Sunday, November 21, 2010

No Rest for the Wicked

About six weeks ago, I got a text from TB, which said, “This is not a drill. Pack your bags. We’re going to Orlando for seventy-two hours to consume as much sunshine and tequila as possible… and not in that order.” When I texted back, “OK, but why Orlando?” she replied, “Because I just booked our Gaycation there.” Clearly, even though we're straight, we're not narrow.

That said, the next time I suggest a holiday surrounded by gorgeous men, I'll remember to be more specific.

At any rate, I realize that, if you don’t know me, you wouldn't believe how par for the course the following is: me… in Florida for a long weekend… with my best friend… and her husband… and some gay friends of ours… at Disney. DB couldn't go, so that left me sharing a room with TB and her husband, whom I also love to bits. When people saw us together and asked him if we were Mormon, he said, "No smart man can serve two masters." So he just let people think TB and I were lesbians instead. Thank God she's hot.

But I digress... The point is that we desperately needed a reality break, and where better than Walt Disney World to take one. Because, not only is it a small world after all, it's one of the only places left on this planet where no one thinks it's wrong to have Buzz and a Woody at the same time. However, since time stands still for no man, when you only have seventy-two hours in the Magic Kingdom, you have to plan the work and work the plan. Enter the Gay Agenda.

Now, for the record, let it be said there's
definitely a Gay Agenda. It's just that the Religious Right has it all wrong. It doesn't include the global domination of heterosexuals. It includes Starbucks for breakfast, a nap after lunch, and a drinking binge through Epcot. So trust me when I say that they aren't coming for you or your children. I mean sure, they want to exercise their civil liberties like other citizens, but they also want your booze and your Prada. And, if we aren't going to give them gay marriage, that's the least we can do to help.

All jokes aside, on the flight home, as I was nursing my hangover and trying to keep down a breakfast of Gatorade and Tylenol, it dawned on me that maybe we'd make more political progress if our mantra was closer to Obama's, "Yes we can" instead of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy's, "Oh no you din't." Who knows? What I do know is that I had a lovely weekend with Prince Charming, who just happens to be a Queen.

Talk to you next week.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Heir and the Spare and the Spare's Hair

I have two brothers, and they couldn't be more different. My oldest brother (SMS), from last week's blog, is an Accountant who tells me that he's brilliant simply because Einstein once said, "The hardest thing in the world to understand is the Income Tax." And... since SMS does my taxes for free, every April 15th, I even let him believe he's right.

My second brother (KPS), on the other hand, took Timothy Leary's advice and "tuned in, turned off, and dropped out" of life for a while. It ended up OK, I guess (given that he really is the gentle genius in our family). Because, unlike SMS, KPS actually understands all of Einstein's relevant quotes (like E = mc2) and graduated from Penn State at the top of his class with a degree in Electrical Engineering and another degree in Biomedical Engineering... a truth he finds less relevant than the fact that, regardless of his credentials, he had to cut his waist-length hair to get a job.

Me, I have a degree in Anthropology, and when I told my parents that I dropped out of Political Science and Pre-Law to study Liberal Arts, my mother said, "That's a hobby, not a major." But, at any rate, this week isn't about my oldest brother or my mother or even my sister (who can only escape my keyboard for so long). It's about KPS, to whom I have always been incredibly close. Actually, it's about his hair.

However, as always... before I can tell you that part of the story, I have to tell you this part first.

You know, contrary to popular opinion, a degree in Anthropology has unique advantages
. Sure, it doesn't really qualify you for "employment," but it certainly helps you identify how closely some of your blind dates swing to the tree. Seriously, when you're sitting at dinner with someone, and you're wondering about his cranial capacity... and not in a hot way... you know you received more than a college diploma. You received an education. Seriously, thanks to Evolutionary Biology 101, I've dodged a second date with more than one Piltdown man, and not every woman can say that.

But I digress... The point is that, outside the obvious benefits stated above, Anthropology has its own unique set of perks, one of which is field school. And two decades ago, as a college student, I got to study in Sardinia for a semester when Italy was hosting the World Cup. It was an AMAZING experience, complete with NO drinking age. Anyway, one weekend, I went to Rome with a group of friends to watch a soccer game. And, because we also wanted to see the Vatican again and do some shopping, we decided to go early and stay late - which gave me just enough time to get a desperately needed haircut.

