Monday, February 26, 2007

I Kissed a Boy

... and I'd do it again.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Tennis Parity

So famed tennis tournament Wimbledon has finally made the decision that it will pay its female champions the same as it pays its male champions. Sounds great.

I'm looking forward to seeing Martina Hingis play a five-set match against Maria Sharpova. That would be hot.

Seriously, I support equal pay for equal work, but the fact is, the women are asked to play less. They therefore exert less effort. How does that merit equal pay?

As the article points out, proponents of equal pay note that it was Wimbledon, not the players, who chose to set women's matches as three-set affairs. This is true. All I'm saying, then, is that in order to justify the equal pay, Wimbledon organizers should require that women play to five sets.

Proponents also lament that paying women less had always "sent the message" that that women's tennis was inferior to men's. Somehow, though, I didn't see anyone arguing that women should be required to play five games, because limiting their court time "sent the message" that women's tennis wasn't as great as men's tennis.

There's really only so many ways one can swing the word "equality."

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Because I'm Old and Crotchety

At the risk of sounding like complete curmudgeon, what is up with the rash of me-centric behavior I've seen lately?


This weekend I was at a Dunkin' Donuts which included a seating area. I had purchased a breakfast sandwich (the fact that it was 12:30 pm notwithstanding) and a coffee, and settled in to enjoy my coffee while doing some reading.

Two tables away from me and in my direct line of sight was a man enjoy lunch of his own: Chinese takeout from the place across the street. Trust me, one can't mistaken the styrofoam box with rice and broccoli in it for anything whatsoever that Dunkin Donuts sells.

Note to the guy: Do really think that Dunkin Donuts is in the business of renting out property just for the purpose of letting you come in with whatever food you want to use those facilities? It's a business. It exists to make money. The tables there are meant for people who actually spend money in the joint. Why don't you just waltz on up with a checkered tablecloth and personal picnic lunch as long as you're at it? You're probably also the guy who goes to dinner parties at friends' houses empty-handed, because you wouldn't even think that the guy spending money to have you over deserves the respect of at least a gesture of reciprocity.

This doesn't just happen at Dunkin Donuts. I walk past an Au Bon Pain in downtown almost every day at lunch and consistently see people on the tables set up outside there with non-ABP food sitting there enjoying their lunches. My same thoughts apply to you too, morons. And to anyone who thinks that just because a place without wait service puts out tables they're inviting you to sit there whether you've purchased anything there or not.


I've recently joined a mailing list in DC for people who have items they wish to get rid of. The point of the group is to reduce waste by trying to get people to give away stuff they'd otherwise trash (one man's trash and all that). You put up posts saying you have stuff you'd like to get rid of, and other people respond by saying they'd like to get them. It's a great idea in principle, one which I support.

But some people on this list annoy me to pieces. Recently, I offered up several items for pick up. One would think that, given that I'm offering to give away, free of charge, these items that you normally would have to spend at least some amount of money to buy new, you'd do me the courtesy of letting me know if you'll be late in picking them up, or if you decide you don't want the item.

Apparently this is not the case. I had at least two people express interest in my items and not bother to tell me that they were either no longer interested or that they logistically couldn't figure a way to come get the stuff from me. (As the donee, I figure I shouldn't have to be the one to make the effort to deliver the damn things.)

Likewise, every so often you see a post from people who want things from the listserv members: "I need a XXXX. Does anyone have one they're not using?" This is fine and dandy too, but for the love of Pete, do you want to PLEASE try to make these messages sound less like a freebie grab? One person recently posted that they wanted a "vacume" (yeah, really, I had to make fun of that by spelling it the way it was typed -- TWICE) and who actually asked that any people responding to her to "respect [her] time and make sure it works." Okay, seriously, you're asking for a freebie handout. While I agree that it's rather uncool to deliberately hand off a product that doesn't work, it's seriously presumptuous to chastise people in advance for that, and to phrase in that way. Take what you get and if it doesn't work, it was worth every penny you paid to get it, buster.


I could make all kinds of declarations about the state of civility and personal interaction in our society today, but really that would make me come across as even more cantankerous that I really am. So I'll just leave this post at that. There's more examples out there, I'm sure. Supplements to come.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Quiznos, aka The Sandwich Nazis

Too lazy to make a real choice as to what to have for lunch today, I found my feet wandering over the Quiznos, figuring that it would be a decent, and cheap, option. I had no idea what I was in for.

