Brief Hump Day Shaming

Wednesday, January 30, 2013 | 5 Comment(s)

So.  It's time to play the game where I photograph people acting like complete brats at the coffee shop, and then we take a moment to shame them for their actions, and justice is done.

I submit to you:
"I'm, like, saving it fir someone."

Now, to begin with, she's wearing leggings, so we are already not off to a good start.  But, more importantly, today is one of the wettest days of the winter thus far.  The temperature has crept above freezing for the first time in about a week and a half, and outside is slush city.  Grey deep icy puddles of undisclosed depth spot the roads and sidewalks.  Crusts of blackened snow cling to the greenery, trying to pull up and away from the radiating warmth of the pavement.  

If you were to give a two word weather report for today, those words would be wet & gross.

And here is Kelly, ears plugged into her phone which is plugged into her computer which is plugged into her white privilege.  And she's decided that while she grooves to the tunes and surfs the free wifi, it would be best if her "so-hip-right-now" moon boots rested on top of the seat next to her.  You know, so the dirt and sand and water and dog-shit can more easily remove itself from her sweet boots and attach themselves to some unsuspecting strangers butt later on.  This is not your god damn living room girl.  You're just lucky I got talked out of yanking that chair right out from under you.
In other unbelievable inane news, this story was on the nbcnews front page this morning:

Can't win: Husbands who do 'her' chores have less sex, says study

Here is one highlight: "Their findings came from data collected from Wave II of the National Survey of Families and Households, or NSFH, a 1996 national survey conducted by James Sweet and Larry Bumpass. Although the comprehensive study is almost 20 years old, Kornrich believes the household division of labor hasn't changed much and the data still apply."

Yah.  Division of labor, gender norms, egalitarianism; they are pretty much exactly the same, and totally mean the same thing, as they did a quarter-century ago.  And cassette tapes are the most righteous way to listen to music.   I'll tell you one thing, if you are a heterosexual married man and you are doing 50% of the housework, you may sometimes get slightly less sex, but you're definitely gonna be getting much better quality.  

I Win Again. I Sanctify Marriage for Everyone, Old White Men and Gays Alike

Tuesday, January 29, 2013 | 0 Comment(s)

There has been a lot of talk over the past few years regarding the sanctity of marriage.  And as a recent newlywed myself, I now feel as if I've got my own skin in the game.  If there was ever a time for yours truly to protect and exalt the sanctity of marriage, now is that time.  Thus, I have come up with what I believe to be a fool-proof sanctity of marriage protector.  With a blend of old-school grit and new aged creativity I give to you the final solution to the sanctity of marriage problem:

Now, if you believe in marriage, which I'm sure you all do because of it's obvious benefits to both your tax rates and life-span projections, you understand the purity and goodness that emanates from your permanent commitment to another person.  I don't know about you guys, but when I adjust my wedding band, a bright white light radiates outs from the newly uncovered skin.  This is some holy mother f'n matrimony here folks.   And if you believe in what is holy, I mean marriage, you also believe in the importance of traditions.  Because they connect us to our ancestors and our ancestors are long dead and therefore holy.  Respect your elders people.

Now that you have a newfound respect for tradition, you therefore acknowledge the oldest and most pious of wedding traditions, the exchanging of rings.  The rings are a symbol of your commitment to each other.  While useful for avoiding awkward social situations, the virtue of the wedding band resides in the ore of the metal (side note: get a metal wedding band!) and the power of the earth.  So, the first step in keeping marriage sacred, is to institute a mandatory ring policy.  While this may seem a bit Stalin-esc, the ring is integral to the integrity of marriage.  Trust me.  It is a clear and ever-present sign that you admit to the world that you are married, therefore simultaneously acknowledging that any activity engaged in without the accompaniment of said ring is "out of bounds" and thereby un-sacred.  You are the anti-Frodo.  You. Must. Wear. The. Ring.

Phase Two.  The beauty of Phase Two is in its simplicity.  I have saved marriage for everyone with just  a simple little tweak:   In the case of a divorce, both marriage participants forfeit their fingers north of their marriage band.  

That's right folks, stump city.  If you are ready to get married you need to be ready to say I do, 'til our fingers' do we part.'  This way, saying, "I do" means something again.  No more stupid celebrity wedding nonsense.  It'd be too risky for one's career.  Kim Kardashian WOULDN'T EVEN BE A THING!   This is common good legislation people!  You want people to sanctify marriage?  Well, people need consequences.  And this kind of eye for an eye solution seems to have been starring us in the face for too long.  If you are serious about loving someone forever, a finger should fall squarely in the "worth sacrificing" category.  And it's only your ring finger for goodness sake.  They're like your appendix, virtually worthless.

This policy may be harsh but it is not without forgiveness.  This policy allows for mistakes to be made.  Sure, you lose a ring finger, but that's why you've got another one.  And if you meet that special someone later in life, that's the ring finger you'll use for your second ceremony.  Not coincidentally, it is also the finger you'll lose if marriage number two doesn't work out for you.  I bet you this legislation will put quite a few marriage counselors back to work.  Job creation!!!  Think you might be able to work things out with Demi now, Ashton?  This legislation will motivate those who have partaken of the holy wafer that is marriage, to work toward a solution, before dissolution.  That could even be one of our slogans.  Cause it rhymes!

