October 2016 Archives

fashion statement

This morning I left the house wearing one red sneaker and one black. This was not on purpose. As I rolled my eyes at my now-serial capacity for leaving the house in an embarrassing state, I wondered if mismatched shoes would ever become a fashion statement. We do weird things for fashion. Expensive jeans come with pre-tattered holes. Every square inch of facial real estate has been pierced or tattooed. People wear socks with sandals. In that context, wearing two different shoes seems a plausible choice. The zit cream? Not so much.

pretty fly

Without a doubt, one of the best parts of living in Pittsburgh is my return to what I call "Black World." A definition is elusive, but I know that Columbus and Pittsburgh are in it and the whole of the Pacific Northwest is not.

"In Seattle," d'Andre once observed, "Even the brothers are whiny white guys."

It is where I am from. It's somehow in my DNA. And now I've returned to this land where the word "diversity" never seems to come up in conversation, possibly because we're too busy actually being diverse. I don't think of it very often, but every once in a while, something slaps me into perspective. Like when a Seattle person corrects my use of the term black.

"So last night, I was in a black bar on R&B night, and the band played Sara fuckin' Smile..."

"Is that unusual in an African-American establishment?" Seattle white chick replied haughtily.

Two decades of my life with these people.

That night in the African-American establishment, the owner greeted me by slapping my back. "Hey, man. Good to see you. Still crusading against Hall & Oates?"

"Damn straight."

He laughed and added that on that particular night, I was "lookin' fly."

Affirmation from the coolest brother in town. I don't care if he was pandering to his customer. In my mind, I've already framed this compliment.

I texted the story to Allie. "What's 'fly' mean?" came the response.

Two decades of my life with these people.

full venkman

I'd like to express my gratitude to all who saw me walking around this morning with a huge glob of white zit cream on my head and didn't say anything. That was one fun mirror moment.

Coated-simulated-marshmallow-Harold-Ramis-Dan-Aykroyd-Bill.jpg

left eyeball, twitching

In my dotage, I became a snorer. When snoring came, it was otherworldly. I hear. I do not know this first-hand. Indeed, I'm not a whiner, so I slept peaceably through it, without complaint. But the Approval Whore, Sarah, Bubbas 1 and 2, Dirt Glazowski, and others pointedly complained.

Pussies.

By the first time Sarah and I overnighted together, I knew exactly what to expect. I could recite our impending morning conversation from memory. "Here, put these in," I said, handing her earplugs. Love in her eyes, she laughed and said that wouldn't be necessary. The next morning, her eyes shone with another feeling altogether. Her right eyeball was twitching from all the murderousness.

"John, I've never heard anything like that," she said, shaking her head gravely. "I thought you were dying. You, like, would stop breathing and then gasp for air like you were being waterboarded. You need to see a doctor."

"Bitch, bitch, bitch," I replied.

Eventually it started to shatter my health. I never slept for longer than two hours, and usually much less. I was exhausted all of the time. At the grocery store, I would sit at the blood pressure machine just to catch my breath. I was sickly yet bloated. Edema set in, swelling all my extremities except for the one you'd want. My skin developed sores, permanently scarring my shins. I would nod off at my desk. I had a cough for two years. My cognitive functions declined precipitously.

"If you don't get a sleep study done," my doctor told me, "Don't come back here."

Whiner.

On a whim completely unrelated to the mounting criticism, I got a sleep study done. I was on the ferry home when the sleep doctor called me. "Come back," he said. "I don't want you going another night without a CPAP machine." Back at the office, he showed me a chart on which his thousands of patients were plotted. "You are not on this chart," he said. "Because you do not fit on it. Your case is the worst I've ever seen out of over 11,000."

Finally! After a lifetime of mediocrity, I'm #1.

He gave me my CPAP machine and a plea. "People hate them at first, but please stick with it. You literally can't live without it."

I strapped on the Alien face-hugger at 9:30 that night. I woke up at 4:15 the next day. That would be 4:15 PM. I had slept through an entire work day, including client meetings. Did co-workers Amy and Katrina panic? Did they care? Did they even notice? No, they did not. But I digress.

