I wasn’t trying to sully the ears of the church-going patrons of the fish fry, in the basement of a Catholic church, on Ash Wednesday. I was merely attempting to share a story with friends. A story I must have been excited to tell because my voice kept getting louder until I was abruptly shushed for shouting, “fuck.” Being I’m no one-trick pony when it comes to embarrassing myself, I followed it up by describing a character in a TV show as “quite the little slut.” I’d like to think if anyone overheard me, they simply thought I was referring to “F.U.C.K.” (fornicating under the crown of the king) and the little slut who was being stoned to death for it. A topic I know is acceptable in the basement of a Catholic church because a CCD teacher mentioned it in class once. If I’m not mistaken, Jesus went ahead and saved said trollop (and if fornicators are getting direct assistance from the son of God, I don’t see why my swearing in his house should be such big deal).

Church and women of questionable character aside, curse words and ladies typically do not go together. Some states still have laws on the books about not swearing in front of women and children. My old pal Harvey Newcomb goes so far to say the improper use of grammar by a lady could lead to “rudeness and vulgarity.” He also advises against “coarse jesting.” If you are unfamiliar with coarse jesting, then I’m afraid you will just have to try to avoid what you think it might be. Newcomb would tell you but it would be rude of him to do so.

So what happens to bad little girls who do go around slinging slang on the first day of Lent? They get their mouths washed out with soap. Or, at least, that is what happened to me. Not a week after I made my friends question whether they should take me anywhere again, I found myself with a mouthful of shower gel after attempting to use mouthwash (I was in a hotel, where those things can be tricky to discern). Before I had a chance to even think about the many ironies of life, karma, or the mysterious ways of Jesus, I said, “fuck” and turned on the faucet to rinse out my mouth.


So, you know, go on, brush your shoulder off.

Jay-Z coined the phrase (or something like it), but, really, I think Salt-n-Pepa laid it out a few years earlier with the 1993 classic, “None of Your Business.”

The lyrics are straightforward. The point simple. Ladies like sex. Okay, so maybe you knew as much. But, here’s the thing, ladies don’t just like sex when they are in a committed, long-lasting relationship. They don’t just like sex when it is with a boyfriend. They don’t just like sex when they are on a date. Oh, no, ladies like sex in a veritable expanse of scenarios. Problem is, other people, ladies included, don’t like it when ladies get willy nilly (okay, fine, pun intended) with their sex lives. Soon names are called and trash is talked. So Salt-n-Pepa tell you to check it, presumably before you wreck it, because they don’t give one explicative about your two cents.

Now, maybe it was my hard knocks, white, lower-middle class, Salt-n-Pepa lovin’ upbringing, but I have to say, the song is relevant. Perhaps now is a good time to go ahead and say I do not formally study gender issues and am quite aware of the flinging to and fro of sweeping declarations I have already made and will likely continue to make. Even so, I think the conversation is worth having in a general sense.

Here we are, living it up in the 21st century, and wouldn’t you know it, people are still making all sorts of assumptions about women’s sexuality. I’m not sure exactly when I became aware of it. I mean, I kind of figured older generations might judge me because of differing sensibilities. Oh, and Republicans. I also get some people just not caring or wanting to know about the ins and outs (I did it again!) of my sex life. Fine.

The real moment came when friends chalked up ladies having casual sex with someone as irresponsible, unsafe, or emotionally unstable. Sure, they were subtle. No one goes around saying, “Only dirty hoes have sex with someone they’ve just met!” Even so, the sentiment is there.

Then there’s the commentary on hook-up culture. The idea here being as youngsters delay adulthood with school, moving, more school and more moving, we also delay marriage and long-term relationships. So what do we do instead? We hook up with people. Sometimes people we know, sometimes people we don’t know. Sometimes once, sometimes for a prolonged period of time. Gets others thinking, “Gasp! What will women do?” Surely, hook-up culture will be the downfall of able-bodied ladies everywhere. Their feeble brains can not handle such physical intimacy without attaching emotional expectations. Not possible!

Alright, I’m being facetious. Also, I do not want to diminish the connection sex can have to love and other such feelings. The key word there being “can.” “Might” if you will. Certainly not irrevocably bonded forever. So, yeah, not every lady need be a pimp. A lady need be who she is and find a gentleman or other lady who feels the same way, whatever the relationship may be. As for everyone else, it’s none of your business.

Here’s the scene. I am on a chair, standing, in heels, with one hand on the top of the chair and the other holding a phone, peering behind a low bookshelf. My cat is on the floor, crouching, with her paw underneath the bookshelf, looking perplexed. On the phone is my friend Jason in Japan. Underneath the bookshelf, is a mouse.

So how did I get here?

Irrational fear is a strange thing. So are cats. Take mine, for instance (the cat for now, the fear later). Being a young woman of three-years-old, Hildie likes to be outside. Despite some reluctance on my part, I decided to get her a collar and name tag and accept her choice to be an indoor/outdoor cat. Who am I to tell her how to live?

The two of us were getting along splendidly, until one day (in what I assume was some poorly thought-out attempt on Hildie’s part to extend her thanks), I caught a glimpse of something in her mouth out of the corner of my eye. I thought it was a leaf. She dropped it, and when said leaf became mobile, scurrying under my bed, I screamed and ran out my front door (cue the irrational fear).

