An Award-Winning Disclaimer

A charming little Magpie whispered this disclaimer into my ear, and I'm happy to regurgitate it into your sweet little mouth:

"Disclaimer: This blog is not responsible for those of you who start to laugh and piss your pants a little. Although this blogger understands the role he has played (in that, if you had not been laughing you may not have pissed yourself), he assumes no liability for damages caused and will not pay your dry cleaning bill.

These views represent the thoughts and opinions of a blogger clearly superior to yourself in every way. If you're in any way offended by any of the content on this blog, it is clearly not the blog for you. Kindly exit the page by clicking on the small 'x' you see at the top right of the screen, and go fuck yourself."

Monday, February 28, 2011

Awkward Friends

When "Rushmore" came out, I realized two things:

1.) I will never be as simultaneously cool and awkward as Jason Schwartzmann.

and

2.) I love movies about awkward, unlikely friendships.

In case it's been too long since your last finely-aged Wes Anderson fix, I will take great pleasure in reminding you that, to the jangly soundtrack of the British pop invasion, bespectacled, precocious, and sometimes homicidal Rushmore Academy student Max Fisher becomes close friends with local business magnate Herman Blume, who is approximately four decades Max's senior, and wears monochromatic shirt-and-tie combinations.

In one of several touching scenes, after a falling out, Max and Herman meet outside of Max's father's barber shop. Max is wearing a green velour suit and, in honor of his friend, sports a gold shirt with a identically-hued bowtie. Max pulls a velvet-covered box from his pocket and opens it to reveal two lapel pins, both adorned with the Rushmore Academy bee mascot. "I thought you could wear one and I could wear the other," Max says, in that charmingly awkward way of his. One says "Punctuality" and the other says "Perfect Attendance," and Max offers one to Herman, also a Rushmore alum. Herman is obviously touched, and takes a careful moment to consider his choice.

"I'll take Punctuality."

And, through the rest of the film, Max wears "Perfect Attendance" and Herman wears "Punctuality," with pride.

There are a lot of reasons why I love "Rushmore." We don't need to go into all of them here, but I think the main reason why I love "Rushmore" is because it's a film that celebrates a phenomenon that I find irresistable: the bond between two inconceivably-matched men. Incongruous friendships-- intensely loyal, often tumultuous, engaging, interesting, maybe 3% homoerotically-charged, but mostly goofy, tender, powerful, gentle and real.

Although I'm writing this post at 8:07pm, EST on Sunday evening, I feel pretty confident in betting that one of those films is going to win the Academy Award.

While ardent linguistic schdorks like my wife may have been super-jazzed about the speech pathology implications and particulars of the film, it's tender-hearted schleps like me who were moved by the unlikely friendship between an English monarch and an Australian speech specialist and occasional amateur thespian. They laugh together, they fight like bears, they curse (bugger bugger bugger fuck!) and they find a way to continue being friends for the rest of their lives, in spite of the fact that, really, those two had no business cavorting about behind the radio microphones of the times.

One of my other favorite films stars Stanley Tucci and Oliver Platt; it's called "The Impostors." Tucci plays Arthur and Platt plays Maurice, and they are two struggling stage actors who live together in impoverished circumstances. Together, they wind up as stowaways aboard a ship-- with hilarious consequences. Maurice calls Arthur "Arthie." They hug. They bicker. They sleep next to each other in little rickety twin beds. They fight crime together. And they practice making dramatic faces at each other. They share slices of bread and cups of tea and, when Maurice is ready to serve the meager feast, he makes sure, after thinking about it for a moment, to give his friend the bigger slice.

After a fight, Maurice pats Arthur's knee, to say, "I'm sorry" with no words. Arthur takes a sip of tea, nods his head silently, and pats Maurice's knee, giving it an extra little rub to say, "I know."

And I thought to myself and then out loud to Mrs. Apron tonight, where are these movies celebrating uncommon, kind of dorky, yet genuine and sincere and heartfelt female friendships?

"I don't get it-- why can't there be movies like that featuring to unlikely women friends? Or is every movie about female friendship, like, 'Sex and the City' or some horesecock like that?"

"Yeah," my wife said, "every movie about female friendship is, basically, that. Because women aren't allowed to be meaningful or awkward. We have to be hot and go shoe-shopping. I remember hearing an interview on NPR about a woman who kept getting cast as the stupid side-kick bitch in movies and she was like, 'No, this is a stupid device, and I'm not doing it anymore.' It sucks."

And it does suck. It goes hand-in-hand with the erroneous notion that women can't be funny. Women can have unlikely friendships in movies, and they don't have to be lesbians, or one hot chick and her awkward friendlette who is used for explication and emotional baggage unloading.

I don't understand why this can't happen. Would some intelligent feminist please explain this to me? I have to go not watch the Oscars.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Soon, I Will Jit in a Cup

And, later that day, I will blog about it.

Because that's the kind of society in which we live, and that's the kind of guy I am. And, fortunately, that's the kind of wife I have-- who will tolerate my exposing explicit and painful components of our lives to you, all-too-perfect strangers-- and not divorce me and/or pelt me in the junk with a tennis ball.

Such an act of junkular violence, obviously, would rather run counter to our procreation mission.

When we miscarried in the autumn of 2009, I innocently thought that we could wait the prescribed three months and just, you know, make it happen again. Turns out that, unlike ordering the "Rooty-Tooty Fresh & Fruity Breakfast," is easier said than done.

On Friday, Mrs. Apron went to a fertility clinic. They have prescribed her hormone medication. They're going to inject dye into her girl parts and take a look to see what shape everything's in. They're going to test her blood.

And, of course, they're going to test my spunk.

I'm not thrilled about this prospect, but I'm trying to be positive and mature about it. As you might imagine, neither comes naturally to me.

Heh-heh. "Comes."

See?

The good thing about the semen analysis is that I get to masturbate into a cup in the comfort of my own home on a Wednesday morning, and then drive it over to this clinic on my way to work. I don't have to do it in the exam room like some creepy bastard, and I don't have to let the scrubs-adorned pony-tailed chippy behind the counter know any of my peculiar pornographic proclivities. Which is nice.

What's going to be weird is that, on Wednesday mornings, my wife is at home. Like, how is this going to work-- logisitically speaking? I'll wake up, get dressed, walk the dogs before they explode all over the place, and then, like... what? Will I be here upstairs jackin' away while she's downstairs eating her "Smart Start"?

I mean, weirdsies.

There was a funny thing in the packet that says, "Occasionally, due to religious reasons, the sample may have to be obtained during intercourse. A special condom designed for this purpose will be provided." My wife read it to me and we laughed. Good ol' Catholics: saving the day with a dose of ice-breaking "Every Sperm is Sacred" comedy once again.

There is, of course, nothing funny-- about Catholics or infertility-- going on here, but I don't know what else to do at this point but be an idiot. Really, it's kind of my default. And thank God Mrs. Apron encouraged me, or at least allowed me, to blog about this.

"You realize that, if I do that," I said to her on Friday afternoon after her appointment, "that I'm going to do it my way, right?"

She smiled at me.

"I wouldn't expect anything less."

"Ha!" I laughed, "or more."

"Exactly."

I want a baby-- a son or a daughter, but not both at once, please-- and I will jit in a cup if it means that we'll be one step closer to the life we've wanted together for a very long time. I'm not in a rush or a hurry, but I am getting a little impatient to get started with this next part of our lives. It's not a contest, or a race, or a anything, really. And it's certainly not a joke. But, sometimes, it's really all I've got.

Well, that, and a hell of a lot of love.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Sexy, Flirty, Girly

When you come of age in a house with older sisters, they get "Victoria's Secret" catalogues mailed to them, and life is good.

I don't know how they settled on the name "Victoria" to be the emblem of enigmatic sexiness and playful roll-around-on-the-bed-ness. I mean, when I think of "Victoria," I think of this:



Which probably isn't the visual Victoria's Secret is going for.

Nevertheless, the brand has been wildly successful, not just with females-- their target audience-- but with burgeoning young males, semen practically leaking out their ears. I don't know if 14-year-old boys still get all kinds of jazzed up upon their first laying-on-of-eyes at a "Victoria's Secret" catalogue, now that the internet has made pornography as accessible as a wheelchair van, but there is no denying the utterly seductive power of those suggestive poses, those languidly draped legs, the come hither eyes, the mirage-like nipple protrusion from beneath a paper-thin camisole.

The pouting.

The hair.

In Spring, 2011, the most recent Victoria's Secret catalogue (that arrives at our house with comforting regularity after I purchased a delicious summer-weight bathrobe for my wife) there isn't a single model with hair shorter than below shoulder-length. Which says a lot, I think.

By the way, it's awfully difficult to focus on what I'm trying to talk about with the catalogue opened to page 67. There are eight, count 'em, eight photographs of barely-dressed vixens all vying for my undivided attention, which is, of course, divided by eight, if not sixteen if we're counting all the breasts.

Okay. I turned the page. I'm okay now. Well, sort of.

So, right-- the hair. While there are no models with short hair at all, anywhere to be seen, I was happy to note the inclusion of an incredibly hot Indian model, who looks great in the upper right-hand photograph on page 69 (sorry, that's really the page number, I can't do anything about it). So, while short-haired pixie-ladies may very well be sorely under-represented, at least Victoria's Secret is getting a little bit more international in flavor.

You know, when I set out to write this post, there were actually some intelligent points I knew I wanted to make, and I knew I was going to have to use the photographs in the catalogue to support my contentions, but, now that I've been leafing through this thing again, I'm sorry to report that my brain has turned to chili. I'm just another manschlub, staring at countless photographs of seductive, inaccessible women, while my wife crafts at the table across from me, and I feel dirty, horny, stupid, uneducated, ill-equipped to engage in reality-based thoughts or pursuits, and maybe that's the point. Maybe the point is that these catalogues, at the very worst, sell unrealistic ideas of sexuality to men and encourage women to hate their bodies, and, at the very best, they sell poorly-constructed, mass-manufactured sexschlock.

Hmpf...

I wonder what kind of bra Queen Victoria used to wear.

Friday, February 25, 2011

My Love Bug

On the fucking amazing police drama "SouthLAnd" (only two more episodes left this season! TNT! Tuesdays at 10EST!) Cooper, the hard-headed, square-jawed FTO (Field Training Officer) kicks ass and takes names during his shift in the ubiquitous black-and-white Crown Vic. At day's end, he kicks back and opens up the throttle on a black Dodge Challenger.

