October 23, 2012
I don’t know if it’s because she was depressed when I left for college that fall or because of a mid-life crisis, but when Beanie Babies (BB) burst on to the retail scene in the final months of 1993, Mom went cray cray for them. And I’m talking CRAY CRAY!
At the time she had a full-time job, but somehow seemed to hit every store opening when a new BB was introduced. She once woke up at 2am to drive three hours just to wait in line for three more hours to buy one because its name reminded her of an old fling from high school. Another time she actually got into a tug-of-war contest with an equally enthusiastic BB collector over the coveted Princess Diana collectible that Mom planned to give Uncle Robin. But my all-time favorite Mom BB story was when she was waiting in line in the bitter cold for a BB that her only granddaughter at the time had been coveting for months. Again, after driving for hours, Mom waited in line for the store doors to open when it hit her…the gallons of coffee she had been consuming to stay awake kicked in and she needed a bathroom, STAT. But she wasn’t going to let something as trivial as a teenie-weenie bladder get in the way of her and that BB.
What did she do?
She excused herself from the line explaining that she was diabetic and needed an insulin shot. That, of course, was a lie. Instead, she hurried back to her car, found an empty coffee can (why she had that in her car I don’t know), popped a squat and relieved herself right there in the parking lot. She returned to the line, made it in the store and, according to her snatched up not only the bear my niece wanted, but also the rare and elusive Jake The Duck BB.
Whenever someone asked Mom why she was snatching up every BB in a tri-county area, she told them she was building up a college fund for her granddaughter. As such, she covered the BB tags with the plastic cover ups and even kept her most prized BBs in plastic boxes, not allowing them to be touched or handled by anyone.
Cut to twenty years later when BBs aren’t worth the cloth they were made from and Mom is stuck with hundreds of useless plush dolls that are used more for chew toys for my brother’s dog than they are for a college fund.
Although she has some colorful stories to share, Mom is always a bit embarrassed when she talks about her BB obsession.
I think the same will ring true in another two decades when the subject of Honey Boo Boo (HBB) comes up.
Granted, I don’t know that much about HBB, but I know enough. BF and I don’t have cable, but on a recent work trip I stumbled upon a HBB marathon and decide to see what all the hype was about.
Well, in the first ten minutes of the episode, HBB and her family played a game of “Whose breath is that?”, and HBB and her two sisters, one of whom wasn’t wearing shoes, spent a couples hours at the convenience store adjacent to their home (I use to term loosely) where they purchased sodas, chips, candy bars and a couple of pair of sunglasses. After HBB’s pregnant sister peed on the couch, and after the mom wiped her finger on it and smelled it without washing her hands, and after no one seemed as if they were going to clean it up, I turned off the television, wanting the last few minutes of my life back.
I understand that there are programs that we watch because they make us feel better about ourselves (Intervention) and others because they are just total train wrecks (Who Wants To Marry a Millionaire), but I just don’t see the pull of HBB.
And poor HBB…in twenty years when she’s popped out three illegitimate children, is on welfare and only has the memories of drinking Red Bull infused with Mountain Dew to numb the pathetic-ness of her life, do you think anyone will want to tune in? She’s like those sad jocks from high school whose lives stopped at age eighteen, except that her life is going to end at age…whatever age she is.
My advice to HBB: Take whatever money you’re making from your reality show and sink it into a college fund that can’t be touched until you’re eighteen and can only be spent on furthering your education…and cosmetology school doesn’t count.
My advice to everyone else: Stop watching this show and making uneducated people think they can make a living out of being unintelligent.
October 10, 2012
Although I weep for straight women when it comes to the dating scene, men don’t have it much easier. I think the major breakdown between Mars dwellers and the counterparts on Venus is that, like species from different planets, the two sexes don’t speak the same language. The next time you’re at a mostly straight get together, notice who is talking to who. It’s always all the men huddled in one corner talking about sports, weather and boobs and the women on the opposite side of the room cackling about Botox, the latest trash novel and how their boyfriends are troglodytes. Despite that major communication breakdown, men and women have been getting together, procreating and living in fragile harmony for millennia.
But all that changed on June 6, 1998.
