The Purpose of Your Visit – Business or Pleasure?

Fewer than one-percent of men can achieve oral contact with their own penis.

The aforementioned statement is indicative of two things: 1.) People have far too much time on their hands; and, 2.) They are not spending this time stretching.

But, back to that one-percent…

I mention this not because it is relevant to myself. Quite frankly, it is not. I mention this chestnut of physiological knowledge because my Honors 11 English teacher—we’ll call her Ingrid—tirelessly worked until she was beat-red in the face (cause of redness remains unknown, but David Hasselhoff could probably hazard a guess) to impress upon us, her earnest 17-year-old back-stabbing honor students, the importance of opening a speech or a piece of expository writing with a hook. And, while I frequently struggled to find an appropriate, topical hook to seduce Ingrid’s ever-so-delicate sensibilities when writing about the deep-rooted symbolism of color usage in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, I am confident that somewhere out there, wherever she may be, Ingrid has been hooked into a trance of unparalleled titillation by my lead sentence.

Break out the “Mission accomplished” banner on the USS Abraham Lincoln because I’ve clearly grabbed your attention. As it were, terse references to genitals are real head-turners—no question about it. And, when one throws autofellatio (a sexual practice that can be, more or less, be attributed to visionary pornographer Ron Jeremy) into the mix, one is guaranteed a firm grasp on the attention and focus of the readership, even if for all of the wrong reasons.

Conservatively, I’d estimate that at least one-third of those still reading this column are only doing so in hopes that I’ll soon rattle off a complementary statistic detailing other genders’ various levels of flexibilities. In the interest of journalistic ethics, I have prepared a brief statement for those readers: You will be sorely disappointed. I will not pander (nor was I able to find said statistic. Not anywhere. And, believe me, I checked.).

If you’re reading this, you may be asking yourself, Why does a 20-year-old Sagittarius boasting an inexplicable preoccupation with the male reproductive system feel as though anyone is interested in hearing what he has to say? (Note: for the purpose of the preceding scenario, I’m assuming that the questioner is an extremely hostile Gemini who takes astrology very, very seriously.)

The answer is quite simple—I’m writing it down. And written things should be read.

If it sounds overly simplistic and pedestrian, that’s because it is. The truth is, it takes a certain kind of person to write. Sometimes, the very act of writing demands subtracting a little something from the enjoyment of life; and, if someone’s willing to put that on the line, I don’t know about you, but I’m inclined to listen. If Robert F. Kennedy famously said, “There are those who look at things the way they are, and ask why? I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?” then it’s a writer who looks at the fat kid in the back of the bus whose ingenuity and appetite have led him to turn his right-nostril into a Hometown Buffet franchise, and feels the unflappable, irrepressible urge to document the binge in no fewer than 800 words.

While this column, That Side of Paradise, is not a typo or a misquote of renowned American author F. Scott Fitzgerald’s debut novel, it is a thinly-veiled reference—a homage, as the French might pretentiously put it between their time-honored traditions of beret purchases and eating butter-less rolls for breakfast—to the author and his tale of the world’s chilling ability to warp love and dreams. It’s a reminder to stay on the other side of paradise, the side of the tracks where strip clubs aren’t allowed to be built across the street from elementary schools and where the city still maintains the grass in the road-median—it’s a reminder to keep your eye on what’s important, kind of like that self-referential, Catcher in the Rye-style mission statement that Tom Cruise so manically scribbles down in Jerry Maguire.

Right now, I’m in college, as are millions of other Americans. Eventually, though, it’ll be time to leave the abstract world of academia, where one’s days are focused on dealing with the mundane, answering questions like:

• When did journalist(?) Tucker Carlson make the leap from bowties to regular neckties? Did Fox News take a side-by-side of Carlson and Kanye West and ask Us Weekly, “Who wore it better?” and then decide to make him switch?
• If I were to take a shot of Bacardi 151 every time I happened upon a masturbating gentleman on Chat Roulette, how long would it take me to die of alcohol poisoning?
• Pretending I’m a father, if my wife and I needed to get a last-minute babysitter for our 11-year-old daughter in order to attend an important business function, would I let Vladimir Nabokov babysit her?

Soon enough, I’ll be out of college and saddled with unthinkable responsibilities (like most people…how do they do it?!), and it’ll be easy to forget about That Side of Paradise, the side where there is no such thing as warm beer and where all farts smell like Polo Blue cologne. And, this is why I am desperately committed to staying true to one goal, no matter how unlikely my goal may sound—the goal of realizing love.

In order to keep me honest, I’m enlisting the help of this column’s readers—future, present and those who mistakenly happen upon it during a search for autofellatio—to hold me to my personal promise of pursuing my love for the one and only Taylor Swift.

Wait…do you hear that? Yeah, that. It’s the sound of a knock on the door of opportunity, the opportunity for a life of eternal happiness and fairy tales—and, in the doorway stands the Helen of Troy-level beauty of country music superstar herself. Taylor Swift.

Sound like a door opening? More like the sound of Jean Claude Van Damme roundhouse-kicking a door open, resulting in unnecessary property damage but a very cool aesthetic for those watching the direct-to-DVD flick.

To this, I am committed. And, with the help of those who want to join the societal movement that is That Side of Paradise, we will make it happen. Together.

Of course, there is always the possibility that I’ll die old and alone, desperately clinging to my LifeAlert medallion with one hand and trying to replace the small watch battery with the other, my arthritic fingers fumbling over the smooth edges of the diminutive power source as my heart beats its final rhythmic contraction.

That’s the thing about dreams and dreamers, the intensity is enough to make even the most die-hard intellectual vagabonds question, from time to time, the way we chase them with such a single-minded fervor and tenacity. It’s simple enough, though—we chase them because they give us hope. Because they make our hearts skip a beat at the sheer thought of the dream. Because they give us power over tomorrow and the next day. Because we want nothing more than to have that feeling where everything in the world vanishes like a phantom and all that remains is a dusty, old piano or a broken-in catcher’s mitt or maybe even that tall blonde sitting shotgun in your Chevy truck. Fortunately, we’re left—those of us who prescribe to this idea of That Side of Paradise, who have not yet forgotten how to close their eyes and dream still—with no choice but to chase these dreams because, in the end, it’s all we know how to do.

So, that’s exactly what this column will be. It’ll be random. It’ll be entertaining. It’ll deal with movies and music and humor and love—the best things in life, really. It’ll make you laugh at times. It’ll make you cry at others (at least for those of you who have teared up during Love Actually). It’ll make you think. But, it’ll always make you dream. Because, after all, it’s all that I know how to do.