Cocking A Snook Too!

Independent, Irreverent Unschoolers – or at least one – Take On the Universe

Let’s talk about sex November 26, 2009

Filed under: Criticism of the Stupid,Random Moments of Poignancy — Meredith @ 10:44 am

How’s that for a comeback?

I don’t talk about sex very often, at least not in relationship to my own personal self. To do so seems indiscreet, boastful, and, because of the unpleasant puritanical hangover to which women are still subjected…well, skanky. Women who talk about sex are obviously women who are having, or interested in having, sex, ipso facto: they are sluts. This is an unfortunate mental block to which even I, a practitioner of plain old boring straight monogamy, am subject. Women reach a stage in their lives – usually in the mid-to-late-twenties – where almost all of their friends get married at once, five or so dizzying years flying by in crinoline and taffeta. But there is a phenomenon that precedes it, taking place in the mid-to-late teenage years, in which almost all of a woman’s friends lose their virginities, one after the other, like dominoes.

It is this stage of life in which I presently find myself, with few of my friends still in retention of their “virgin patents,” as Shakespeare put it in Midsummer. In an unscientific poll I conducted, every one of them, myself included, felt an intense, burning, scarlet-letter style stigma after renouncing said patent, sometimes for weeks afterwords. It was a jumpy, unfounded, uncontrollable paranoia, no matter how pleasant the circumstances of renunciation (“I look at people and wonder, do they know what I was doing last night?” is the average unquashable question). It was a feeling of precariousness, that at any moment we would somehow slip up in thought, word, or deed and give ourselves away. A brastrap stained with oily fingerprints would slip out from under a sleeve; a previously unnoticed hicky would appear in an inconvenient place; some sort of balance of chemicals we’d never heard of would change fundamentally and give us clusters of pimples that spelled out “I AM NOW SEXUALLY ACTIVE, HAVE A NICE DAY,” on our foreheads. Maybe in braille.

The upswing of this is that the feeling goes away after awhile, leaving behind it a feeling of heady confidence: I had sex one time, and no one noticed. Maybe I could get away with that on a regular basis. But it’s still a hard thing to talk about, even to other women in hushed tones in empty rooms. Which is one of the many reasons I’m thankful for Dan Savage.

Dan has written his sex advice column, Savage Love, for about as long as I’ve been alive (maybe not quite that long, but close). He is also a funny and heartbreaking writer, and fairly regular contributor to This American Life, which is where I first heard him read an essay and became enthralled. The essay wasn’t about sex, it was about his experiences as a gay dad, excerpted from his book The Commitment (a life-changing read, by the way). It was stunning for many reasons, not least because Dan’s love for his son is blinding; he’s not just a dad, he’s a great one, doing his absolute best every minute of every day to make sure that his little guy grows into a happy, well-adjusted adult. All children should have such parents, gay, straight, transgendered, whatever.

After a taste of what a friend refers to as “the Dan Savage gateway drug,” (his essays on family and culture) I was hungry for more, and discovered that Dan produces a weekly podcast version of Savage Love, in which people call in, record their questions, and, with any luck, have them answered by the master. Sometimes Dan even calls back to ask follow-up questions or berate someone for dysfunctional or destructive behavior.

His on-air manner is frank, funny, and profane. He’s completely unapologetic, and seems determined to slaughter every sacred cow there is so that we can all enjoy post-coital hamburgers together. The wit, humor, and attention to grammar (“I would hope all of my listeners know that the past-tense of “come” is “came,” not “commed,”) drew me in. The parade of problems and advice kept me there.

The result of all this listening of people talking about sex in a positive, happy light, was that I began to feel like it was something that could be talked about. My mind opened up to the worlds of other people’s ‘kinks,’ as Dan says, and began to see that, though I may not share most of them, responsibly sexually active adults all have something in common: a need to connect with another human in the most intimate and pleasurable way on earth. Almost everything between consenting adults is A OK in Dan’s book, and, inch by inch, I became more accepting and less prudish, simply because I’d heard so many different forms of sexual expression discussed in a non-judgmental forum. I have become well-informed and damn near unshockable, and I strive to be that way about everything.

