19 December 2008
“Who do we talk to if we have a problem with the show?”
Frequently while house managing people will come to me with stuff like this. It’s a big part of the job. Often, their problem with the show is that their seats aren’t any good or it’s too cold, things like that. Sometimes it’s because of the actual content of the show. When Circle did The Who’s Tommy I had several people stop to tell me how disappointed they were with the theatre for putting on something so disgusting. This happens when people don’t care to find out what they’re going to see. Would you go to a movie without knowing what it’s about or even the rating? Maybe, but you really shouldn't if you’re someone who might be easily offended.
“Well,” I said, “That depends on what the problem is.”
“We thought,” one of the women began, “that this show was appropriate for children.”
‘Motherfucker,’ I thought, ‘there must be a couple of swears.’ Swears, especially “goddamn,” set off a lot of fucking prudes.
I said: “What is it in the show that you think isn’t appropriate?”
“All the sexual material!” the other lady chimed in.
Seriously? I mean, I haven’t actually watched the show myself, but it’s the musical version of It’s A Wonderful Life. You know, Jimmy Stuart,
everytimeabellringsanangelgetsitswings, a Christmas classic. There are a couple of swears in the play and the story revolves around a man contemplating suicide* so I was ready to deal with that. It’s stupid, but as soon as these women started complaining about the content, I figured that that’s what it was going to be. After all: What the hell else is there that might possibly offend someone in It’s A Wonderful Life?!
“Really?” I asked, trying extraordinarily hard not to sound incredulous. “Such as what?”
“Well, at one point,” one of the women said, “there was a girl dancing in a purple tutu and she spread her legs and we could see EVERYTHING. Her whole crotch. Everything!”
And I think to myself: ‘But it was clothed, right? I mean I can’t imagine an exposed vagina as part of the play.’
“And our sons,” the other woman added, “Were like [eyes bugged out, mouth agape].”
No fucking kidding! If your kids are that repressed, I’m surprised they didn’t spunk themselves when there was visible ankle. If you want to raise serial killers, you are off to a fantastic start, ladies.
“And it happened more than once,” the other woman added. “Do you think that’s appropriate for children?”
I said, “My kids saw it and they didn’t have any problem with it.” I said.
“Then I guess we have different standards because that is not appropriate. Did you watch the show?”
I answered honestly that I hadn’t seen it.
“Well you should have before you exposed your children to it. You should have watched it or gone to a rehearsal or something!”
“You let them watch it without you?!”
“My wife watched it with them,” I explained because it was way easier than saying ‘The woman who I have sex with and intend to marry who is going through a divorce from another man watched the show with them.’
I know I’m not the world’s greatest father, but I never imagined that bringing my kids to see It’s A Wonderful Life made me a bad father. I wanted to tell them that my four year old has Rocky Horror Picture Show memorized, but I was working and wanted to avoid a scene.
“And another time in the show, when she’s getting ready for the wedding she drops her dress on stage and puts on another one.” The other woman said.
Mind you, she’s wearing a slip. Not a teddy, not a lacy little number, but a plain white slip.
“And they were bending over” the other woman added, pantomiming bending over with breasts desperate to fall out of their casing.
“We were told this was a family show! What do we do about this to make sure we don’t end up being exposed to things like this again?”
Don’t ever go to a theatre again. Plays or movies. Stay in your fucking house; don’t turn on the fucking radio or TV. Get changed in the dark; adopt children so you won’t have to endure the degradation of sexual intercourse if you really need some kids to destroy with your insane and dangerous worldview
“We want our money back!”
I explained that I couldn’t do that and that they would have to call the theatre tomorrow and talk to people with actual authority.
“How do we know this won’t happen again?” they asked.
I said that, in this instance the play is based on a movie that’s been around for decades and dec—and she cut me off with a: “This is NOT in the movie! I watch it every year!”
Now, I’ve never seen the movie all the way through either so I can’t attest to whether or not there is any swearing or anything like that but I got this exact same complaint when the theatre did Grease last year. People claimed that “They didn’t use words like that in the movie!” Actually, the theatre cleaned up the script. There are less dirty words in the play than there were in the movie but you saw the movie thirty years ago when you weren’t such a goddamn prude. I’m guessing it’s the same case with this one. Jimmy Stuart gets away with a few swears because he’s a war hero.
I ended the conversation by letting the women know that if they had “that high of a standard” that they needed to do their research. They needed to call the theatre and ask if there was anything at all in the show that might possibly be offensive.
I told them all this knowing full well that any person they spoke to at the theatre or anyone they talked to that had seen the show would tell them the same thing: There is nothing at all that a sane human being would be offended by in this show.
As they left I thought: “Have a nice night ladies and don’t come back. Be careful driving, too: it must be very difficult driving when you have to shield your and your children’s eyes from billboards lest they feature an allusion to human sexuality.
Now I’m going to go home and have premarital sex.”
*SPOILER: He doesn’t end up doing it. Just saying.
24 October 2008
Travis needs to keep remembering that God is in control of who will be appointed our leader, Go ahead Obama, run this country into the ground!
What follows is my response and the brouhaha that came after, ending with my special lady swooping in to save the day. Enjoy.
NOTE: Last names have been removed to protect the ignorant.
