The Passing Parade: Cheap Shots from a Drive By Mind

"...difficile est saturam non scribere. Nam quis iniquae tam patiens urbis, tam ferreus, ut teneat se..." " is hard not to write Satire. For who is so tolerant of the unjust City, so steeled, that he can restrain himself... Juvenal, The Satires (1.30-32)

Saturday, March 11, 2006

NO ORGASMS, PLEASE, WE'LL JUST HAVE THE FRENCH FRIES: I think most people would agree that orgasm is a pretty neat thing, especially when you’re young. It’s an admirable thing at most times of the year, including St. Patrick’s Day and in and around the Fourth of July, but when you’re young it seems particularly great. I can’t speak for how women feel about this sort of thing when they were young, but frankly, for most young men it feels like there’s skyrockets going off down there. Most of that has to do with hormones; the body weight of most teenaged boys consists largely of testosterone and attitude, which has the unfortunate effect of producing an exaggerated notion of masculinity amongst young men, who are usually best off if they take long cold showers or join the Marine Corps in order to deal with this flood of hormones. As the young man ages and acquires adult responsibilities, the testosterone level tends to drop off and orgasm become a nice thing to have once in a while with the wife when the kids are off at school or at summer camp. Frankly, at a certain point in one’s life, a really good orgasm is nice, but a perfectly cooked French fry is positive bliss.

The French fry, or the Belgian fry, or the chip of the law firm Phish & Chip, or anyone of the hundred other names of this paragon of oil-based cookery, first saw the light of day in the Belgian city of Liege, a place that has seen much history and heartbreak, none of which has anything to do with our subject and so we will not bring it up again; to be honest, no one likes a whiner and if you can’t take a few Roman/ Spanish/ Dutch/Catholic/Protestant/ French/ British/ German/ German again/ British again/ American invasions now and again, you should move to Bora Bora or to Wagga Wagga or to Secaucus, New Jersey where you won’t have to worry about any of the previously mentioned invaders coming back to your house and stealing everything including the stuff you’ve nailed down and the nails you used to nail the stuff down with.

So the French fry came into this sinful world one late summer day in 1687, when French troops marching across Wallonia, the French speaking part of what is now Belgium, but wasn’t then, the concept of Belgium not having caught on at the time, and one can say with no small degree of verisimilitude that the concept of Belgium still hasn’t caught on in some parts of Belgium today. As they passed through the area, the French troops saw something they had never seen in their entire lives, something so incredible that those who could write scarcely had the words to describe what they had seen, but as this has nothing to do with our subject, we will skip over this and go directly to the invention of the French fry, the legacy of which we are still living with today. It is not often that the fate of empires rests on something as small and seemingly insignificant as a mere French fry, and this, frankly, is not one of those times.

Now, I hope I didn’t offend if I sounded a bit dogmatic about orgasms there. Obviously, everyone’s experience is different; in a world of some six billion you can hardly expect everyone to react to the same thing in the same way. My experience will be different than your experience and both of ours will be different from someone else’s. We are human beings, after all, with the exception of Red Sox fans, not machines put together on some vast assembly line in a free enterprise zone along the China coast. But even with all of the caveats you can throw in, I think it is still safe to say that the French fry is at the summit of human culinary experience, the perfected end product of millennia of trial and error. There are probably more French fries eaten every day than there are orgasms, though many people will dispute that figure. However, when you compare and contrast the long history of orgasm with the much shorter timescale of the French fry, it becomes clear that the disputants are rigging the statistics in order to jack up the orgasm occurrence rate in order to defeat the French fry in overall popularity.

First, one must consider that in every situation involving orgasms, there is usually only one positive occurrence of this physiological state; either the person involved is alone or one of the two persons involved is lying, and while multiple orgasm does exist—the National Geographic Society funded several expeditions to the Bahamas in the 1980’s to look for this elusive beast—it is not very common and so we may safely discount it from the overall statistical base. Then you must take into account the aging population, wherein the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak, even with the introduction of Viagra and other such products to the American market. Finally, one must remember that any individual order of French fries contains upwards of thirty or forty individual fries, not counting the little ones that fall to the bottom of whatever that little cardboard thing they come in is called. When you add all of these things together and you exclude the historical data from before 1687 when the French troops saw the incredible thing that we will skip over now in order to talk about the invention of the French fry, it becomes clear to the impartial observer that the French fry is the human experience most people favor. Orgasm, after all, is hardly the sort of thing one would want to share with one’s whole family, however responsible it may be for your whole family.

Most families, on the other hand, routinely share the French fry experience, and many families will go out on certain nights of the week in pursuit of the perfect fry. The pursuit of the perfect French fry, a fabulous creature on the order of the unicorn, who prefers them with mayonnaise, which is one of the reasons why unicorns are fabulous these days and not merely extinct, is one of the few activities that the members of today’s modern and increasingly isolated American family can do together. And really, except for intensity and duration, most orgasms are more alike than they are different, whereas the French fry can be any one of a hundred different tastes and textures, starting with your traditional fry cooked in vegetable shortening, and, if you’re lucky, some animal fat as well. This fry is clearly no good for your long-term cardiovascular health, but it tastes wonderful and when combined with salt and ketchup provide a dining experience second to none. Some fries come soggy, impregnated with oil, which is always unfortunate, while others are fried all the way through to the center of the potato, giving the fry a hard crunchy texture and the taste of a morbidly obese potato chip waiting for some unsuspecting dimwit to eat it, thereby spackling the walls of this dolt’s arteries with not merely bad cholesterol, but truly evil cholesterol, the type of cholesterol that goes in for usury, white slaving, and trips with the family to Fenway Park.

Unlike the orgasm, which often displays no sense of societal obligation, the French fry is a model citizen, often found in mathematics classes throughout the country, often as a substitute for algebra. In addition to this, the United States government has used French fries in times of peace and war for actions that remain classified to this day, and the governments of Estonia and Botswana have awarded the French fry with their highest civilian honors (by way of contrast, the only award the orgasm has ever won is a visit from the vice squad). Universities from one end of this our Great Republic have given the French fry honorary degrees and people have sung the praises of the fry in every known human language. For all we know, even as we speak, humpback whales may also sing paeans to the fry in their own inimitable way, even if those songs just sound like gas to me. As for orgasms, well, in general orgasms are good for very little except creating long-term complications, most of which will require braces by the time they hit seven or eight. And I don’t really see any university giving a degree to an orgasm. You can’t but feel that certain orgasms are not welcome at college campuses in this country, and if that’s the case perhaps they ought to sue; perhaps a civil rights suit is in order here, but I really don’t see that happening any time soon. I know I shouldn’t let pessimism get the best of me, but sometimes it’s hard not to be pessimistic. Maybe it’s just my nature.


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