(Photo: Local Chicago blogger Jasmine Davila has a vagina and is not afraid to use it.)
The first step to getting healthy is admitting you have a problem. There’s no getting around it, I am hopelessly addicted to Cincinnati chili. I and my waistline dream about the stuff. I find myself making excuses for being in Lincoln Square, eight miles from my downtown home, to accidentally drop in at Cinner’s, Chicago’s only authentic Queen City chili parlor. Just such an accidentally intentional trip is how I ended up discussing vaginas with fellow local blogger Jasmine Davila (a former Chicagoans Project subject on these pages).
We had met for the first time earlier in the year at CTA Tattler’s breakfast meeting with Ron Huberman and had been meaning to emerge from behind our respective electronic cloaks to break bread. Or in this case, eventually, wind.
“I think I’ll have a three-way. I’m feeling a little under the weather and don’t really need the beans and onions tonight,” Jasmine announced as we perused the menu.
“Good. More beans and onions for me,” I answered, and ordered a five-way of chocolate/cinnamon-spiced chili over spaghetti with beans, onions, and cheddar. “Don’t forget the Tabasco. The ways don’t taste the same without it.”
“Well ok, I would eat them ordinarily,” she confessed. “It’s not like I’m kissing anybody tonight. Or ever. Hell, every time I open my apartment door, Eleanor Rigby starts to play off in the distance.”
It’s always reassuring to discover that your idea of fun, while potentially overwhelmingly reclusive, is at least shared by other Web 2.0 cave-dwellers.
“I hear you,” I said. “What I wouldn’t give for a friend who’d be into hanging out inside all day on a Saturday blogging and drinking coffee.”
“Well replace the coffee with Diet Coke and you’ve got yourself a deal.”
As we laid into the curiously chunky Ohio delicacy before us, I remembered Jasmine and I had two major things in common: neither one of us drives; and we’re both ex-New Yorkers.
“Don’t you remember, Mike, we both did time in Queens? When my dad left the Philippines and joined the American army, we bounced around for while then ended up in Richmond Hill. And Woodside. And…” She paused to grimace before naming a particularly far-flung Gotham nabe, “College Point.”
I understood the transit suckiness of her story already. “I though I had it bad living at the beginning of Queens Boulevard on the E and F trains.”
“Uh-uh. At least you didn’t live on the J or in a bus two-fare zone. Do you know how hard it is living in Queens and going to high school in Manhattan?”
Actually, I did. Getting to Hunter College High School at 94th and Park on the Upper East Side–where New York City sends its middle-school brainiacs to be used as fodder for Hunter College’s teaching program–was at least an hour’s trip from my Richmond Hill hovel home. Alone by subway at the (not uncommon for New York) age of 12.
Jasmine blinked in astonishment. “You went to the fortress? No way! I went to Brearley!”
Oh my. “At 83rd and East End? My old friend Peter used to live right there, I spent a lot of my childhood in Yorkville.”
“Do you remember those starchy uniformed girls who used to hang out at Lepanto’s across the street? One of them was me. You know how long it took to get to that hellhole from College Point?”
Poor suffering Queens child. I tried very hard to make my heart bleed. “Later on I went to Bronx Science,” I retorted. “Try the subway from Richmond Hill, Queens to Fordham Road, The Bronx every day. Thank God I had already learned how to get mugged sneaking out for lunch at Hunter.”
Now I understood the sardonic deadpan of Jasmine’s blog. When you’re a Queens-raised autonomous interborough subway child like us, your overloaded experience of life before even your first kiss is enough to almost permanently tattoo that knowing smirk on your face for life.
“Actually, I don’t date much,” Jasmine confided. “Well, ever. I have a lot of crushes though. But I still get weirded out when people recognize me from my blog.”
“I’ve done pretty well since my recent era of consecutive breakups,” I said. “If nothing else, I’m learning how to be my own best fan. Unfortunately, it gets boring stalking yourself all the time.”
I wondered whether as non-native Chicagoans, our solitary attitude comes from us both still being a bit out of sync with the locals.
Jasmine made my point. “After seven years, I find it funny that people complain all the time about the weather they grew up with here. I mean, hello, can you please be used to it yet?”
“Well I don’t think I’ll ever get used to alleys, and words like orange, forest, and Florida not rhyming with far, farther, and farthest,” I offered back. “That, however, doesn’t explain my occasionally incipient spinsterhood.”
By now chili was over, and one of the Brown Line’s perennial service diversions had forced us into a bus trip back home–to the Lakeview lakefront for Jasmine, back downtown to Marina City for me. We made our way to Marine Drive and boarded an obnoxiously bumpy CTA express bus.
Jasmine was having none of it. “The worst is the underpass that goes from Michigan Avenue onto Lake Shore Drive. The last time I rode a bus through there I could feel the bouncing inside my vagina.”
“Well, luckily you’re not using it for anything right now.” Too bad. If we only had one fewer vagina between us, I bet we’d have potential.
“True,” she agreed. “In the grand scheme of life, I have my readers and my crushes to keep me company at night.”
“I have Camoes for that,” I lamented.
“Is that your pussy’s name?”
“I named him after the Portuguese Shakespeare of the 1500s. I got him back in New York when I was still stuck on Lisbon.”
Jasmine shot me a hopeful look. “That’s an idea. Maybe I’ll get a rabbit. What do you think?”
I think the woman sitting behind us on the bus probably gave herself a stiff neck when her jaw audibly hit the ground on my reply. “I’m too much of a foodie to ever own a pet I might want to cook someday.”
God forbid I should ever own a petting zoo.