When Carrie Bradshaw burst on the scene as the main character in Sex and The City, she was an instant success. She was not so pretty that women were intimidated, but hot enough that every man still wanted to sleep with her. She seemed to have the perfect life: a great apartment in New York City, a job that required no office hours and a group of friends that seemed to think everything she did and said was fabulous. She really seemed to be the culmination of a contemporary woman in today’s society.
God, I hope not.
Not only was Carrie Bradshaw a completely unsustainable character, she also embodied everything that I, and every other productive member of society dislike about how women treat other people.
Example 1: Aiden.
Aiden Quinn was everything any straight woman would want in a companion. He was handsome, gainfully employed and worshiped the ground Carrie strutted on in her $400 shoes. And what did she do to him? She refused to wear the engagement ring he bought her (instead stringing it on a necklace around her neck) and she totally cheated on him with that sleeze bag, Big. What kind of message does that send? It says “Women, stay away from available, attractive, attentive men.”
Example 2: Finances.
First of all, a freelance writer for a third rate newspaper in New York City would earn enough money to live in Carrie’s apartment, afford her extensive wardrobe and be able to go out every episode to the newest and most hip night clubs and restaurants. Which, I guess, is why Carrie was always having money problems. There was the time that the French architect thought she was a prostitute and left her a thousand dollars after they spent the night together. The moral of that story? Ladies, when you’re a bit cash poor, sleep around and earn some money.
And then, after Aiden came to his senses and dumped Carrie’s cheating behind, she was forced to come up with enough money for a down payment on her condo (Aiden had previously purchased the apartment for her and Carrie to share with an adjacent unit.) Anyhoo, of course she didn’t have enough money. Did she try to secure a loan like a normal person? No. Instead, she got super mad after Charlotte didn’t offer up $50K for Carrie to use, interest free, for a down payment. Then, like any rational human being, Carrie stormed over to so-called best friend’s Park Avenue palace and tore Charlotte a new one. Then what happened? Charlotte gave Carrie her engagement ring from her failed marriage to use as a down payment. Lesson learned from that: When you need something, guilt someone else more fortunate than you into helping out.
Example 3: She smoked.
I mean, what straight guy in his right mind wants to date some chic who smokes? Yes, she did eventually quite, but only because Sarah Jessica Parker got knocked up and couldn’t sustain the lung-charring habit any longer.
So, what has Carrie Bradshaw taught us? That you can dick around really great guys, get paid for having sex with smelly French men, be a complete moron with your finances and literally kill yourself with every puff of a cigarette and still be considered the “it” girl.
So now, thanks to her wildly successful show and two spin-off movies (only one of which is worth watching), Carrie Bradshaw has taught women that they can basically act like complete selfish, lunatic harpies and think they deserve a millionaire husband, a thriving career writing 500 word quips about her slutty friends and meaningless life, and a shoe menagerie that rivals that of Imelda Marcos.
My advice to Carrie Bradshaw: Even though you’re off the air and no longer producing new episodes to warp the minds of straight women everywhere, you’re still there in re-runs and TBS marathons…my only hope is that the next great female sitcom will produce the anti-Carrie and show women that they can be successful by working hard, happy by not treating great guys like lepers and happy without having a shopping addiction.
My advice to straight women: Stop thinking you’re a “Carrie” or even a “Charlotte” or “Miranda” or “Samantha”. They are all archetypes. They do not exist. But you do, so get out there and start living your own life.
My advice to straight men: The next time your lady friends channels her inner Carrie, channel your inner Big and treat her like shit, never call and then go out and start dating someone else. If she really is like Carrie, she’ll come running back, ready to forgive all your sins.
October 4, 2012
I consider myself very lucky to have found BF when I did. Although I did have one pretty negative relationship experience (see Facebook and Ex Boyfriends), I think I came out ahead. It seems that the older one gets, the harder it is to find a partner. Maybe it’s because the dating pool gets smaller; maybe it’s because as we get older we become more set in our ways, or maybe it’s because as time goes on, the only people left to date are the ones that nobody else wanted.
