(just pretend there is a photo here saying Welcome to Virginia with a Cardinal bird on a branch or something, ok?)
In sex education class at school, when I was about 15, I sat at the front with a man many of you know, some of you as the BFG, others as other pseudonyms. Directly behind me sat Helen Drinkwater. Helen had quite firm thighs. At least, that’s what I used to think when I’d glance back to the place where the light stopped showing her skin and started showing nothing but a mysterious dark porthole within which I could only imagine what went on! I didn’t so much as fancy Helen, I desired her every bead of sweat! And I didn’t even find her that attractive, except from the waste down, a waste-down that I knew nothing about, at least between the waste bit and the down bit. It was just that I was 15 and, how can I put it… INCREDIBLY horny! So, we’re in sex education class and the school headmaster, a former psychiatric nurse, is trying to teach us how you go about putting one thing into another thing, kind of like the building blocks of life. Actually, what am I saying, not at all like building blocks, Saul, clearly I learnt nothing then and still know about the same amount now. Anyway, a 20 question quiz came up and for some reason, I remember answering ‘Parkinsons’ to a question something along the lines of ‘Name two diseases that can be passed on during intercourse’?… As you can imagine, the friend sitting next to me, when marking my test, pissed himself laughing, although I’m not sure even he realised why I got it wrong!! Another question was asked, as so happens when a test is in progress, but I don’t remember exactly what it was. The answer though, I do remember and it had something to do with the reason why I was looking back, although at the time I wish it was up, at Helen Drinkwater’s taught, muscular thighs. And as luck had it, on that balmy late afternoon, as all the guys in the class were sat there hoping they didn’t have to stand up for about 20 minutes and all the girls were daydreaming about all the guys in the class being Robbie, Jason, Howard, et al, Helen said something that not only lifted the erotic tension that had built so lustfully in the room but also endeared her to me to such an extent that I asked her friend to ask her if she would be my girlfriend the next day. And that something that Helen Drinkwater, on that steamy late May afternoon in 1992 said, was just one word, pronounced mistakenly at a time when the last thing you ever Ever EVER wanted to do was to pronounce a word incorrectly, especially when in the class were 2 giggling fools who thought the very mention of anything remotely sexual was intolerantly hilarious and would happily let you know by way of squawking and guffawing (and to this day, still do). That word, uttered so innocently and so utterly incorrectly by Ms Drinkwater, was……… Virginia.
And so, as we made our way towards our 2nd night on the open road, with nothing between us and the actual open road but a very small ‘double’ mattress, doubling up as a very small sofa, some lino and various metal pieces belonging to the year of 1976, Helen Drinkwater and her unfortunate Virginia popped into my mind…!
I knew very little about Vagina, but that days drive taught me that it has to be, visually, one of my favourite United States… states… It reminded me of the wonderful rolling hills and lush, verdant countryside of home, albeit without the, what must be, thousands of miles of hedgerow that stop you enjoying the beauty that is England and instead make what should be an enjoyable Sunday afternoon drive feel like a bobsleigh ride through Pans Labyrinth. And although pretty much all we did that day was drive, it was one of the most beautiful drives I had undertaken and yet, this through a land where most of the trees looked as barren as a desert made of Chinese-restaurant-Peking-window-ducks.
All I could enthuse was how that much more satisfying the countryside would look during the summer months. I guess the one other thing I noticed about the vista, compared to that of home, was the lack of segmented land. The land owners here, and I know that this is just here-say cos I don’t know anything about Virginia (apart from the fact that when it was at school, it must have wished its parents had called it Bryan or Claire or something equally non-descript) don’t seem to be so keen on being seen to be dividing what is ‘theirs’ and happily closing themselves off from the rest of the World with hedges and whatnot (unlike that sentence, which was happy to be seen to dance along in full view of everybody with its little jaunt mid-way through!) It makes a real difference to a pleased eye to see land as it should be, open and therefore more welcoming and embraceable to the passerby then I, as an Englishman, am used to.
And so through narrow, scenic, winding roads Trixiebelle gallantly drove us, through quaint little towns called Nassawaddox and,
stopping every now and again to catalogue the view with our experience-depleting, analogue-destroying all new smaller and better (the World of bigger and better is soooo yesteryear) picture takerer, which has assumed the mantle of ‘new born child’, its protection being of the greatest importance. We stopped off at quaint little gift shops that offer a million different ways to ruin your dinner by covering it in every type of hot sauce the country offers (Globalisation in its culinary form) and ‘Gas’ stations that literally gave fuel away (compared to UK prices at least – $2.95 a gallon, that works out at about 50 pence a litre!!). Past lanes driven by the same tractors for generations and buildings held together with the same nails since their construction we meandered and as night drew in and we started thinking of where to rest our weary heads, we left the emerald countryside and headed for that great substitute of all things natural and welcoming, another WalMart car park!!
As we entered the vast grey and white striped abyss, looking like a huge expanse of prisoners in traditional garb, lying, waiting for the right moment to up and make their escape, and looked for a place to park up, it was with dread that I spotted the flashing orange light of the security guard hastening upon us. I got out and offered a cheery English ‘Hello there’… Now, one thing I have learnt in life is that when you want something from a total stranger and you know that their first impression of you has to be that you are the greatest living being since Ghandi or Mussolini, depending on which side of their burger is ketchup-ed, you have to be as wining as possible. And so it was with my most winningest way that I undertook a conversation with said security guard that went not to dissimilar to this:
Me: Good evening, kind sir, and how are you on this most crisp and scrotum reducing of chilly nights
Security Guard: Acrawben diw bratten all, boutten get bidrewblagger en te sou anall
And that was about the gist of our conversation for the 2 minutes that I was trying to convince him we weren’t Al Qeida recruits on a mission to stay for free in as many WalMart car parks through the States as possible.
The conversation ended with me laughing heartily, him looking at me as if thinking ‘Are you for fucking REAL?!!’, pointing, grunting then driving off. And that was about the most interesting conversation I ever had with a man I couldn’t understand.
Next stop, anywhere but here…