Friday, December 30, 2005

The Obligatory New Year's Post

Aight, I've been putting this off, but it's now New Year's Eve Eve, and I doubt I'll be posting over the weekend.

Instead of shelling out mondo cash to go to a random bar/party for New Year's where I'll be alone and have no one to kiss anyway, I decided I would volunteer to help out at one of the parties (through a volunteer group I belong to), if for no other reason than the free admission to the party. And if I meet a cute boy or two, hey, bonus.

Like Kat,* I long ago swore off of new year's resolutions. I figure if there's anything about me that annoying enough that I want to change, why wait until an articifial time of the year to take action on it? No time like the present. Want to lose weight? It's okay to start dieting and exercising in December, or November, or whenever the hell you make that decision. Same with any other thing you want to do: be more patient, be less sarcastic, whatever other resolutions people tend to make.

Of course, I will probably start going back to the gym after the new year, (not as a New Years Resolution, the timing is just a coincidence) which places me square in amongst the ranks of the many who join as part of their new years plan, making January and February the worst times ever to try to work out. My plan is to start working out either at lunch or way late, like 8 or 9 pm.

In any event, Happy New Year, all.

* This is my first attempt at using the "trackback" feature I see on so many other people's blogs. Is it cool at all? I can't tell.

Insta-update: The answer to the above question: No. I had to change the link so it actually didn't look retarded.

Oops, I Did It Again

An open letter:

Dear Guy I Just Accidentally Stalked:

So either you've already realized it, or you're reading this thinking "Huh?" and only later on you'll finally realize that this letter is meant for you, but I'm just writing this here, in an open forum, to say sorry for accidentally cyberstalking you just now.

Suddenly, after spending about 10 minutes (really, it wasn't that hard) on a certain web site which shall remain nameless, I realized that once I clicked on your page, you'd be able to see that I'd found you. I was just curious to see what was on your page. Really!

It didn't seem like a big deal when I was doing it, but only afterwards did I suddenly realize how freaky it would look once you noticed. So, like, uh, sorry.

I promise I'm not some axe murderer or something. In fact, as you can tell from this blog, I'm quite a decent and fun guy. No (real-life) stalking for me. Besides, that's just too much work anyway.

But I'm still game for that drink or something next time I find myself in your city. I'll even be sure not to carry a pocket knife or anything around.


(okay, there's no "again" to this post, but then the title just wouldn't make sense without it.)

Wednesday, December 28, 2005


It still intrigues me the kinds of searches that people perform to reach this site. The most popular searches leading to this site have topped the list for as long as I can remember:

- Any search with "pronounce niciose" provides a hit to this blog. That Spelling Bee post has been racking up the hits ever since I anonymously verbally bitch-slapped that moron spelling bee chick.

- There's a huge number of people who search the lyrics to a particular Harvey Danger song ("Flagpole Sitta"), which ends up at this post. I'm reluctant to type up the search itself for fear that it'll just turn up on more searches.

- A lot of people are looking for the steps to a particular line dance. Unfortunately, I don't provide those steps. Heck, I've probably forgotten them already; it's been a while since I've been to the gay cowboy bar.

Most recently (and oddly), I got a hit off of someone asking the question: "When does the flashback come in the short story The Lottery?" I'd love to provide an answer to this question, but I don't know, even though I did just find The Lottery on line and re-read it (twice!) (last read it in the eighth grade). It's a fantastically-penned story but I, like the questioner, don't see anything in there that I would call a "flashback" in the classic sense of the word. Reminiscences by the characters, yes; "flashback," not so much. This is probably the kind of question that would have bugged the crap out of me in English class.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Express Yourself

I had drinks with some friends tonight. During the course of conversation, I happened to mention the MetroWeekly coverboy post I came up with back a few weeks ago.

I started talking about the substance of the post, when my friend P. interrupted me: "Did you talk about how no one cared about how he graduated from Princeton because he's hot?"

I was taken aback. "Yes," I said, "that's my blog!" Then I added (from utter fear): "Tell me you don't read my blog!" (I have issues about my friends reading my blog.)

Apparently P. doesn't really read my blog so much as he noticed it by accident on the one day he happened to pick up the Washington Post Express.

Yes, that's right: I was quoted in the Washington Post Express! If I knew how to copy the document and call it out on this post, I totally would.

I didn't even know it until P. pointed it out to me, but hellz yeah, bitches, I was quoted in the Express!

If anyone wants it, I've saved the PDF of that day's Express, and I can email it to you.

It's truly sad when I can say that this is among the coolest accomplishments of my life.

And it's even worse that one of the downsides of wanting to keep your blog semi-private (i.e., away from your real-life friends) is that you can't really brag to them about how excited you are when your blog is mentioned in the Express.

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

Even though it's entirely accurate to say it, I'm going to say it anyway: The holidays kinda snuck up on me this year.

Last year, I finished and mailed my holiday cards on December 23. This year I didn't even bother to try. No one got a card from me this year. I've even been so bad as to neglect to send cards to people from whom I've received cards. Yet for some reason, I don't think anyone's mourning the fact that no cards with my signature on them have been sent.

Last year, I looked forward to a ski trip over the new year. It got aborted. I was bummed. This year I don't have that kind of event to look forward to. Basically, I'm taking Monday off from work, and returning to the office on Tuesday.

Even though the crass commercialism associated with Christmas set in, as always, just before Thanksgiving, somehow I let most of the month of December piss away without taking any steps toward Christmas responsibilities. Yesterday I mailed off two of the only three gifts I intend to send off for this season. (One of them isn't even a Christmas gift; it's a New Baby Girl gift for a couple whose daughter was born several months ago. I've only just gotten around to putting the stuff in a box and sending them off. No, the gifts are not clothes that she's already grown out of as I held on to them.)

And the worst sign of all that Christmas totally snuck up on me: the blogs I read most often are already starting to put up their "happy holidays, I'm taking a few days off" posts. Wow, it's here already, and I'm wholly unprepared. Again, last year, that was me (albeit over New Years rather than Christmas). This year, not so much.

Not that I have any reason to complain, of course. The primary reason I'm not prepared for Christmas is that I'm all excited for a mid-January getaway. It was cheaper then, so I saved my vaca-away-from-the-office time for the MLK weekend. More about that later. And if anyone wants to buy me a digital camera (>5 MP, >3x optical zoom, memory card slot preferred) for my trip so that I can post pictures about it, please contact me so I can give you an address to ship it to (email link in the upper right corner of this page).

So with that, I leave with you my very own Happy Holidays post. Safe travels to those of you leaving your primary residence and many happy returns.

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Flashback, Part 6: Full Circle

Flashback, A Short Story in Six Parts

[Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5]

Part 6: Full Circle

A few weeks later, he and Peter would exchange IMs, including a few wherein Peter would ask about Nick. Having substantially calmed down, he would simply tell Peter that he did not plan on calling Nick again, and that was that. (Peter would be one of the many who raised the "but it's not like you were actually dating" argument.) Explanations soon became unimportant. Explanations would make him look stupid anyway (couldn't have that), so none would be forthcoming. Then again, if avoidance of the appearance of stupidity were the goal, anyone who had any knowledge of what happened at the club pretty much ensured that goal had failed. And seeing as it was wholly accurate that he and Nick were never "dating" to begin with, there really appeared little need to broadcast some sort of "split-up."

He and Peter met for happy hour one rainy evening after work. He got to the bar a little early and a little wet, and settled in with a Sierra Nevada. The weather had already slightly dampened his spirits; he supposed that was why, when Peter arrived, they weren't having as much fun at this happy hour as they normally would. They shot the shit about the weather, about their jobs, about Peter's boyfriend, and random stuff. And then:

"David and I are having a dinner party next week if you'd like to come."

"Oh, cool. Let me know the date and I'll see if I'm available."

"Okay, yeah. We'd love to have you. Uh... by the way, I suppose I should tell you that Nick is also invited and he'll probably be there."

He had forgotten that Peter had met Nick at his apartment during that pre-Pride party he had hosted before the dance club outing. They had gotten along famously and exchanged contact information.

"Ah," he responded, silently thanking The Powers That Be that he hadn't accepted the dinner invitation on the spot.

"You're not mad or anything, are you?"

"No," he replied. He really meant it this time, unlike the many untruths he had let fly at the club. "I'm not going to tell you who you can and cannot hang out with. You guys hit it off well, that's great. There is no fucking way I'm about to tell you that you aren't 'allowed' to hang out with someone just because I don't plan on calling him. I ain't the boss o' you."

For a second, he thought perhaps that sounded too level-headed, too rational. This, he knew, would translate into sounding too defensive, too obviously calculated to show how sane his response was. He silently cursed that perception, for even though he truly meant what he said, there was a great probability that his words sounded forced.

He meant it. He was not going to tell his friend that he was not allowed to make friends with another person. But that didn't mean he thought spending any more time in Nick's company would be a good idea. The point was to put Nick in his past. He knew it seemed childish to think it, but the fact was, he didn't want to do that to himself -- or to Peter's and David's guests.

He never made it to the dinner party.

After they left each other that night, he never saw Peter again.

Until a random night when he decided to go buy sushi for dinner at the local Whole Foods in lieu of cooking for himself.


Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Flashback, Part 5: The Exit

Flashback, A Short Story in Six Parts

[Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4]

Part 5: The Exit

Again fighting every base urge in his body, he tried his hardest to act like nothing was wrong. Amy and Lana had all but vanished in a puff of smoke; he bemusedly contemplated echoes of "Arriba! Arriba! Andale! Andale!" in their wake. Oh, shit, he thought, and heaved a deep sigh before Nick got close enough to hear it.

He grasped again at that thin vein of rational thought that implored him to gain control of the situation: "Be happy for him; it's not all about you; it's not a big deal." He struggled desperately to take hold of it, to smile, to be the magnanimous one, if only for the sake of outward appearances. Because the last thing he wanted in the world was to look bad. He was so fucking correct that way.

"Um, so you're taking off?" Nick asked. His voice was softer than usual. Strangely, this was both inappropriate (given the thumpa-thumpa-thumpa of the techno background music) and appropriate (in light of the perceived misstep he had just taken) at the same time.

"Yeah," he replied in exhale.

"... Well, should I come with you?" He was unsure of what to make of that question, but he didn't take the time to think through any of its strange implications. His first thought was that he has simply no desire to share a taxi with this guy for any period of time. His second is a sarcastic one: far be it from me to ruin your fun evening.

A third, much more fleeting thought passed through his head. He wondered if perhaps he had misinterpreted the dance floor scenario, and Nick was asking whether they were going to go home together. That thought was deemed so absurd that he savagely leapt on it, beat in its brains and removed its still-beating heart from its chest. For good measure, he took a bite out of the heart and spit it out on the beer-encrusted concrete floor.

"No," he scoffed, again trying to act as if nothing is the matter with him, despite the fact that, well, he had just scoffed. "Stay. Have fun."

"Are you ...?" Nick started the question, but he didn't finish it, even though no one had interrupted his opportunity to do so. One supposes that the actual adjective which would have finished that interrogatory was irrelevant by this point. He was something, that was for sure, even though he would never admit it.

"... I'm just gonna go now, okay?" he said. "Good night."

He turned around and left the club.

He never saw Nick again.

[Part 6]

Extendable Ears

It may not be Harry Potter-esque magic and wizardry, but the United States government has decided that it is perfectly acceptable to eavesdrop on the conversations of Americans in the name of its ongoing "war on terror."

Let's put aside for a moment how frightening -- how beyond Orwellian -- this concept is. Let's sweep aside for a moment the enormous implications on our civil liberties for a moment.

Let's pause for a moment, as the last few chords of This is Not America resonate and fade.

Just real quick, the point I want to make in this post is still more hypocrisy from these so-called "conservatives." Yes, "conservaties," the champions of the "if it's not explicitly in the Constitution, it's not a right," are once again invoking a right that's not in the Constitution.

According to this brief filed by then-Attorney General John Ashcroft (see Section III.A), the President is entitled to conduct warrantless wiretaps under constitutional authority. What does he cite as support? Is there a clause in the Constitution that reads, "The President as Commander-in-Chief shall have the authority to conduct warrantless wiretaps" (since it's the text of the Constitution we're supposed to be focusing on, of course)? No. Ashcroft cites to caselaw from the Third and Fourth Circuit Courts of Appeal, as well as the U.S. Supreme Court. Know what this means? By definition, since "wiretap" is not found in the Constitution at all (neither is "abortion"), the decisions in those cases are acts of judicial activism, which Republicans are so up-in-arms about. Those cases involve judges just making law, making up Presidential prerogatives out of whole cloth! How dare they! Oh wait, because they come out the way Republicans want them to, I guess it's okay.

It sickens me.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Flashback, Part 4: The Not-So-Jolly Green Giant

Flashback, A Short Story in Six Parts

[Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3]

Part 4: The Not-So-Jolly Green Giant

He did not stomp off of the dance floor (this was a deliberate effort of his part), but he did eventually take his leave, without advising Nick. Still trying (and failing) to assuage himself with platitudes like "That's just the breaks" and "You won't click with everyone you meet," he quickly realized they weren't helping in the least. He was getting upset. He needed to be alone.

He walked around the enormous building, not really caring whether Nick noticed his absence or not. But a small part of him must have cared, because he studiously avoided returning to the private back room. He knew that, if Nick wanted to find him, the wristband-access only private back room would be the first place he would check. In fact, his friends, with whom Nick had clicked so well, were likely to still be there. So he went instead to the outdoors back patio to get some air.

He remained there, in a relatively obscure area of the club (on a bridge leading to an upstairs patio area overlooking the more spacious outdoor dance area), for about an hour. In future re-tellings of this story, he likes to say that he was people-watching, but he knows that in reality, he wasn't. The large mass of people dancing below him shifted constantly; he noticed none of their faces or even their half-naked bodies. People constantly walked past him or behind him; they were meaningless to him, even when they physically bumped into him. He contemplated life.

The rejection had opened wounds for him. His contemplation only made it clear that Nick wasn't just shy, he just wasn't interested in dating him at all. Somehow, this relevation took on a life of its own; it extended beyond Nick; it took on global ramifications. It resurrected self-doubt and self-esteem issues which probably were never wholly buried to begin with. Suddenly, and once again, he ran head-first into the inescapable brick-wall conclusion that he was simply undateable, and that no gay man would ever be interested in him. Ever. He hit his stride at his own personal When Harry Met Sally moment: It's not that wasn't interested in dating. He wasn't interested in dating me.

As the weight of all his personal failings bore down on his shoulders, all as the result of one stupid dance floor incident, it was all he could do to keep from crying. In future years, he'll come to realize that songs about how great the dance floor is (I know a place where you can get away / It's called the Dance Floor / And here's what it's for) ring hollow for him, because the dance floor can apparently be a cold, heartless place.

(Gay men can be such drama queens.)

People will later express confusion about his reaction; after all, they were never really "dating," so how can he lay claim to being that upset? The short answer was he didn't really know. But he will come to tell people – more as a rationalization than anything – that, it was less a matter of Nick "cheating" from the confines of an amorphous-at-best relationship than it was about how exceedingly rude and disrespectful it was for Nick to dance pelvis-to-pelvis with someone right in front of him, the guy who had brought him to the club and who had not-so-subtle designs on him. That, he would explain, was enough to justify a reaction. Not a betrayal, just excessive rudeness. Yeah, that's it.

When he finally returned to the private room, he planned only to say goodbye to his friends. Sure enough, Nick had looked for him there; his friends all told him how Nick was looking all over for him.

"Uh, he told us what happened," they added, unprompted.

He had hoped to avoid having to explain anything. He had wanted to just bid his friends good night and walk out the door, leaving the drama behind. The entire episode would vanish into the background, and after a while, no one would ask why he no longer brought Nick to any events. He slumped into a couch, fending off the self-destructive emotions which are already wreaking havoc on his insides. "That really sucks," Amy chipped in.

He fought off the urge to bite their heads off inappropriately by venting all his anger and frustration at them. Instead, he just shrugged. "Whatever." Even though he was dying to know just how Nick characterized what happened out there on that dance floor, and to express how much it hurt, and how fucking PISSED OFF he was, he held it in. "Look, I'm gonna go," he said, as he got up to leave.

"You have to talk to him!" Lana implored. "He's been looking everywhere for you."

She meant well, he's sure, but he certainly was not going to put himself through that. Although he wanted to spit some sarcastic remark at her – involving Nick, SORG, and some cute turn involving the phrase "where the sun don't shine," perhaps – every rational fiber in his being cried out against it. He bit his tongue, and simply repeated a polite "good night."

As he turned to leave the room, of course, his "luck" caught up with him.

Nick appeared.

[Part 5]

** Per Anne's wise suggestion, I will be posting the last two parts of this short story in rapid succession over the next two days.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

The Guy Behind the Bod

Coming home from a happy hour with friends the other night, I stopped on my way into the Metro to pick up a copy of Metro Weekly, a gay and lesbian alternative "magazine." I'll freely admit that the reason I picked it up was because it featured a hot mostly shirtless guy on the cover.

What I didn't realize as I flipped through the magazine, though, was the level of loot these guys get for placing first, second, and third in these MetroWeekly coverboy contests get. Yowza! Apparently just being very hot pays off.

Of course, not that I didn't know this already. Having good genes pays great dividends, clearly. Not just in the form of money tossed at you from gay magazines. Apparently being attractive also tends to influence people who may give you a job (or so I read somewhere; I don't remember where). Of course, there's also the number of dates you can get from just looking good. And then there's the tendency of people to buy you stuff, like drinks or something.

(And it's not just gay folks. I've heard of attractive women who live in New York through the "Manhattan Meal Plan": enough men will offer to take them out to dinner (and pay for it!) so much they almost never have to pay for their own meal.)

What I find funniest about the MetroWeekly coverboy edition is the article itself. I mean, yeah, that guy is fun to look at and all, but really, isn't that all we really need? His spread goes into his life history (when he came out, where he went to school, blah blah blah)... but in all honesty, do we really care? He's a coverboy. His one qualification for that distinction was looking good. Does anyone who picked up the magazine because of the hot bod on the cover really care about the rest of this guy's life?

