Thursday, October 28, 2010

Would You Rather?

There is a gun to your head, you must chose one.

Would you rather read in its entirety:

A.) "The Situations" new tome, Here's The Situation: A Guide to Creeping on Chicks, Avoiding Grenades, and Getting In Your GTL on the Jersey Shore


B.) George Bush's new memoir, Decision Points.

Let me help you… Here's a video of The Situation addressing those nagging herpes rumors (and his workout routine) and here is Bushy's thrilling YouTube book trailer.

C.) You could take the bullet... but with A or B you at least get a lesson in how to fail upward.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I Heart The Tots

The lights in the cafeteria went out today and the first thing I thought was, "If my tater tots end up missing someone is getting hurt."

Then we all had to evacuate for a Code Gray, which means we were shoo'd out of the cafeteria and into the tunnels and basements. It was just like elementary school when we had to line up against the interior walls, get on our knees and put our hands over the back of our necks.

Except, you know, it kinda wasn't anything like that really… Aside from the fact that I'm still eating tater tots for lunch and my first concern during a tornado is, "Oh no! What about my tots!"

Ok yeah, everything is exactly the same.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Over The Tapas

We're all friends here, right? We like the the same things: 30 Rock, Halloween, Jersey Shore.


Now the rest of you, for crying out loud, shut-up already about tapas. Just stop it. "Oooh, the new tapas place blah-blebity-blah!"

Guess what, it's not that great.

And you know, now that I'm at it, enough with the martini escapades too. ENOUGH. "Ooh, a mango-tini sugary explosion of diabetes, YUM!"

If you can add "bar" to the end of any word making it doubly pretentious to go there then you get punched and dragged off to Madison Bowl.

I know the rest of you got my back.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Proof It Gets Better

One of my closest friends in high school school was gay.

He wasn't out back then, but we all knew Shane was gay. There was a tight crew of about 5 of us, plus many more of his close friends, and we all knew and nobody gave a crap. It elicited a big fat shrug from us. We didn't try to force him out, we played along with his girl-crushes and we not only tolerated his deep love and affection for Madonna and the endless loop of Like A Prayer and Erotica, we embraced it.

We rolled through our late high school years doing what teenagers do - not taking school very seriously but taking ourselves very seriously.

We were regulars at a diner in town called Alice's, and we spent hours upon hours there drinking coffee (black, like our deep, dark souls) and eating cheesecake (hey, even very serious teenagers have a softspot for cherry topping, ok?!) and discussing life's more significant topics, such as new music, the school's hotties and our high school's theater production of To Kill A Mockingbird, which if we all didn't get a part then life was seriously effed up!

When it got late enough we forked our friends' yards (take that, ya bastards!) and expressed ourselves by dying our hair, driving too fast down residential and country roads and participating in all manner of recreational trespassing and alcohol abuse. (And by alcohol abuse I mean I couldn't drink anything stronger than a wine cooler or 'Seriously guys, I am gonna throw up RIGHT NOW!')

But under the surface of all that teen angst was some real, well, teen angst. We all had our problems to confront. And our friend Shane had problems we hardly even considered. Because even though we didn't care he was gay, other people certainly did, and that culture made him terrified to tell us, his family, the school and... oh god, what if his dad found out.

Life certainly seemed simple. And yet, here was this 16-year-old wrestling with some real life shit.

Shane had some dark secrets and a world awareness that went through him like wrecking ball at times.

In the fall of our senior year of high school he tried to kill himself. There were lots of pills, an ambulance ride to the hospital, and an extended stay at the mental health hospital. Word spread like wildfire at a party most of us were at that night - Shane's been taken to the hospital for a suicide attempt - and that's when shit got real.

The guy who's default was to make self-deprecating jokes and provide hilarious and scathing commentary on all manner of high-school ridiculousness had tried to kill himself? What. The. Hell.

The reasons were many. He was closeted, afraid of who he really was, what it meant and the facade he'd built. Plus he was nursing a broken heart. The rest of us when we were heart broken could at least be open about it and cry on the shoulders of friends. Not him.

When I went to see him the next day in the hospital he had a temporary tattoo of a skull and crossbones stuck to his forehead.

Well, that's a good sign, I thought. And when I went to visit him in the mental health clinic a week later we plotted what we'd do when he got out. Obviously he'd get to ride shotgun in my car from now on. Obviously.

But we didn't talk about what landed him there or why he did it or even if he'd try it again. We'd had dinner together the night before the attempt at my favorite restaurant and the only thing I said at the mental health clinic in reference to what was really happening was a dry, "Was it something I said at dinner?"

To which he replied, "I shouldn't have gotten the veal."

Fortunately, he survived and pressed on and life got a little easier to deal with and our freshman year of college he came out.

We all shrugged when he told us. If anything, we under-reacted. We were trying to show him we didn't care that he was gay because, well, we didn't care that he was gay, but looking back, maybe we should have given it more weight given how difficult it was for him. But we were 18. Plus, we were really, really cool.

A few years later Shane and I were roommates my senior year of college. As in, he slept on the top bunk and I slept on the bottom bunk in an apartment above the campus laundry mat. (We went to school together Kindergarten through college... and I am proud to say I knocked him down with my swing in kindergarten for trying to kiss me, which we later decided was probably what made him gay in the first place.)

We stayed up until 3 a.m. most mornings, still drinking coffee, still dying our hair, and occasionally debating, "If you could take a pill that would make you straight, would you take it?"

The answer was no.

But I know a lot of young and closeted gay folks would say yes. Why wouldn't they want life to be that much easier.