As Mrs. Apron and I were on our way back from this weekend's ski trip, a black Dodge Challenger with pro-police bumper and window stickers passed us by at a high rate of speed. As it came up on my rearview, I noticed that it bore the Thin Blue Line license plate, favored by the po-po for their civilian vehicles.

"Now, we're assuming that's being driven by a cop," my wife said to me, out of the blue.

"Mm-hmm. Most definitely."

"Do you think he watches SouthLAnd, and do you think that, if he does, the fact that uber-cop John Cooper drives that car influenced his car-buying decision in some small way?"

"No, not at all," I replied, "I think it dictated it in a huge, Hemi-powered way."

We're so susceptible, some of us, when it comes to mass media and cars that it's not even funny. Look at my sister. An ardent football lover, she takes her automotive cues from what the big, bad sumbitches on the field drive away from practice in: huge, black SUVs. Is it any accident that her last car was a huge, black Chevy Tahoe? With a $1,000 auxiliary deer guard? I think not.

Is it any accident that my first car was a 1966 Volkswagen Beetle?

No. That purchase was fated since 1984, when my aunt, visiting from Israel, babysat us and decided to pop "The Love Bug" into the Betamax player. She might as well have surgically implanted the VW logo into the very center of my heart and branded the number 53 onto my forehead.


I'm glad she didn't really do that, though. High school was awkward enough for me.

The Oscars are coming up this weekend. I won't be watching (I admit that I'll be quietly rooting in my heart of hearts for "The King's Speech") but I thought it would be a fun time to recognize and celebrate the film that changed my life forever. The film that spawned the longest-lasting obsession of my life (sorry, Mrs. A, you're a relative newcomer to the scene when compared to Herbie-- and you know it, too), the film that is more responsible for who I am than Gilbert & Sullivan combined (as they usually are), Monty Python, or any of my other fetishes/hobbies/interests.

What?! "The Love Bug" in the same breath as "The King's Speech"? Don't forget, Herbie didn't just rake in good mile-per-gallon ratings. He grossed the highest of any film in 1969.

When planning the film, the Disney folk didn't know they were going to rock and roll with a Pearl White 1963 sunroof edition Volkswagen Beetle. They set up a "casting call" and lined up a dozen vehicles, which were summarily inspected by officials involved in the planning of the film. How did they settle on the Beetle? It was the only car that grown men approached, and pet.


Wouldn't you just eat it up, if German engineering wasn't so bad for your teeth?

The car is undeniably adorable. The film, if you give it a chance, is charming, deftly acted by the, *ahem* human participants-- a first-rate cast of humanoid actors including Dean Jones, Michelle Lee, Buddy Hackett, and the fantastically dastardly David Tomlinson. The script is taut and clever. The racing sequences are convincing-- and why not? After all, they did substitute the 1963 Beetle's stock 40bhp engine with one liberated from a Porsche.


Zoom Zoom.

I don't know that there are too many people out there who can legitimately say they don't know who they'd be if they hadn't seen a certain film when they were four. I don't know who I'd be. I don't know what I'd pine for on ebaymotors. I don't know what I'd dream about gracing my driveway once I'm retired. I don't know what chrome and paint mystery I'd be lusting after if my heart hadn't been set so firmly aflame way back when. I don't know what movie I'd show to potential mates to judge their reaction to me-- to see if they'd accept loving a man who is in love with a child's film, and who has been so badly bitten by the Bug that it may very well one day consume him, and his bank account.

Mrs. Apron clearly passed the test.

"One day," she said, "you will have it, and I will help you get there. I just want you to learn how to fix it yourself first."

I thought about that for a little while.

"Fair enough," I said.

And, for one special occasion, she bought me the immense tome, "How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive: A Manual of Step-by-Step Procedures for the Compleat Idiot."

And, at once, I knew instantly that the love of a boy and the love of a man had intersected and would live forever in perfect, air-cooled harmony.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Nicolas Cage Is a Serious Actor

Really?

I hadn't been told.

Until Tuesday, that is.

The New York Times told me, so, therefore, it must be true. It's almost as definitive as being told something by Wikipedia.

See, there was this article, see, about a recent spate of fluff movies in which so-called "serious actors" appear and/or star.

If you doubt me (is it even possible?), the online byline read, "Nicolas Cage Is Among Serious Actors in Lightweight Films."

And that gave me a moment of pause.

I am of the opinion that people, and organizations, and mass-communications entities get away with things, statements, and/or actions because people do not take that critical moment of pause to analyze. We, as humanoid-type-folks are blessed with that ability to reason, to fact-check, to ascertain veracity and evaluate for truth or falsehood. We have this capability but rarely, I think, do we use it.

We should do that more often. Take a letter to that effect, Ms. Johnston. Thank you. And get me some more of those candied pralines. They're positively scrumptious.

Now, I'm not sure what substance A. O. Scott of the Times was enjoying/injecting when he wrote this unfortunate article about Nicolas Cage and his supposed status as a "serious actor," but I ran the statement "Nicolas Cage is a serious actor" through my wheezy little brain, filled as it is with vaginas and pralines and 1958-1967 VW Beetle trivia and airline disaster knowledge and warped humor base, and I came up with the answer:

Really?

Since when?

Since "Moonstruck"?

Oh, no, wait-- it must have been "Con-Air" that solidified Cage's status as an actor with some Olivier-like chops.

Dah! Shit-- stupid blogger. I forgot about "The Rock" where he totally proved he was up to the challenge of sharing not only film but air-space with Sean Connery.

Then again, that saccharine scrap he made with Michelle Pfeiffer about winning the lottery-- whatever the screw that was-- that was pretty serious.

Right?

The A.A.R.P. and the private protection industry got pretty serious about "Guarding Tess." Remember that?

Oh, right. Me neither.

(And that's all I could really muster up without the help of IMDB. Which brings me to the following horsecockery:)

Well, really, if you want to go back into the depths of time, it very well could have been his breakout performance as "Heartbreaker" in the television film, "Industrial Symphony Number 1: The Dream of the Brokenhearted."

What?

The Times article did me the favor of pounding out Cage's latest disgraces, which include the "National Treasure" aneurysms, "Ghost Rider," "Knowing," and "The Sorcerer's Apprentice."

If I am correct, the only two films that Nicolas Cage was involved in that weren't complete and utter ovine emesis were "Leaving Las Vegas" and "Adaptation." I didn't like either of them, but that doesn't mean that they weren't good movies.

HOWEVER:

I'm just not sure that making two decent, or even pretty good movies since your career began in 1981 makes you, or anyone else who has achieved similar heights, a "serious actor." Especially when you are either delivering all of your fucking lines with your eyes half-closed, in a lethargic, hung-over monotone, or you're screaming your goddamn head off.

Last time I checked, that wasn't serious acting. That's acting bipolar, which, apparently every character that Nicolas Cage plays must be. Which is quite an astonishing coincidence, seeing as only 5.7 million adult Americans have the disorder, and there are 307,006,550 people living in the United States, according to the July, 2009 U.S. Census. So, if my reticent calculations (done with my wife's crisp supervision) are correct, that means that, while only 1.8% of the American population suffers from bipolar disorder, 100% of Nicolas Cage's film characters do.

Which is not only serious, it's extraordinary.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

For What It's Worth

*** This post is dedicated to the memory of Poughkeepsie City Police Officer John Falcone, and to "Scribbler."***

The Stephen Stills song "For What It's Worth" starts like this:

"There's something happening here
And what it is ain't exactly clear
There's a man with a gun over there"

It's the beginning of one of America's most popular songs to have come out of the sixties. On its face, though, it could very easily be the set-up for a call that goes out over police radios thousands of times every year in this country.

"Unknown trouble."

"Man with a gun."

"Shots fired."

And off they go. Off they go.

On Friday, February 18th, Poughkeepsie City Officer John Falcone received a "shots fired" call over his radio. He was just a block away. The call was hot, as they say. He keyed his mic, indicated that he was responding, and he gunned the engine of his radio car. What he saw when he pulled up at the scene was a man waving a handgun. This scenario would present the responding officer, an eighteen-year veteran, with quite a challenge-- possibly the challenge of his career. How do you deal with an armed man? You draw on him from behind the safety of your door (that hopefully has a ballistic panel) and you command him to drop the weapon.

Sounds simple enough, right? But there's a little wrinkle with this particular event. See, the suspect in question has a gun in one hand, and a three-year-old child in the other.

When he sees Officer Falcone, he turns and runs. Falcone gives chase. It is procedure. It is instinct. It. is. heroism.

It would have been a heroic act even if Falcone had not been shot dead by the suspect. Sadly, though, he was, which is why it made the news. The officer died, but not before wrestling the child out of the suspect's arms, and handing the child over to a bystander. He then engaged the suspect in a struggle for his weapon, a struggle that ended in Officer Falcone being shot in the head, and the suspect, as they so often do, taking his own life. The original shots fired call was prompted when the suspect shot his estranged wife in the head, also killing her.

Officer Falcone's parents will now have to stand by as thousands of police officers from across the country bury their 44-year-old son. It isn't supposed to be that way. This three-year-old child will have to grow up and learn the tragedy that culminated in such a stinging bloodbath on a Poughkeepsie street one Friday afternoon. It isn't supposed to be that way.

When I listen to people who content themselves with criticizing "The Police," as if they're criticizing some homogeneous, corporate entity like "McDonalds" or "Rent-a-Center," I cannot help but get my back up. Maybe it's because I'm older than they are. Maybe it's because I have stood in my EMT uniform, a black band across my badge, and saluted the lifeless body of a Philadelphia Police Officer shot in the head for no reason other than that some shithead with nothing more to lose decided to John Wayne his way out of one more spot of trouble. Maybe it's because I've seen widows, barely old enough to be married, stumble out of churches sobbing hysterically on the shoulders of their fathers, bewildered at how their lives are falling apart just as they've begun.

Maybe it's because I'm a privileged, wealthy, caucasian whose mind has been successfully infiltrated by left-wing mass media and right-wing propaganda. Or is it right-wing media and left-wing propaganda?

Meh.

Maybe it's because I see a middle-aged man risking everything to save the life of a three-year-old child. Maybe it's because they see a cog in the wheel of corruption and oppression doing his job like the governmental tool that he is, the occasional good deed amidst a thousand pilfers from the evidence locker, the roughing up of suspects, the planting of dime-bags in the pockets of baggy jeans, the perjuries and the abuses.

