Thursday, November 16, 2017

So You Feel Like Relapsing Into Your ED

I hate hijacking my own fashion blog (say a prayer to Anna Wintour) to talk about eating disorders, but it’s something that’s had a huge effect on my life and I can’t live with myself if someone else is suffering and I could have helped but didn’t.  This post is for anyone who’s considering ED recovery/already in recovery and ready to give up.  I can’t tell you how many times I considered relapse during recovery. 

Sadly, relapse is incredibly common for people with EDs.  I have talked to dozens of people who suffer/have suffered and it’s a lifestyle.  It’s 20, 30, even 40 years of going up and down in weight, recovering for a few years and then relapsing.

I could be delightfully cliché and say things like “Keep fighting” and “It gets better” and “Your best day in recovery is better than your worst day sick” or (my personal favorite) “Trust the process, it’s different for everyone!”

Shut the fuck up.

Let’s be honest: If you’re someone with an eating disorder and you decide to recover, only about 10% of you makes that choice.  The other 90% is still begging you to be thinner.

I have been in recovery for a little over 8 months and I refuse to sugarcoat what I’ve been through: It has been the HARDEST 8 months of my life.  However, I’m finally in a great place.  I finally feel like Taylor again—the Taylor that I’ve known since March 17, 1995.  For those who know me closely, you know I’m not really the type of person to change.  Anorexia (and the entire personality that came along with the misery) aside, I haven’t changed much in my 22 years.  I’ve been writing stories and sketching fashion designs for as long as I can remember.  The walls of my childhood were covered with magazine covers and quotes from my favorite authors.  I’ve always liked to make people laugh, I’ve always been honest.  I’ve always danced.  I’ve always loved myself—it’s who I am.  To lose that for three years is tremendously sad.

Don’t get me wrong, anorexia was hell.  Being underweight, constantly bloated, constantly weak and dizzy, and looking in the mirror and seeing nothing but flaws is terrible.  But to not be Taylor anymore was the biggest loss for me.  I looked in the mirror and didn’t know who I was anymore.  I didn’t have any fun, I didn’t enjoy life.  Again, anyone who’s known me for years knows that isn’t me at all.

So yeah, recovery is a complete bitch, but it DOES get better and I AM feeling more like myself than I have since I was 15 and too hot for my leggings.  But I’ve deviated a bit from the point of this post.  While I’ve been recovering, I have spent countless hours researching what to expect.  Someone who has no experience with eating disorders can’t fathom how hard it is to recover.  “It can’t be so bad, all you have to do is eat!”

Again, shut the fuck up.

For the men/women out there who believe they can change their lives, you can, but it’s terrifying.  The difficulty of recovery is the reason so many people relapse, so I’m going to discuss all of my symptoms and how they’ve changed/disappeared/improved over the past 8 months.  Every article I read was extremely vague about symptoms and timelines, which is understandable as it is dependent on the individual, the starting weight, the need to gain or lose, the genetic makeup, the possibility of permanent damage, etc.   However, I believe that if at least a few recovered/recovering people talked more openly about their symptoms, maybe it can be less terrifying and maybe less people will relapse.

My Symptoms:

Wild changes in heart rate.  This was one of the first symptoms I experienced and it’s something that still occurs to this day (SO DON’T STARVE YOURSELF LOL).  From research/talking to a doctor, I learned this happens because your body is confused that you’re giving it food again and the blood sugar levels are all over the place (obviously this doesn’t read very medically sound so please do your own research if you have this, it’s scary).  There was one time it was so bad I actually thought I was going to die that night.  My friend drove me to a park to get my mind off my heart rate and I had to sit down on the grass and try not to think about the fact that I was almost certainly going to die.  This occurred maybe 5-8 times a day, every single day for about a month or two.  Now it only happens if I go a long time without eating, which is incentive to never go a long time without eating.

Extreme hunger.  The hardest part of my recovery has been coming to terms with the fact that some people need more food than others, and I am one of those people.  I’ve always been in sports or dance, which means I’ve always had a huge appetite.  I have almost always eaten more than people around me, even guys, but I’ve never been overweight.  I can just put away a lot of food.  My ED loves to tell me I can’t, but I definitely can, and in order to be healthy, I have finally accepted it.  Many people get extreme hunger at first and then it evens out.  I can still eat more than you.  I don’t care who you are—I can.  And that’s okay.