Unfortunately, after scheduling our appointments, we didn't head to the Spanish Steps as planned. We went to a cafe next to the salon and watched various soccer games and proceeded to get drunk instead. After several hours, beers, and matches, the time came, so I stumbled next door, sat in the stylist's chair, and tried to explain in slurred Italian that I wanted my hair, “all one length.” She said she understood, and she started cutting.

Now, of course when you’re sitting there getting your hair cut, you make small talk, right? And of course when Italy is hosting the biggest athletic event in the world, the conversation leads to futbol, right? WRONG! Cause here’s just a good piece of life advice: Never insult Italian soccer players to an Italian fan when Italy is hosting the World Cup… especially if she’s cutting your hair… and you’re drunk.

She shaved my head.

I was, quite honestly, almost bald, which wasn’t truly awful until I got back to the States at the end of the summer. See, I’d told my parents that I’d gotten my hair cut in Italy and they immediately assumed it was chic and European, and it was – if you consider Sinead O’Connor to be chic and European (which I do). So, there I was... at the end of the semester... still bald... heading home to Pennsylvania... with a bandanna wrapped around my head. I'll admit it, I was a little nervous, but I was also home-sick, and when the plane landed, I quickly de-boarded and ran straight to my family, who was standing at the gate, dying to greet me.

Like any reunion, we were hugging and laughing and talking over one-another, when my mom said, "So let's see this haircut." As I took the scarf off my head, my father literally stopped dead in his tracks and said, "GET back ON the PLANE... go BACK to ITALY… and GET YOUR HAIR!” On the drive home, he kept looking in the rear-view mirror, shaking his head, and telling my mother, "I don't understand. I just don't understand. Our son has hair down to his ass, and our daughter's head looks like a bowling ball." My mom, trying to maintain the peace, simply replied, "I'm sure it's just what kids are doing these days. It'll grow back."

Now, for the record, if you ever find yourself in a similar boat... it's WAY better to let your parents think you're "going through a phase" than it is to tell them the truth: that you were the drunken victim of a passive-aggressive hair stylist. Because honestly, how does one even begin to explain that... especially right after it happened. Hell, it was twenty years ago, and I'm still a little bitter that she had the nerve to ASK FOR A TIP. When I said, "I'm BALD." She actually replied, "Si, but it's all one length." So I gave her a tip, "Next time you put money down on a team, pick Germany."

In my defense, she turned me into a skinhead. She had to expect a hateful reply.

Anyway... unfortunately, my timing couldn't have been worse (well, for my parents anyway), because that summer - my father had chosen to retire, and my mother had chosen to have 150 people at our house to celebrate that fact. At any rate, the day and time of the party arrived, and I was standing with my brother, catching up, when our father came up to us with his friend and said, "John, you remember my youngest two children, KPS and mkromd." And no shit, the guy turned to me, shook my hand and said, "KPS, you have turned into a fine young man." Then he turned to my brother, kissed him on the cheek, and said, "You, mkromd, have become a beautiful young woman."

My father looked at his friend, then looked at KPS, then looked at me, then looked back at his friend and said, "The one whose head looks like roll-on deodorant is my daughter. Now if you'll excuse me... I need another Scotch."

Thank God that, before it could get awkward, my beloved, laid-back brother said, "It's OK dude. Even though I'm straight, I'm six feet tall, I weigh 130 pounds, I have long, blond hair, and I'm working this party like Twiggy on a catwalk. You're not the first guy here to want my number." To which the man replied, "And if I weren't a heterosexual man of the cloth, I'm sure I'd want it, too." Turns out, we had just been re-introduced to the minister who performed our parents' wedding ceremony in December of 1962. I guess Einstein understood more than Physics and Engineering. He understood life - as evidenced in his quote, "Logic will get you from A to B, but imagination will take you everywhere."

Talk to you next week.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

And now for something completely different...

I know that I've been writing about my family lately. I even agree that it's been cathartic, but this week something happened that brings the past to the present, and I feel the need to share it.

Last night, I fell off my treadmill.

No, you didn't read that wrong. I fell OFF my treadmill. My bat-shit crazy dog was playing in the basement, and she chased her ball across my treadmill... as I was using it. To quote the great Muhammad Ali, "It was a two hit fight." She hit me, and I hit the floor.

