On the Seriousness of Tourists: Father’s Day Edition

He smiled through the sun’s harsh glare at his wife.  He was holding their daughter.  His daughter who argued for the balloon.  Who promised she wouldn’t let go of it this time.

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He had watched as she gripped the string with all the strength she could muster.  She had been so serious.  So intent on not letting go, not failing.  He felt tears well up inside him to see his little daughter already determined not to let him down.

He tied the string around her wrist so she wouldn’t fail.  And he’d hold onto her with all the strength he could muster.

Happy Father’s Day

On the Seriousness of Tourists #8

“Why do they make these things so high?” she said.  “What do they expect short people to do?  I can’t see anything!”

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His wife always jumped to conclusions.  While it frustrated their daughters, it didn’t frustrate him.  Thirty-five years before, after one date to a diner called the Brite Spot, she jumped to the conclusion she loved him.  He adjusted the viewer. He was grateful.

The Tweener Bout: Who’s the Hottie?

There are certain things you just don’t denigrate in front of me.   If you have something negative to say about Jimmy Carter, don’t.  I will love you less. Zadie Smith? —don’t even talk to me! If you thought Battlestar Galactica sucked, don’t go there.  I will definitely think twice about inviting you to dinner parties.

This takes me to a night with my best friend Conner who was visiting from her home in Havana.  We had been to Hollywood Improv and yes, we were a little buzzed and joking around.  She then made a comment about Hawkeye Pierce from M*A*S*H.

What the fuck?  He’s the man!  Conner is a woman I met almost 20 years ago—we both pulled off a tab on a flyer in the Mission’s Muddy Waters Café.  It read “Join a Writers’ Group.” The woman quickly became my inspiration; I owe much of my success to her.

We didn’t argue per se.  We are both energetic, opinionated and competitive and did I say opinionated already?  So we handled it like writers:  We challenged one another to 500 words on our preteen “idol.”

Conner Gorry is a rockstar journalist, travel writer, essayist, and memoirist. You can find her publications here.  Her blog, Here is Havana is here. Read it; she’s brilliant. You already know about me.

Enjoy our takes on our little disagreement; I didn’t even tell you who her preteen idol was.

And please, who was yours?

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‘Tween Spank Bank by Conner Gorry

I’ve long been an avid masturbator and am not afraid to admit it. In the States, you don’t talk about these things in polite company. But here in Cuba? Stories are enthusiastically shared and notes compared. After 14 years in residence on this beguiling isle, I’ve heard enough to fill pages. One day I’ll reveal the cream of the crop (pun intended), but rather than shock and appall – and some of these tales are truly shocking, if not appalling; the masturbating dog (true story) being the least of it – I’m going to stick to the topic at hand: my early days of getting off.

Although I’m generally known for my moxie and grit, this isn’t a topic I’ve considered exploring previously. However, on a recent memorable, transformative trip to my native land, my best friend, (a woman I respect for myriad reasons, including the notches on her lipstick case), confessed to a detail which demanded a response. It was one of those moments to which you wish you weren’t witness; when someone presents an image you wish you could un-see – like my co-worker talking about how he looks in his leopard print g-string (another true story). My friend told me her ideal man growing up, the one she dreamed about, swooned over, and who filled her fantasies, was Alan Alda, Hawkeye, of M*A*S*H fame. Don’t know WTF I’m talking about? Click away; you’re not my ideal reader.

“Alan Alda?! Estás loca? Yuck.”

She took umbrage; defended her man – ethical, responsible, funny, a great father figure. These are all terrific qualities, we can agree. But to jack off? No, mi hermana.

“So who was the man of your wet dreams?” she asked me, throwing down the gauntlet.

“Mine? He was virile. Strong. Cut. And in command.” The One. The Only. Starfleet Captain James T. Kirk, Starship Enterprise.

Looking back, it’s cliché, I admit. The uniform. The take-charge attitude by a blond-haired, blue-eyed Adonis who motivates men, makes women weak in the knees, and saves the day – most of the time. Kirk was the stereotypical ‘mangón’ as we say in Cuba. Now that I think about it, it’s no wonder I go gaga over Cuban men – I was weaned on the machismo, bossy, and egotistical Captain Kirk, who says crap like ‘Mr Spock, the women on your planet are logical. That’s the only planet in the galaxy that can make that claim.’ Drilling down further, I see now that Kirk was kind of a douchebag – especially in the relationship realm. He was a product of his time, I guess, but so am I; as I grew older and up, my taste has skewed aggressively towards people who are ahead of their time.