So I am feeling fiercely protective of Dan this evening, having stumbled upon a brief article mentioning him and a frustratingly ignorant comment attached to said article. The article is posted on a well-put together sex-ed site, which, coincidentally, I highly recommend for those of you who are or have teenagers. While I was clicking around the site, just to see what was up – I haven’t visited in a few years – I noticed Dan’s name and, of course, had to read the whole article.

The author had seen Dan speak on a college campus, and seemed on the whole pretty uncomfortable with Dan’s frankness in the same way I was when I first began listening to him talk about people, you know, doing it, right there on my iPod. He writes:

While I think that, over all, Dan Savage gives awesome advice and that it’s great to have someone like him be in the position that he is in, I do sometimes cringe at some of the advice that he gives. And so, because I did end up leaving the room feeling giddy and empowered, I want to get the negative bit out of the way first and end this blog on a positive note. To the question “Is it weird to still be a virgin in your 20s?” Dan answered with yes. He then qualified his response by stating that most people become sexually active at 15 or 16, but from there proceeded to talk about how waiting longer to have sex may make someone more prone to sexual dysfunction.His advice was “Get out there, get drunk, and get it.” He added “You don’t want to get really shitfaced and accidentally rape someone, or get really shitfaced and be accidentally raped, but anyone who says that there can be no consent when alcohol is involved is lying.”

It was this section with which the commenter took issue.

“Accidentally raped?”

As if we could somehow get ourselves raped on purpose?!? Um, okay. “I meant to get mugged last night,” or “No, it’s okay, we got robbed on purpose.”

It’s at times like this when I’m glad I don’t give people my opinion for money, because I think I would be perpetually angry at people who just don’t listen. In context, Dan’s point is clearly that alcohol is not the root of all sin that Susan B. Anthony and MADD would have you believe; in fact, in responsible quantities, it is a social lubricant. In fact, he is specifically telling his audience to drink only in moderation, for the safety of themselves and others, and he is making a very important point about rape: a woman who goes into a situation looking for sex (“a hookup,” as the kids say) can still be raped. She still posesses agency, and can put the brakes on at any time she pleases, she was not “asking for it.” He’s really advocating personal responsibility, here, telling people to stay in control of their fates, not to surrender that agency.

So I am upset at this unfair maligning of Dan, without whom I would never have heard of “grammar fetishists” (“My girlfriend likes me to use bad grammar in bed so she can punish me,” the caller explained. “I am amazed you are not a grammar fetishist,” Calvin said later when I told him about it).

And, really, I’m upset at the maligning of the term “rape” in general – it’s come up this week more than one might think.

My mom sent me this absolutely appalling article, “The Wilding of Sarah Palin,” written by a self-professed “recovering liberal.” The rape undertones are right there in the title, if she’s refering to what I think she is, and the references only get more overt.

I’ll spare you the blow-by-blow, as it would doubtless only make us both angry. The gist is that this woman was paranoid about being raped in college, so she became a women’s rights activist within the democratic party. She posits that democrats purposely keep women afraid of rape so that they’ll vote democrat, like a sick stick to the carrot of equal pay and abortion rights. She goes on to insinuate that democrats put out some sort of subliminal messages about conservative men all being rapists. She makes this allegation with no evidence whatsoever, and, if the average conservative sex scandal is any indication, my 14-year-old brother has a lot more to fear from Mark Foley, Larry Craig, and Ted Haggarty than I do.

She goes on to hint that she might have been raped (“probably at a peace rally,” Calvin groaned), and called the perpetrators “minority,” “thug,” “hoodlums,” blaming liberal social programs for the circumstances that led directly to her violation. If I may interrupt: I have a hunch that not stoning rape victims was once considered a “liberal social program.”

