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Sundries
...a sweatshop of moxie

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Beware of STD

Nothing is funnier in this world, than a hick on holiday.

There you are, in the middle of Printemps, the lovely Parisian department store, and you encounter two tourist cornpones waiting on a third to come out of the loo.



Suddenly, the air is rent asunder by these unforgettable words in perfect Bronxese,

"Holy sh*t! The crapper is unisex!"

Total buzz kill.

Yes, Stupid Tourist Disease is a very contagious, even deadly malady.

It slays your suspension-of-disbelief that you are in a galaxy far, far away from whatever little dump in the cosmos God put you in at birth, and somehow you find yourself in the Vatican, staring up at Adam's navel.

But before you settle into that leather chair, let me make myself perfectly clear:

STD is not the private, and delicious preserve of Americans, as many would have you believe.

The disease strikes everyone, including, sadly, your simpering scribe. (More later)

I think it's the combination of the unknown meeting the unexpected cosying up to the unprepared for that brings on the first signs of STD.

These may include:

  • Calling the general populace "the natives", or if you're feeling particularly frisky that day, "the colonials"


  • Inquiring in a loud voice why X isn't available at Y, since back home in Z, you had X coming out of your ears -- like ketchup or bacon butties or tres leches or hot running water


  • Taking snapshots of your boyfriend sitting on top of a famous guy's tomb inside a mausoleum like Westmister Abbey, as if you were in the Magic Kingdom, and Charles Dickens were Mickey Mouse


  • Trying to talk in the local tongue with a really bad accent, thinking that somehow that makes it sound more authentic and understandable. Newsflash, it doesn't


  • The thing of it is, since I was practically born on a plane, I've been travelling most of my life at the tenderest of ages, so I've seen more hicks on holiday that Nicole Ritchie has Prada hobo bags.

    This is probably why today I don't travel a lot, since it's the old story, of "Been there, done that, got the t-shirt off a really cute guy in the Rue de Rivoli, who stalked me and I had to leave Paris by TGV overnight to Cannes (inhale)".

    I've done almost all of my native continent, Europe. Save the Baltic States. Tallin weeps, I'm sure.

    ...all of North America, including Mexico if you want to count it in there.

    ...most all of South America (minus Suriname and the Guayanas).

    ...some parts of Central America (okay, just Panama, but hey).

    ...most of the Caribbean (recently ticking St. Barts off my to-visit list, when I to-visited it).

    ...the more savoury parts of Africa, including Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, South Africa.

    ...the sub-continent, Sri Lanka, the Seychelles, and Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia in no special order. Throw in Australia and New Zealand, its poor sibling next door.

    (Whew, I'm exhausted just writing that. Too bad I didn't take any snaps. I may be a tourist, but I don't want to look like one, you know?)



    Why, I even had a standing invite to Seoul, but I foolishly lost contact with my old friend, Grace Park (not the golfer chick).

    So you see, these boots were made for walking. All over you.

    Never mind that most of these countries were visited when I was virtually in my pram, I am counting them! -- like that time when I landed in Ecuador, and never got out of the plane.

    Too late. It made the cut-list.

    With my handy multi-lingual talents which I recently boasted on in the Mayhem at MIA! thread, and my female ability to size up people in 3 seconds or less, I have been able to amass a pretty goodly cache of hick on holiday stories.

    If these anecdotes don't have you forehead-slapping about the universality of dumb or unintetionally hilarious tourists everywhere, I'll give up blogging or sex, whichever comes first.

    Paris 1998

    Seems there was a run on STD innoculations in the capital of love that summer, because there were many, many sickly people there.

    My parents and I had joined the World Cup festivities, and since it was a month-long affair, after dad had a heart-attack earlier that year, we decided to go all out and book a suite in the Hôtel Edouard VII.

    (Very choice, by the way -- have you been? If answer no, go now. And mention my name, Pamela Lee Anderson, to get a 10% discount)

    Around the corner, there is (was?) a Brentano's bookstore, where I encountered a whole trove full of STD sufferers.