Thicker hair and stronger nails.  Not much more to say about that, except recovery isn’t all bad.

PREGNANT STOMACH.  Okay, THE WORST.  I cannot tell you how many people asked me if I was pregnant this summer.  I really can’t count them all.  This was really awful to experience.  Imagine trying to recover from an illness where you believe you’re huge and the ONLY cure is to gain weight.  “Are you pregnant?”  No, but I sort of want to stab you. 

Inability to digest certain foods.  When you’ve deprived yourself of things like bread, sweets, sugar, salt, etc. for so many years, your body goes into shock.  Remember the first day I posted about my anorexia?  That night, I went to bed at 6 p.m. because I was in so much pain from eating a fucking tablespoon of mashed potatoes.  You can ask my dad because he was next to me on the couch.  The only thing that got me through that night was the beautiful, uplifting comments and a determination to be better.

Anxiety.  All revolving around eating.  I’ve had to smoke weed before countless meals to even be able to bring myself to pick up the fork without crying/hyperventilating.

Constant exhaustion.  I mean like, practically falling asleep at the wheel.

Depression.  What did I do to myself?

Loss of “identity,” which is really your ED identity and the best thing you can lose.

None of your clothes fit.  And you turn into that girl with the big boobs (well, big for you because they’ve been literally nonexistent for three years) who doesn’t wear a bra because you can’t afford one that fits because you’ve had to buy new pants, shorts, skirts, shirts, underwear, jackets, shoes (yes, if you’re tiny enough, even your feet grow back) and you figure if you only have a certain amount of spending money and it’s between literally just covering your body with any fabric that fits and supporting your boobs, you’re going with the clothes.

You hate everything because you have to wear the same thing constantly.  It takes a long time to build up a new wardrobe. When fashion is life, this is especially sad.

Randomly feeling like you’re going to die.  This is dramatic, but there are times in recovery (even now, although it is very rare) where I just feel…horrible.  Fogginess, forgetfulness, weakness, exhaustion, etc.

How I Feel Now:

Recovery has been somewhat slow for me because I am stubborn and I continued to restrict slightly (not enough to halt my weight gain but enough to stall the recovery process a bit) for quite a few months.  However, for the past month or so, I can honestly say I have not been restricting.  I’ve somehow been able to let go of that ED voice.  I don’t know if the voice is going to come back, but this is the longest it’s been gone and I am not complaining.

For all the symptoms I listed above, the ONLY thing that has helped cure/ease them at all: eating.  That’s it.

Believe it or not, I’ve been eating completely intuitively and regularly with NO disordered thoughts or subconscious habits for about two weeks now and I have actually slimmed down.  This is because my metabolism is working properly again, my weight is distributing, and the bloating is going down a lot.

I’ve gained so much muscle and energy, my heart rate is practically normalized, I’m nowhere near under/overweight, and I feel like myself.

I can’t really share numbers because I’m not weighing myself and I’m no longer counting calories.  I am eating intuitively and healthily and I’m working out 5 days a week for about an hour a day.

Sorry for the length of this post, but I wish something a little more extensive had been out there when I started recovering.  At the very least, I can be that person for someone else.

That being said, I might be missing a symptom or two here that I may have forgotten about, or maybe I STILL didn’t go into enough detail for you.  If that is the case, please don’t hesitate to reach out and ask me for more.  I do NOT mind sharing every single detail of my anorexia and/or my recovery.  It’s hard to talk about at times, but I am really dedicated to helping others get through it because I have had so many beautiful people touch my lives throughout the process, and it makes it so much more bearable.


Friday, November 10, 2017

Why I (And You, Don't Lie) Care So Much About Justin and Selena

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I really don't know. But that reality aside, we need to talk about this couple: a.k.a. the Syd and Nancy of our time. 

