It’s the faintly feral cut-to-there green Versace frock that Jennifer Lopez wore to the VMAs. It’s “that dress” worn by Elizabeth Hurley (also Versace, but black this time and sutured with safety pins). It’s the fragile goth fantasy spun by the nearly naked Rose McGowan. It’s Björk as a sublimely surreal Oscar swan, Michelle Williams in Oscar goddess saffron, and Lupita Nyong'o aloft in her icy Oscar froth. It’s Rihanna in almost every gown she wears, but it’s especially Rihanna resplendent in Guo Pei’s bath of silken gold at the 2015 Met Gala
I was about two weeks into my sophomore year at the University of Vermont and about 10 weeks into my first pregnancy when my friend Nancy Early picked me up in her red Fiat Spider and drove me to the Vermont Women’s Health Center on North Avenue in Burlington, Vermont. Nancy held my hand while a woman with a kind manner and a VWHC “Health Advocate” button narrated my abortion, sounding like voiceover for the world’s most compassionate nature documentary. After, I felt tired. I felt relieved. And I felt grateful that my abortion was safe and legal and, oddly, a familial legacy. Today—as the Trump administration defunds Planned Parenthood, states chip away at abortion access, and the U.S. Supreme Court tilts conservative—this legacy feels imperiled.
The email was proof that my biological father was looking for me.
The day I met the man who would be Dad, we took turns roaring like lions over diner cheeseburgers while my mom watched with an expression that married wonder with apprehension and strangers’ eyes knifed glares at us. It was the summer of 1970; I’d guess it was July, and my mom had been dating him for about two weeks. My family is notoriously bad with dates—my parents celebrated their wedding anniversary on the wrong day for three decades—but I know it was hot, and my dad spent a whole afternoon carrying me on his shoulders around the Shelburne Museum. His back must’ve hurt, but I was seven and unimpressed.
6/10/2015: "Bernie Sanders Was Just Another Hippie Rummaging Through My Mom’s Fridge"
One hot night in July 1972, I walked into my family’s kitchen to see my mother brandishing a broom at a skinny man who had his head stuck deep inside our refrigerator.
“You get out!” my mom yelled, hitting the man on his skinny ass. “Out, out!” Under her tan skin, my mother’s face was red with indignation. We didn’t have much in our fridge, but my mom would fiercely defend it. The man pulled his head out of the fridge, dropping the food on the shelf. His hair was curly; a cherub’s full-bodied curls framed his startled face. Chagrined, he loped off to the other apartment housed in my family’s converted two-room schoolhouse in Huntington, Vermont, the site of a late-night mock-up session for The Vermont Freeman, the alt-weekly my parents published. Years later, I’d find out that man was Bernie Sanders. (Read more)
I own nine tubes of red lipstick. All are unapologetic reds. There’s nothing natural about them. Pressed against a white shirt, all leave a mark. None look like anything other than what they are: paint. These nine tubes have names like “Rioja,” “Outlaw,” “Vampira,” and “Red Velvet”; two are the same shade (“Port,” a dark blood red that a wicked stepmother would wear) because I was afraid I’d lost it and bought a new tube.
I don’t limit myself to red lipstick, though I favor it. I also have three tubes that fall in the family of exuberant, optimistic pinks; a couple that err on the cranberry side of natural; and one really lovely violet.
Let's see: There was the time I was 15 and, eying a career in broadcasting, did a Saturday ride-along with the local news team. The smirking, fratty 30-something male reporter told me a dirty joke; it ended with a punchline about a tiger and me laughing nervously. There was the middle-aged guy at the pool who would leer and talk at me the summer I was 16; his chest hair glistened in the sun, oily and fluffy as sheep wool. I giggled at him too.
What you do with the hair ‘down there’ is subject to so much political weight, even as ageism extends further south
The first time I saw one, I had to do a double-take. It happened around 4am, and I was a little drunk and very tired, sitting on the toilet to pee. I looked down. I thought, “What is that?” I looked down again.
I’ve lain on my back as a boyfriend poured maple syrup across my breasts, down my abdomen, and over my genitals, and then licked it off (it was in Vermont, so it was topical). I have given fellatio with grapes in my mouth. In a bed and breakfast on Cape Cod, a young man made real his fantasy of eating ice cream off of my ass — it was, if memory serves, chocolate. Both ginger and ice have seen the inside of my ass.
I have had sex on the beach, on a bus, on the tarmac, and in a Macy’s dressing room, and I have pulled from my intimate recesses grains of sand, bits of asphalt, and fuzz of indeterminate origin. Once, on a train, I reenacted a scene from Fear of Flying. It involved orange segments and genitalia; the young man I finger-fed was confused.
I have shaved, waxed, grown, and dyed my pubic hairs. I have answered the door wearing nothing but Saran Wrap. I have reenacted Ravel’s Boléro scene from 10 (with a girlfriend) and the refrigerator scene from 9 1/2 Weeks (with a boyfriend). Once during a lunch hour, I was the second girl in the world’s fastest threesome; were it scored, it would’ve been to Rimsky-Korsakov’s “Flight of the Bumblebee.” This threesome occurred in one of the seedier midtown hotels, and over time, my memory has layered this hotel with an uncanny sheen. Today, I remember it more or less like a set from Supernatural, minus the demons.
None of these supposedly erotic acts, not one, arose from my own fecund imagination. Every one is entirely lifted from something my partner or I had seen, read, or heard about. I can claim no originality. I am the Jonah Lehrer of sex, a serial plagiarist of stunning bravado and insouciance. So are you. (Read more)