On the word "douche"

Some men are douches. They're easy to spot: cocky, arrogant, and confrontational, with only stupidity backing up their aggressive actions. For example, one might call Rush Limbaugh a douche. Mel Gibson has displayed douche-like qualities, particularly when drunk. Carrot Top, Hasselhoff, countless politicians both historic and contemporary, all have earned the epithet.

The other night I called someone a "douche." Never mind who, because I forgot. But I haven't forgotten the surprise I felt when some of my girlfriends objected to its usage. I'd grown so accustomed to its slang meaning, I'd completely forgotten its original definition. My friends hadn't. They didn't see it as a derisive term for men, but another example of society's hatred towards women, hatred embedded in language itself. Like telling a little boy who's crying to "Stop acting like a girl" as if that were a bad thing! (By the way, I throw like a girl and am proud of it too.)

My immediate response was that few women use the hygienic device anymore, modern medicine pretty much debunking it as a beneficial practice, and I launched into a defense of the word's continued usage as a slur based on that shaky premise.

Now I'm not so sure. Does using the word perpetuate misogyny? Do our word choices reveal our true beliefs? And the big question: Am I a douche?
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You Are So Undead To Me

A few months ago at the Arkansas Literary Fest, I met the gorgeous Stacey Jay. She lives up the highway a piece, in the county that we have to drive to in order to buy booze. She's lucky that way.

Stacey reminded me a lot of one of my longtime friends and bandmates, Baby Lovecat. Long red hair, pale skin, and a figure to die for!

Even better, Stacey writes YA zombie novels. I bought one at the lit fest, You Are So Undead To Me.

What I liked about Jay's book is how she captures what it's like to be a teen--or what I think it was like. When we talked at the fest, Jay said that she tried to remember what she worried about in high school--mainly boys, looking hot, and being cool. And that's what I worried about too! World hunger? Bah! Local politics? Who cares!? Isn't this dress cute?

Of course Megan, the hero of the novel, has another thing to worry about: zombies. And here's where Jay's book breaks away from the zombie tradition. The undead seek out "zombie settlers"--people born with the supernatural power to help them resolve their "life" issues so they can RIP. One zombie who seeks Megan out can't rest because he's never seen a girl naked! Teen worries indeed.

In addition to these relatively harmless zombies, there are black-magic witches who raise Reanimated Corpses. These RCs act a lot more like Romero zombies, hungry for flesh. That's where Megan's trouble begins. Someone is out to get her by reanimating corpses! They want to kill her--as well as prevent her from going to the prom.

The book is a combo of Buffy and Twilight--something most reviewers have already mentioned and Jay herself acknowledges by having Megan call her own moves "Buffyesque." The writing is a lot better than Twilight, though, a book I found hard to get through because of its awkward syntax. Who edited that thing?

You Are So Undead also reminded me of Harry Potter; the Settlers use spells to control the zombies--spells that are uttered in Latin, real Latin, thank the Goddess.

The only problem I had was that I guessed very early on who the villain was. Of course, I'm way past being a teenager so perhaps the book's core audience would be, like, a little more clueless, you know?
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Barfalo River

This is a hangover story. You've heard it before. Here it is again.

So I drank too much. I blame Jamie, my sister's boyfriend. No particular reason except he brought the rum. We canoed on the Buffalo River on Tuesday--it's pristine, so clear we could see all the fish beneath us, and the bluffs were gold and red and brown. There were no other people around.

Then we found a gravel bar. Emphasize bar. I had a few rum and cokes. Then a few more. We set up camp. If this sounds like a Bukowski poem, it is.

We told stories by the fire, which Jamie stoked with the attention of a butler or a sprite. Bats flew around us. Then owls. Then we thought about bears and went to sleep on a bed of fossil rocks.

At the crack of dawn I felt wiggly. I drank some water. For a second, I thought I might escape unscathed. But then...the pain! the pain! the dryness like a desert yet so much clear water ahead! I jumped in the river and said, This is it! This will cure me. Like the thermal bath at Hot Springs I took with my sister a few days before. Curative! The river was Adderall or morphine or Freud!

No such luck. I barfed in the Buffalo. After that, I ate a peach. We broke camp and paddled another six miles. I barfed once more, over the side of the canoe and I learned something. Really, I did.
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