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....

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Human Capital

An open letter to the woman who was behind the desk at the pharmacy counter in the CVS tonight:

Dear Rita:

I don't know if your name is actually Rita, but I'll just call you that to give you a name for purposes of this letter.

I know you were haled to the pharmacy counter because the pharmacy was overwhelmed. It wasn't your fault there were two people working the entire pharmacy when you appeared. I realize there were five people standing there by the time you showed up, and that wasn't your fault. I know you walked into a pretty bad situation.

I was, unfortunately, waiting for my prescription to be filled for the better part of an hour, so I was able to observe you for quite a while, as I also observed the actual pharmacy staff trying to fill prescriptions, mine and others'.

Seriously, what the heck were you doing?

First, just because you're behind the pharmacy counter doesn't mean that people who don't actually have stuff to pick up at the pharmacy can't pay you for their stuff. Does the photo guy require you to pick up developed photos in addition to whatever else you want to buy? It's not that hard. When that guy walked up to you and asked if he could pay for a few of his items (including some OTC drugs, by the way), you asked him pointedly whether he needed to pick anything up. When he said no, you told him to go to the front registers. What were you doing that you couldn't check him out? Because from where I was standing, it really seriously just looked like you were standing around doing nothing. So what, precisely, was preventing you from just ringing that guy up?

Second, you need to learn to spell. You know, it's not that hard. When someone tries to tell you -- twice -- that his last name is Green, it's not that hard to go looking for his prescription. How many different ways are there to spell "Green"? It's not like he was some Eastern European dude and his name had 120 consecutive consonants in it. It was "Green." And yet you completely ignored the words coming from his mouth and instead insisted that he write down his name for you. In my humble opinion, you were just complicating things. "Green" consists of five letters, maybe six if there's a pesky silent "e" at the end. If you can't memorize a chain of five to six letters for the thirty seconds it takes to find a set of pills, man, I feel for you.

And finally, speaking of short attention spans, it wouldn't hurt you to remember stuff that people tell you so that you don't end up being, well, a burden to the people you're trying to help (both the customers AND the pharmacy staff). When that nice man wheeled up to you and asked for "ultra-fine insulin syringes, 1 cc," is that too much to keep in your head? When the pharmacist then said to you, "what did he ask for?", you no longer had any idea. Even though the request had hit you some 15 seconds before. It was six words (maybe seven, if you count each "c" separately), and it all just leaked out of your brain at the drop of a hat? I was reading something else, and still managed to retain that bit of information for long enough that I could have regurgitated it.

Clearly you didn't want to be there tonight. I wonder if you would have done any better at the front checkouts, where I presume you are usually stationed. Next time I purchase anything from that store, if you check me out I'm going to make sure you don't absent-mindedly ring up any of my items more than once.


I'm Not Worthy!

I have no idea what to make of this:

My blog is worth $23,146.14.
How much is your blog worth?

[via PlanetDan and Eric]

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Ain't I A Catch?

I couldn't resist taking this test (via Eric and Drew):

The Billy Goat
Deliberate Brutal Sex Dreamer (DBSDm)

Horny. Stubborn. Kinda cute. Slightly immature. And often found on rough terrain. You are The Billy Goat.

You're lusty, but typically monogamous, and all in all you're a pretty good boyfriend. In fact, you enjoy relationships, if mostly for the sex and physical companionship. You'd do or say almost anything to get together with someone, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

You're sensitive, you have a certain boyish charm, and you're eager. Therefore you probably attract guys who are serious about romance. But few who get close to you realize how unready for total commitment you are. People fall for you. Meanwhile, you maintain your emotional distance, and there goes another box of tissues.

Your exact opposite:
The Loverboy

Random Gentle Love Master
You're perfectly capable of a long-haul relationship, but, right now, dating someone primarily means having a consistent, available, preferably not-too-chatty, hookup. You're a careful, methodical person, and you work hard at making things work. It's just that the type of man most likely to find your strengths endearing is also the most likely type to find your shortcomings heartbreaking. Someone with a similarly laid-back approach to dating would be perfect for you.

ALWAYS AVOID: The Mixed Messenger, The Slow Dancer, The Manchild

CONSIDER: The Playboy

Link: The 32-Type Dating Test by OkCupid - Free Online Dating.

When I read Drew's results, I was sure I'd be what he was, but I guess not. That or I had very atypical things on my mind while taking this test. Also, Drew is apparently on my "Always Avoid" list. There go my chances of ever hooking up with him, despite my mad blog-crush on him. *sigh* (Hehehe.)

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Next Day Recap

Cell phone conversation overheard on a Metrobus:

Queer: Yeah, so I went to his hotel room. He wasn't smokin' hot, but he was pretty cool.... Oh, so did I tell you, he smokes!... Yeah, I know, I hate making out with smokers, but I didn't think to ask him before I showed up! Yeah, I made out with him anyway. Does making out with a smoker make you sick? 'Cause I might blame him for this hacking cough I got now.... Oh yeah, I had fun. He was all Goldilocks, know what I mean?.... Hahaha. Not too big, not too small....

To give this guy his credit, he wasn't as obnoxiously loud as this makes it sound like. I was actually sitting close to him straining to hear him.