I was researching probiotics when...
I was researching probiotics when...
Longtime crush Emma contacted me the other day to catch up.
I am a weary, suspicious burnout of an old man. No one who knows me would correct that statement. (Okay, Dorkass would add "fat.") I am decades removed from adolescent excitements. Yet when I saw Emma's name on my phone, long-dead butterflies in my stomach burst to life. What is it with this woman? I thought. No one does that to me anymore.
We chatted for a while about mutual friends and her husband and kids. One would think that I'd be disappointed that she's still happily married and that her life is a Norman Rockwell postcard, but I am uncharacteristically altruistic on all matters Emma. If she were ever that unhappy, it would break the dessicated remains of my heart. My lofty principles are no doubt aided by the certainty that I would have no shot whatsoever.
Nevertheless, she remains my ideal. I can't help it. Whenever someone asks for what type of woman I'm waiting, her face alone flits through my mind. "I don't know," I'll lie.
Here's a telling life choice: I'm waiting out a happy marriage between two people younger and healthier than me. This plan is a mortal lock.
When I first showed up at Microsoft for an interview, I had driven literally straight from college. That explains, I think, the naiveté evident in my next sentence. I was wearing a suit.
The interview went well, and as my sweatpants-clad future boss walked me out of the building, she flicked her fingertips at what a college student thinks is a power tie. "And that's the last time you'll wear one of those," she said.
She was wrong, of course. In the intervening decades, four social occasions have required that I wear a tie, and I assure you that I bitched incessantly through each event. Such is the spoiled life of someone in the tech industry. I whine about having to wear pants.
This morning, I slip on tie #5. As I wondered where my ties are, I also wondered if I could possibly remember how to tie one. And there they were in the back of my closet, covered with a layer of crypt dust, relics of low-budget early-90s fashion. And on the end was the last tie I wore, a plain red one, still in its knot from 13 years ago.
Thank god. I have no recollection of deciding to leave the knot, but I thanked my younger self for his foresight.
If I'm ever more smug than when I see an old love interest show up in Facebook's "People You May Know" feature when:
Whenever terrorists strike, my initial reaction is, of course, grief. Dread quickly follows, but not dread of subsequent violence.
First come the co-opters. They make every issue about themselves. Friday night, I cynically opened Facebook and waited for the French flags to appear across people's faces. It took several hours, but soon enough, thar they blow'd. It was exactly the same folks who'd peered at us through rainbows a few months ago. I suppose they mean well, but I dreaded its inevitability. There's more than a whiff of self-aggrandizing attachment to someone else's tragedy.
Then come the jerkoffs, straining to interpret events as validation for their beliefs. It's Obama's fault. It's Bush's fault. It's immigration's fault. It's religion's fault. It's the wrong religion's fault. If everyone in France were armed, this wouldn't have happened. Every event can simultaneously validate every possible agenda. The human mind is nothing if not facile.
Next come the apologists, racing to be the first to be contrary. We must consider the conditions that led these people to such desperate acts, their Microsoft Word macro tells us. Also, this isn't real Islam.
Me, I just felt awful for the victims. I'm broken that way.
My boss of five years recently hired Trixie. She's 24, smoking hot, and tragicly unqualified for the job she holds. Armed with her degree in media communications and a six month internship as a local TV reporter, she was appointed a program manager at a Fortune 500 tech company.
I began to berate my boss, as I am wont to do under these circumstances, but he stayed his vivisection. "Oy. Trixie. Yeah. Before you say anything, did you know she's the daughter of the administrative assistant of the CEO?"
And just like that, my stabbiness shifted targets. I'm nothing if not reasonable.
And thus has my job come to include a task that both amuses and appalls me. I stealthily redo Trixie's work. The sequence goes like this:
Steph visited Seattle for four days. When I discovered that she didn't check luggage, I almost proposed on the spot. True, she's a friend happily married to another friend, but that's how much a woman not checking luggage means to me.
I gots scars.
