October 2010 Archives

well, er, there is that

Immediately after I wrote the below post—gosh, bitching about the opposite gender is fun!—I fired up my Twitter client and saw this.

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finesse-ese, part deux

Sorry for the slow posting. Busy week. Much gnashing of teeth clenching ethernet cables.

• • •

The ugly underside to the type of woman I wrote about yesterday, she who toils to project a self-serving reality distortion field, is that she invariably thinks everyone else operates that way, too. She simply will not take another person's word for anything. She can't. She's always parsing for subtext.

What you think: "I need about eight years in the hot tub."

What you say: "I need some quiet time to decompress."

What she hears: "There's someone else."

What you think: "I bet she'd love this band."

What you say: "If you're not doing anything Wednesday night, I'd love to take you to this concert."

What she hears: "I'm going to make sure I control what you do Wednesday night. And put you in my debt."

And so on. If you're like me and you can barely articulate a simple, declarative sentence with one meaning, it's positively baffling to later be told about your intricate layers of Machiavellian legerdemain.

Sometimes I wish I were that complex. Maybe it would help to speak the language.

finesse-ese

There's a good reason I shrugged at Darcy's grand announcement. I'd figured it out a month ago, from things said and unsaid.

She is a protege, not a love interest, but our relationship still has artifacts of male/female fuckedupedness. (By which I mean "entirely female fuckedupedness." I was just trying to feign fairness. But screw fairness. Guys simply don't do this to me.)

Perhaps it's our fault for perpetuating the "obtuse dumb guy" stereotype. For whatever reason, my life has been a succession of women trying to control my perceptions. An awkward evasion here, a lie buttressed with half-truths there, a slathering of omissions, roll liberally in irrelevant anecdote, two dashes of spin, and voila! John perceives the reality that I want him to perceive!

Except that he doesn't. He might not know exactly what's going on, but it's a fair bet that he's noticed he's being managed. It's a special kind of hubris to think that you're so clever, you can finesse someone's perception of reality. That they will unquestioningly buy whatever cockamamie, nonsensical story you peddle. It is, in my experience, a hubris most often exhibited by five year olds and women.

In Darcy's case, I'm disappointed, but ultimately if she can't be straight with me, I'll lose interest in our friendship, and it'll just wither naturally. It's not like she's unusual in doing this. Like with co-workers, friends, neighbors and strangers, I internally note it—really?—but never say anything.

But when it's a love interest doing this, my attention is fully seized. Here's a primer for young men entering into a relationship with this sort of woman.

What she says Translated into Finesse-ese
Ummm, yeah, that might be fun... I already have plans with another guy but can't think of a lie on the fly. I'll get back to you.
Stan, the dishwasher at work, said... I am about to fuck Stan.

(Clue: whenever a guy's full name is an explanation of the relationship, you're in trouble. "Craig, who I consider a new friend," "Lance, my neighbor's brother," etc.)
(Stan abruptly disappears from her stories)

I fucked Stan this morning.

I'll order a gin and tonic I am so in love with Stan, I'm ordering his drink of choice.
Is that what you're wearing? I am officially comparison-shopping you and Stan.
Have you thought about dress-shoes? Would it kill you to dress more like him?
I'm pretty sure Bob cheated on me I definitely cheated on him
Bob definitely cheated on me After finding out about Stan, Bob broke up with me and was dating someone else within 120 days.
Bob frightened me When he discovered me boning my co-worker, Bob yelled at me
Bob was emotionally abusive When he discovered me boning my co-worker, Bob cried
Bob neglected me In terms of sheer volume, he couldn't compete with the collective attentions the other 3.3 billion men in the world shower upon me
Bob was controlling Bob suspected that I wasn't being truthful and asked about it
Bob was creepy He proved that I was lying
Stan is a coward Stan wouldn't leave his wife for me.
I wouldn't say that Bob cheated, exactly... I am having sex with Bob again, and I've got loads of lies to mitigate.

wakeup call

I awoke this morning to a phone call from young Darcy.

Oh shit, I thought as I sleepily looked at who was calling at that hour.

"Hi!" she said cheerfully.

