Category Archives: Rants

Universal. Not So Universal. An Open Letter.

Dear Sir or Madam,

My name is Hillary Monahan. I’m a writer and, as of last week, a dissatisfied customer who might as well have lit $120 on fire in lieu of visiting your park. I recently attended Universal Studios Orlando (May 21st, 2013) and I wanted to express my disappointment with the experience and explain why — going forward — anyone asking me about Florida travel will be advised to avoid your theme park and to concentrate their energies on Disney instead, who I must presume is your most direct competition. The sole black mark on my recent vacation was visiting your resort. I want that day back, but unfortunately, time does not work that way.

I am a heavy person. I’m not quite so heavy you can launch me into orbit like Sputnik, but heavy enough that I am aware (and comfortable) with my chubby label. I also have large breasts. I don’t quite know at what point in your design you decided not to account for people having breasts, but I could not get on a single ride in your park that had over-the-shoulder constraints because it sandwiched my breasts into a tiny plastic window. On the Harry Potter ride, said window created a VERY EMBARRASSING experience for both me and your ride operator, a young man who couldn’t have been more than 25 and was desperately trying to get me in to experience the attraction because I fit in the seat itself rather comfortably. The only deterrent was the fact that I have ample curves.

At this point I should probably note that I was able to comfortably ride every single ride in Disney because they account for all body shapes. I am not “too large” for them in any way.  Also worth noting: my husband was larger than I was by at least twenty pounds and could ride everything without issue.

I am well aware that you have test seating outside of attractions so passengers can test their breasts ahead of time (and whatever elses they have that are too round for your seats), but this is an uninspiring feature for multiple reasons. The first is that the test seating outside of The Hulk roller coaster was covered in children resting their feet. No one shooed them away or made sure that it was open for people to use. As I’m on vacation and really don’t want to have to spend my time bullying other people’s children, I wasn’t comfortable berating them until they left. This same phenomenon occurred on no less than two attractions I passed. Normal benches were covered so test seats became a refuge for weary travelers.

The other issue I have is how very vulgar the positioning of these test seats are. Yes, I am heavy, and yes, the world around me knows it as well as I do. That doesn’t mean I want to flaunt my heaviness by wedging my huge boobs into your test seats in front of a hundred million strangers. I’m groping, squishing, and lifting assets that I had even before I gained any significant weight. Where and when do you account for my dignity? Why can’t there be an alcove to the side with a sign so I don’t have to feel like I’m putting myself on display? It’s humiliating enough to have to use the test seats in the first place to see if I fit into your modified seating. It’s worse when I have to do it in front of sneering strangers who will see me trying to flatten breasts that simply don’t flatten.

(Also, a note? Giving me a speed pass through the lines of other attractions so I don’t feel bad about the line I was bounced from after an hour wait does nothing to make me feel better. You know what might have? A refund on my ticket because Harry Potter attractions WERE NOT going to happen for me. But you don’t provide those.)

I think it goes without saying I left your park after a few hours feeling depressed and — for the first time in a long time — ashamed of my body, which was something I thought I’d abandoned a long time ago. I’ve never considered my size to be much of a setback before; I walked ten miles a day around Disney without too much issue, I kept up with my group and didn’t need special treatment because I have some extra pounds. I fit on bus seats without a problem, I wasn’t too ungainly for my flight. It wasn’t until I visited Universal that I felt strange or unwieldy in my own skin. I resent you and your attraction designers for that, Universal, and that’s why you’ll never see my money again.

I’m sure you’ve heard that spiel about one unhappy customer breeding at least ten non-buyers before. Well, I can assure you that as a writer, my reach goes a little further than that. One voice will become two, and if two become four, maybe you will pay attention then. Doubtful, but one can hope.

Sincerely,

Hillary Monahan

League of Legends. The Gender Gaming Thing. Again.

So a friend of mine asked me today, “Are you offended by the portrayal of women in League of Legends.” For those of you not familiar with LoL (and know this – gamers are laughing at you if you’ve never heard of it) League of Legends is essentially a free to play game where you control a character, get six abilities, and go kill other people playing the same characters. It’s not all that complex of a concept, really. The big draws to the game?

– There’s an enormous cast of characters to pick from. You can pretty much play whatever style of fighter/support/tank you want.
– Pure Player Versus Player. For those looking to go against opponents with an actual brain (in lieu of a programmed computer foe), this is the game for you.
– You don’t HAVE to pay a dime to play. If you want to buy characters and customize them, you can, but you are in control of what you contribute to this game.

