Tailpipe could barely contain his enthusiasm. Picture a few billion people in synchronized paroxysms of ecstasy, their energy surging upward toward the sky in purple waves. It would have to make a difference, no?
By the arrival of GO-Day, the idea actually seemed to be catching on. Organizers Donna Sheehan and Paul Reffell, who are from California's fad-conscious Marin County, got some widespread media coverage, and thousands of web surfers from São Paulo to Tokyo to Sofia checked out their homepage, www.globalorgasm.org. Groups supporting the Global Orgasm sprang up on thefacebook.com. In Lake Worth, a teacher who asked to be identified simply as Brooke decided to throw a Global Orgasm Day party of her own at her D Street home.
The 'Pipe learned that Brooke teaches by day and works as a burlesque dancer by night. This promised to be interesting. Her living room was darkened and fragrant with air freshener to encourage sensuous communication among the handful of attendees, and a video called "How to Female Ejaculate With Fanny Fatale" played on a monitor. Laughter rang out from a nearby bedroom, momentarily distracting two women who were parked in front of the television, necking like a pair of high school sophomores.
The two face-sucking women one with straight black hair, the other with a Mohawk with dyed blond patches separated momentarily to watch the video's money shot. It was a welcome conversation stimulator. Was the woman in the video actually ejaculating onto her partner, or was this an example of what sex connoisseurs call a "golden shower"? Tailpipe wasn't sure he wanted to know.
A guy with a buzz cut suggested sagely that females could easily teach themselves to ejaculate as this woman on the video just had. "I'm telling you," he said, "you've just got to know how to do it."
The black-haired woman fumed. "I am a fucking female," she said. "I've dissected my shit. I hate when guys think they know about the pussy."
Everyone in the room inched away from the male blowhard. Clearly, if Mr. Buzz Cut were going to partake of the GO-Day activities, it would be in the privacy of his own bedroom.
Tailpipe wondered if maybe Global Orgasm as an instrument for peace was an idea that was ahead of its time here in South Florida. Isn't every day O-Day around here? Where's the peace, people?
Brooke, in an orange strapless dress, brought an imposing panty-ripper cocktail into the living room and rewound the video to take another look, and Mr. BC quietly sneaked out.
Most of the women were burlesque dancers in Brooke's troupe. Some said they were not aware of the origin or purpose of Global Orgasm Day, but after the 'Pipe explained it, they got excited. They liked the idea that sex could be used as a political tool.
Of course, it wasn't really anything new, said one stripper, with a surprising knowledge of the classics. "In Athens in the Fifth Century BC," she said, "burlesque was born. Aristophanes wrote a play, and the play was about the women protesting the [Peloponnesian] war by strip dancing but withholding sex." The play was Lysistrata.
She was dubious that orgasmic energy forces could end the war in Iraq, but, what the hell, let's give it a go, she said. Then she turned back to her partner.
The party by then at the point of stillbirth, Tailpipe thought spilled out into the backyard, where Brooke had set up a dance tent. Some of the women spun one another around, and a guy named Daniel came over from the neighbor's solstice party and did some game but amateurish freestyling. But the party, ultimately, didn't have the energy to sustain itself.
The 'Pipe went home, took a shower, and thought about peace. The next day, the war in Iraq did not end, the genocide in Darfur continued, and on Christmas Eve, there was a shooting at the Boynton Beach mall.
Barry Star has owned Hot Dog Heaven on Sunrise Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale since 1979. That's long enough to be able to roll his eyes knowingly at all the incursions at other establishments from paying more attention to the bottom line than to customer satisfaction. To get costs down, he says, other restaurants "started using a smaller hot dog a pencil rather than a full frank! They won't use a seeded bun. They won't use a full pickle. You can't sell an authentic sandwich like that!" Case closed.
Star, who calls his product a "meal on a bun," has done no such damage to the revered frank. In fact, on December 19, two honchos from the Vienna Beef company jetted down from Chicago to give him a plaque and induct him into the Vienna Beef Hot Dog Hall of Fame.