Dave Fletcher at 3:34pm October 23
Since God talks directly to Bush and Bush is running the country into the ground, doesn't that mean that God is doing a pretty shitty job? How about giving the people a chance to run our country? Which is, I'm pretty sure, what the Constitution says should be the case. Let God run the churches and leave the government to the people.
Lindsey at 3:44pm October 23
America was founded as one Nation UNDER GOD! Not one nation under the people.
Troy at 4:34pm October 23
I say we elect Yoda
Michael at 4:53pm October 23
One nation under Canada above Mexico...
Travis at 5:59pm October 23
it's funny i did that just to see what people would put, and wow, dave i'm really sorry that you feel that way about the greatest president we've had since reagan, but hey if one is a true christian and that person is not being persecuted for their beliefs, they're probably doing something wrong-walt hedrickson
Troy at 7:10pm October 23
doesn't it take like 270 electoral votes so one persons opinion/vote is not gonna break the bank on either side. Thunder Thunder Thunder CATS HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!
Dave Fletcher at 10:06pm October 23
A) I hope Lindsey is joking (or does she really believe the version of the Pledge of Allegiance instituted in the 1950's is the founding document of our nation, rather than the Constitution which directly outlines a government for the people, by the people and of the people) and 2) Bush and Reagan are both great presidents? Wow, what's it like ... Read Moreliving on a planet that's shaped like a cube? You am Bizarro #1!
Michael at 10:59pm October 23
Not to be against you Linds but that is from the Pledge of Allegiance. The founding fathers were Christian but they did no found the country as a Christian nation. Read this:
Dave Fletcher at 11:35pm October 23
Many of them were Christian. All of them were secularists.
Travis at 12:59am October 24
what lindsey is saying is that we are UNDER GOD, people can deny it all they want, come up with all the facts and figures they want, be are UNDER GOD! When you make all of these liberal points and views, you start to believe you don't need God, or that we created God, and that we ourselves can become Gods, which is exactly what the devil wants us ... Read Moreto do, but it's stated that people will have views just like yours in the bible dave, so all you are doing is just reassuring me that I am correct as a christian. Nib High football rules!!!!!(Billy Madison)
Dave Fletcher at 9:02am October 24
I love how you act like "facts" are a bad thing. "Oooh, throwing facts at me, huh? What're you going to do next, provide evidence?! Ha ha. Loser." And I love that using ALL CAPS somehow helps make your argument for you. In which case this is one nation UNDER DOG! If only I could make my words even bigger and my logic even less logical then I... Read More could win. Screw "facts" lets just offer up nutjob arguments and far-right paranoia.
Truly, sir, a master logician.
p.s. Atheism is not a liberal view. It's just an enlightened one so it frequently happens that people who are rational are also liberal. Not always, but often.
p.p.s. The Flying Spaghetti Monster warned that there would be detractors, therefore by believing in a false god you are just reassuring me that I am correct as a pastafarian. May you be touched by his noodly appendage.
Travis at 10:57am October 24
there is a quote that i love "It is foolish to listen to someone who will not listen to you" of course this applies to both sides, but i know that if i am to truly become a strong christian that i must become the a-hole everyone will portray me to be, and i must stop being a hypocrite and stop sinning so much and preaching at the same time. I will ... Read Morebe hated, persecuted, even possibly threatened, but dave, i feel sorry for you and know that there are many people like you in this world who, through their views, have nothing to live for, no end outcome, no reason for being, and no absolute truth and certainty in life. because obviously man has shown time and time again how amazing we are at coming to our own conclusions and how we are fully capable of taking care of ourselves without anyone to watch over us, especially some war mongering, evil god that doesn't care for anyone. Yeah we do a bang up job alright.
Michael at 3:15pm October 24
Now I might not believe and follow what Travis does 100% (the reason I no longer consider myself a Christian) but that is no reason to get insulting and offensive Dave. However, I will say that Christians do tend to be very intolerant and pushy with people who don't believe what they do. There's a little amendment called Freedom of Religion which ... Read Moremeans anyone can believe anything they want without criticism or the like. Christians are the only ones who willingly break that right by trying to (for lack of a better word) force their beliefs on everyone and getting up in arms and assaultive when someone doesn't want to believe what they do.
Kris Bonner at 4:33pm October 24
Absolute truth? Can someone please show me where the absolute truth is in Christianity? Everything I've been shown on the topic is either rooted in folklore ('cause, you know, Gawd didn't write the Bible himself and all), hypocrisy, or making people fear an unproved deity in order to make those who are of weaker body and mind follow them blindly.
Return to the Dark Ages, anyone? Y'know, back to those days when religion kept people from reading and learning anything because, Gawd forbid, that may cause free-thinking and questions.
Dave hasn't told any of you that you have nothing to live for, and that your pursuits are fruitless. So to say that he has nothing to live for, no end outcome, no reason for being and no absolute truth and certainty just shows how judgmental you non-judgmentalists really are. Aren't you supposed to leave that up to your higher being?
Dave has plenty to live for. And a reason for being. And a chance at a very good outcome in life. To say he doesn't also condemns me, my children, and the wonderful life that the two of us see unfolding in front of our eyes.