She goes on to accuse everyone at Berkley of being a “sleazebag,” (really, everyone) and that because liberals subscribe to the concept of moral relativism, they sanction the stoning of women in the Middle East. Where, the last time I checked, women were being preyed upon by religiously and politically conservative men.

Then it gets really good (or bad, I guess, would be a better word for it):

My other epiphanies: those ponytailed guys were marching for abortion rights not because they cherished women’s reproductive freedom, but to keep women available for free and easy sex.And the eagerness for women to make good money? If women work hard, leftist men don’t have to.
Then along came Sarah, and the attacks became particularly heinous. And I realized something even more chilling about the Left. Leftists not only sacrifice and disrespect women, but it’s far worse: many are perpetuators. The Left’s behavior towards Palin is not politics as usual. By their laser-focus on her body and her sexuality, leftists are defiling her. They are wilding her. And they do this with the full knowledge and complicity of the White House.

That’s right. Suggest that Sarah Palin is not fit to be the president, make a reference to her looking like a trailer-trash-beauty-queen-Barbie, or even question why a supposed symbol for conservative women’s independence and awesomeness required Wasilla rape victims to pay for their own rape kits out of pocket, and you are symbolically raping her.

The extreme Left still consider themselves warriors, righteous soldiers for their Marxist cause. With Palin, they use sexual violence as part of their military arsenal.

WHAT sexual violence? Has anyone raped Sarah Palin? Ever? Has anyone ever gathered a large group of impressionable people and suggested to them that they should try and make it happen, in the way that some conservative preachers are instructing their flocks to ruminate on our current president and the Psalm that says “Let his days be few; and let another take his office, let his children be fatherless and his wife a widow”?

Anyway, the woman goes on to say that all liberals hate Sarah Palin because she represents the sacred mother Mary or some damn thing, and that liberals are “life-despoilers,” as though we all sit around in dark basements plotting the destruction of the world order, with our faces all gross and melty like those Indiana Jones Nazis. Also, liberals have to take time out of this busy schedule to rape conservative women and then personally strangle any resulting offspring. There’s a quota, you know, something like five a month or they won’t let you vote in the primaries anymore.

“Life despoilers.” It would kind of be a sweet name for a rock band.

I had a point, somewhere, like, maybe 1000 words ago? Have you guys seen it?

Oh, yes.

Maybe if we were all a little more like Dan Savage – a little more open, a little more irreverent, a little more positive about a natural, biologally imperative act we’ve engaged in since our own inception – then the word “rape” wouldn’t get thrown around so much. Not only would people not get huffy at its very mention in a sex column, trying to find fault and hurl accusations of “anti-woman” and the like; people would stop suggesting that to question a woman in the public eye is to “symbolically” rape her.

Jon Stewart once said (and I never get tire of quoting it) “You know who was like Hitler? HITLER.”

You know what’s like rape? RAPE.

Let’s not trivialize it, and let’s not make it into a boogyman to the degree where it can’t even be discussed. Maybe we could just talk about rape like a normal societal ill, like poverty or murder, and not like something so loaded that to even mention it is to draw a sharp political line in the sand.

And maybe we could talk about sex like it was eating, or breathing, or dying, or anything else we all do, an unshameful everyday occurrence.


An Excerpt from My Three-Volume Memoir May 15, 2009

Filed under: College Stuff,Criticism of the Stupid,Funnies — Meredith @ 5:50 pm

I believe it was John Adams who said, “The older I find myself growing, the greater I notice a fundamental flaw in human beings: namely, that I hate them.”

Actually, it wasn’t Adams who said that, it was me, just now, quoting an excerpt from my upcoming three-volume memoir, “Why the Girl Who Sits in Front of Me Deserves to be Executed via Guillotine, and Other Things I Learned at a Four-Year State University.”

I started here on Monday, in the six-week summer session, and it’s been pretty nice so far – Gothic brick architecture, reasonable food court offerings, interesting professors, blah blah blah.

Two things have happened quicker than I anticipated, however: my growing acclimation to campus geography, and my growing hatred of the girl who sits in front of me in my lit class.