    Like an obviously California newlywed pair, with their flawless tans and even more flawless cluelessness. Alicia Silverstone would've been proud.

    I was perusing one of the travel guide stacks near the register, when suddenly I heard,

    "D-o y-o-u h-a-v-e a BEATLES s-e-c-t-i-on???"

    Before the perfectly billingual attendant had a chance to open her mouth, the woman turned to her hubby and corrected,

    "Honey, Beatles is something else in French."

    "Like what?"

    "I dunno. Try Les Beats."

    "SEE VOO PLAY, d-o y-o-u h-a-v-e LES BEATS s-e-c-t-i-on???"


    Little did they know they went from legitimately asking for the Beatles aisle to asking for a section about penises, as "bites" is slang for "dick".

    When I went to pay for a copy of a Paris Frommer later on, I passed them by, looking totally confused at a huge glossy tome in the Robert Mapplethorpe section.

    Heh. Nice one, Frenchie. We exchanged winks as I paid.

    That is merely adorable cluelessness though, and only a mild case of STD.

    Here's a much more virulent strain at work.

    In Rome, when I was on a coach tour (which I hate to do, but I had very little time in the Eternal City, and wanted to get as much done as possible...mistake), they took us just outside of the capital, as the sun set overlooking the Seven Hills of this almost impossibly historical city.

    Imagine me, my eyes aglow with the colours of the Roman sun disappearing in aquatints beyond the horizon, lost in a combination of wonder and admiration at all the events which those hills had seen in over 2000 years of world dominance, think of it, Julius Caesar, Nero, Marcus Aurelius, the Colisseum, Michelangelo, Bernini, Mussolini, Gucci, when...

    ...suddenly, I hear the whiney, high-pitched tones of a Brazilian woman completely dissing Roma.

    "Gente, que nojo! Toda essa velharia. Deus me livre! Ponha o Oscar Niemeyer aqui para arrombar a cidade inteirinha, pedra por pedra!".

    ("People, I feel sick to my stomach. Look at all this OLDNESS. God forbid! Send over Oscar Niemeyer immediately to bulldoze this city into rubble!")

    Oscar Niemeyer (of whom Fidel Castro once said there were only two Communists left in this world, he and Niemeyer -- who is a multi-millionaire from birth, oh sweet hypocrisy), was the architect of Brasilia, the futuristic capital of Brazil, which he designed and built from scratch.



    It was then I realised I was capable of first-degree murder.

    But why waste a bullet on a terminal STD patient, you know?

    But back to Paris.

    Ahh Paris.

    The city where one half never sleeps, because they're too busy in their garçonnieres making love to their best friend's wife/husband/sometimes both at the same time, not that I judge them or anything.

    I once saw Johnny Depp on Leno make fun of his fellow Americans on vacation in Paris, because they kept asking for the waiter to take a photo of a group of them, as a keepsake.

    "Hey, get a picture with the French guy! A real French dude! That'll rock!"

    Yeah, like he was so cosmopolitan before he started bedding Vanessa Paradis.

    But the most amusing, slap-thigh moment I ever had was overhearing a group of pasty-looking British girls (redundant, I know) on holiday in Paris, seated next to me in a café near the Garnier Opera House.

    Apparently, they had gone shopping for sexy undies, you know, like you do, when they left an establishment very down-hearted.

    Seems "Le Brasserie de l'Opera" didn't have a single pair of saucy French knickers on sale.

    I almost choked on my croque monsieur.

    Oh, there are sooo many stories I could tell you, so I'll make it into a series of quick hits from hither-and-yon.

    (1) A German tourist going up to a petrol station in Rio de Janeiro, asking for some beer at the pump, because he mistook "alcool", that mix of petrol/water that Brazilian cars ran on in the 80s, for an open bar...

    (2) A Portuguese mother and daughter at Harrods, asking for an "experimentation room" since that's the transliteration of Fitting Room from their language...