I got in and stood in a relatively short line -- and I soon came to find out why it was so short. Everyone -- and I mean everyone -- behind the counter was Speedy Gonzalez on crack. Everyone before me placed their orders quickly, seemingly afraid that if they didn't act in time their sandwiches would be snatched from them. It was often difficult to get a word in edgewise that wasn't a direct response to a question, even if it was relevant.

Counter lady: Can I take your order?
Customer: Roast beef sandwich please?
Counter lady: Size?
Customer: Oh, uh, small please.
Counter lady: Lettuce tomato?
Customer: Sure. Oh, could I...
Counter lady: NEXT!

Okay, so that customer was me. I had wanted to specify wheat bread, but apparently when you're ordering a small sandwich, you have no choice in the matter. Either that, or she just didn't care to give me a choice.

Counter lady, as it turns out, was in charge of the first half of sandwich construction only. She passed the sandwich to the guy next to her, whose job it was to add the meats and run the item through the "toasty" machine. So he diligently weighed my roast beef and put my sandwich on the grill... all before I could open my mouth to blurt out "CouldIGetCheeseOnThat?"

He didn't seem to hear me, and indeed, he had already turned his attention to the next sandwich waiting to be made in front of him. The woman in line behind me was nice enough to try to help. "I don't think he heard you," she said, and piped up on my behalf: "EXCUSE ME SIR, COULD HE GET CHEESE ON HIS ROAST BEEF?"

This broke the flow of traffic rather abruptly for the well-oiled Quiznos machine. Both Counter Lady and Counter Guy stopped and consulted with each other for a second before reaching their almost Dolby-stereo conclusion: "that doesn't come with cheese."

Never mind that I would have been willing to pay for it, but oh well. I just sighed and said, "Never mind." I turned to the woman behind me and said, "Really, I'm just not in the mindframe to fight for it." She agreed: "You gotta pick your battles."

We got to the other side of the toast machine where yet another employee was standing there waiting. "Lettuce," he said as he slapped some lettuce on my sandwich, "Here or to go?" he added. The two phrases blended together in one smooth breath.

"To go please," I said. Looking down at the assortment of sandwich add-ons he had in front of him, I noticed some extra stuff ("They got a pepper bar!") and before I opened my mouth say "Could you toss some pickles on there too?" my sandwich was already wrapped up and halfway down the counter.

The woman behind me noticed what happened and chuckled. "Quite efficient here, aren't they?" I asked rhetorically. She smiled.

For some reason I found the entire situation insanely funny, so that by the time I got to the cashier, I couldn't even tell the guy what I had. I had burst out into laughter at how comical the whole event had come.

"What?" Cashier Man asked. "What's so funny?"

But I couldn't stop laughing. I was literally shaking.

Eventually I let it out. "Small roast beef." And I kept laughing.

"Everything okay? If anything's wrong, I need to know," he tried to help. I imagine he saw at least some of my aborted attempts to add stuff to my sandwich.

"It's all good," I responded. "It's all good."

It was a small sandwich, and not terribly filling, but at least it was cheap.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Some Advice on How to Be Insensitive (Without Really Trying)

He wishes he could do something. He wishes he knew what to do.

The woman down the hall is sobbing. It's the most awful sound he's heard in a long time. It's the sound of a woman's heart actually breaking.

It's the sound of a woman whose burdens have finally taken their toll. No matter how strong her back was before, she would be hard pressed to continue to survive this load.

He knows the woman. They've interacted on many an occasion and are friendly with one another. But their relationship lingers in that shapeless nebula between friend and acquaintance.

She's still sobbing. He's still pained by it.

It has long been common knowledge -- unspoken but for soft, dirty whispers that suggest juicy gossip but in fact betray sadness -- that her husband is a philandering cad. Word quickly and quietly has spread that this jag has been brought about by her discovery that he has taken a week-long cruise with his girlfriend -- while his wife is left to tend some books in the office, and to sob uncontrollably upon the discovery.

She is of a certain age, a certain generation and culture and background for which divorce is simply not an option. She has on many occasions shared her frustrations, her sadness, her fear, her anxiety with people that her husband is cheating on her. For some with whom she shares this information, their patience has begun to run thin; for them, her is unwillingness to take control of the situation and leave him causes endless frustration in the midst of her vulnerability.

