posted 8 Dec 2003, 11PM | 11 Comments

Last Thursday my girlfriend spent the night at my place, on the futon pulled onto the floor in my home office, in front of the fireplace. And the next morning as I sat on the living room floor tying my shoes, we had a short conversation that went something like this:
Ryan: You know, it's funny how when we first met six months ago we both had insane schedules—me with my intense freelance work, and you with your all-night-long film digitizing—and now we're boring.
Jenny: Um, what?
Ryan: Well, here we are, leaving my apartment at the same time in the morning to go to our 9-5 shifts. We kiss each other goodbye and head off to work like regular people. It's funny.
Jenny: What do you mean, 'funny'? I like this much better, dear. It's stable.
Ryan: Yeah, but it's just kind of strange, and maybe a little sad. Our schedules were all over the place, and we stayed up late doing work that was creative, and now we truck off to our day jobs like regular domesticated types. But I guess it's all part of that gradual mid-twenties progression from the heady wild-eyed days of youth into the boring routine life of normalized adulthood.
Jenny: (putting on her coat and squinting) What are you talking about? If you think you're boring, then that's your prob—
Ryan: No, I'm just saying that—
Jenny: I like having a regular schedule, and having a good job, and getting a consistent pay check. That doesn't make us boring. Are you saying that you're unhappy?
Ryan: (rubbing eyes) Uh, er, no. I don't think we're boring, honey. I was just... joking. Dear.
We hugged goodbye and headed off toward our respective offices. About six minutes later, as I was driving my big white boat down Magnolia Boulevard, I was shocked to see a giant billboard with huge white bubble letters that read:


And what made the moment noteworthy wasn't the sign itself, exactly, but the nature of my shock. Or the fact that I was shocked at all. During the instant that my eyes landed on the sign, a dozen thoughts ran through my head:
Oh, that's not right. I shouldn't have to look at that. Kids will see that. That's not something I should have to look at every morning during my quiet drive to work. Some poor father is going to have to explain to his daughter what ORGASMS are just because of this big sign! How would I like it if some big billboard forced me to talk about sex with my daughter before it was time? I wouldn't, that's how. That's not right. Somebody should do something. Nasty bitches.
The thoughts passed, and I turned left to head toward the Metro station. But the encounter caught my attention, and I gave it some thought. What I discovered during that brief moment—for the first time ever, I believe—was a taste of the sensations, instincts and attitudes of actual conservative adults. I'm not talking about ordinary Republicans, I'm talking about honest-to-god crotchety old and bitter conservative type fuddy-duddies. It scared me, and I did not like it.

But I knew in that moment that I was right, and Jenny was wrong, and we are both doomed to grow old, backwards and boring.

To conclude, there are four epilogic points to be made here: 1) I'm a life-long democrat with an undying belief in free-speech. I believe that sooner or later our kids will be exposed to everything gross, offensive and violent in our culture, and that it's up to parents to talk to them about it all and put these things in context. 2) There are plenty of more offensive material that one can encounter on a billboard around here. This is the Valley, after all. 3) I love orgasms. What's not to like about orgasms? Nothing, that's what. Jenny would agree. 4) Upon closer examination, the billboard is actually promoting a play by Dan Israely, now running at the Canon Theatre here in L.A. How disgusting!

There are 11 Comments


11 Dec 03 at 08:36AM Michael said:

My personal trial of fire as a card-carrying free speech zealot came when I subbed in an elementary school music class. The 1st graders (1st graders, mind you) were offended by the Seasame Street video the teacher had left for them. They screamed, "We don't want to watch Seasame Street! We're not little kids!"

"So," I asked. "What do you want to watch?"

The reply was immediate and vociferous: "We want to watch South Park!"

At that moment, I knew our society is doomed to go the way of ancient Rome. Smoke 'em if you got 'em.


11 Dec 03 at 08:57AM Michael said:

Oh, it occurred to me that I should probably introduce myself. My name is Michael (natch), and I swing by your site from time to time, because it's always an interesting read when I'm bored. And I'm frequently bored.

I love your site keep up the good work (or some other such platitude).


13 Dec 03 at 10:27PM Jessie said:

Hi Ryan. I liked this post. Here in Montreal where the Quebec government apparently regards zoning as an anglophone conspiracy, my street consists largely of cheap housing, cheaper noodle shops, churches, and strip joints with provocative nakey lady pictures in the windows and extremely crude doormen. At this point I'm pretty much immune. Shock value is so short lived..


14 Dec 03 at 12:06PM Lisser said:



15 Dec 03 at 09:17AM Ryan said:

Shock value IS short lived. I barely notice the LIVE LIVE NUDE NUDE GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS signs sprinkled througout the L.A. area anymore... I guess they just blend in with the rest of the visual landscape. Actually, one near the airport is quite pretty.


16 Dec 03 at 09:43AM johnny2000 said:

there's something terribly wrong with the u.s. value system, sex is a big problem, violence and war doesn't seem to be one (> schwarzenegger ...);
maybe the wrong people left england several hundred years ago for the states (religious extremists to be precise).


17 Dec 03 at 04:14AM Anonymous said:

DATE: 12/17/2003 04:14:57 AM
DATE: 12/17/2003 04:14:57 AM


17 Dec 03 at 11:05PM mobius said:

we don't see this kind of "stunt" in malaysia.
society here is a lil' repressed..well, there is like this idea to have sex education introduced..but haven't heard much about it nowadays...
bet you dun even know where malaysia is?
that's o.k. trust me..society's eye will bludge out looking at that very hush-hush "orgasm"


20 Jan 04 at 02:49AM aaron wall said:

I have a huge fear of that growing old stuff myself. Generally I try to do something fruitly at least once every few weeks. If I am that crazy person hopefully I will never become that least that is my current excuse for my current misguided course of action.


25 Jan 04 at 07:56PM Kendal said:

Ryan, Ryan, Ryan.... do you know anything about women?? You should have had your girlfriend sleeping in your bed while you slept on the futon.... silly boy!


26 Jan 04 at 04:22PM Ryan said:

Hehe... actually, we BOTH slept on the futon. I thought that would be too SCANDALOUS for my weblog.

No more futon now, though, 'cuz I have my brand new queen-sized bed.

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