If you've read the posts in this blog for any number of weeks, you know that you are reading the words of a cop wannabee. I tried. Oh, God, did I try. I hit the gym. I lifted weights. I was at the firing range-- unloading .22s and .38s at target after target. And I got pretty good, too. I ran my lungs out at the track. I trained. I tried.

But it wasn't enough.

I couldn't lift that barbell with 83% of my bodyweight on it, and that's the sad truth, because we're not talking about a lot of weight to begin with. I didn't do so hot on the written tests either. The FBI rejected me after I answered a long series of questions about situational judgment and my belief-structures, which, apparently, do not align themselves with a successful career in law enforcement.

The funny thing is-- in the job I do now, I do something very police-like, and I never really thought about it until just now. I'll be standing in the chart room at the hospital, joking around with a nurse or a doctor, and, cutting through the air, is the alarm that sounds when somebody pushes the panic bell.

There is trouble.

I'll let loose an automatic expletive and dash out the door, along with my coworkers, towards the trouble. It could be a patient in medical distress. It could be an assault or a suicide attempt in progress. Whatever it is, somebody thought it was emergent enough to summon help. And I go, because, when the bell goes off, somebody is in trouble and needs help. Plain and simple.

"You don't have to answer the bell, you know-- there's paperwork to do. There's other people here to answer it," my supervisor said to me once a couple months ago. I laughed in her face.

"And if everybody said that to themselves when the bell went off, nobody'd answer it," I retorted. "When that bell goes-- I go."

Because, in this life, there are the people who need help, the people who answer that call, and those who offer either support or critique. And maybe my tendency to offer support makes me naive or manipulated, and, if that's the case, I very much prefer it that way.

For what it's worth.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Selective Omission

I can remember very clearly the moment in 2004 when I told my mother that my then-girlfriend was taking me on a ski weekend. She was sitting on the living room chair, her legs criss-crossed underneath her, wearing one of her trademark, after-6pm-sweatsuits made by Russell Athletic (the kind I used to wear in elementary school-- no, to elementary school) and she looked at me. She looked at me with those thin-lips and those crinkly eyes that made you feel instantly that you were no longer talking to your mother, but rather a psychoanalyist, or an assistant principal. Or Carl Jung's assistant principal. In a gray sweatsuit.

Anyway, my mother looked at me and she asked one simple question, the way my mother often does. There isn't a barage of interrogatives or pejoratives. That would be a waste of carefully cultivated and conserved breath on her part. She uses her breath quite sparingly, though her wit gets a healthy dose of exercise. She tilted her head to one side and regarded me for a moment before asking,

"Now why would you go and do that?"

Of course, I know what she meant. I mean-- I'm her son-- even back in 2004. She didn't mean, "Why are you [specifically] doing that?" She knew why I, the carbon-based form of life that is, was, and always will be her only son, was going skiing. The answer to that question would have been quite painfully obvious: I was falling in love. And anybody who's ever known anybody who's ever fallen in love will tell you that people who fall in love do all manner of moronic, insipid, and/or potentially dangerous things. So, clearly my mother's question wasn't why I was going skiing. The question was: why would anybody go skiing?

Anybody. Ever. In the world. She could not fathom it.

And, really? I get that.

Why would anybody in their right mind shove their feet into constricting, heavy, ridiculous-looking boots, shove those boots into fiberglass planks (that you're then supposed to wax, you know-- to make them faster) and then hurl yourself down a fucking snow-covered mountain in the middle of winter?

After skiing now for seven years, even I can't really explain it. I guess for me it's still about love. Ski slopes are my wife's happy place, and now that she no longer skis with her father, I want to, and I guess I'm really supposed to be the man who makes that happen. Although, now that I have new skis and new boots that don't tear large chunks of skin off my feet, I'm actually really starting to enjoy it for its own sake. (Don't tell my mother! She worries!)

As you go through life, you hear a lot of stereotypes-- some perpetrated by mass media. Some by your family and your friends. Some by the balding jackshit in the burgundy button-down shirt at work. I don't really mind stereotypes very much, because they're either true, or they're ridiculous, or because I recognize them as defense mechanisms or tools of the ignoramuses in our midst. I generally just don't pay them much mind. But one stereotype in particular really sort of gets on my wick, and that's the stereotype of the Jewish mother as The Worrier-- especially when it comes to her children. I find this stereotype annoying for several reasons:

* It implies that other mothers don't worry about their children. I kind of have a problem with that.

* It paints the picture of Jewish mothers fainting on couches and having panic attacks and fanning themselves with large brassieres whenever little Schmuelie goes out with a couple of friends for the evening.

* It creates a very uneasy feeling inside of me when I talk about my mother to people who don't really know me very well and they go, "Oh, your mother must really worry about you!"

Well, actually, yeah. She does worry about me. She worries that I'm depressed. I think, in high school, she worried that I was gay. My freshman year in college, when I was mercilessly bullied and harrassed by 3/4ths of the residents of my hall, I'm sure she was worried that I was going to commit suicide. She worried about me the first time I was prepared to become a police officer. And the second time, too, eight years later. When I was a little boy, full of neuroses and eccentricities, I'm sure I gave her plenty to worry about, as I impersonated Andy Rooney in my room alone and memorized entire episodes of "Fawlty Towers" for fun. And, every day, she worries about me entering a locked psychiatric facility that houses some of the most acute and assaultive patients in the state.

Wouldn't your mother worry about that? And wouldn't she worry about that whether she was Jewish or not? I kind of think so.

My mother doesn't worry because she's Jewish. She worries because she has chronic anxiety. Once, when I was seven or eight, she told me about a nightmare she had. She and the three of us kids were playing on the beach on summer day, and she saw some ships in the distance. By the time they got close, thousands of what she described as "naked, screaming Koreans" started jumping off the boats into the water, and then running towards the beach-head, screaming their heads off. "There were thousands of them," my mother told me, "running and screaming towards us, and I scooped all three of you up and I ran."

Now, I don't know what you think-- but I don't think that's the dream of some Jewish mother worry-wart stereotype; that's the dream of someone who's scared to take a piss lest Jaws sinks his teeth into her ass.

"We don't need to tell your mother that I bonked my head on the ski-slope today," Mrs. Apron said to me on the way home from the Poconos last night. "All we need to tell her is that you did really well and are making fabulous progress."

"No shit," I said, "it'll be like the news from Russia-- selective omission. We'll just conveniently forget to tell her, also, about the guy we saw lying in a snowdrift waiting for EMS who was shouting about his broken arm, and we don't need to tell her about parents who send their five-year-olds down black diamond slopes, and we don't need to tell her that we ski around people who are probably inebriated by one o'clock in the afternoon either."

"Ah, news by selective omission-- it's really better that way," my wife said confidently.

"Fuckin' aye."

Monday, February 21, 2011

Don't Forget the Rice Cooker

I'm going to ask you to do something now that might seem untoward, or at the very least, strange for a blogger to ask of a reader.

Close your eyes.

Shh, don't speak. Just... just close your eyes. Lightly, yeah-- just like that. Let those lovely lashes flutter for a nanosecond before they come together. That's right, you've got it. Now, in your mind's eye, picture, if you will, the typical North American skiier.

What comes to mind?

Blond hair. Eyes of ice blue-- scanning the vast whiteness of the terrain for those double black diamonds-- the perfect challenge for the ruddy-cheeked, wind-burned Adonis as he pummels the powder astride his freshly tuned Rossis, clad only in a North Face fleece, a pair of Nantucket Red Dockers, black plastic Ray Bans from Tom Cruise's '80s wardrobe closet, and the breath of snow angels at his back.

He is brave. He is statuesque. He is intoxicated on ski lodge lager. He is faster than a Bugatti Veyron. He is not to be challenged, dared, or bedded without extensive Chlamydia testing.

He is.... a ski bum.

Yesterday, though, at least, in the Pocono Mountains, this creature was elusive-- if not outright invisible. The traditional, WASP-y, chiseled powerhouse was nowhere to be seen. Every stereotype of the ski bum, with his giggling little chippy on his arm with her sweatpants waistband rolled over three times for maximum belly-to-camel-toe ratio, was shattered for me and my wife as we took to the slopes for the first time this season.

It was a veritable United Nations of ski afficianados, and, while that is a wonderful thing-- it was also a little confusing.

I mean, there were Asians popping up like little snow squirrels. They were positively EVERYWHERE! And I know it will sound thoroughly racist to say this-- but you can tell they're Asian, especially the children, even when they have their little helmets and goggles on.

And, I know it's going to sound really, um, awful when I say this, but you can sure tell they're Asian when you sit down to eat lunch with them at the lodge.

First, though, you have to deal with the poor Australian lady with the two little boys whose seat you're trying to snag but can't until she fully dresses her two little boys but, oh! she can't do that because, every time she puts the mittens on one boy, the other one pulls his off, because THAT'S funny!

Once you do sit down, at a cafeteria-style table occupied by you, your wife, and an entire family of Asians, you know it.

How? Because there is an unbelievable smorgasboard of Asian yumminess on the table. As you plow greedily through your ham-and-cheese sandwich (on challah bread-- take THAT, God!) and your wife puts oaty-crumblies into her yogurt, the family occupying every other seat at the table is enjoying Christ only knows what out of THREE RICE COOKERS that are simmering on the table. Vanilla Creme sandwich crackers, chips and dip, nuts, a gigantic bowl filled with hundreds of grapes, hot drinks, cold drinks, weird Asian drinks. One of the pert Asian mothers was flitting around with a Bodum filled with boiling water for tea. Dumplings and sauces and dips. And... smells. After a little while, my nosehairs singed with the uncommon odor of what could only be described as the bottom of a neglected pet-store aquarium mixed with soy sauce. I turned to glance and the girl sitting next to my wife was most certainly consuming a bowl filled to the top with piping hot brown rice and and piping hot black eel.

At... the ski lodge.

Seated at the table behind us were two Orthodox Jewish girls with their marginally-awkward-looking significant others. The girls were wearing snowpants and, to comply with a fashion-conscious Exalted One, skirts as the top-most layer.

Skiing in skirts. Hell-- why not? I ski in a necktie. Because, eight years ago, my wife told me I couldn't.

There were Indians and African Americans and other Middle Eastern looking people, and even Charles Manson showed up to give his trembling, twelve-year-old son a ski lesson!

As I waited about forty feet down the slope from its beginning so my wife could adjust her snowboard, I got a front-row seat to some stellar parenting techniques as this father literally shoved his son, who clearly would rather have been roasting on a spit rather than be anywhere near this ski slope, down the hill saying, "You are NOT going to ruin this for me, now get your ass down that hill!"