Do they interview Hustler centerfolds about their life histories? I get the sense that even if they do, those interviews deal more with the woman's sexual history than anything else. Because that's what the men who look at these chicks would care to read about. There's masturbatory material not just in viewing the woman in a come-hither wink while licking her lips, but also in reading the story of when she first lost her virginity or how she likes to pleasure men.

Which is why I find the interviews in MW so funny. I mean, I suppose it's impressive that the coverboy graduated from Princeton. But really, in the end, it's not like his claim to fame is any different: he's hot. Yeah, there's a person back there. But there's very few people who looked through that magazine thinking, "He looks like a guy I'd like to enjoy an intelligent conversation with."

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Flashback, Part 3: The Dance Floor

Flashback, A Short Story in Six Parts

[Part 1 | Part 2]

Part 3: The Dance Floor

After the pre-Pride party, some friends suggested going to a local popular-among-the-gay-set warehouse dance scene for the official Pride closing party. Despite its lack of appeal for him, he decided to go with the herd and go to hang out with his friends. One friend even had snagged wristbands to get into the "private" back room, providing the extra bonus of a place to relax from the dance floor in relative comfort, including couches and a private bar.

He invited Nick. He figured it would be fun. And it would provide Nick with more of a sense of the area's gay nightlife.

They hung out in the private room, talking to some of his friends. Nick was personable and sociable, and unsurprisingly, was a big hit with his friends. Everyone seemed to like him.

At some point they made it out to the dance floor. Somehow, it was just the two of them, as others of the friends either had made themselves comfortable in the back room or were off with other patches of friends. So they danced.

Obviously, a warehouse dance club is not a venue akin to you high-school prom places; there is no slow cheek-to-cheek slow dancing to be had. Physical contact while dancing needs to be delicately initiated, smoothly, gently, and after one has received enough vibes that one's partner would be receptive to it. And he tried to initiate contact with Nick several times.

In the space of forty-five minutes, he danced his way closer to Nick at least three times for the purpose of putting a hand on his arm, waist, or shoulder. Each time, he failed in the endeavor. Perhaps he should have gotten a hint right then and there, but somehow he didn't. He's Just Not That Into You hadn't been published yet, and common sense was somehow trumped in this situation.

Despite these failed attempts to make any body contact at all during the dancing session, they continued to dance for a little bit


Some Other Random Guy started dancing up to "them," if by "them," we mean "Nick." Nick offered no resistance whatsoever to SORG's arm around his waist within the first minute. Soon SORG "whispered" (to the extent that was possible), "You're cute. What's your name?" to Nick. Nick responded in kind.

At first he tried to laugh and be supportive that Nick had met someone. After all, wasn't that part of the goal of inviting Nick out? To induct him into part of the gay scene?

He stayed there a bit longer as things continued to transpire with between Nick and SORG. He even tried to put a bemused smile on his face, hoping that outside manifestations would guide the inner thoughts.

Then, in a blitzkreig maneuver which did not come completely unexpected, the Big Green Monster completely overwhelmed him.

[Part 4]

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Bathroom Stories

The (shared) bathroom for my office has a motion sensor to trigger the lights. Many is the time I've walked in there to find the room dark. In those cases, all I have to do is wave my right arm once and declare "Let There Be Light!" and lo, There Will Be Light. And I see that the light is good, and I am pleased. (The "Let There Be Light" thing is completely optional, but it's fun acting all omnipotent that way.)

I fully expect that, one of these days, I'll walk into a dark bathroom, wave my hand to banish the darkness, and find myself greeted by some poor disembodied voice from a stall who will meekly say, "Thank you."


I know people have bathroom "insecurities," but this is a bit ridiculous.

The other day I went into the bathroom to use the urinal. The room is pretty small, so I couldn't help noticing that there were feet under the stall. But I also couldn't help noticing that, from all appearances, he was done; I heard the familiar sound of toilet paper being unrolled from its core followed shortly thereafter by the auto-flush of the toilet.

But as I stood there and did my business, he didn't exit the stall. I think I even heard the familiar sound of belt-jiggling and coin-and-keys-clanging as he put his pants back on, but I think he was just standing there. Perhaps he was waiting for me to leave?

I know some people are self-conscious about the whole public bathroom thing, but for Pete's sake, we all do it. Just emerge, wash your hands, and walk out. It's not like you have to make conversation or anything. (Which I admit would be kinda weird.) And it's not like he would have been affected by the fact that I would have tagged him permanently as "The Guy Who Stunk Up the Entire Frigging Bathroom That One Time."


There have been times when I'm in the stall and someone else would use the urinal. (These are times when other people tag me as "TGWSUTEFBTOT.") I go about my business and someone comes in and does his thing. Still being in the midst of my business, I hear the other guy's entire transaction. I can't tell you how many times I hear the guy walk in, unzip, unload his kidneys, zip up and walk right back out -- without making a stop at the sinks! How gross is that? Is it that they're so uncomfortable with the guy who's taking a dump near him that they just kinda rush out, or do they just generally not make a practice of washing their hands? Like, ew.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Flashback, Part 2: Nick Says Hi

Flashback: A Short Story in Six Parts

[Part 1]

Part 2: Nick Says Hi

His online profile is plastered all over various dating websites. Most of them include the standard lame descriptors due to a combination of (1) his utter inability to talk about how great he is and (2) the utter lack of actual great things about him worth putting in a personals ad. Some profiles include a photo. None of those photo-enhanced profiles includes a disclosure that the photo is of some guy he barely recognizes anymore, what with the passage of seven years and the addition of approximately thirty pounds.

It is rare that he receives any responses whatsoever from any of these ads. He does not really even expect them. It is a surprise when he is alerted that he has received an email, or even a "wink."

His profile had been up for two years when Nick sent him a response.

Unlike most other men in DC, Nick didn't seem to be into the superficial stuff. He seemed smart, and eschewed pop culture. He didn't own a television and (probably as a result) listened to a helluva lot of NPR. He read a lot. And he spent a good part of his past in Japan, which was cool. Nick was relatively "new" in town, so he didn't know that many people. He also didn't have much of a sense of where and how to meet gay people, not really being into the bar scene much.

The combination of these factors meant that Nick appeared much more mature than the typical 25-year-old gay male. While age per se isn't necessarily a breaking point, it tends to serve as a reasonable proxy for maturity level. Nick seemed to have surpassed that barrier: at 25, he seemed more mature than many of the 35-year-old gay men frolicking around the scene.

They never truly "dated." Their first face-to-face meeting took place at a coffee shop where they played Scrabble (a true testament to both of their geeky sides). They got along well, chatting on the phone frequently (what else was Nick going to do at night, right?) and hanging out for a few weekends. Perhaps prematurely, he introduced Nick to the bulk of his friends by inviting him to a Memorial Day cookout (hosted by someone else, at their house), and also to a pre-Gay Pride party to which all of his gay friends were invited. This was his way of introducing Nick to some people, as well as at least a part of the "scene." When his friends asked, he was hard-pressed to tell them what was going on between them, for it was unclear whether they were, in fact, "dating."

This is not to say that his intentions were not clear, of course. Nick was nice, he was intelligent, he was more mature than the average gay man. He seemed to have his head in a good place and that, along with his objective physical appearance, made him attractive. If he could have given his heart to someone, Nick would have been a candidate for that.

[Part 3]

Monday, December 12, 2005

Yeah Baby, Just Like That

I got an email from another online personals site telling me about people who are "eager to meet me." Of course, these guys haven't actually seen my profile or made any overtures to get in touch with me. I have no idea how this particular site reached the conclusion that these people are "eager" to meet me. I think it's just some strange presumption on their part.

One profile among them caught my eye.

The headline: "interested in receiving FREE head to toe full body massage by masculine, in shape guy."

Seriously, what the hell kind of personals ad is that? What incentive does anyone have to answer that kind of ad? I really expect his narrative to say something like "I am too cheap to pay for a professional to help me relax. I expect that you will be so grateful for the opportunity to make me feel more relaxed that you will jump to this opportunity. Despite the fact that I'm being cheap, I'm also picky, and I insist that the guy whom I permit to touch my body be 'masculine and in shape,' not some fatty; if I'm going to call the shots here, I may as well insist on a hot guy. I am not promising that you will get anything out of this except the joy of working the tension out of every inch of my body. After you're done, I'll probably be really relaxed, but I'll still manage to muster up the strength to kick your ass out the door before I lie back and fall asleep."

Oooh baby, sign me up!

Flashback, Part 1: Peter Says Hi

Flashback: A Short Story in Six Parts.

Part 1: Peter Says Hi

He was standing in line in the express line at the Whole Foods, preparing to pay for the dinner (eight pieces of to-go sushi) that he was too lazy to make himself (he probably wouldn't have made sushi himself, but he certainly wasn't cooking anything at all for dinner), when out of the corner of his eye he noticed that someone was standing near him, a little inappropriately given the circumstances. He looked up to see the face of Peter, a friend with whom he’d lost contact quite a few years ago.

Peter didn't appear to remember his name, because if he had he probably would have, well, used it. But there was Peter, taking the initiative to say hi (although again, given the factual circumstances, that phrase isn't the most accurate), which was good, seeing as he was totally oblivious to the world around him. David, Peter's boyfriend, apparently remained at the checkout watching as their purchases got rung up.