    (3) An Indian woman eating an ice at Oxford, in the taxi rank, completely uncaring of the long-ass queue, as she was behind me. She got in with an air of superiority, which made my blood boil, so, though I was third back, I went in after her, grabbed her by the ankle, and wrist, and dragged her out. "Mind the queue, Maharani!", I SCREECHED, completely beside myself in self-righteous rage. Turned out she was (Turko-)German, and a visiting professor at my College -- and you guessed it, assigned to be one of my tutors that term. This is that "(more later)" I promised. I'm still wiping the egg off my face...

    (4) A Colombian woman next to me in Amsterdam, who, àpropos to nothing save whatever she was thinking at that moment, screamed out loud, I LOVE CULTURE! as she got on a trolley

    (5) A group of old Cuban women from Hialeah who happened to be on a train going from Moscow to St. Petersburg, near me. Suddenly, one of them excitedly came to the others, and said, "El conductor me dijo que no orine hasta que salieramos de Moscu" "Po-que?" "Po-que "el baño" no es masa nada que un hueco en el tren, que se abre cuando se sale de la ciudad. Cagas en el ferrocarril!" "ÑO, que atraso!!" ("The train conductor told me that I can't pee until we leave Moscow." "Why??" "'Cause, the bathroom is nothing more than a hole on the floor of the train, which opens when you leave Moscow city environs! You crap on the rails!" "G-ddamn, how backwards!")

    They say travelling widens one's perceptions of life, of how people interact with each other, from such vastly different cultures, and norms of behaviour.

    It is indeed all that.

    One learns as much about oneself, as one does about others.

    There is nothing more invigorating to your soul, than telling a bunch of stuck-up Brits in Mallorca to go stuff themselves, just because the Spaniard waiter doesn't have ouzo, won't dance even if they break plates, and has no idea what to make of an order of chips and gravy.

    And you don't even have to be a future M.D. to give them boosters for their STD.

    Try it.

    Pull down their pants, and stick it in their hineys. Repeat.

    The "syringe" you use is up to you.

    14 Comments:

    • Ah, Johnny Depp. Hard to tell if he's displaying a worse case of Stupid Tourist Disease while in France, or while in America...

      That is a great, great taxi story. However did you get yourself out of that mess?

      By Blogger JSU, at Tue Dec 13, 05:03:00 am GMT-5  

    • Ah, Johnny Depp. Hard to tell if he's displaying a worse case of Stupid Tourist Disease while in France, or while in America...

      Yes! You gave a link, IIRC, or I did, about that same topic during the Gay Paree thread. ;)

      Remember, the one you thought I would name, Paris is Burning?

      As if I were EVER so obvious!

      That is a great, great taxi story.

      One of my faves I tell on myself at dinners.

      You don't know what I look like, unless you have really strong binoculars like Quagmire on Family Guy (told you), BUT can you imagine me, one moment very calm, unruffled, the next moment diving in after a woman, grabbing her forcibly by her feet and arm, semi-dragging her off the taxi?

      It was like a scene from Monty Python meets Dynasty, and I was Eric Idle-Alexis!

      The thing of it is, I was born square.

      You know that scene where Samantha and her cute boyfriend jump the queue to enter a club in SATC, but Samantha has to drag her bf by the hand, because he is too embarrassed?

      "Don't be such a child".

      My mother tells me that all the time about such things, especially when we check into First-Class in a plane.

      I have a deep loathing of people who don't mind a queue, and also, who act smugly as if they are not aware of people around them.

      It was that dual combination she had that day, that set my hair-trigger temper off.

      However did you get yourself out of that mess?

      The story gets more interesting after that...

      At Oxford, every college has a high table where the dons sit in the Dining Hall.

      It's very elegant, and hierarchical.

      So picture me, in my black gown that first night, wearing the "full gear" as one is supposed to for that, entering the Hall, and seeing this woman, whose ankle and wrist I knew intimately, seated on the elevated dias...

      "Just open up already, and let me die"

      I thought about the floor, as I took my seat.

