October 2008 Archives

juxtaposition

These signs are all over NYC's public spaces, of course, but I'd never seen one so...counterproductive.

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fun with geometry in soho

Puck Fair is an Irish street festival. But when you name a bar after it and then mount hanging lamps in front of your sign, this is what can happen.

"Please don't bring me anything from there," replied Blondage upon receiving this picture.

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how's the puppy?

I forgot about this question. You get a puppy, and you cease to exist. I am now little more than Poindexter's publicist.

This question will survive people's actual interest in the dog. Later, this will morph into the even-more-irritating, rote "How's Poindexter?" when they can think of nothing else to ask me about.

So. Poindexter is fine. I imagine that will be the case for quite some time. Should her condition significantly change, I will send you an update.

introducing poindexter

Poof. My life as I knew it is gone.

Trolls, meet Poindexter. Poindexter, don't talk to these people.

She's a 2 month old Portuguese Water Dog. You may now commence the hate mail about how I didn't adopt an unhousebroken Chow/Pitbull hybrid from the pound. I'll route your mail straight to the Psychos folder.

I deliberately didn't crop out the can of Tab so that Stank troll John can have some material.

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new england, same as the old england

I'm back after a lengthy trip through New England.

I saw and smelled a lot of evil in New York, but topping the list had to be the gizmo on my hotel room wall that noisily sprayed perfume into the air. There's an exceptionally balmy place in hell for whoever invented that. Right next to the guy who invented the clingy, saran-wrap-thin shower curtain that sucks all the warmth out of your body in .0034 seconds.

Glad to be back. Couldn't afford to stay longer. You can't swing a dead cat in New England without some guy furiously trying to shake toll money out of the corpse.

dear parent,

Cute kid. It matches your couch.

You don't know me, but your kid was kicking my airplane seat. And my restaurant seat. And your entire family blocked my path by holding hands three abreast and strolling aimlessly up the aisle while I patiently waited for you to find a purpose. Any purpose would have sufficed, really. This was shortly before your kid stood on his booth seat, turned around, put his mouth to my ear, and rather shrilly narrated what I was having for dinner—but well after I was stuck behind a school bus on Metamuville Road all morning. Don't kids do bus stops anymore? Can't they be bothered to walk 10 feet to the next driveway with a kid? Why, this sort of thoughtlessness makes me want to stop paying for your kid's upbringing altogether.

But I won't, and not just because I can't. I will still pay. I will still wait endlessly behind your dragging, weaving asses. My meals will still be ruined, and I'll chalk it all up to "kids will be kids." But you, you don't get off so lightly. I want more from you. I want you to politely acknowledge the unremitting imposition you have, quite against my will, brought into my life. A nod or "sorry" would do. Better yet, ask your little vanity project to use his indoor voice.

Shocking though it may be, "parent" is also a verb.

Love,
john

rimshot

Before a recent visit with friends, I stopped at Toys R Us and purchased some gifts for their three year old son. And then I showed him that you can actually blow the whistle while beating the cymbals with a drumstick. I just can't help helping.

Sound clip from the wee hours this morning

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paying it forward

If I billed Microsoft the way any given housing contractor bills me, the payday conversation would go like this.

"Right. So we said it would be $1000, plus the laptop I rented was another $230, and then there's the electricity it ran on, a convenience fee, and of course taxes, so your grand total is $18,278. Give or take."

the warm-up question

Hilari had a series of ice-breaker questions she used on first dates.

Ever slept with a guy?
Ever done time?
Say, you don't have a latex allergy, do you?
Do you have an aversion to hairy, inverted nipples?
One night when she was supposed to be mid-date, she appeared in my apartment, planted face-down on my bed without using her arms to break her fall, and started convulsing. His answer to her warm-up question, she finally managed to say, was "complicated." I didn't dare ask which question she'd asked. Does it matter?