I don't think you'll see a lot of third marriages.  The end of your third marriage takes your left middle finger which brings about the additional danger of walking around signing, "I love you" to everyone.  That kind of behavior leads to fourth marriages and fourth marriages lead to a matching left and right "i love you" set.  Grasping will also get difficult . You'll probably need someone to help you with everyday tasks and . . . oh no, that could lead to a 5th marriage.  Poor ol' Elizabeth Taylor, passing away fingerless of old age.

The beauty here, of course is that 'gayness' is no longer an issue.  If you are willing to sacrifice a digit to be with your partner, you can get married.  Period.  And I defy any senator from any state anywhere to argue against the sanctity of that bond, cause now alllllllll married people have got true skin in the game.  And you better first find me a room full of 10-fingered senators (where'd Newt go?) before you come stomping to me with your "protecting marriage" bullshit.  Cause, to paraphrase Jay-Z, "If you feel'n like a pimp; come on, cut your finger off."

These Dogs are For the Birds

Saturday, January 26, 2013 | 0 Comment(s)

So.  I haven't posted about my pups in awhile, and that may have to do with a bit of a destructive streak which took with it the lives of more than one croc.  RIP Purple and Brown Crocs.  But, as with any relationship, there is pleasure with the pain, and in wintertime we have one of our funnier doggie delights.

We put our dogs to bed like birds.  Yup.  When I had a bird (Icicle was its name--we had it for 7 days until my subsequent asthma-attack sent me to the ER), at night you would simply throw a light blanket over the cage, and Icicle would cease to chirp.  Now, of course I believed this is when my bird began plotting its world domination a la Pinky and the Brain.  And, considered I was sent the the hospital within the week, I'm still not entirely positive that I was wrong about my bird's megalomania. Either way, when the blanket went on the cage, the birdie shut the hell up.  I should add that this is both a normal and good thing.

Dogs are, generally speaking, a bit trickier.  With dogs you have the added variables of beds, blankets, relatively unrestricted movement, wrestling, and vomit.  This is by no means a comprehensive list, but I hope we can all agree that when you hit 'vomit' on any list, people probably have gotten the point.

Our dogs, however, are at times . . . uncomplicated.  All they really ask for is something soft to lay on (granted the hierarchy is firmly established as: bed, lap, couch, dog-bed, carpet) and something to keep them warm.  I'm totally kidding.  If you want them to sleep past 6 am, they require a blanket laid over the top of them and, if possible, tucked in a little.  You know, cause they are like 5 year-olds.

That said, when the blanket goes on . . . they go out.  Just like birds.
with flash
Additionally, in an effort to further curb ye ol' shoe chew, we got them a bunch of new toys (again.  cause they are like 5 year-olds).  Falcor, the little one, finds the only way to get some real quality time with the new toys is to bring them into his crate, away from his older brother.

To absolutely no avail.

And yet, in a few hours it'll be right back to this;

High Waisted Teenage Girls

Thursday, January 24, 2013 | 0 Comment(s)

On the subject of high-waisted jeans.
from . . . duh
I absolutely love that they have come around to be fashionable with hipsters and college girls.   Because high-waisted jeans are one of the most obvious fashion atrocities of my lifetime.   And that's key.   I was a real person in the late 80's when high waisted jeans made women look like they were wearing clothes tailored for actions figures; made to slip on easily, with wiggle room.  They make a woman's midsection look like some kind of jean-coated (pun not intended) Easter egg.  I remember this time specifically because it was paired with all of my friends' moms wearing those absolutely ridiculous baby doll dresses.  Those triangular travesties seemed like some weird fetish dress that my kid self even deemed totally inappropriate -- not to mention the dress's ability to completely eliminate one's figure.

Back to the high-waisted jeans.  i mean, even the name implies what a huge mistake it is to wear these pants.  As in, "you'd have to be high and wasted to think these jeans look good on you!" What I'm trying to say here is that high waisted-jeans are so stone-washedly ugly that it makes even the hottest co-ed wearing them look utterly absurd to me.  And that's a good thing.  i don't need that temptation in my life.  Ugg it up ladies (pun intended)!  I relish any  opportunity to be genuinely unattracted to you.  At best you look like a girl dressed up as a soccer mom (no disrespect soccer mom's --you're amazing too) -- at worst, you look like a confused first-year looking for the college orientation-sponsered 80's party.  Either way, I get to scoff knowingly at you like an old man shooing his pigeons, firmly planting myself above the frivolity of your modern fashion woes.  Conveniently, this haughty stance takes my mind and eyes off of you and puts them back on my brilliant gorgeous wife, who I am so utterly lucky to be loved by.

If only it was so easy to escape all the modern fashion trends.

The N-Word: It's not just for Huck Finn Anymore

Monday, January 21, 2013 | 2 Comment(s)

When you start a shift at the bar, the first hour is always a bit touch and go.  You have to adjust to the pace, the music, the lighting, and, of course, the people.  If you are lucky, their is a lull in service, and you can more quickly transition into the space.  That said, there is very rarely a completely empty bar to hand off.

This thursday, i was lucky enough to roll into a fairly tame scene around 6pm at night.  There were a few people here and there, but for the most part, it seemed the passing of the torch would be mostly uneventful.  With one exception.  There was a women by herself at the bar drinking and talking at an accelerating clip.   She was a light skinned black women with a recognizably African accent.  Her running self monologue had the tone and energy of a person "feeling the holy spirit" in church.  She was joyous, boisterous, and right on the line between happy and drunk.  This is the perfect time to play "get to know your bar clientele."