THIS is a prime example of why religion doesn't work. There are the hard-core fanatics (who are usually closet sinners, and prove pious only when it suits them), the on-the-fencers (those who agree with everyone; around Atheists? They are ... Read Moreone, too! Around a fanatic? They are too! Go figure.), the dis-believers (nope, no chance at anything outside of being worm food!) and those that remain agnostic, which is not the same as Atheism. I would love to believe that there is a plan for things. That this world turns for a purpose bigger than a simple gravitational pull. However, without science, that's not going to be proven to me. Condemning me and my family to hell because I am a proof-is-in-the-pudding type of person is sick and wrong. If you get this upset and want to really judge me, crucify me. I bet my suffering lasts far longer than the petty amount of time Jesus spent there.
13 October 2008
As a bit of background: I’m getting a divorce. This may come as a shock to some of you. Sorry for that? Many of you doubtlessly have questions as to the whys and wherefores, to which I say: none of your damn business. Those of you who are owed explanations* will get them, but certainly not in a blog. I may be tacky and insensitive, but I’m not that tacky and insensitive.
So, okay, that’s our backdrop.
Since leaving my house, I’ve been staying with my best friend Kris. It wasn’t necessarily my intention to come here and stay here, but she was the first to offer a couch and, well, one thing leads to another and here I am in the same place a month and a half later.
One of the biggest reasons I’ve stayed here as long as I have is Jake Busey. Yes, Jake Busey, star of Tomcats and Hitcher 2.
I probably need to elaborate on that a bit.
See, on Labor Day weekend, Kris and I went down to Indiana for HorrorHound Weekend. HorrorHound is a three day convention during which the who’s who of the Horror movie world rub shoulders with their fans. Horror fans, by the way, are mostly like comic fans—pasty guys in black t-shirts who are all either overweight or underweight, wear glasses and have creepy facial hair—so I didn’t have a very difficult time trying to fit in. And while I’m not the biggest horror movie fan around, Kris is. She’s as big a geek for The Devil’s Rejects as I am for Heroes. So being at a convention like this with her is a real treat. She absolutely comes alive—this is her in her element. Throughout the weekend, people actually came up to Kris to get their picture taken with her (and she wasn’t even wearing a Zombie Thor costume).
While I was just going to the con’** to hang out, schmooze and get away from the trials and tribulations of “real” life for a weekend, Kris was going to volunteer. By offering beard scratches to Bill, the guy in charge, she was able to land a gig as the Jason Mewes wrangler for the weekend (that’s Jay from Jay and Silent Bob fame, for those of you who are Mewes-illiterate). Unfortunately Mewes’ flight was delayed so Bill decided to send Kris to work Jake Busey’s table. When I heard that, I sent her a sympathetic glance in which I tried to convey the thought “Sorry you got stuck with Busey (read: douche), better luck next time.”
As it turns out, my sympathy was unwarranted. Jake Busey is awesome. There, I said it. Jake Busey is a great guy. In fact, almost everyone I met there turned out to be awesome***. Kane Hodder (Jason from Friday the 13th 7, 8, 9 and X) is both a hulk and a sweetheart of a man. Dee Wallace Stone (Mom from E.T. and Cujo), Derek Mears (the new Jason in the upcoming Friday the 13th****), and Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator and The Frieghteners) are all incredibly sweet and adorable. Joe Knetter (Zombie Bukkake) hides a tender heart beneath a thick wall of perversion. He and Mike Christopher (Hare Krishna Zombie from the original Dawn of the Dead) have actually become personal friends since the con. And, of course, Tom Savini (special effects wizard and Sex Machine from From Dusk Til Dawn) not only signed Kris’ arm, but was as excited as a school girl when she showed him that she got it tattooed over.
The weekend was a blast and provided a much needed escape for both of us. We got to kick back, have fun and just be ourselves for three days without worrying about divorces and kids and unemployment and everything else.
On the ride home on Sunday, the real world came crashing down . . . along with Godfrey, my beloved car. One moment we were driving past Anderson, Indiana marveling at the plumes of smoke from a house fire and the next moment, every light in the car came on and forward propulsion was replaced with simple momentum. I pulled over to the side of the road and, as is my typical response to car troubles, I decided to dive into oncoming traffic so I wouldn’t have to deal with it. Kris calmed me down (luckily, unlike me, she took auto shop and knows something about cars). We popped the hood, she took a look, decided it was a problem with the cooling system and after relying on the kindness of a stranger, we found ourselves in a Motel 6 in Anderson while poor Godfrey was being towed (off hours on a holiday weekend) to a dealership in Muncie in the hopes that they would be open on Monday.
So we sat in a Motel 6 for almost 48 hours. There was a grocery store across the street, but no fridge or microwave in the room so we could only buy things that could be eaten and stored at room temperature. Of course, the fact that Kris has Celiac’s and therefore cannot eat anything containing gluten makes finding food a little tricky under the best of circumstances. Luckily, next door to the Motel 6 was a Red Lobster and seafood is something that both she and I can eat. Unluckily, it’s not the cheapest thing around and I had spent the last of my money buying a wasted tank of gas for Godfrey. But luckily, the manager at this particular Red Lobster had a daughter with Celiac’s so they were really good about making sure that everything they brought to us was uncontaminated.
We spent the day on Monday cooling our heels in the Motel 6 and doing some much needed laundry. I had a moment of terror when I pulled the laundry out to fold it and was convinced that I had shrunken all of Kris’ clothes. Turns out, though, she actually just is that tiny.