Beyond that, I can think of only one other bias I hold against women. They should almost never be given jobs that involve speaking into a megaphone or intercom. A poorly amplified high-pitched voice is a spectacularly eyeball-bursting sound. Other than that, ladies, you have my blessing to do what you want with your lives.
Except rap. I forgot girl rap. It's awful. No.
Anybody who's read this page for 10 minutes probably suspects that I vastly prefer the company of women. And I don't mean that as a euphemism for anything, either. This preference has as least as much to do with men as it does with women. I do not see the point of socializing with most men. I hate golf, I spend as little time as possible maintaining my yard, I think cars are an absurd way to spend money, and I've no interest in comparing penis size. Read into that what you will.
Meanwhile, a single mother raised me. When she died, a succession of beleaguered girlfriends and female friends, mentors, and bosses took over, chipping away at my rough edges until I vaguely approximated a human. They shaped me. You can certainly bet that anything redeeming about me, I learned from a woman. When I survey my life, I often feel grateful, even indebted, to other people. Yet I feel indebted to no man. Not one.
Men are the valets of my life. They're there. I see them. I even opt to interact with them from time to time. But their sole purpose is so optional, so redundant, they are utterly superfluous.
Tangent: Why do valets need to adjust my seat in order to drive my car 40 goddamned feet? And why, when I have a freakishly short 29" inseam, do they need to move the seat forward? The prevailing theory is "just to be assholes."
Those of you scarred by dogs so moronic that they hike their leg on your deck, pee on said deck, and then scamper through their puddle on their way back into your house might want to skip this post.
Seattle is undeniably beautiful, and if you're from Pittsburgh, it is also conspicuously gleaming and new. Like all visitors, Stephanie was dazzled by what she saw.
"What is it you hate about the people here, again?" she asked over dinner.
I reiterated what I told her a year ago, but why tell when you can show? As we left the restaurant, I held the door for Steph, and then, seeing a few women heading our way, whispered, "Watch this. Exhibit A."
And thus did the women walk through the magically open door, straining not to make eye contact with, or otherwise acknowledge, the person who had waited to hold it open for them.
"That. Was. AMAZING," said Steph, and I remembered all over again why I adore Pittsburghers. I would have had to explain my point to a Seattle person, then had to hear that my expectations are unreasonable.
Stephanie visited from Pittsburgh last week. A gentle hippie married to an even gentler one, they're raising gentle kids who go to a hippie private school. The kids, both achingly sweet, do not watch TV. They do not know from violence or swearing. All their toys have educational merits.
I made sure that their Nerf machine guns arrived a few hours after Mom departed for the airport. To heighten the kids' aim, I included five pounds of chocolate-covered espresso beans.
By the time I greeted Steph at the Seattle airport, she had talked to her husband. She hugged me, then cupped my face with her hands. "Who hurt you, John?"
One of my work duties these days is to maintain a corporate website. From my perspective, it's a brainless, pedestrian task. I literally put p tags around misspelled paragraphs that I copy from executives' emails.
But the key words there are "corporate" and "executives." They are remorseless visibility whores, and I'm the guy who puts batteries in the spotlight.
Thus do I find myself on ridiculously broad threads with five levels of management competing to congratulate one another on my adding a link. They are a marvel. I'll get the request, spent 10 seconds creating the link, tell them it's done, and then watch the full day of frenzied back-slapping and spunk-guzzling unfold.
My boss thinks this task is a waste of me. In so far as the task goes, I agree. "You ever thnk about getting back into mangement?" [sic] he'll ask.
"I'm good, thanks."
There are definite upsides to being single as long as I've been single. The disposable income is handy. My doorknobs are largely unfettered by unsightly brassieres. And my holidays are largely unfettered by unsightly in-laws.
But combine a lot of ex-girlfriends with the ravages that advancing age has wrought on my memory, and you have me thinking "Which one was it who...?" a lot.
Which one was it who I caught listening to the Backstreet Boys?
