Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Vagina Monologues, 1776

 "She did not just say that..."
by Brendan Cavanagh

(loosely inspired by Mada's post yesterday)

On the sweltering afternoon of July 6th, 1776, in Philadelphia Pennsylvania, a crowd of men and women gather outside the building where earlier this week the Continental Congress convened. Only days before a group of politically-savvy men enthusiastically strolled through these doors to sign their names on the infamous Declaration of Independence, which severed the thirteen colonies' ties to Great Britain. Now those men morosely drag their feet and hang down their heads as they accompany their excited wives inside to the Vagina Monologues, which their wives prepared over the last few weeks.

Just as the curtains on the makeshift stage spread apart and the show begins, Thomas Jefferson seats his wife in the chair beside his in the back row. He wipes the sweat off his brow with a handkerchief and finally turning to her, asks with a groan for the umpteenth time, "But why do I have to come to this?" He knows the answer, but he grows quite uncomfortable and swears he becomes physically ill when the topic of vaginas comes up at home. You see, Jefferson's wife came from a conversationally open family, so she's prone to flirt with delicate issues at home.

Mrs. Jefferson straightens herself up in her chair and gives her husband an angry glare, visibly offended. "Thomas Jefferson! I let you go out with your friends and discuss politics for hours on end every night this summer while I sat alone at home, and now the least you can do to make it up to me is support something I'm passionate about. Now hush! You've caused us to miss the opening monologue."

The Jeffersons cease their bickering and face the stage, where some poor fellow's wife struggles to provoke the sheepish male members of the audience to say the word "vagina" aloud.

"Come on, guys! It's just a word! Vagina. Say it- vagina."

A few brave souls halfheartedly repeat the word, while a portly man in the front row coughs violently. Ashamed to be put on the spot in front of all these laughing women, most of the men slump down in their chairs or mumble something that sounds like "vmmuh" behind their hand as they pretend to stifle a pending sneeze.

"Oh, I guess they're just a bunch of little girls, afraid of the word vagina," jokes the emcee. "In that case, they're going to have to contribute to the monologues later tonight, seeing as the women are the ones who perform in the show. Now come on, guys, if you don't want me to drag you by your ear up to the stage, repeat after me: vagina."

Terrified at the prospect of being forced into losing what shred of dignity they have left on the stage in front of some of the most brilliant minds of New England, the flush-faced men respond in mumbled unison, "Va-giiiiiina," followed by a nearly palpable wave of relieved exhalations.

The monologues then begin, and one by one, the wives of this country's founding fathers take the stage and read poems or soliloquize about a recently championed movement called "feminism," tell jokes, relate stories, to their husbands' collective chagrin about the first time they had sex, or speak frankly about their vaginas (at which point several uncomfortable gentlemen politely excuse themselves in order to share a pipe outside or express mutual disbelief in the bathroom).

"Is your wife going to make such a brazen spectacle of herself back in there, John?"
"Certainly not. I would never allow it."

What follows are some of the evening's highlights.


The first woman to do her piece is Martha Washington. She clears her throat nervously and proceeds:

"'If I Was a Man for One Week'
by Martha Washington

If I was a man for an entire week,
I'd be so upset that I couldn't speak.
I'd miss my long hair and delicate skivvies
But most of all I'd miss these titties."

George Washington guffaws noisily at this. It's not like he's going to run for President of the United States or anything, so what does he care what his modest wife says tonight.

"But seriously, folks, let's think about it-
When it comes to politics, I don't give a shit.
As a woman, I'm meant to be seen but not heard-
At least what they told me when I was a girl.

So if, as a man, I joined the administration
that sets the rules for this fledgling nation,
I'd make a few changes to your declaration
and give the ladies some representation.

Now take your talk of taxes and get it out of your head,
as I tell you why you come home each night to a cold bed."

"Oh shit," thinks George, as his wife gives details of the couple's arid sex life and expresses the discontent of most of the women there.


Mrs. Jefferson eventually takes her turn. To Thomas' shock and dismay, his wife relates what she purports to be a fictional soliloquy she wrote about a woman who grapples with the possibility that her husband is having an affair with another woman. 

"How could she know?" Thomas wonders. He thought he had eliminated any possible clue that would evidence his clandestine relationship with one of his slaves, Sally Hemings. The room grows silent quickly while Mrs. Jefferson muses realistically on the subject, as if talking to herself:

"...I figured he seemed distant lately because his time and his thoughts have been consumed by work. I didn't even presume he could be having an affair until I saw him with her....What does she have that I don't have? Am I nothing more to him than the hapless bearer of his progeny, the docile keeper of his home?....Which could be less desirable: the wife, who is less preferable and lied to by her husband, or the mistress, with whom the husband is more honest, but is used solely for sex? To ask such a question is like asking if I should prefer death by hanging in the gallows or ingesting arsenic. Frankly, the latter has never seemed so tantalizing..."

