June 2009 Archives

mission accomplished

Two years ago, I took my brightest student ever out for beers. I was about to offer her an editing gig for Microsoft. First, though, I would follow my custom and pump her full of Bud Truth Serum. It didn't take her long to lament that she'd had to withdraw her applications to grad school. She was flat broke.

"You haven't withdrawn them yet, have you?" I replied, aghast.

And thus did my mentoring of Darcy commence as these things should: in a sleazy bar.

I adored Darcy. She was exactly why I still dabble in teaching. A great person, warm, brilliant, full of light and promise. To help her go to grad school would doubtless be one of my greatest accomplishments in life. I was excited. And then a friend had to go and mention a nightmarish and all-too-likely scenario.

"So how will you feel if she ends up staying with Microsoft, doesn't go to grad school, marries a soulless Microsoft loser, and bit by bit you see all those great qualities sucked out of her like they are the rest of us? If you become the agent of Darcy's destruction?"

Utterly. Mortifying.

"Okay, so here's the deal," I barked at Darcy later that day. "After a year, you're fired. And if you date a co-worker, you're fired."

"You can't do that!"

"Try me."

Even though she ended up working for two years, I was hyper-protective of her. She never met management. She never went to a meeting on campus. She never met a co-worker who wasn't a middle-aged woman. My proudest moment came when Darcy met a guy in a bar and he asked her out. Seeing his Microsoft badge, she turned him down flat. "My mentor would kill me."

"I don't believe Darcy really exists," a handsome young writer told me just last week.

"Fuck off," I replied. I almost have this cow in the barn. I'm not spooking it now.

Today is Darcy's last day in her job, and in a month she'll be in the grad school of her choice, where presumably her soul will be fed, not depleted. We went out to dinner last week, reflecting both backward and forward.

"One of the things I've learned in the last two years, and I hope this doesn't offend you," she began hesitatingly, "is that I don't want to work with Microsoft."

I have never loved another human being more than I loved Darcy in that moment. I gave her a hug.

"I have nothing more to teach you."

doppleganger

Dream girl Emma visited me this weekend. I'll pause so that you can read the link.

Done yet?

We waxed about our school days, and we discussed my temper, which was vastly worse then than now. Emma is so unfailingly gracious and kind, this conversation about my dickishness made me squirm, which she exacerbated by being gracious and kind about it. "I never saw you lose it at someone who didn't deserve it. That's what I was telling my husband about you last night. He....say, have you ever met my husband?"

"Once, a long time ago. I remember an impossibly gorgeous, gentle man."

She chuckled. "Yeah. Anyway, that's what I said about you."

"That I'm an impossibly gorgeous, gentle man?"

"It's like you were there, John."

haunted

Would someone kindly help me get that goddamned Michael Jackson song "Ben" out of my head?

mirror mirror

Every woman who's stayed in my guest room has said the same thing. No, it wasn't "I'm staying in the guest room, and that's final." They have requested that I install a mirror. And thus did I look for an appropriate mirror when I browsed Bellingham's many galleries. I think I found it.

mirror.jpg

felt like a giant slug

Dogs are famously revolting creatures, but Dex set a new mark yesterday. We visited some friends in Bellingham, and while she was in the back of the Jeep, I filled her travel bowl with water. Meanwhile, in the front seat, I changed shirts. This allowed Dex to snarf my bare back with her shaggy, slobbery, mop-like face. You wouldn't think it possible to stand up in a Jeep. You'd be very wrong.

For no particular reason, here's a photo of Dex "helping" me garden. Yes, I'm aware that Obama got a dog just like mine. No need to tell me. Really.

dex rose.jpg

mr. charm

I went into the Metamuville Grocery, and the hot young woman who works nights was there alone. "Eeeeev-ah!" I heard on the TV.

"Wall-E!" I said. She and I both professed our love for that movie, and eventually I asked if she'd seen "Up." Nope, she hadn't. "Well, it's playing right over in Blahboro…" I said.

There was nothing more to my sentence, but her sudden look of dread was palpable. Suddenly I felt compelled to tack on "So I'll let you know how it was!"

I will never forget the look on her face. Kinda terrified.

stupid is

A mere 24 hours after my triumph in the car wash, I was spreading a trailer's worth of beauty bark. I hopped into the back of the trailer, forgetting that it wasn't attached to the truck anymore. Boing! I fell, and the ensuing avalanche of beauty bark smothered me.

My mom was right. I am the stupidest kid on the face of the earth.

stupid does

Not that further proof of my intellectual degradation was needed, but yesterday was a landmark of sorts.