She's on the phone, crying bitter tears and speaking in another tongue to an unknown confidant. She's packing up her things from the office she and her husband share. It's unclear where everything is going, but by the time she leaves her office, the walls will be bare, save for the picture hooks. Most of the paperwork will have made its way into one of many boxes, but the computer, printer, and lamp will likely remain where they are. She will probably not return to retrieve them, ever.

He sits down the hall, his heart quietly aching at the sound of so much suffering. In the movies, it's easy to disassociate oneself with a sobbing woman's trauma by letting oneself just think about what a phenomenal acting job she's doing. When an actual real-life acquaintance is cut to the quick, though -- stepping outside oneself takes substantial effort.

He steels himself. Closing the door would appear rude, even if his intentions were noble: she'd probably want to know, somewhere in the back of her mind, that her wailing wasn't necessarily absorbed by everyone around her. But then it would also appear as if he just couldn't be bothered with her problem, and so he shut the door on her. Either way, it's a cruel and heartless gesture, so the status quo wins out, and his door remains open.

He'd love to go to her and hug her, because he knows she needs it. He'd love to take the phone from her and tell whoever it is on the other end to just drop whatever s/he's doing and get over here pronto because Good God, man, can't you hear the pain in her voice? She needs you!

He sits alone, in his office, awkwardly trying to act as though nothing is happening.

He wishes he could do something. He wishes he knew what to do.

He wishes he had the balls to be a man.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

I am Fanning the Flames of My Faggotry*

I was walking home from having some drinks with some friends this evening (yes, it's a relatively early night) when I starting thinking to myself what I would do when I got home. Despite the fact that I have all three of my Netflix movies waiting for me, I had the hankering to pop in one of my own DVDs instead.

My internal monologue took me to Steel Magnolias, which I haven't seen all the way through in ages that which is always a fun movie (and by fun, I mean great catty lines as well as "sob like a baby" material). I figured I'd dig it out and pop it in when I got home.

When I got home, I realized that I had forgotten to turn the TV off when I left. It was set to ABC Family (Stepmom was on when I left). And what's on the boob tube?

Steel Magnolias.

I swear I'm psychic.

*Bonus points if you get this reference.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Out of the Locker Room, Out of the Closet

I read this morning that ex-Utah Jazz play John Amaechi has come out of the closet. That's some pretty cool news.

What's sad is that he is only the sixth former professional male athlete to do so, and that he still continues the trend that only former professional athletes feel comfortable acknowledging their homosexuality to their teammates.

Reading through the article, it's clear that all the interviews are meant to reflect a "eh, it's no big deal", laissez-faire, live-and-let-live attitude on the part of the reacting players. But I don't think it worked.

Check out Michael Wilborn's take on the reactions of other basketball players. I think he's got some great points. If I can, I'd like to try to add to them:

While LeBron James's response is spun as a trust issue, he places the burden squarely upon the wrong shoulders. Says James:

With teammates you have to be trustworthy, and if you're gay and you're not admitting that you are, then you are not trustworthy. So that's like the No. 1 thing as teammates -- we all trust each other. You've heard of the in-room, locker room code. What happens in the locker room stays in there. It's a trust factor, honestly. A big trust factor.

Wow. James does a great job of blaming-the-homo there. "I can't trust you if you're hiding something like that from me," he effectively says. Never mind that it's wholly unclear whether Amaechi could have trusted him (or any other player) to not let any prejudices interfere with the game upon such a revelation. (I speak as if they were on the same team; it's just easier that way. I'm referring to any hypothetical gay player on the same team as James.)

And why would any pro player think that it wouldn't change the dynamic and affect the game and the team? Shavik Rudolph's comment -- "As long as you don't bring your gayness on me I'm fine" -- may seem innocuous, but buried in that comment is a mistrust in and of itself. What, precisely, constitutes "bring[ing] your gayness on" someone else? The mind boggles at all the tiny little things that Amaechi would do from then on which would be tagged as "bring[ing] your gayness on" him. And the "awkwardness" in the locker room? That's your problem, not his.

