In March 2014, I won the “Silver for Funny” award in the SOLAS Best Travel Writing competition. This piece, My Vagine, originally appeared in Lowestoft Chronicle online and, subsequently, in their 2012 print anthology, Far-flung and Foreign. I hope you’ll enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing this mash-up of my work as a public health educator.
I talk sex for a living. Neither talk show host nor therapist, I’m a humanitarian worker trying to save the world, one sex act at a time. My work takes me to some interesting locations—most recently to Iran, where, according to its president, there are no homosexuals.
Flying time from New York to Tehran is twelve hours, yet it took me more than two days to arrive. A forced stopover in Vienna allowed ample time for a quick visit to the International Atomic Energy Agency to discuss condom distribution, a luscious slice of Linzer torte, and a love bite from a carriage horse that nipped my right arm as I exited a church on the main square.
After scarfing down my cardboard meal, I spent the second half of my red-eye from Vienna to Tehran nervously fingering my headscarf like a blankie. I knew that, as a woman, I’d have to cover up, but I just wasn’t sure how it worked. Gently over the head with tails of the scarf trailing over each shoulder, like Grace Kelly or Lady Di might have worn? Tied in a knot under my chin, like my ex-husband’s pickled, old, toothless aunt? Dramatically tossed across just one shoulder with the rest atop my head like a cocktail napkin? Ei-ei-ei.