When Mrs. Jefferson finishes her confessional spiel, she passes a sea of staring faces and sits back down next to her husband who awkwardly kisses her on the cheek and anxiously chuckles, muttering through a pained smile, "Really great job, honey...really great."

"I hope you find that new divan we just bought most agreeable, Tom, for you shall spend your nights on't indefinitely."

Later that evening, the time has come for the final monologue, a song written and sung by Benjamin Franklin's wife. Halfway through her moving ballad about the first time she had sex with her husband, the subject of her song and object of her affection, who snuck in a flask of whiskey and proceeded to overdo it as the show wore on, appears beside her. Swaying back and forth with his arm outstretched in an attempt to stop her singing, Benjamin slurs loudly enough for everyone to hear, "Honey, I...I got this. Don't worry. You can sit down now. I- I got this."

He goes on to tell a rather raunchy joke about two call girls he befriended in France and a beaver-pelt hat he acquired whilst there, at which point a few of his friends approach him and kindly escort him home to get some sleep. The show obviously over now, the rest of the men jump up eagerly and practically throw their wives over their shoulder before high-tailing their way out the door.


Needless to say, women don't earn the "certain inalienable right" to vote in America until one hundred and forty-four years later. Ooooooooh.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Ramblings with no prior thought. Read if you're bored.

If I were a boy for a week:

I would eat all the food. All of it. Overeating is not something I've ever had to worry about before but now that I don't have a gym to go to and it is perpetually snowing, I have to actually watch what I eat. And it effing blows.

I would masturbate so much. Dicks are weird and foreign to me and I think I might spend way more time than necessary just chillin with it out.

I would not wear a shirt when going to the corridor kitchen or at anytime in my room. I already usually take my shirt off in my room, but the freedom of being able to do that in front of people without being "that girl" would be lovely.

I would try to pick up a girl at a party. In general girls like to dress up to go out so people will hit on them but then they get super defensive whenever a guy talks to them and calls him a "creep" to her friends. It's really dumb but we all do it. I would like to see how that plays out from the other side.

I would play as many pick up games of any sport I could as possible. I played soccer for years and was really good at one time. For a girl that is. Then I would play with guys who never played on a real team and they would be just as good as me just because they were bigger and stronger and more naturally athletic. It's bullshit. Anyway, I would just relish in the fact that I could run fatser, kick harder, aim better, and be taller just by default.

I would be as loud and sarcastic as I wanted. Generally speaking, my kind of humor is more accepted on a guy than a girl. Sure some people will think you're a dick but most people will find it charming. On a girl a couple people find it charming, but most people just think you're a bitch.

I would try to get black out drunk. I have a tiny little girl body that does not like alcohol at all. I will throw up long before I get black out drunk. Now getting black out drunk doesn't sound that fun but it is something I have never and probably will never experience due to physical limitations so I would want to try it just once.

Things I would miss:

Boobs. Let's be honest, they're fun.

Spending little to no money on alcohol. People are much more generous toward girls when it comes to sharing alcohol, plus it does not take much for me to have a good night.

Having people hold doors for me and help with stuff like putting my bag in overhead compartments. These are things I could easily do myself but it's nice to be treated like a lady sometimes.

Wearing interesting clothes. Guys in general have very limited options on what they can wear and I think it would just get boring after awhile.

Dancing in clubs. A group of girls can go out and dance for fun with just each other as much as they want. If a group of guys did that it would be really weird. Like super weird.

People being impressed by my major. At this point in time very few math majors are girls and people find it interesting when I tell them that I am exception. There is nothing interesting about a guy math major. At all.

Getting hit on. Like I said, no matter how much girls complain about it, they love to get hit on. It boosts the ego and makes your night much more interesting. Obviously guys get hit on too sometimes, but I am under the impression that it is much less common.

I would be interested to hear what a guy would do if he were a girl. If any of you are uninspired this week (like I was), give us an insight.


Monday, February 13, 2012

Nick - Fifty Improvisers In A Room

I spent all weekend in Indianapolis at CIT, College Improv Tournament, with DeBono. Fifteen teams showed up to compete (although I missed three of them) and a ton of different forms and techniques and interesting peoples were present.

I could write a whole post about how awesome that was and how much I love doing improv and how awesome all the people there were, but that's been done. Instead, I'm going to write about some of the funnier problems encountered when you have that many improvisors in the same room.

Focusing Is Hard

I don't know how many of you have been to an improv practice before. (Probably, like, half of you, if my readership is a reflection of my friend base.) But one thing that plagues every improv team everywhere is that improvisers just can't focus for that long.

