Propriety and Other Such Beasts to Slay

Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.

To the fatally attractive student body of Swarthmore College,


We thank you for the roses, the candy hearts, the well-wishes, the twelve-story luxury ocean liners, and the offers of matrimony that followed our last column. Although we cannot reciprocate each and every one of your feverish bids for our hearts (and loins), please know that we wholeheartedly endorse your efforts to worship us. From afar. (Unless you’re that unbelievably hot dude in Sharples. Call. Us.)

Before we plunge into our infinitely sage and gloriously penetrating dispensation of advice, we would like to take a few moments and share with you our thoughts on credible journalism.

Here at Sketchy Questions, Sketchy answers, we’re Big Fans of Real Journalists who present Hard, Serious Facts. Big Fans. One time, we even considered purchasing a copy of the National Enquirer. (Until we ran into a gumball machine.)

However, we employ a different approach with our column. We believe that Accuracy, like all other spicy condiments, should be used sparingly. Balance, restraint, and moderation are pivotal to the preparation of saucy advice (delicate dish that it is).

And now, on to the tantalizing query of the week!

Question 1:
This question’s coming from across the Atlantic. I am currently situated in an undisclosed foreign country, and I have many friends back home who want me to bring them back something very interesting and/or memorable. By far the most interesting/memorable thing I have seen so far was located within a dollar store. This store had a little of everything, and when I say everything, I mean it. The progression of items leading up to the item of interest were as follows: tools, candles, cell phone cases, bras, more tools, panties, assorted glassware, porno dvds, porno magazines, porno playing cards. The blatant display of pornography took me by complete surprise, even given the not-so-subtle priming of the women’s undergarments. It was one of those experiences where you don’t want to be caught looking, but you can’t look away. Right there, within the reach of small children, within 10 feet of the open front door of the store, was a sizable cache of pornography. Lovely. Just lovely. However, my sketchy question is this: It would literally cost me every remaining shred of pride in my corporeal existence to walk back into that store, look the store owner in the eye, and purchase a small stockpile of foreign pornography “for my friends at home.” So…how should I do it?

Thank you for your ever sagely and [hopefully] nonjudgmental wisdom!


Ankhi: Ever the Swattie, I would recommend transforming your awkward experience into an EDUCATIONAL awkward experience. Sketchy international porn shopping can become an international anthropornological adventure! I recommend either of the following approaches:

1) Endeavor to impress the shopkeeper with your connoisseur-like knowledge of obscure porn: “Hey, do you have a copy of the one with the puce-haired girl and the robot chickens? No, I meant the one with the glass unicorns on the cover. Are you kidding? It’s like the ‘Citizen Kane’ of, um, you know, International Adult Cinema. You know the one I’m talking about. Cl-ASS-ic.”

2) Or, when in doubt, take the academic route! “D’you have sixteen more copies of ‘Where the Wild Thongs Are III: MAXimum Impact’? They’re for my seminar, Comparative International Perspectives on the Pornographic Body. Y’know, just want to be sure I get enough for the class. Kay, thanx, bye.”

3) Inundate the shopkeeper with phallic metaphors until he surrenders all three hundred copies of “Fantastic Mr. Fux XXXL”.

And that’s all I’ve got. Good luck, Pr0nonymous!

Lang: While I’m not one to judge, I am judging you. I’m judging you hard.
You seem troublingly unaware of the lesson there is to be learned here. Beyond your circumstance’s obvious relevance to daily life at Swarthmore, it is also a teachable moment. In situations like this, you need to tuck your humiliation away as deeply as a cache of erotic memorabilia in piece of checked luggage. Once that’s dealt with, it’s time to take back control of the situation. Rather than timidly shoving a stack of the tamer-looking magazines at the storeowner, you should take this opportunity to Blow. His. Mind.

Handing the cashier…

Three copies of a DVD with a cover featuring robot chickens and a puce-haired girl doing unspeakable things to figurines you might find on your grandmother’s mantle?



Twenty-six copies of the same DVD (“The Glass Ménage á Trois”) along with massage oil candles and an armful of glass unicorns?


As we at Sketchy Questions, Sketchy Answers are fond of saying:

Carpe smut.
Carpe dildo.
Carpe diem.

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