The CPAP had miraculous and immediate affects. The nagging cough disappeared straight away and never returned. My mind was much sharper. My energy was vastly up; I would no longer drive past the grocery store if a premium parking space were unavailable. My extremities halved in size. Indeed, I experienced 60 pounds of water-loss in a month. And of course, I was no longer passing out. I used to wake up at my desk, my hands still on the keyboard, and on the screen would be thousands of lower-case Qs.

No more.

It's three years later, and I'm healthy as can be. Even my hearing is perfect.

This is lamentable, for Fredo has become a snorer extraordinaire. He stalks me around the house, plopping his carcass next to me and letting it tear. His guttural lung-ripping is the background noise of my life. He's slowly driving me insane. I'm annoyed by this obvious karmic payback. There are a lot of people out there now entitled to call me a whiner.

But most of all, I’m annoyed by how much the little goldbrick sleeps.

they should have fucking bells on their collars

Last night, I was reminded of why I moved to Pittsburgh in the first place. I had a glorious three-hour long conversation with two strangers very much unlike myself. Dan is a 40ish Jewish dude with fistfuls of degrees, and he teaches kids with autism. Robert is a 65ish black dude, a grandfather, and a pastor. And then there's me, a pointless blob.

We talked about parenting, about autism, about the role of religion in politics, about the first times we encountered racism and antisemitism, about the causes of the Trump phenomenon, about how Hillary wants to kill lots of babies (Robert brought that one up), and about what an obvious pussy Donald "I'm very very tough!!!" Trump is (me). And then we talked about our occupations.

"You're a pastor?!" I winced. "Shit. How many f-bombs have I dropped tonight?"

Pastor Robert waved his hand graciously. "Don't worry about it."

"A lot," Dan said, eyes wide.

pearls from a carpet-cleaner

Thanks to the magical deuce that has come to define my October, the rug-cleaning guy returned yesterday. For those keeping score at home, Fredo's indiscretion has now cost me $1370.

I hired this guy because he's the only cleaner I found who uses the right equipment. But like a lot of solitary contractors, he's lonesome, and I hesitated to bring him back just because it's impossible to disengage with him. But I would suffer through it in the name of not smelling poo.

I told him the situation. Instead of finding the humor in it, he saw an opportunity. "Might I make a suggestion?" he said with an import appropriate if he were saying "Buy Apple stock" in 2002.

"Crate the dog?"

"No, no, no." He pointed to the stairs that lead to the room in question. "A gate."

He even made a little swinging gate gesture with his hands so that my feeble mind might grasp the concept.

"Well...yeah. But then he's just trapped with the carpets upstairs."

"It's just a suggestion!" he said, hands up. He certainly hadn't meant to so overtly insult my lowly intelligence, his body language said.

As he took his check, he couldn't resist another attempt at condescension. "So, you know your lesson here? Don't use a Roomba. Roombas and dogs don't mix."

"Right. Or just turn off the automatic cleaning. Which I did."

"Whatever, fine, more work for me." The evidence of my stupidity was overwhelming.

I will never understand this blue-collar impulse to condescend to customers in their own home, but you know who's never once done it to me?

Women.

thinking with the wrong organ again

We had just returned from a long car trip. As I danced on my toes and implored Fredo to pick a shrub and get on with it already, I got to wondering. Why is it okay for my dog to relieve himself in plain view, but not for the person who actually owns the shrub in question? It's a world gone mad.

epilogue

The lesson I took from Fredo's fateful deuce was that I was stressing my dog out. I've made a point to cuddle him during the week since. Yes, cuddle him. While lying on the floor. Yes, that floor. For hours.

scraping bottoms

I now long for those sweet, innocent times when my dog Fredo eating my credit cards and $350 in cash was the worst thing he ever did to me.

Let's consider his year for a moment. His sister and entire world died in the spring. In an effort to cheer him up, I took him to the dog park, where he was viciously attacked by a pack of dogs, one of whom punctured his chest nearly to the lung cavity, resulting in terror, pain, and several weeks in a cone. Then I moved him across country. Then I spent every day getting fucked by the new house and town, making me angry and edgy and vibrating with stress. Last week, Fredo had enough. He stress-pooped in the basement bar area. I discovered this only after having tracked it around a bit.

"I want to kill you," I cooed pleasantly up the stairs, where Fredo was hiding from me. Several hours later, I was using a rental steamer and several gallons of Nature's Miracle to clean everywhere he'd pooped and I'd walked. The next evening, I could swear I still smelled it. Ditto a week later.