I’m touching on bullet point one up there today. If you’re unfamiliar with the game and the characters, I want you to go here and check out who you can play. Then I want you to take particular note of the female characters. I’m going to categorize them for you here to make this simple. In some cases, I use a skin that’s purchasable to illustrate a point:

Gorgeous, Thin, Ample T & A Available

Total: 17.5 – Cass only gets half points.

Gorgeous, Thin, Less T & A But It’s Still Present

Total: 7

Thin, Not Sexy Unless You’re Weird

Total: 5

Scary

Total: 1.5 (Giving Cass half points for cleavage – note that female scaries are still thin)

Fat

  • Zero

So let’s tally that up – 31 characters by my count, at least 25 of them are beautiful. At least half of them are sexualized beautiful. Five of them are considered NOT sexy because they’re animals, children, or “little people.”  None of them are fat because fat women clearly don’t exist.

Not a good ratio so far.

Let’s break it down for the men, now, shall we? And I’m getting lazy with the images so you’ll have to take my word on it for some of these characters. Want proof? Just ask for the character and I’ll direct you:

Sexualized Men, Plenty of Beefcake.

Total: 8 if I’m being generous.

Attractive Men, Limited Beefcake.

Total: 12

Thin, Not Sexy Unless You’re Weird.

  • Alistar – A minotaur.
  • Amumu – A mummy.
  • Blitzcrank – A robot.
  • Corki – A flying little person with old man hair.
  • Fizz – A fish boy.
  • Galio – A gargoyle
  • Heimerdinger – I don’t even know what the crap he is but it looks like a half robot machine man thing. It’s weird.
  • Jax – Arguably could be put in scary, too.
  • Kennen – Tiny ninja. No really. Like gerbil people ninja.
  • Malphite – Made of rock.
  • Maokai – A tree man.
  • Nasus – Dog man.
  • Nanu – Yeti riding small person.
  • Rammus – An armadillo.
  • Renekton – A crocodile man.
  • Rumble – A mechanized squirrel.
  • Teemo – Little person kid-like thing.
  • Twitch – A rat man.
  • Veigar – A little wizard dude.
  • Viktor – A mad doctor type.
  • Volibear – A bear.
  • Wukong – A monkey man.
  • Xerath – Alien mage.

Total – 23

Scary.

  • Brand – A fiery demon man.
  • Cho’Gath – A demon thing that eats people. Looks like a roided up lobster.
  • Dr. Mundo – A knock-off on Mr. Hyde.
  • Fiddlesticks – A ghostly scarecrow.
  • Karthus – Dead guy.
  • Kassadin – Alien dead guy hybrid scary thing.
  • Mordekaiser – Black Knight demon type.
  • Nautilus – Ocean ghost.
  • Nocturne – Ghost.
  • Shaco – Evil clown.
  • Singed – Evil scientist.
  • Sion – Undead dude.
  • Skarner – Scorpion.
  • Trundle – A troll.
  • Warwick – A werewolf.
  • Yorick – Undead.
  • Ziggs – Explosive midget.
  • Zilnean – Old, old man.

Total: 18

Fat

  • Gragas
  • Urgot – Fat AND Scary. WOO.

Total: 2

So that’s 63 male champions, only 20 of which could even potentially “appeal” to someone as attractive. Of those 20? Less than half of them are blatantly sexualized.  But hey, at least they got a couple of fatties, right?

To recap: the ratio for exploitive art and presentation of female characters as sexual objects in LoL is over 50 percent. Making them attractive at all without the consideration of excessive T & A? A whopping 80 percent. That’s 80 percent of their female characters drawn to be beautiful. For men? Less than one sixth of their characters are “blatant beefcake”. Less than a third can be even categorized as “beautiful” because Riot’s portrayed them as different species or abhorrent because of scare factor.

So to answer my friend’s question from earlier, am I offended by LoL’s portrayal of female characters? Less than I should be, sadly, because the gaming industry is fucked and I’m so tired of this goddamned topic. I’m -disappointed – Riot lumps women into a category where all their tit-donning characters have to be pretty. I’m sorry, but if you can make 40 something characters that AREN’T pretty on the male side, why aren’t there any on the women’s side AT ALL? Even their token “scary chicks” are somewhat attractive. What message is Riot trying to send? Are all female characters truly drawn just to appease the male audience? And if so, what does that say to boys growing up? Or to women who want to game? Why can’t women be SCARY AND DISGUSTING like Urgot or Mordekaiser? Why do they have to be drawn like pretty princesses and Barbies? And don’t throw Pantheon at me as Riot’s big “here, have a cookie – we sexualize the men, too.” That doesn’t pacify, placate, allow, or explain.