Sequence One

The following took place in a split second. I was towing my boat to the mechanic. During a right turn, I set my bottle of Diet Coke into the right coaster in the truck's console. My boat keys were already in there, and the bottle toppled about, splashing everywhere and filling the left coaster. My iPhone was nearby, and I quickly flipped it to the safety of the dash. The sloped dash. Splash!

Sequence Two
I stopped at a self-serve car wash to scrub down the boat. Washing the roof required that I balance on the narrow (5") side of the boat, some six feet in the air. My full weight on my toes, I fired the sprayer. It's not often in life that you think of Newton's Third Law of Motion while actually still in motion, but there I was. Splat!

I launched violently backward into the wall of the wash bay, and I slid down coyote-style. My whole body hurts today.

my big fat gay weekend ii:
even gayer

My fate was sealed, I suppose, the moment Mike invited me to watch the charity softball game. "It's cross dressers against lesbians," he said. It's called "Bat 'N Rogue."

"What's the charity?"

"I dunno. Does it matter?"

"No." I was certainly not going to miss seeing this.

l_855a6e8c162042e788fc859f7a497033.png

It was a freakshow, but it was decidedly less so than I'd anticipated. I'm not sure what I'd hoped for, exactly, but it wasn't wholesome couples picnicking in the outfield with their Brookstone picnic basket and poodle.

Mike introduced me to his buddy Matt. "John's from Columbus," Mike said to our fellow midwesterner. Matt's eyes flashed.

"Oh! I heard they have the largest bath house in North America! Is that right?"

"Uh, I wouldn't know," I said.

"John's straight," Mike stage-whispered in a manner that was way too similar to how someone might explain hair loss by whispering "He's got cancer."

"Ohhhh," Matt replied, my obtuseness explained.

And so did it go for the rest of the day. Every time I met a friend, my predilection for vaginas would be quickly explained. Sometimes it was phrased exactly that way. In my regular life, the word "vagina" seldom comes up. Not so on Saturday. It takes some getting used to, as does my obtuseness being explained. I mean, I'm used to being a polka dot, but black friends seldom have to explain that I'm white. Apologize for it, sure, but not explain it.

"From now on, every time I introduce you, I'm adding 'He's gay.' to every sentence," I growled to Mike.

"Oh shut up."

A group of us went to dinner, where good food and much alcohol flowed. They asked me about women. We talked about glory holes and rectal fissures (I'm opposed) and the recreational use of Viagra. Well into my eighth bourbon, I reportedly asked, "Tell me about a world without women. It's wonderful, right?"

More booze flowed. I toppled my drink on some guy's lap, and everyone lunged to dab it off with their napkins.

I made that part up. The dabbing part—unfortunately, the drink part is true. We drank some more.

Feeling bad about my clumsiness, I picked up the check. They were delighted. Elated. Kinda crazily happy about it. Matt declared "We are SO getting John laid tonight!"

"Uh."

"Trust me!"

"I don't."

"You should!"

"Why's that, exactly?"

"Oh, you!"

They determined to take me to a gay club called Purr in the gayest part of Seattle, and that's saying something. Matt wouldn't let it go. He pulled me aside. "What type of woman do you like?"

"I have only two requirements: 1) no living relatives and 2) low standards," I replied. "Disease free is a nice-to-have."

"He likes tomboys," Mike interjected. "Brown ponytails pulled through baseball caps."

"Man," Matt replied. "Christ. That's a pretty tough order. Not many of those in Purr."

We walked into Purr, and I was stunned to see it full of attractive women. It was a bachelorette party. The place was filled with the usual Capitol Hill freaks, but as far as gay bars go, this seemed tame. Why there were women in schoolgirl outfits, I could not guess. At first I thought they were trannies, but no. They were women in plaid miniskirts and vests.

Our group sat down. "So back before you all chose to be gay," I said. They all glared at me, waiting for me to finish an offensive thought. I let them wait.

"I really don't have a second half to that sentence," I admitted. "I just wanted to say that first part."

"What you'll quickly understand about John..." Mike began.

"...is that he's an asshole?" Vince said. "Yeah. We got that."

Time passed. They all tried to hook up, but they did check in on me once in a while to shoo away a guy and to be sure I was having a good time. I was. I was a fascinated observer in an environment truly alien to me.

Matt took a break and plopped next to me. "So who's the best looking woman in the room?" Now this was not an alien environment to me. This is how guys normally converse. I surveyed the veritable buffet before me and selected a statuesque blonde in a tight skirt.

"I will procure that vagina for you," Matt chirped confidently.

"No no. I was just answering your question. I'm not actually interested."

"You, sir, are going to tap that tonight."

"You're insane. No. I'm not. Don't do anything."

And then he disappeared. Within 20 minutes, there was another plop on the couch next to me. It was the blonde. Seriously? What the fuck?

