It’s been a while since I’ve written, and much has happened. Mikael has arrived, bringing rain. My friend Lucy visited from Spain for the weekend, and we climbed many, many things.
Finally, after what’s felt like ages, I feel as if I’ve started to get my Font legs and it’s been great fun.
Here’s the thing about the climbing here: it’s tough. Everything save the few roofs feels hard for the grade, and if I cared more about climbing big-number boulders then I’d probably be pretty frustrated. That’s the great thing about it here though, it’s all hard, and honestly, I’ve had more fun failing to climb easy slabs and bizarre mantles that anything else. Groups gather together on these goofy little slabs and humans of all ages, skills, genders, and nationalities try to struggle their ways to the top with laughter, smiles and exaggerated arm gestures as the common language.
Which brings me back to Cul de Chien, a place I’m still quite infatuated with, and where the other day I nearly fell off an easy slab because of a Voodoo penis. Cul de Chien evidently is one of the more family-friendly areas in Fontainebleau, as shown by the distinctive stroller tracks left in the sand. Everyone likes to play in the sand, building castles, digging tunnels, and, like the four or five little British kids playing near the problems I finished my warm-up with, sculpting gigantic cocks and balls.
I began one problem, doing easy moves on good holds, stretching my shoulder when I heard the most adorable British voice, “Let’s make dicks!” this child’s voice exclaimed. I looked down to see four kids carefully crafting enormous members in the sand. One was focused like a monk working on a Mandala on getting the shape of the head just right. Sculpting with a wooden spoon, erasing, starting over.
I high stepped, and reached to a small dimple, which was worse than I expected. “I’m going to make Peter’s penis!” One of the kids said. “How’s that look, Peter?” I rocked over my foot and stood up, trying not to laugh. Looking over my shoulder, Peter’s cock wasn’t very realistic, but hey, it was made of sand.
I climbed back down as a man, presumably the father of one of these young artists, came over to the children.
“What are you making?” he said, also in a classic, Mary Poppins kind of British accent.
A boy leapt proudly to his feet. “We’re making cocks! Look, that one’s Peters!” He pointed. I expected this guiding parental figure to say, “No, no, no. you can’t do that. We’re in public.” But instead, he took this brilliant opportunity to give an anatomy lesson.
Sex Ed in Europe must be quite different than in the US, I thought. Then, as I cleaned my shoes for the next boulder problem, I realized that I already knew that. My own sex Ed consisted of a woman from Planned Parenthood coming to my microscopic middle/high school three days in a row and talking for an hour about sex, STDs, STIs and other reasons that sex will almost certainly kill you. It seemed like even talking about sex was dangerous. And that was pretty much all I can remember.
I wonder how it is here? Of course there are probably a million video essays out there on the internet showing like, Finnish preschoolers putting condoms on bananas or something, while in the US we have commercials like this one, (whose message I completely support) where two boys play with some found dildos, embarrassing a mother. In fact, just the other day I was talking to a German woman I met at Bas Cuvier, who told me her sex Ed began in kindergarten. Kindergarteners can’t even tie their own shoes, but they can sure learn. To me, that means the taboo of talking about sex will be destigmatized, and instead of a bunch of kids snickering like Beavis and Butthead at some teacher talking about how cool clitorises are, they might be able to listen, and not learn everything they know about sex (pleasure) from porn. But that’s just me.
As I palmed down to mantle on my last warm up, I looked over to the kids and their dad. One of the kids was shouting, “It’s a Voodoo penis!” as he kicked and stomped in the sand.
The father grabbed his crotch. “AHHHH, Voodoo penis” he said, feigning pain. Then, once he recovered. “Okay, pack up your things it’s time to go.”