Sexless in the City

Sometimes reading romance novels doesn’t quite prepare you for a love life...

For this 30-year-old urbanite, love is always a misadventure: The Harvard Lickwit, Hippie the Groper, the 5% Man, and the Ad Weasel. These and many other men wander in and out of her life — but never her bed.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Anna and the Sergeant: Dreams are made of eucalyptus, part 2

Missed the first part? Catch up!


Mumbai, Fall 2007

After a trip to a chemist right down the street from my friend’s rather shockingly priced rented room (evidently not marked up due to our whiteness, unlike most street food and many other things), I tracked down a bottle of eucalyptus oil and a small plastic-wrapped roll of cotton.

By the time I got back to my friend’s place and realized Sargie had never precisely described the exact application of the oil, I found myself starting to think of John Cusack’s oh-so-glam Q-tip use in Better Off Dead. Hotness, for sure.

While I was hardly there to add myself to the local queue for arranged marriages, much less attempt intercontinental flirting, stuffing my orifices with cotton seemed a bit desperate. Which I clearly was by this point, just not that desperate. Yet.

Instead, since my friend had been recommending I try out some fabulous sauna down the street, wherein one evidently sweat out all the dutifully drunk bottled water in one’s system while breathing in lungfuls of eucalyptus-laden steam, I decided to go for a more homegrown steam bath.

In truth I did attempt to inhale
Although my friend’s rent did not apparently cover kitchen access, like all practical travelers abroad, she had a hot pot for boiling water. After finding a bowl big enough to serve as a “bath,” I plugged in the pot and waited to see if Sargie’s oil would do any magic.

Once I was carefully huddled over the bowl, attempting to hold a small towel over my head, without spilling the steaming water on my lap, I dumped in some oil, and then a little more just for good measure.

Well, so maybe it was a lot more. It’s likely the pigeons that normally roamed the ledge outside the open windows (and left their germy fluff on my toiletries in the bathroom each morning) had started shuffling toward a less-cleansing perch, but I was too busy coughing to notice. Lean too close to the bowl (and by close I mean less than 12 inches), and I could suddenly feel the steam pricking my eyeballs, tickling my throat and basically opening up or provoking everything but my confounded sinuses.

Evidently, when in India, one must do what all the locals do — which certainly isn’t treating sinusitis (as the ayurvedic doctor called it) with cotton bits and the oil preferred by one northern European father. Hence a week-long adventure in swallowing the various unknown but speckled pills I got from the doctor and which I hoped bore only a superficial resemblance to dung or mud.
I’ll never know exactly what was in them, but at least the shooting sinus pains never came back. If only I could have said the same for the pigeons and their morning bathroom “gift.”

The proof is in the stuffing?
Ah, but Sargie. If you’ve been reading closely, you’re probably wondering why all this makes me grateful for him, no? Well, in what may perhaps prove that even the weirdest of my recent adventures in dating could yet have copper in not silver linings, one day months after my Mumbai trip I woke up with another sinus headache. And while I had full access to a kitchen, stove and tea kettle, let’s just say I was short on time.

And who knew? It turns out if you dab a little oil on some cotton and tell yourself Cusack was hot no matter what he was saying — or, more importantly, doing — you start to get a taste of Sargie’s folk cure. For I found myself strangely grateful.

Now then: as to those yet-unredeemed dates mentioned (which I hear some of you want reports on), I certainly could tell a tale or two, but for the time being, I don’t like to be a girl who dates and blogs. I can however promise a few reports from my weekend ditch-your baggage party and hopefully news of a forthcoming double crazy blind date. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, if you’re looking for more things to read, check out a V-day article I was quoted in, a recent review of this blog in San Francisco magazine, or pre-order your copy of Faith on the Edge, a forthcoming essay collection from GodSpy that includes my essay, “Confessions of an Undercover Virgin.”

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