Friday, November 4, 2011

Tongue, Meet Cheek

First I'd like to give a big shout-out to the guy who found his way to my blog by typing the search term "womensuckstories." How ya doing, buddy? You enjoying the blog? Yeah? Good. Now go eat a bag of dicks. Asshole. Seriously, grow up, you fucktard. I'm going to find you now: I'm going to type in the search term "guywithsmallpenisandsmallerbraincan'tseewhygirlsdon'tlikehim." Yeah, women suck. They must if they can't see the diamond in the rough that is you. Asswipe.

Just so you all know, I am not and don't pretend to be a feminist. Honestly, I don't even know what it means -- I certainly don't know what it means to be a feminist dude. It strikes me as a potentially slick and disgusting way to get women to like you. At the same time, I can't imagine women being genuinely enthusiastic about the results over the long haul: is that really what you want? A man who, by virtue of having minored in women's studies, is inherently more sensitive to your plight? I'm not going to lie: that feels disingenuous to me. Because here's the thing: he's still a man, and no matter how in touch with your feelings or his he might be, he can only sympathize, he can never truly empathize. And don't you really want a man to be a man, in the end? Those of you who do actually like guys -- isn't that one of the things you love about us? Our man-ness? Our quality of being "other?" because I can tell you without the least hint of smartassery: your otherness is one of the reasons I dig women. You get to experience some of the world in a way I never will, and I'm into that. It's compelling, it's rich, it's cool. For me, looking back over my four-plus decades, I'd say it has been and continues to be essential.

So I'm not a feminist, though to the extent that I understand it, I don't see anything philosophically wrong with feminism. Off the top of my head, the only -ism I can think of that is truly problematic would have to be fascism. That's just rude. I'm not a big fan of catholicism, but just because it left a bad taste in my mouth.

Anyway, moving on: in a broad sense, I'm an individualist, more or less in the sense that the transcendentalists meant it, though, and less as a political stance. I believe in the power and autonomy and mutability and potential of the individual. I believe a lot of people suck, but not because they're women or Chinese or tall or left-handed or protestant or gay or hairy or talkative or physically weak or green-eyed or eleven years old or an exterminator or whatever: just a lot of people suck, because they're sucky people. They are individually, as a product of the traits that make up their respective characters, sucky people. But that still leaves quite a few cool people in the world (especially now that we've topped seven billion; think about that for a second, man: that is a whole lot of fucking going on). And this may shock you, but I'm going to say it anyway: some of my best friends are left-handed.

One left-handed friend in particular has had it pretty rough over the years. He was ridiculed very early on because he couldn't master the art of cutting shapes out of colored construction paper with the safety scissors in kindergarten -- this was before the engineers at MIT designed a pair of left-handed scissors (because, of course, all eggheads are left-handed, so they had a stake in this experience). Well, technically, they designed the first pair of left-handed scissors in 1951, but based on the original prototype, which included a small nuclear reactor, the device was far too expensive to mass-produce. It took some time to work out the bugs, and they weren't available by the time my friend reached kindergarten. It got worse, of course. Sister Beneficent beat him severely each time he reached for his pencil with his devil hand. He quit Little League because all he'd ever wanted to be was a catcher (big Pudge Fisk fan), and although they managed to find him a left-handed catcher's mitt (miracles do happen), he ultimately lost the position because half the time he tried to throw the ball back to the pitcher he ended up bouncing it off the helmet of the kid standing in the batter's box -- because, in those days, all good boys batted from the right side of the plate. The shame proved to be too much for him. By the time he got to high school and really discovered girls, he understood immediately he would have to master the art of heavy petting with his right hand. By all accounts, he pulled it off with remarkable frequency and great success. But it never felt right to him, not being his true self, and soon after college he dropped out of life, choosing to live alone in a remote mountain cabin, where he dreamt of a day when left-handed people enjoyed the same experience of the world's many joys as right-handers. Last I heard, he's still up there waiting. I believe he's writing a book about it, but honestly, who's going to read it, typed all left-handed and all. Poor bastard.

And I sympathize, but I would never pretend to know what it's like for him to be left-handed in what he perceives as a right-handed world. I can tell him we've made some strides. Christ, we've actually had a couple openly left-handed presidents in the last twenty years. I once dated a left-handed woman for about a month -- yeah, it was kind of weird at first, but what can I say, I was in the right place mentally to let a little strange into my life. Just the other night I had a left-handed bartender, if you can believe that. I ordered a Rumford martini, and I watched him start to pour the coffee brandy left-handed, then pause and glance my way a little chagrined. "Go ahead," I assured him, "it's cool."

The point is, I'm a person, you're a person, let's just take each other that way. Yes, I'm interested in your struggles, your stories, your perspective. But I promise you, I will never be more interested in you as a member of a group or a movement than I am in you as a human being. And I think sensitive, new-age guys are willfully ignorant of the complexity of the world. Which means they pretty much suck. Turn a corner, folks. At some point the road ahead needs to stop being entirely dictated by the road behind. That's something I would like to be around to see.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Pixies. If you were there last night, you know what I mean when I say: Pixies.

I've always told people I was listening to the Pixies in high school, but that's impossible: I graduated in 1987, the year Come On Pilgrim was released, and believe me, even had the album come out on January 1 (I think it was actually sometime in April), there's no way it would have found its way to my ears before I graduated in June because, here in the wilds of Maine in those days, without internet or decent radio, there's no chance whatsoever I would've stumbled across it. It's an honest mistake, though: except for the fact that I lived in a dorm room and had slightly easier access to booze and charming women, high school and college weren't substantially different animals.