On Tuesday, after half a dozen calls to the dealership in Muncie it became clear that Godfrey wasn’t going anywhere any time soon. So, we rented a car (by the way, what’s with rental places that only do in state rentals? Screw those bastards!) and made our way back home, leaving Godfrey in Muncie with a broken engine and a $4,800 asking price to get him fixed. Thanks to friends far more generous than I could ever deserve, I’ve managed to pay off the expenses incurred while in Anderson and am working my way towards a solution to the car problems.
All along the way to Indiana, at the convention, and home from Indiana (including the 48 hour layover in Anderson) Kris and I talked. About movies and relationships, pasts, the present and the future. We watched the better part of a Dirty Jobs Marathon and ate rice bars. We were stranded, we were screwed and we were bizarrely happy the whole time. I’m not really known for handling stress well, especially when large sums of money are concerned, but somehow I never freaked out. Except, of course, when Kris discovered her ability to fart on command and nearly forced me out of the motel room.
When we got home, Kris had an email from Jake Busey. He thanked her for all of her work this weekend and then he added: “It was great hanging out with you and Dave. He’s a great guy and he loves the shit out of you.”
While this wasn’t really news for either of us, it was, and had been for a while, an unspoken secret between the two of us. Neither of us was looking for it, neither of us really wanted it or is in a position where it’s terribly convenient, but there it was. And Jake Busey was the first one to acknowledge it. Jake Busey put it out there. And he was right.
Even after a weekend of horror movies, dead baby dolls, zombies, serial killers and $4,800 car bills the most terrifying thing was the simple little truth that Jake Busey laid out for me: I am in love . . . the horror, the horror.
*Which is pretty much no one.
**That’s what us hip folks call “conventions.”
***With the notable exception of a particular comic book artist with a penchant for sending pictures of his genitals to the cell phones of women who are uninterested in them.
****It’s not a remake, it’s a duck.
10 August 2008
--The Dark Knight is, in fact, the greatest movie ever. I saw it at midnight on opening night and then again this week. Rather than illuminating flaws in the film, the second viewing actually made me appreciate it even more. It’s even better than I originally thought. While Iron Man was buckets of fun and I will gladly watch it again and again, The Dark Knight transcends the super-hero genre (and yes, there are now officially enough of them to have a whole genre to themselves). And I know everyone is talking about Heath Ledger’s performance* but y’know what? I am too. Absolutely wonderful. I know there are Nicholson loyalists out there and that’s all well and good for you, but this is the Joker I have wanted to see all my life. The pencil trick was the moment when I knew this movie was going to exceed all my expectations. Oh, and let’s not forget Two Face. Gross. Just really, really gross. Captivatingly gross. I love it. Way to give that character a real arch, too.
--“Chelsea Hotel No. 2” by Leonard Cohen seems to be my iPod’s favorite song right now. I wonder if it’s trying to tell me something. . . Maybe just trying to suggest that I’m ugly:
I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel
You were famous, your heart was a legend.
You told me again you preferred handsome men
But for me you would make an exception.
And clenching your fist for the ones like us
Who are oppressed by the figures of beauty,
You fixed yourself, you said, "well never mind,
We are ugly but we have the music."
--Started taking an anti-depression medication. One of the possible side effects is an inability to achieve orgasm. And I thought I was depressed before . . .
--A week and a half ago I got the most impressive promotion of my life when I moved up from clothing rack to professional actor. I could explain but frankly, I feel like the story is pretty good right there.
--I was driving behind an ice cream truck on the highway today. On the back of the truck were the words: “Watch For Childrens.”
--Highlights from a user manual for a friend’s old cell phone:
“Not demolished or modified cell phones, otherwise it will create mobile phones damage and leakage circuit fault.” (So, demolishing it is bad for the phone?)
“In a few cases, some models of mobile phones in the car when the car may have an adverse impact on electronic equipment. Then please do not use cell phones so as not to lose security assurances.” (So long as you never use it, your security assurances are all set.)
“If LCD liquid into the eyes of the blind be dangerous.” (How much worse can the eyes of the blind be damaged?)
“Battery, not to exert pressure on the force, otherwise they will cause battery leakage, overheating and the fire burst.” (You get that, Battery? The Force is either strong with you, or it isn’t. Quit exerting so much pressure on it.)
“Do not welding battery End Otherwise, it will lead to leakage, overheating and the fire burst.” (Here we have a sample of my two favorite things in the manual: The insistence that “Otherwise” needs to be capitalized and, of course, “the fire burst.” Beware the fire burst, Childrens.)
“Please do not demolish or converted charger Otherwise, it will lead to personal injury, electric shock, fire and damage to the charger” (Not unlike with the phone, demolishing the charger is, in fact, bad for the charger.)
“Dirt poor contact will lead to the socket, brownout, which can not be recharged, regularly cleaned.” (Keep those hobos away from your phone: Contact with the dirt poor will lead to the socket. And no one wants that.)
--The new Facebook sucks. There: I said it. Show me a person who likes the new Facebook and I’ll show you someone who secretly wishes people still liked MySpace.
--The front page of my condo association’s July newsletter featured the following poem. It’s a perfect example of the trifecta of things I love: Blind patriotism, authoritarian religion, and amateur poetry.** If you need to ask my feelings about it, we clearly haven’t met:
“My Declaration of Independence” by Dorothy Siple
I’m glad I was born an American
In the Land of the brave and the free;
Out of millions of others less favored
God gave this great blessing to me.