The closer you get to having to make a decision about whether or not to continue serving a person drinks, the more and more you want to try and understand their situation.   Where are they coming from?  How are they getting where they are going next?  Can they carry on a semi-normal conversation with you? All of these things factor in.

I say hello and ask how she is.  She lights up at the prospect of a direct (indirect?) object for her speech.   She continues.  She tells me she's from Kenya.  She can have a semi-cogent conversation, though admittedly, her accent combined with the volume of the music makes it fairly difficult to understand every word.  She continues talking . . . and talking . . . and i realize that i now have to remove myself from her, so as to help other customers and avoid falling into a situation where she is monopolizing all of my time.

I leave to go grab a coworker a beer and stop to chat with him for a moment.

"Excuse me."   "EXCUSE me."   "EXCUSE ME!"  Her accelerating calls for my attention begin to spin our relationship in the wrong direction.   I move to pacify my guest.

She continues, "Have you ever read Huck Finn?"

Me: You called me over here just to ask me that?

Her: (completely unfazed) Yes.

Me: Yes, I've read it.

Her: isn't it, like, sooooo gooood!!!

Me:  It IS a classic

Her:  It's all n*gg*r, n*gg*r, n*gg*r, n*gg*r, n*gg*r, n*gg*r, n*gg*r.  It's so real. So good. 

She definitely rattled off the n word exactly 7 times.  I remember that kind of stuff really well.  You know, stuff that completely appalls me in a public space -- especially one where it is my job to protect the spaces integrity.

Me:  I'm not sure THAT is the reason i see it as a classic . . . but it is a good book.

I continue.

Me: Also, i would really prefer if you wouldn't use the n-word at my bar.  Especially over and over again.  Yes, even when talking about Huck Finn. 

She was sorry.  I will say that.  Thank goodness.  When a white person asks a black person not to use the n-word, it's implicitly a bit awkward.  It feels somewhat backward, like a child parenting their mother or father or -- more adorably -- like watching one of those YouTube videos about a pair of predator/prey animals that are true best friends.

I walk away at this point to grab this woman some water.  To me,  if you've put enough alcohol inside you to roll off a litany of n-bombs completely unselfconsciously (especially in friggin Amherst, MA), that is the very tip-top of "the legal limit".  Realizing this, i go and pour this woman a glass of water.

Her: Is this Amherst water??? (the 3 question marks denote the attitude and skepticism that were part and parcel of her tone in asking this question).

Me: Yes, and we additionally filter it.

Her: Nope.  No way.  Never.  Never.  I won't drink that stuff (she pushes the water i gave her away and toward the front of the bar).  She is strongly insinuating that our water is "not good".

For some reason, this is where i snap.  Potentially it's her constant stream of words that declared "I am right and I am still talking" (get a blog if you feel that way - sheesh) which just continued on for too long.   More likely, having a best friend who has dedicated a good portion of his life to living in Kenya and Tanzania researching and implementing the best practices for both increasing the overall water safety in the region (eliminating worms and other bacteria that flourish in polluted water sources), as well as creating solutions for easier access to clean water supplies nationwide.  Many families still walk miles in both directions just to bring water home for their family.   I know all of this information and I simply can't ignore it.  I mini-snap.

Me:  (i would say my tone was aggressive talking)  You are telling me that you are from KENYA, and you simply won't touch OUR water.  You are from a country that has been historically polluted and screwed over, causing nationwide infections and death, and yet our double-filtered water is just too scary a roll of the dice for you to risk it.  Come on!

This response of mine did the trick.  We had jumped the shark of her crazy and were heading down "sobering-up lane" toward bedtimesville.  Things tapered out from there.  I spent a bit less time babysitting her, and she started closing up shop.

I couldn't resist tweeting out:  "Still in the first hour of my shift and I've already had to ask the black woman at the bar not to use the n word.  repeatedly.  even when talking about Huck Finn.  Should be an interesting night . . ."

These are life lessons folks.  Soak it in.

The Anakin Rule: How I Know You're Drunk

Today begins a two day series of vignettes from bartending.  Specifically i plan on regaling you with the two best tails related to drunk people at the bar this week.  I hope you enjoy.  Happy MLK day;  The dreamer of dreamers.

My full first name has 11 letters.  that said, it has no silent letters or alternate vowel pronunciations (well, the "i's" are pronounced like long "e's", but whatev).  Because of this, Japanese children can even pronounce my name (mostly) correctly.  Ma-ti-ti-ya-hu.  This simplicity also comes in handy when teaching my name to a new, interested, party.  I find great comic value in the sounds created when people first try to say my name, and i have become increasingly attuned to what the drama of pronouncing my name sounds like.

While bartending earlier this week, i hear the tell-tale signs of a "Ma-tti-ti-yahu" pronunciation already in progress.  I look over to see my bar-back, on break, eating a sandwich and being . .  . um . . . persistently engaged in discussion by a middle aged woman downing greyhounds (the drink) at the bar.  She is asking him what my name is.  He is trying to oblige her.

This women is a drinker.  She has that easy affability that says "maybe I'm already drunk" but combined with coherence which says "maybe i'm just starting my drinking."  Either way, both messages require her + alcohol.   I should mention that this particular bar-back is chiseled from granite and this is far from the first time a woman has interrupted his meal to grab his attention.