Pleasantries were exchanged once they both realize that yes, they did actually know each other and the awkward "Do I know you?" game was averted:

"Hey! What's up?"

"Not much, just thought I recognized you so I came by...."

"Yeah, it's been, like, forever!"

"I don't even remember the last time we hung out!"

[Doodly-doo! Doodly-doo! Doodly-doo!]

But he does. In fact, he does remember, all too well, the last time he saw Peter.

[Part 2]

Friday, December 09, 2005

Whither Christmas?

I'm going to get a bit controversial here. Bear with me; this is an actual thought process, not some baseless attack.

This was prompted by a news story that certain religious (and Republican) groups are up in arms that the White House is sending our "holiday" cards rather than Christmas cards. According to the article, the White House is not the only target: big retailers and merchandisers who dare proclaim "Holiday Sale" or "Winter Sale" rather than "Christmas Sale" are accused of whitewashing Christmas out of the picture.

This, in my humble opinion, is bullshit.

No, this is not just some knee-jerk leftist reaction. Seriously. I have reasons.

First is, in fact, the classic knee-jerk leftist reaction: It's not just Christmas. Sure Christmas falls around this time each year, but so does Hannukah (however you spell it -- I've seen so many variations), just as an example. So to have the whole December "holiday season" co-opted by Christianity is ludicrous. What, Jewish people don't want to take advantage of December sales too? (That sentence comes across more racist/stereotypically then it's meant -- take it in context, please!)

I know, I know, this country is overwhelmingly Christian and believes in some sort of Christ's birth story around this time of year. To turn a once-popular refrain around, "Do you have to be so in-my-face about it?" The irony is that that question used to be used regularly as a generalized platitude toward gays and homosexuality: "I'm okay with you being gay, but you don't have to flaunt it." Well take your Christianity and practice it at home and at church, where it belongs, and feel free to stop forcing the rest of us to see "Christmas" signs in stores and on seasonal cards. (The same goes for ginormous granite slabs dispaying the Ten Commandments, by the way. If you need to put up such huge displays to shout out to the world how "religious" you are, news flash is, you're really not. At all.)

Second, I would think that it's more desireable to not have "Christmas" plastered all over everything and anything related to the winter holidays. If you truly want to celebrate "Christmas" as a religious holiday -- a celebration of the Christ's birth, etc. -- then putting up the word "Christmas" anywhere and everywhere doesn't serve that purpose. The word "Christmas" has now taken on a generic flair. Even people who aren't Christian can refer to things like "Christmas Break" and not give a rat's ass about Jesus Christ. Is this really what Christian activists want? For the word "Christmas" to so generically refer to this time of year that no one really cares about the religious significance of it?

As it is now, lots of people exchange Christmas gifts in December just because it's such an ingrained tradition. Compare the number of people who give gifts with the number of people who attend church, or who bother to take any time at all to acknowledge the religious significance of the date: you'll probably find the margin to be pretty small. Is "religion" any better served by making everyone call it Christmas even if no one really celebrates it as a religious day?

Not a great analogy, but try this: There was a time when "Xerox" was a copyrighted brand name. Okay, it still is, but now we generically say we need to "Xerox" something even when we're using, say, a Canon copier. I think it loses the strength of the trademark to become so generic. Xerox Corporation could go out of business tomorrow and, while their presence would be missed in the corporate landscape, I'm sure we'd continue to say we needed a bunch of documents "xeroxed." Would anyone care about the history of the word and how Xerox once dominated the market for paper copies? Not really.

So my advice (not that you asked for it) to all these religious zealots whining about the loss of "Christmas": get the stick out of your collective asses. It's your holiday; celebrate it as you see fit, and stop making the rest of the country have to bend to your terms. In the end, for many of The Rest of Us, it's just another day.

UPDATE: If you like this post, you have to check out Janet's post on this topic. Janet comments on this post below.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Frame of Reference

On Halloween I wrote a post entitled "Old Age Approacheth." I'll seriously need to revisit the title of that post, because truth came crashing down upon me this weekend:

Old age is already here.

I volunteered to judge a moot court competition at a local area law school. I was particularly excited about this one because it was a high school competition: local area kids would be arguing a faux appellate case to test their skill in thinking analytically on their feet, and I do so enjoy watching kids squirm seeing our youth succeed.

The point of moot court is that it simulates appellate argument; in order to do well, you have to be able to hold fast to a position, with logical support, while a panel of judges grills you on why this case is different or the same as previously decided cases ("But doesn't the XXX case control, which holds that your client loses?"), and what the ramifications of a particular holding will be ("If we hold the way you ask, doesn't that mean that blah blah blah other cases will reach bad results?"). I won't bore you with the details regarding the fact pattern or what the kids were arguing in this endeavor, but one of the issues involved whether wearing a particular type of "protest clothing" was or was not likely to lead to serious problems like violence or a breakdown of order. During the course of the argument the following exchange took place [paraphrased from memory, of course]:

Counsel: In this case, the audience mostly agreed with Mr. Smith's actions. They cheered and applauded him for wearing what he did. So the risk of violence was obviously very low.
Me: That's not necessarily true, is it? Just because people agree with the controversial speaker doesn't mean that the event will remain nonviolent.
Counsel: Well yes, Your Honor, where the crowd agrees, there is less of a chance that anyone is going to get violent.
Me: No, I have to disagree. For example, the fact that most of a section of Los Angeles "agreed" that the police department was racist didn't result in a calm protest against racism, it led to looting and rioting and burning cars and assaulting police officers....
Counsel: Uh... could you repeat the question?
Me: [suddenly losing all color in face] Woah... you're too young to remember what the hell I'm talking about, aren't you?

I was the oldest person in the room that afternoon. The other judges were all law students or more recent law grads (approximately 25 on the outside), but they had an understanding of my allusion. But in the end I wasn't able to come up with another more relevant example of "agreement leads to violence" so I abandoned that line of questioning completely.

This aging this always knocks me for a loop. It's life sending me a reality check that, despite my personal delusions, I'm not a spring chicken anymore.

Those kids I was grilling are the spring chickens.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005


On this day in 1941, Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese, dragging the United States kicking and screaming into World War II. Of course, this led to the shameful side effect that Americans began sending Japanese-Americans to internment camps, which, to my mind, is second only to the "peculiar institution" of slavery as one of the more overtly racist events in American history. (I should also point out that we Americans "won" this war, perhaps not in small part, by dropping an atomic bomb on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Not a pretty chapter in the history of world warfare.)

Growing up in Hawai'i, I knew all about December 7. Even though most of my family hadn't made it to Hawai'i by 1941, there were enough people on the island who were suffered through that day -- I can only imagine it to be about as horrific as September 11 -- to burn that date into my head as one Americans can never forget.

I'd share a stupid anecdote at this point about someone I knew here in DC and a conversation we had on this date several years ago, but it doesn't seem appropriate. (He was an insensitive ass trying to be funny, and yet inappropriately.) Let's keep the focus of this post on the day.

I can't get the words together for a proper tribute to the men and women who fought valiantly at Pearl Harbor that day, or for the troops who subsequently were deployed to WWII as a result.

Remember the Arizona.

Update: WaPo article on Pearl Harbor observance.

Monday, December 05, 2005

The Air Up Here

They've predicted snow here in the District. It's supposed to come down, 3-6 inches, within the next 24 hours. Of course, they could be wrong (they frequently are), but that won't stop drivers from panicking, I'm sure.

There's something about the air just before a snowfall. The air is crisper, sharper. The adjective "cleaner" also springs to mind, but then seeing as I live and work in downtown DC, I'm sure the air is as smog-polluted as ever. But in any event, I enjoy the smell of the air just before a snowfall. Something pure about it. It's not a Febreeze-type clean -- much as I enjoy the smell of Febreeze, you can kinda tell it's artificial -- but much more genuine (which is as it should be). It's much easier to transport yourself to some country retreat when the air is significantly cooler.

I've apparently lowered my threshold (why does this word not have two H's?) for cool, crisp air. When I was living in Hawai'i, the temperature had to dip to but 65 degrees before I'd notice it and appreciate the impending approach of fall (such as it is in Hawai'i). Out here on the East Coast, the weather needs to hit at least 45 before I consider the air "cleaner."

Impending snowfalls help too.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Wisteria Lane Jailbirds

Okay, I know I said I didn't care much for Desperate Housewives anymore, but the simple fact of the matter is that by now I'm into the routine of having the TV on during that particular Sunday night time slot. So even if I roll my eyes and am not really paying much attention to the plot, it's there and I catch bits and pieces of it.

Here's my latest observation on the show: I am crazy (and there's the distinct possibility that I am), or do they only ever actually arrest non-white people on this show?

Consider Carlos Solis. For a time, he was behind bars serving time either for assault or for some white-collar crime, I'm no longer sure which. (Somehow he's been out of jail for two episodes now.) Suffice it to say that he's seen in an orange jumper rather frequently lately.

Then there's Random Chained-Up-In-The-Basement-Until-Just-Recently Guy... who happens to be black. He escapes from this prison he's been put in (by his family) and, guess what?, he gets arrested and taken away in cuffs (by the police this time).