Star knows his business, all right. He can dip deep into history to talk about "the height of sausage-making in Vienna." That's the real Vienna, boys and girls, over in a place called Austria. He knows about the evolution of the American hot dog, from its first appearance in the '30s outside the Chicago World's Fair to its current staple as a B-list fast food item. He expounds on the hot dog vendor as American icon ("the little guy who started small and created a business for his family") and the allure of the Chicago-style dogs. This last would be (no better way of expressing it, folks): "A flavorful bun, a nice juicy dog, barley in the bun, some of the beer flavor, the fullness, that crunchiness of the pickle and the sweetness of the relish and the spiciness of the peppers! Whoa that's what this is really about!"
Star guesses that he has eaten 10,000 franks since he opened 28 years ago. Perhaps more impressive, he claims to have missed only three days of work. He has no plans to retire. "I'm more afraid of not working than working," he says.
How much of a big deal is Star's Hall of Fame induction? Well, vendors have to be in business for a minimum of 20 years to be considered for the Hall, and so far, only 26 other establishments share the honor. Perhaps most telling, though: Of five other local hot dog places we called for comment on their colleague's accomplishment, four of those numbers were disconnected.
Ixnay With Xmas
Tailpipe likes to keep track of Boca Ratonians the way Margaret Mead used to keep track of tribal Samoans. Observe them in their tiki huts. Sample their cuisine. Make note of their sexual habits. Attend their Toastmasters meetings, particularly around Christmas time.
Everybody wants to be able to make a pleasing toast during the holiday. Peace, goodwill, and praise the Dow Jones Industrial Average. It's no surprise, then, that Olympic Heights High School classroom 2113 has lately been brimming with members and guests of the West Boca Toastmasters one of 11,000 Toastmasters International clubs in the world. The clubs of which there are three just in Boca are supposed to give people a place to enhance their public speaking skills, leadership skills, and confidence while getting to know plenty of folks from other cultures.
There's a special gleam in the eyes of a Toastmaster, the 'Pipe has to concede. Every toast is celebratory. Every remark is greeted with thunderous applause.
At a recent meeting, the topic was, "What does Santa Claus mean to you?" This battered cylinder, with words like trite and played out echoing in his mind, ducked for cover, chastising himself for his own bile.
A man named Richard Oliner took his place in front of the lectern.
"Santa Claus?" he asked, repeating the question in a classic Toastmaster stall. "What else could Santa Claus mean to a little Jewish boy from New Jersey? Santa Claus to me is the spirit of Christmas. He's the big, jolly guy in the red suit."
Oliner seemed to be digging a hole for himself.
"We've lost the actual meaning of Christmas," he said, battling for clarity. "But Santa Claus will live forever." Hmmm. "Bring on the presents," Oliner concluded. So Boca, the 'Pipe thought.
Somewhere in the audience, Debbie Sandburg was begging to differ. As the 'Pipe learned two weeks later, she was quietly planning some remarks of her own, which she would deliver to the increasingly festive Boca crowd. At the next meeting, Sandberg approached the lectern in a red dress with white polka dots, ready to give one of the meeting's three prepared speeches.
"I have several words to tell you about Christmas," she began. She paused for effect. "Chestnuts roasting on an open fire," she said, eyes and arms wide. "Jack Frost nipping at your nose. Yuletide carols being sung by a choir," she actually sang out, then hugged her red sweater close. "And folks dressed up like Eskimos!"
A daring gambit. Quoting extensively from Saint Nat King Cole. Audience members wrinkled their noses, wondering where they had heard these words before.
Sandberg, it turned out, grew up in Chicago chopping her own Christmas trees, baking cookies, and warming herself by a fire.
"When I came to South Florida, I didn't have all that," she said. She could imitate it, even going so far as to turn the air conditioning on in her house so she could build a fire in her fireplace. But there was always a missing ingredient. No one ever wished her happy holidays.
"To me, Christmas is for everyone," she told a room that included Sagar Salapaka, Yakov Grinshpun, Xeufan Liu, and Shalom Moldavski. "I want to pass the gift of Christmas to you."
Tailpipe offered heartfelt holiday wishes. Then he took the gift and deposited it under a tree somewhere, knowing the way a child who has eaten too many candy canes knows that, thank God, it was time to shut the holidays down for another year.
As told to Edmund Newton