When I'm getting to know someone, I do nothing so clever. I ask about their biggest heartbreak. I find nothing more illuminating. This cuts to the quick of who someone really is. If they've been crushed, they've likely learned to respect others' feelings. The finest empathy fertilizer, after all, is minced heart. The nature of the crushing, too, is informative. What did they learn? Was it easy to see coming? Were they enablers? Procrastinators? Or was it the full-on, life-altering body-slam of complete surprise? And if they've never had their heart broken, that's exceedingly valuable information. This person is probably the crusher, not the crushee. If they aren't serial users, they merely leave before letting anyone get close.

A great question, that. My old reliable. Got one of your own? Share.

for tammy

For sullen Stank troll (is there any other kind?) Tammy, I offer my go-to methods of cheering myself up when I'm down. These work every single time, and some of them are even free.

  • Surfing real estate somewhere other than Seattle. I think this would probably work for only me, but boy, does it ever perk me up. Unless I look at Pittsburgh, where I've never seen a remotely attractive house for sale.
  • Fatboy Slim's "Weapon of Choice" video.
  • Planning a trip. Closely related to the first option, but easily attainable. Even modest road-trips are marvelous breaks from the realities of work and roof repairs. And as I've said before, if I want to hear "I love you," all I have to do is drive my car two hours in any direction from downtown Seattle.
  • "The Ref." No matter how depressed I am, this movie about a burglar (Denis Leary) taking hostage a viciously argumentative married couple immediately puts me right.
  • Sam Kinison performing "Are You Lonely Tonight." I first saw this when I was freshly dumped, and it was a warm bath of catharsis. Available on the Best of Johnny Carson DVD.
  • Helping someone I love. Awwwww. Flip side: hurting someone I hate. If there's anything as gratifying as helping virtue triumph, it's helping evil smooch a steaming pile of dog shit. Pucker up, Buttercup.

pale shadow

"The dying is easier to take," said 79 year old Miss Sue when comparing her dead friends to the slowly fading variety.

You know the Pale Shadow. Your life has at least a couple of them. The people to whom you were once close, who withdrew. Maybe they had kids. Maybe they moved away. Maybe they got an SO. Maybe the SO is a Yoko. Or maybe love simply died. You're not sure. But you have plenty of time to figure it out, because a wispy facsimile of that relationship remains in your life. It has become the Pale Shadow. It has become fake. Perfunctory. The Pale Shadow sullies what should be happy memories. It mocks you. It taunts your inability to grieve.

I think I'd rather take an eraser to my address book, frankly.

jonesing

I wrote the below post. I then went to cnn.com, where the headline was "Dow Jones rally continues" and they reported it shot up another 350 points this morning. I decided to add the word "appalling" to the post. Then I returned to CNN, where the headline was "Dow Jones rally stalls" and it was down 12 points.

Elapsed time: 20 seconds.

on golden pond

Old fartdom comes in increments.

Phase 1: The Inner Mom
The first glimmer occurred around 30, when I was sitting at a light and a beautiful young creature strode across the crosswalk, her wife-beater T and cutoffs barely constraining a body truly chiseled by the gods. Did I leer lecherously? Did I honk? Did I hit the windshield wipers? Not exactly.

"How on earth did she get out of the house dressed like that?" I scolded.

Horrified, I immediately self-corrected. "AUUUUGH! I meant, WOO! WHAT A RACK!" But it was too late. Once you hear your mother's words come out of your mouth, they will not go back in.

Phase 2: Harmlessness
Once I hit my mid-30s, I found myself surrounded by beautiful 20ish women. I didn't particularly seek them out, yet on they came. I regarded them with curiosity. Why now? Why were these women, who would never have deigned to be seen with me when I was ten years younger, suddenly booking me for drinks? Had they seemed interested, I might have chalked it up to gold-digging or, if it were a good day, actual attraction. But no. For the most part, they just sought my company. It was then that I realized I had become safe. Ten years earlier, they would have considered me demographically datable, so they would have avoided date-like environs like the plague. But now, I'm a harmless old fart, as nonthreatening, I suspect, as a relative. Cheers, Grandpa.