But consider all the other characters and the stuff they've done:

- Susan Mayer, who (accidentally) burned down Edie's house, having gained entry into it by breaking and entering.
- Paul Young, who killed that nosy next door neighbor chick (with the frying pan or whatever heavy thing was lying around when she admitted that she was blackmailing his wife).
- Zack Young, who killed the sister of that nosy next door neighbor chick (with the hockey stick).
- Zack Young (again), who also held Susan hostage at gunpoint while lying in wait (after breaking and entering) for the purpose of killing Mike Delfino.
- George Williams (creepy pharmacist guy), who forged prescriptions and deliberately mis-filled prescriptions, resulting in Rex Van de Camp's death.
- Andrew Van de Kamp, who killed Mama Solis in a drunk driving incident.
- Bree and Rex Van de Kamp, who covered up for Andrew.
- Mike Delfino, who kidnapped Paul Young.

None of these (non-ethnic) characters has ever been led away in cuffs. Is there a reason only the Mexican guy and the black guy end up in prison couture?

Happy Birthday, Steve

Today is Steve's birthday.

Go check out his blog and wish him a happy one, will ya?

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Thanksgiving Recap, Part III: Vancouver

[Part I]
[Part II]

The original plan was to fly into Seattle, having dinner with Mark, then drive up to Vancouver for a few days (through the weekend) before heading back to DC. I'd never been to Canada before, so this seemed like a great opportunity to get away.

Vancouver reminded both Mark and me of the city we left behind. Vancouver is so Asian influenced that there were excellent, authentic Asian restaurants all over the main strip where we stayed. It was a little on the strange side going all the way to Canada and indulging in Japanese and Vietnamese food, but I'll be damned if the food wasn't really really good. And, of course, cheap. The exchange rate was just slightly below a 1:1 ratio, but it was still pretty decent. (At one point I withdrew CAD80 from an ATM; the bank charged me a withdrawal of US$65. Woo hoo!)

We spent most of our days walking around the city, taking in whatever sights were available. (There weren't that many, frankly.) Of course, given my situation (see Part I) we couldn't really go too terribly on foot. But we did get to see some cool stuff: the waterside, the Chinatown, Granville Island.

Chinatown was freaking awesome. This is one of things I miss most about living in Washington, DC. I lament the fact that there is, in fact, no Chinatown to speak of in this city. The only thing coming closest to a real Chinatown is out in the 'burbs and is not Metro accessible. This is odd because in most other major metropolitan cities, Chinatowns are generally in the center of the city, right outside downtown, and in fact are kinda economically depressed. No so here. Vancouver's Chinatown was large, expansive, surprisingly clean, and loaded with great restaurants and stores. Unfortunately, I was gun shy about eating too much, but we did manage to get a good set of bao -- buns with various fillings -- to take for the trip back. They were yummy, and yet again I was reminded of the stuff that seems wildly difficult to track down here in DC.

Granville Island was also excellent in a Farmer's Market sort of way. Again, food galore; again, unfortunate all things considered. Mark indulged in a samosa and pot pie; I eventually picked up a few meat pies on the expectation that I'd eat them back in Seattle. Definitely a cute place and I would love to go back.

The most fun stories about Vancouver, however, have to do with the people. Oy, the people.

Mark and I decided we would try to meet people to hang out with before we made our way up there. I went through Craigslist, and found a guy named Ivan. Mark apparently chatted with some guy on (I think -- he never did tell me explicitly) who agreed to meet up as well.

I made plans for us to hang out with Ivan at a bar on Saturday night. Immediately before, Mark met up with Craig (yes, his name was Craig) at his apartment. (I'm not sure if they were planning to hook up or not; I didn't ask.) After about half an hour, Mark and Craig picked me up and we headed out to meet Ivan at a bar.

Craig didn't know who we were looking for; all I knew was what Ivan was wearing. As we scanned the room, though, Craig called out: "Hey, Ivan!" Yes, in the teensy tiny little gay world in Vancouver, Mark and I had managed to independently connect with two people who knew each other. This was just ducky.

Ivan was pleasant as a matter of first impression, but hot damn if he didn't turn out to be an annoying-ass know-it-all drunk very early into the conversation. At first I tried to defend (internally) self-centered cockiness, but after a while there really was no more excuse for him. I gave up trying to think of him as an even remotely likeable person, and decided that I pretty much just liked the fact that he spent most of his time over at the pool table waiting for a game.

Craig seemed nice enough, but clearly had an agenda that didn't involve me, or even being out in public for that matter. Quite early in the our conversation, he mentioned that something about the "date" that he and Mark were on. (Mark would later corner me in the bathroom to make clear to me that he certainly didn't consider this gathering a "date," and I was to act accordingly to ensure that nothing untoward happened.) He was rather touchy-feely with Mark, and in fact pretty much stopped engaging in any conversation whatsoever once he realized he probably wasn't getting any that night. Blah.

But the gay scene was okay, even if it was a little restricted. Two fun bars (one with an exceedingly high cover, though) and one cool hangout bar that appeared pretty well mixed. Mark got cornered by a rather drunk strange man from San Francisco in the first bar we went to. He had hovered around us for most of the evening in the freakish, stalker-y sort of way; we had spent most of the evening working to be sure that we were on the other side of the room from him. Mark got cornered as I settled up the bill. I laughed.

All in all, I'd love to get back there sometime. I told Mark we could go back next year for Thanksgiving again. Make it some kind of tradition. It was fun.

I just will make sure not to eat at the airport beforehand next time.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Thanksgiving Recap, Part II: In the Air

[Part I]

The worst part of any holiday travel -- or any travel at all for that matter -- is the time spent in the air. Even in the best of circumstances, sitting your butt down in one tiny cramped little seat for hours on end gets... well, painful.

(It's even worse when you're suffering from gastrointestinal distress -- see Part I -- but that's not the point of this post.)

Two people worth bitching about on the trip to Seattle. Thought I'd share:

Granola Crunchy C*nt. I have this thing for exit rows. There's more leg room. I thought I had an exit row seat, frankly, but I was wrong. So as the plane kept filling up, I kept a spot on the empty aisle seat in the exit row. When they closed the doors and the seat remained empty, I moved in for the kill: I tried to steal the seat.

"Mind if I grab this seat?" I said to the chick sitting in the second seat as I sat down.

She glared at me. "Actually, I asked for this seat."

"Uh... but you're in that seat."

"I particularly asked for these seats."

I was floored. "Are you telling me you reserved both seats?"

"No, I'm saying I asked to make sure that there would be a spare seat next to me, so I'd prefer if you didn't take it."

I just stared at her. She was fucking kidding me, right?

"I mean, you had a spare seat next to you, so I don't see why you don't stay where you were."

"Uh, because where I was isn't an exit row. There's more space in this row."

"I'm just saying I asked for these seats so I'd be able to spread out, so I'd prefer you didn't take this."

In a sense of complete befuddlement, I returned to my original seat, muttering under my breath the entire time. In the end, I decided that it wasn't worth fighting her for the seat: if I "won," I'd end up having to sit next to her fuming at me the entire time, and I certainly didn't need that bullshit drama. So I went back to my seat, and promptly shot a shitload of daggers from my eyes at her.

Annoying-Ass Kids. Of course, the other reason I kinda wanted to move was because there was a full-on nuclear family behind me, complete with two under-five children (who somehow managed to take up only three seats). These are the kinds of kids are were not felled by the fact that they probably left for the airport at a little after 5 a.m. These are the kinds of kids who are probably awake at 5 a.m. in the ordinary course of a day anyway, creating an unholy terror. For, in fact, they were adept at creating unholy terror on this trip.

Before I got on this flight, I was reading an online chat at Washington Post where one commenter suggested that people just shouldn't be allowed to bring kids onto flights. I remember reading that and thinking what a total ass that guy must be: I mean, do you really expect these parents to abandon their kids when they need to go travelling?

After a few hours of the kids behind me, I found myself thinking that damn poster had a point.

The kids could. Not. Shut. Up. Ever. Okay, not really both of them; I think the younger kid could barely talk and so didn't much. But the older one wouldn't ever shut up. Blah blah blah, for frigging HOURS.

And the worst part about it was that their parents wouldn't do anything to shut them up. Never once did either of the two people with these kids think to say, "Ssssh. Play quietly. You're annoying other people." Not once. Man, take some action! These kids were annoying as all get out!

I was literally at a point when I could have done a full-on Bart Simpson neck throttle without hesitation.

Thankfully, I controlled myself, shot a few more daggers at Granola Crunchy C*nt, and went back to sleep instead.

The ride back was less eventful, though quick shoutouts (and not good ones!) go to: (1) the big ol' redneck wearing a "Member of the NRA" jacket (shudder); (2) the chick next to me who reeked of Jack and who could not put away her cell phone to save her life. Okay, the second chick I was also pissed at more than anything because she sat between me and the cute guy in the window seat. [Aside: If you're a senior finance major at GWU who went to Seattle for Thanksgiving and want to ditch your girlfriend, please feel free to drop a comment or email.]

Tomorrow: Still more Thanksgiving thoughts.

