It was the Eighties. I was a junior in high school. It was a weeknight, but that didn’t stop my best friend Paul and I from once again delving into the source of most of our teenage chicanery: the ever-fruitful Stroh’s 30-pack. We were well into it, lounging on the couches in his parent’s basement, when the topic drifted to a different shore: the assignment due the next day for our World History class.
“So what do we do?”
“We have to create an imaginary country,” Paul reminded me. “And a make believe international crisis.”
“Okay,” I said, “creating a country. What’ll we call it?”
Paul slumped into the couch, holding his beer can. “Let’s name it,” he threw out, followed by a quick burp, “something sexual.”
“Interesting approach,” I said, my beer-sodden brain struggling. “Pudendumtown?
“That’s a city,” Paul reminded me, “not a country.”
The room was silent for a minute as we lounged in our seats. Finally, Paul raised his face up from the couch. “How about,” he said, “Vulvania?”
Despite the booze that had sludged up my synapses, I felt a jolt of excitement. “I like that,” I said.
“Me too,” said Paul, grinning back at me.
Ten hours later, the two of us were standing outside Mr. Hughe’s classroom. The long beige concourse of the hallway was empty, save for a few last students hurrying to class. Paul held a 24” x 36” poster board that displayed a large triangular drawing. A drawing that was a lavishly detailed depiction of the female genital region. I had a sheet of paper with the international crisis that we’d invented scribbled down on it. We were both still a bit inebriated from the night before.
Mr. Hughes strolled up. He was a smallish man with a nest of curly brown hair, a drawn face, and thin, pale lips. “Good morning, Mr. Frank, Mr. Logothetis,” he said, eyeing us both. “The bell will ring in only a few moments. Now, won’t you step inside so we can view your presentation?”
“Sure,” I said.
“Wait a second,” Mr. Hughes said, gazing down at the poster board Paul held. “What have you got there? Is that a map of . . . why, that looks like. . . oh my!”
“Behold,” Paul cried, holding up the map, “Vulvania.”
Mr. Hughes stared at the map for a second, his mouth agape. Paul and I stood proudly before him, watching his face turn from white to pink, then to red, and then back to white again. “What, what do you think you’re doing?” he gasped.
“Creating an imaginary country,” Paul said.
“And a make believe international crisis,” I added.
He shot us an alarmed look. “If you boys present this,” he said, his voice dropping a register, “I will have no choice but to flunk you both for the entire semester. This material is totally inappropriate.”
The bell rang with a clatter. As a few students shuffled past, Mr. Hughes rushed into the room, leaving us standing in the hall.
I looked at Paul. Usually, Hughes went along with our mischief. But perhaps we’d gone too far this time. “What do we do?” I said.
Paul fingered his chin. “I don’t know about you,” he said, “but I think it’s pretty funny.”
“And besides, he said, “we’re flunking the semester any way.”
Ninety seconds later, we stood before the classroom. Mr. Hughes sat rocking slightly in his chair, glaring at the two of us. I noticed that he had two pink slips on his desk. From previous experience, I knew that these slips were already filled out with our names, and that should we disrupt the class, Mr. Hughes will hand them over to us, and we will be sent to Mr. Lippett’s office, the assistant principal. But it was too late to stop now.
I stared at the class, clearing my throat. “Our country is the most attractive in the world,” I began, reading off the sheet of notebook paper. “Famed for its moist climate, men have come into this land for centuries.”
“Ladies and gentlemen,” Paul announced, whipping the poster board around, “may we present . . . Vulvania!”
On the board was a pink, triangular-shaped image surrounded by a confusion of black squiggles that approximated pubic hair. Other shapes adjacent to Vulvania resembled a pair of long, shapely legs, a pair of fulsome breasts, and the whole Magic Marker map of the region we’d drawn was a thinly-disguised schematic of a voluptuous female body.
The class remained silent. There were a few shocked snickers, but most of our peers did not understand the anatomical references. The few that were still awake were responding to the drawing, which was unmistakably sexual.
I continued. “Now the capital of Vulvania,” I said,” pointing to a bright red dot on the map, “is Clitsburgh.” The class was silent. A girl in a cheerleader uniform shifted in her seat. I looked around the room, eyeing my peers. “Clitsburgh is located in the middle of bush country, near the twin folds of the Labia mountains.”
A few people guffawed loudly. Mr. Hughes looked like he was about to have an aneurysm. Paul propped the map onto the chalkboard shelf, and we stood beside it. He motioned to the long, slender area adjoining Vulvania. “Now the country that borders Vulvania,” he said, “is known as Thighland.”
This got the best laugh yet. A few feet away, Mr. Hughes cleared his throat, fingered the pink slips, and grabbed a pen.
“And above Thighland,” I said, pointing at the dangling protrusion aiming its tip squarely at Vulvania, “right off of the coastline . . . is the staunch island nation of of Nova Scrotum.”
“That’s enough!” Mr. Hughes bellowed. The class was roaring; everyone was hooting and hollering. A few people nearly fell out of their desks, doubled over with laughter. Mr. Hughes lunged up from his seat with the two pink slips and stuck them into our hands. “You two are out of here!” he yelled.
“But Mr. Hughes,” I said, in my clueless voice, “don’t you want to hear our international crisis?”
Mr. Hughes scowled at us with disgust. “Get out of my classroom,” he spit out. “Now!”
Thirty years later, it’s hard to believe that we actually did that. It’s also hard for me to believe that Mr. Hughes didn’t laugh, gently admonish us, or appreciate the originality it took for a few obviously bored seventeen year-olds to create Vulvania and its lascivious neighbors. Sadly, we never got the chance to explain the international crisis, which, of course, was a thinly-veiled, ridiculously obvious copulation metaphor, wherein Nova Scrotum invaded Vulvania and “gave birth” to a womb of problems, none of which I can exactly recall.
I still have the first beer-stained sketches of the presentation. I don’t have the big map we drew, nor do I see Stroh’s on the shelf too often anymore, or my best friend Paul, but there’s one thing that will always remain in my mind.
The mysterious, ever-enticing land known as Vulvania.