Oh shit! I am so not sending her any cash!

"So....I have something to tell you that you're not going to like," she said, not 10 seconds into the call.

Oh shit! She's pregnant! Or she's workin' the pole. Or possibly she's pregnant while workin' the pole.

"Yes..?" I managed weakly.

Turns out she's once again dating the douche who used her a few months back but who wouldn't leave his girlfriend for her but who, now that said girlfriend has dumped him, is stunningly available. I contemplated this as much as I could muster.

"Whoa!" she said nervously. "I was ready for anything from you other than complete silence! What does silence mean?"

Not caring, mostly. But how to best say that?

"Not caring, mostly."

Turns out that wasn't how to best say that.

modern family steps in it again

On Modern Family this week, they once again failed to show Ed O'Neill's character making out with his young wife. The avoidance reached a conspicuous low when they showed the two of them on a bed together. Whereas he reclined normally, she sat upright chastely, one foot on the ground, her back slightly to him.

That is an outrage. It's well past time we saw these two macking, but no, the producers are spineless corporate drones afraid of upsetting anyone's delicate sensibilities. That's ridiculous to me. I don't understand it. As a sometimes-dater of younger women, I demand unremitting validation in my entertainment.

Meanwhile, we saw Julie Bowen's character whack her husband on the back of the head with a kitchen utensil, but is there equivalent violence in her gay brother's relationship? No! Utter nonsense. In the name of justice, let Mitchell knock Cameron's teeth out.

ginny tonic

In the week since I read about Clarence Thomas' wife for the first time, she is now in the news again, offering Anita Hill the "olive branch" of demanding an apology from her.

In unrelated news, I'm offering Al Qaeda the olive branch of them chugging cyanide-flavored Kool Aid.

In response to my original post, several of you wrote "they're simply nuts," which, okay, is a viable explanation. But it also occurs to me that a week ago, I'd never known nor cared that Clarence Thomas was married. Now his wife is doing a media tour and picking fights. This isn't mere insanity. This is calculated attention-whoring. But why?

awesomeness

Yesterday I got hate mail from both feminists and...what to call them...rapist apologists.

I love me a good Stank hat trick.

i'll grant this to roethlisberger

He tore up the Browns' defense like it was an incapacitated co-ed.

i shall drop f-bombs when we toast sue

When I was in grad school, Sue's husband succumbed to cancer. Phil and I went to his funeral. We wore black. We were solemn. We didn't swear when we comforted the grieving widow. She seemed touched that we came. And then we left.

Lost in our thoughts, we quietly drove back to the school. I finally broke the silence.

"What's the tasteful amount of time before we discuss how hot Sue's daughter is?"

"FUCK, it's hard to believe that goddess is related to Sue," Phil replied.

It was on. Figuring that neither of us stood a chance, we wished each other luck. A month later, we were reading Sue's newspaper when she lamented her daughter Kate's lack of direction in life.

"Yeah. Say, is she single?" Phil asked.

"NO WRITERS!" Sue snorted. Something about working with writers all day had given Sue the impression that they're unemployable, dithering narcissists.

This refrain would be repeated many times over the years. Whenever Sue would lament my singleness, I would remind her that she had a daughter my age.

"NO WRITERS."

She meant it. Sue went to lengths to ensure that Kate and I never met. Sue badly wanted to see me get married, and she badly wanted for Kate to get married, but she definitely wasn't thinking terms of conserving stones.

"Kate is visiting next weekend. I hope she doesn't bring her stupid dog," Sue would say.

"Hey, I'm going to be in Spok—"

"NO."

Kate went on to marry a doctor who owns and flies his own plane, whom I assume made bar. I was not invited to the wedding. I was pretty sure that Kate had no idea who I was.

Two days after Sue died, Kate called me. She wanted to see how I was doing, which is a coincidence, as I'd been wondering the same thing about her. She addressed me by my last name, like her mother did. And we traded funny stories about her mom. We set up a dinner in Spokane next month.

"You're paying," she said. "Isn't that what my mom would have said?"

"Yes. But if you really want to invoke your mother's memory fully, you'll then complain about how much I spent on the meal you made me buy."

