Monday, February 14, 2011

Jessica Anya Blau author of DRINKING CLOSER TO HOME

Jessica Anya Blau is one of the most daring writers I know.  Her first novel, THE SUMMER OF NAKED SWIM PARTIES was lauded by critics and readers alike for her depiction of a young girl coming of age in 1970's Southern California.  I was fortunate enough to read an advance copy of DRINKING CLOSER TO HOME, Jessica's amazing second novel.  Jessica returns with a story of a family gathered by their mother's beside after a heart attack in a story that moves between the present day and the past that shaped them.  The story is honest and heart wrenching and laugh out loud funny.

Today, Jessica is guest posting with a piece that showcases her unique view of the world.   I adore how this woman thinks... and I know you will too.  After you read this piece I'm pretty certain you're going to want to talk about it... so I'll see you in the comments!


Here’s the setting: a hundred-year old house with a wrap around porch that is so big it has actual furniture on it: rugs, wicker with blue floral cushions, lamps on standing tables that are covered with chintz that drags to the ground.  It’s late afternoon, spring, the light is so bright that that everyone is washed clean: wrinkles erased, zits irradiated into obscurity.  On the rolling green lawn the girls from my daughter’s class, all in their blue and white uniforms are playing badminton, and chase, and lying in the grass picking clovers.  The mothers look over the porch rails, lemonade or wine in hand, eating little homemade things that have names I can’t remember (they’re goo-goo balls, my grandmother used to make them), everything in an appealing shape and arrayed beautifully on plate with white paper doilies beneath them.
I turn to one of the mothers, Heidi, her face is dewy, glowing, velvety smooth.  Her blond hair is so glossy it looks like she’s being lit for a Pantene ad.  Something is different about her, but I can’t quite place it.  She always looks pretty, but now, she looks radiant.
“Are you getting Botox?” I ask.
“No.  Do I look it?” Heidi touches her face, smiles; she’s not offended by the question.
“There’s something different about you.  You look fabulous.”
“Well I got my vagina fluffed,” she smiles and swaggers a little, like she’s drunk. 
“What do you mean fluffed?” I lean in closer, hoping to get details before someone else joins the group and the conversation is shut down.
“You know, fluffed!” Heidi lifts her elegant manicured fingers and flickers them, as if a vagina is a feather pillow that just needs to be aired.
“I don’t understand-” the porch is growing more crowded, the teacher whom we are honoring for his birthday or some-such nonsense has moved to a wicker rocker; a gathering follows. (This guy is hot and so gets little parties like this thrown by the room mothers who wear flirty sheer tops and platform shoes to pick up their kids from school.  Believe me, Madame Bellows, the French teacher with hair like a silver Brillo pad is not getting birthday parties like this.)
“Fluffed!” Heidi says.  “Fluffed!”
“What did it look before it was fluffed?” I am imagining shriveled dried bean pods or old banana peels or maybe hanging red wattles like on a turkey.  
“It was long.”
“Your labia, you mean?”
“Yeah, the lips.  They were sort of hanging there.  Dead.”
Heidi is the archetype of the private school mother.  Blond, smart, quit a brilliant career to stay home with her kids.  Her mother went to this school and so did her grandmother.  Her husband and brothers went to the boys’ school across the street.  When I moved to Baltimore, we had to find a private school for my daughters as the public schools had things like metal detectors, armed guards, and no library.  I grew up in Southern California where just about everyone went to public school—we walked there, we walked home, our parents never showed up, there was no such thing as a class party.  So my ideas about private school and some cushy private world with hushy-hush rich people were based on bad TV shows and the Friday Night Movie of the Week.  What I didn’t realize, and what I discovered after about a year of showing up at that place seventy-eight times a year for only a fraction of the events, was that these rich private school, country club people are just as freaky as the rest of us.  They have drug-addicted siblings, affairs, divorces, self-loathing, insecurities, and most importantly a great sense of humor that can make any fundraiser fun.  And Heidi, like the rest of them, has a life way more interesting than her good looks reveal.
“So what did they do to them?” I asked
“They fluffed them!” she said.  It was clear I wasn’t going to get the diagram with the knife cuts, the lifting, the fat injections.
“Amazing that you get your vagina fluffed and your face looks like you’ve been air-brushed or something.”
Our conversation ends when more mothers join us and we are forced to talk about things like arthroscopic knee surgery and husbands who refuse to take out the trash.  But my mind is drifting.  Why is it, I wonder, that when we do something that makes us feel great, our face readily broadcasts it, like a TV screen that just can’t lie.  And, when, I wonder, did a fluffy vagina become such an asset?  Does the generation above me know this?  For all we know, all those pretty old ladies with twinkling eyes, are really just women blessed with naturally fluffy vaginas.

Jessica Anya Blau is the author of newly released DRINKING CLOSER TO HOME, which has been called "a raging success" and "unrelentingly sidesplittingly funny."  Her first novel, THE SUMMER OF NAKED SWIM PARTIES, was picked as a Best Summer Book by the Today Show, the New York Post and New York Magazine.  The San Francisco Chronicle and other newspapers chose it as one of the Best Books of the Year.  Jessica lives in Baltimore and teaches at Goucher College.  


  1. I wonder if "fluff" is the clinical term...and if the person performing the procedure if known as a "fluffer."

    Jessica, you're the best.

  2. So do we have to actually GET our vaginas fluffed in order to know what it entails? Jessica, you may have to go under the knife and write about it for TNB!

    (Uh, or I guess we can just google it. Is this going to be another case of #7 Breast Cream, where the internet is now going to be slammed with queries about vagina fluffing thanks to you, girl?)

  3. fantastic! so hilarious, the fluffing of the vagina. dear, oh dear...

  4. Poor Jessica! She's been trying to leave a comment and it keeps rejecting her! Here's what Jessica has been trying to say:

    I'm so glad that others are as interested in fluffy vaginas as I. I did do some
    research and found that they cut away excess skin, "lift" the labia, and then
    fill them with fat injections. Someone suggested to me that they should fill
    them with feathers. I love that idea--little feather pillows hanging in your
    crotch--so cozy!