So, long and short of this? For the four thousandth time?

GAMING INDUSTRY. FIX YOUR SHIT.

Note: Sad but true, interwebs trolls are interwebs trolls. The last fourteen-year-old entitled white-kid nerd rager that came in here and tried to basically say “chicks should deal with it because games are made for people like me” was promptly deleted. SO. We can’t have nice things like discussions. Comments nuked from orbit. Games are for everyone, basement-dwelling nerdlings (of which I pretty much am one). Play nice and let everyone have some fucking equality in entertainment, will you?

The High School Ho-Hums.

I think my brain works funny.  Anyone turning on a TV, radio, or computer knows the media is having a field day with the BULLYING IN HIGH SCHOOL cause.  It’s everywhere, with stories of kids who’ve been bullied until they committed suicide, or tales of the underdog student speaking out against his tormentors.  On one hand, I’m thrilled to see people taking note of what I see as a very real problem in our schools today.  On the other hand I have to ask where the HELL were you when I was in school, Media.

Now, let me state up front I do not consider myself a bullied kid.  I was made fun of for a bevy of reasons, some of which I will relate later, but not really bullied.  I honestly can’t say why I escaped most of it.  It may have been that I had enough “Cool Kid Friends”,  it may have been that most of it was done behind my back and I just didn’t have to deal with it (my guess), it may have been because somewhere along the line I said something funny or clever and it got me excused from the “To Torture” list.  Whatever the case, I’m thankful it didn’t go any further than it did, because to this day?  I still look back at high school and cringe.  It wasn’t a fun place to be.

From where I sit (and sat), those who say high school is/was the best time of their lives are/were a combination of the following personality traits:

  • Good looking & Thin
  • Athletic
  • The “friend” of an A-lister
  • The funny guy
  • The booze/dope hookup guy
  • Smart
  • Super talented (musician, for example)

Sometimes one of those traits (ex good looking) would be enough to get you a pass on the bullying all together, but usually you had to have a combination of things, especially if you happened to be in the weak position of “friend of an A-lister”.  I sort of pitied that particular subsect, because they didn’t really have anything remarkable going on for them beyond  the ear of someone popular.  Their entire social circle depended upon nurturing that relationship so they didn’t find themselves on the outs.

Of course there’s the opposite list of the first, too, and that’s the “things you didn’t want happening to you/traits you didn’t want to have because it’d get you nailed by your peers” list.  That includes:

  • Fat
  • Unattractive
  • Nonathletic
  • Unremarkable
  • Stupid
  • Smart
  • Being different

You’ll note smart is on both lists, and that’s done quite on purpose.  I don’t know if it was just WB that had this particular dynamic, but big brains could either be a boon or a curse depending on who you were.  We were the “Nerd Herd”, yes, but if you could overcome your hyper-intelligence with other traits . . . well, then all of a sudden your smarts were a good thing.  If you didn’t have anything ELSE going for you, heh.  All bets were off and the large pile of quivering gray matter in your skull wasn’t so fuckin’ keen.

I look at both of those lists and I kind of scratch my head, wondering where I fit into the mix.  Probably somewhere smack dab in the middle of “popular” and “unpopular” – just like most high school students.  I wasn’t a fat kid, funny enough, but I’ve always had a huge frame.  Even Ethiopian thin I’m a size ten thanks to big bones like bull, so I wore a 14 in high school and was “average”.   I didn’t get outright chubby til probably senior year when I was sporting a 16/18 but even then I wasn’t huge enough to launch into orbit because I carried the weight well.  That didn’t mean I avoided the fat insults, though.  Being a big girl got me slammed because I looked different – I wasn’t a size six and I never will be.  I remember early on, maybe fifth or sixth grade, someone photocopied a hippopotamus and wrote “To Hillary, a portrait” and had all of the popular kids sign it.  It was the Valentine’s Day card from hell.  I was devastated and took it home to my mother, crying all the while that I was a disgusting fat cow and wished I’d die.  Mom went into the principal’s office and raised hell about it.  I think if she’d gotten her hands on the kids responsible, she’d have killed them.