So Brett Favre allegedly sent photos of his junk to a Jets employee. As with Roethlisberger and Woods before him (after, actually), I am amazed by the hubris of the professional athlete. How they expect not to be caught in the age of digital media and TMZ, I cannot fathom.

And again, we have an athlete not denying a repugnant accusation. And again, I find myself saying "I'd really like to hear you deny this, Brett. Any denial will do."

Hm. Turns out this street name is pretty funny.

9a9f2569d97c49b9a0641142672f63a6.jpg

Was it really eight years ago that I railed about sideline bimbettes? Wow. Anyway, there's my bias. I'm declaring it. The networks and the NFL shove way too many implants at me for my comfort. Much as the commercials for Viagra, Girls Gone Wild, and
psychics make me second-guess myself for watching Comedy Central, young girls grinding their crotches on a camera lens make me feel moronic for watching football. I want them gone. I would like my sex and my football served separately, thank you.

With this bias on the table, here's the sequence of events. When I heard that the Jets players harassed a sideline reporter, I quickly googled her. I found exactly what I expected.

ines-sainz-New-York-Jets.jpg

It's at this point that someone is composing an angry "so was she ASKING to be hit on?" email.

Yes. Yes she was. Shut up.

Mere weeks later, the Jets are in the news again, this time for something that may have happened two years ago. Brett Favre is accused of sending sexts and obscene photos to a Jets-employed reporter. Again, I cut to the chase and went straight to Google Images. Here's Jenn Sterger in her college gig, then when she took her talents to the pros. (Playboy spread not included.)

jenn_sterger_fsu.jpg

But John, you say, does this mean she was ASKING for Favre to sext her? Well, no. She wasn't exactly discouraging it, but she does have a right to make a living, however skanky, without co-workers sending photos of their wangs. Call me old fashioned. If he's guilty, Favre deserves what he gets.

Know who isn't innocent? The Jets, for hiring someone whose sole professional purpose is for her to be objectified. The media, for employing and glorifying silicone quarries. The very same media clucking at Favre now, in fact. They are complicit in these scandals and, in fact, I blame them more than the women or even the athletes. After all, if I leave a steak within my dog's reach, I don't blame the steak or the dog when she leaps on it.

• • •

What's funnier, Jenn Sterger's Wikipedia entry...

Sterger rose to fame after she was shown on national television during a 2005 Florida State–Miami football game. On seeing the shot, announcer Brent Musburger commented that "1,500 red-blooded Americans just decided to apply to Florida State." She was one of the FSU Cowgirls, who are known for their combination of minimal tops, short shorts, and cowboy hats. She has since posed in both Maxim and Playboy magazines. Sterger is also the "Sports Babe" for Sprint Exclusive Entertainment. Sterger was featured on the E!: Entertainment Television show Byte Me: 20 Hottest Women of the Web that originally aired in March 2008, where she was #19 on their list.

In 2009, Sterger had her breast implants removed, stating that they had served their purpose for her career, and that she was tired of being stereotyped.

...or "professional journalist" Sterger's melodious prose?

Sometimes I forget that people actually read this stuff. No, make that.. most times I do. Because I've never had to write for anyone but random English teachers or college lit. professors. They'd simply skim the surface; check my grammar, punctuation, spelling, sentence structure... And give me some subjective grade and send me on my way. The paper? Never to be seen again. And the grade? Well, believe me, after the cowgirl thing began at Florida State, and it became harder for me to blend in, the grades got extremely subjective.

But one English teacher stands out in my mind. He was a tiny little man, with fiery red hair and beady little eyes that narrowed at me from behind his frameless glasses that told me "Don't ever do anything that involves writing. Ever. You're terrible at it." Harsh words to say to the youth of America that looks to their teachers for inspiration.

God bless him for trying.

looney tunes

Yesterday I read about Clarence Thomas' wife.

I pause to let you contemplate just how much I didn't want to leave the hot tub if I read an article about Clarence Thomas' wife.