Now, full disclosure: I am an English major, dyed in the wool. I’m probably getting my Master’s in Library Science, but even if I don’t it doesn’t matter, because I was actually born a librarian. I just can’t help it. And after lo my many years in community college, the trenches of English education, I’m pretty ready for students who want to be in English classes. I’ve studied beside and tutored students who don’t, and it ain’t no garden of daisies.

So this girl who sits in front of me – this puffy, jiggly, collagened, pea-brained harpy – is obviously of the latter category. On Wednesday in class, in an event that I will recount with bile to my grandchildren, the young man sitting to her left leaned over and asked her opinion of the day’s readings, which are supposed to be read the night before class so that they can be discussed.

“Oh,” she said, with a laugh which I’m sure she thought was bell-like and charming, “I didn’t read them.”

“Do you want to look at them real fast?” he asked, offering her the textbook.

“Oh, no, thank you,” she said politely, again with the laugh, “this isn’t my major.”

What. The. Frak.

So that means – what? That you don’t have to TRY in classes that don’t pertain specifically to your program of study? What the hell are you, a sports management major? Not all classes are inherently interesting, say, Financial Management of Libraries (yeah, looking forward to that one). But sometimes you have to take them, and the mere fact that you find them uninteresting does not make it OK to not do your homework.

What is up with this attitude? Why are you in a 3300 level class that you don’t even care about?

Come to think about it, why are you even in college?


Oh man you guys I am so excited May 8, 2009

Filed under: Calvin,Movies + Life — Meredith @ 11:57 am

I’ve been a geek all my life – it’s just well-hidden because I’m bad at video games and have highly developed social skills. I have a box of DC comics from the 60s in my room (Batman and Superman); I know Tolkien’s Elvish alphabet; I adore the original Star Wars trilogy and think it’s a shame that they allowed Lucas to ruin the new trilogy; I love reading, and am, in fact, a grammar nerd; I’m halfway through watching Firefly, need to finish watching through the first season of Battlestar, and will be deeply upset if Dollhouse gets cancelled.

All this geekiness I claim on my own terms, but since Calvin and I started going out almost three years ago, he’s introduced me to even more geekiness. He’s a Marvel man, so I can add Spiderman and the X-Men to my repertoire. He’s a serious gamer (and when I say gamer, I mean FF10 gamer, not MaddenWhaterver gamer), so even though I have the dexterity only for Lego Indiana Jones, I’m aware of that universe. Calvin also plays Magic and Warhammer (he paints all his own models exquisitely.)  He and I also read Watchmen together, way before the movie came out, and then we went to see the movie together, and when the four-hour extended cut DVD comes out, we will watch it again.

But the biggest and most important thing Calvin has introduced me to is Star Trek. All of it. I have seen at least ten episodes of every series, more of most, and movies 2-4 and 6-10.

And I am so excited about the new movie. Calvin and I are going to see it tomorrow, and I wanted to do something to mark the occasion. Poll time!


Wait, we’ve had this controversy before April 30, 2009

Filed under: Criticism of the Stupid,Funnies,News to Ponder,Random Drivel — Meredith @ 1:42 pm

I was just listening to MSNBC out of corner of my ear, and I heard that there is some sort of Barbie controversy brewing. Apparently, people are upset that Barbie suddenly has tattoos.

To which I responded:

“Wait, this has happened already. What the hell?”

My mom: “No it hasn’t.”

Me (increasingly insistent): “Yes, it has. In 1999. Butterfly Tattoo Barbie.”

My mom: “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

Me: “I have one. You got it for me. I took it to the beach for my ninth birthday.”

My mom: “I’m sure I wouldn’t have gotten you that.”

Me: “Yes you did. You clipped an article out of the paper for me about the controversy after you bought the doll and told me to save it because the doll would be valuable someday.”

My mom: ” Nah.”