Now I ask you: is that how a traditional, square-jawed, Chapstick-loving, Chablis-swilling ski-bum would speak to his kith and kin?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Another Year

I was more sad about the fact that the movie theatre wouldn't accept my Fandango card than I was about how sad the movie was.

This is not to say that it wasn't a sad movie, because it was. And I loved it.

"Another Year," by Mike Leigh (who inspired serious man-crushing times within me after his 1999 masterpiece, "Topsy Turvy") is not, perhaps a film for those who think middle age is going to be some sort of placid, taciturn glide through calm waters.

Or maybe that's exactly who it's for.

It is perhaps a warning, a gentle, mesmerizing warning that, no matter how stable and low-key and together you and your weak-chinned spouse may be at 62-ish, the two of you will be basically a lightning rod or a mosquito lamp for all the self-absorbed, alcohol-infused, neurotic cray the cruel, obscene world has to offer. Your charming twin and your patch of community garden and your Volvo V-70 "estate" may very well be oases of calm, orderliness, and tranquility, but your family members will be sweaty, drink-and-cig machines, or raspy-throated, emaciated, dirty, mildly-retarded, vacant-eyed ghosts. Your friends will be people whom you actually cannot stand-- clingy, wine-swilling, socially inappropriate, boundary-busting, insecure, disordered, ridiculous waifs who dress as though they're twenty years younger-- every wrinkle holding a thousand lies.

It's not a very comforting view of life, and the thought, at least in the back of my head was: "Is this what I'm struggling and striving for in my thirties-- so my sixties can look and feel as awful as this?!" But it was beautiful to watch.

The actors in Leigh's film may not be much to look at, but they are all brilliant. Every dart of the eye, every pained smile, each line in Jim Broadbent's face gives you a clue as to what his character Tom is thinking. There are a dozen unsaid lines for each one that is uttered, and the script is unclouded, honest, and terribly painful and desperately funny. Just, I suppose, like life is supposed to inevitably and inexorably be.

We took my 22-year-old sister-in-law to the movie on Friday night.

"Thanks for taking me to see the most depressing movie ever made," she said. Obviously, she's never seen "Glory" or that one where Mr. Bean is a fucking policeman.

I get made fun of a lot for liking "depressing things." Sad music, mostly. Folk songs about coal mining disasters or people dying, or lovers growing old-- things like that. And I see how that can be seen as dumping some coal on the fire that is quite possibly depression with a capital D. And I see how being attracted to films like "Another Year" can seem strange. When my sisters and I saw "Big Fish," during the last scene, where he's carrying his father to the river and all of the bizarre characters from the entire film are crowded around to say goodbye I cried so hard in the movie theatre people around me were probably a little disturbed. But I bought the movie the first day it became available on DVD.

Because it was beautiful. And painful. And I think there's some component in my brain whereby the one is the perfect complement to the other.

The songs that I love aren't just, you know, sad. There's also tremendous artistry. Kat Eggleston picking out a song on her guitar about the the choice to go back to a time in your life and observe your parents young and healthy and spry-- "if someone gave you the power... would you go... home?" is a gorgeous song. It's complex and meaningful and poignant. It's not easy to flush. It's not Justin Bieber hair-flicking tripe.

"You know what I mean?" I said earnestly, during a conversation with my wife in the dining room yesterday afternoon, as we talked about the crossroads where art and depression intertwine in my heart.

"Yes," she said, "you like being sad."

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Popeus Corpus

*** Disclaimer: If you are Catholic and/or can't take a joke, you might want to click out of here and read The New York Times or go pick out a new baby at J.C. Penney's or something.***

Call it a shameless publicity stunt, but the Vatican announced today its plan to exhume the coffin containing the earthly remains of Pope John Paul II, which will be on-view for his beatification ceremony on May 1st. The Vatican has warned faithful Catholics and scalper wannabees that no tickets are required for entrance into this event of questionable taste.

To me, this is the Catholic Church's way of boosting its ratings. Remember when Coy and Vance came on "The Dukes of Hazzard" for that unfortunate period of time while John Schneider and Tom Wopat were on strike? Well, God-- that was just fucking awful, wasn't it? What did they do to save the show? They brought back Bo and Luke-- the real fucking deal, yo, the way it's supposed to be. Can you imagine if Catherine Bach had gone on strike and they brought in, like, Martha Plimpton to be her cousin Rita? That just wouldn't have gone anywhere good.

They way I look at it-- Ratzinger's bad for ratings. And when you're in a slump, any religious official or TV executive will say the same thing: dump Coke Zero, bring back Coca Cola (with cocaine). A little dabb'l do ya.

N'yah mean?

It's a shame that a pope who's been dead since 2005 is vastly more popular than the real, live pope they've got goin' on now, but that's the sad reality of the situation. It is what it is. Ratzinger alive will never be as universally loved as John Paul the II dead-- whether that story about him curing the 49-year-old nun of Parkinsons is true or not. I mean, I'm skeptical, frankly. She was a nun after all.

Can you say, "inside job"?

They should have just beatified him a long time ago, just for being cool. I mean, people have Pope John Paul II cause ribbon magnets on the back of their Chevy Equinoxs, for Christ's sake. That, to me, says that this champ is worthy of a little beatificment. You don't see anybody with cause ribbons in support of World Masonic Apron Day, do you? And that's why they aren't beatifying me. That, and because I eat egg-rolls filled with ground-up Christian baby meat.

If you want my personal opinion (thank God I'm writing this for a Saturday when [hopefully] no one is reading) if this dude is so fucking miraculous, I think he should exhume himself. Forget the shovels and the front-end-loaders and the backhoes and the dirty Mexicans they're going to have to pay three dirt coins a day to do all this digging-- why can't he just ascend from the grave on his own? Seriously, they could hold, like, a communion wafer over his tomb and be all like, "Here Popey, Popey, Popey!" and he'd just soar on up there.

You know. If he was really so cool.

If John Paul came back from the dead, I would want him to be a fucking Ninja Pope. Like in the Monty Python sketch, "The Bishop" (GOOGLE IT! I COMMAND THEE!) he would be all cool and shit, and he'd throw those star things and have nunchucks and make loud Asian-inspired noises, which would sound absolutely hilarious coming out of the mouth of an old, Polish dead guy in papal robes.

Oh, snap. I'm thinking screenplay. You in?

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Rest Is Silence

U. S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has been silent for nearly five years straight during oral arguments-- and a lot of people are talking about that.

(You like that?)

Whatever you may think about Clarence Thomas as an adjudicator supreme with pickles, special sauce, and a sesame seed bun-- whatever you may think about his alleged propensity for doing socially unacceptable things to other peoples' Coke cans, you've got to admire somebody who has the balls to be quiet for that long.

Well, at least... I admire him. For that.

Call me young, dumb, and full of pubes, but I like to think that, when people are quiet or, dare I say, silent: they're listening. Sure, sometimes people are daydreaming about boobies or their cats or their feet or scallops and scampi at Red Lobster-- I can appreciate that, but I would hope that a Supreme Court justice who has been quiet for that long is taking it all in, in an introspective way, surveying the scene, ticking away the points of attorneys and fellow justices in his head... taking it all in, the way one might at a museum.

Do you know what I think about people who talk too much at museums? I think they should be arrested on the spot and forced to wash dishes in the kitchen adjacent to the overpriced cafe that peddles cafe au lait and panini. And those charged with supervising their involunatry detention and servitude should say to them, "You want to run your mouth inside a museum? This is the place to do it. And I hope you know Spanish, because Paco over there's got a great story to tell you about his older sister, a pair of nylons, a roll of duct tape, a chinchilla, and a microwave."

You might be surprised that someone who blogs so, um, incessantly(?) is a proponent of silence in certain situations, but I definitely am. Oftentimes, it is most called-for. Believe it or not, but I am frequently silent. Either that, or I say far, far too much. There is no in-between with me. I'd say "I'm working on it," but I'm not.

I've been going to a series of trainings at work and, while others at the intimidating-looking ovoid table in the intimidatingly-named board room participate energetically, I am more often than not silent. Even though I started in early September, I still can't help sometimes feeling like the new guy. And what new guy wants to open up his trap and be judged? And who wants to hear the new guy make an ass out of himself?

I know, that's all coming from within. I get it. I do. Still, sometimes it's just so hard to speak. I'd rather listen, and judge everybody else.

After all: that's what I'm really good at-- isn't it?

As far as Clarence Thomas goes, I don't know especially what he's good at. Never met the guy, you know? I don't know. All I do know is he's not being paid that exorbitant sum of money and wasn't granted that forever-if-you-please title for talking. We're not paying him to talk. We paying him, really, to think. To pontificate. To evaluate. To adjudicate. To deliberate. To interpret. Yeah-- to think. And, the last time I checked, it's hard to do that while running your mouth like you've got something to prove to someone, or to yourself.

Maybe I just like the strong, silent type.

Shhhh....

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Oh, Technology: Stop Driving a Wedge Into My Ass Already, Will You?

A couple of years ago, my wife and I and another couple went on a joint vacation to Lancaster County during July 4th weekend. We toured some fucking place-- I don't remember what the hell it was-- and this bitch in a bonnet tour guide tried to lay some smack down on us about how the Amish way of life-- eschewing electronica and whatnot-- is the way to go because, clearly, "technology is driving a wedge between us."

Really, we all know it's about them not paying taxes. But I won't tell anybody if you won't. It can be our little secret.

It's hard to convince a habitual blogger with a 3G cellphone that technology is driving him apart from other people. I mean, really-- I don't need technology to isolate myself; I'm quite adept at doing that on my own. And I was socially awkward before Aspergers became cool, too.

Technology brought me and my wife together on Tuesday night to watch Watson fucking annihilate Ken Jennings and that bearded D who looks like a yacht playboy from the '70s. I have no doubt that the IBM technology that was on display from the 14th-16th of February on Jeopardy! brought a shitload more people "together" than Jeopardy! normally does. Outside of assisted living facilities and minimum security white collar prisons, that is.

While the spectacle was just a big advertising handjob for IBM, I've got to say, I was pretty fucking impressed. And it takes a lot to impress me-- believe me, people have tried and, outside from perfectly performed patter songs or athletic amateur porn flexibility, attempts to impress me generally don't measure up. "Amadeus" at the Walnut-- America's oldest theatre-- left me overcome with the blah's. And we left at intermission, courtesy of my wife's migraine.

