This is not a story about a little bar called G.O.A.T. But that is the name of one of Fort Lauderdale Riverfront's newest lounges, where I went to talk to people about the language they use to describe their bodies.
At 11 on a recent night, a group of girls and guys sat right in front of the door imbibing at the single bar that dominates the mirrored room with couches in the corners.
Two of the clean-cut girls, Angelina and Patti, wore jeans and tank tops. One was blond, one brunet.
I asked Angelina, who's 21 years old, what she calls her genitalia. "I guess it depends on the person, 'cause I'm a clinical person," she responded. "Vagina, to me, is fine. I don't like a guy saying pussy to me for some reason."
Twenty-five-year-old Patti agreed: "I don't like saying the p word. Clit is the only thing I'm comfortable with saying."
"What about twat?" I asked.
Angelina cringed and laughed into her hand.
Well, they weren't very liberal about it, but they were relatively young.
One of their girlfriends, Shelley, swept by and said, "P.P. That's what I'm comfortable with. Private parts."
Even more conservative.
Patti relayed, "I was having phone sex with my boyfriend, and he said pussy. I was like, 'Ew, you said the p word. Oh, my God. '"
She added, "I refer to down there as Mr. Bigglesworth because I shave it," which struck me as kind of an ooky way to refer to it. To each her own.
We moved on to breasts.
Patti said, "I always say boobs or tits."
Hmm, I tried a word I don't like. "What about titties?" I asked.
"I'm comfortable with titties."
Angelina said, "If a guy says, 'Can I suck your tits?' I don't like that for some reason."
"Breasts is it too romantic," Patti added.
"What about jugs?" I asked.
"No jugs," Patti responded.
On the topic of male parts, Patti noted, "In the heat of passion, when a guy is ready to do anything to you -- cock, that's the only thing I can call it."
Angelina commented, "I can't say these things. I can't say cock or dick. It's penis. Maybe I'm too clinical."
Nitpicking ladies so it would seem. But when you're living in a body 24 hours a day, it seems only natural that you might have preferences as to how you like to refer to it. Furthermore, I wanted to see if there was some discrepancy between the words that some people are comfortable with and those that others use. It is, after all, possible to offend when you're merely trying to nudge the conversation in the right direction.
A short, brown-haired male patron of the bar popped up between Angelina and Patti's shoulders and gave us his take on body language. When he's talking to his friends, pussy is the most common term. Another way of putting it, he elaborated, is, "you go out to get some trim. Muff. No, you don't say muff. You go muff-diving. I love to muff-dive."
So, what words do you use when you talk to your friends about diving?
"Guys are not detailed about it. If you go diving, you go diving. If you fuck, you fuck. I don't use cunt a lot. You know what that means, right? 'Can't understand normal thinking.'
"Guys don't talk to guys about dick. You don't say anything about your cock."
As for breasts, Allen calls 'em as he sees 'em, "Tits or boobs -- no other name for them."
Next, I talked to Efrain, a dark-haired man in his late 20s who sported a light-blue terry-cloth shirt.
He had a woeful tale of miscommunication: "My girl got some big-ass titties or knockers. When I called 'em that, she didn't want to do shit with me no more."
He added, "She calls 'em breasts." Then he imitated her, "'the way they're supposed to call 'em. '"
"Did you ever repeat that mistake?" I asked.
"Hell yeah," he said, and broke into an easy smile.
"Well," I asked, "what about down there?"
"We call it whatever you want to call it. Coochie. She didn't want me to call it shit."
His friend Greg, a tall man with a goatee and an "I Love Fort Lauderdale" T-shirt under his gray hoodie, told me that he's "straight up. Breasts, pussy, whatever. No nicknames, nothing like that."
As for his own parts, Greg said, "Dick with a curve."
"Women have an uncomfortable relationship with their vaginas," he added. "A lot of them are uncomfortable with their bodies, vaginas, everything."
Possibly. It's no wonder they might be uncomfortable using words like pussy or cunt to describe their vaginas, however, considering that these words are popularly used to mean wimp and bitch. A website called www.critic.co.nz includes cunt as one of the seven worst words in the English language and explains, "If there ever was a word that means everything bad anyone's ever thought of women, Cunt is it."
Hmm, how lucky then, is the person who has one... and who, in party settings, has to be hyper-aware of that fact?
Twenty-four hours after I leave G.O.A.T., there are about 65 reasons to be uncomfortable at Martini Bar, because that's roughly how many women show up for its inaugural "Ladies First," a ladies-only Wednesday-night event.
The high-energy crowd is split into groups of friends at the main bar and the booths that surround it. The age ranges from early 20s to 60s. On-stage, Brazilian La Bare dancer Ricky, in tight white shorts, seduces the crowd with his eyes and muscular poses while women in the crowd wiggle their upper bodies to the music.
Two well-dressed brunets, Michelle and Terry, sit at the main bar with martinis in hand. They chime in on their private parts words of choice: dick and poonani.
Right in front of the stage sits 25-year-old Erika, whose straight brown hair swoops halfway down her back. She lays it out, "Vagina is too proper. Cunt, I'm aggressively offended. I'm gonna beat your ass. Pussy is too degrading. Twat is aggressively degrading. Women should be respected."
What, then, I ask, can a man call a woman's vagina?
"They shouldn't mention it at all. You know, if you call a guy a dick, he's proud of that. Call a guy a cunt, it's totally different."
Dominic, a friendly giant of a La Bare dancer, is on-stage behind her, and he pulls off his pants to Sean Paul's "Shake That Thing." I encourage Erika to make up an acceptable word for vagina.
"There isn't one. If there was, it would already be around. That's what's so interesting about it."
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