Which one was it who pathologically hated Clint Howard?
Which one was it who asked me to [insert genuinely disturbing sexual request]?
I don't know, I don't know, and I don't know. Neither do they, because they're all old now, too. Often the best I can do is "someone in the '90s. Or maybe the '80s or '00s. But definitely not the '10s."
A few weeks ago, I looked in a long-forgotten drawer and found a screenplay written by a college friend. Typical excerpt from this masterwork:
ROBBER 1 AND ROBBER 2 (bouncing up and down)Needless to say, I tortured my friend, and this soon became a reunion in Portland. Twenty years after college, several of us convened in a diner. It was great fun.
"WHOO-HOO! Five hunnerd clams!"
We reminisced about the people we hated, but soon an alarming trend became apparent. After we derisively snorted about an idiot poet who since became an idiot life-coach, one of my friends softened it. "But I'll give her this," said Mariko. "I admire her confidence. She really set out to do what she wanted to do."
"Yeah," said Jon.
Yeah, whatever. She was an idiot then, and she's an idiot now. Next.
We then bashed our old boss, a loser in any decade, a man who tortured us and compelled us to torture others. "But as much as I hate to admit it," said Jon at one point, "He was right."
What?! What was going on here? And then it hit me. They've grown.
We then bashed a cheating shrew for a while, a reprehensible, pointless woman whom I still despise for once making me sit in 12 degrees for several hours. Invariably, one of my pussified friends cited her rough childhood as something we should really acknowledge.
I had had enough.
"Oh, for the love of fuck. Can you just let me hate her?"
"Sorry sorry sorry," said Mariko.
"You are cleared to hate," allowed Jon.
To their credit, their overdeveloped sense of understanding extends to those who refuse to evolve.
Perhaps he expected to hunt quail after the game?
I overnighted on Seattle's affluent eastside last week, dining with four friends in two days. The seeing-my-friends part was great fun. The being-on-the-eastside part was cancerously unpleasant.
I'm starting to notice a pattern with my discomfort around people. I cannot abide clusters of rich people. When in packs, they secrete some sort of obnoxious pheromone that permeates everything and everyone in their vicinity. They've aerosolized assholery. In wealthy areas, even the clerks making minimum wage are imperial, entitled assholes. I spent every second on the eastside wanting to throttle someone.
And then I went to a bar in Tacoma, a decidedly less wealthy community. I had a great time and met some really warm, interesting folks. It was just like my experiences in Spokane, Bellingham or Vancouver WA, or Pittsburgh, or pretty much anywhere but Seattle. It's more and more apparent that there's a direct correlation between a community's average income and my stabbiness there.
My dog Fredo has taken to dropping bombs on my floor, and, giving him undue benefit of the doubt, I had these munitions tested.
"The tests all came back negative for parasites," said my vet.
"Did you test for stupidity?"
"Oh, I don't really need to..." he replied.
I texted Dorkass this week, and she called me back a few minutes later.
"Hey, was that post about me?" she demanded.
This post: Shall I give Karyn a third chance to cancel dinner plans at the last minute? No, I delete her from my phone.
I stared at the phone in my hand—the phone I had just used to text the person now asking if I'd deleted her from my phone.
"Is your name spelled Karyn with a y?"
"Have you stood me up for dinner a couple times?"
"Then how could it possibly be about you?"
"Just making sure."
It all started, as debacles often do, with my laziness.
I hired someone to clean my house. While she was here, I locked the dogs in the car so that she might walk freely, without Fredo's snout impacted in her crotch. I'm just that thoughtful. I left the windows down a few inches for the dogs, and when I retrieved them a few hours later, I forgot to put them back up. I discovered this the next morning and promptly sealed the windows.
CUT TO: 30 HOURS LATER
Heading to town, I noticed something was awry as soon as I reached for the door handle. What was all that all over my car's upholstery?