(I was all set to ask her if we could go before I knew she was really going through it.)

You know how kids are always like, "Daddy! Look at me! I'm doing a headstand" or some shit? My kid's going to have to be reading the evening news behind a desk in his bedroom with make-up on his eyebrows for me to take notice.

Ironically, though, while being brought together in front of a piece of technology (our flatscreen TV) to behold a piece of technology (Watson) kick the ass of a skeevy guy and a Mormon, the piece of technology that I marveled at the most on Tuesday night had nothing to do with IBM or Mormonism. It had to do with Jefferson University Hospital.

In our viewing area, as those of you who are blessed to live near my zipcode can attest, there was a slick, fancy-pants commercial put together by the super-skilled and probably still virginal A.V. folks at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.

(NB: I think it's funny that hospitals have commercials, but that's a post for another day.)

Anyway, this piece focused on the Endoscopy Department and relatively decent-looking physicians whose first language is English were discussing the merits of newly-developed (say it with me now, Amisherkinderlings) TECHNOLOGY that the hospital's researchers have recently developed.

Get this: it's a fucking camera inside a pill. You swallow it, and they follow its path through your intestines and they can diagnose what's wrong with your smacked-up G.I. system.

And then, you poop it out!

Amazing, right?

My wife, who has GERD, (HIPAA VIOLATION!!!!) turned to me after the commercial's conclusion, slackjawed and said,

"Holy shit! That is so fucking cool!"

"I KNOW!" I exclaimed. And then I got hit with a stroke of genius. "What if they could mount a mini camera on a penis--"

"Oh, Jesus," she said. That's right. Here it comes-- too late to stop.

"Yeah! And you get a guy to fuck a chick who's having, like, vag problems! And the doctors are sitting there in the control room watching it zoom in, zoom out. Zoom in. Zoom out! Get it?"

"Oh," she said, "I get it."

"And then you get a gay guy to put the camera on his dick when some other gay guy has prostate cancer, or rectal cancer, and then you fuck him with the Dick Cam 2000. It's GENIUS."

Technology driving us apart-- please. What a crock of shit. I guess no Amish chicks'll be getting their sick pussies fucked by the Dick Cam anytime soon.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

On Icarus

They say that, overwhelmingly, the last phrase most frequently uttered inside of a commercial airplane's cockpit about to be demolished in a crash are, "Oh, shit."

The NTSB, the governing body charged by the United States government with investigating airplane accidents, reviews all cockpit voice recordings (CVRs) that are recovered after a fatal aviation accident. During the course of its investigations, this body frequently administers a test to measure stress in the voice of individuals in the cockpit, such as the pilot, the copilot, or the first officer. It is a neat way to tell if the pilots were surprised by whatever weather-related anomaly or mechanical failure or explosion that started the inevitably fatal chain-of-events, and it measures how calm they are able to remain as they struggle to reclaim control of a doomed airliner, whether they are working in concert with, or at cross-purposes, with each other in the final seconds of their lives. And the lives of everyone else onboard.

As a result of these stress tests, it has been determined that this often-uttered final utterance, "Oh, shit" isn't frequently said with high stress, with great force, or even as just a regular, run-of-the-mill exclamation. It is often said dryly, flatly, in a resigned way that indicates an experienced pilot knows, in the final milliseconds of his or her life, that this plane cannot be reclaimed, and into the Pacific Ocean, or mountaintop, or field beyond the desired runway it will go. It will just go.

Oh, shit.

Through circuitious circumstances, I got to thinking about Icarus yesterday. These things tend to happen when I have a week-day off. I'm here in the house, alone, noodling around-- tending to this or that, listening to taciturn, introspective folk music, and it just... happens. I hadn't thought of Icarus since 5th grade, when we all studied our mythology. I was assigned Hades, and I came to school dressed as him for the culminating project. I loved Hades, because he was dark and terrifying, and he embodied everything that I found dark and terrifying-- so I embraced him. I'll show you, mortals. Dip your toe in my little River of Styx and we'll see what's what.

Oh, shit-- right?

I don't remember which of my classmates were assigned the tale of Icarus and Daedalus, but I remember being impressed by-- and probably a little jealous of-- the wings-- fashioned out of string and popsicle sticks, glue, feathers, and sticks. I don't think Daedalus himself could have done better. I was sure their parents had helped them. But what of that? My mother made my Hades hat.

The morals of the tale of Icarus and Daedalus are plenty, and uninspired, and done and done over again.

Listen to your parents.

Don't fly too high.

Remember, you're only human.

Be mindful of danger.

Don't be prideful.

The sun is dangerous. Don't forget your Lancome Bienfait Super Fluid Facial, SPF-50.

Icarus is easy to dump on, from the comfort of an armchair firmly entrenched in reality's living room. Stupid shit-for-brains: what did you think was going to happen?

Well. I kind of have a soft spot in my heart for the kid. And I would think that anybody who is an enthusiastic participant in the uniquely American rat-race for popularity, for "Likes", for "Friends", for advancement, for prominence, for a legacy might do well to smile kindly on this poor, broken body whose wings are besmirched with melted wax.

I wonder what his last words were. Probably something more eloquent than, "Oh, shit." After all, this is mythology we're talking about here-- a high art-- meant to lift us up, ascending towards Phoebus.

On Monday, a well-intentioned coworker asked me what I wanted to be when I grow up. "Surely you don't want to do this-- work here in a psych hospital-- for the rest of your life," she, a nurse, said.

"God," I sighed, "I don't know, Mary. I just don't know."

And my mind drifted away to the relaxation group I run for the patients. Seated on floral cushions in wicker rockers, they gently drift off to sleep as light Victorian piano music plays for them on the CD player, and I take them on a guided visualization. I always start by having them imagine they're on the beach, all alone, lying on their backs on the warm sand, the glorious sun warming their faces. Through the journey, they end up under water, gliding amongst the fish and the coral, and, the way I tell it, they inevitably end up giving the water a gentle kick and they soar up, up, and up as their heads break through the waves and they soar through the sky-- upwards towards the sun.

"I don't know," I said, smiling faintly, "but, for now, I love what I do."

"Well," she said, "I'm glad you're here."


Me, too.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Is It Wrong...

* that I imagined coworkers yesterday waddling around with their Valentine's Day bouquets shoved, flower-first, into their assholes?

* that I wanted the Watson computer to give Ken Jennings an energetic roundhouse to the face?

* that I think Asians are all good at math and make silly, high-pitched noises when intercoursed?

* that I talk about swamp-ass... at work?

* that I probably don't shower as much as I used to?

(Maybe hence the swamp-ass?)

* that I think of those nasty pictures of STDs they showed us in 10th grade whenever I look at cauliflower, pickles, pictures of certain "friends" of mine on Facebook, and cottage cheese?

* that I put the comma after writing a date with the "th" after the number, like "February, 15th, 2011" even though I know it's superfluous if you use the "th"?

* that I say inappropriate things all the time, like "assdribble" and "jizzdonkey"?

* that I don't iron my dress shirts? (If they're really bad, I just throw on a sweater!)

* that sometimes I forget to give the dog his Chondroitin?

* that, while patients are talking to me about their overdoses and extensive histories of trauma, I am sometimes engaged in the act of slowly and silently squeezing out a fart?

* that, at age 30, I still can't address a grown man as "Dick" without fighting passionately against the urge to laugh in his face? (His DICK FACE!)

* that I don't want to live near my sister?

* that I can't stop thinking about cheating... on my car?

* that I listen to NPR for the entirety of my 35-minute-long commute to work and still have no idea what the fuck is going on in the world?

* that I don't want to talk to a single one of my neighbors as I pass by them while walking my dog, or walking to my car, despite the fact that they all probably think I'm the next Unabomber?

* that I get really excited when I have a clean poop, where nothing appears on the toilet paper after wiping? (This is also known as the "Immaculate Shitception," in religious circles.)

* that I just wrote that last one?

* that I derive extreme pleasure out of making fun of people who are less fortunate than I, and more fortunate than I, and who I suspect are on rather equal footing as well?

* that I didn't know what the fuck to write about today, so I decided on taking the path of least resistance and wrote out this shitty list?

* that I eschew modern conveniences, such as Blackberries, emoticons, re-appropriated men's hairstyles from the 1970s, and Skechers?

* that I maintain that Valentine's Day is for insecure D-bags?

* that I love doing this shit?

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Pyramid Scheme... Birthday Party

So, it's Valentine's Day, which means nothing in our house.

Oh, not because we don't love each other-- we do love each other, very much (don't you pay attention when I write about my Mrs. Apron?) but because we started cyber-courting on February 16th, which gives us a very convenient excuse to say "Fuck you" to Valentine's Day. We celebrate our love for each other on February 16th-- and pretty much whenever we remember to do it. Like while we're in the car together, talking about linguistics, or operetta, or cop-killing, while we're baking or watching "Teen Mom 2" or whatever.

And, as I was driving to work yesterday morning (yes, I work every other weekend-- Saturday AND Sunday, which is gay. And by "gay" I mean that the fact of me working every other weekend is akin to a gentleman inserting his penile shaft into the anus of another man and moving it around and stuff.) I was thinking to myself, "Gee, if the anniversary of the beginning of our romance together is on February 16th, what holidays/special events in our lives come after that?"

I like to think ahead, see.

My sister's birthday is March 31st. But that doesn't really count. If you don't know why, read a couple posts ago. The one where I write about her moving across the street from me. They just signed papers yesterday. Kill me.

My father's birthday is April 2nd, as is my mother-in-law's.

And then, whoo, babytittycakes: It's mine.

Thirty-one.

Everybody knows that a person's thirty-first birthday is about as exciting as an eleven-year-old Mercury Sable. With cloth interior. Of course, the only birthday of mine about which I've ever gotten excited was my sixteenth birthday, because I could drive and was finally able to legally buy a jar of Vaseline and a box of Kleenex at the same time at CVS. It's been pretty much downhill from that point on as far as my birthdays are concerned. Excitement and joy for my wife's birthday (October 9, in case you're curious) have far supplanted any interest in my own natalness.

Because I don't drink, 21 was just... awkward. As were pretty much all the ones that followed-- except for my 26th, which I celebrated with my wife in Bali on our honeymoon, which easily kicked all of my other birthdays right in the dick. We went on a 20-mile bike ride and I opened presents on a gigantic pillow-top bed in a hotel that we could never afford in America unless I worked 86 hours a week for a year and sold my blood and semen for five months straight.