Okay, so they're not quite that extreme. But Justin and Selena give us hope for ourselves. If a Canadian pop star with an excess of tattoos and bad attitude that just doesn't quit can find love, then can't we all? And if Selena can make a somewhat decent man out of him, then maybe there's hope after all for you and your lump of shit at home.

Selena Gomez tried to move on. She made a few breakup songs, she sneakily got extra-hot, and she got a boyfriend with a gross amount of swag. But even a boyfriend that cool (who can list Bella Hadid under his list of ex-girlfriends) couldn't keep the Biebs away.

Justin continued to fuck around and get himself into ridiculous amounts of trouble, straightened out a bit and confessed to the world he still loves Selena, and randomly became extremely religious (extremely for him). He has never settled down.

On the other hand, Selena had The Weeknd, but not for long. As the universe knows, the couple broke up in October and Jelena has been spotted together multiple times.

There was the bike ride. The church visit. The laughs. The smiles. Everyone's (no one's?) favorite couple is back and more collectively notorious than ever.

Okay, so they're not back together, just hanging out. But for the sake of our generation, they need to be together and here's why:

Our generation is one accustomed to being lonely. I was musing about this with a close friend of mine the other day. In the world we grew up in, intimate relationships are hard to come by. We meet each other behind screens, carry out most of our lives behind screens, and have a limited amount of human interaction. I know this theory is tired, but it holds up. Why else would we be so interested in the lives of two spoiled asshole billionaires who happen to date?

Everyone falls for the bad-boy-meets-good-girl plot. We don't really know how "good" or "bad" Selena Gomez is, but luckily you don't have to work too hard to be a better citizen than Justin Bieber, and the fact that she can "make him better" makes all of our disgusting hearts flutter.

They bum it together. This probably helps people stop thinking about appearance for like 0.00001 seconds and realize that even famous people look like shit during most of their free time.

They model our own relationships. Celebrity relationships are, for the most part, perfect and clean to the public eye. How am I supposed to measure my own love life problems up to Brangelina, Couple #4723472 that "split but still love and respect one another"? Give me Jelena, the couple that is almost regularly a walking PR nightmare.

If they can make it, maybe you can. Like I said before, everyone likes to look up to public relationships as a sort of guide for their own. Heartbreak is romantic and reunions after messy breakups are so much more satisfying than a history of solid respect and love. We're all fucked up and we all fall for this, so just embrace it and move on.

And tell me if you have any new updates on Justin and Selena.



Wednesday, November 8, 2017

When Faith Meets Fashion

The 2018 Met Gala theme has been announced and I can hardly contain myself.  I literally got up and ran to my boss’s office so we can talk about it (he used to work in fashion) but he was on the phone so instead I decided to blog about it. For May 2018's First Monday, celebrities, editors, and moguls alike will flock to Manhattan to celebrate "Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination."

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For those of you who don't know (but if you've been following my blog for a while and you don't know then get your head out of your ass), the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan puts on an exhibit from May to September every year. This year, that exhibit will cover the relationship between fashion and religious art, and anyone who's seen Madonna circa 1984 knows how successfully these worlds can cross paths.

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The exhibit will actually be displayed in three different locations (the Holy Trinity?): the Met, the Anna Wintour Costume Center, and the Cloisters.  Much of the papal apparel (say that three times fast) on display will be items that have never before been seen outside of the Vatican.  This will of course be accompanied by traditional haute couture/high fashion pieces by designers over the years who've gathered inspiration from Catholicism and religion (Versace, Balenciaga, Galliano, Chanel, etc.).

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Perhaps the best co-hosts to Wintour herself are part of this year's lineup: Donatella Versace, Amal Clooney, and Rihanna.  About the exhibit, Vogue wrote: "The intersection of faith and fashion, the sacred and profane, as it were, has not always been easy - 'complex and sometimes contested' is how Bolton characterizes the relationship - but the interplay between the two has inspired some awe-inspiring sartorial innovation." 

It's customary for Met Gala attendees to wear a custom outfit that aligns with the theme, so I am in fierce anticipation of the first Monday in May to see what/who people wear.  As you know, this is my bread and butter.  Any ideas who is going to dress the most outrageously?  Guesses to who will wear whom?  Leave a comment below!



