Sunday, June 04, 2006

Au Revoir. (Or as the French would say, Le Revoir.)

Well, Dear Readers, the time has come for me to finally put my money where my keyboard is. In several hours, I will be catching a flight to Washington, DC, to officially register with the Peace Corps for volunteer service in Burkina Faso. Come Tuesday evening, I will be settled on a plane, flying out to West Africa, along with a few dozen other breathless, terrified volunteers. I'm scared. I'm excited. I'm not ready. But it's time, so I'll pretend to be ready.

On another, exciting note, reclusive blues legend Emphysema Jones recently emerged from semi-retirement with an offer to take a stab at recording my opus, "The Agency Blues." This was quite a surprise, and a great honor as well, to receive such a tribute before my departure. Apparently my first attempt at songwriting touched Mr. Jones personally—he informed me that he, too, got his start in the bowels of a talent agency! Oh, the irony. Anyway, please check out the track—I hope you enjoy. I know I certainly did.

Okay, back to business. It has been a lot of fun, kids. I cannot express how much I have appreciated your dedication (and tolerance) in reading my posts. And for those of you who are curious about my ensuing adventures, please look up my overseas blog, A Dabbler's Diary: The Burkina Files. I shall continue to dabble my way through life—as only I can—with a running commentary. Okay now, I'm getting emotional... partly from writing this last post, and partly from the effects of that last glass of scotch. Gotta run... I have to finish packing, as well as get at least a few hours sleep before my flight.

Ever yours,


Thursday, June 01, 2006

Love, Sex, and Q-Tips.

I shall, if you don't mind, briefly take a break from my usual patter of sarcasm. Normally I don't like to write something along the lines of a public journal entry... I have a personal diary for that kind of stuff; in this case, however, it sort of has some pertinence to all my preparations for my imminent departure to Africa (less than a week away now). If this bores any of you, Dear Readers, fear not—I promise to be back to my usual form before this post is through.

My family is going through all the stuff we have kept in storage in the attic, the idea being that this is a good time to take another look at what warrants saving, before I start my oversea service (what with a lot of my personal possessions cluttering up the place). Yesterday, it fell upon me to go through a big box filled with old pictures and notebooks from my high school and college years. I reclaimed several packets of photos that I had given up for lost a long time ago, sifted through old letters from school friends and family members, and then I came upon It. I don't know why, but I don't usually keep mementos from past romantic relationships. I don't even make a grand gesture of burning letters or gifts from exes, I usually just thoss them in along with the other things headed to the trash. It came as a surprise, then, to discover one solitary letter from the first (and, thus far, only) girl I have loved. Now, that may not sound like much, but the significance of this letter was that it was the catalyst for our relationship; I won't get into all the details, but suffice it to say this letter had forced me to realize that I was both head-over-heels for the girl and an idiot for not being with her. My dilemma now is what I should do with this recently-discovered artifact. On the one hand, I would have to be at least partially dead inside to simply crumple up the letter and throw it away; on the other, isn't it a tad bit obsessive to hold onto something that is a token (no matter how sweet) of a relationship long-over and ultimately soured? Consider the positions reversed: I know that whenever I have dated a girl, it has made me a little wary if she overly treasures something that an old boyfriend gave her... it's not always the case, but the relationship may be in trouble if I have to compete with a ghost for her affections. Still, I don't want to lose this letter again now that I've found it; the memories it invokes are intoxicating. Man, I really don't need this kind of internal debate right before I leave the country. Don't worry, Dear Readers: I am not asking for your pity, or for any sort of advice. This is just something a little more personal than my usual stuff, that I decided to share.

Now, speaking of love, and of sex (more the latter than the former)... does anyone else out there experience a degree of difficulty in buying condoms? I hadn't made such a purchase in a long time, but I did the other day, and I'm embarrassed to admit that it hasn't gotten any easier for me. In some ways (said the blogger), I am a very private person, and I really don't like for the rest of the world to know when I am getting—or at least hoping to get—lucky. Maybe it's the fact that I was brought up in a state founded by puritans, or that I went to Catholic school for a couple years, or that I am half-Jewish, but apparently I've got a LOT of guilt swirling around inside me. I get slightly uncomfortable just going into a pharmacy and walking past the condom section in an aisle when I'm only trying to buy soap. So when my reason for being in that particular aisle is to actually get condoms, and not soap, I probably pace up and down that walkway about 5 times, intently looking at everything BUT the rubbers, trying to find the right moment when absolutely no one is looking at me so I can quickly snatch a packet from the shelf, my secret safe from prying eyes. I'm unfortunately also one of those people who tries SO hard to be casual about buying these things that I'll buy a bunch of other random items too, like toothpaste, batteries, pens, and gum—making it all the more obvious that my sole reason for entering that store was to attain a pack of Trojans. I even tell myself, mid-charade, "Well, I needed a giant pack of Q-Tips anyway," and sometimes I even believe it. Then, inevitably, when I finally make it to the check-out line, the area is swarming with little kids, and I feel like even more of a perv; I do not want to be the very first person in their lives to introduce them to the concept of sex, safe or otherwise! As I endeavor to hide my shameful purchase behind the deluxe package of Q-Tips also in hand, I grow even redder, and I start to sweat. I don't want to know what I must look like to the cashier by the time I arrive in front of her. Naturally, it's the pack of condoms that needs the price check, and gets separated from everything else, held out on display for all the shoppers behind me. After hurriedly paying for my goods, I stumble out of the store, promising myself that next time—next time I will have overcome this handicap.

Gosh, sometimes I wonder why I am so often single.