by: Samantha Irby
issue nine. GODDAMN I’M BAD AT THIS WRITING SHIT. Five or six weeks without a magazine post? That is downright blasphemous.
In my defense, though, I‘m totally fucking lazy. I wish I had some sexy excuse: dashing new paramour banging me senseless, exciting international travel (resorts only, though, because that hostel shit is NOT CUTE), ghostwriting Nicki Minaj’s autobiography, or anything else that sounds even marginally young and cool. Alas, the real reasons I haven’t written anything look more like these: lifetime movie marathons, broken asshole ruining my life, trying to find some nerd to fix my fucking ipod for cheap, putting fake ads on craigslist, dogsitting in suburbia, throwing out all of my ratty old underwear, cruising the aisles of Whole Foods for dreadlocked dudes. Thrilling shit, I know. These past few weeks haven’t all been fun and folly, mind you. I did get a fucking haircut. And a pedicure, which I hated every second of. I bought a lot of clothes on the internet that look cheap and fit wrong in real life. I got embarrassingly involved in that stupid “voice” show. I gave Helen a thorough brushing and she bit me five times. I watched the season of Breaking Bad I’d missed. I paid some bills, I saw the movie “Friends with Kids” with Lauryn and cried through the whole fucking thing like a girl, I got some new glasses, I went to trivia night and lost because there was no BET segment, I read the new granta horror collection, and I caught a miserable fucking cold. like I said, I’ve been setting the world on fire over here.
TURN ONS. It has always weirded me out that someone might need to turn to a vagina magazine to find out how best to turn some boring-ass regular dude on. Assuming that you actually have a person to whom you might apply this advice, why not just ask HIM? As you know, one of my favorite mental images is that of the confused and desperate half-naked woman pausing the intercourse to find her battered copy of cosmo and thumb through the pages trying to find that one sex move “guaranteed to drive your man wild!” Ugh. What does that even look like, when your man goes wild in bed? (trust me, I wouldn’t know.) Doesn’t that sound dangerous? Or at least a little bit scary? I just picture the gnashing of teeth and ripping of the sheets I just washed specifically for this rare sexual occasion.
That said, I very much enjoy reading about other people’s crazy fetishes so I feel less weird about the horrifying shit my dumb ass is into. From now on, let’s only talk about the weird shit we’re into. I can’t take all this moonlit walks and quiet evenings at home bullshit. I just need some teeth and lawn tools in the mix, gosh. please and thank you.
Please don’t eat chicken in front of white people. Here’s the scene: BRAD’S ANNUAL SUMMER BARBECUE, to which you’ve been invited every year since you started working in the cubicle across from his. Sure, he never stops to get your lunch order as he heads out to Subway every Tuesday, nor does he inquire as to whether or not you need any ballpoint pens or paper clips as he heads off to the supply closet. But every year, without fail, when his wife sends him into the office with a picnic basket full of hot dog-themed paper invitations to their annual backyard burnt hamburger party, there is one with your (inappropriately apostrophe’d) name on it. As party day approaches you get more and more nervous about making small talk with the people who come to work with wet hair and shoot hate darts with their eyes at you while you re-heat last night’s fish dinner in the breakroom microwave every Wednesday, yet you pump yourself up and tell yourself that sure, this will be fun! When you arrive at the party you realize that yes, Brad and Ashley still don’t know any African-Americans other than your ass, and you feel totally out of place with the two giant bottles of strawberry crush you brought as a contribution. (White people don’t drink that shit.)
Everything is going along smoothly (wow! Who knew quinoa salad was so delicious?!) until the minute the barbecued chicken comes out. Then every eye in the yard slowly turns to where you stand salivating, holding your thick chinet paper plate. (White people always buy the good paper plates, not those thin ones you have to triple to keep from spilling ribs and hot links down the front of your fucking shirt.) And you are faced with an agonizing decision: pretend you want to eat veggie dogs and turkey burgers, or smash that chicken with reckless abandon like Martin Luther King would want you to. I’ve been in this situation before, tormented by a picnic table laden with gleaming red half moons of watermelon while encircled by a gaping crowd of people in tevas and board shorts. And I resisted, choosing instead to eat another ear of roasted corn. (Without butter. White people love health.) I’m just not evolved enough to do that shit, not yet. Maybe during barack’s second term. keep hope alive.
Look how insane I look in that picture. I was the only black person in the whole motherfucking place, and those white people made me wear a fake mustache and pretend that crustless watercress sandwiches and sletzer are delicious. (No, they didn’t, there were mini hot dogs and shit, but I’m making a point here.) I am a veritable expert in white people, the foods they eat (RUTABAGA, SON!), and the activities they enjoy, and even I act like a cornered animal when surrounded by them on all sides. For real, I get all sensitive and militant and shit. I’m all at karaoke screaming, “No, bitch, I will MOST CERTAINLY NOT sing that Aretha Franklin song when my turn comes up!” and shit, making everyone in the room feel like a goddamned racist just because I happen to do a killer rendition of “The Weight.”