I rejoice in the freedom it gives me
For which a great price has been paid
By those who so cherished its value
That their lives on the altar were laid.
But I’m more glad that I am a Christian
Who’s been freed from the shackles of sin
By the outpouring love of my Savior,
Who died my salvation to win.
Now I’m free from the guilt that oppressed me,
No fear keeps me held in its power;
No task can defeat or distress me,
For God gives the strength for each hour.
I am free to love all men as brothers
To forgive any wrong done to me;
To be cleansed from the poison of hatred
And to be whom God wants me to be!
I don’t always need fair weather for sunshine;
There are other ways sunshine is sent.
All the things I possess don’t bring pleasure
Nor does worldly success mean content.
So I greet each new day with excitement;
My heart wants to sing and shout!
I’m a SLAVE to the love of my Master ---
And that is what FREEDOM is about!
--The show must go on.***
*Love the online petitions for an Oscar for Ledger, by the way. That’s a great idea . . . if the Oscars were decided by fucking Congress. It’s like people have no concept of either how awards are given or how petitions work. And, of course, online petitions are always a great tool if you want to do absolutely nothing but feel like you’ve done a little something.
**If you only read the last stanza, it actually makes the condo association seem really progressive. How many other condo associations would publish a poem about BDSM? Not nearly enough, I would have to say.
***Some restrictions apply.
14 July 2008
I don’t want to overstate the case, but finding these soufflés means a lot to me. Now, every morning I wake up and I think “I want soufflé today”*. And it feels really good just knowing that. For the first time in my life, I know what I want. Y’know, for breakfast. My wife and I spend an awful lot of time discussing meals. It’s always hard to decide on something that sounds good to both of us and then of course, we have to determine how much effort we’re interested in putting in to preparation or clean up. But at least now breakfast is covered. The answer is easy. ‘What are you hungry for?’ ‘Why, soufflé, of course!’ And having that certainty feels really good.
I’ve spent most of my life not knowing that I wanted soufflé. Now, I know I want soufflé and I want it so badly that I can taste it. I get up in the morning while my wife is still in bed, throw on some pants and head to my local Panera franchise or get a soufflé or two. Here’s the rub: my local Panera franchise is always sold out of the soufflés! I walk in the door, craning my neck to see around the person blocking my view of the bakery case, hoping, wishing, dreaming that there’ll be a couple of soufflés waiting there just for me, looking all steamy and take-me-home-y. But they’re not there. The signs are there. The teasing little signs reminding me of the delicious varieties of soufflé are there, but they’ve got nothing behind them. Just an empty, slightly greasy looking tray.
No soufflé for you.
I don’t think I’m asking for all that much. Just a fucking soufflé or two. But the universe is conspiring against me, keeping me from achieving my dreams of warm, flaky, French pastry. And no, a croissant or breakfast sandwich will not do, please don’t trivialize this, Lady Behind the Counter.
Here’s where, through use of a literary device, the soufflé becomes something more than soufflé. Here’s where I show that the soufflé is really only an allegory for the rest of my life . . . a warm, flaky, delicious allegory, but still only an allegory. Or a microcosm, if you will: a single tiny experience that reveals the larger state of my life.
I went to college for eight years. Most of that time I had no idea what I wanted to do after college, I just aimlessly forged ahead. It really wasn’t until I did my student teaching this spring that I knew for certain that I actually wanted to be a teacher. And having that certainty feels really good. So I waded into the job pool with optimistic visions of landing a good one . . . only to find that the pool was less of a pool and more of a puddle. A small puddle quickly evaporating. I’ve applied, I’ve even interviewed but those are all just the little signs reminding me of the soufflés I’m missing out on.
No job for me. For months now. And without a job, I can’t get that which I really want in life: a goddamn soufflé. For the first time in my life, I know exactly what I want. But I can’t get it. So many other things in the way, too many other people beating me to the pastry counter. Happiness is so close but it looks like I may never grasp it. It’s getting harder and harder to even bother driving down to Panera. How long until I just give up and eat some toast? Or do I keep trying only to be let down day after day?
What happens to a dream deferred? Does it fester like a sore and then run? Or will it fall like a soufflé not carefully attended to?
28 June 2008
For whatever reason, I’ve been strangely emotional lately. Other than an incident a year ago when I was watching Spider-Man 2 on DVD, I don’t really remember the last time I cried. But for the past week or so I’ve been ready to crumple at the drop of a hat. You know that feeling where something terrible has happened but you’re in a place where you can’t let yourself fall apart so you buck up and as long as everything is normal, you’ll be fine, but if anyone so much as puts a hand on your shoulder as a sign of affection you’ll be reduced to a sobbing wreck? I’m finding myself in that place more and more these days and I’m not really sure why. Maybe its menopause. *
Anyway, it was in one of these deeply, unpleasantly emotional states that I tried to call my mom. I wanted to tell her that I loved her, that I was sorry for not saying it more often and for never letting her know how proud I was of her, how much she meant to me and what a wonderful mother she was. I imagined trying to choke back my emotions as I talked, and ultimately failing like a hurricane wracked levy as she too started to cry. It was a mother/son moment worthy of the sappiest, crappiest Hallmark movie and I wanted it for us.
