Define This!

Ottawa XPress – Shotgun – September 16, 2004

I remember it was back in my university days at the University of Ottawa, about 23 years old, in my Salvation Army-furnished living room on a Friday night.

Suddenly it came to me.

The revelation that somewhere in the cosmos, or on my bedposts, there was a posted limit, either spiritually or medically, of just how many dudes a girl can bring home until she found the right one.

We were drinking beer as Ani Difranco blared from my anarchist roommate’s bedroom, a bong as our dining room table centerpiece, getting ready to go out dancing at Zaphod Beeblebrox. I engaged my roommate and other girlfriends in some pre-bar introspection about how I felt I was slutting around way too much, and I ventured the opinion, “Girls, it’s time for a change!”

And it was.

“I mean, a different guy ever single weekend, come on.” I said boldly, “This weekend, there will be no ‘let’s go back to my place’ or ‘wanna make out.’ No, this weekend, I’m coming home alone-ladies, I’m going to be promiscuous!” Yes, that’s what I said.

I took offense at their immediate laughter.

Sure you might have had to dig down deep to find my real virtue, but hell, it was there! I mean, I had just ended an honourable relationship with my first-ever love simply because I was eager to try out what I termed a real “guy’s guy.” So I knew what a solid relationship was; it wasn’t like I was flighty and I certainly wasn’t a slut. But I had chased so much tail and was still never satisfied, and I figured coming to this great conclusion to NOT attempt to find meaning in petty drunken flings was intelligent, not something to be ridiculed, you know? Their laughter rattled me.

Then I told them I wanted to lay low and be “conspicuous,” and they laughed even harder.

The girls finally stopped long enough to explain to me – the English lit major – that both words meant the opposite of what I intended. Promiscuous meant sleeping around. And conspicuous didn’t mean undercover.

Apparently in France, the word “promiscuity” has a different meaning. It means exactly what it denotes – to be in close proximity. It’s not necessarily fucking or anything sexual.

I like France.

European chicks can get away without wearing a bra. And it’s natural for two chicks in Paris to hold hands while walking down the promenade en route to purchase their brie and baguette, while if I walk down Elgin Street holding hands with my girl friend, I’ll get whistled at by the jocks at the jock bars.

And isn’t France the maker of the two male tennis players in the Olympics who rolled around on top of each other after a win, kissing on the courts with everyone cheering them on? Oh, they were Chilean? It’s the same to me – both countries make excellent wine.

I get a lot of things mixed up.

It might explain why I gave a thumbs up to the icon representing this column. Have a look up there, on top of my name. The column is called “SHOTGUN.” But the icon is a rifle. I was informed about this about a month ago over a sushi dinner, after which dear reader, yes, I came this close to having another accident in my pants.

But see how it all comes together.

We all consume things that are bad for us and give the wrong name sometimes to things that are good for us. Truthfully, the entire purpose of SHOTGUN is to tell readers that penis size doesn’t matter: Ladies, what you see is not what you get. Gentlemen, sometimes you think you’re getting one thing, but end up with another. Isn’t life like that?

Imagine how liberating our Ottawa lives would be if we all wittingly misattributed labels and identifiers to things!

Instead of “Dumb Jock at MacLaren’s on Elgin,” try “Physically Fit Outgoing Lady at Ideal Place to Watch Playoffs,” and replace “Shoe-gazing SAW Gallery Straight-edge Introvert” with “Quiet, Intelligent Individual With No Fixed Sexual Preference or Gender.” Don’t stop there though, let’s change some “Married Couples” to “Settling Friends,” “Pathetic Singles” to “Achieving Independents,” “Uneducated Peons” to “Degreeless Entrepreneurs,” “Blue-collar Workers” to “Making More Money Than You With Your PhD,” “Slut” to “Tour Guide,” and switch over that very problematic “Guy’s Guy” to “A Figment of Your Fucking Imagination” or “Preconceived Notion of Malehood as Advertised by CHEZ 106”.

Let me tell you, traveling from bed to bed during university and backpacking in other countries got me to reconsider what’s sexy and attractive, and what’s cool and what’s not.

As for just how many dudes a girl can bring home until she has found the right one? I don’t know, but I hope someone tells her sooner than later that the greener grass on the other side might just be Astroturf.

– Sylvie Hill