Outside, barefoot, I decided to call my ex-boyfriend. What can I say? Old habits die hard. When he didn’t answer, I tried my friend Emily. She grew up on a farm and would likely know how to, I don’t know, wrangle it? Emily was confused, “Carrie, what do you think the mouse is going to do to you?”

Eat my toes.

Crawl up my leg with its creepy little mouse feet.

Stand in the corner, mocking me.

I mean, the options were practically limitless. Hadn’t the mouse already annexed my apartment, sending me and my sanity out the door?

My friend Ed was the one to convince me to go back. Somehow, he got me to think Hildie swallowed the mouse whole.

When you’re desperate, you’ll accept just about anything.

Still, I was weary. I put on heels. I tip-toed in the heels around the apartment. Mostly, I stayed on the couch, sat on my feet, kept an eye on my cat.

I began to think of places the mouse could be hiding. Behind the refrigerator? Under the couch? Where else could it go? What if I saw its head poking out somewhere? What would I do?

Oh me, oh life, these questions recurring.

I decided living with the mouse was not an option. I’m not saying I have anything against mice as a species. I mean, hey, I loved Mickey Mouse as a kid. When my grandmother asked me if I wanted a bunny for Easter, I said, “No, Da, I want a Micka Mouse.” Micka Mouse could be snuggled though. And he wore pants. How is a lady to live with a mouse without pants?

Then, I caught Hildie near the bookshelf looking serious. The mouse had to be there.

Here is my chance to deal with the mouse, I thought. For some reason though, in my head, I had to have a witness. Being with others or something.

So, again, I got my phone. I called my friend Jason, who knew of my mouse, uh, issues, disregarding 12-hour time difference. Then, I proceeded to narrate my every move, whispering.

“I put on my heels.”

“I’m going to get on a chair.”

So here we are.

I was too far away to see the mouse. So, I grabbed the chair with one hand and proceeded to pivot it to the bookshelf with me on it and Jason still on the phone.

Hildie could not get her paw far enough under the bookshelf to get the mouse. I decided to, slowly, oh so slowly, move the bookshelf. The mouse began to squeak. So did I. Together, we were like some terrible elementary school choir in a horrific round of “eek!”

When I moved the bookshelf a bit more, the mouse was dead. Hildie and I had somehow managed to kill it in a bout of tug-o-war gone wrong. Her pulling with her paws, me with the bookshelf.

What came next was sort of a flurry of shouts and plastic bags. The mouse now dislodged, Hildie got it in her mouth and proceed to treat it like a toy, tossing it here and there and throwing me right back in to my anxiety-ridden hysteria. I got gloves, bags, a bag for the bags. By the end of it, Hildie was in the bathroom and the mouse was in the trash.

I was still wearing heels.

I think that counts for something.

Just a quick reminder for the ladies. When you have sex before marriage, you’re spreading your legs for Fascism. You’re also being antisemitic. Here you thought premarital sex was just about seven layers of fiery hell and an irrevocably damaged soul.

Thanks to the good sir and patriot who passed along such an important public service announcement.

I am not a list maker. Well, unless it comes to nicknaming gentleman, but that is neither here nor there. What can I say? Too much organization makes me twitchy. When one of my favorite lady friends showed me a spreadsheet of her clothes, I almost hyperventilated.

Ladies though, I suspect make grocery lists. Why? Well, because I assume they do other things, like eat healthy and stay within a budget. Besides, bad things happen when you don’t make a grocery list. Bad, bad things. Puppies are slaughtered, flowers wilt, and you are at home eating 10 Oreos for dinner with no remorse.

The thing is, I don’t have a lot of complex recipes memorized. Tuna noodle casserole? Got it. Angel hair with vodka sauce? Sure. Head in the direction of five ingredients or more, and, guess what, I need a list. Take into account a broken refrigerator (as was the case for me yesterday, and sadly, I think today too), and things really start to get ugly.

After a trip to the grocery store for nonperishable items sans list, I came home with the following.

Potato chips
Cup of Noodles
Peanut butter
Honey wheat bread
Strawberry Pop-Tarts with frosting

The way I see it, I failed twice: I bought food high in calories and low in nutrition, and I stayed away from buying anything that could be construed as a meal (which led me back to the grocery store today for more food).

Even though I’m more than willing to admit I am obstinate when it comes to putting together a list, living alone is also a guilty culprit. Ever try to buy so much as a bag of field greens when you have no one with whom you can share your salad? (I am not alluding to anything beyond food here, though I wish I was that clever. Suggestions are welcome.) The whole thing gets gross pretty quick.

Strolling around the grocery store, without a list, I can pick up a carton of mushrooms, and think of all the ways I might use them by the end of the week, or I can go to the frozen section and be lured in by pre-prepared, single-serving bliss. Put in no thought at all and don’t have to do dishes to boot? I’m there. And this from a girl who actually likes to cook.

So for you list-making ladies, kudos. You will no doubt be thin and time efficient while I am licking my finger to grab the last of the potato-chip crumbs from the bottom of the bag to avoid another trip to the grocery store.