Here’s what you can talk about with white people: THE WEATHER. Seriously, any other subject and it’s a slippery slope into their inevitably saying some shit that will make you show all your blackness in public, and you know your Mama raised you better than to be out in the street with all your chitlins and collard greens showing. Traditional magazines are always offering survival solutions for all sorts of awkward interactions and social gatherings, why not one for weird interracial situations? Don’t white people need to know how best to ask us about our loudness and hair? Couldn’t we darkies benefit from a professional golf tutorial?! Seriously universe, give me the Katy Perry cliffs notes so I have something to say to this young white woman seated next to me at this caucasian wedding. And I bet she wants to know why I haven’t touched that raw spinach with lemon “dressing.” Or those nine assorted flavors of hummus. someone really oughta help us the fuck out.
How to fake an orgasm. In a perfect world, this wouldn’t even be an issue. I mean, right? We’d all be blessed with tender, sensitive lovers completely attuned to our every need and desire, selfless to the point of absurdity, unwilling to take any pleasure for themselves until they’ve been assured that we are completely satisfied. TOO BAD WE LIVE ON EARTH, HO. Earth, where motherfuckers rabbit-fuck you in the nostril for forty-five seconds before collapsing in a sweaty heap on your side of the goddamned bed and drifting into a coma until twenty minutes past he’s already made you late for work.
I was having phone sex with your uncle the other day when all of a sudden he broke character and asked if I had ever faked an orgasm. “Of course I have, dummy,” I said. “I fuck dudes.” And that statement sparked a lively discussion (read: HEATED DEBATE) during which he tried to convince me that no woman he’d slept with had ever faked an orgasm while having sex with him. OH, SIGH. Menfriends: if your lady starts all of that nonsensical screaming and shouting your name fewer than thirty-five minutes of incredibly specific vaginal stimulation, that ho is maybe definitely faking it. Sorry to break it to you, but she’s probably chafed and bored and wondering if she can catch the last few minutes of Grey’s Anatomy if she can hurry up and roll you off of her.
Some dudes are getting hip to us, though. At this point in my life I don’t fake anything. I either 1 glare and ask him to clear out of my vagina because I’m over it or 2 boss him around until he gets it right, which is goddamned exhausting so i usually just don’t. But the last time i did, that sensitive dude caught on. So here’s the deal, you need to act excited, but not TOO excited. Like, Ben and Jerry brought back Rainforest Crunch excited. But not omg My So-Called Life is back on the air with Angela as an adult excited. And then say something like it was so amazing you need some recovery time, and when he asks why you’re putting your coat on, tell him you need to go home and make an energy shake or some shit. make it sound believeable (ie, don’t say that dumb shit if you don’t have a working blender or whatever). Then you can NEVER BANG HIM AGAIN. Because once you fake it you can never go back and demand he service you properly. So act wisely. AND STOP SCREAMING SO LOUD. That shit is a dead giveaway. Plus, it’ll piss off his neighbors, and you might need their wi-fi password someday.
FORTY DOLLAR MASCARA. I will never forget the first time I saw a bitch spend $1000 on a neck moisturizer. I was at Nordstrom with this girl I used to hang out with who was what any sensible parent would have deemed “a bad influence” five minutes after making her goddamned acquaintance. But my parents are dead and not a single one of the adults in my life cares enough to talk me out of doing dumb ass shit, so I spent two years doing boutique drugs and watching this broad turn expensive tricks. I learned everything i’ve ever needed to know about 1 tricking a dude out of his money and 2 pharmaceutical grade cocaine from her. Just like a hallmark card, my life.
Anyway, one of her johns had a Nordstrom card. And a Bloomingdales card. And a house account at Saks. And in exchange for chauferring her around in his leased mercedes, she would sometimes buy me things with his money. I’d never before seen someone spend $400 on a haircut. Or, for that matter, much of anything else. At the time I was living with 127 roommates in an apartment the size of the average hall closet, so my fucking rent wasn’t even that much. And not practical by any stretch of the imagination. I basically shit money, when i have some. I CANNOT WAIT to throw that shit away on Diet Coke and magazines or whatever else I’m always so busy buying. But EVEN I had a hard time keeping my jaw off the floor around her. We would go out for, like, two hundred dollar LUNCHES. What can you possibly order in the middle of the day that costs that much goddamned money?! (Lobster and champagne. Seriously, at one in the afternoon on a Tuesday.)