I’m sure the parents of those kids chalked that event up to kids being kids, and my reaction as “dramatic” . . . but the fact is, it was cruel.  If I remember that particular thing what, twenty-something years later?  It was a trauma.  I’m sure some of the kids that signed that paper went on to become wonderful adults, but you have to wonder what went through their young, formative brains to think this was a good idea in the first place.  I suppose some of them signed it because their friends had, and herd mentality is fucking terrifying.  One of them probably thought they were clever for coming up with the idea, and someone else snickered, and . . . bam.  Cruelty was born.

Strangely, to this day I remember most of the names that signed that stupid hippopotamus card.  I can’t remember where my car keys are, but I remember that.  Shit like that sticks with a person.

Note:  most of the kids signing that paper were in the honors group.  Academic smarts does not equate to social awareness.

I also remember one girl in particular having a field day “whispering” behind my back in English class, but I could hear the whispers every time she spoke, and I’m pretty sure that’s what she wanted.  I’m half REALLY WHITE (Welsh, Irish, English, Swedish) and half NOT AS WHITE (Portuguese, Spanish, Italian).  This means I’m pale, so any amount of hair on me at all?  Shows up.  I apparently had peach fuzz on my lower back or something, and she decided she’d point it out to her friends/boyfriend in class and snicker about how hairy I was.

Note:  she became our valedictorian.  Again, academic smarts does not equate to social awareness.

Another doozy of an incident was at a pool party I went to.  I’d gotten a new bathing suit that was white, and yeah – shoooould have done the “is this transparent” test before getting into the pool, but I was young and stupid.  One of the girls there wouldn’t hand me my towel to spare me the embarrassment of having to get out of the pool.  She wanted me to humiliate myself by climbing out with a see-through bathing suit in front of my peers.  I was saved by another girl at the party I’d never met before, because no one I knew would help me despite my blatant panic.

Note:  last I heard, the girl that wouldn’t hand me my towel was working as a bigwig at a charitable organization.

I’m not going to be naive and claim that I was completely innocent of being a high school douchebag, but having been on the receiving end of shittery meant I kept most cruelty close to the chest.  It was hard not fitting in with everyone all the time, but thanks to a great group of friends (some of which I still talk to occasionally fifteen years later), I survived it mostly intact.  I know some folks would say that my less-than-pretty glimpse back at high school comes from jealousy that I wasn’t an A-lister, and if they’d like to look at it that way, sure, go nuts.  But the truth is I certainly don’t feel very jealous.  I feel like a kid that muttled her way through the grades, hoping beyond hope that it gets better when you get out.  It does, mostly because there is nothing more fucked in the head than a kid between the ages of 12 and 18 save for serial killers and people who lick toads.

The point I’m trying to make in this long-winded retrospective is that everyone has a horror story or twelve from high school, and hopefully public awareness of bullying and grade-level cruelty will make parents take up the cause to prevent other kids from experiencing the anguish of being picked on.  Maybe they’ll sit their little spawnlings down and relate why it’s bad to be mean to others who aren’t like them.  Cause really, you never know who they might be one day:  a president, an actor, a CEO.

A writer who can forever immortalize them as a cockburger in print.

Just saying.

Ranty McRanterSauce And The Magical Rant Pants.

I’m going to be vulgar, children.  Automated call menus can fuck RIGHT off.  I’ve had to call three different companies this morning to get some personal business in order, and every single one has had a cluttered, hair pulling automated menu to start the day.  As opposed to just going on a tirade about the evils of these menus, I’ve decided I’d give a demonstration of what goes through my head every time one of those dulcet, robotic voices kicks in, prompting me to press a number.

Thank you for calling __________.  We’ve created this menu to guide you to the proper department.  Please enter your social security number!

*__-__-1234*

Know this Robotic Voice, I smell your lies.

Thank you!  Did you say __-__-9644?  Press 1 for Yes, 2 for No!

*2*

But 9644 sounds nothing like 1234.

We’re sorry.  Could you re-enter your social security number, please.

*__-__-1234*

I ENTERED IT SLOWLY SO YOU CAN’T SCREW IT UP.

Thank you!  Did you say __-__-1234?  Press 1 for Yes, 2 for No!

*1*

ALLAH BE PRAISED!

We’re sorry.  We didn’t catch that.  Press 1 for Yes, 2 for No!

*1*

-Pause after no response from automated menu-

*1* *1* *1*

You have selected too many entries.  Please re-enter your social security number!

Oh fuck you, you cock goblin.