[Part III]

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Thanksgiving Recap, Part I: The Overarching Theme

The following conversations, each of which took place over the Thanksgiving holiday, all have a common thread to them, which pretty much defined my (and my friend Mark's) Thanksgiving holiday.

Annoying kid behind me on the plane: Mommy, Kayla smells funny!
Kayla's dad [to Kayla's mom]: Did she poop?
Kayla's mom: I don't know, why don't you check?


Me: Hey Mark, thanks for picking me up!
Mark: Good to see you.
Me: Hey, can I ask you two weird questions to start?
Mark: ... Uh, okay.
Me: Can we stop at a drugstore?
Mark: Sure.
Me: And then can we do a load of laundry when we get back to your place?
Mark: You brought dirty laundry with you?
Me: Well, I wasn't planning on having to do a load of laundry.
Mark: ...


Me: I'm going to use the bathroom. Do you have a candle or something?


Mark: You did a second load of laundry? Did you forget how much laundry you brought?
Me: You're really not understanding my need to do laundry during this trip, are you?
Mark: Well, you know, you brought a load, and didn't even do the whole load....
Me: Uh, again, I was not planning on having to do laundry....


Mark: No more eggs at TGI Fridays at Dulles! Ever! No more food at Dulles, ever!


Mark: AGAIN?!? Good Lord, man!


Yeah. Okay, so I left DC on Thanksgiving morning at an ungodly hour. My ride picked me up at 4:30 A.M. I arrived at the airport, of course, at an ungodly hour as a result, which meant I had time to kill. Because it was early yet, and I was hungry, I decided to stop into the TGI Friday's at the gate area for some food. I wanted to be waited on to kill some time, rather than just grab a quick cookie from the Starbucks.

This led to my downfall.

I'm going to go ahead and blame a really horribly bad set of eggs from that very TGI Fridays for the rest of the Thanksgiving weekend, which literally lasted through Sunday evening. Mark and I spent some time in Seattle, and still more time in Vancouver, but most of our time was marred by the incessant need to be near a set of facilities.

Sometimes, that just wasn't possible.

I have crapped in some of the most disgusting bathrooms in pubs in Vancouver. (Though I have to admit, for the most part they weren't as bad as I would have expected them to be.) I have even crapped in a bathroom in a rest stop on I-5 South. [Aside to the guy in the Miata with the DIVA plates: if you're going to cruise the underside of toilet stalls, perhaps you'd want to do it when someone else isn't in the room.]

If you'll recall, this has happened to me once before, and it wasn't pretty. Although this time didn't keep me up all night, it did cause me intermittent problems for days on end. Not pleasant.

Remember Four Weddings and a Funeral, when Hugh Grant is seated at a table filled with his exes, and they start talking about how indiscreet he was about his past relationships? One of his past relationships was with "Vomiting Veronica," who puked all over India or something. Well, that was me in Vancouver. Except that I wasn't vomiting. Yeah.

But other than that, how did you enjoy the parade, Mrs. Kennedy? In fact, it was pretty good. More recaps tomorrow. I'm dog tired now.

[Part II]
[Part III]

I'm Back

So let's get this party started!

Okay, maybe not today. I'm quite exhausted. But the Thanksgiving holiday was a long and, for the most part, relaxing one, with one glaring exception, which will be shared in due course. Hope everyone had a great one. Back soon.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm taking off for the holiday weekend, so I don't plan on putting up any more posts until the middle of next week. Woot.

Quick thought: A gasoline truck caught fire on I-95 early this morning, which could suck big-time for Thanksgiving travellers. The funniest thing about the article, though, is this quote from a guy who lives "about 100 yards" from where the explosion took place:

"At about 5:15, I was in my office and I heard a boom," said Frank Hodal, 58. "I thought my wife had fallen out of bed."

Good Lord, man, you mistook the sound of an exploding gasoline truck for your wife falling out of bed? Did she play the mother in What's Eating Gilbert Grape?

I'm wondering what's going to happen if an earthquake ever hits that area of the world. "I was sitting in my office, and suddenly the entire house started to shake. It was like the place was going to crumble down the very foundation! I thought my wife had fallen out of bed."

*** UPDATE (3:20 PM): I just noticed that they've updated the article and have taken out young Mr. Hodal's quote. (If you missed it, his wife was quoted too; she was, in fact, asleep at the time.) Pity. It was funny.


So for Thanksgiving, I give a public (generic) shout-out to all of you out there reading this blog. What started off of a narcissistic endeavor for a more creative writing outlet is made all that much better by the knowledge that there are people out there who read this, enjoy it, and provide feedback on it. You guys rock.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Measure of a Parent

So there's this big hullabaloo about this new Xbox 360 thingamajigee. It's way cool, I'm told, and it's all the rage, and all the cool kids have one -- or will by Christmas.

From a blurb I heard on NPR this morning, some people were standing in line for upwards of 12 hours before the store opened just to get first crack at purchasing one of these consoles. One woman, if I recall correctly, was in line for 15 hours,* and was still only Number 6 in line:

Woman: My son called me and asked me what number I was, and I told him I was 6.
Reporter: Does that mean you'll get one?
Woman: I sure hope so!
Reporter: How long have you been standing out here?
Woman: I'd say something like 15 hours now....
Reporter: Wow, you're probably in the running for Mother-of-the-Year award!
Woman: I better be after this! [laughs]

I hate to sound like a crotchety old man, but standing in line for that long just to get your kid a frigging video game does NOT make you a model parent. In fact, behavior like this should NOT be emulated nor held up as the Gold Standard for parentage.

Parents in line, I'm talking to you: Be honest with yourself, you're only getting that stuff to serve as a substitute babysitter for your kids. This does not make you a better parent. Buying stuff to occupy your child's time for hours on end while his mind rots (I'm assuming these things are much more popular with boys) in no way means you're the bomb, except for in your kid's eyes, and then really for only about a day or so. (Don't tell me you're shocked at the thought that a mere few days after your $400 purchase, the love you bought from your son has already run its course and you'll have to renew your subscription.)

Don't even get me started on how kids get everything handed to them nowadays, not having to earn anything or put forth any effort to get all the material entrapments of status and coolness.

"Parent of the Year"? Gimme a break. Explain to me how standing in line to buy a product will actually win out over the parent who reads their child to sleep every night, plays an active role in his development, helps with his homework, and serves as a good role model by just being there. Because in a competition, I'd vote for the latter parent any day.

Full disclosure: I am making up the number of hours people are waiting because I don't remember. But it was a lot, trust me on that one. I'm pretty sure it was more than 8, easily more than 10.

Uma Tella Zuku

I have no idea what that phrase means, but I and some others were chanting it in a dream last night, in a kind of aboriginal way. Perhaps if I say it enough times I'll conjure up the Chupacabra. Or maybe if you do.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Speaking for Myself

I used to think I was decent at giving advice. If people shared their problems with me, I'd generally be able to provide a nugget or two of sage advice for them, whether they took me up on it or not. I consider myself a pretty decent student of human behavior, if by "student of human behavior" one means "cynical guy who expects the worst of any human interaction."

The thing is, most my advice has generally been guided by a hard-wired set of ethical and moral principles, a sense of "right" and "wrong" which, while acknowledging infinite shades of grey, engages in a calculated balance of the two to arrive at a reasonable conclusion.

Of course, any advice I dish out -- as with any advice that anyone dishes out -- must necessarily be shaped by my own experiences, interactions, mindset, worldview, and understandings. We've all lived unique lives and have unique personalities, each of which contribute to how we choose a course of action in any particular circumstance.

In recent weeks, I've come to question my ability to give out advice. This is because I have come to question my ability to properly balance those interests between "right" and "wrong." I've come to realize with painful clarity that it's WAY easier to tell people what they should do based on some high-minded moral principle than to actually do them in the same factual circumstances.

I've recently been placed in found myself in put my own damn self in a position which would be a piece of cake to advise about if it happened to anyone else. Clear ethical lines would be drawn, and my response would be simple: "Don't do it." But because the person involved is me, it's just not that easy.

And it burns me up.

I'm tempted to provide details, but the better part of me screams that it would not be a good idea.

Friday, November 18, 2005

So Wrong, on So Many Levels

So I just found out that at 7:50 a.m. today, somewhere or another in the United States (I think somewhere in the Central Time Zone), someone came across my blog:

playboy mansion hott, sexy necked, and nasty women


I think the most disturbing part of this is that it was run on a "teens" search engine from AOL.


And on a slightly related note, someone somewhere in the Eastern Time Zone of the U.S., really wanted to find me specifically:

dennis, more than my luggage

Though maybe not, considering that s/he stayed for less an a second.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

You're on Candid Camera

This past weekend I did some volunteer work with the Sexual Minority Youth Assistance League (SMYAL), (it's pronounced "smile"), which provides a "safe space" in DC for people under 21 who are having issues with their sexuality. It's a great organization; check 'em out.

Anyway, they hosted a fundraiser brunch and I volunteered to help out at the silent auction.

Okay, let's face it: when volunteering to help a gay organization, a HUGE secondary goal is to meet guys. For me, it never works, of course, but it's nice to help out and be in the company of slews of gay men. Let's say I was putting myself out there in the event that someone would notice me.

