A Jockstrap winner (and the tale of how Rolf became a character in Jen Leo’s first book)


Earlier this month I mentioned the debut of Jen Leo‘s latest travel-humor anthology, What Color is Your Jockstrap? (to which I contributed one story). As part of this announcement, I mentioned that Jen would be giving one free copy of the book to a Vagablogging reader who entered her email drawing, and now I can announce that Joel Carillet is our winner!

According to a bio I found online, Joel Carillet has a master’s degree in Church History and has spent much of the past six years working overseas. He taught at a college in Ukraine, worked for a study abroad program in Egypt, did human rights work in the West Bank, and spent fourteen months traveling overland from Beijing to Istanbul. Among his memorable experiences traveling was listening to Henry Kissinger talk politics with a White House official as they all stood before their respective urinals in a Washington, D.C. hotel. Enjoy the book, Joel!

Since today is a stop on Jen’s Jockstrap virtual book tour, I asked her to share with readers how she and I originally met, and how I ended up becoming the “Rolf” character in her essay “A Prude in Patpong,” which ultimately appeared in the pages of her first humor anthology, Sand in My Bra. Here’s her story:

I met Rolf at the Bangkok Oriental during the summer of 2001. For the first hour, we were both out of our elements. The PR folks at the Oriental had invited us to a VIP cocktail hour. Rolf was there writing a story for National Geographic Traveler, and I was with Susan Brady of Travelers’ Tales, who was reviewing their cooking school. It was Rolf’s first press party, and it was my first time in a five-star luxury hotel. When the PR guy introduced us I realized we had already exchanged several emails and that I was on his newsletter list from Rolf being a Travelers’ Tales contributor. I don’t know why I mention this, as I doubt that we needed any wheels to be greased, but things quickly turned to the way we are today — connected, amicable, rivalrous, flirty, and slightly boozy. A sword fight ensued on their back bar, in which the conversation drifted loosely from his recent Tantric sex class experience to repeated banter of “I’m going to be in your book,” “And I’m going to be in your book.” The next thing you know we (along with Susan and a Scottish drunk), were on our way to Patpong. And so it was that Rolf got into my book first, even if it was an anthology, Sand in My Bra. In the story, Rolf played the daring, dashing hero (who I later rescued from the overly money-hungry go-go bar staff).

We spent time together on and off while we were both in Thailand the following few weeks. He introduced me to the lovely Atlanta Hotel, and we spent time by the pool talking about travel writing, books, or simply working quietly side by side in their café.

I love how life works that way, and it happens often to Rolf. That you meet someone on the road, and before you know it you’re meeting them again in another city. And another. Before you know it you’re having bison burgers with their dad and staying with their best friends and having new road trips together back in the homeland. Rolf is in Paris right now teaching other writers how to better their craft and grasp the present moment. He excels at that, and it’s why I jump at the chance to spend time with him.

If you read Written Road, you know that when I’m on tour, lots of people ask me about Rolf. What’s he like? Is he really all that great? And how could I say anything other than yes? Because when you meet someone that also has had thoughts of reading Walt Whitman’s “Song of the Open Road” at his wedding someday, and will smoke a cigar with you, and keep your secrets, and invent new adventures — you don’t let go.

But even if all of our travel crossings never turned to the lusty side of things (I’ll just admit this now because people always ask me this too), don’t think for a second that Rolf hasn’t gotten a date (or two) from being in my book. If you get him in the right frame of memory, he might just tell you the story.

See you somewhere soon, Rolf. I’m sorry it can’t be Paris again.

Thanks, Jen — you rock! And best of luck with the new book…

Posted by | Comments (3)  | July 22, 2006
Category: Travel Writing

3 Responses to “A Jockstrap winner (and the tale of how Rolf became a character in Jen Leo’s first book)”

  1. AB Says:

    Fun post to read and think about the good times we had in Paris last summer. Hey Jen, did you see where they have taught a chimp to play poker?

    We can’t make it to Paris this year either. Hope to see you both around some time.

  2. College Investor Says:

    Love the book Rolf, and after your recommendation I just finished “On the Road” which totally blew me away. I am eager to see the world, and I just wanted to say thanks!

  3. shirazi Says:

    I tracked you from the same book (Signs of Confusion), I am going to be capming here, it seems.