And then depression set in. Not for nothing, but who really wants to be nonthreatening?

Phase 3: Sheepishness
So nowadays I hang out with my ludicrously attractive 23 year-old protégé, and even pondering such things as my own harmlessness seems cluelessly antiquated. Anyone who meets her, male or female, knows she's one of the great women of all time. I know that I'm ever aware of it. And yeah, a part of me recoils when she slums it, not just out of protectiveness but out of a genuine need for her to end up with someone much, much better than I ever was. It's some kind of time-travel jealousy thing. I want him to be worthy of his appalling luck, to appreciate the lottery he hit.

She and I went to Teatro Zinzanni a few weeks ago, a low-rent Cirque du Soleil here in Seattle where you're forced to interact with the entertainers for the amusement of all. As we walked into this unexpectedly datey venue together, I looked around in horror at all the couples and officially hit phase three:

"Good god. I hope everyone just thinks I'm her father."

It got worse. She introduced me to our fellow patrons as her boss. Much worse.

The look on McCain's face is priceless. Like 'tard-melting beams were going to come out of his eyes.

ten percent

"So what's your pretense?" writes Stank troll Marta. "What do you say you want from women, and who do you date?"

What I say I want: a woman with low standards.

What I date: by definition, exactly that. There's absolutely no disconnect.

I've recently been mulling over how love-interests seem to be of one of two persuasions: they 1) think I'm an idiot or 2) are so afraid of being killed by the power of my brain waves that they remain silent. Mostly, I've been mulling over how attractive the territory between these two poles looks. I've concluded that 10% is a good figure. I want someone who thinks I'm an idiot about 10% of the time, which is about right.

My soul mate? She'll think I'm an idiot the right 10% of the time.

disconnect

The day that one of the women in my life is actually attracted to what she says she's attracted to, bolts of pain will shoot up and down my left arm and I'll drop to the floor—one leg twitching in the air to an unheard syncopated beat.

Because this is not remotely what I have observed. No, what have observed is actually a gigantic disconnect, a chasm between what they say and who they date. There does seem to be a pattern, however, and over the years I've formulated a complex translation matrix. It's admittedly a work in progress.

What she says she's attracted to Who she chooses
Sense of humor Cute guy who treats her disrespectfully
Self-possession Cute guy who treats her disrespectfully
Confidence Cute guy who treats her really disrespectfully
Brainiac Cute guy who treats her disrespectfully
Social conscience Cute guy who treats her disrespectfully
Good conversationalist Cute guy who treats her disrespectfully
Creativity Cute guy who treats her disrespectfully
Height Tall guy who treats her disrespectfully
Athleticism Cute guy who treats her disrespectfully
Respectfulness Cute guy who treats her disrespectfully

It's not often I give the advantage to my own gender, but at least there's no disconnect between saying "hot skank" and choosing "hot skank." Refreshing in its lack of pretense, if not in its depth.

goodbye, my forever friend

I was complaining about how as I've lost weight, I've had to buy new clothes. People, I find, are endlessly fascinated by such bitching, so I do it as often as possible. Pointing to my already-ill-fitting new dress shirt, Annette said I needed to buy cheaper clothes. Katrina nearly did a spit-take.

"No. He doesn't." Katrina then started in on The Sweats.

I've owned this pair of sweats for years. They've survived many girlfriends. I've pulled them out of the trash twice. To the horror of any woman in my presence, they are my everyday attire of choice.

Men, meanwhile, are uniformly supportive.

"I kinda remember that they used to be black," Katrina droned. "But it's been years. They're a purply/gray/beige diseased color now."