Friday, October 27, 2017

All The Ways Living with Roommates Is Completely Different from Living at Home

This summer, a lot of things changed.  I graduated college, I gained a shit ton of weight (yay me), I quit my first job, I started a career, and I moved into an apartment with roommates.  While all of these are some pretty major transitions to hit a girl at once, the last transition has been both the strangest and the most exciting.

You get to start over with decorating a new room.

Unless the room you're renting is already furnished, in which case 1. I hate you and 2. You can still decorate it to your liking.  It was sort of cool to move into my new place.  I walked into an empty room with so much potential.  So far all I've done is set up an air mattress and a card table, but my Led Zeppelin poster is on the floor and I'm only a few weeks away from buying some tape to hang it up with!

You get to meet brand new people.

This can either be good or bad.  Luckily my roommates turned out to NOT be psychos.  Instead, I live with three female college students who are clean, friendly, and I've been able to bond with pretty quickly.

You turn said new people into your new family.

Of course we still have families outside of our little apartment, but it's kind of nice to be able to clean up after someone or help someone else out with the groceries and to be returned those favors when you're in need.  Looking out for each other on this level is family stuff and it's a beautiful thing I hadn't felt in a while.

No one eats your food.

Okay, I'm sure there are tons of situations where people's roommates are eating their food and it's a big deal, but in my apartment we're all really respectful of each other.  This means never again do I have to come home to find that my mother has eaten all my bananas!!!! Yeah Mom NEVER FORGET!

When something needs to be fixed, you have to figure it out yourself.

My dad isn't exactly a handyman, but at least I could always count on him to call the Internet people when the WiFi wasn't working.  Now, that's all up to me.

Bills are addressed to you.

Need I say more? Ew.

You always have someone to talk to.

We all have our hard days where we just need to vent.  Having roommates that you really get along with makes this so much easier and helps out all of you in the long run with trust and communication.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

6 Reasons I Love Anna Wintour

An article last week reminded me of a very important fact: This month marks 4 years of Anna Wintour being the Artistic Director of Conde Nast, the media company that owns publications such as GQ, The New Yorker, Pitchfork, and Wintour's baby: Vogue.

Wintour has been at Vogue since November 1988 (the famous high-to-low cover) and has seen (and been at the forefront of) many changes in the industry.  Her experience, expertise, and tenacity makes her a perfect fit to direct...well, anything.

I've done research on Wintour that borders on the obsessive (I've literally wanted to be her since I was nine), making me pretty qualified (by my own assessment, yes) to talk about her and list the reasons why she is the queen of the fashion world and my life:

1. She was the first to mix high fashion with a pair of blue jeans.

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This cover was Anna's first at Vogue and arguably the climax of the magazine's lifetime. Model Michaela Bercu wears a bejeweled Christian Lacroix sweater with a pair of Guess jeans. It was so never-been-done that the magazine's printers actually called Wintour and asked if there had been some kind of mistake. The most exciting and possibly controversial thing about this cover is the fact that Bercu's little belly isn't photoshopped to be flat as a board. A stepping stone for a world that STILL hasn't progressed enough to regularly include ALL body types in fashion editorials/advertisements/runways, but a step nonetheless.

2. She's had the same hairstyle since she was a teenager.

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The bob has come in and out of style over the years, transforming itself to fit relevance.  However, the one bob that hasn't faltered even slightly is Anna Wintour's.  And somehow, it always works.  Somehow, it's always in style.

3. The reason she wears her sunglasses indoors is because they're prescription and she doesn't like eye glasses.

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I mean, this may or may not be true.  I read it in a biography about her that she didn't give any consent to so who knows, but I think it's pretty cool.  I choose to believe it's true.  How amazing is that?

4. I'm pretty sure no one has ever made fun of/ridiculed her, ever.

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I've noticed that most celebrities or public icons have been ridiculed or had rumors started about them once or twice.  While many consider Anna to be impossible to work with (her nickname is "Nuclear Wintour"), she has never really been the butt of a public joke.  No one makes fun of her.  But she can make or break your entire life, so why would you?

