The Best Time I Tweeted About Private Parts
by Lori Fradkin
After watching the Anthony Weiner scandal unfold, I believe there are two major takeaways. First: No matter how mature we think we are, we are all 8-year-old boys at heart. I generally view myself as somewhat grown-up, but as the saga went on, I had to admit that I was as defenseless against a good dick joke as the next guy. That I attended a middle school called I. Weiner — named for a member of the Houston Jewish community — had done nothing to desensitize me. I work in a newsroom, so the congressman was a constant topic of conversation. “Who’s handling Weiner?” an editor would ask. “Are you doing Weiner?” Each time his name was mentioned, I would will myself to keep a straight face, clenching my jaw and trying to pretend I didn’t notice. “Hey, can we talk about Weiner when you get a sec?” It was impossible.
The other lesson: Online sharing can result in very embarrassing situations. I found this out for myself last Thursday night. No, I didn’t take any pictures — I’m the girl who changes clothes in a locker room facing the wall, sometimes putting my sports bra on before removing my regular one. Instead, a hashtag went around Twitter encouraging members to #describeyourpeniswithamovie. This immediately caught my attention, as there appeared to be no limit to the suddenly dirty-sounding films. Up in the Air! As Good as It Gets! Deep Impact! Precious (Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire)! It seemed like an equal-opportunity game, and I wanted to play too. Finally, after exploring some film databases for inspiration, I came up with A Prairie Home Companion, the story of one man, his land and his dear companion.
I was meeting two friends for dinner that night, and as I waited at the restaurant for them to arrive, I scrolled through Twitter again and noticed there was a hashtag for the female version: #describeyourvaginawithamovie. The first example I saw was Talk to Her, which made me chuckle, but I immediately thought of something even better: Cave of Forgotten Dreams. No pun intended, but I was sure I had nailed it. By choosing a Werner Herzog title, I had transformed a standard vagina joke into a highbrow vagina joke. I felt certain it would get retweeted again and again, and soon I would have like a million followers, who would quickly find out that I really love Marc Jacobs and ice cream. My friends showed up, and we were escorted to our table.
At some point in the middle of our meal, I reached instinctively for my BlackBerry, apologizing mid-check for being rude. I had one e-mail indicating that my tweet had, in fact, stuck a chord with someone. A friend had not only retweeted it, he had added a sad emoticon : ( before the RT. This commentary made me laugh, which made my friends ask what was so funny, which made me tell them about my tweet, which made them say: “You wrote that?!” This was not the reaction I was expecting. “You shared that with all of your followers?” It was then that I realized they thought I was making an extremely sad reference to the state of my own vagina. “It’s not about me!” I insisted, knowing that our earlier conversation about my lack of prospects wasn’t helping my case. “It’s just a game!” They pointed out that the hashtag included the word “your,” and that meant it was personal. I pointed out that I don’t actually have a penis, but no one seemed to take issue with my first tweet. I tried again to highlight the humor, but after a few minutes, I began to question the wisdom of my words. Would other people misinterpret my message as well? Would they think I really had a depressed vagina like Charlotte on Sex and the City? Would they worry that my vagina lay in bed at night thinking about all the things it (she?) had failed to accomplish? I deleted both that tweet and the previous one. Yes, I caved.
We were still talking about the hashtags as we walked to the subway after dinner. (I didn’t think of this at the time, but it occurs to me now that Rihanna really missed an opportunity by not contributing. I mean, In the Valley of Elah … Elah … Elah. Too easy.) After the guy in our little threesome — um, group of three — went in a different direction, the girl and I continued the discussion. She still couldn’t believe that I’d written something like that so cavalierly. “You’re just usually so private. You don’t talk about stuff like that.” We were laughing, but she was absolutely right. I thought about a story I’d heard a few weeks earlier: During the Northeast blackout of 2003, as people walked home from work and broke out the beer, there was a woman lying on a table in a 14th Street salon getting a bikini wax. The aesthetician had completed one side and was ready to move on to the other when everything went dark. Rather than leave her client lopsided, she lit candles and picked up where she’d left off. I found this completely fascinating. I wished it had happened to me, just so I could have the story to tell. “Oh, you’ve dined in the dark? Whatever, I’ve waxed.” And yet rather than go to work the next day and relay the amazing tale of another woman’s hair removal, I kept it to myself. I had heard it from the aesthetician as I lay on perhaps the same table, and to share it would mean sharing the fact that I had been having some grooming done down below as well. Not that it should come as a surprise to anyone that a twentysomething girl in New York City might undergo such a procedure, but it still felt too intimate to mention outside my closest circle of friends. I hadn’t intended to broadcast information about my own body when I selected a movie name, so the privacy issue hadn’t occurred to me. Oh well, I thought, moving on …
And right then I realized something else: “Oh my God! My dad follows me on Twitter!” Though he and I frequently discuss what I write, I had been so consumed with my own cleverness that the thought hadn’t even crossed my mind. My friend suggested that maybe he hadn’t seen it, but I knew that he had: He automatically gets a text whenever my sister or I say anything. He had definitely seen it. And there was a possibility that some of his friends had too. Really, the only thing I’d managed to do right that day was leave out the part about the film being 3-D.