"Are you really straight?" she asked, touching my arm, not unlike like a stripper.

There was only one thought on my mind: committing a hate crime. Matt must die. Slowly.

"Are you really straight?" she repeated.

"God yes," I said with probably too much defensiveness. We chatted for a bit, and she was an utter imbecile, not that you expect any less from a woman your idiot gay buddy sets you up with in a bar named Purr. I chatted politely for a couple minutes, then excused myself and ditched her on the couch.

"WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!" Matt screamed, to the general agreement of all assembled. "YOU BLEW IT! I GIFT-WRAPPED HER FOR YOU, AND YOU BLEW IT!"

"I'm not really in the market for an STD right now, but if I change my mind, I'll definitely give your matchmaking services a try."

They all stared at me. It was a familiar stare. I've seen it on my friends' faces before, most often on the basketball court when I've blown an easy layup. In my head, I hear the caption I'm friends with this? Really? I can't do better? I've also seen the stare on girlfriends' faces. Really? I can't do better?

I, too, was feeling contemplative. I thought about my odds of getting anywhere with that woman had I been left to my own devices. 100 to 1? 1000? A million? Something like that. What on earth had I just blundered across? And more importantly, how can this heretofore unknown gay superpower be exploited for my heterosexual benefit?

Matt's continuing rant interrupted my reverie. "What is wrong with you? I mean, she had low standards!"

the acid test

My mom, as I've written previously, was a complete flake. Whatever vapid trend there was, she was right there, with bells on, four years later. Turquoise. Wheat germ. Disco. The healing power of crystals. However embarrassed you were of your mother, I assure you that it paled next to my own apoplexy.

My god, the self-help books. That's all there was to read in my house. Those, and Prevention magazine. There was relatively mainstream stuff like Jonathan Livingston Seagull, but Mom gravitated toward mystical stuff like The Psychic Side of Sports.

She had no interest in sports.

For one Christmas, I agonized over what to get Mom. I was in the bookstore, and I sarcastically thought "I could just go to the freaking Self Help section, pick a book at random, and she'll love it." And then I realized this cynical theory simply must be tested. I walked to the section. I closed my eyes, twirled and pointed. Thud.

"DEATH" said the huge yellow letters on the book's black cover.

"Jeeeeeeeezus. That's one tough sell to someone with cancer," I thought. "Talk about the acid test." And thus, on Christmas morning Mom unwrapped this treatise on the implications of an afterlife.

Within days, she was excitedly recommending it to her friends.

This is just about the sexiest thing ever. Or maybe that's just me.

ring.PNG

great moments in mentoring

My adoring young protege Darcy sent me this yesterday:

You're not in a King county detention facility, are you? I keep getting collect calls, and the name is really muffled. Sounds a little like "John".

the gift that just keeps giving

My former student Courtney is from my neck of the woods, and over lunch a while back, I'd lamented how most of my friends are 90 minutes away. A month later, she said she'd achieved a critical mass of people who couldn't stand Seattle pizza, and would I consent to teaching a cooking class?

Transparent, but appreciated. And so I taught this half dozen people how to prepare New York style pizza.

Courtney is some sort of genius. The intervening months have been a litany of invitations to come over for pizza. This is like a dream I had once.

minding manners

My phone rings. I see it's Dorkass.

"Hello?" I say.

"Uh. It's Dorkass."

"I can see that. Your photo is on my phone."

"Well, you didn't answer like you normally do, yelling that I'm a dork."

"I'm in a nice restaurant."

"Ah. That explains the politeness."

what friends are for

A sequel to this post.

When Susan wrote me months later to tell me that she'd broken up with Jake, read receipts were in their infancy. (A read receipt is an option that a mail sender can select so that she's notified whenever an email is opened.) Wary, I looked at her email in my Inbox and didn't open it. Dorkass and I sat behind my computer, speculating about what it contained. "Oh, just open it! I wanna know what it says!" she said.

"I think I'll just delete it," I replied.

And then she lunged at my keyboard and hit ENTER, opening the email and triggering the read receipt. Bitch.

c cups

"I'm a c-cup, so there's no way I could even fit into that!" boasted the 38 year-old surfboard, to the silent astonishment of all the men present. It was the second time that week she'd mentioned being a c-cup.

Um, women know their breast size is readily apparent, right?

coyote ugly

You know how married couples will argue in front of you, and you would chew your own leg off in order to extricate yourself from that particular trap? Last week will forever (please god) set my personal gold standard for that feeling.

This couple chose the occasion of my visit to address whether or not they should have aborted their three year old daughter. When the sentence "I would have gotten an abortion if you'd asked me to!" was uttered, the daughter was sitting on my lap.

I wanted to claw open my own carotid artery.

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