My 30th birthday was pretty cool, too. My wife kidnapped me and took me to a folk music retreat. I met Nathan Rogers. If you know who he is, you know that's pretty cool. And if you're Nathan Rogers and you got here by Googling yourself, it's okay. I do it, too. But, funnily enough, I never end up here.

But seriously, Crash Bandicoot, knowing that my birthday is a mere three months away got me kind of thinking about my birthday, which sounds like a really annoying thing to say but, hey-- you must be used to that sort of thing by now. I was thinking about how I'd like to spend my birthday, and all I could come up with, while driving to work on a Sunday morning, was "at home with my wife." I could care less about the dogs. They could be there, or not. Actually, maybe if they were somewhere else, that would be better.

Just looked at the calendar for May. My birthday's on a Thursday. Unless the world alters drastically, I will be working from 7a-3p. There goes that idea.

While making preparations for my thirtieth birthday, my wife sat me down and, with seriousness uncustomary, said, "You know, if you want me to invite a bunch of friends over for a party, I hope you'll be honest with me and let me know so I can plan it." I looked at her. "if... you know... that's what you want."

"Sure," I said, "that's actually a good idea. And then, instead of a cake, maybe you can jam a fork into my left testicle and twist it around like you're wrapping spaghetti around a meatball."

And we all had a jolly good laugh.

It's not that I don't like my friends, it's just that I barely have any. And the friends that I do have are all from such disparate sections of my life that I am convinced a gathering with all of them would probably be one of the most awkward, bizarre, unfortunate events with cocktail weiners to occur since Bill Gates was knighted. I mean, can you imagine the painful attempts at small-talk at that shindig?

We decided that what would be in order for the two of us would be a Pyramid Scheme Birthday Party, (it's the only way we'd amass enough people for a, um, party) where ambiguous yet exciting invitations were sent out to a select group of individuals. These unfortunates would be given a time (probably, like, tomorrow) and place (probably, like, some warehouse) to show up, but they had to bring with them at least three other people who would benefit from this once in a lifetime opportunity.

And there would be pie-charts on butcher-block paper on easels and some guy in a monochromatic shirt-and-tie combination with pit stains and thinning hair talking about widgets and things. And then we'd all eat cake.

Maybe I'd like that. Except for all the people.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Prime (Rib In a Bowl) of Miss Jean Brodie

Soup goes in bowls.

Chili goes into bowls, too-- as does guac and salad (though that goes on small plates, too, but if you've got any good quantity of it, you're going to be jonesing for that bowl) and shredded cheese that you will then put on nachos.

Hey, speaking of nachos? Bowl.

You would be hard-pressed to put sour-cream dip and potato chips on a plate. I mean, that's just silly. You put that shit in a bowl, because it's, well, right.

You know what's not right? Putting meat in a bowl.

Oh, America. Sometimes you're so silly-- pretending it's normal to put meat in a bowl. Imagining that society will wantonly accept the fact that it will now be socially acceptable to consume meat with... a spoon?

Meat with a spoon? Get outta my pants! We don't even know each other that well yet!

Wawa, easily the creme de la creme of convenience food purveyors in my neck o' de woods, Mr. Boss-man, is in the throes of trying to convince us that we are not descending down a peg or two on the evolutionary ladder by consuming appreciable quantities of meat that are now coming to you live, via satellite, in bowl format.

There's a very large billboard where I-676 meets I-76 encouraging us to purchase

PRIME RIB: SHORTI (that's a small hoagie to you foreigners) OR BOWL: $3.99.

Prime rib. In a bowl.

Does that seem wrong to you? If it doesn't, maybe you ought to un-follow me, just like former Apron-lover 191, who fucked off yesterday, presumably because s/he is a fan of York Peppermint Patties.

Well, excuuuuuuuuuuuuuuse me!

Now, getting back to beef in a bowl: I admit that I consume some food of questionable virtues. I get it. I've been to all-you-can-eat sushi buffets. I've been to non-ironic smorgasbords in Lancaster County where they serve, much to my genteel vegetarian wife's horror, bacon dressing. I've eaten triple-decker sandwiches. Pork roll. Scrapple. Just as Jesus may have died on the cross for you, more animals than I can count have perished from this earth in the interest of winding up in the southeastern Pennsylvania sewer system after being forcibly ejected from my brittle little body.

You know who's supposed to eat meat out of a bowl?




I mean, that makes sense to me. But... I don't know. Prime rib. People meat? In a bowl? For $3.99?

Something says to me that this is beyond the pale.

"I mean-- who are they kidding?" my wife said to me on the way home from a downtown theatre outing one night, the gargantuan billboard illuminated by the moon and the auxiliary lighting at its base, "that is just the most disgusting thing I've ever seen."

There was a momentary pause as I checked her with my peripheral vision.

"Oh-- yeah. Yeah, that's, um, that is just awful."

Another pause, this one more tense.

"Promise me you will never eat that," Mrs. Apron said.

My eyes flicked momentarily up and to the right. Classic.

"I promise."

That was months ago, and I've kept my promise, even after winning a $10.00 Wawa giftcard at work as part of a "Good Catch Award" for noticing that a deranged elderly patient had turned his oxygen concentrator up from 2 liters per minute to 6, which could have blown his lungs out.

I've spent some of the money on coffee-- a breakfast sandwich. But nothing in a bowl.

Because bowls are what you put soup into. Bowls are for sick people food. Broth and other things that look (and smell vaguely) of piss.

Because the USDA shouldn't be allowing us citizens to consume meat (especially in bowl format) that costs less than a barely fancy large cup of coffee at Starbucks.

Because, at The Prime Rib: The Civilized Steakhouse, real prime rib goes for $45.95, and while that may seem excessive, I'll bet it's fucking worth it. And they ought to know their prime rib, seeing as it's their name.

And I'll bet they put that motherfucker on a plate. A big one.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Director's Cut

I've hate people who say they hate things before they've ever tried them. Like all those people who got all up in arms over "Tropic Thunder" before they'd even seen it. I hate them, and I've never even seen any of those people. I've never seen "Tropic Thunder" either, and I've never been up in arms over it. I've never even half raised my arms over it. Or under it. Or my legs. But I assure you that, in this post, I will be blogging Full Retard.

So, after digesting the aforeparagraphed paragraphatory object, what I am about to say might and probably will seem contradictory. No, fuck that "seem" shit-- it will be contradictory. There will be contradictions aplenty. Because that's the kind of guy I am. Decidedly contradictory, controversial, and contraindicated am I, in that fully retarded way of mine.

I hate York Peppermint Patties.

I've never eaten a York Peppermint Patty. Wait-- what the screwbitch? Is it "Patty" or "Pattie." Let's go to the Google Challenge:

Patty = 70, 400 hits (approximately)

Pattie = 77, 400 (apprx)

Which just goes to show you that every vote counts. Now, if you ask me, the very fact that typing in either version of this candy's (candie's?) name generates so few Google hits tells me that it's basically a piece of shit in a silver-colored wrapper. I mean, fuck-- Google "Reese's Peanut Butter Cup" and you're looking at 264, 000 motherlovers (approximately-dottly) and if there's a person alive who dares befoul my comment section of this blog by saying that York Peppershit Patties are better than a fucking peanut cup, well, you can just unfollow me till the cows come home and set up a lemonade stand out front on the curb.

No. Not having it. Negative, Lieutenant. Permission to mate with my twin nieces denied

Now, while I'm knowingly contradicting myself by hating something I've never tried, I can honestly and in good faith state that I do not like York Peppermint Patties for the simple reason that I absolutely cannot, in no terms either certain or uncertain or even certayne, which, I think, is how they used to spell that shit in back in the dizzay, stand mint.

Hate. Vitriol. Disgust. Abhor. Um... me no likey?

It's gross and foul, and, when they mix it with chocolate, they might as well be mixing sex with TNT. Like... why? Why would you do that? I feel like Mrs. York mixed mint with dark chocolate because she was feeling bored or possessed by Hades or something. It's not something that a psychologically well-adjusted individual would do. And, since that unholy bitch started these mint-and-chocolate shenanigans, confectioners the world over have seen fit to say, "Oh, hey-- that's a good idea!" Even the poor, innocent-seeming girlscouts are not immune from this terror.

Thin-mints? Jesus. Sell enough of those and these maladjusted girlscouts will grow up thinking it's okay to have sex whilst sticking TNT up the cornholes of their lovers.

Not. Okay.

You won't ever find me buying a box of those nasty-assed things. Or Peppermint Patties. Never. I don't even brush my teeth with mint toothpaste-- which makes trips to the market sometimes frustrating. Because, if the market we're at doesn't carry Tom's of Maine Orange & Mango toothpaste-- guess what?-- we're going to every market in a ten mile radius until we find one that does. Because their Fennel toothpaste?

Not even fit for Girl Scout cookies.

I was reminded recently of my extreme hatred for York Peppermint Patties while watching television at the gym with my wife. We were on the ellipticals, and one of the flatscreens in front of us (providing a much needed break from Glenn Beck-- who was muted and looked as if he was rapping [he probably wasn't]) was broadcasting a newish commercial for York Peppermint Patties. As I said, the TV was muted, and there was probably some luscious-sounding female voiceover encouraging you to indulge in the decadence of a York Peppermint Pattie before throwing it up because of your diet thing, and on the screen was some blonde chick with impossibly red lipstick just mouth-fucking this brown circle. Extreme close-up followed by medium shot followed by close-up with another extreme close-up of her virginal white teeth sinking into this delectable-looking cake-- without a single speck getting between her teeth or on her lips. And, as I watched this absurd commercial, only one thought went through my mind:

"Can you imagine the poor motherfucker who is directing this thing?"

I mean, really-- there is someone on that set whose job it is to *ahem* direct this commercial.

"Okay, love, in this next shot I want you to pretend you've got your mouth around Prince William's whangus, really take it all in and don't forget to flick your upper lip with your tongue as your mouth curls into that I'm-a-naughty-girl-as-well-as-a-double-agent-for-the-Mossad grin. All right? Roll sound, from the top-- and, go!"

And what must this person think of when he wakes up in the morning?

"I went to film/directing/rabbinical school... for this?"

I mean, wow. THAT, my friends, is Full Pepperminty Pattylicious Retard.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Well, Scoot on My Carpet and Call it Kozy Shack Chocolate Pudding; It's... DEAR APRON!

Every now and then, I find this lump under my underarm that I'm utterly convinced is cancer until my derm tells me it's because of the deodorant I'm using.