Then the woman's husband comes in.  He is pacing and uncomfortable and reserved in a way that says "we shouldn't be here" and "i want out of here".  The wife proclaims that he is a mormon and doesn't even drink.  She hardly goes out herself (i'm skeptical).  But she's a big tipper and, as of yet, isn't making a scene.  She is, however, also pointing out to her uncomfortable husband that she's just here for a drink or two (or three), a little t.v. (she tells me repeatedly that they don't have one), and to talk to this nice handsome young man (the bar back).  She is leveraging the bar-back into a position of "jealousy creator." Us bartenders exchange glances.  It's an absurd situation already for a few reasons:  The husband is literally standing directly behind his wife, and is paying her a great deal of attention (of the lets get the f out of here variety).  But he certainly isn't ignoring her.  Equaly stupefying is that my bar-back is now visibly back-petalling, which is particularly impressive considering he is simultaneously sitting down and eating.   Somehow, brilliantly i might add, he seems to get further and further away from the conflict that's being sparked.

I'm getting ahead of myself.  Let's go back.  The woman, let's call her Irene, is asking the bar-back, we'll call him Tom, what my name is.  "Ma-ti-ti-ya-hu," Tom says. (this is what i hear and turn my head towards).  "Ma-ti-ti-ya-hu," i hear Irene repeat.  Having a name that can be easily broken down into syllables also makes it fairly easy for drunks to replicate.   Irene then goes into "remembering" mode, which consists of repeating my name over and over to really scratch it into her hard drive.

A minute later i go to check on Irene, she's had 3 drinks and I'm worried she's going to want more, which i am planning on not giving her.  I'm hoping i don't have to reveal said intention.

"MATTITITATU!," I hear softly screamed at me.   Guess who?

I have a pretty solid rule regarding my name and a person's level of intoxication, and while you may find it amusing (you will), i swear that it is both a rule, and one that has been used repeatedly.  I call it "The Anakin Rule," and it goes like this.

The Anakin Rule:  If you know my name, and when you end up pronouncing it, it sounds more like a Star Wars planet than my name (specifically the planet Anakin and Luke Skywalker came from), you're done drinking.  Period.

While such a crazy approximation of name such as Matititatu (Pronounced similar to Tatooine), seems unreproducible, in actuality it is the official drunken pronunciation of me (sponsorship welcome).

With Irene now firmly Anakin ruled, the process of her and her husband getting home safely and without incident became the new focus.

They were walking home.  check.  They were getting pizza first.  check.  But before they were to start on this responsible journey homeward (i did watch to make sure they headed to Pizzatown), i first had to contend with Irene's spirited need to converse with the others in the bar.  Specifically, she was kinda muscling out / invading the space of, the woman next to her.   I would usually intervene post-haste in such situations, but it turned out that the woman being space-chased was busy typing away on her iPad at the bar.   i figured that until someone said something, the faux pas were offsetting, resulting in no foul.

Thankfully, we didn't have to use (the) Force.      8^D

How Knowing You Could Cheat on Your Wife Can Help You Prevent Cheating on Your Wife

Thursday, January 17, 2013 | 3 Comment(s)

This piece has two important caveats.

1) As my academic expertise is related to romantic relationships, I am often motivated to write about such topics.  Now that I am married, however, I am a bit worried that some of my more edgy romance related columns (such as the one about to be written below), will be taken as scenes from my own marriage.  I must assure you this is not the case.  Ever.  Unless specified.  While I am more than happy to over-share regarding most aspects of my personal life, I don't want to cause any unwarranted unnecessary worry or speculation.  Case closed.

2) In this particular piece, I will be writing from the point of view of a heterosexual man.  While most of the topics below are at least partially generalizable to both heterosexual and homosexual relationships, some differences are sure to come up because of gender variability, gender norms, and societal pressures.  I give this caveat because I despise it when love related blogs assume heterosexuality. So, in an effort to be the change I want to see in the world, I want to hereby recognize that homosexual relationships exist, that they face many of the same challenges as heterosexual partners, but often have to overcome additional societal hurdles.

And now...

How Knowing You Could Cheat on Your Wife Can Help You Prevent Cheating on Your Wife

There are two amazing young women who came into my life recently.  The pair (they are roommates) are hilarious, fun loving, and sassy.  All things i admire.  In learning of my academic credentials, they took to calling me Dr. Love.

I need you all to understand something.  Fifteen years ago, I would have happily taken a machete to a live farm animal in order to have any size group of attractive women call me Dr. Love.   I would have probably even gone running (on occasion) if it helped buoy the usage of a nickname that proclaimed I had any advanced degree in a passion related field.  Twenty years ago, I probably would have sold myself into domestic servitude for that name.  I hope you're getting the point.

Oh what a difference a decade or two makes.  Turns out, this particular nickname, as a married 34-year-old in a tight knit community, is one of my least favorite nom de plumes.  I can't exactly put my finger on why, but it feels somehow sketchy when said aloud.  In some way, that address just seems to make me into an "other," outside of the realm of the common human experience.  And to the contrary, I have no interest or motivation towards being something separate from the world I inhabit.   Conversely,  I have a constant needling desire to be known.   To be a part of, not apart from.

This all being said, I simultaneously feel the need to share my knowledge of romance with the world at large.  What is the use of pouring over years and years of research if you never try to better the world with said information (this is an open question to the academic community btw)?   So perhaps there is a place for Dr. Love, but I would prefer to keep that place on the inter-webs, and out of my day to day interactions.