Whatever the reason, it seems to me that there are a lot of amazing single women and very few single men worth their time. As a gay man, I surround myself with fabulous women (I hang out only with Homo Honeys and a Fruit Fly every now and then to keep things interesting) who, for reasons that seem to escape me and them, can’t seem to find a good guy. Time after time they are forced to run through the dating gauntlet.
I have a friend up north who had been dating a guy for about six months; the appropriate amount of time to introduce him to her parents. She arranged the time, made sure he had a clean shirt and pressed trousers and even programmed her parent’s address into his navigation system to ensure the night would go off without a hitch. Unfortunately, things did not work out according to plan. After sitting in embarrassed silence for an hour with her mother huffing over the uneaten meal she prepared and her father planning her boyfriend’s death for standing her up, she received a text. What did it say? “Can’t make it. Don’t have enough change to pay the toll. Sorry.”
Another friend of mine, a dear sweet girl I met in college was seriously dating a seemingly great guy last year. They were out on their six month anniversary, when he excused himself to the restroom. My friend sat at the table, eagerly waiting for him to return so she could deliver her anniversary present: saying the “L” word for the first time. She was rehearsing what she wanted to say in her head when she heard the ubiquitous ding of an iPhone receiving a text message. A faint blue light illuminated from beneath the boyfriend’s side of the table. She leaned over and noticed that, in his hurried scurry to the men’s room, boyfriend’s iPhone had slipped out of his pocket. She picked it up and placed it on the table. Like any human being would do, she looked at the message (and don’t tell me you wouldn’t have done the same thing). It was from a hooker named Heather (total hooker name, right?) and all it said was “Hurry up. I’m horny.” My friend, being the meek, charming woman that she is, didn’t make a scene, she didn’t cry running out the restaurant or even bat an eyelash. All she did was drop the iphone in her boyfriend’s glass of wine and walk out the restaurant, her head held high.
I have another friend from graduate school who is totally amazing, super cute, wicked smart and stylish to the nines. Because she’s so awesome, she started dating a really great guy a few years ago…or so she thought. About three months into their relationship, she was spending the night at his house. She went into the bathroom to wash her face, brush her teeth and get ready for bed when she heard a knock at the door. The boy assured her it was nothing and she went about her bedtime ritual. About five minutes later she returned to the living room to find the boy and some unkempt hipster bent over the table sniffing cocaine through a rolled up dollar bill. Totally cliché, right?
This same friend also dated a guy for about nine months who, at first, seemed really great. He owned his own business, had never been arrested and had a head of hair that could rival any Hollywood leading man, past or present. But like all great romances, things weren’t perfect? The chink in his armor was that he had horrible smelling feet. And I’m not just talking about your typical, run of the mill smelly feet; I’m talking about hot wet garbage on a humid day smelly feet. Like Pepe LePew smelly feet. It was too much for my friend to handle and she eventually had to break up with him. We all told her she was crazy and I was convinced that she had made a mistake until a few weeks ago.
She and I were at a street festival in town when she saw the smelly-footed ex sitting at a henna/face painting booth. Not sure what he was doing there, we abandoned our place in the funnel cake line and went over to investigate. Come to find out that about a year ago, the ex sold his business, purchased a small tract of land in the woods and, according to him, was building an “earth ship.” And then he introduced us to his granola-encrusted girlfriend who looked like she hadn’t eaten real food in years and hadn’t showered since the Summer Solstice. He introduced her (I forget her name) and the only accolade he could bestow on her was “She’s a really amazing face painter.”
I bought my friend a funnel cake after that as an apology for scolding her when she broke up with Mr. Smelly Feet. She had actually really dodged a bullet with that one.
Maybe it’s because there are more women in the world than men, but it seems to me that straight girls really get the short end of the dating stick.
My advice to single straight men: Get jobs, keep money for tolls in your car and don’t sniff coke in front of your girlfriends…they’re kinda turn offs.
My advice to straight women: It’s going to be a long, rocky road, but you’ll find someone out there. You’re all too amazing not to.
My advice to everyone else: Keep on the lookout for quality men for your hetero female friends. Unfortunately, they need all the help they can get.
