very, very careful and research the company you are buying them from. Because the labels on them are misleading.
This article makes clear that in an instance where the USDA labeled hens "free-range" the animals were crammed in “wall to wall — 6,800 chickens with one rooster for every hundred hens. They never set foot outside.”
Similarly, the USDA cautions consumers that the “organic” label is not to be confused with or likened to the “natural” or any other label, and it “makes no claims that organically produced food is safer or more nutritious than conventionally produced food.”
Like the “free-range” label, the “organic” label does not indicate that animals were treated any differently while being transported or slaughtered than animals raised on factory farms.
What's the point of labeling it organic then? No point at all, really.
So what can you do? Buy locally grown produce.
Buying organic food is such a powerful lure, isn't it? You think that by buying it you are somehow making the world a better place. Well, chances are, you're not, because the majority of organic food is produced by big business. Whatever the ingredients or processing methods, and whether or not it is organic, food from distant, anonymous producers is really nothing more than a commodity, in that the only relationship between the producer and the consumer is a monetary one, forcing the producer to cut costs at every corner. For example, regulations stipulate a minimum cage area per hen for organic eggs, so a producer motivated strictly by cost minimization will pack them in to that limit, regardless of whether that is sufficient for the hens’ health and well-being.
If you really want to be an ethical consumer you are better off eating locally grown produce, even if that produce is not organic. Buying locally grown produce has become the latest mark of the consumer who wants to conserve fuel and reduce pollution created by shipping food internationally.
But probably for you, as it is for me, doing that would not be very convenient. Far better to run down to Whole Foods and grab yourself a bag of pre-bagged organic spinach. That is, if it's back on the shelves yet!
Numbers Don't Lie: The Case for Organic Foods by Izzy of IzzyMom
I am a huge proponent of organic foods and farming. If I could, I would buy organic food exclusively. There are dozens of reasons why, however, to delve into each of them would render this little blog exchange post as lengthy as a term paper. Thus, I am only going to focus on the primary reasons that I prefer to buy and consume organic foods which would be my children.
When you stop to consider that asthma, autism, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorders (ADD and ADHD), childhood brain cancer and acute lymphocytic leukemia have all increased over the past 30 years and babies are born with industrial chemicals, pollutants and pesticides in their cord blood, it's not a stretch to wonder if the pesticides, herbicides and other chemicals used in all aspects of food production are at least partially to blame.
Regarding the health risks of pesticides residues in food, remember that the EPA approved many pesticides and fertilizers long before research linked these chemicals to cancer and other diseases. Today, however, the EPA considers 90% of all fungicides, 60% of all herbicides, and 30% of all insecticides as potentially cancer- causing.
Furthermore, determining the safety of a conventional pesticide may take thirty years or more. For example, we now know that some of the older pesticides, such as DDT, caused serious health problems in children but this didn't become evident until thirty years after the substance was banned for environmental reasons. We may not see the full effects of the newer pesticides we're putting on crops for a long, long time and I'm not willing to let my kids be guinea pigs.
And in case you were wondering how organic and conventional produce stack up, the Organic Center reports that conventional produce is eight times more likely to contain pesticide residues than organic.
I find the aforementioned statistics to be chilling and of course, I would never spoon feed these chemicals to my children so why would I feed them food that is loaded with them when safer organic options exist?
Some people that are not convinced of the benefits of organics but the numbers don't lie.
A 2003 study conducted by the University of Washington tracked a group of preschool children to determine if their diets affected their pesticide exposure. The study was based on 18 children with organic diets and 21 with conventional diets. Researchers analyzed their urine for evidence of exposure to five different kinds of toxic pesticides.
They found that the average total was six to almost nine times higher for children with conventional diets than for children with organic diets. The researchers concluded that consuming organic fruits and vegetables is a relatively simple way for parents to reduce their children's pesticide exposure.
Young children are developing brain function and internal organs intended to last a lifetime and they are more vulnerable to developmental damage from pesticide residues on foods. This is partly because of their fast growth and speedy metabolisms and partly because of their smaller size, which means they eat more fruits and vegetables in relation to their body weight than adults do.
In 1993, a congressionally-mandated study by the National Academy of Sciences expressed concern that existing methods of risk evaluation for pesticide exposure were not suited to children. More recently, the Consumers Union and the Environmental Working Group released studies confirming that children are over-exposed even if their exposure is within legal limits.
Bearing all those facts in mind, I firmly believe that re-assessing our priorities and making room in our tight budget for organic foods is one of the most important things I can do for my children's long-term health and I strongly urge others to do the same.
Babies consume about 60 times more fruits and vegetables than adults. This fact combined with undeveloped digestive and immune systems, put young children at the greatest health risk for pesticide residues. To minimize the effects, you might buy organic for those foods that your children eat regularly.
If you have to limit what organic foods you buy because of the cost, it is recommended that you buy organic animal products first, like milk, eggs and meat.
In produce, pesticides levels vary. Here are some common fruits and vegetables that are high in pesticide residues. Because of the high levels, you might consider buying organic for these foods:
Conversely, these fruits and vegetables are commonly found to have the lowest levels of pesticide residues so it's not critical to choose organics when buying the following:
(Source - The Environmental Workers Union)
You don't have to dive in and go organic all at once but every little bit helps, especially when it comes to your children.
About the author
I'm Izzy, a thirtysomething WAHM of two young children. I'm married to computer god/music producer and the resident concierge & butler to our three cats. I was a graphic designer/corporate slave in my previous life. Now I practice bad housekeeping and butt-wiping, sometimes at the same time, and work at home as a webmaster & blog designer. During naptimes, I can usually be found blogging here or here.
Click here for the other op-ed pieces (and their opposing sides) today. And if you'd like to participate next month, send an email to kmei26 at yahoo.com