"I would never ever, in a million years, cheat on my wife."  This single lie to oneself can have dire consequences for a relationship.  (That got your attention!)

Here is the thing.  Being human means accepting a certain amount of fallibility.  More to the point, we fuck up.  We ALL do.  And those who haven't yet, will eventually.  While it may not take the form of an affair, there are just too many choices and situations to confront in life to think you can escape with a clean slate.

How would you do in a presidential background check?  One of those reeeeeeally thorough one's where any moments of weakness in your life are exposed to the general public.   The only idols that remain are false ones.  Or imaginary.  General Petraeus was a exemplary military leader, and has simultaneous been a part of some weird upper level 5-way sex-a-gon.   Clinton got head in the White House, and the ex-Pope was in a Nazi Youth Group.  There is a reason why the best bad guys in the movies are those with whom we can empathize.  It is because we, somewhere down deep, realize that we don't live in a world full of "good guys" and "bad guys" (gender exclusivity aside), but rather it's a world where people have impulses towards both poles.  There are situations where we must do bad to find good (stealing for medical bills), and other times we do good deeds for the wrong reasons (letting the awaiting car turn in front of you just to piss off the guy riding your tail?) We are in a world full of moral grey areas with wiggle room -- and we are a terrarium full of earthworms.  The more completely that you can accept this, the better.  And here's why.

When you wholeheartedly recognize your own ability to fuck up, you realize and accept the danger and temptation present in the world around you.  You realize that you are way too stupid to mentally iterate all the possible experiences that could happen to you.  Just sitting here i briefly daydreamed a situation involving ecstasy, an adorably nerdy sorority, and my car engine overheating, that nearly broke me -- and i wasn't even trying that hard (pun intended).   By recognizing the potential for unfathomable temptation, you begin to protect yourself from its impending arrival.  You temper the metal of your moral fiber in the fires of plausible scenarios.  Just like the coast guard motto, "Semper Paratus" (Always Prepared) -- the best protection against doing something you would regret is to have already thought of how you want (or should) to react, were the situation to arise (buy lollypops and then call triple AAA immediately and get towed the hell away from there).

*Begin Tangent*  Let me take a second here to provide a brief public service announcement.  For those of you who have never cheated on someone you really care about, congrats.  This tangent is for you. The rest of us already know this stuff.

When you are with the person who is not your significant other, you feel a number of different adrenaline rushes.  This hot girl wants you.  Adrenaline rush.  You are a "pimp".  Adrenaline rush.  How does she kiss?  What does she look like naked?  How hot is this!?! Rush rush rush.  Your body, physiologically speaking, maintains maximum "aliveness" for all of those moments leading up to the moment where your lips touch, and all those questions find their answers.

What you don't know, you wonderful pristine unicorn of a person, is that the noxious stench of betrayal doesn't wait until morning to begin nauseating you with your own behavior.  It begins that night, post-coitus, as you are still lying next to this invader who has now been *ahem* inserted into your life.  Her prolonged proximity reinforcing the wrongness of what just transpired.  But you're not a dick.  You can't kick her out right now.  Even with the regret already rising (along with the stomach acid moving into your throat), there is no way to gently push her out the door at this point.  And so you lay there.  The mystery dissolved in the curves of her body, you are left alone upon the shore with your thoughts and your misery.  And you get to see every hour pass.  Sleep doesn't even stop by to visit tonight, the guilt and regret and disgust and sadness and loss all mixes together into a 5 hour energy drink that is sure to leave you groggy.

And this is all before the next morning.  You know, "the next morning."  The time traditionally used to denote how you awake from your slumber to the realization of what you've done.  It doesn't happen like that folks (unless you full on pass out from alcohol, which is different than sleeping).  Morning is simply the earliest you can semi-appropriately get the woman you just slept with (or whatever you did) out of the apartment. Uncoincidentally, this is also the exact moment when you stop thinking about how awful this whole scenario is for you and begin to thing about how horrible it is for your partner and your relationship.  And that realization is such next level shittiness that it feels like the entire nightmarish process has begun anew, when really it started the very moment you came.

In short, this tangent is meant as a "FYI: Cheating" manual to those of you (even the one's who have cheated and forgotten about it) who begin that mental exercise where you picture what it would be like to just have 30 mins with that girl from the bagel shop.  I'm hear to tell you it's all a mirage that ends up with your mouth full of sand and cream cheese.  *End Tangent*

Inevitably, the majority of people will end up believing in their infallibility.  Whether it be because of their fancy management jobs, their deep abiding love for their spouses, or the simple human drive to believe that we are invulnerable while the others around us are not. They will stand firm on their moral high ground.  Unwavering.  Unwavering that is until that night at the bar when you and your friends ran into that gaggle of hotties.  It was all drinks and giggles and good natured fun.  So you were just going with the flow when that redhead nuzzled into your neck and started nibbling.   And later. when the after-party poured over into your boy Todd's house . . .  you weren't thinking . . . you . . . you . . .

I think you get me.  Our hubris leaves us unprotected.  Our need to believe we are good impairs our ability to lay the groundwork necessary to be that good person.  (Isn't that ironic? Don't yah think? -Alanis).

I'm not saying you have to go around telling people you *might* cheat on your wife, just to be sure you never do (I actually, strongly discourage this particular course of action).  I am saying that when you accept the limitations of your humanity, which include a partial to complete lack of control over the world around you, you more effectively ready yourself for a reality which is bound to contain unknown trials and tribulations -- the shape and size of which are impossible to predict ahead of time.   Think of it as a mental condom that protects you from your own potential stupidity while simultaneously defending the sanctity of your relationship.