She's a Tea Party enthusiast. Excerpt:

Thomas bantered with Hannity about the "tyranny" President Barack Obama and his party are inflicting on the country. Then Thomas, who had recently launched a nonprofit called Liberty Central, sounded a dire warning. "We are in a fight for our country's life," she said. "We've all got to do whatever we can." Channeling Tea Party rhetoric, she called on conservative voters to give money, sign petitions, and, in November, overthrow those who are turning "citizens" into "subjects."

It was at this point that I set the magazine down and considered what she'd said. I carefully deconstructed her arguments into syllogisms. And there was no escaping it: I have no idea what these people are talking about.

It isn't for lack of trying. When left-wing looney tunes called Bush a "Nazi," I'd figured it was because under his administration, civil liberties were curtailed and countries were invaded. Theirs was a hyperbolic charge fueled by contempt, but at least there was a broken stub of a nail on which I could hang some logic.

Obama a tyrant? Me his subject? Huh? I'm at a loss. I look at his policies, and I look at their charges, and I cannot see a connection, not even if I look through the lens of paranoid schizophrenia. When my schizophrenic sister makes a wild accusation, after all, I can still understand her underlying logic.

But Tea Partiers? Their logic is sliding down the wall and lying in a heap on my floor.

last man buried

At this writing, 15 of the 33 Chilean miners have been sealed in a tube and hoisted thousands of feet to freedom. The tube's round trip takes about 40 minutes. Something about this single-file process just occurred to me.

Someone's got to be last.

What will those 40 minutes be like? Trapped 2300 feet below ground, utterly alone, where for months you at least had the company of 32 other men? Every pebble tumbling down the rescue shaft will probably sound like an avalanche.

piling on

My new neighbors decided that their display over the football games required an encore. They asked me if I played poker. Warily, I said yes. "Good," they replied. But then one cautioned, "We're very serious poker players."

The implication was clear. If I'm a poseur, I shouldn't sit down with them.

Suspecting the answer before I asked the question, I asked "So does that mean you don't play just no-limit hold-em?"

"Huh?"

An hour later, we're playing just no-limit hold-em. "As seen on TV!!" I hear in my head, as I silently grieve for the poker rooms of yore.

"Wait. Does the big blind or small blind bet first?" asks the Very Serious Player.

weeping myna bird flu

My friends have an autistic five-year old daughter. I'm not talking about "slightly autistic," with air quotes, which modern parents so often use as code for "my kid's fucking stupid." I'm talking Autism. She has zero sense of personal danger. She's obsessive about being in control of her environment and everything being just so. When she can focus on you, which is rare, she understands little. She can mimic sentences but not form them. This is heartbreaking to watch, but one of its manifestations is actually pretty cute.

She will trip and fall down, banging her head. With tears streaming down her face the child will ask her hovering mother, "Are you okay? Are you okay? (sob) Are you okay?"

The child knows that's what's usually asked on this occasion. She just doesn't know why. Or by whom. She is a weeping myna bird.

• • •

Which brings us to Seattle sports fans. From my perspective, they have exactly the same affliction. Not autism—weeping myna bird flu. They kinda know the words, but they do not understand them.

I am not talking, of course, about all sports fans in Seattle. Take Katrina. She's been a long-suffering Seahawks fan since before we met. She's knowledgeable. She gets irrationally happy and depressed based on whether her millionaires outscored your millionaires. She doesn't give a crap about what you think of her fandom, because it simply is.

She is not who I'm writing about. No, I'm just wishing she had better fellow fans with whom to celebrate and commiserate.

220px-Baliespreeuw.jpgMy new neighbors and their friends—huge, huge, HUGE football fans—are much more typical of this area. They certainly cheer with enough exclamation points. They love the Washington Huskies! Boooo Washington State!! They hate them!!!

"We hate Wazzu!!!!" said one to me, as a confidential aside, as if I hadn't gathered from the booing and cursing of Wazzu's every mention.

I raised an eyebrow. I've lived in this state for 18 years, and Wazzu hasn't done a thing to me or for me. I rarely think about them. "What's to hate about Wazzu?"

"Well, she explained patiently to the philistine. "They're our big rivals!"

