Jack B referred to The Rocky Horror Picture Show in his comment, and all of a sudden I was transported back to when I first arrived in this country. I started remembering these bits and pieces of my times in the US when I was, for all intents and purposes, an FOB.
You may still remember my tale of landing in the middle of corn field where the Champaign-Urbana airport is located and wondering why everything looked different from the American films I had seen back home. I wanted New York! I knew the Midwest was going to be different. But CORN FIELD as far as my eyes could see? *sobs*
It was the summer of 1993 when temperature routinely reached over 90+ (at least as I recall). As I struggled to my dorm room with my two gigantic suit cases (in one of them I had packed a rice cooker, typical
FOB international student behavior), my jaw dropped when the door opened to reveal a tiny, tiny closet masked as a “room” with NO air conditioner. Tears started stinging the corners of my eyes.
It was a nightmare. I had made a mistake.
The International House (or whatever the department that is in charge of the lucrative trade of luring international students who receive no financial aides and pay full price) paired the newly minted students up with volunteers who would introduce these foreigners to the American culture. They forgot, however, that most of the foreign students were GRADUATE students (so perhaps a bit on the geeky side? Definitely not walking on the wild side… ) and the volunteers were all young undergraduates. My “volunteer” showed up at the door of my dorm room and, picture this: Tina from Glee reminded me of her. Only that this girl standing in front of me was a bit more Goth (before I even knew what Goth was and that Goth existed).
We had an uneventful “getting to know you” session at a coffee shop. The conversation was halting at best. Remember: I landed in a strange country less than a week ago and I had no prior experience
conversing chitchatting strictly in English. Before we ended our first session, she mumbled something about taking me to a movie. Sure. I am game! But why did she ask me to bring a water gun, toast, and to wear a rain jacket? I was certain I had heard her wrong.
At this point, the memory channel gets really fuzzy. All I remember now is confusion. Lots of it. I remember there was a movie playing in this auditorium that was not particularly clean. I seem to remember that “Tina” was a bit annoyed I had showed up empty-handed. There were people on stage dressed in outlandish costumes. I distinctively remember a guy in revealing women’s lingerie (and yes, it did take me a while to realize that was a man in full makeup and a full wig…) and stuff being thrown at various moments throughout the movie.
Oh. That’s what the TOAST is for.
I was sprayed with water and saw toilet paper rolls fly through the air. I also remember having popcorn dumped on me but that could just be real popcorn for eating at a movie theatre and not part of the Ritual.
Now some guy (Was it the guy in drag? I can’t remember for sure)
Where are the virgins? Give us the virgins! Where are you? Stand up if you are a virgin! Get up here. NOW!
Again, utter confusion as I desperately leafed through the pages inside my head to locate the word “virgin” and its definition.
I was not. I thought.
“Tina” pulled me up from my seat and physically delivered me to the stage… I was not a ham the way I am now. I was not at ease at all standing there, spelling out AWKWARD in blinking neon letters with my mere presence. I am pretty sure I was insulted (as demanded by the Ritual) but thank goodness for my lack of verbal English comprehension back then. The audience surely was laughing, slapping their thighs, cat calling.
I think I blanked out this part of my life: the rest of the evening after the man declared we were hereby deflowered and were no longer virgins and were allowed to get back to our seats. More screaming and foot stomping and cat calling. For something that should have been memorable to the extreme, curiously, I cannot remember what happened afterwards and NO alcohol nor medication was involved.
“Tina” and I never saw each other again after this. Heck, I don’t even remember her name. As a matter of fact, I did not remember this episode in my life, my indoctrination into crazy American Pop Cultures, until Jack’s comment. So thanks.
My only regret is that I wish I had a blog back then (since keeping a journal has always been out of the question for me – it’s just not for me). I would have recounted everything as soon as I got back to my sauna closet. Wait. Wait. I would have taken tons of pictures. Just imagine: The awesome blog fodder. The even more awesome tantalizing title for this post:
I Lost My Virginity at the Rocky Horror Picture Show.