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.