Okay, so this one day we went to a fancy spa to get facials. As soon as they handed me a too-small robe and slippers half the width of my foot and sent in a tiny German woman armed with torture devices meant to rid my nose of blackheads I was totally fucking crestfallen, because when i say “facial” it has a TOTALLY DIFFERENT MEANING. I fell asleep while she was oxygenating my pores, and an hour later awoke to find my face shiny and covered in blotchy red patches. “ten years younger!” The German barked as I inspected my face in a mirror. I was twenty-fucking-two at the time. Jesus, if I had upgraded to the deluxe package what would I end up with, skin like a fucking newborn?! After our “pampering,” which had only succeeded in making my face raw and tender to the touch, we went to the buy new products to maintain our youthful glows. “I’ll just use vaseline,” I said, holding an ice pack to my jaw as she perused the la prairie counter in water tower, sheilding my light-sensitive cheeks from the overhead glare. After consulting with the lab-coated makeup scientist (That’s why they wear those coats, right? Because they’re lipstick doctors?) she settled on a small jar of angel tears and unicorn hair (I’m guessing) that Dr. Face Cream rang up to the tune of $1050.oo let me reiterate: 1.7 ounces of lotion for one thousand and fifty motherfucking dollars. My entire bowels released at once.
In the car on the way home she tried to explain to me why it was worth it to use her ring finger to gently pat a used Toyota Celica in relatively good condition into the delicate skin under her eyes , but I was not hearing that shit. Back within the confines of the padlocked room that I rented in what I’m sure was a fully operational CRACK HOUSE, my 99-cent Wet n’ Wild eyeliner pencil mocked me from its spot atop the overturned milk crate I used as a dresser slash tv stand. “Bitch, you’re living wrong,” she snorted. “Good thing your skin looks like that of a motherfucking fetus.”
401ko’d. I tried on a pair of $178 pants on monday. NOT KIDDING, HO. I was at Bloomingdales, rifling through the clearance rack, when this pair of beautiful Eileen Fisher pants descended from the heavens and into my line of vision. I don’t know what came over me. Maybe breathing in air thick with the smell of neck cream and hair dye makes you feel important and rich, or maybe i just wanted to get away from all that restalyne-plumped, liver-spotted skin, but I saw these pants and just sort of floated over to them, a love song in my heart. The way women do in movies when they see a hot guy with wind ruffling his perfect hair smiling at them from afar. Seriously, I glided over to those goddamned pants on invisible roller skates, my jowls glowing in soft focus. They didn’t really look like anything special, just plain black pants, but they felt like they’d been woven from Jesus’ beard.
Dressing rooms are the worst, especially if your real body is horrifying and you can’t figure out where the cameras are to shield your thighs from the scrutiny of some surly lady security guard. But I braved it anyway and did the awkward trying-to-kick-these-pants-that-are-too-tight dance so I could try those beautiful pants on. Man, they felt good, like someone pouring cold, fresh cream over the roadmap of spider veins on my legs. I circled the dressing room in my bare feet trying to gauge the chafe factor before crouching to test the durability of the inseam: PERFECT. Satisfied, i was just about to take them off and ask the nosy broad who’d followed me from rack to rack inquiring as to whether or not she could help me find anything to ring them bitches up when I glanced down a my shirt, a crumbling black piece of shit worn sheer that had cost me approximately $1.42 at old navy TWO SUMMERS AGO. Old Navy clothes aren’t meant to last until the end of this sentence, let alone two goddamned years. I returned those fancy pants to their hanger and gathered the triple markdowns I could actually afford.
This is my most favorite thing: Skimming glossy, shiny page after meticulously designed and art-directed page–filled to overflowing with luxurious $80 shower gels made from ground platinum and unicorn tears and $3500 panda fur handbags that some malnourished New York editrix has decided you simply CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT this season, followed immediately by a very sensible-sounding article gently reminding you that, as a woman, you should always have a safety net and rainy day fund. Listen magazines, how in the FUCK am I supposed to put money in my retirement fund when I have to buy these $22 bottles of nail polish you keep telling me I’ll die if i don’t get? what do I look like, some sad asshole eating a lean cuisine that’s not cooked all the way through while crying in bed flipping through your publication? OF COURSE it is essential that I have the most expensive and up-to-date eyelash treatments! pffft. I literally have zero plans for my future other than watching television and sleeping as much as humanly possible and maybe buying a round or two of drinks at the bar, yet I was just looking at a Gucci travel bag that costs almost as much the GDP of a small third world country. And I don’t even travel all that much. I obviously need to get my shit together.
I opened a savings account and put $180 in it because I was so proud of myself for not having bought those stupid fucking pants. And I withdrew most of it three days later to buy some concert tickets and impress some dumb ape at the Paramount Room. Gah, hopeless.