This is why I miss my goldfish, Mr. Carp E. Diem (may he rest in peace). Not just because his name was clever (given that goldfish ARE members of the Carp family), and not just because he was so easy to take care of (which he was), or even because he was the Chuck Norris of fish who killed each and every thing I put into his tank (seriously, he was the reason that fish sleep with their eyes open), but because in the ten years that I owned him - he never, ever gave me a bloody lip.

Don't get me wrong, I love my dog, but last night, I was at my wit's end. And, as I was getting ice from the refrigerator to control the swelling, I played a sick fantasy in my head about slipping the groomer an extra twenty dollars to shave a bulls-eye into her pelt. I had the same fantasies about my neighbor, and that’s when I knew that DB and I needed to move. But... unlike my neighbor (who I have seen in his underwear), she wouldn’t notice or even care about what I shave into her back hair. This is an animal who eye-balls you while she masturbates on her dog bed. However, I have a theory about why she’s so bat-shit crazy and destructive.

She was a heroin addict in a previous life.

She was, and while that may make you feel sad for her, DON’T BE! She hasn’t learned a damn thing though reincarnation. If it were up to her, she would live this life like she lived the last one… in a spiked dog collar… with all eight nipples pierced… and track marks up all four of her legs. I swear, one day I expect to walk into my house and find her wrapping the leash around her doggy arm and tightening it with her teeth. The only thing that might be missing when she dies this time is cheap beer and a pimp. So don’t feel bad for her AT ALL. Instead, feel bad for ME.

Adding to my current misery, in the two years that I've owned her, she's eaten numerous pairs of shoes, $150 worth of underwear, a $75 bottle of perfume, and a $250 pair of glasses all for the low-low cost of several trips to the vet at $100 a pop (not to mention the thousands of dollars I've paid in carpet cleaning expenses). I’m not sure what I was mumbling under my breath as I was telling my sister about my treadmill trauma, but it couldn’t have been good, because - after she laughed she said, "Are you going to kill her like you did the lizards?” OK, yes… many years ago, we had pet lizards, and I killed them, but it was honestly an accident.

However, before I can tell you that part of the story, I have to tell you this part first.

You see, growing up in the Appalachian Mountains with two brothers, it is a given that - at some point in your life - you and/or your siblings will own box turtles, lizards, dogs, cats, and fish. And, much to my mother's chagrin, we were no different. We owned everything we ever saved, found, or caught. A fact which may have contributed to me being a vegetarian who minored in Peace Studies (yes, really). I can’t even eat an animal much less kill one. So while it’s true that I killed our lizards, their death was never premeditated. In fact, I LIKED the Anoles. They were wickedly fast and incredibly cool to watch. They ate live crickets, and I felt bad about that… UNTIL ONE OF THOSE DAMN INSECTS ESCAPED AND LIVED IN OUR HEATING DUCTS FOR A WEEK.

Do you know what it’s like to be laying in bed… trying to fall asleep… and suddenly hear bug chirping… that ECHOES… through your WHOLE HOUSE? Do you? It’s like living in a Kafka novel: Metamorphosis, the home edition. For the record, Eric Carle was wrong. Crickets aren’t quiet unless you crank your heat to 90 degrees and let karma handle the details, which is exactly what happened.

I don’t like playing God, but I’m not opposed to it when my sleep is on the line… Regardless of how old I am.

So, while I may have deliberately killed that cricket (who TOTALLY had it coming), I swear I didn’t intentionally kill the lizards. In fact, I was trying to be helpful. I was cleaning their tank, and I put them on our patio in their carrying crate. When I came back twenty minutes later, they were more dehydrated than the apricots in your trail mix. The spare tank had reached 120 degrees… So I stood there… tapping the glass… hoping beyond hope that I was wrong… trying to figure out what to tell my family, and the only message I could craft was, “Well, at least you can catch them now.” They didn’t find it comforting, and clearly my sister is concerned history could repeat itself with my current pet. Like a good little-sister, I told her, “Not to worry! I can’t fit the puppy into a lizard-sized carrying crate.” That said, if that damn dog does disappear one day, follow the money…

Talk to you next week!