So it was college, Christmas break of probably sophomore year, and I was hanging out with my buddy Josh. We spent some pretty choice weekends at his parents' house our last year of high school, filching his dad's Silver Bullets and playing ping-pong on the impossibly warped table in his basement -- seriously, this table was hilarious, both ends curled madly, such that the center of each court was a good two inches lower than mid- and end-court. Trick shots were not just at a premium, they were essential. We were improvisers, and we were young aspiring drunks, and we were almost without exception concerned with but two subjects: sports and girls. We both knew a lot about one and enough about the other so that our analyses and theories and budding philosophies easily carried us well into the night, up to or just shy of the point where the Silver Bullets won out and we had to call it. Even though the frequency of those beer-washed, wacky-pong weekends diminished after high school, we managed to recapture them one school break at a time all through college. Maybe the tone changed a little as we grew incrementally more sophisticated, more worldly, but that was a difference without a distinction. The music definitely changed, and that mattered.

Josh can correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm pretty sure he had Come On Pilgrim (the song "Caribou" rings with the recollection of that night, but memory is like a self-governing neighboring dominion, its spaces arranged as it sees fit regardless of whatever sense of jurisdiction the conscious brain supposes it's entitled to, so perhaps I'm wrong) and I'm confident he had Surfer Rosa because there's no doubt in my mind that was the first time I heard "Gigantic" and "Where Is My Mind?", two songs on my personal all-time favorites list, without qualification. Regardless of the details, the love affair started that night, and the ardor has not been diminished by time. Cheap beer, an improvised table game, a best friend and a band that was a true original are all intertwined with my experience of two smart guys with big, dopey hearts trying in our way to figure out girls. That's a party with one hell of a soundtrack.

It's true, last night we would have liked to see them play longer, although it wasn't a short show, really -- ninety minutes, and they did two encores. But shit, man, they're all between the ages of forty-five and fifty. I'm not quite forty-three, and I was getting worn out just tapping my foot and swaying. So I forgive them for wanting to, as Kim put it when she was saying goodnight to the band, get on the bus and go right to sleep. And of course we could all rattle off a handful of songs we wished they'd played, but what can one expect from a band that wrote almost nothing but songs we love? Anybody got a seven-hour show in them? No regrets.

Beyond a certain age -- and I don't know what that age is, I only know I passed it at some point -- there aren't a lot of things that can make you feel like a kid again. I suspect fantasy baseball camp is like that: you spend a week taking batting practice, shagging flies, and stepping onto a real baseball diamond beside guys you grew up watching play the game. Being there when your daughter is born, and then watching her become a new person on an almost daily basis that first year of her life recalls a sense of perpetual wonder unlike any you've known since your own childhood, when the world was revealing itself to you in increments. Or such as these: Watching a live performance by a band you've loved for more than twenty years, one that never once tried to reinvent itself, just walked away when they felt like they were done with each other, and then came back together and said, "These are great songs, let's go kick some ass . . ." Seeing your name on something you put some of your heart into that someone was kind enough to publish . . . Realizing when you open up your email and find yourself looking into a certain girl's eyes that you're not actually frozen in your own personal emotional wasteland and that you really, really, really adore her . . .

I've never been to baseball camp, and my lovely daughter is all of sixteen years old now. Nonetheless, beginning around nine o'clock last night, and showing no signs of stopping yet, goddamn do I feel like a kid right now.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Breakdown Breakup

It's time for me to come clean: I've been living a lie. I thought I could handle it, this leading of two separate lives, but I was wrong. It's tearing me apart and I can't go on deceiving you.

How long has it been going on, you ask? Since last Thursday. Yes, I know, I know: how can my feelings be so certain, so strong after such a short time? Sometimes you just know. There is simply no explanation beyond that: I just know.

No, I'm not breaking up with you. Not really. I mean, I suppose it's up to you to decide: do you still want me if you know my heart is divided (more or less equally, I swear) between you and another? Is affection necessarily diminished because it is split in two?

You haven't done anything wrong. It's not y-- Ouch! No, sorry, I won't say that. Fuck, man. Don't hit me. When did you start hitting? Jesus.

Just say it? You want to hear me say the words? Are you going to hit me again? Promise? Alright, fine, I will: I'm writing for another website.

There -- are you happy? Do you feel better? You kind of look like you want to punch me in the throat. No? Good.

A name? You want a name? Look, come on, this is . . . it's not helping.

The Nervous Breakdown. Okay? I said it. The other site is called The Nervous Breakdown.

Don't cry. Come on, don't.

Look, I didn't plan on this. I didn't make it happen. It just sort of . . . happened.

Peaches introduced us. Look, he didn't know either. He just thought we'd dig each other but, you know, not like that. He didn't know. Okay, that's a lie: he totally knew what he was doing. Of course he doesn't hate you. He loves you, too. He just wants us both to be happy.

Of course I still love you.

No, I don't want to leave you.

We can make this work.

How? I don't know. You'll just have to trust me.

Nothing's ending. It's just becoming something other than it was. Something better. Something more. In my beat-up little heart I truly believe that.

Of course I'll hold you. Come here. Just put your head right there on my chest. Close your eyes. Shhh. See? This is good, right?

Oh yeah, one other thing: I'm gay.

I am so not gay. But wouldn't that have been funny?