As is typical of our relationship, I couldn’t actually get a hold of her right then. We usually play a pretty good round of phone tag before catching each other—usually when I’m at work and she’s about to go to bed.
The next night, we caught each other. By this point I was feeling momentarily less emotional and kind of embarrassed by the touching family moment that hadn’t happened. We talked for a while about this and that, how Grandpa and Grandma were doing, her job, my job search etc. Then I saw my opening. I started by telling her about my friend, the things she’s going through and how eerily similar they were to our experiences years ago. She was moved, expressed empathy and offered to help.
It was then that I told her why I had really called. How I wanted to thank her and apologize to her for not being appreciative enough in the past. “Thank you,” she said, “but you don’t have to do that.” This wasn’t just humility: she was trying to cut me off. And it’s not out of coldness that she wanted to cut me off before I got all weepy, it was out of discomfort.
My family, as a rule, does not express positive emotions to each other. Anger? Irritation? Pain? Frustration? No problem! But when it comes to saying something nice we are woefully ill equipped. We say “I love you” through shared derision and sarcasm. I know my family is really unhappy with me when they’re not making fun of me, my hair, my clothes, my diet or my beard. We never, ever hug. Both my twin sister and I are working on introducing hugs into familial gatherings, but it’s still pretty awkward for everyone involved.**
By calling my mother to offer sincere, straightforward thanks I had broken a cardinal rule, a fact which she illustrated in a story. “A few months back,” she said, “I did something like this [expressing emotions] and I wrote a letter to my mom and dad just to say . . . y’know. I didn’t need or want them to respond, I just wanted to say some things in writing so they would know. I talked to my dad a few times after I knew he had gotten the letter and he didn’t say anything about it, of course. Then a few days later he said ‘We got your letter. You didn’t need to do that.’ I could tell it made him uncomfortable but I’m sure he appreciated it.”
The more I think about it, the more it amazes me just how much that story and her telling of it says about my family. There is such a level of discomfort with positive emotional expressions that she had to use a parable to tell me that. I guess in a weird way I really respect that.
And yet, flying in the face of all that, I will here and now proclaim that I love and appreciate my mother. Hopefully she’ll never actually read this, because that’d be really awkward . . . ***
*Menopause, Menopause the Musical!
**Because I work in theatre I’ve been thrust into the world of hugging. Initially that was terrifying to me, but now I’ve really come to (pardon the pun) embrace it and have become a big hug advocate. It’s actually one of my favorite things, even with strangers.
And for the record, I give good hug. This is largely thanks to two unique physically attributes of mine: A) my incredibly long arms that allow me to wrap Reed Richards-like around even the largest of hugees and 2) my soft, uncooked dinner roll of a torso is crafted for ideal cuddling.
***Though less awkward than the conversations that would ensue if she read anything else in my blog.
17 May 2008
There’s been very little communication with any of them for almost ten years. In that time I’ve moved, gotten married and even changed my name. Since none of them was invited to any of those events, I don’t expect them to be necessarily aware of them (in fact, one of the ideas behind the name change was that it would prevent them from getting in contact with me—that and it would help prevent my father from committing fraud against me like he has with the rest of my family).
When I was talking to my mom the other day, she informed me that a letter had come to her house intended for my siblings and me. It was an invitation to an upcoming family reunion. Yes, it’s absurd that these people have so little grasp on reality as to think that my brother, sister and I would be interested in such an event (we never even liked that side of the family when we had to spend time with them). And yes, it is absolutely insulting and infuriating that my mother, who was better to that family than my father ever was, was purposely omitted from the invitation (divorce is a sin) which was mailed to her house. That alone would be reason enough for me to boycott the reunion if a myriad of other reasons didn’t already exist.
The most remarkable thing about this invitation, however, trumps those other things. The invitation was addressed to: “E.J., Jane and Daniel” (emphasis mine).
Yes, I’ve changed my name. My last name. I am not now, nor have I ever been a ‘Daniel.’ If you’re sending out invitations to your family and you can’t quite remember someone’s name apparently the thing to do is just guess. Don’t look it up or anything. Don’t call Aunt Alice and say, “What’s the name of Jim and Sandy’s quiet, pudgy son? I know his twin sister is Jane, but what’s his name? . . . Daniel? Are you sure? . . . Well, if you’re not sure I’ll call a few other people to verify so that I don’t end up looking like a complete mutherfucking idiot when I send out the invitation.”
Am I just that forgettable? I’ve been called a lot of things, but I’m not sure that “wallflower” is a label that would stick. Or quiet. Or hell, anything short of loud, obnoxious and intrusive.
It’s funny, too, because the only other place where people constantly struggled with remembering my name was the church where I grew up.
After every service, we’d file out and shake hands with the people assigned to door duty. Invariably, it would go like this: “Good to see you, Julie. That’s a very pretty dress, Jane. How are you Sandy? Jim. Hello . . . uh, Champ. Hey, EJ, how’s school?” Substitute “Sport,” “young man,” or “Tom?” for “Champ” and you have an accurate idea of my exit from church every week for the first 13 years of my life*.
I’m now thinking that the only reason I’m estranged from the family and the church is because neither group could remember my name. My ego, my sick need to be in the spotlight wouldn’t allow me to bother with those who refused to acknowledge my stardom.
