'La Sexualité,' by Rob Delaney
Rob Delaney, he of the funny tweets and sometime writer of VICE articles, is releasing his first book tomorrow. The book is called <i>Rob Delaney: Mother. Wife. Sister. Human. Warrior. Falcon. Yardstick. Turban. Cabbage.</i> and it is one of the most...
Rob Delaney, he of the funny tweets and sometime writer of VICE articles, is releasing his first book tomorrow from Spiegel & Grau. The book is called Rob Delaney: Mother. Wife. Sister. Human. Warrior. Falcon. Yardstick. Turban. Cabbage. and it is one of the most hilarious bundles of words we have ever read. It's a collection of essays, some of which appeared in one form or another on this very website in Rob's column, Take a Stroll... with Rob Delaney. In celebration of the book's release, today we are publishing one of its essays, "La Sexualité." To preorder the book and gaze into Rob's hazelnut eyes, click here.
It’s easy to get fat. In fact, it’s beyond easy. It’s fun to do, too. When someone says something is easy as pie, I think, “What aspect of a pie? Cooking it? That’s not easy, and I know how to cook lots of things. No, Rob, they mean eating it.” It is easy to jam a tasty pie, or even a shitty pie that you bought at a gas station, right the fuck into your fattening faceblob. It’s also been said that the first bite tastes the best, but the rest of them taste pretty good too.
When I was a kid, my family and I would eat every Friday night at Pizzeria Regina in Salem, Massachusetts, just one town over from Marblehead. Every other family dinner was eaten at home, so Friday was a big deal. We’d eat a pie of pizza while “Rock You Like a Hurricane” or “Eye of the Tiger” played on the jukebox (because I’d picked it), then we’d walk by a small park with a massive sculpture of Nathaniel Hawthorne seated on a throne, and go to Alden Merrell Cheesecakes, and we’d eat a pie of that, too. And indeed, it was easy.
Cheesecake. Are you shitting me? Who invented that? Probably Jesus of Nazareth. Or maybe Louis Pasteur. It makes me physically sick to think that Barack Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize, yet the name of the inventor of cheesecake isn’t tattooed on Dick Cheney’s face.
On one of these Friday Pie Nights, my dad and I went to the bathroom at Regina’s and I saw the word “CUNT” carved into a door in huge letters. Whoever did it took their time and put real care into it. “CUNT.” Not “Lisa is a cunt” or “I enjoy putting my penis in a thing called a cunt.” Just “CUNT.” I asked my dad what “cunt” meant and he said it was a bad word and that he’d explain it to me when I was older. I can still see him grimacing and sighing as he wrestled with how to explain that amateur woodworker’s earthy carving.
Now, I agree that it’s a bad word to say into a person’s face if you’re angry, but otherwise it’d be fair to call me a massive fan of that word. I wonder how many times a day I say it or think it. That is a question I’d like to ask God after I die. I’ll call anything a cunt—a woman, a man, a child, a cup of yogurt if I drop it on the floor. It’s just fun to say. Oddly, I’d never call a woman a bitch, but I’d call quite literally anyone a cunt. “Bitch”is just too gender specific and bums me out. I won’t pretend that my logic makes sense.
Whenever I imagine a God that has a corporeal form, body, and voice, I imagine that Its favorite thing to do would be to field questions like, “How often did I say or think the word ‘cunt’ in my life?” Or “How many beers did I drink over my life, exactly?” or “Why do Orthodox Jewish women think You want them to hide their pretty hair under a wig that looks like ugly hair?” Perhaps the answer to that last question is on page one of the Talmud, but I prefer to keep a little mystery in my life—especially where Jewish women are concerned. I suppose it would be a colossal bummer if there were a God who resembled the shitty, small-minded, accountant-type God I’ve imagined here. Clearly Gods invented by humans like me or Michele Bachmann are a very terrible idea.
I think about fat and getting fat and being fat now that I’m married and don’t drink or do drugs. I don’t get high in the classical sense and I don’t chase women around. So shouldn’t I devote a big slice of the pie of my day to shoving food into my body, primarily through my mouth? As it enters my mouth, the taste makes my brain go “DING DING DING! YUMMY HEADED TOWARD MY TUMMY!” Then it has the bonus effect of slowing down my thoughts and making me feel like I’m being hugged from the inside by somebody who really loves me, unlike the terrible “people” in my life. I suppose I shouldn’t eat in this manner, but keep in mind: fuck you.
My wife and I almost got into a fist fight a few nights ago over my peanut butter consumption. Her argument is that she wants me to stay “alive” and “healthy” so I can stick around and help her raise our “son.” I’m the first to admit that her argument has merit, but there’s a café that sells day-old mini- cheesecakes for TWO DOLLARS four blocks from our house. So that’s not an argument she can win.
One night, after eating at both Regina’s and Alden Merrell Cheesecake, we went home and my dad and I sat on our front steps. We did that a lot when I was young. We’d either sit on the steps or go for long walks on the golf course that was right off the end of our street. Sometimes we’d just walk across the street and look at our house from there. My dad said it made him happy to look at our house and think about the fact that we all lived there together. It must have been a big deal for him to have his own kids with him, under the same roof every night, since he didn’t grow up that way.