Yah, you know, like a mental condom.

Four Acts of a Play on Ears

Saturday, January 12, 2013 | 0 Comment(s)

When i was in grade school, elementary and middle school in particular, i went skiing at the small local mountain quite a bit every winter.   While i don't get to the mountain hardly as much any more (i'm lucky to get 2 or 3 days out a year now), i imagine that it still is the worst thing in the world when the chairlift stops while you're still on it.  Particularly on a bitterly cold windy night;  The licks and bites of the ice finding any bit of exposed flesh.

In those moments of quiet desperation, swinging like a upside-down metronome, i would gather all of my concentration, tense all of the muscles in my head and neck until it vibrated, and i would will the chair to start moving again.  As you can image, the odds of this working were . . . against me.  But, in those moments when my ultimate concentration aligned with the renewed churning of the wheels driving the metal cord of the chair-lift forward, i was super-human.  I had a secret that included my ability to move giant machinery, and all of these people were skiing around me like i was just another normal person.    I don't think it got to the point where i was all 'Pleebs! You should be grateful for my protection!!!," but the illusion of control (or what you all believe is an illusion) lasted a good number of years.  To this day every time i get my bell rung, the vibration of my head harkens me back to those nights on the chair-lift.

Ironically all that head muscle clenching may have actually been the origin story of my one true special power.   i can . . . . wait for it . . . flex a muscle in my inner ear.  Pretty incredible stuff.  It's fairly unheard of actually.  And i wasn't born with it, which is why all that "deep concentration" in my early years may have jarred something loose.  i remember distinctly that, i want to say in college, i began to hear a clicking in my ears.  But, i could control it.  The problem was, i couldn't stop doing it.  Like the girl with hiccups that won't ever end, this clicking became persistent and incredibly annoying.

I went to the ear doctor.  I described the situation.  I'm all, "i can flex a muscle in my ear, and its making a clicking noise and it won't stop."  The looks i received in return were a mixture of quizzical and skeptical.  I know this look fairly well.  I returned their offering with a persistent look of confidence meant to convey, "this is happening folks, get on board."  And so, they hooked me up to a machine to see if, in the words of My Cousin Vinny, "my story holds water."

Sensors in ears, they started up a machine that most resembled a Richter scale, with a needle hovering over a moving piece of paper -- jumping up and down as it detected muscle fluctuation.  They turned it on and asked me to "do my thing."  I did it.  The needle went up and down and up and down and up and down.   They next asked, eyes a bit wider, how much i could control this flexing.  I said completely.  I proceeded to make the needle jump to "schooooooools out for summer." (i choose it for its distinct beat).

It is now clear they believe me.  The diagnosis, however, is underwhelming.  Essentially i either "learn to deal with it" or they have to do a surgery that has more negatives associated with it than positives.  No brainer.  Time to live with a secret again . . .  They did let me know that the reason it was so bothersome at that time was because i had a cold and was congested.  When I'm sick, this particular super-power is particularly super-sucky.  It's like having a click track added to the mucus ball that envelops your head.

It seems that all that ear muscle flexing may have beefed up my hearing.  At the bar, i regularly overhear sentiments expressed about me or one of the servers or the restaurant in general.  Most normal people, when facing this situation, would simply snicker knowingly to themselves and continue on.  I respond every time.  I just can't help it.  I look them straight in the eye and i make sure everyone can hear my response.  Only seems fair.  Two days ago i caught one kid "jokingly" whistling for my attention down the bar.  That prompted a 5 minute shaming about why, even meant as a joke, when done in a bar, that is not what would technically be called "ha-ha" funny.  More "ha-douchebag-ha" funny.  He readily admitted his mistake, got his socks knocked off by the old fashion i made him, and tipped generously.  I must admit i kind of enjoyed it.

That kid also claimed that his new years resolution (get ready for white people problems folks) was to "make the best old fashioned in the world".  Besides the hilariousness of using the phrasing of a 7-year-old -- he then asked what gave the drink its reddish hue.  I told him that it was the particular bitters I had used.  He remarked, "BITTERS!, that's what it is . . . I haven't tried them with bitters yet . . ."  I told him that he hadn't yet made an old fashioned yet, as bitters really are one of the quintessential ingredients.  He didn't really want to hear that, so i wished him well on his "resolution," worrying that i was sending a man westward in search of the edge of the world.

Lest I sound too self-righteous, I feel compelled to add that i am particularly guilty of saying outrageously inappropriate and absurd commentary just softly enough for only my friends to hear and giggle at.  Incredibly childish i know.  I'm childish.  It endearing . . . eventually.  

My favorite instance of being caught mouth-handed was on a return visit to the USA while i was living in Japan.  In the hills of Japan, you need not ever lower your voice to speak in English.  Think about Chinese people in your coffee shop.  Do you think they are worried about people overhearing their Mandarin?  No.  They are safe in the knowledge that the language barrier itself works as a muffler.

When i returned from my mountain village to the land they call Westchester, NY, I was deeply entrenched in this "no one can hear me cause they can't speak English" mentality.  So much so that there wasn't even a moment's hesitation as i remarked to my friend, "that guy's hat is SUPER ugly!"  The problem, in this case, was that said man was approximately 5 feet in front of me.

