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Category Archives: Pepper and Paprika

Why Do People Keep Shitting All Over My Facebook, Yo?

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You know, some of my Facebook friends are not that bright–and some are goddamn obnoxious. (These two qualities have a tendency to overlap.) But the ones that annoy me, I hide. If they really piss me off, I delete them. You know what I don’t do, though? Swan in on their Facebooks and squawk about they’re wrong about evvvverything and they don’t know stuff about stuff and god, seriously, if they have all these strong strong opinions, why aren’t they better activists?!

You know who does do that, though? My Facebook friends.

One of them did it here; he was publicly flamed and blocked me in a fit of entitled white male fury.  And a couple days ago, a NEW logic fail was erected–and subsequently toppled–on my page. I’m red; Pepper is yellow; the first contrarian, a dude, is blue; and the second, a lady, is green. (Her picture is obscured because it features one of her children. See?–I’m only a part-time asshole.)

Behold:

Is it possible for a man to be raped by a woman?! Well, despite the fact that my stepmother is on trial for sodomy down in the southeast (Flannery O’Connor wrote my fucking life, I swear), I say: of course not. Has never happened, nuh-uh. No wai, guiz!!

Prepare yourself for my avalanche of misandry!

Oh, and now it really gets special. Two lady feminists, gettin’ schooled in sexism by a privileged white dude!

So, to recap: despite the fact that I never identified myself as a rape survivor (since, you know, I’m not), I’m publicly airing my victim laundry all over Facebook. And so, operating under the assumption that I am a) a victim, and b) using my past experience to make a point about rape, the only logical conclusion to be drawn is that I’m totally privileging my experience over everyone else’s, and using my trauma as an excuse to become a dude-hating 21st century Valerie Solanas.

No, wait…that doesn’t sound right.

And then there’s Contrarian #2, who thinks I just don’t know what I be talking abouts, and also, why don’t I stop bitching and start a revolution? Well, I’ll get to that in a moment. But for the record, um, if you’re going to criticize someone’s level of social activism, you’d better be fucking amazing. You’d better be Gandhi.

Contrarian #1 has officially bowed out. Contrarian #2, however, is about to board the condescension train and head straight into Piss-Off-Paprika-ville.

And then, silence. Chirping of crickets, chill night air. A metaphorical raven fell to the ground and lay there, gasping–with broken entitlement wings and a logic arrow lodged in his shoulder. Or something.

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What Happens On Facebook Gets Posted On Pepper and Paprika

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So I used to be friends with this guy on Facebook. He worked, for awhile, as a dishwasher at the Restaurant of Doom (at which I am still currently, tragically employed), until he was fired. Yes, he was fired as a dishwasher–because he decided that it would be a better idea to go be an extra in a play for one night than to show up to work.

This young man, amazingly, is twenty-three years old. Awesome.

So after he was fired, he added me as a friend. I never particularly cared for the guy, and his profile picture showed him holding a newspaper that happened to be on fire, but I added him anyway, because I’m a pushover. He tried chatting with me on FB a few times, made awkward attempts to ask me out, didn’t take my hints (e.g. “oh, why don’t you give me your number?”), and just generally hung around being annoying.

And then, I pissed him off. And he deleted me–and then blocked me. Oh, the injustice!

I decided to take a series of screenshots of our lively debate and post them here, because, well, I just don’t like this guy. My name is obscured in red, Pepper’s in yellow, and the fired dishwasher’s in blue; the excellent article that instigated this cramazing argument can–and should–be read here.

 

And Now For the Magic Basket of Awesome I Was Going to Be

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Pepper and I could have been roommates. I wanted beaded curtains too.

But mostly I wanted to be quietly, transparently soulful, with simple clothing that hung off my shoulders and hips, with naturally dewy skin, with eyes that Said the Things My Mouth Never Could. I would be insular, withdrawn even–and yet people would see the depth. They would look into my impassively clear face and they would sense the intelligence. I would have a dull surface, but my sparkling wit and constantly-moving mind would light me from within.

I would walk along bridges, stare out over the grey polluted water, and contemplate the future. Somewhere not too far away, a slightly malnourished band boy with glasses would pine for me in verse. He’d say he wanted me to take him home, but really he’d want love, because, after all–isn’t what that what everyone wants?