5. She pisses off PETA.

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And PETA pisses off everyone else, so thank you Anna.

6. She taught me how hard I have to work to get what I want.

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Anna Wintour did everything it took to get to the head of American Vogue.  She put in time at other magazines, she established connections, she networked her ass off, and she single-handedly forced her way into the position.  That isn't to say she doesn't deserve it or isn't qualified: she's the most fashionable woman on the planet. Her style intuition cannot be matched.  But she didn't just have the talent--she had the drive, which is something so many people lack.  

Anna, thank you for pushing me from the young age of nine to pursue my fashion dreams and never give up until I've achieved everything I'm working for!  I'm sure you've inspired millions of other young girls and boys along the way.  They're spread out all over the planet, putting in work to be the next Anna Wintour.  But here's the plot twist: I'm going to beat them all.



Wednesday, October 25, 2017

50 Years of New Yorkers

This month marked the 50th anniversary of one of my favorite magazines, New York.  In honor of the past 50 years of not only reporting but letting readers into the lives and intimacies of genuine New Yorkers, the magazine dedicated a spread to personal stories from public figures about why/how New York is so special to them.

As my own contribution to this special occasion, I’ve decided to write about my own feelings for New York—because I’m certain that the editors at NYMag have been scouring the Internet for weeks, frantically refreshing my blog as they await my response!

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Imagine being sick.  Sick in your body and sick in your mind.  Sicker than you’ve ever been in your entire life, yet you’re the only person who can’t see it.  In these trying times, we typically turned to loved ones to help us through.  Someone to push us to get better, to strive for health, to be our best selves.  I had quite a few people reach out to me last summer and before, but I pushed them away.  Instead, I let a city be my savior.

This sounds overly melodramatic, but it’s true.  When I moved to New York for my internship last summer, I was in a very strange stage in my life.  I needed help and yet I refused to admit it.  I isolated myself from everyone, opting to live my entire life in my own head.

Again, this isn’t to say that no one tried.  I made the decision to ignore any and all efforts.  However, there is one person who I let in, and it wasn’t exactly a person: it was New York.

This is sort of a touchy subject, because many people have approached me and told me that they KNEW something truly worrisome was going on when I posted pictures from New York—I had gotten significantly skinnier.  And they’re not wrong.  I did lose weight in New York.  I did exercise a lot more (I walked everywhere and usually remained standing on the subway, even when there were seats) and didn’t increase my calories to make up for it.  In many ways, living there made my eating disorder worse.  But I still remember it as one of the happiest times in my life.

It’s difficult for me to write about my time there because it’s truly difficult to describe.  It was everything.

I lived in a tiny one-bedroom apartment with two women in the fashion/PR industry.  I don’t know how I got so lucky matching up with them (I interned at a fashion magazine), but someone was looking out for me. 

I walked to Whole Foods every Saturday morning for my weekly groceries.  I got coffee at Silver Moon Bakery near Columbia University.  I got a mani-pedi once in the West Village.  I brought my yoga mat to Central Park.

There’s a shit load of depression that goes along with having anorexia, but there are also brief moments of deluded happiness.  This is where rituals come into effect, and New York gave me that.

Anorexia tends to either cause or support pre-existing obsessive-compulsive disorder.  Everything has to be perfect, everything has to be YOUR way.  In New York, I could have everything my way.

It was my first time living away from home.  I read all day long when I wasn’t at the magazine.  I sat at Washington Square Park with a cup of pudding and people-watched.  I worked on my writing at a coffee shop.  I bought laundry detergent at the corner bodega.  I sneered at tourists.

This was my routine, my rituals to get through the day.  I was on my own and I had created this new, quiet little life for myself in Manhattan, the city that eats people alive. 

Have you ever felt so in love with a person that you just sort of stare at them for a while?  You just sort of think about how lucky you are, how you’ll do anything to hold onto it and never let it go?  Well I have.  It’s a beautiful feeling to have so much faith in one person, but I’ve also felt this for a place.  I’ve felt this for New York.