He turned around to face me head on.  I don't think he expected to see a fairly well-put together 25 year-old.   I certainly wasn't expecting the guy to be able to understand me, and was put unfamiliarly on my heals.  And there we stood.  Looking at each other.  Him with an unmistakable look of "what-the-fuck", me with a surprised version of "um . . . sorry? *shrug*".  And we did that for probably 5 seconds.  I may have said sorry.  And then we both started walking again.   Five feet apart.  In the same direction.

What's Your Carsona?

Thursday, January 10, 2013 | 0 Comment(s)

I spent a lot of time in the car today.  Most of the day.  Came back from Boston and then was a "man about town" running errands the rest of the day.  I tell you this for two reasons.

One.  i was almost killed by a short bus today.  Like full on killed.  I was driving on the normal one lane road toward the neighboring town when i see a short bus in the distance at a Stop sign on my left, looking to make a right turn.   For an ordinary car (or experienced bus driver) this is no issue.  In the same way that you are generally allowed to make a right on red, this bus's right turn should have no practical effect on me going straight on past.  I'm assuming that this is also what the bus driver thought when he/she began making the right turn with me only 100 yards away and closing.

What i didn't predict was that this short bus's right turn would include over 50% of my lane.   It did.  This precipitated an almost movie-like right-left swerve slash slow down, narrowly missing getting clipped by this developmentally delayed driver.  Seconds later my mind continued to race, picturing the headline, "Man killed by short-bus."  I spend a good amount of time trying to avoid situations that would lead to a humiliating death.  I just don't want to go out doing something objectively stupid.  And while this situation doesn't exactly qualify, it scared me enough to worry me.  Because, as my friend who i told this story to said, "I don't think they would report that it was a short bus." "No," i said, "but you all would.  And that's what counts."  he couldn't disagree.

Two.  i thought a good amount about the persona's we create when we are in our cars on the highway.  Our car persona, or, Carsona©  You are lying to yourself and others if you don't think that we worry/wonder how we look while being peeped by passing cars.  My carsona begins with my bumper stickers.  While most of my decorations are almost unbelievable benign (aka. a Schriner's medallion), i do have one emblem that has a point of view.

It says, in large blue letters, "BE KIND."  Underneath that type, in a smaller font, it says "In memory of Daphne"  who was a dog that passed away on St. John (the island) because of animal cruelty.  It is, literally taken, a bumper sticker about being kind to animals.  But, taken out of context, say, on the bumper of a random car, the message reads much more generally as a plea for a more loving world.  While this, at face value, seems like an unambiguous slam dunk of a message, you can imagine the dissonance created in other drivers when i (or my wife who has the same sticker) cut someone off or don't see someone in our blind spot.  Whenever I do drive more aggressively than i care to admit, i always reflect back on my bumper sticker.  I'm not sure if it subtly helps me to be a better driver/person,  or if it just gives me a good laugh at the mixed message i'm sending (usually it depends on the perceived innocence of the car driving opposite me).  Either way, my personal carsona starts with kindness.  And then, it gets more complex.

Here are the things i judge on a car before i even see the driver:  the license plate location, if the car has a vanity plate, sports team stickers, bumper stickers, evidence of prior accidents, college window stickers, the number of college window stickers, if there are stuffed animals or other nonsense figurines against the back window, any baby on board or family stick figurines denoting a large family, and whether i can see the drivers head over their carseat.

As I get closer, you judge whether they are on their phone (instant and hypocritical hatred of them), texting (might even honk at them), alone or with passenger, singing along with their music, or trying to look chill.

And i'm not even that judgmental!!!!  So i can only imagine what all those other ingrates are thinking.

My carsona starts with shades.  You just can't be cool NOT wearing sunglasses on the road.  I mean, come on.   It's like you aren't even trying otherwise.  What are you, using your car for transpiration?  Weirdo.  Then, my carsona pretty much ends at the music/podcast i choose to travel to.  If its songs of the 80's and 90's, you will pass my BE KIND bumper to find a sunglasses wearing white boy belting out the punk stylings of Green Day, Hall n' Oates, or Ani.  You will think, "that dude is rockin out.  Weird as shit, but rocking out."  And i think that pretty much sums me up.

Now if i'm cruising to a PodCast of say, RadioLab, you'll creep up to see a relaxed, almost bored looking, sunglasses wearing, white man -- calming driving his drone self toward the mainframe/his destination.   This one may be more correct than i care to admit as well.

At the very least, I think i could market the hell out of this idea.  i mean, i can already envision the commercials asking "What's your Carsona?"  And then using said question to sell you a whole crap-load of car accouterments meant to boost your automotive image.  They would probably go for an absurdist approach (a la Old Spice) and spew a long hilarious monologue about the different you's you could be if you were more attuned to your Carsona.  I mean, yo udon't want to end up a Carsona non grata.  *snap*

Man, if i used my powers for evil,  the chachkas i could sell . . .

Never Have I Ever Written a Sex Column

Monday, January 7, 2013 | 0 Comment(s)

I've been thinking a lot about marketing myself recently.  This is a markedly uncomfortable place for me because i like people to just recognize my brilliance naturally.  I kid.  It's uncomfortable because i spend the majority of my energy trying to create engaging and/or hilarious writing, and almost no time figuring out how to get paid for doing so.  Unfortunately, the laughter of my friends and family may keep me emotionally nurtured, but it won't feed me.  At some point (soon), i'm gonna need to make a move toward the mainstream and hopefully toward additional W-2 forms.

