There are many things I am sure of: my favourite colour is purple; my favourite song is Mr. Big’s To Be With You; I prefer cats over dogs; I have an unhealthy relationship with food; I love to laugh more than most anything else; I’m stubborn; determined; a feminist. I could go on. Despite being able to make such a list, I still get blindsided every few months by how little I know myself. And not like, “oh, that was weird” when acting in a way outside myself, but more like “WHAT THE FUCK JUST HAPPENED?”
The most recent moment of pure confusion came when I was talking to a friend about what my perfect guy looks like. I couldn’t answer. I mean, I could: long-haired, bearded, tattooed, burly, glasses a bonus. But running through the list of men I have been with would suggest otherwise. No one on my list fits that description. Oh no wait, there is one. But he only achieved said look after we first slept together. Ain’t that the way?
If none of the people I have slept with fit my quote-unquote ideal, then am I actually really attracted to what I think I am? Or have I just been perpetuating this idea because I hadn’t stopped to ask the question in so long? I’ll take this opportunity to stroke my own ego and say that I’ve never dated this guy because at the end of the day, I care less about the wrapping than the gift itself. I know, I know – I’m a really good person. That must be the reason. Yeah. Well. That OR men that look like that tend to be assholes. It’s definitely one of the two. Probably the latter.
But really I think it comes down to the fact that I am a queer woman that has dated mostly men. The lumberjack vision is antithetical to the parts of me that are attracted to strong, empowered women like the Cara Delevingne, Evan Rachel Wood, and Janelle Monae’s of the world. And until I fully explore that wonderful world, my idea of what I am attracted to will remain just that: an idea. A shoulder shrug. A moment of pause followed by an, “ummm… they just have to be able to make me laugh.” At the end of the day, that’s what I want. And it’s okay to not know the rest.
Dr. Dre’s 2001. In grade 7, I remember dragging my mother to HMV with the goal of getting the album. I tirelessly pleaded with her to buy me the CD because it’s cool and I’m cool, and because she’s not cool, she could never know how cool it was. Ah, the logic of a twelve year-old. Finally, she gave in. I like to think it was because I was so persuasive but it was probably more because she secretly knew what table I sat at during lunch. We get to the cash and the nice-nice-oh-so-nice man behind the cash looks from me to my mother and back to me then says, “did you know we have the clean version?” Are you fuckin’ kiddin’ me? My eyes drilled holes into his head as he showed my mother where to find the PG album. I felt so betrayed. What gives, dude? Retail workers don’t get tips. And even if they did, joke’s on you, she tips the same no matter what the service is like. Having since worked at HMV for a 3 year stint, I can say with confidence I never showed the same douchebaggery to underage folk. That is until they came the listening booth with five CDs. This isn’t the buffet of music, all-you-can-listen, get the fuck outta here!
Walking proud with my new CD spinning in my discman, I took my usual seat in the cafeteria only to be interrupted by Christianne: self-proclaimed rebel from the grade 8 class. She asked me what I was listening to and when I replied, she yanked the headphones off my head and hit play. Right off the top things get suspicious when Snoop turns into one of those faceless adults from Peanuts and starts talking gibberish, “Da da da da da, It’s mwa-sner-der-fla D-O-double-G!” If you weren’t paying attention or you were say, in a large cafeteria full of 1200 students, that one may slip by you. It isn’t until the song finishes and the iconic words, “EYAT WYERMS EVERYDAY!” hit your eardrums that you truly know something isn’t quite right. Eyat wyerms? Like eat worms? Oh please no, Dr. Dre, not you too. Or maybe Wyerms is an acronym for some new diet of diets spreading through the Hip-Hop crowd and Dr. Dre is getting paid to advertise? Not having heard the uncensored version, I didn’t dwell on it too long. But Christianne knew the original very well. And nearing the end, at around the two minutes and thirty eight seconds mark when Dre reminds gardeners everywhere that they’ve been doing it wrong, she heard it: “HOLY SHIT! It’s the clean version!” She proceeded to run around the cafeteria and tell everyone about my profanity-challenged CD, which had the added sting of her having to point me out when she was met with “who’s Rebecca?”
It sucked. But isn’t that the way when you’re motivated by vanity? Murphy’s Law. I like to think that the spike in censored album sales thanks to yours truly (or maybe thanks to mommy dearest) gave Missy Elliott her inspiration to “Ti esrever dna ti pilf nwod gniht [reh] tup.” It’s all how you look at it. And I’m taking this one as a win. But also, like, fuck you HMV dude.
Sometimes my body can’t tell if I’m on a literal rollercoaster or I’m just really embarrassed. Embarrassing moments are one of those things that are impossible to remember when asked to recall but when you remember them organically it’s as if they just happened. My heart feels as if it plummets down to my stomach, my face flushes, and I get nauseated. It’s a completely undesirable experience and has led me to wonder why that reaction happens at all?
Coming from an evolutionary standpoint I can’t fathom what benefits it really has. Take this for example, one time I was on vacation with a male friend and while we were emptying our bags in the hotel room, a handful of condoms fell out of my bag and spread across the floor. Instant embarrassment. The assumption that those condoms could have been intended for that friend is just as painful for me as the assumption that I brought ten condoms for sexcapades with a stranger. The truth? I really don’t know. Maybe a bit of both? Maybe they were more of a pipe-dream during a particular dry spell? Maybe I just wanted to have them to think that I could be the girl who fucks a lot on vacation? Whatever the reason, I never expected to be found out.
So what’s the lesson that my bright red rosy cheeks taught me in that moment? Don’t be prepared. And… take more care when emptying suit cases. Also, that whenever I randomly remember this moment in the future, it will feel as if it is happening again for the first time. Also, also, no amount of wondering if the other person involved remembers this moment will give me any solace or reduce the amount of embarrassment felt. Verdict? Feelings of embarrassment have no benefitting effects beyond keeping a person humble. That being the case, I’m really fuckin’ humble.