"Our? So you went to UW?" No. No one had. In fact, none of these people had even set foot in Washington until a couple years ago. They all have home states and alma maters. They couldn't have been less interested in what Stanford and Tennessee were doing, though.

They were too busy whooping and hollering and theatrically toasting one another in my living room. I twice asked what the down and distance was, and no one knew. I didn't ask, but I am certain none of them could have named three of "their" Husky players. They were too busy playing make-believe. They were too busy imitating beer commercials.

"We hate Wazzu!" she said.

"Are you okay?" I heard.

When I uploaded the Percy tribute to YouTube, they had me enter a value for "tags." Not knowing how they would manifest, I entered simply "Percy." The result? When I played the video, YouTube placed Percy-themed ads overtop. For instance, they hawked Vikings tickets because of Vikings player Percy Harvin.

"I can do so much better than this," I said.

It took a couple days, but finally the new tags went into effect.

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great reads: the kill whitey study

Would it be moral to sacrifice one life to save several?

I remember these f-u questions from Philosophy 101 class. I also remember being quite alone in my eagerness to throw grandpa under the out-of-control bus in order to save 30 children from certain death. "But John, what if it was your grandpa?" my teacher asked, trying to trap me.

"Easy. He's dead as a carp."

"Yes. Well. But what if he were alive?"

"Even better. Can we get more busses? He was a miserable asshole. The kids are presumably still innocents."

greatreads.jpg"But..." The teacher was trying to get me to change my moral choice, to prove that my choice was a matter of preference and not ethics. He shouldn't have chosen to kill a relative, which I found both ethical and quite satisfying.

Now imagine if my teacher had trapped us differently. Would it be okay to sacrifice a man named Tyrone Payton in order to save the New York Philharmonic? How about offing Chip Ellsworth III in order to save the Harlem Jazz Orchestra? Oh, and are you a conservative or liberal?

Just such a study found that the suggestion of race changed people's moral choices. That our preference trumps any consistent set of ethics. Conservatives were more likely to chuck Tyrone than Chip, and liberals were their mirror image, preferring to off Chip over Tyrone.

Says the study's author: "The idea is not that people are or are not utilitarian; it's that they will cite being utilitarian when it behooves them. People aren't using these principles and then applying them. They arrive at a judgment and seek a principle."

But of course, we already knew that people are swine who retro-justify doing whatever they want. We just hadn't seen it quantified.

contrasts

chips.JPGSaturday night, I sat at what five days earlier was Percy's dining room table.

I got hammered, played poker, and watched lesbians dance.

I'm not sure what I was doing the last 416 Saturday nights, but I assure you that it was not that.

four firsts

My new neighbors moved in Wednesday night, and by noon Thursday, four unprecedented things had happened:

  1. I heard laughter next door. It jarred me. Not once in eight years had I heard that.
  2. I knocked on my neighbors' door.
  3. I was invited inside for a visit and offered a drink.
  4. I was invited to a BBQ this weekend.
I want to weep. Huge, wracking sobs.

"Look at you, being all social!" cooed Darcy. "Who are you?"

Now if only I could remember their names.

gender equality

Boy, was that anticlimactic.

And the runaway #1 peeve men have regarding women's hygiene is...the same one they have about us. Kinda makes you wonder who it is who isn't brushing their teeth. Transgenders, maybe.

For the most part, other biases mirrored my own. Unlike with women, dandruff didn't much register, and dirty clothes didn't get a blip at all. Greasy hair was a clear number two, and too much perfumey odor was right up there. Armpits, legs and mustaches, we didn't care much about.

The "letting you discover for yourself that it's her time of the month" option was the result of many write-ins. Many horrific write-ins. I shall share the most printable, from Stank troll Adam:

I've had this manifest as "hey, why is there a mouse tail, or maybe a kite string, coming out of your... oh." (best case) to "oh God, why do the sheets look like someone stabbed a hooker?" (worst case)
If I had a rooting interest, it was in "too much perfumey smell." If we're in a car together and I roll down my window to breathe, even in a downpour...this is what you're going for? Really? I'm not crying because I'm sensitive, you know.

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