Then again, maybe my abandonment of them had something to do with the fact that my dad’s family is a group of cattle ranching bigots and the church is a group of bigoted cattle.
Hard to say, really.
*After that point it stayed pretty much the same for the next seven years, but every few years we lost someone from the line-up. You’d think the novelty of that alone would help make me memorable, but alas, no.
09 May 2008
I am not the only one who does these things, but I am the one who is about to list them for you so the history books will one day give me the credit. I beat you to it, so there.
1. Pay at the Pump
Welcome to the 21st century, ladies and gentlemen! We have a lot of amazing things here in the 21st century, not the least of which are credit cards and gas pumps that take them. Truly, inserting one's plastic into the slot of a pump and quickly withdrawing it is nothing short of capitalist intercourse. There is no reason why one should ever have to leave one's car sitting at the pump while one goes inside to pay. There are, in fact, only two reasons why anyone should ever enter a gas station: a. to use the restroom during a long car trip and 2. to purchase cheap candy to smuggle into the movie theatre. And when doing either of those things, one should pull into a parking spot at the gas station, not leave one's car sitting at the pump.
2. Reusable Bags
Yes, it's ecologically responsible and blah blah blah but really the best reason to do it is because nothing quite beats the feeling of superiority you get when you go through the checkout with reusable bags. Regardless of what you are purchasing, people will actually look up to you for using reusable bags. Even if you're purchasing nothing but a tray of sushi and two silk ties (true story) they will think you are a good human being. I'm fairly certain that you could purchase a stack of porno mags, a case of batteries and a box of Toaster Strudel while using cloth bags and the cashier would still say "How responsible of you!" And, of course, you get to look down on everyone who isn't using them*! It's awesome. You may be inferior to them in every other way (as I usually am) but when it comes to the grocery checkout lane: You are officially their better if you are using reusable bags.
I don't care what it is: money, time, blood, other bodily fluids . . . Whatever. Just give something you don't have to** to someone you don't know.
4. Listen to Radio Lab
This isn't a matter of opinion here, people. I'm not just trying to tell you that this is a good show. It can actually be objectively proven to be the best show ever created. I mean, I really like This American Life but that's an opinion. It is a scientifically verifiable that everyone in the universe should be listening to Radio Lab.
5. Do Not Turn In To The Center Lane
Turning in to the center lane does not solve any of your problems, it just delays them. Having a hard time turning onto the street? That sucks. But you know what sucks even more? Trying to merge into busy traffic from a dead stop with the potential of someone going the other direction coming into your lane at any moment. Just don’t do it.
6. Take a Course in Logic
Why is Gym Class required but Logic optional? And sure, PE has its merits but I truly believe that if everyone took a course in Logic the world would be a much better place. Think of how much better equipped people would be to deal with difficult problems if they had a background in Logic. This should be a core class along with Science, English and History. Middle school, high school, college . . . people should even have to take a test in Logic when applying to work at a video store.
7. Make an Ass of Yourself
I don’t expect everyone to take to it quite as well as I have, but I do think that everyone should do this at least once a day. It doesn’t have to be a large scale “Mission Accomplished” kind of self-ass-makery, it could be something as small as using the phrase “self-ass-makery” in a blog. At any rate, the world would be a better place if everyone made an ass of themselves from time to time.
So there you go. These are seven rules that I live by and, though I would not recommend living as I do under any other circumstances, if everyone were more like me in the above ways the world would be a better place.
*I realize that if this were universally adopted the feeling of superiority would be moot. That is why it is ever so important that you start this practice as soon as possible, that way the early adopters will always be able to rub that fact in the noses of all the Johnny Come-Latelys. And for the record, I beat you to it, so there.
**Giving to a church, while technically a donation, doesn't really apply for this particular rule since the threat of damnation for not giving is an act of coercion and therefore it's not really giving something you don't have to.
22 April 2008
I recently found something I had written down in a notebook a while ago . . . and by a while, I mean either last December or a year before that. I’m not really sure. Anyway, I’m sure at the time I intended to do something more with it, but in rereading it I was pretty happy with it, so I’m going to leave it how it is. Enjoy.
I was sitting in the lobby of the theater, which is the primary job of a House Manager if all is right the world, when I heard someone trying to get in the lobby doors. This is not untypical, even at a quarter after eight for a show with a 7:30 curtain. What can I say? People are rude and don’t understand how disruptive it is for live theater when someone walks in 45 minutes late. I got up to see who it was tugging on my lobby door, shaking my head with disgust at the rude bastard, whomever it might be and screwing on my “I’m disappointed with you as a human being” face. Through the glass doors I saw an enormous man, easily my height , maybe even taller, in a Santa suit.
“WTF?” I thought to myself.
Behind him stood a middle-aged woman in glasses and frumpy attire. Not frumpy Mrs. Claus attire, just regular frumpy. Not unlike what many of the women who volunteer as ushers at the theater wear.
When the behemoth Santa saw me, he waved one gloved hand while the other clutched a fist full of candy canes. Suffice it to say, I was suspicious.
I pushed the door open the same way I always do when some kind of degenerate is trying to get into the theater and I want to act polite but not inviting. I said, “Can I help you?” And though he could have just as easily crushed me with his massive frame, he thrust a candy cane at me and said “Merry Christmas!”