For reals, yo.

And he would give me quirky-pretty gifts, like glass swans and dark cherry coffee tables engraved with poetry. And we would share umbrellas, and feed ducks, and talk about Important Things.

Our lives would be scripted by the writers of the Levenger catalog.

I would never have to explain anything. I would never have to hatch from the shell of my loneliness, because my bespectacled band boy would chisel the shell away himself. Music would follow us everywhere. It would rain, and always be fall, and the air would smell like wet leaves and spices.

My apartment would be quirky too, kind of charmingly inconvenient, with steep winding steps and a stupidly-placed mailbox. (Blocking my doorway, perhaps.) I would have some kind of awful waitressing job that I hated, but then one day…

There my guitar-strumming lovely would be.

We would get each other. Or something.

Because, you know, as a quiet, thoughtful girl working in the service industry, I’d have seen a lot. I’d have seen the sadness and desperation of humanity, that all-consuming longing for companionship. I’d be able to separate the ones worth saving from the ones worth disregarding. And my scruffy scrawny college boy and I would save each other. (The saving would involve copious amounts of red wine and some nice fleece blankets.)

Mmhm. Well, ten years later, I do have a delightfully quirky apartment with steep steps (and almost no straight walls–God I’m awesome). I have a crappy waitressing job that does nothing to restore my faith in humanity, and currently, it is fall.

But it never rains here, and the bridges are lame, and guys are morons, and I play my own damn guitar. My life is scripted by Jerry Seinfeld, and that’s okay.

Pepper Nagged Me to Blog, and I Caved

This is how Pepper and I look during class.

Everything today is pissing me off. My addiction to Rolos is pissing me off. The inconstancy of Pepper’s internet connection is pissing me off. The fact that my rage could be rightly attributed to PMS pisses me off even more. But you know what pisses me off the most? Staggeringly stupid, greasy-haired, anti-feminist mansplainers who give natural redheads a bad name.

That’s right—Pepper writes about important social issues; I bitch abut some douchecanoe from my women in lit class. This pretty much sums up our friendship.

Really though, the next time that raging ginger asspanda snickers while I’m talking, I just might snap. And I wouldn’t really feel too guilty about it either. Pepper warned me about him when we first learned he was in the class, but since my previous contact with him had been minimal (he once held a door open for me in a spectacularly douchey fashion, swinging it with a positively Hancockian flourish), I underestimated exactly how awful he would be. Now, though, I sit behind him in class, watching his back muscles twitch ragefully when his raised hand goes ignored, and wish that there were anybody else with things to say about Toni Morrison.

And it’s not just him. Here are some cramazing quotes straight out of that bastion of WTFery:

“Well, I think that like…[the black African working for a psychotic white dude in an absolutely terrible book we had to read] just like…knows his place. And he’s okay with it. You know? Like he just accepts it, and he’s happy.”

“This rape made him, you know, so violent. And willing to just, kick ass. It made him stronger.”

“The Africans in this book just seem, like…really violent. Like they just have so much anger and they can’t control their emotions.”

Yeah, well, speaking of people who can’t control their emotions…*keyboard splinters under furious pounding of fingers*

(I know—finger pounding sounds like a cheeky euphemism. It isn’t, but it probably should be. Trendsetters, that’s your next task.)

So Pepper and I sit there in class, exchanging looks of OH FOR THE LOVE OF THE RELIGIOUS FIGURE OF YOUR CHOICE WHAT IS WRONG WITH PEOPLE, and sometimes she’ll talk, and on rare occasions I’ll toss out a sentence (which is also our blogging technique), but mostly we just let the rage boil until it spills out into raised-voice conversations at Perkins that attract massive side-eye from senior citizens. Which is pretty fun, actually, and I highly recommend that everyone engage in this activity. One time we sat there pontificating about communism in vague but glowing terms—like so:

“You know what’s great? COMMUNISM.”

“Oh, I completely agree. Communism is awesome. I don’t understand why more people don’t embrace it.”

“The world would be so much better with a little Communism.”

“Woo, Commies!”

“I need to find me a Commie man.”

“You really do. Let’s go to Russia.”