As evidence, I procured my Butterfly Art Barbie (I have since learned that this is the official name) from the naked

Jess the Butterfly Art Barbie today

Jess the Butterfly Art Barbie, who turns 11 this year

shoebox orgy in my closet where she currently resides with her other Mattel brethren and politely thrust her and her butterfly belly tat in my mother’s face.

“Are you sure it wasn’t a gift?”

Yes. I really really wanted one. Everybody did.”

My parents bought me the Butterfly Art Barbie, which, may I point out, was sold with temporary tattoos, so that you can “have fun decorating Barbie and you with cool washable decorations!” We snapped one up right after they were released in 1998, before a panicky Mattel pulled them off shelves faster than you can say “lead-lined toys from China.”

Oh, how short the memory of the 24-hour news channels!

I named the Barbie Jess (I named all my Barbies – if I’d called them all Barbie it would have been too confusing for them) and took her with me to the beach on my ninth birthday. I wanted to emulate her, sure. I thought she was great, with her plastic feet and alluring beach-hobo lifestyle. And yet I am devoid of tattoos? How is this possible?

The truth of the matter is that Jess the Butterfly Art Barbie did not make me want a tattoo, she made me desperately want crinkly hair, a style which is

a) hard for my hair to achieve, and

b) looks awful on me.

But I kept trying for years.

Anyway, people need to calm down. If your child is looking to Barbie as her primary role model, maybe you should let

Observe Butterfly Art Barbie's huge honkin' butterfly tattoo

Observe Butterfly Art Barbie's huge honkin' butterfly tattoo

her read, or watch television, or leave the house. In a world in which Michelle Obama is the First Lady, Sandra Day O’Connor is appearing on talk shows, and Tina Fey exists, are girls today hard up for flesh-and-blood role models? Oh, and how about you? The kid’s mom?

Also, why are we suddenly more concerned about young girls in this country getting tattoos than about young girls in this country becoming anorexic? I think we need to worry a little more about Barbie’s impact on body image than Barbie’s impact on images on the body.


Well, at Least We Don’t Live in Australia: Thoughts on Abortion April 21, 2009


I woke up to the sound of a vibrating cell phone.

Since it only vibrated once, it was almost undoubtedly Calvin texting me. I figured this morning’s text would be something about the day-to-day operation of the Venn diagram that is our lives, pertaining to our plant or trip to the beach, but it was the other kind of Calvin text: the Kind that Keeps Me Angry/Amused About the World Around Me.

He’s a very good news source, and he knows exactly which stories will make me scream/laugh. Today was a screaming day.

A 19 yr old Australian is facing 14 years in prison for “organizing her own miscarriage,the text read. [Abortion is] legal there, just illegal to seek.

That makes no sense, I texted back.

Correct, he agreed.

So if someone jumps out of an alleyway and gives you one against your will, it’s OK, but if you make an appointment, it’s not?

Sort of. The law is 100 years old and doesn’t even make complete sense by today’s legal standards. “Seek your own” is the key phrase, but it isn’t defined.

According to Wikipedia, the law in Australia is pretty similar to the state ours was in pre-Roe – cases turn on a state-by-state basis. Abortion is the law of the land, there, in the sense that an abortion performed based upon the health risks of the mother is always legal, but each state has the right to define what that means.

Therefore, the young woman in question, who facilitated her abortion with the much vilified “abortion pill,” is in violation of the law because she based her decision to abort not on health concerns, but on the fact that she’s nineteen years old, for god’s sake. The pill, misoprostol, is essentially banned in Australia, and was smuggled in from the Ukraine.

Luckily, much of Australia seems to be with her, although most of the news stories I can find make the old mistake of saying “pro-abortion activists” are rallying. This is a label that rubs more and more on me these days, creating an emotional and political blister the size of Kansas. No one is “pro-abortion.” No one likes the idea of it. Nobody has one with relish. What I am – and what most people in the pro-choice movement are – is a person who wants control over my own life.