      There's more, but I may save it for a followup blogstory. ;)

      Cheers,
      Victoria

      By Blogger vbspurs, at Tue Dec 13, 05:40:00 am GMT-5  

    • Ooooh, I love people being given their comeuppance when treating other people badly! Especially when watching an air of superiority crash at the feet of the homey, be that here or be that there.
      I'll say this, it's too bad the residents can't read the bottom of the airline ticket giving people permission to act any damn way they want in their country, of course, these people act that way at home too.
      I had the privilege of spending a year elsewhere and seeing seven months work being undone in five by a group of countrymen.
      As far as honest mistakes, we Americans, recognize no bounds in entering the lair of Kings and Queens and enjoying ourselves, all the while knowing the locals think we're a hoot. Here, have some money, now take our picture. Unrepentant.
      Often, the Golden Rule, however, is left checked at the door. That is sad and harmful.
      For a country bumpkin like me though, the need to rush out and tell my companions in an excited voice that there are girls in the restroom is too overpowering. Suaveness R Us.
      I could go on but on this comment of yours:

      I'll give up blogging or sex, whichever comes first.

      Let it be the sex, if a choice must be made. As with ugly tourists, we care more about our happiness than yours.

      By Blogger Paul, at Tue Dec 13, 09:38:00 am GMT-5  

    • Re the first pic: I see Michael Jackson is wearing the fat suit and has brought an Olsen twin with him...

      Calling the general populace "the natives", or if you're feeling particularly frisky that day, "the colonials" Better still: aboriginals.

      and do you know Charles Dickens is not Mickey Mouse? Have you ever seen a picture of them together?

      So you see, these boots were made for walking. All over you. Aha! So you admit to being a SinatraSpawn! Chilling...

      I almost choked on my croque monsieur. ahhh...mmm...I had a one-liner, but now I realize anything I say gets me in trouble! And Sundries Trouble this po'boy don't be needin'!

      And you don't even have to be a future M.D. to give them boosters for their STD.

      Try it.

      Pull down their pants, and stick it in their hineys. Repeat.

      The "syringe" you use is up to you.


      Ron goes --tilt-- !

      By Blogger Ron, at Tue Dec 13, 11:19:00 am GMT-5  

    • "I thought about the floor, as I took my seat.

      There's more, but I may save it for a followup blogstory. ;)"


      Ugh! Not much is worse than bloggus interruptus.

      By Blogger JSU, at Tue Dec 13, 12:39:00 pm GMT-5  

    • I've only traveled abroad once. I made sure I went to, among others, Liechtenstein. Have you "done" Vaduz as part of Europe, dear Victoria?

      By Blogger Ruth Anne Adams, at Tue Dec 13, 02:42:00 pm GMT-5  

    • Yesterday PORN and today STD!!!! I am afraid to ask what you will post about manana!

      Victoria, this STD, can I get it from just ORAL contact overseas??

      Un abrazo, Jose

      By Blogger Jose Aguirre, at Tue Dec 13, 04:36:00 pm GMT-5  

    • Ooooh, I love people being given their comeuppance when treating other people badly! Especially when watching an air of superiority crash at the feet of the homey, be that here or be that there.

      I like this thought, Paul!

      I'll say this, it's too bad the residents can't read the bottom of the airline ticket giving people permission to act any damn way they want in their country, of course, these people act that way at home too.

      Not so fast.

      The basic personality of said tourist is the same -- sure.

      But I am convinced certain people relax their usual strictures in places where no one will know who they are, and they'll never return.

      OTOH, people (including myself, vide above) sometimes act as if tourists are invading marauders like Vikings or Goths.

      They're annoying. Not conquistadors!

      I had the privilege of spending a year elsewhere and seeing seven months work being undone in five by a group of countrymen.

      Good Lord. Hint?

      As far as honest mistakes, we Americans, recognize no bounds in entering the lair of Kings and Queens and enjoying ourselves, all the while knowing the locals think we're a hoot. Here, have some money, now take our picture. Unrepentant.

      Nice. I'm loving your comments -- they have a certain panache now!