It’s all very delightful, almost as delightful as talking about Satanism within earshot of Pepper’s obnoxious evangelical neighbors. Unfortunately, social mores dictate that we sit respectfully in class with our rage contained, so we do. But I’m pretty sure my fury-face shows through at times—for example, when a married, unemployed woman from a wealthy background claims that she’s “never felt oppressed. I LOVE being a woman!”

Well, thanks for the anecdata, but that doesn’t erase the experiences of, you know, every other woman in the world sharp enough to recognize that no matter how much she achieves, how smart she is, how put together and accomplished and intellectually gifted, there are always going to be men for whom she is nothing more than…whatever misogynists see when they encounter a ladybrain. Probably some kind of fuzzy koala peeking out above a field of daffodils. Which would be cute as hell (if a bit geographically confusing), but is not a stand-in for 51% of the population.

Women who refuse to identify as feminist annoy me, and while I could offer a thorough and well-reasoned explanation for this, I don’t really think I should have to. It should be a given by this point.

So I pretty much end every school day thinking, seriously, defiant stupidity is not going to get you through college, just quit already. (If you’re an el ed major it will, my mind shoots back. My mind is a snarky little bastard.) And so I stew in my feelings of superiority, eating candy and drinking copious amounts of tea, and then I fall asleep on my couch, and I wake up thinking, ugh. I have a hangover from the stupid.

If I’m lucky, maybe some greasy mansplaining asspanda will put me in my place.

How Paprika and Pepper (Should’ve) Met: First Edition, Part Two

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I found him in a health food store. He was barefoot and ankleted, surrounded by shelves of herbal supplements. His careless facial scruff and cloud of unwashed hair suggested nights of near-catatonic yearning and countless viewings of High Fidelity—and yet he held himself with what I initially considered a regal bearing, in the way that cavemen without clubs sometimes look civilized.

I was young and strobe-light-addled, a rave girl cliché with an addiction to rainbows. I wore candy necklaces, pleather everything, and hoisted my pigtails above my ears with a full spectrum of scrunchies. My pink lipstick and blue hair fought like two siblings on a roadtrip. As you might have guessed, health food stores weren’t exactly my scene, but my vegan roommate had sent me on a mission for carob chips—a task I would normally have scorned, but which I felt guilted into performing after accidentally feeding her cat MDMA.

He shuffled sensitively across my path, then back again, cradling eco-friendly laundry detergent and kava kava in his hirsute arms. I suspected him of macrame. Eventually he made his approach, peering up from beneath his furrowed unibrow to ask, “what’s your real hair color?”

“What? I was born like this,” I answered. “I was conceived amidst toxic waste.”

He blinked. His eyelashes were long and oddly clumped; they looked like tassels.

“Your jokes are a cover for your insecurity,” he said, then punctuated his statement with a nod.

“Okay.”

He asked me to dinner. I said yes. At the time, I considered it a social experiment; now, I can only look back in shame.

He took me on a tour of the street vending community, where he filled my arms with felafel, corn dogs, and ice cream cones that melted down my spandex-sheathed arms. It wasn’t quite dinner, but it was whimsical. He tried to hold my hand as I shuffled along, but ended up twining his fingers within a pretzel. He massaged the salt right off; it drifted like snow in the chill night air.

“Would you like some nectar?” he asked. “It’s home-brewed and potent.”

My gag reflex activated and the corn dog I had been eating shot out of my mouth. He chortled and shook his head.

“You misunderstand,” he smiled, and, with his free hand, unscrewed the cap from his faux-Navajo canteen. “I make my own mead. It’s kumquat-infused and peyote-spiked.”

He held the canteen to my lips. I tilted my head back and imbibed.

I can’t explain the taste. It reminded me of wet, congealing laundry—of rotting, bug-infested fruit—of mold. It slithered down my throat and lay coiled in my stomach, waiting to strike. My mouth filled with the taste of impending vomit, but I choked it down and sucked a scoop of ice cream off a waffle cone in desperation.

“It’s layered with so many notes,” I said. “How did you get such depth of flavor?”

He laid his hand across my breastbone. “It’s all in here,” he said. “You have to put your heart into it.”