Um...

But that's okay, because it's not cancer, it's...

DEAR APRON:

My 70-year-old father has asked his 40-year-old girlfriend to marry him. This will be his fourth marriage. They have been dating for a year, and she says she wants to have two or three children with him.

My sisters and I are not happy at all. Our father was a horrible father when we were growing up. To say he doesn't like children is putting it mildly. Also, we feel he would be incredibly selfish and irresponsible to consider bringing a baby into this world at his age when he may not be around long enough to take care of the child.

Do my sisters and I have a right to be upset about this? How would you suggest we handle this? -- DISGUSTED DAUGHTERS IN TEXAS

DEAR DISGUSTED DAUGHTERS:

I'm very confused by this letter. In fact, it's driven me to drink. Which will make my response much more interesting, though probably just as incoherent.

Does your dad have kids from Wives #2 and #3 in addition to your mom, or are you the by-product of 2 or 3? Do you even know who your mother is? Have you ever read the book, "Are You My Mother?" by P.D. Eastman? You may find it very illuminating. Perhaps you and/or your sisters were conceived during that brief period in the late 1970s when your father was married to that power shovel.

All that said, I suppose I ought to answer your pathetic, rhetorical question, "Do my sisters and I have a right to be upset about this?" The answer is, "No. You have no rights. Submit to my will, or I will break you. I dominate all who come forth to challenge my omnipotence. My seed is to you like liquid amethyst. Drink of it, verily, ye maid of alabastar knees and wanton thigh-flower."

Code-4. Suspect in custody. Once, I bought a Bill Cosby sweater. I need to stop drinking now.

Or do it a LOT more.

DEAR APRON:

I have been married to my wife almost 40 years. I love her dearly and she says she loves me, but when I want to hold her, she tenses up like I'm a rapist. When I kiss her longer than a nano-second, she makes noises that sound as though I have a pillow over her face. We haven't slept in the same bed in so long I can't remember what it's like. When I try to talk to her about it, she ignores me. How can I get her to realize how much I hurt? -- LONELY AND HURT IN MIDDLE GRANVILLE, N.Y.

DEAR LONELY AND HURT IN SOMEWHERE I DON'T CARE ABOUT:

Here's the thing. I think you need to stop dressing in all black, wearing a ski-mask, and rappelling through the porch screen window immediately prior to sex with your wife. I would also advise against your continual habit of shouting, "THIS IS A RAPE!" while shoving her underpants into her mouth. While you may have thought that this would be stimulating for your wife, it is possible that she may find it traumatic, especially if she is both irrational and unreasonable, as modern science has proven approximately 93-96% of women to be.

I might also suggest not smothering her face with that pillow anymore. I know, it probably seemed like a good idea at the time. Plus, she was just asking for it, like all the rest of 'em.

DEAR APRON:

I'm an independent, 41-year-old woman who attracts men who are 10 to 13 years younger than I am. I'm not interested in them because I feel they are only after one thing. Another problem is, when I start getting close to a man my own age, he always makes me feel "smothered." It seems I'm either loved too much or not at all.
Is there a balance, or am I just afraid of getting close? -- AVOIDING GETTING HURT IN MILWAUKEE

DEAR AVOIDING SOMETHING:

Wait-- you think they're after your shoes...

Right?

DEAR APRON:

I have employed the same cleaning lady every week for nearly 20 years. She worked for my grandparents before me. "Dora" is 70 and shows no hint of retiring. In fact, she tells me from time to time she has no intention of ever stopping.

Although I admire Dora's spunk, the truth is she is becoming increasingly careless in her work. I often come home to find something broken, knocked over or spilled. I can see she has trouble managing the stairs and carrying the vacuum cleaner. I know she needs the income and I can't imagine letting her go. What can I do? -- HOUSEBROKEN IN BUFFALO

DEAR HOUSEBROKEN:

Why that fucking, spiteful, disgusting hogcow. After all you've done for her, hiding her from ICE and INS all these years, this is how she repays you? By busting up this here chifforobe for only a nickel? Why, if Dora were MY cleaning lady, she'd be fucking "Explora"ing for a new gig with some other schelp who doesn't care that their precious antique jade Longzhi pottery and sculptures (I need to stop watching "Antiques Roadshow". And drinking.) is getting broken by this washed up has-been illegal immigrant in diabetic shoes and support hose.

Look, the answer to your dilemma is quite obvious to me. If Dora won't quit, and you can't bring yourself to fire her, clearly the most humane course of action is to take her out back behind the shed and shoot her. Just make sure she has a more spry younger sister or something to clean up that frigging mess when you're done.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Humandor

Ever rip the everloving Christshit ass out of your house looking for something you know you're never going to find?

Yeah. That was me yesterday. Special.

See, that afternoon, I happened to see a coworker of mine on the Dunhill website, shopping for cigar lighters. These objects ranged in price from approximately $500, all the way to an astonishing $2, 700 for a Rollagas lighter by Harold Riley, Carnoustie Golf Course edition, to an motherfucking cockblocking $8, 200 for a mini lighter cast in white gold, to a Federal, pound-me-in-the-ass-prison Hobnail 18-carat gold Rollagas lighter for $13, 100.

No joke. For goddamn lighter. That lights things on fire that will blacken your lungs and quite possible end up making your mouth look like those cleft palate children ads you see in Car & Driver. A thing that lights other things on fire. You know, like a match could.

I looked over his shoulder and said,

"So, I couldn't help looking over your shoulder just now. Would you like a butane Colibri cigar lighter? I think I have one at home."

My normally blase coworker's ears perked up, like a dog's might at the mention of a readily available side of beef, or a defenseless infant.

"Sure!" he said, "if you have it lying around, that'd be great. Of course I'd pay you for it."

"Meh," I replied, "if I have it, it's been lying around doing nothing for years-- you can just have the damned thing."

Pretty magnanimous of me. Of course, I don't have it anymore.

This fact became apparent after nearly two hours of furiously tossing around boxes and random objects all around my house after arriving home from work, and toileting the dogs. Actually, I confess that I started looking for the lighter before toileting the dogs. Then I felt guilty, toileted the dogs, and resumed destroying the house. It was all for naught. No lighter.

Once upon a time, say, oh, I don't know, ten years ago, I had two Colibri lighters. One was silver, and the other was cobalt blue, and they were both butane lighters. The cobalt blue one was easily the coolest one, shaped like a bullet with gas (literally) with a little flip top that the flame would shoot out of, and a flip-out cigar-cutter attachment, it was the grande dame of cigar lighters to me. At least, it was until I saw that crazy fucking Dunhill website. I mean, are you kidding me, Cletus?

I acquired the lighters, along with a burled wood humidor, and thirty Davidoff cigars, and 20 mini cigarillos from my ex-girlfriend's mother. For Christmas. In the year 2000.

"Use it in good health," she said to me before descending into the joyous throes of a smokers hacking cackle (hackle?).

"Um, thanks," I said.

According to my wife, I gave the humidor away, maybe two years ago. For the life of me, I can't remember to whom I gave the stupid thing-- probably my former best friend, who no longer speaks to me. "But I remember that you kept one of the lighters," she said.

That sounds like something I'd do.

Of course, now the one lighter, if I did indeed keep it, is as good as gone, too. I can't find it, and it won't be found. And I'll walk into work today and go, "Um, yeah, so, remember when I offered to give you something I don't actually have? Yeah. I don't have it. But the offer still stands."

All things considered, it's really not such a big deal, but it is just another infuriating reminder that I am desperately fallible and, in the exuberant rush to try to do something nice for someone, to make someone else feel good, I can't not open my mouth. I could have silently observed my coworker looking at that absurd site, and gone home quietly to look for the lighter, unimpeded and untortured by the knowledge that I had said something and that foot was firmly entrenched in mouth.

"Buddy," my wife said to me last night, "you're allowed to be human, you know."

And I know that. But I also know that my humanity is unceasingly disappointing.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I Used to Want to Be Sam Donaldson

I sometimes tell myself that, if I had more time, more talent, more motivation, more money, more... chutzpah, I could probably take a year or two off from work and pen one of those awkward, painfully funny memoirs of what it was like to grow up in my skin, my eccentric, affectionately crazy skin. Re-enacting the Pan-Am 103 disaster with Playmobil victims wrapped in Kleenex. Memorizing entire episodes of Monty Python's Flying Circus as a nine-year-old, complete with diverse English accents, coming to my elementary school's 1988 Halloween parade dressed as Richard Nixon.

I mean, you'd read that, wouldn't you?

I mean-- you are reading that. Aren't you?

Right.

Little boys spend a lot of their time and their energy thinking and fantasizing about what they want to be when they grow up. I suppose some of them want to be their Daddies. I wanted to be anything but. He was (and still is) what I referred to cheekily and audaciously as "A Girdle Man," that is, someone who has devoted his life to manufacturing compression undergarments-- first for ladies, then for professional athletes. I used to go with him to his factory some Saturdays to spread fabric from bolts that were three times taller than I was. We'd spread fabric, a long sheet across the table, weigh it down on each corner, and I'd take a huge, rusty pair of shears and he'd take a huge, rusty pair of shears, and we'd slice, slice, slice until we'd meet in the middle, and spread another sheet.

"Jesus Christ," I said to him, at age eleven, "you mean to tell me there are actually people who do this for a living?"

He laughed at me. What a dummy. Of course there are people who do this for a living. I was looking at one.

I knew I didn't want to be a laborer. A manufacturer. Someone who did something with his hands. I knew I wanted to be on screen. But I knew also, from a very early age, that my physical appearance was, well, awkward at best, and that my potential for television/film was limited, and my voice wasn't special enough-- not smooth enough or, for that matter, brash enough-- for radio. It was a dilemma for an a-typical American youth.

From a very, very early age, I enjoyed watching two things: Monty Python, and the news. While you may at first regard these two televisual pastimes as exceedingly disparate, I assure you they are more similar than at first they appear. There is one thing that they both have very much in common:

Not entirely attractive, very well-dressed men sitting behind desks talking into microphones.

I mean, John Cleese created an entire character whose sole purpose was to be dressed, usually in a tuxedo, sitting behind a beautiful wooden desk, with a gigantic, old-school BBC microphone in front of him, just to say, "And now for something completely different." Sometimes this desk would be in the middle of a field, or in a creek, or in front of an apartment building window where a young woman is getting undressed, or ascending heavenward courtesy of two large propellers attached to the desk.