They are also far too big for me, their drawstring having decomposed a sometime during Clinton's term in office. His first term. It's time for them to meet their fate, but first, a tribute. Here's their general state.
And here're the legs. Note the added holes for my feet, right above the elastic-banded ones. The possible variations are endless. The sweats are a marvelously flexible garment.

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Putting my mother down wasn't this hard. I just can't do it.

I'm pretty much including this link so that I could use that headline.

I'm sure there's a whiff of truth to the article, but it does rather discount the obvious: most of us dislike Palin more with each passing day. That said, the disdain has been a bona fide masturbatory foam, lately.

Link courtesy of prodigal Stank troll Ken. Thanks, man. I had nothing today.

why, indeed

Nine years after we last spoke, I found myself having a drink with an ex. Let's call her Jenn. I'm not sure why she initiated it, but if I had to guess, I'd say she just wanted to make sure her legacy isn't...well, to make sure I don't hate her. Mission accomplished. Then evening led to reminiscences, which led to divergence, which led to an argument about past events, which led to her house, which led to her journal.

Yep. She kept a written record of when we dated. And to win the argument, she let me read it. She's even letting me publish parts.

My first impression was how not-into-me she was when I was really-into-her. The less said about those parts, the better. She was infatuated with someone else when I came on the scene, and he blew me off the pages for three months.

But then, quite suddenly, there I am.

"John: what a wonderful husband that man would be."
That's my first mention? Holy crap! But then she talks about how she thought of the other guy when she was traveling with me. Which explains a lot about that weekend, come to think of it.

And then the Boy gets engaged. Much more angst. And suddenly, I'm starting to understand why this chick yanked me around, as this was all happening when we were first dating. I spent much of that time trying to figure that out.

"John - I'm liking him more and more. But I don't know. He's trying to break through my walls. I know that he is. They're trembling. They won't fall."
They fell. Soon:
"I question my feelings for John. Could I love him, I mean really love him? I don't think so. He stresses me out, with his irritating, persistent nonchalance."
Really? I thought you were the nonchalant one, sweetheart. Later:
"Things happened emotionally, physically. I thought I handled myself very well..."
You're the only one.
"...I love this guy a lot but there is something that would never work. I don't know. I don't know if I get this feeling more from myself or from him."
Yikes. And then the part that has made me think of little else since:
"Sometimes I don't trust him because I feel he is deliberately trying to hurt my feelings. And that is not acceptable."
The journal goes on to describe our relationship over the next couple of months, and then its end. But it's this last point that lingers. I did try to hurt her feelings. I remember doing it. I don't remember why. And I'm pretty sure I've played that game since. But here were the consequences of my conduct, staring at me unblinkingly from the parchment. Did we ever recover from the feeling she described? Have I sabotaged this and other relationships with emotional brinksmanship? I hope not, but hoping here already feels like a conviction.

Hence my two weeks of self-assessment.

What a fascinating anthropological dig this was. I'm forever grateful to Jenn for sharing. I leave you with my two favorite entries. See if you can guess which one is from the end.

"I'm sitting here talking to John. My new "boyfriend." Life is crazy. First we're murderous, then we're okay. What's to come? How in hell is this going to work? We're either so good or SO BAD."

"JOHN IS A FUCK. AND A FREAK. AND A FUCKING FREAK. Why do I miss him?"

baited

"You need to chill out, John. Seriously. Seattle drivers used to drive me nuts, too, but then I learned to just accept it and now I'm much happier here. I'm the very model of contentedness. I'm never leaving. Blah blah blah. The key to happiness is for you to be exactly like me. Blah blah blah."

— Amy (no, the other one), as I remember the conversation, about two years before she ran screaming from Seattle forever.

• • •

Last night I played Euchre with Amy and her husband, Rob, with whom I was unfavorably compared on that blah blah day. Last night, Amy and I were on a winning streak when Rob asked me about Seattle drivers. One embolism, ten minutes, and several of my mistakes later, Rob's team had won five straight hands.

Nope. Still haven't accepted it. Can't. Won't.

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