"It's a process."  
This quote was essentially the beginner curriculum early on in my choreography days in college, and it continues to be a theme as my writing becomes more of a destination and less of a tangential side-path.

The first rule to remembering it's a process is to repeat, "it's a process" over and over and over again as the waves of anxiety ride the duel sea-worthy vessels of "am i doing enough?" and "am i kidding myself?  They roll like the incoming tide up to the shores of my self-confidence.   Daily.  in and out.  Everyday the tide creeps in, seeking to weaken the defense of my ego-filled sand bags.  And every day, they must repel that metronomic force of self-doubt.

The second rule to remembering it's a process is to always be coming up with new ideas, new possibilities.  It's ironic, but once you take the giant risk of saying "i'm a writer", "i'm writing", "read my writing", you then have to continue constantly risking yourself by given credence to all of your crazy ass ideas, just so you are on your toes when a good one happens to pop out your mouth hole.

In keeping with this idea, here is today's crazy ass idea for my newspaper/blog/magazine column:

The name of the column would be I Once.  The premise would be (putting my phd in romance to work here) an advice column, but instead of "Dear Abby" being the opening tag line, each response would begin "I once" -- and then, in my own personally self-effacing, benevolently narcissistic way, i would attempt to humorous connect my personal and professional experience with other people's real life sex questions, issues, or discussions.  While i am in no way an expert on ALL things love, I would aim to dispense solid relationship and sex advice.  Like a straight dan savage.  Same santorum-like feel, now with added research experience.

And to test said crazy ass idea, I'm going to use you, my wonderful readers, as my test audience.  Best sex/relationship/love/lust question left in the comments gets the full I Once treatment.  Come on in and join the process.  The water may be cold, but it recedes every day.

A Love Poem (2013)

Friday, January 4, 2013 | 2 Comment(s)

love poem (2013)

I am because we love.

and it is not our existence,
but it's importance,
that we prove.

For even if the largeness of our
universes' outer realms
is as insignificant as the dust collecting atop the toaster,
to someone or something whose size is unimaginably greater. 

our love still holds meaning

In the swirl of Milky Ways
and time's ticking away,
our love drops a pin in the fleeting moment,
so you can zoom out.
zoom out. zoom out all you like.

our love remains central

As existential crises rot at the foundation
upon which lie the baseboards of our meaningfulness.
The decaying cancer cells and unplanned pregnancies 
fertilizing doubt, 
where once stood a life path. 

our love is an impenetrable refuge

And we prove
the importance,
of our existence,

because we love.

The News is Funny then Scary Yet Again

Thursday, January 3, 2013 | 0 Comment(s)

Came across this beauty of a news story today. Police: Impersonator pulls over woman, tells her she's beautiful.  Take a second to read it.  It's short.  Don't worry, i'll wait.

See.  I waited.  Now let's see if we had similar experiences reading this tale.

Here was mine:

First thought; great headline.  It's so great, in fact, that i figured they had to have pushed the truth around a little bit to get it to fit the headline.  I mean, that doesn't happen.

But then *bang*.  it happened.  Some guy has a tricked out black car that he put cop lights on.  Now, this in and of itself is not entirely impressive to me.  In high school we had a friend who outfitted his, well, his untricked-out piece of silver metal with a siren and PA system.  Sometimes he pulled people over with just that.  He never did get out of the car though.  The long hair and flannel would have given him away instantly.  Also, the lack of being old enough to be a cop.

So to me, the really impressive thing this guy did was have the coconuts to try and really pull someone over.  On an interstate.  And while i realize completely that this is an insanely stupid thing to do, at this point in the story i still was, overall, on the side of this guy and his cop prank.

"License and Registration".  Those words are where his toes met my line.   It's arbitrary.   But when you take the person's information, you begin stretching the ambiguity between the absurdly hilarious and the pointlessly creepy.    Still, i thought, he needed to do that to keep up the ruse.  If he hadn't asked for her info, it would have been even more suspect.  (and i can tell that it's my personal line because i feel like even this is a rationalization -- the guy could have certainly just said something to the effect of "i just had to pull you over to let you know you are absolutely beautiful" -- and then walked away.  Minimal contact, maximum laugh).

The smile fell completely off my face, however, when i hit this line: "The woman described the man as about 5-feet-10, with a medium build. He was wearing dark jeans, a black shirt, a black hooded sweatshirt and had some type of badge on a chain around his neck and a handgun on his hip, police said."

Annnnnnnd we're way over the line.  spectacularly so.  We are dancing in a neighboring town over a hill and across a bridge, we are so far from that border.   If you are not a police officer (and even if you are, frankly), you have absolutely no right to stop me in my travels and put your firearm a foot away from my face.   Even to tell me im beautiful.   ESPECIALLY to tell me im beautiful.   You should have stuck with the fake badge my man.  I would have been able to forget all about you and your stupid dress-up day.  But you have to roll strapped up to a woman's car.   Go to jail, go directly to jail.

Not forever.  This isn't death penalty bad or anything.  But you need to go away to think about how the value of your life isn't greater in meaning, value, or importance than anyone else's.  The gun makes the whole, potentially edgily humorous prank, into a invasion of privacy, safety, and decency.

I take some solace that, if and when they find you, the fact that you did this on an interstate will increase the penalty exponentially.  Dick-bag.