And, of course, as we well know, the news is nothing BUT sometimes unfortunate-looking men sitting behind desks wearing formal blue and red striped ties talking into the camera. I began, at age eight, cutting out photographs of our local news anchors and taping them to my bedroom walls-- you know, the way normal children do with cars or, I don't know... dinosaurs?

Men behind desks. Wearing suits and ties.

Yes, I thought. I will be a man behind a desk, wearing a suit and a tie.

In addition to cutting out photographs of local news anchors, I also got into the habit of recording news theme music that I found particularly titillating. The music to ABC Nightly News was my favorite. It's not as good anymore, but, back in the eighties, it started out with the pounding of bass drums and then came in some badass trumpets heralding the arrival of something truly important-- something you've waited your whole fucking day for.

And I liked it.

So, I had one of those mini cassette recorders that I probably made my father buy for me from Radio Shack for some ridonkulous amount of money, and I would hold it up to the speaker on our living room TV, just below the green, red and white RCA logo, at exactly 6:30 to record the theme music. And I would listen to it. Alone in my room. A lot.

And then it hit me.

I had a closet full of formal wear, you know, like every child my age, I had a desk, I had a gargantuan mirror in my room, I even had a desk-mounted microphone (which I also made my father buy for me from Radio Shack for some ridonkulous amount of money).

It was time to play a little make-believe: me style.

So, one weekend morning, I dressed in my dark blue suit, with my powder blue dress shirt underneath, and completed the ensemble with an appropriately dour dark blue striped tie. I parted my hair on the side (I wore a bowl-cut back then) and wet it under the sink so it would stay that way. Not only that, but I plastered the front part of my hair down on my forehead, like my favorite ABC Nightly Newsman, Sam Donaldson. Then, I looked in the mirror and realized that something was missing. My eyebrows. No matter how I manipulated them, no matter how hard I scowled, I just didn't look enough like Sam Donaldson, with his extreme browage. So, I did what any pre-pubescent boy fantasizing about being a news anchor would do: I snuck into my parent's bedroom, ransacked my mother's admittedly scant make-up area, and found black eyeliner. I carefully drew over my eyebrows, creating a dramatic transformation. I then turned the desk to face the mirror, switched on the mini tape cassette player, and did my newscast.

In the middle, I heard my bedroom doorknob click and the door cracked open, and my mother was standing in the doorway. I saw her in reverse in the mirror, looking at me. I turned to her.

"Hi, Mommy. I'm being Sam Donaldson."

"That's nice," she replied, "could you put my makeup back when you're done?"

"I did already."

We'll be back, after these messages from our sponsors.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

You Can Party Now: It's My 700TH BLOGDAY!

I met an old college friend (this phrase implies that I have a bunch of those, just, you know, sort of hanging around. I don't. I have, um, two.) for coffee in Providence on Christmas weekend. A blizzard was beginning, but he still took time out of his day to drive to Starbucks on Thayer Street and meet me. And, after we parted, I still took time to purchase a wool blazer from the 1940s at a second-hand boutique. Because I'm nucking futs.

Anyway, while we made each other laugh like no time at all had passed, assuredly to the annoyance of the other Starbucks patrons, he asked me about my blog, and, because I am an insufferable megalomaniac, I told him about it. He suggested that, one day, I should invite all of my readers (this phrase implies that I have a bunch of those, you know, sort of hanging around) to some random place for a party.

"But, I don't throw parties," I said.

"That would make it even funnier," he expertly countered. Well, he had a point there.

I was uncommonly silent.

"Can you imagine the bizarre mix of people a My Masonic Apron party would attract? People tossing back and forth your gay catchphrases and there would inevitably be this awkward moment where they'd all look at you with the realization that this... awesome schmuck is the reason they're all together? Oh my God, it would be so beautiful."

"Right," I said, "like the Last Supper, only with pork and more clothes. I would insist on fancy dress, and bacon-wrapped scallops."

This happy little reunion got me thinking about what exactly a My Masonic Apron party might look like. As I've said, I'm not so much into the whole party thing. It's distinctly possible that my stodgy side would come out at such an event, causing it to look something like this:


You might think that nobody could possibly have fun at a party like this, but you can tell that they've just come off a totally raucous game of Pin-the-Tail-on-the-Negro-Manservant, and that the tea was damn good.

It should come, I would hope, as no surprise to you that I am incapable of executing anything as self-indulgent as a party for my blog. Believe me when I say that I am perfectly happy celebrating events like my 700th Blogday as I celebrate a lot of small victories and notables: by myself. My wife, in fact, is out tutoring as I bang out this little post, recognizing my little accomplishment, and the fact that there are no random faces around me is really okay. It's kind of how I want it. It's kind of how I run my life. I'm even okay with the fact that there is no food in front of me that is wrapped in bacon.

700 posts. Since March 13th, 2009. Seven. Hundred.

Some sloppy ol' assbubble should be opening up a bottle of champagne somewhere, don't you think?

The plain fact of the matter is: I don't like parties. And I like people about as much. That's not to say I wouldn't like you if I met you-- don't get me wrong-- I just love being at a distance. It's so... safe. That's, after all, what we love about our little internet, isn't it? The safety. The avatarness of it all. The fact that we don't have to answer to anybody except our own demons and, if life gets too hot, there's always that little "x" in the upper righthand corner of the monitor.

x

That's not to say I wouldn't wholeheartedly support your hosting a My Masonic Apron Appreciation Party in my honor. Do it. I encourage this. I endorse it. Have your guests dress up as their favorite G&S character. You be the Duke of Plaza Toro. My reader in Waterbury, CT can be Patience. Tampa can be The Fairy Queen from Iolanthe. Take pictures. Put them up on The Book of Face.

You bring the bacon.

Tell me all about it.

And I'll send content, sincere, half-frown smiles from home.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Oh, Marvelous Illusion. Oh, Terrible Surprise.

For ardent G&S schdorks who got here by Googling the title of this post (yes, it is a line from the Act I Finale of "The Sorcerer") keep your proverbial Gilbertian dick in your pants. This isn't an Anglophiliac, Victorian operetta appreciation post. This is a post about how my family is falling apart, and how its pieces are descending slowly but methodically to Hell.

Sorry about that.

On Saturday night, while my wife and I were cleaning up after making fresh lemon bread (really, it's more like cake-- I'll give you the recipe, if you want it. It culminates in drizzling lemon juice and sugar all over the top of the loaf, if that's any indicator of its awesomeness) my cellphone rang. It was my father. I was to call him, "you know, Mummy-- later. Whenever. When you are... relaxed."

When I'm relaxed, I thought. What a strange thing to say. I am never relaxed, except post coitally, or post poo, and neither of those situations seemed like an entirely appropriate time to be phoning my father. So I said to my wife, "Let's get whatever bullshit this is over with so we can go watch COPS," and I dialed his number. It was 7:40pm. I let the phone drop on the floor at 8:45.

"Mummy, I just wanted to let you know," he said at the beginning, "that your sister put an offer in on a house across the street from you, and the offer was accepted, and so she is going to live there, with her son and her husband, and her husband's other son. Together. Across the street from you."

What followed was one of the longest silences I've ever endured in my life. A silence fraught with tension, where I could actually feel my blood pressure rising. My back began to sweat. My eyes darted over to my wife, who was busying herself wiping down the gold-flecked Formica countertop. He said nothing, and neither did I-- because that's what a silence is.

(Just ask Pinter.)

Finally, he broke it by saying my name with that "Are you still there/breathing" inquisitiveness. I responded with such a timeworn cliche, such a patently ridiculous, sitcom response-- but it was absolutely the only single thing I could even think of to say, the only thing I could possibly say to that unbelievably painful, awkward, unfortunate, searingly terrible statement of my father's. I said the only words that would trickle down the synapses from my brain along my nerves down to my lips.

"Is this a joke?"

It was not. And while I'm usually pretty good at sniffing out humor, or attempts at levity, or horrendously misguided jokes about severed babies or drunk-driving crashes or old ladies having sex with voles, I have to admit that the possibility that my father was serious about my sister moving quite literally across the street from me and my wife was really a very distant possibility in my mind when compared to the likelihood that this was some sort of inept Israeli attempt at a joke.

But it was no joke.

My sister, who routinely discusses openly her utter contempt for her husband, or talks of divorcing him "as soon as our kid's five-- I'm just using him for childcare," my sister-- who has never lifted a finger in her life to help someone else, my sister-- who uses my father and my mother for childcare, who uses our oldest sister as some kind of mix between a personal assistant and a slave, my sister, who text-messages me complicated coffee orders that I am to order and pay for and bring to her hand when I come visit her, my sister is going to be my neighbor.

"Everybody Loves Raymond" without the laugh-track.

What ensued, after the distinct dearth of humor was realized on the phone, was the most painful hour I have ever spent talking to anybody in my life. My father, who has created an insulated fantasy world for himself, where his sole mission in his life is to save my self-centered, misanthropic sister, and the innocent child she created with this unfortunate lummox, spent an hour listening to nothing that I said.

And I said a lot. And I said it loudly. And passionately.

But it didn't matter.

Today, there's a house inspection. Yesterday, there were papers signed. One step closer. Howdy-doodly, Neighbor.

I am absolutely crushed. It's not that I don't want the absolute best for my nephew. Of course I do-- but that would start with different parents for him, which I cannot arrange. It's just that I don't want the absolute best for my sister. Why? Because she doesn't deserve it. She isn't nice. She isn't a good person. And it kills me to say that, it makes me want to spew hot vomit across the room and throw myself down the stairs for thinking and believing that about my own flesh and blood-- but it's true. Since she had this child that my parents take care of more than she does, they have aged exponentially. My mother is falling apart. My father is driving himself insane trying to dump water out of the boat that contains his daughter's marriage-- the boat that bears a gaping hole. Everyone is scrambling to save it-- everybody but my sister and her husband.

They kind of just don't seem to give a damn.

And, on a hot, selfish, dastardly level: I'm disgusted at the mere thought that they get to have a child-- a miracle-- that they don't appreciate, while we remain childless-- and on top of that, they're going to get a house in the suburbs that they won't appreciate either, and that poor man is marked for divorce in T-minus a couple years, and he doesn't even know it. And now I get a front-row seat to our family's own personal, private Hindenburg. The whole thing is just one marvelous illusion and, for me, a very terrible surprise.

Though I guess it shouldn't be. It's just what it always was with her-- the world kowtowing to her every whim and order-- only the stakes are so much higher now.