Reflecting on my preferences for getting off, both then and now, I realize my friend – once again – is both ahead of her time and much more intelligent than I. In the short run, for a night or three, Captain Kirk is your man. But for the long haul, what every woman wants is Hawkeye.

***

73cd295fc9320d7f68394e2c903bfd73 My First Daddy Issue by Alexandra D’Italia

I was not a girl who could just watch TV without the parental okay—Three’s Company? Too much jiggling. Laverne & Shirley? The characters were morons.

M*A*S*H was the exception.  Mom loved B.J. Hunnicutt.  If they had those allowable cheat lists back in the seventies, he would have made my mother’s list after Remington Steele.

I was planning on becoming Laurie Partridge and marrying Keith Partridge —fictional incest didn’t matter much to me back then. After all, I was pre-preteen and sex didn’t matter.

Then Hawkeye became the IT man of my life.

My parents would roll their eyes: “Alan Alda directed this episode, it’s going to be overwrought.”  But damn, did I disagree.  Any episode he directed melted into my psyche. In a dream, Hawkeye is limbless and unable to save a child with a belly wound.  My parents’ stories of war protests didn’t have meaning until Hawkeye.  He put the picture in my brain. He made me a dove.

And he had all that brown hair I wanted to touch.  When he smiled, I smiled.  You could tell he lit up a room.  I wanted to be in that room!

Empathetic yet sarcastic, irreverent yet responsible —he was always right.  He not only lit up the room, he was the smartest one in the room.  No rule couldn’t be broken.  No authority couldn’t be challenged.  Get the job done and get me my martini.  He was my dream personality.

Then there was his soft side. That man could give a good hug.  Didn’t you see when he hugged Hotlips?  Her stiff veneer broken by his warmth?

That Hawkeye was a Ladies’ Man only added to his allure.  I wanted Ken, Jeff, Andrew, Chris, and Peter to follow me around the way the nurses followed him.  [This never happened.]

Hawkeye even looked like my dad—handsome and lanky, brown hair parted on the side, piercing eyes that saw things you didn’t want to be seen.  They both had that aura of dashing.

But he seemed much more approachable than Dad at the time who in a Buzzfeed quiz—What M*A*S*H character are you?—would have gotten Major Charles Emerson Winchester III.  At the time, Hawkeye was easier to hug.

Then Hawkeye got real.  My mother called Alan Alda a feminist.  Oh glory be!  This during the last gasps of the Equal Rights Amendment.  Say what you want about the power of parents over a first child, but swoon did I!  Snarky, smart . . . and a feminist? Dreamy.

So was it the man or the character?  The man.  My favorite Woody Allen films? Mr. Alda is in them.  When I discovered he was in the Broadway production of my favorite play, Art, I wept that I missed him in it.

And finally, this man made me love a republican.

Whaaaa?

No, not Trump. Not Reagan. Not Bush, HW or W.  His conservative Senator Arnold Vinick on The West Wing, every liberal’s political porn.

Now that’s a first love.  Or at least a first daddy issue.

 

On the Seriousness of Tourists #7

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“We’re totally lost and you’re gawking at that girl?  She’s like 16!” his girlfriend said.

“I’m not gawking in a leering way,” he said.   I’m gawking in an anthropological way.”

“She’s still pretty much a teenager,” she said.  “Even if you are being anthropological.”

“You told me to stop clinging to the guide, I did.  You told me to admire the steeples, I did. You told me to look around and enjoy the city, I am.”

“And now I’m telling you to stop being a perv,” she said.  “We’re on vacation.  Enjoy me.”

On the Seriousness of Tourists #6

We all need technology.

Father, some tourist is touching the Pieta at the front altar.  The front altar!  She is kissing the foot and telling everyone to do it for good luck.  She’s got a line forming behind her.  This isn’t St. Peter’s foot in the Basilica.  And she isn’t supposed to kiss it anyway, she is just supposed to touch it.  Fucking idiot.