That particular night we were discussing a film we’d recently watched called The Right Stuff. I had generally enjoyed it but I was curious about one detail in the film. During one round of medical tests, the prospective astronauts were asked to provide semen samples. I knew what semen was, where it came from, and that, delivered into a woman’s egg, it created human life; that much had been addressed in my science classes at school. What I didn’t know was how semen was procured. So I asked him.
“Do they, like, squeeze it out of their balls?” “Uh, well, not really. It’s more like . . . KEN! Hi, Ken!” My dad frantically flagged down a passing car to talk to a neighbor who lived a couple streets over and was driving by.
Not long after that, I figured out how they got it by asking an older cousin. With that knowledge, one night, in seventh grade, I gathered up the courage, made sure I had some privacy, put on some Peter Gabriel, and messily jerked off with Vaseline and both of my hands, for some reason. Later I’d perfect the one-handed method, and—though I never aspired to be an astronaut—I began a lifetime of producing samples of my own.
Like many a lad, those samples were produced with the aid of nudie mags like Playboy and Penthouse, and since I was only thirteen, I resorted to theft to get them. The first time I stole a Playboy magazine was from a pharmacy at the end of my street. They kept their magazines and newspapers by the entrance and you paid at the register, which was at the back of the store. My plan was to take a Playboy, slip it inside a copy of the Boston Globe, and purchase the paper.
I was almost sick with nerves as I executed the insertion of the magazine into the newspaper. I could feel my heart beating in my throat. I picked it up and walked it to the back of the store to “pay” for it, confident, POSITIVE, that I was going to get caught. But the old man who worked the register just smiled and said thank you as I handed him fifty cents while stealing five bucks’ worth of hot 1990s tits and ass.
I walked down the street to my house believing that a police sniper’s bullet might pierce my skull at any moment. When that didn’t happen, I reached my house, passed my mom in the kitchen, and stammered, “HELLO . . . I’M HOME . . . NOTHING IS OUT OF THE ORDINARY.” I perused my ill-gotten gains in my bedroom and began to relax, thinking, “I could do that again.” And I did.
I started stealing nudie mags regularly. Then I moved on to cassettes at the local Bradlee’s. I stole because I liked taking stuff that wasn’t mine and not paying for it. I liked the thrill of getting away with something, of duping cashiers and security guards and being bad. It was an adventure and a gamble. Security cameras weren’t what they are now, and I generally stole from smaller stores, so beyond the sideways glance, I never felt close to getting caught.
It was all very fun, and because it was fun, I liked to talk about it to my friends. And they liked to hear about it. Since I fancied myself such a good little thief, I thought it a shame to hog my God-given talents. So I decided to start a little business. I began to take orders from kids at school for specific magazines, tapes, or cigarettes, which I would then steal and bring in to school to sell to them at a “discount” from the store price.
The long arm of the law finally, and quickly, caught up with me. I don’t know who snitched or what security camera caught me, but one morning I was in my bedroom getting ready to go to school. I put a couple of Penthouse magazines and some AC/ DC and Led Zeppelin cassettes in my backpack to bring to my customers. When I went downstairs to eat breakfast, I left my backpack in the living room, and after breakfast, when I surreptitiously looked in my backpack to double check my booty, it was gone.
“Are you missing something?” my dad asked, and I froze. He said, “We know what you’re doing.” I got woozy and started to panic. I told him I didn’t feel well. He suggested that I put my head between my knees and breathe if I needed to collect myself, but that, even if I hyperventilated, I was in big trouble. After the nausea passed, he and my mom drove me to the police station. My own dad was turning me in.
When we got to Marblehead’s tiny police station, the desk sergeant buzzed us in and we were escorted to a detective’s office. He had a shotgun hanging over his office door. With the progression of the day’s events, it didn’t seem crazy to think he might take it down and shoot me after a short speech. Instead, he told me that the police had security footage of me stealing things, and that he knew about my crime empire at school. He told me I wasn’t technically under arrest, but that the MPD now had a file on me, and that if there was any further trouble, I’d be very arrested.
My parents looked on sternly, soberly, disappointed. Why wouldn’t they be? Years later I found out that the detective was a family friend and that my dad had set the whole thing up. My mom had not liked the plan one bit. While I understand the argument against personally taking your kid into a police station after informing the cops of their actual—if minor—crimes, I think my dad did a good thing. My mom’s punishment philosophy was to keep it “in-house” since her particular strain of advanced Catholicism put a major premium on privacy, so she was quite strict, but would never advocate employing outside agents. My dad, however, just thought, “Fuck it; I don’t want to live with a little thief.” And after that day, he did not.
Porno mags, cigarettes, cheesecake, shoplifting; they made me feel good from an early age. Not as good as booze ultimately would, but like a lot of adolescents (and also alcoholics- to-be), I just felt a little “off ” most of the time. My favorite part of any day, back then, was when I’d flood my system with a little adrenaline, feel the buzz that came from an illicit action, like throwing a rock through the window of an abandoned house, or poring over pictures of naked women in locker rooms, who were surely alone somewhere, fantasizing about me and my acne.
Preorder Rob Delaney: Mother. Wife. Sister. Human. Warrior. Falcon. Yardstick. Turban. Cabbage. here.
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