Would I really have to pay that guy to clean my carpet a third time in three months? Or could I just live with the smell, my house's odor now befitting the structure itself?

I got my answer when I went to clean my Roomba, one of those robotic vacuum cleaners. It was caked in dried poop and moist insects. Yes, Fredo had dropped that deuce during the one hour a week the Roomba is set to run, and yes, it "cleaned" my carpeting by smearing fresh dog poop all over every square inch of it. Here's a photo for the morbidly curious.

Having officially bottomed out, I'm looking forward to the ascent.

about 1:1

He was easily the best looking man I've ever seen in Pittsburgh. When I round a corner, spot a dude, and snap to a stop as though a rope were tied to my neck, you know it's a pretty great looking guy. 6'5", 250 pounds of muscle, blond hair, and dimples.

Based on no other information than that, I asked Risa "Is that Aimee's husband?"

Yep. What are the odds?

the eddie effect

Newly minted trophy wife Aimee was passing around her wedding photos. Among them were some bathing suit pics that very proudly featured her perfect butt. "There's no cellulite on that thing," she pointed out light-heartedly. "I worked hard for that."

"And I wanna thank you," cooed Eddie, not looking up. Aimee giggled and swooned.

That is the Eddie Effect. Women find the guy irresistible. He's decent looking, but the interest he generates exceeds his aesthetic merits. Women find him charming. Hell, I do too. We all do.

"I want what you've got," I said to him after she left. "If I said that line, I'd get a drink in my face."

"It's all in the delivery," he offered. He even said that smoothly. His every word is warm butter. Christ.

As I drove home, I practiced channeling Eddie. "And I wanna thank you. And I wanna thank you. And I wanna thank you." Ugh. Each attempt was creepier than the last. On the charm scale, I never really exceeded Drunk Molester Uncle at a Wedding.

spade! spade!

Yesterday I spotted a beautiful woman from afar. As she walked toward me, the first thing I noticed, of course, was the long brown ponytail. Then I noticed her be-spandexed goddess-like physique. Then I noticed that she was dripping with diamonds. Never a fan of the spandex and diamonds crowd, I disliked her by the time she plopped in the chair next to me. My mortal enemy.

"Hi! I'm Aimee!" she said, shaking my hand.

Aimee was bubbly and charming, but she was clearly a trophy wife who'd never worked a day in her life. Being hot is her sole occupation. She does it well, and she is handsomely compensated for it. I later learned that she's a former Miss Pennsylvania. But as I said, she's actually very kind and affable, so eh, live and let live. Within five minutes of meeting her, I was looking at the photos from her recent wedding and pretending I was riveted.

I asked her about married life, and she was shockingly frank about her insecurities. She doubts her ability to be a good enough wife to keep her husband. The odd phrasing is hers. Maybe I'm a sucker for the honestly, but I felt sorry for her. Then she cut to the chase.

"What I'm most worried about is that someday, he'll trade me in. You know, for the proverbial younger model? Like, when I'm in my 50s or 60s?"

What do you say when you're thinking "That doesn't seem unlikely"?

I said nothing.

"But hopefully I'll have substance by then," she sighed, absolutely not making a joke.

It was insensitive of me to explode in laughter, right?

backlashers

I haven't written about the anthem protests because, well, they don't much matter to me. Prior to Colin Kaepernick sitting down, all I really knew about the guy was that he sucked at his job. But hey, if he wants to use his platform to protest police shooting unarmed black men, more power to him. I'm not sure what the exit strategy is—you're going to protest until racial inequities go away?—but that's his problem to hash out, not mine. Whether or not I agree with his chosen medium, he's just exercising his rights. Peaceful protest is as American an ideal as apple pie and cops shooting unarmed black men.

I find the backlash much more concerning than the protests. People shriek about disrespect to the flag, military and war dead, projecting hyperbolic nonsense upon the protesters' clearly explained, very narrow agenda. As soon as I see one person attempt to recast the motives of another, I reflexively ally with the other.

The backlashers make me uncomfortable for several reasons.

  1. They make me defend a simpleton who kisses his own bicep.
  2. They seem to think that acts of patriotism should be compulsory, as if that's not the pathetic opposite of patriotism.
  3. They are stunningly more shrill about this wholly invented controversy than they are about cops shooting very real unarmed men.

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