Do not speak of a rhinoceros if there is no tree nearby. - Zulu proverb
In spite of the proverb, I'm going to be talking about vaginae for a little bit. Not so much about the organ per se, but about the word “vagina”. I somehow managed to discover a while back that the word “vanilla” actually comes from the word “vagina,” and I have been curious ever since why this is the case. Did a vanilla bean look like a vagina to someone? Does it have to do with the wonderful scent of vanilla? (Surely not, or if so, I definitely need to get out more.) At any rate, this inquiring mind had to find out the answers, and now of course I get to share these answers with you. Lucky you once again.
It turns out that vanilla beans really did look like vaginae to Hernando Cortes's soldiers around 1512 or so. Now you should know if you don't already that I like to cook, to the point that I even have a few dried vanilla beans in my pantry at home. To me, these do not look like vaginae. They look like any number of other things to me, including dried wombat penises, but not vaginae. A taco looks like a vagina. Mirugai looks like a vagina. A vanilla bean looks nothing like a vagina. All I can think is that Cortes's soldiers were pretty damn hard up about the time they got to the New World, and anything would have looked like pussy to them. It's a miracle everything in Mexico isn't called vanilla.
In the course of my research into this juicy topic I came across a lot of facts about vanilla, among them:
Vanilla is the only edible fruit of the orchid family.
Vanilla is the world's most labor-intensive agricultural crop, one of the reasons it's so expensive.
At one time, vanilla bean rustling was so prevalent that growers branded individual beans with their personal marks.
I particularly like the idea of vanilla beans having little tattoos. In college I always wanted to start a business that involved tattooing bananas. Seriously. And yes, I was high.
The above facts come from www.vanilla.com of course, as does this little tidbit:
“Documents from the 18th and 19th century make reference to vanilla as an aphrodisiac for men, especially when it was made into a tincture. And tests conducted in the 1990s at the Institute for Smell and Taste in Chicago found that the aroma was a powerful stimulant to men.”
Yikes. Just what we men need. Like beer isn't enough.
And suddenly I discover a new prospective employer, the Institute of Smell and Taste in Chicago. I have to admit that it's refreshing to discover a place at which I want to work that doesn't involve alcohol or naked women. Although I suppose working at the Institute doesn't necessarily preclude an involvement with alcohol or naked women, but you probably have to have a ton of seniority to get those jobs. I would no doubt get stuck with sniffing and tasting beetle dung or some such thing, at least at first. (Or ambergris.) However, eventually I would work my way up to single malt scotches and [insert any woman's name here except Jennifer Garner and my grandmother], I'm sure of it. Maybe I'll fire off a resume to them. Balderdash, you listening? We've got us new jobs, maybe!
I suppose I should quit while I'm ahead on the vanilla story. But now that you've spent some time in Hulles country yet again, you can enliven many a discussion with your newfound knowledge: “Say there little Timmy, did you know that that ice cream cone you're eating is named after pussy?” “Jeez, Becky, don't put so much vanilla into the cookies this time, okay? Don't you remember what I did to little Fluffy the last time?1” “Hey you guys, did you know they used to brand vanilla beans to foil vanilla bean rustlers?2” Etc. etc.
Hey, it's okay, you can thank me later.
1 Just FYI, Fluffy is their goldfish. Hey, it's my imaginary family after all.
2 I recommend not using this one at the Singles Mixer and Masturbation Workshop at the Smitten Kitten if you're going for the Singles Mixer part and actually want to get a date.