“But that’s not—the location—never mind.”

We kept walking. He ran his hand down my spinal cord and whispered Dave Matthews lyrics in my ear (hike up your skirt a little more, and show the world to me). I was cold and entirely too sober, so I suggested we go to a rave. He acquiesced, but looked unsure.

I took him to my favorite spot, a former-slaughterhouse-turned-nightclub with bouncers dressed in latex fetish gear, who handed out free ring pops and glow sticks. P and I shuffled around on the dance floor, until he dragged me off to the side and gazed deeply into my drug-blurred eyes.

Strobe lights divided his face into neon triangles as he said, “I get it now.”

“Get what?”

“Why you are the way you are.”

“And?”

“You’re afraid.”

“Afraid of what?”

“Of being who you are.”

And there was so much noise. So many lights. The pretzel rhetoric abused my already chemically-bruised brain. I couldn’t think straight.

Don’t judge, alright? We’ve all done stupid things. And sometimes, those things are people.

His apartment was oppressively warm and thick with the smells of beef jerky, Drakkar Noir cologne, and crisp mountain waterfall. Half-melted taper candles waved jauntily from the necks of old Reisling bottles; the candles were curved in an oddly phallic manner, making the white drips that had solidified on the bodies of the bottles suggestive at best. He poured me a tumbler full of peach Arbor Mist, a shot of Black Velvet for himself, and insisted we toast to Fidel (may he rest in peace). His frayed, white lace curtains added a touch of maudlin poetry to the scene.

In his bedroom, a brass Buddha watched us with solemn, heavy-lidded eyes. I saw our faces reflected in a dozen crystal balls, and then he whispered, “I can see your future in them. I can see the bliss.”

Bliss in this case meaning ice cubes and refrigerated massage oil.

I don’t know what made him think numb skin would be sexy. I don’t know who gave him the idea or why his ice cubes were shaped like chrysanthemums, but the moment that frozen flower began its slow descent down my forearm, I leaped away with a ferocity that made him jump and ultimately resulted in my knee to his manbits. In the background, Cat Stevens crooned his sympathy.

“You prefer warmth?” he mumbled.

“Doesn’t everyone? Jesus fuck, man.”

“I’m sorry.”

I wished he wouldn’t talk into my neck.

“You want me to warm you back up?”

“If you can.”

And thus commenced the least fulfilling massage of my life. He started with my ankles and moved to my knees—then my ribcage, then back to my knees—and, after a brief detour to the parallel islands of my ears, ended at my knees. Even now, when I look at my knees, I sometimes hallucinate thumbprints.

Anyway, after about ten solid minutes of vigorous erogenous-zone-missing, he sheathed his mancandle in a creepy spiraled condom that transformed it into something vaguely resembling a corkscrew, looked at me quizzically while I explained that Vaseline does not in fact work as a lubricant, and assaulted my cervix with a fervor usually reserved for prom night. Over his shoulder I caught the cold dead eyes of a stuffed frog; it judged me silently, like the nuns who scolded me for wearing combat boots with my school uniform.

I apologized to Jesus. P mistook it as praise for his technique and thrust unrhythmically on.

The nuns were right.

I awoke the next morning to the smell of scorched marmalade. I found him in the kitchen, attempting to fry toast (he didn’t have a toaster); his scrambled eggs bore a crust of wheat germ, and lily pads of mold floated in his coffee pot. He presented me with a breakfast collage—random bits of food, oily and congealed, thrown together on a chipped mauve plate. I swallowed without chewing, as Che stared down with silent contempt.

“I have to go to work,” I mumbled. “I need to—things. There are things. So many things.”

He took my hand. “Last night was beautiful for me,” he whispered. “I want to give you something to remember me by.”

“Just so long as it’s not sperm.”

He ignored that, but grabbed one of his Reisling bottle candleholders from the shelf above his sink. “I made this,” he said, “while daydreaming of a girl like you.”

At which point I took the bottle and ran.

That night, suffused with shame, I posted a rant on Craigslist. “Drakkar Noir? Really? And Cat Stevens? FUCK YOU.” I fell asleep at my computer, P’s candle dangling limply beside me.

In the morning I found a message from Pepper: “Fucking crystal balls.”