The way he said it suggested to me that either he thought I thought he was really Santa or he thought he was. Not wanting to burst his bubble and have to deal with an enraged 7ft. tall schizophrenic in a fake beard, I said “What, uh, what’s going on, uhm, Santa?”
He immediately dropped his guise and said “I had a thing at the Kid’s Museum [next door], just stopped by on my way to the car.”
“Ah. Alright. Well, thanks for the candy cane.”
“No problem,” he said waving good-bye, “Happy Holidays!”
Now, ‘Happy Holidays’ is my preferred winter salutation. I’m a card carrying member of the ACLU, I don’t think it’s overly PC to be respectful of the fact that other people don’t necessarily celebrate the same holidays—I think it’s just the right level of PC. But Santa saying it? Santa?! How weird is that? It’d be like Zombie Jesus saying “Happy Pagan Fertility Celebration” on Easter Sunday. But, y’know, like a 7ft. tall Zombie Jesus with a frumpy mute female sidekick*.
The whole thing left me feeling incredibly unsettled, but hey, free candy cane, so who am I to complain?
*It’s been a while since I read the Biblical accounts of the resurrection—does Jesus have a frumpy mute female sidekick?**
**Actually, given the great disparity between the various “gospel” accounts, it’s entirely possible that in Mark Jesus had a frumpy mute female sidekick and in Luke he had a fast-talking midget in leather pants as a sidekick and in John Jesus actually is a fast-talking midget in leather pants.
Seriously people, those of you who actually believe the Bible is true need to read the various resurrection stories and, with a straight face, explain to me how it could be possible that all four of them is true. Really, I dare you.
26 January 2008
What's the deal, man? That tape may not have looked like much to you, but it was an important part of the workings of this box office and you just freakin' took it! WTF? Do you know how long it took us to find the right thing to prop the door open just enough to make for easy entrance without suggesting to people that it's okay for them to come in? I mean, we tried door stops but those never work. They're more trouble than they're worth. But that roll of electrical tape fit perfectly in front of the door jam and kept the jar open just the right amount. It didn't slip out like a shitty little door stop-- it did it's job. For months the Little Roll of Tape That Could helped to improve the lives of all of us who come and go from the box office. But tonight, while I was selling concessions to your classmates and classmates parents and maybe even your own grandmother, you stole the freakin' tape! C'mon, man, that's just wrong. This petty act of theft makes me irrationally angry! At this point, even if you brought the tape back, I'd probably still call the cops on you. I'm actually considering calling Campus Safety and asking them to search everyone as they leave the theatre. Even if you didn't know the full significance of the tape, you sure as hell knew it wasn't yours. It's not like you saw it there on the floor in front of the door and thought: "Oh, man, that must be where I dropped my roll of electrical tape! After all these years, we are reunited!" No, you freaking saw it on the floor and thought to yourself: "I'm gonna be a huge douche bag and steal a roll of tape that I know doesn't belong to me just so I can upset the good people in the box office who were nice enough to sell me a ticket even though I paid in quarters*! BWAH-Hah-hahahahahaha! Mine is an evil laugh!!"
You bastard. Seriously. What are you going to do with that tape? Tape something? Make a shiny black wallet for your emo girlfriend?
Y'know what? I don't really care because whatever you're doing with it, it's not as important as the job it was doing here. Even if you're doing something awesome with it like repairing a space shuttle or curing cancer, it still doesn't justify what you did. There's other tape out there, man, but we need this one. You sonovabitch.
And the part that really burns me (other than the fact that we have to find something else to prop the door open and until we do I'll have to keep getting out my key every time I want to open the door) is that before this happened I was in the middle of writing another blog. I haven't blogged in like a month and you came and pissed me off so much that I couldn't even finish the one I had started. I don't want to waste my precious blogging time on haranguing you but you know what? Now I have to. Fuck you. Asshat.
You have brought shame upon the Catholic Secondary Schools of Grand Rapids because of this foul deed. I don't think I can trust any Catholics anymore, thanks to you. Don't you have a god or something that's supposed to stop you from doing douche-y things like this? I mean, isn't The Virgin Mary looking down on you with shame in her immaculately conceived heart? And you know what else? That tape you stole equals one more thorn that pushed it's way into Jesus' soft flesh and sent hot sacrificial blood into his holy eyes, stinging them badly as he hung on the cross lo those many years ago. If you listen real hard, I bet you can hear him crying because of it. I'm not going to judge, because it's not like the Jesus and I are all that tight, but I think we can all agree that the safe bet is that he'll damn you for all eternity for taking that tape. At least he would if there were any justice. Which, apparently, there isn't because if there were justice the tape would still be holding the door open rather than being put to whatever nefarious task you're planning on using it for! I hope you enjoy your tape more than you would have enjoyed eternal bliss. Fucker.
Goddamn it. This totally ruined my night. And I know by saying that, I've made the deed all the sweeter for you, but I can't help it. It's gonna take a while for me to get over this, if I ever do. Man, you're just such an asshat! You probably brought candy into the theatre, too and you're gonna drop your Junior Mints on the carpet and then step on them. Bastard.
I hate you more than I've ever hated anyone.
*I have no reason to believe that the thief and the person with quarters are one and the same-- except, of course, the obvious fact that both acts could only be perpetrated by a complete douche.