No one noticed me.

But I did get to work with this guy Dan, who was cute as a button. During our volunteer time we talked a bit. He seemed sweet. SMYAL was important to him because he felt like he didn't have that kind of support when he came out, at 17. Although not exactly the same experience I went through, I support SMYAL for the same reason: to help kids who are having trouble coming to grips with their sexuality, or with other peoples' reactions to their sexuality.

I honestly can't tell if Dan and I hit it off or not. We talked a good deal, but not a lot, in part because I didn't want it to look like I was monopolizing his time, or that I was imposing myself upon him if he didn't want to talk to me. So we talked briefly from time to time, and that was it.

At the end of the day, I failed to exchange any contact information with him. And for that, I am kicking myself.

I even posted a Craigslist ad about him. How sad and desperate is that?

Then I remembered that he had mentioned that he recently put up a profile on Eureka! I decided to search for it and possibly send him a wink (because I think he said he was on their free trial or something). Sadly, though, I couldn't find him! Arg!

And yet there's another twist to this story: served him right up to me! Yep, remember those emails that they send to me every so often, including the ones that tell me that I should totally meet myself? Yeah, there he was!

So I'm totally gonna send him a wink or something tonight. If need be, I'm gonna get that free trial myself, send him my email, and see what goes from there. Honestly, I don't know how compatible we'll be, but he's a cool guy and I'd be willing to spend some time with him.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Best Laid Plans....

I posted an ad on Craigslist recently, seeking someone to hang out with. Sex was not explicitly contemplated in the ad; I was just looking to meet some new people to hang out with or something. [It's remarkably difficult to type with your fingers crossed behind your back.]

Among the small handful of responses I received was an email from a guy whose screen name I will slightly change: we'll call him "Johnny2321". The point being, the guy's screen name included only his first name, probably because he probably wants to keep some semblance of anonymity for a bit. (I'm the same way, so I can't blame him.)

Strangely, though, the subject line of his email read: "CL ad / Hill." I don't know where the word "Hill" came from, since it's not referenced in my ad. [For those of you outside the D.C. metro area who may not know this, around these parts we commonly refer to the Capitol Hill area -- all the government buildings and the residential expanse near it -- as "The Hill."] I don't live near the Hill, so really, I had no idea how that word made its way into his response to my ad.

So we exchange an email or two, and after a while I ask him, "So you live on the Hill?" Actually, no, I come to find out. This guy lives out in Bethesda, a Maryland suburb of DC. Confused I am, because I still don't know where the word "Hill" come from if neither of us is actually on the Hill.

Eventually our email exchanges ended, since time constraints prohibited me from trekking all the way out to Bethesda, though at some point I did mention to him that I head into that area from time to time and maybe we could get a drink next time I found myself there.

Last night, on a lark, I sent him another email to tell him that I was probably going to be in Bethesda again in the next few days, and did he want to get a drink or something. I wasn't really expecting a response -- D.C. gay men are so flaky -- but I thought I'd just put it out there.

Here's a random helpful hint for those of you who use multiple email addresses and probably use one mail reader to read them all: If you really care about your anonimity, be very careful which email address you use to send out responses to your emails.

I can only assume that's what happened to Johnny, because I did not receive a response from Johnny2321. My response -- including the quoted text of the sent emails below it -- came from JohnLee. As in, his full first and last name. Oops.

Curious that I am, I googled the guy. (Oh come on, it's not like you don't do it too!) And that's when I finally came up with the Hill connection.

The guy works for a very prominent senator. Hm. This ought to be fun.

I doubt I'll ever actually meet the guy, but in case I do, I need to start thinking up some intelligent things to say about politics and certain political parties.

Monday, November 14, 2005

I am More Than My Ass.

Some people need to take a hint.

I have one friend, whom I'll call "L.C.," has some habits which truly grate on my nerves. While I admit that my complaints may be a bit petty (just a bit), she doesn't appear to ever take the hint when I point out the annoyances to her.

In particular, she has this horrible habit of referring to people by reducing them all the way down to their rear end. This strange synecdoche actually means her sentences are longer -- though obviously not signficantly -- in her effort to make everyone an "ass":

"So when will your ass be here?"
"It's been forever; I never get to see your ass anymore!"
"What is your ass doing this weekend?"

(Yes, the difference between "your ass" and "you" is just one word, but that one word is annoying in its overuse.)

My responses to her have been less than amused:

"My ass will be there at exactly the same time the rest of me arrives."
"I don't think you've ever seen my ass before, and I sure as hell ain't showing it to you now."
"It will probably be camped on the couch a lot while I watch TV. Well, except for those times when it will be taking a dump with me."

Despite the fact that I call her to the carpet every time she talks about "my ass" to refer to me, she continues to do it. In fact, she anticipates my "smart-ass aleck" response to the "your ass" questions and yet still doesn't make any effort to re-phrase before the fact. In fact, sometimes she'll launch an offensive: "So when are you and your ass going to be there?" Dude, that doesn't fix the annoying wording, at all.

Perhaps I'm just being petty, but I am so much more than the sum of my hindquarters.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Rewriting History

From a Washington Post article:

"While it's perfectly legitimate to criticize my decisions or the conduct of the war, it is deeply irresponsible to rewrite the history of how that war began," Bush added. "Some Democrats and antiwar critics are now claiming we manipulated the intelligence and misled the American people about why we went to war." He said a Senate investigation "found no evidence of political pressure" on U.S. intelligence assessments of Iraqi weapons programs.

Woah woah woah. How far up its ass is this Administration's head?

Who exactly is rewriting history? How many different explanations did we get during the lead-up to war? From "Saddam has weapons of mass destruction!" to "Saddam was involved in 9/11!" to (finally) "We need to bring democracy to that area!" (well, one excuse reason had to stick eventually), we've gotten slews of reasons why invading Iraq was oh-so-important. Remember "we don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud"? Yeah, Condi Rice, I'm quoting you.

I read somewhere (regrettably, I don't remember where), that someone did a count of all different reasons which eventually led to the war. I recall the number was something like 32. Obviously, take my memory, and the underlying statement, with a grain of salt, but I don't disbelieve it.

So, really, exactly who is rewriting history? It's absolutely clear that the U.S. never marched into Iraq under a "spreading democracy is good" flag. We were there for all kinds of fake, screwed up reasons, and now thousands of soldiers are dead, as well as innocent Iraqis. The "last throes" of the insurgency has lasted for what feels like years now, ratcheting up the death toll with every passing day.

Bushie, you're doing a heck of a job. The same way Brownie did.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Asian Blondes Look Funny

... but when Asians act blonde, it's hilarious.

Copies (per page) at the D.C. Superior Court: fifty cents.
One fruit smoothie at the Firehook outside D.C. Superior Court: $3.96.
Having an entire coffee shop full of people laugh at you because you're an idiot: Priceless.

There are some things money can't buy.

I stopped into the Firehook on the way back from the courthouse this afternoon because I was in desperate need of a beverage. I decided I didn't want a Coke from the hot dog vendors, so I stopped into the Firehook, hoping for something cold.

Which is when Blonde Moment #1 hit.

I walked in and immediately looked up, in search of what I expected to be a menu from which I'd be able to pick my beverage of choice. I saw none.

I looked around to the other walls of the store. Seeing as they were mostly plate glass providing a view of the street, they did nothing to assist me in determining what I wanted to drink. I backed up and looked down a hallway in the store, thinking how retarded it would have been to hide their menu in such an out-of-the-way location. Still nothing. Panic started to set in as I wondered how completely out of it I must have been to not be able to locate a frigging menu! And how embarassing would it be when someone finally said to me, "Dude, your choices are right here in front of your face!" (Things can hide in plain sight for me. Case in point.)

Finally, the inevitable: The guy behind the counter asks what he can do for me. (He has a big ALEXIS tattoo up his forearm. It's not as sexy as it could have been.) "Uh," I reply meekly, "I'm looking for a menu, for starters...."

"We had to take it down, price changes," he explains. Whew! I'm not completely crazy!

"Oh, good," I tell him. "Uh, I just kinda want a fruit smoothie. What flavors do you have?" He starts rattling them off, with their ingredients and everything, and I'm pretty impressed with his ability. When he's done, I tell him I'd like the raspberry creme smoothie.

He asks me something slightly incoherent, something to the effect of did I want to add a particular something to my drink.

And this is where we hit Blond Moment #2.

I couldn't possibly have heard that right, I'm thinking. I should just ask what he said.

But instead of just asking him to repeat himself, I, like a fool, tell him what I thought I heard him say: "Excuse me? Did you just ask me if I wanted to add onions to my smoothie?" Yes, I'm flabbergasted and a little weirded out. Who the fuck puts onions in a fruit smoothie?

Both the guy waiting for his drink and the guy behind the counter burst out laughing at me. "Uh, he said 'honey,'" Customer Guy explains. Counter Guy tells me something or another about how the berries aren't all that sweet or something, so some people like to add an extra punch of honey. By this time, though, I'm laughing my own ass off. Onions!

I finally get my smoothie. Having paid for it, I take my drink, thank the barista, and add, "And thanks for not adding any onions to it."