      Often, the Golden Rule, however, is left checked at the door. That is sad and harmful.
      For a country bumpkin like me though, the need to rush out and tell my companions in an excited voice that there are girls in the restroom is too overpowering. Suaveness R Us.


      Mmm, it was a guy thing rather than a tourist thing?

      That could be right, considering the other pair of people I saw come out, were Japanese.

      Maybe, since I don't speak the lingo (shock, I know), they were saying the same things.

      I could go on but on this comment of yours:

      I'll give up blogging or sex, whichever comes first.

      Let it be the sex, if a choice must be made. As with ugly tourists, we care more about our happiness than yours.


      Abstinence sucks.

      But for my Sundries readers...anything.

      Cheers,
      Victoria

      By Blogger vbspurs, at Tue Dec 13, 08:18:00 pm GMT-5  

    • Re the first pic: I see Michael Jackson is wearing the fat suit and has brought an Olsen twin with him...

      LOL @ Olsen twin crack!

      aboriginals.

      Followed by tom-tom noises. That's always a crowd pleaser in France.

      and do you know Charles Dickens is not Mickey Mouse? Have you ever seen a picture of them together?

      Now that you mention it...I haven't seen Chevy Chase and Gerald Ford in the same room either.

      Aha! So you admit to being a SinatraSpawn! Chilling...

      My hair is less fried than Nancy's though.

      And Sundries Trouble this po'boy don't be needin'!

      As a total aside, I had a po'boy the other day.

      $5.95.

      Po'boys have to be rich these days.

      Ron goes --tilt-- !

      *kicks Ron in the midriff*

      Cheers,
      Victoria

      By Blogger vbspurs, at Tue Dec 13, 08:22:00 pm GMT-5  

    • Ugh! Not much is worse than bloggus interruptus.

      Girls are doing it by themselves!

      Or any other Annie Lennox hook that fits here.

      Cheers,
      Victoria

      By Blogger vbspurs, at Tue Dec 13, 08:23:00 pm GMT-5  

    • I've only traveled abroad once. I made sure I went to, among others, Liechtenstein. Have you "done" Vaduz as part of Europe, dear Victoria?

      Ooh, Ruth Anne's competitive juices are flowing!

      Answer: No. :(

      And me being a philatelist as a girl too.

      But I have been to Luxembourg!

      Worst 2 hours of my life...that airport check-in SUCKED. And the people, oy.

      Cheers,
      Victoria

      By Blogger vbspurs, at Tue Dec 13, 08:25:00 pm GMT-5  

    • Yesterday PORN and today STD!!!! I am afraid to ask what you will post about manana!br/>em>

      I was thinking of doing my yearly post about papaya. ;)

      Victoria, this STD, can I get it from just ORAL contact overseas?

      Only if you sit next to a woman with a scorching smell of onions and garlic.

      Malta...avoid. ;)

      Un abrazo, Jose

      Wait! No vas a decir nada sobre las viejitas de Hialeah???

      That was specifically for your amusement and Robert's!

      "Ño!! Que atraso".

      I wheeze laughing just thinking about it.

      Cheers,
      Victoria

      By Blogger vbspurs, at Tue Dec 13, 08:28:00 pm GMT-5  

    • But I am convinced certain people relax their usual strictures in places where no one will know who they are, and they'll never return.

      Point taken and given. I know I don't change but they do.

      Nice. I'm loving your comments -- they have a certain panache now!

      I'm full of it, panache, I mean. It has it's difficulties finding a way out.

      Maybe, since I don't speak the lingo (shock, I know), they were saying the same things.

      Shock, is an understatement. I wonder what the other four are? Or should I know?

      Abstinence sucks.

      But for my Sundries readers...anything.


      You know I was kidding, right? Your happiness is much more important than, in this case, a reader with dictionary in hand, who has trouble keeping up anyway.

      By Blogger Paul, at Tue Dec 13, 11:39:00 pm GMT-5  

    • Forget las viejitas, I want to read your papaya post!!! Porn, STD and papaya, you are on a roll!

      By Blogger Jose Aguirre, at Wed Dec 14, 12:34:00 am GMT-5  

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