And thus did scrub 30 hours' worth of panicked-bird shit out of my car, working far harder than I ever would if I were merely cleaning my house.
I wonder if my growing impatience is a function of a increasing awareness of my finite time on earth. For whatever reason, I'm giving everything the quick hook lately. Movies, meals, staff, friends, household projects, you name it. I just can't stand to wait for things to improve or, in some cases, to improve them myself. Toward that end, I waste anything but time.
Shall I help the staffer better understand that missing deadlines is not okay? Nah, I just fire him. Next.
Shall I give Karyn a third chance to cancel dinner plans at the last minute? No, I delete her from my phone. Next.
Shall I finish this crappy restaurant meal? Surely you jest. Shall I send it back and give them a chance to care so little again? No thank you. Here's your money. On to another restaurant. Next.
I went to tremendous lengths yesterday to ferry over to Seattle and see "The Walk" in IMAX 3d. I instantly found it dreadful, affected. At the 15 minute mark, Joseph Gordon-Levitt stood in a CGI Statute of Liberty torch, with a even faker-looking CGI World Trade Center looming in the background. He spoke directly to the camera, twinkling I suppose impishly. Heez cartooneesh fake Fronch accent, eet grated moi nerves eento a fine poodoor. By the 30 minute mark, I was in my car. Neext.
We did it, people! Three of these on this page at the same time!
U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!
I have a solution to this problem: let's make guns look less like enormous wangs and more like vaginas. Maybe paint them pink and put My Pretty Pony stickers on them. We won't have to take guns away from gun-fuckers. They'll throw them away themselves.
I haven't left my house in a week, hence the lack of posts. Zero material.
Hold on while I go to Wal-Mart. The things I do for you people.
Have you ever dated a physically beautiful person, and over time, you couldn't even see the beauty anymore because the rest of the relationship was utter crap? I have. And in a metaphorical way, I am again.
My house in Metamuville is the beautiful girl in question. I just found myself gazing across Puget Sound at the sun rising over the Cascade mountains, an undeniably beautiful sight that I'm keenly aware few get to see every morning. Yet all I could think was "Man, screw this place."
More and more lately, I find myself recalling when I spent a year putting off a breakup. For tax purposes, I stalled for an entire year. Trapping myself so unnaturally, I grew to hate her far more than she deserved. She could say merely "I'm going to get coffee," and my reaction would be What a stupid, shallow slag.
Well, I'm in that place again. And I often think of two pieces of advice I got about that woman a decade ago.
My dreams about choking millennial designers with a bike chain are getting more intense.
I suppose if I wanted to really hurt them, it would be more fitting to tie them up in a usability lab, prop their eyelids open, and force them to watch someone try to perform everyday tasks with their design. As a bonus, they would learn about the existence of usability labs.
Two months ago, I tore up my elbow. One month ago, I gave up and saw my doctor about it.
"How did you injure it?" he said, nose in his notes.
"I was unloading a 300 pound grill from the back of a truck."
He glared at me, then went back to his notes. "Diagnosis: stupidity. Acute."
"Oh no," I said. "That's chronic."
That night, I tore my Achilles tendon. I imagined going back to the doctor and explaining that I was dancing with my dog Fredo when I felt a horrible pop in my heel.
"Diagnosis: whiteness. Acute."
And I would again correct him.
Puck Glazowski and I haven't seen one another in years. Defying stereotypes of hulking former hockey players, he's an incredibly sweet guy. Courteous, sensitive, and he remember things that strangers said years ago even when they're not hot women.
I don't know how he does it.
He called me the other day. He just got a job at my alma mater. "If you need anything, anything at all, just give me a ring. I'll set you up. Tickets anywhere, any game, any sport." Wow! The ticket offer is amazing in itself, but I am not accustomed to people thinking about me if I am not actively writing their name on a check. I was touched and bowled over by this offer, out of the blue, from a guy I've smoked cigars with twice in 10 years. What a kind man. What an amazing bro. I felt a warmth toward my fellow man that I do not often feel.