I like to think folks have become more open-minded, more accepting, happy even that Glee is on the air, but when I think about hypocritical megachurch "converts," gay-rights legislation haters, don't ask-don't tell, the ban on gay marriage, I guess I shouldn't be too surprised about the recent spate of gay teens killing themselves.

And yet, somehow, I am. Often I forget what hate-filled, ignorant, awful little trolls people can be. And I forget what it would be like to be a vulnerable gay teenager amongst those haters and imposters.

Today Shane's Facebook status reminded everyone to wear purple. Then there was another update with a list of names, mine included, and the message that he's proof life gets better. His dark tour through the recesses of hate and suicide attempts was almost 20 years ago. I'd nearly forgotten all about it.

Then I remembered, the list of names were of those people who supported and visited him when the skull and crossbones was still stuck to his forehead and he was still afraid to be who he is today.

I am proud to be on that list. I am proud that even at a young age I knew better than a lot of the people today who sit in positions of religious and political power in this country.

And I am proud... wait a second... that rat bastard gave me second billing... Oh hell no! But look, what's this... A picture of us from prom, where I look fantastic, and he looks like a game show host!

If I lived closer I'd fork his yard.

Proof it gets better, and friends are forever.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

You Gotta Know When To Fold 'Em

Because of the awesomeness of my apartment building, all three dryers went out last Sunday afternoon just as I'd overloaded them with 50 pounds of my sopping wet skivvies.

The woman who's shady kids own the building suggested, "Oh hon… just hang them to dry."

Yes, finally! A use for all that clothesline I have strung-up throughout my apartment.

Bitterly I loaded my wet towels, sheets and v-neck pocket t-shirts from Target (which is pretty much all I wear) into plastic bags and headed for the laundry mat.

If I smoked I would have, because it seems like having a Marlboro Red is the only appropriate way to drive yourself to the laundry mat with bags full of wet clothes. I drove wondering where I had gone wrong in life. What were the turns that lead to me this place - the land of coin operated spinning machinery on a lovely Sunday morning. What, exactly, brought me here... other than the "power surge" to the basement dryers, of course.

Too many are the turns that landed me at Coin Laundry in Oakley, I decided.

The only reason I even knew where a laundry mat was is because it's right across from Domino's Pizza (er, the healthfood restaurant) and I remember seeing it one afternoon while picking up my to-go order of tofu/granola/flax seed stir-fry. (Read: the Pacific Vege pizza at Domino's is kick-ass, y'all.)

This joint must be new, I thought, as I walked into Coin Laundry and marveled at the rows of brushed steel front loaders shouting - EXPRESS! 50 lb capacity! 30 lb capacity! 20 lb capacity!

It was all just numbers to me, so I ignored them and started shoving quarters into the closest machine after carefully reading the directions on the front of a dryer.

Never does it occur to me that my measly bags of sheets and t-shirts probably don't belong in a 50 pound capacity express dryer for 60 minutes.

And that's how I nearly burnt the joint down.

"Those get up to 112 degrees," said the young Coin-Laundry Worker-Girl, as she wiped detergent off a washer and handed out change. "You better check on that stuff after about 12 minutes or your clothes are gonna burn-up."

She was sweet, helpful and smartly intervened again as I started shoving money into the 50 pound capacity washer that was way too big for the three rugs I was going to wash while I was there.

"You should move those to the lowest capacity we have, on the other side," she said. "It's cheaper," and she handed me back the 50 cents I already squandered.

I loved her, I decided. I imagined us being best friends and sharing the cigarette she had behind her ear.

But I wasn't the only newby at the Coin Laundry. As I shoved my rugs into the 20 pound capacity washer I commented to the woman sitting behind me that I was the dumbest person at the laundry mat.

"Girl, I had to read the directions!" she said to me.

"Me too!" I confessed.

Dirty clothes were bringing us together. She and her husband were having their basement redone and she hadn't been to a laundry mat in 20 years, she said.

It's been about 6 for me, I told her.

We agreed that it was a damn fine laundry mat. Clean, new and the staff was very helpful. We bragged about the super-duper burn your clothes up express washers and dryers like they were ours.

I commenced to folding t-shirts as she went back to her magazine and envisioning her new basement, and the Coin-Laundry Worker-Girl went outside to smoke.

I could totally work here, I thought as I folded. You know, if I had to. If the shiz, God forbid, ever went down. I mean, there are worse things than working at the laundry mat. Plus, I'm pretty much an expert on these fancy washers and dryers now, I told myself. I can dutifully wipe fabric softener off of stuff, and I'm great at making change and pushing around wheeled laundry baskets. In my daydream I was an Olympic Folder. No washrag was safe.

Four loads of fresh laundry later, I walked out and told Coin Landry Worker-Girl, who was still outside smoking, that I appreciated her help. Then I told the other woman that I hoped her basement turned out great.

We all hugged and said a teary goodbye. Ok, that part didn't happen. But still. I totally made friends at the laundry mat.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Put-In-Bay Is A Real Place

Or so I'm told. I don't remember much about it, but my clothes smell like booze, bacon and campfire, so I must have had fun.

When my schmoyfriend first invited me for a weekend on the island paradise that is Put-In-Bay I envisioned walks on a rocky beach with the wind whipping my hair and a hoodie comforting me as I read fiction in a chaise lounge... by a lighthouse.

Instead I was trapped on an island that looked distressingly like Alcatraz with his booze-hound friends.

Obviously it turned out far better than I imagined. And I didn't have to read any fiction. Jackpot.