As the contest was starting, Keith, our incredibly talented and friendly host, attempted to explain the rules in a 30 minute meeting. He tried really hard to be entertaining and keep everybody interested, but about 15 minutes in, he said, "Any questions?"

One girl shouted, "Are you single!?"

That was it. Focus lost.

The meeting never really got back on track after that point. Poor Keith.

Practical Jokes

Every improviser thinks that they are hilarious. Sometimes this plays out at the expense of others. Also, I admit that I am more guilty of this than almost anyone else.

In our hotel room, Simeon and I shared one of the beds while Kimi and Clare shared the other. Our first order of business was to give Clare the wrong room number and then sit around and giggle.

That night, Kimi tried as hard as possible to make Clare as uncomfortable as possible by forcibly spooning with her.

Our masterpiece was a plan to have Kimi start crying as Clare was almost asleep, while Simeon and I would pretend to be sleeping.

I spent the whole weekend watching people trying to be funny, but Clare's reaction to Kimi made me laugh harder than anything else all weekend. Prank calls were made. We convinced someone to jump in a pool. Good times all around.

We Can't Hold A Normal Conversation

Improvisers, as fearless as we can be, are generally deficient in social skills. One conversation occurring at the after party began with someone asking, "Do you work in Indianapolis?"

The response was, "Why, yes! I'm the mayor."

Conversation over.

Beyond that kind of cringe-inducing miscommunication, most improv conversations go like this:

"You you do improv? I do improv!! You go to college? I go to college!! We have so much in common!"

Judging Comedy Sucks

Comedy is a subjective thing. It's very difficult to judge. Especially when you have long form, short form, and musical teams all competing in the same bracket.

Feelings get hurt. Accusations get thrown around. Judges can be biased towards a particular form or a particular team.

I don't really care much about the competitive aspect the way it's done here, but some people take that shit seriously.

We're Loud And We Love Ourselves

The hotel room that we hung out in after the show got a lot of noise complaints.

Also they got yelled at by a naked guy.

True story.


Oh god. Sleep. It's currently Sunday night, and the last time I got more than 4 hours of sleep at a time was Thursday night.

I took a series of 2 ninety-minute naps over the course of the weekend, and Saturday night I got a solid 4 hours of sleeping in after laughing at Clare for most of the night.

Speaking of, I'm feeling kind of dizzy. It's 7:30pm, but this seems like as good a time as any to call it a day.


EDIT: I just remembered another problem that someone mentioned to me as he shuffled through the pile of coats, looking for his own.

"So many damn peacoats," He muttered.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Robert - The Center

Poor people are pathetic, and rich people are shitheads, but there's really nothing wrong with middle class people, so I guess that's why everyone refers to themselves as middle class. It's a way of middling out. A way to keep from stepping on anyone else.

Of course, if you're so careful not to step on anyone else, you're not even going to end up making a footprint. Maybe a light toeprint, if you look hard enough, the spot where you danced around people's opinions too carefully. We're okay with that. We're okay with shirking the limelight, the thing that makes us noticeable and criticizable and murderable. We're okay with not being looked at. And that's a funny thing, I think. A funny thing that we're alright with that, with locking ourselves into middling positions and carrying on with our heads down.

We're afraid of being too stupid. Stupid people are ignorant. We're afraid of being too intelligent, too refined. Intelligent people are elitists. No, but you, you are just right. You are perfect right there, and don't move. Don't move an inch. We're afraid of our arrogance. Arrogance is too blunt, too forward, too abrupt. Too striking to others. We're afraid of reproach, to have to defend the roots of our arrogance to the other people who are also afraid of our arrogance. We're afraid of our arrogance and also of our modesty. We're afraid of the weakness of humility, the timidity and the smallness, because smallness does stand out in a crowd, despite what you think. Arrogance and timidity, they are both destructive things, and we try to avoid them both at least a little.

We're afraid of our own political left and the political right, because they are radical and crazy. The center is where our rationale is. That is the safe place where we can't be attacked. And then someone shows us the global scale, that our political left is the world's political center. And that might change things for us, but probably not, because the world is not our neighbors and our neighbors are who can attack us.

Our neighbors are who we have to defend against. They are constantly at the ready to attack, with their antagonizing looks and their loud silences with hasty conclusions in their brains. Mostly, we're probably defending against ourselves. Being afraid of not being rich, not being intelligent, not having other things too, is a powerful fear. It's a lucky thing that we have a middle ground, a place where we can keep from stepping on other people, and from being considered at all. Our neighbors can't attack us if we say we're middle class, firmly agnostic, politically independent. You can't attack what you cannot see.