I suppose Blond Moment #3 could be how I couldn't for the life of me finish the Sudoku today, even though it's a frigging EASY one.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Blue Victory in a Red State

There may be hope for the state Commonwealth of Virginia after all. Lieutenant Governor Tim Kaine (D) appears to have taken the Governor's Mansion in Virginia, defeating Jerry Kilgore.

Okay, yeah, so evidently Republicans appear in the lead in other races, like for lieutenant governor and attorney general, but at least there's a democratic governor.

The race was remarkably ugly. Politics has undertaken a tremendous downward spiral in the last few election cycles, and this is most unfortunate. At least for me, it makes me not even want to vote: why would I want to reward either of two negative candidates with the win? I wish there were truly viable third-party candidates more often. This "us-them" two-party system truly isn't working well anymore.

Speaking of nasty campaigns, I have to say it's markedly disconcerting when an "attack ad" -- a "you can't possibly want to vote for this guy" ad -- hawks an opponent who is "soft" on the death penalty, as Kilgore accused Kaine of being. And, in a bizarre attempt to "salvage" his reputation, Kaine takes to the airwaves to reassure voters that, indeed, he will gladly uphold the death penalty laws, and enforce state-sanctioned death: "Don't hate me! I really will kill these people, honest!" It just scares me to think that anti-death penalty voters in Virginia just aren't worth the political capital to go pandering to.

Random callout quote from the WaPo article:

Kilgore supporters in a nearby convention center ballroom were less upbeat. "We're not doing as well as we should be," said John Hager, a Republican former lieutenant governor, Washington Post staff writer Michelle Boorstein reported. "We have a Republican president we all love, and the media will spin this into another anti-Bush thing," he lamented.

Uh... seriously, did this guy actually say "we have a Republican president we all love"? Has this guy not looked at a single poll in the past three weeks? Dude, we have a Republican president that about 37% of the country's population likes (and about 42% strongly dislike). When you say, "we all," you are really just referring to your fellow Republicans (and even then, "all" is probably not accurate, even as lazy speech). And you know what? Elected office is not about just pandering to your own base. You are elected to represent the people. Start acting like it. So when you say "we have a Republican president we all love," you are betraying a stunning break from reality, and reinforcing a myopic worldview that Republicans are the only people worth considering. Perhaps this is why you lost the race.

Of course, at the same time, Texas yet again betrays a shocking -- SHOCKING! -- lack of homo-love. Have Peter and Matt -- among teeming others all over the Internets -- taught these people nothing?

Monday, November 07, 2005

Life is Just Not Fair.

I took an impromptu drive with some friends up to Baltimore the other night.

While I usually enjoy unplanned road trips, they're much less fun when you're hitting the road for the purpose of visiting a friend whom you've just found out is suffering from several forms of cancer.

Tony was the receptionist at the first law firm I worked for. Always friendly, he was definitely the high point of that job. My boss was awful. I hated him with the fire of a thousand suns. But being able to chat with Tony about the ins and outs -- of life, as well as of the job (though that was mostly the "outs") -- made things at least a little more bearable. Although we were never "close friends" -- he tends to favor hanging out with the ladies, if you know what I mean -- we definitely had a mutual good relationship. We were the same age and chatted about all manner of things, including some very heated, yet respectful, discussions after which we agreed to disagree: issues like welfare, homosexuality, race relations. His presence in the office was definitely much appreciated.

We lost touch after I left the job. Aside from the sporadic emails, we never managed to get together, whether for a drink, or for lunch, or for coffee.

Last week, I got an email from another former employee of the firm: Tony was suffering from cancer in both his lungs and in his kidneys, and he was in a special care facility at Johns Hopkins University, in Baltimore. Within hours, we mobilized: by 6:30, four of us, all former employees of this infamous law practice and therefore friends with Tony, were piled into a car and on our way up to JHU.

We attempted to take some flowers with us, but the hospital but the kaibosh on that idea: nothing unsanitized was to enter the room. Instead, upon learning that there was in fact a CD player in the room, we purchased and gave Tony a pair of CDs that we knew he'd like. (Upon seeing the KISS "Gold" collection, Tony weakly smiled and stuck his tongue out a la Gene Simmons. It was funny to watch.)

Tony's condition was much worse than we had heard. In addition to cancers in two different major organs in his body, his compromised immune system apparently left him subject to various infections. We were forced to put on scrubs, latex gloves, and even face masks with visors before entering the room. If this precaution were to keep Tony from catching any of our germs, that would be one thing, but the scary thing is, it was more for our benefit than for his: he had already caught some uber-infectious agent which could possibly spread to us. In addition, such infectious agent could cling to our clothes, etc. (hence the scrubs), so we had to take precautions against any transfer whatsoever. (Oh, and also, there was a fear that the CDs we took to him might not make it out of the room, because they might become biohazardous as well. Unless they decide it's possible to adequately "scrub down" the CDs before they leave the room, the CDs won't make it.)

Tony looked thinner and weaker than I've ever seen him. Healthy, he tipped the scales at probably a solid 300 pounds. He was always attempting to bulk up; he had strange ambitions of becoming a professional wrestler. (He and The Miz -- yeah, that'd be a treat.) Lying there in his hospital bed, he looked like he topped out at 180. His legs, once powerfully muscular, now betrayed the outline of his bone where none was visible before. His face lost the cherubic healthiness it once held; his smile was difficult to muster, and didn't radiate the way it usually did. The multitude of tubes sticking out of his body didn't help things, either: one in his neck, one coming out of the top of his gown, a catherter, several IVs. His head was bald; I'm not sure if that was the result of chemotherapy, or just a voluntary shaving.

The vainest part of me permitted a fleeting thought of how thin he looked, and how I wished I could lose the weight he did -- but hopefully without contracting cancer. Then I promptly hated myself for thinking it.

Tony was not his jovial self while we were there, spending a lot of the time watching the basketball game on television. Unable to speak, he found it difficult to engage us in conversations when we talked to him. Monologues started getting awkward; there's only so much you can say unilaterally to a guy when he pretty much isn't responding to anything. You get self-conscious after a while; you feel like you're babbling.

Sadly, I think the mask -- with its unfortunate effect of obscuring the better part of all of our faces -- rendered all four of us odd-looking to Tony. Coupled with the fact that he hadn't laid eyes on me in years, I left the room not terribly convinced that he ever knew who I was.

No one has given up hope on Tony, but I think everyone's acknowledging that he's got an extremely tough road ahead of him. While JHU tells him there's nothing else they can do for him, Tony's family is waiting to hear from a facility in Chicago which might be able to help him more. In the face of these odds, we did what everyone tends to do: we talked to Tony about all the things we would do as soon as he got better: go to hockey games; get that after-work drink we kept talking about; snack on our favorite foods.

But if we're really honest with ourselves, we'd recognize that the chances of us actually doing any of that are artificially lowered in light of these circumstances.

The worst part? In the car on the way back, all four of us were talking about how unfair life is, why Tony should get stricken with this crap. In particular, if we had the power to do so, each of us would gladly hand the cancers off to our former boss -- the common thread that linked all five of us -- rather than Tony. None of us likes our former boss at all.

Friday, November 04, 2005

Going Down?

I bumped into the guy in my building on whom I have a random crush last night. I was getting in the elevator to go out and meet a friend; he was on his way to the vending machine. We chatted on the ride down a bit. We're friendly with each other, but honestly, I don't think he knows my name. Which is fine, because frankly, I've forgotten his, too (though I think it might be Patrick; but then I'm relatively sure I'm wrong).

I mentioned how he never did invite me up to his place for dinner at which point he advised that he's actually not a very good cook. Hm. Oh well. In retrospect, I realize I should have just invited myself over for a movie or something sometime, but I suppose there's a limit to how annoying and pushy I can be in one night.

Besides, I have a growing suspicion that he might just have a boyfriend anyway.

But sometimes it's fun to flirt.

In fact, sometimes I think it's more fun to flirt when you know your target isn't that interested. If this guy in fact has a boyfriend, it makes flirting easier, because you know there's a line that won't get crossed. How strange is that? I have more fun flirting when I know before the fact that it won't go anywhere. Futility of purpose makes the game more fun. I've also been known to flirt with (a) straight boys [this requires incredible finesse], and (b) gay boys who clearly are not even remotely attracted to me.

Once, at a gay beach, a friend (goodlooking, hot, sexy) and I (boring, not thin, nonheadturning) were playing Paddleball when the ball went flying off in a wayward direction, where it was recovered by a gentleman in a beach chair. Both my friend and I approached him in an effort to retreive the ball. "Sorry about that!" I said. "Yeah, can we have our ball back?" my friend asked.

The guy looked directly at my friend and said, "That'll be $10."

I looked directly at the guy, winked, and said, "I'll take it out in trade."

The ball almost took on a life of its own as it came flying back into my hands. I happily skipped back over to where we were playing and launched off another volley. Wanna get out of a conversation with a guy who's clearly not into you? Tell him you'd have sex with him. He'll run.

Heck, fact of the matter is, I don't think I'd know what to do if I actually flirted with someone and they actually were receptive to it. I'd probably just let loose some sort of "humina humina humina" and back away.

Of course, there's always the chance that this is exactly what the guy expected me to do....