October 1, 2012
In addition to establishing the world’s first man cave, my Dad is an extremely macho guy. A mixture of The Fonz, Burt Reynolds and with a little Dirty Harry and Charles Bronson thrown in for good measure, he truly is the last of a dying breed that eats red meat, smokes non-filtered cigarettes and still doesn’t understand why “those tree hugging animal lovers” disapprove of his leather jackets and alligator cowboy boots.
He thinks the metrosexual movement is a sissy response to emotional men not being to control their emotions during “chick flicks” and that wearing a shirt with “one of those damn horses on it” is worse than a Nazi war camp bar code tattoo. He is of a different time; one that has always seemed to elude me.
When my brothers and I were young, we’d sit inside Dad’s old beat up white Pontiac Grand Prix (that we un-affectionately called The Titanic) and stare in wonder as he stood outside the car, pumping gas with one hand and smoking a cigarette with the other. He’d look up at one of the many ‘No Smoking’ signs and exhale a large plume of smoke as if to say, ‘Don’t worry, I’m man enough to survive an explosion.’
Another time when I was growing up, I was playing on the jungle gym in our front yard. Being gangly and awkward, I fell, smashed my head on the ground and ended up in the Emergency Room. Turned out there was nothing wrong with me, but since we had been there so long, Mom and Dad decided to pick up some fast food on the way home. We pulled up to the McDonald’s drive thru and my eyes fixated on the current Happy Meal toy accessories: Hot Wheels. Being me, I didn’t want the fire-red corvette intended for the boy, but instead the hot pink VW convertible with flowers emblazoned on the front hood. After begging and pleading with Mom and even grabbing my arm and wincing in pain to gain sympathy, she acquiesced and asked Dad to order two boy Happy Meals for my brothers and a girl one for me. Dad rolled down his window and when asked for his order he shouted out “Yeah, give me three of those things the kids eat.” When asked for the sex, he responded “Ah, hell. I don’t care.” At the time I was mortified, but in the years that have followed, I realized that Dad wasn’t embarrassed to order his nancy boy son a girl Happy Meal, he was embarrassed at all to order a Happy Meal. Maybe he was afraid the checkout girl would think he wasn’t man enough to eat at Big Mac; or maybe didn’t want to give the illusion that he had emotions. Who knows…
But the best expression of Dad’s macho man-ness happened when I was in college. He and Mom came to visit me my freshman year and they took me out to dinner. As usual, I ordered too much food and had to take my desert home in a doggie bag. As we were getting ready to leave, I asked Dad to hold my left overs while I fished through my backpack for my car keys. “I’m not holding that,’ he said as if I had just asked him to grab onto a stick of lit dynamite. I stared at him, wondering why he couldn’t fulfill this most simple request when Mom turned to me and explained “Real men finish their meals, dear.”
So anyway, I finished college, moved away from my parents and, until recently thought Dad was really the last of the Macho Macho Men.
But that was, until I moved to the south.
I was on the Park-N-Ride bus with other home bound travelers at the airport, driving through the sea of cars in the parking lot. The attendant would call out row numbers, prompting car owners to shout out the make, model and color of their cars. I heard “White Ford Truck” and “Silver Audi A4” and such. When the bus was about half empty they bus driver shouted out “Row 6D” and a Bumpkin (for more clarification, please read Inexperienced Air Travelers) piped up “Cadillac.” Not satisfied with the level of information provided, the driver simply asked “Make and model, sir?” Bumpkin did not reply. The driver repeated his question and Bumpkin finally answered “It’s one of them make up cars.” That was when his wife elbowed him and, as proudly as a mother on her child’s graduation day from Harvard said “It’s a pink Mary Kay Cadillac. I’m the top sales person in the district.”
I chuckled to myself, knowing that even though this Bumpkin was definitely a macho macho man, things had softened a bit since Dad’s time…Dad wouldn’t have ever, and still to this day, been seen in a pink car, let alone allow Mom to announce its color to a bus full of strangers. He would have preferred to walk to and from the airport instead.
My advice to Macho Macho Men:
The sexual revolution is over and you lost. Suck it up and learn to cry.
My advice to everyone else:
If you have a Macho Macho Man in your life, put him in those situations (Happy Meal, leftovers, pink cars, etc…) and see how he reacts. It will be entertaining.