Comments like this are rooted in the popular misconception that gay men will screw anything with a penis between their legs. Get over yourself, Rudolph. You ain't that hot. I wouldn't do you. I have no sexual desire for you whatsoever. There, does that help alleviate the awkwardness in the locker room?*

By the way, thought patterns like that have also generally formed the basis for many a hate-crime. Remember Matthew Shepard and the "gay panic" defense? Quick refresher: "Gay panic" is a "defense" (I use the term loosely) against hate crimes that says, basically, "the defendant did what he did because a gay guy may have hit on him, and he's not gay." (I say "may have" because sometimes it's based the mere perception of being hit on. "The faggot looked at me the wrong way, so I beat him up.") Yeah. So when Rudolph is saying to keep your "gayness" away from him -- well, it's just puts the edge on. Watch your step, Gay Man, because everything you do from now on will be filtered through the "You're Gay" lens.

Besides, if someone were to keep their "gayness" to themselves, what the hell is the point of coming out of the closet at all? Would this mean that Amaechi wouldn't even be permitted to talk about his dating life in the locker room? I can imagine the conversation:

"What are you doing tonight?"
"Nothing, me and my boy are just chilling at home."
"Dude, why'd you have to mention 'your boy'? Don't go bringing your gayness on me!"

If that's the case, hell, it might be easier just staying closeted.

And what's up with Steven Hunter's comments?:

As long as he don't make any advances toward me I'm fine with it. As long as he came to play basketball like a man and conducted himself like a good person, I'd be fine with it."

Okay, I've already addressed the whole "don't make any advances toward me" line of "reasoning." (By the way, you ain't all that either, Hunter.) Your criterion is that he play basketball "like a man"? What, because gay men are sissy queens?** Here's a hint: a really good trey usually requires a limp wrist. Look at your hand after you've tossed your last free throw. You'll see what I mean. Besides, if you're worried about someone prancing around the court in high heels and a dress, you needn't -- the NBA actually does have some standards in terms of ability to play.

And "conducting yourself like a good person" is, I would hope, a standard you attribute to all players, not just the gay ones. And yet it doesn't appear that you've bent over backward to condemn any of your fellow players who have had repeated run-ins with the law, nor have you really said much about on-court bench-clearing scuffles that involve sucker-punches.

Orlando's Grant Hill probably had the best response, recognizing the significance of Amaechi's decision and reflecting on its impact: "The fact that John has done this, maybe it will give others the comfort or confidence to come out as well, whether they are playing or retiring."

* Comments like this echo the military's "Don't Ask/Don't Tell" policy, which suggests that openly gay people can't effectively serve in the armed forces because it would affect morale. Again, though, the burden is placed on the homosexual: stay in the closet, because we can't expect your colleagues to get over their irrational prejudices and we'd just as soon let them cling to those prejudices than let you serve openly as any other soldier would.

** Though I have to admit that, if the straight world's knowledge of gay life is limited to what they see during news coverage of gay pride parades, I can somewhat understand this unfortunate stereotype.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Not So Smart.

So I had Jeopardy! on in the background tonight -- well, the first part of it, the part that comes before the lame contestant interviews -- and I found myself answering a bunch of the questions. Wow, I thought, this is easy. I can be on this show.

Then I realized they're in the middle of the Teen Tournament, and suddenly I felt all stupid again.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

He Also Had Perfect SAT Scores.

I was sitting around at Caribou Coffee this afternoon, reading and listening to my jukie (read: people watching and looking for cute boys). Even though there was music being piped directly into my ears, I could totally overhear the conversation taking place two tables away from me. Evidently, it was a college interview: sprite, peppy, cute little 17 year old was busy telling a nice young professional woman about his interests and goals so that the nice young professional woman could decide whether he and Princeton University were a nice fit. (Yeah, I really did hear quite a bit.)

The nice young man was, of course, quite academically talented, with his interests skewed toward science. Advanced education was definitely in his future -- like, an M.D. or a Ph.D. -- in a science-related field.

Then the following exchange took place:

Lady: So tell me more about your coursework and your interests.
Kid: Well, while I'm interested in science, I like to keep myself well-rounded, so I take a variety of classes [couldn't hear rest of this sentence, but I presume it was the standard bullshit about "I'm totally well-rounded and multidimensional and perfect and not a completely one-dimensional science geek" stuff]
Lady: Oh, well that's cool. What instrument do you play? [Okay, clearly he just mentioned his musical talents.]
Kid: Violin.
Lady: Of course. [Interview continues.]

Here's my question: Would the lady's "of course" have sounded just a little less racist if the high school kid wasn't a little Asian boy?