I’ve been on the subway sandwiched in between a guy with the worst B.O. I’ve ever smelled and an old lady who wouldn’t stop farting and closed my eyes to take in how happy I was.  I’ve walked so much that my knees practically gave out and kept walking out of excitement and anticipation for what was ahead.  I sat at my favorite bench in Central Park on my last day and cried like a baby.  I stared at the view of the Upper East Side and promised to never forget it.

I love you, New York.  See you soon XOXO.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

"That's Hollywood"

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About four years ago, I was at a party with a guy I had been on a few dates with.  Nothing serious—we had kissed maybe three times.  Everyone was drinking and having a good time, but I stayed sober.  The guy I was with was drinking, but he wasn’t drunk.

A couple hours in, when the party was really beginning to fill in, he pulled me inside to talk.  “Let’s go to *****’s room,” he said in my ear.  I followed.

I would say “Like an idiot, I followed,” but how would that make me an idiot?  Having the nerve to trust someone I was dating, someone I had known for a few months and considered a close friend—that didn’t make me an idiot.

I followed him into the room and he started to kiss me.  His hands were wandering and I was starting to feel uncomfortable—like I said, we’d barely been on a few dates and I didn’t feel at all ready to go any further with him.  I pulled back and said to him, “You know I’m not going to have sex with you, right?” 

A dark, frustrated look suddenly cast over his face.  “Are you serious?”  He grabbed his crotch with an open palm.  “What am I supposed to do with this?”  I was so taken aback that he actually had the balls (no pun intended) to blame me for his erection and insinuate that it was now my responsibility to do something about it that I didn’t even respond.  He pushed me down on the bed and I froze.  After a few moments of clumsy attempts at feeling me up had gone by, I pushed him off and left.  I never told anyone, and I’ve never spoke to him since.

I’ve spent years somewhat angry at myself for not telling anyone.  I’m a feminist.  I’m strongly against sexual harassment and I’m overcome with anger every time I hear something about a man taking advantage of a woman, and yet I felt ashamed.  I felt like somehow it must have been my fault.  Why did I follow him?  Was I giving off the wrong signal?  Was my skirt too short?  All the stereotypical bullshit that runs through a female’s head when she is in an unnerving situation with a perverted asshole.

That’s why it’s easy for me to believe that the 27 (as of today) women who were harassed by Harvey Weinstein have been keeping quiet since the 90’s.  Women don’t talk about these things.  Women blame themselves.  And what’s worse: everyone else blames us, too.

I was talking about the Weinstein accusations with a friend the other day and he said something that really pissed me off: “Yeah, that’s Hollywood.  What do you expect?”

Yes, it took place in Hollywood and there are a lot of stereotypes that start with the “casting couch” and only go downhill from there.  However, there is absolutely NO WAY that the simple fact that this is something that happened in Hollywood to a bunch of actresses and models, should make this okay.

When is it not going to be okay for men to sexually harass women?  No, seriously, when is it ACTUALLY not going to be okay?  Because there are laws in place, workplace contracts, seminars, protests, brochures—basically every form of anti-sexual harassment language you can  think of.  You cannot begin a new job/university/class without being briefed on sexual harassment.  Yet, it hasn’t gone away at all.  These accusations are as recent as a couple years ago, and I’m sure there are more to come forward that haven’t yet.

So why don’t women report?  Because “that’s Hollywood.”  Because we feel threatened.  Because we feel like no one will believe us.  Because there’s money involved and we just aren’t in a financial position to turn that down.  Because we’re afraid we’ll lose our entire careers—and in many cases, we will.

I don’t even know what to say about this, because what can be done?  What will ever actually change?  We have done so much as a society to preach anti-sexual harassment, and yet it’s barely made a dent in the reality of it. 

***On a somewhat (but not really) unrelated note, why is Harvey Weinstein always stripping naked and demanding massages?  Does he know NO smoother ways to approach women?  And how many times did he chase women around his office IN THE NUDE?  To get naked and be turned down is one thing, but how do you get to the moment where you’re like, “Hmm.  She’s saying no but that can’t be right.  I should probably run after her with my dick dangling between my hairy old man legs.” LIKE ?????????