Two hours later, I was cold-called by a stranger. Puck's friend. He's in Seattle now, works in the tech industry, is having trouble finding work, and do I have anything?
Lack of faith in humanity: restored.
Monday I was in an online meeting when there was a knock at my door. The dogs went batshit. In order to avoid said batshit during said meetings, I had placed a sign at eye level by the door.
It has been marvelously effective, especially with missionaires, who, now disappeared, at one time interrupted me 2-3x per year. (Apparently Jesus thinks I'm a huge "get.") I figured that FedEx needed a signature, so I waded through the barking dogs to the door. Wearing my headset and trying to keep the dogs at bay, I was greeted by an old asshat extending his hand to shake mine. No introduction, no apology, just “Here’s my hand. Touch it!” Wanting whoever-he-was to die a swift, horrible death, I did not accept the handshake, so things got awkward fast. He then explained that he’s my neighbor two doors down and he wants to fish; can he please use my beach stairs?
That’s Metamuville to me. After 13 years of ignoring me, my neighbor introduces himself by 1) ignoring my sign, 2) popping in unannounced, 3) wrecking my business meeting, and 4) getting into my personal space 5) to ask a ridiculously presumptuous favor that 6) he could make unnecessary by driving a mere mile.
"Sure, go right ahead! And while you're here...I'm planning on taking an enormous dump tomorrow at 5am. Is it okay if I use your bathroom?" I replied in my imagination later, two hours too late.
Is it unkind of me to look forward to my friend's wife dying? Before you judge me, hear me out.
Dirt and Kiki visited last week, with an asterisk. Any plans
She is the most astonishingly self-centered person I have ever met. She starts conversations with strangers while you're in the middle of answering a question she asked. She will also call someone while you're talking. When you're on the receiving end of her calls, you will often say "Hello?" and then have to listen to her prattle to someone else for several minutes before she even acknowledges that you answered the call. I hang up when she does that. She pointedly tells me that I'm being rude.
If we go someplace together, she will propose car-pooling, then make me wait in the car as she runs errands. When I visited them in November, she did not think to leave for the airport, an hour away, until after I landed and called. (Irritated, I took a cab. Her delight was unconcealed.) While there, I said I had no interest in the Mall of America, but she insisted that I really, really, really needed to see it. Once we were there, she and her daughter vaporized into the temporary Barbie World, leaving me to drink alone in a bar, getting progressively angrier.
No matter how firm they seem, any plans with Kiki are provisional. She makes firm plans with everyone so that in any given moment, she can opt for what sounds best to her. They were here for a week. She told me they were staying here. They stayed one night, which is fine, but of course she reserved the right to spend any other night here, too. I cleared the week, then spent it alone, watching groceries spoil.
A typical Kiki moment follows.
This is how I found out she was canceling the noon lunch I was just finishing preparing.
My business is increasingly reliant on the fantastic programmer Amy found. He's based in London, and somehow his cheerful Englishness blends perfectly with my company's unrepentently coarse Americanishness.
Relative to the rest of our misfits, he is ridiculously underpaid. One month he earned $800 for completely saving a $200,000 project. Contrast that with a designer who (that same month) we paid $2000 to create a logo that failed to meet our simple requirements and that I replaced with something I made in 10 minutes in Microsoft Paint. Appalled at the inequity, I told the dev to bill us triple. He politely declined. "Ever so grateful, though."
As his contributions have gained in importance, I grow more and more disgusted by how underpaid he is. This may be a cultural difference, but I really don't care. The man deserves more money. I feel nauseated every time I pay some single-celled bumblefuck more than I do him. And so last month I made a secret lump-sum bonus payment through his agency. Politely decline that.
And he hasn't billed me for any of his time since. Without comment, of course. That would be rude.
Summary of the culture clash to date:
Englishman: "Ever so grateful, but I could not possibly."
American: "YOU WILL TAKE THE MONEY, MOTHERFUCKER!"