This story hits home with me for several reasons, not least because this girl is my age. If I were to require an abortion at this point in my life and someone were to get in my way? Oh, there would be carnage, and damn the consequences. Conservatives try to obfuscate the issue by whining about life. What about my life? I am a fully developed person, a citizen of these United States, and I have certain unalienable rights to this vessel which is my own personal body. Sure, a fetus has the potential to become a life. I am a life already.

There were several moments in Barack Obama’s campaign that made me want to vote for him twice. One of those moments was during the Saddleback forum, hosted by the Devil. The Devil asked Obama about abortion (although he did not challenge him to a fiddlin’ contest, which is a shame), and Obama responded thus:

“I believe in Roe v. Wade, and I come to that conclusion not because I’m pro-abortion, but because, ultimately, I don’t think women make these decisions casually. I think they — they wrestle with these things in profound ways, in consultation with their pastors or their spouses or their doctors or their family members.”

Thank god that we are not in Australia, and that this man is our president. But does anyone remember that, for a while there, we were alarmingly close to this?:

Sarah Palin and her child named after a tree or something

Sarah Palin and her child named after a tree or something

Q: Your stand on abortion?

A: I’m pro-life. I’ll do all I can to see every baby is created with a future and potential. The legislature should do all it can to protect human life.

Source: Q&A with’s Mike Coppock Aug 29, 2008

I don’t know that I’ve ever seen such a nuance gap between two candidates.

I think it comes down to this: the pro-choice concept is difficult for some people to latch on to because it involves the complex task of making your own decision with no guidance from anyone else.

Think about it. Atheists make religious fundamentalists uncomfortable because we manage to operate by a moral code which we ourselves developed, free of biblical intervention. Religious fundamentalists are people who cling to the chains that bind them, who genuinely don’t know how to operate without a set of rules handed down from on high. Why wouldn’t these people want abortion legislation?

I think women who are anti-choice are that way because they are as horrified by abortion as, well, anyone. And they are even more horrified by this thought:  what kind of monster am I if I decide to have an abortion? If abortion is illegal, well, congrats, you don’t have to struggle with your better angels at all. Decision has been made for you, and you have an excuse not to think about unpleasant things.

I am an inverse fundamentalist christian. I want everyone to step into the light, to see the beautiful future they can have if only they believe in it. But that future is not accessible through hate and fear. It is accessible through freedom, it is visible in the first steps taken away from dogma and puppet-strings, toward the terrifying brilliance of a world you can create yourself.


Teabagging John Adams: Or, a Brief List of Things About Which I Have Recently Become Enraged April 16, 2009

The greatest satirists of our age

The greatest satirists of our age

I haven’t blogged in a long time.

The Rick Steves thing doesn’t count, I phoned that in. But it’s just been that this last semester there hasn’t been that much to write about. Obama won the election; Sarah Palin was returned to the padded cell that is Alaska; John McCain seems to have rid himself of the Venom Symbiote; Scott McClellan revealed once and for all that Fox News was not only a Bush shill but a Bush mouthpiece, and there was Peace and Harmony Throughout the Land. Mostly. Enough.

There wasn’t much to be enraged about, really. The few rabid conservatives still showing their pasty faces were like amusing court jesters, or Vegas contortionists – a little disturbing, a little macabre, but ultimately hilarious. I mean, have you seen those people on Morning Joe? They’re a freaking laugh riot! There’s that blonde one whose father is an economist, but she doesn’t know anything about anything; and Pat Buchanan comes on sometimes to kill hippies live-on-air, and OMG, that stupid jerky one who pretends he used to be a Congressman? Joe? He’s better than Stephen Colbert.

But my ire has slowly but surely begun to rise. It all began with this Rhodes Scholar, right here:

Michelle Bachmann, fucking insane

Michelle Bachmann, fucking insane

Does anyone else remember that episode of How I Met Your Mother where the subplot was all about not dating girls with “crazy eyes?” That’s what Michelle Bachmann makes me think of. Crazy. Eyes. Like she wants to seduce me in an elevator and then kill my rabbit. Just sayin’.

She’s been on my radar since her fittingly disastrous Hardball appearance, when she basically suggested that we reinstate the McCarthy hearings. Every time I hear her name, it’s because she said something yet more awful. In an era of increasing globalization, ennui, and mediocrity, this woman outdoes herself every single time. A week or two ago she suggested that AmeriCore was going to turn into a “mandatory re-education camp.”

Check out this highlights reel. Nuckin’ futs.

Anyway, not too long ago, Bachmann made the following statement, which, as Dave Barry would say, I swear I am not making up:

“The Founding Fathers fought against taxation without representation.

Today we have taxation with representation.

I wonder what they’d think of that!”

(crowd goes wild)

Much as I hate to burst her crazy little bubble, I gotta say: I think the Founding Fathers would be pretty goddamn psyched about taxation with representation, considering that the right to it was what spurred them to revolution.

I dont even know what this means

I don't even know what this means

But the Republican base, as usual, is much more interested in style than substance.

“Tea Parties” have “spontaneously” “sprung up” “all over the country.”

Translation: “Uninformed protests” have been “organized and publicized by Fox News” “in cities in which they could scrape up a couple hundred, or in some cases, a couple dozen, people.” (more…)


I Watched PBS Alot as a Kid March 19, 2009

Filed under: Funnies,Random Drivel — Meredith @ 5:58 pm

Hello, it is I, Rick Steves, your next best thing to a plane ticket. Actually, I’m even better, because your plane ticket cannot speak to you in a comforting midwestern  accent, nor can it wear huge 80s aviator glasses and plaid shirts.

Welcome! To Best of Travels in Europe: FRANCE. Please indulge in this montage of French monuments set to 80s pop.

Well, hello, again, it is still me, Rick Steves. Do not fear, I am not the sort of man who would abandon you in a foreign country, and certainly not on a subway.

I am in a CAFE, a sort of French resturant where one can order caff-ay ole-ay and bag-ettes. It is often a fun activity to sit in a cafe and be stared at by disgruntled French people.

Oh! I did not mean to confuse you with all those French words all at once. Perhaps I had better explain. I will be using lots of French phrases in this videocassette. But since you are probably too unintelligent to speak French, I will pronounce the words incorrectly in both French AND English, utilizing a special vernacular of my own devising, known only as “Frangalis.”

This sullen, excessively bearded man is my companion, Francois. He will accompany me in restaurant scenes throughout the videocassette. Francois does not respond to any of my questions in French, English, or Frangalis, so I can only assume that he is a feral man-bear.

Another thing that can be a fun activity is riding LE METRO. It is the most advanced subway system in the world – you feed your tickets through a machine that can COUNT them! Fancy that!

Sometimes, as a way to earn money, starving children will dance or sing or play instruments or rap or rob people on LE METRO. If you bring a camera crew along, the other passengers will clap and pretend to tip them. And that’s the magic and hospitality of the French people.

But we certainly can’t spend the whole day underground! We’d miss one of my other favorite activities – standing on rooftops and scanning the skyline for attractions I will never actually visit.

Look, there’s NOTRE DAME! We will not visit NOTRE DAME, for it is overrated and often crowded. And when YOU are an experienced international traveler such as I, Rick Steves, you, too, will come to consider everything overrated and abhor virtually all human contact.

I think instead we should go to Napoleon’s tomb and attempt to look somber.

Well, that was fun! But we are off to even more exciting locales. Here we are in France’s largest department store. It is so large that there is a restaurant in it, and one of my favorite things to do here in FRANCE is sit in the department store restaurant and knock back a few cold ones.

Something I like to do when I come to FRANCE is rent an apartment and buy groceries and do my own laundry and interact will REAL French people. I LOVE Parisians! They are so jolly – sometimes they will pretend that they do not speak English until more than halfway through a conversation! Then they laugh gaily, for this is a delightful game in FRANCE.

Did you know that I, Rick Steves, support marjuana legalization? I’ll bet that you did not! I bet you now think that I smoke the stuff myself. Well, you would be WRONG.