*Re-enters social, presses 1 only once like a good American*

Thank you.  Please select what you’d like to do today.  Press 1 if you want to wax a flaming cat.  Press 2 if you want to see your local Congressman naked.  Press 3 if you’d like to eat a live porcupine.  Press 4 if you can braid your leg hair.  Press 5 if you want a pedicure from RuPaul.

*Presses nothing, waits for the option that says none of these*

We’re sorry, we didn’t catch that.  Please select what you’d like to do today.  Press 1 if you want to wax a flaming cat.  Press 2 if you want to see your local Congressman naked.  Press 3 if you’d like to eat a live porcupine.  Press 4 if you can braid your leg hair.  Press 5 if you want a pedicure from RuPaul.

. . . but I’ve met Barney Frank, and I don’t want to see him naked.  Where’s the OTHER option?

*Presses 4 out of desperation, even if it’s a lie*

You have selected “you can braid your leg hair”.  Is this right?  Press 1 for Yes, press 2 for No!

*Presses 1*

Thank you.  What can I help you with today?  Press 1 if your leg hair is thick and black.  Press 2 if it’s sparse and looks like squid tentacles.  Press 3 if it’s curly and red.

What the fuck . . .

*stares at the phone like it’s grown a head, fangs, and a pointed tail*

We’re sorry, your selection timed out.  Press 1 if you want to wax a flaming cat.  Press 2 if you want to see your local Congressman naked.  Press 3 if you’d like to eat a live porcupine.  Press 4 if you can braid your leg hair.  Press 5 if you want a pedicure from RuPaul.

*Presses 0 out of desperation, hoping for a real live human being to get me out of this unnamed level of Dante’s Inferno*

We’re sorry, that’s an invalid selection.  – Dead Air –

What do you MEAN that’s an invalid selection?  It’s 0.  For operator.  EVERYONE HAS A GODDAMNED OPERATOR.

Thank you for calling __________.  We’ve created this menu to guide you to the proper department.  Please enter your social security number!

It’s right around then that I start throwing cats, declaring myself Mongolian for the day and scaling all of the walls in my neighborhood, and making Van Gogh-esque murals with my bodily fluids.  I will never – ever – understand how frustrating the public with stupid robotic menus gets anything accomplished other than ensuring that by the time the the caller gets to a customer service rep, they’re an utter cockbag.  It’s crappy customer service.  Period.

/pulls my rant pants off, walks around naked.

And this?  This is oddly liberating.  So there.

Musings From A Fruitless Womb.

Decision time:  Team Edward or Team Jacob?  Okay, Team Edward fangbangers head to the left, Team Jacob furry freaks to the right.  See that line in the sand?  That line separates you.  You can talk about what you once had in common with the other side – a love of all things sparkly and emo, DUH – but there’s a divide between you now, and unless one of you wants to cross that divide by becoming like the other, I’m sorry to say this is how it has to be from here on out.

This, sadly, is my example of what happens to those who spawn nublets versus those who do not.  The Team Edward faction – let’s call them the fruit bearing folks – head over to their corner and do their thing which inevitably includes Crayola, lots of glitter, poopy murals, and Playskool.  The Team Jacob childless crew go to their corner and have a beer, stay up too late, watch a soft core porn on Skinemax, and actually have time to write a blogpost wondering where the crap all of their friends from ten years ago went.

Oh right, they had children.

What are YOU looking at?

Before I get started on the challenges of being a shriveled up pair of ovaries in a sea of breeders, I want to say to those who have children “I salute you”.  Because I do.  I get WHY you guys go away, and how busy kids are, how much of your time they take, and how it’s way easier to befriend Tommy’s mom because you go to Tumblebugs together and for the twelve minutes you’re allowed adult conversation for the day, it might as well be with another beleaguered, overworked parent who can understand your gripes.  If you talk to me about little Samantha swallowing a penny, I might say COOL!  I SAW THAT ON HOUSE LAST WEEK.  That’s probably not the answer you’re looking for.  At least another parent would understand why it’s a bad thing and react appropriately.  Another parent, too, might not spend a half hour straight saying the word “leper” to your two year old in hopes of expanding the child’s vocabulary early.

True story, I did that.  And yes, she said leper.  I’d apologize to Melissa, but I don’t mean it.

So I get why folks with gut goblins go form their own gut goblin brigade.  Children are time consuming, and it’s probably pretty goddamned hard to muster up a lot of enthusiasm for a bar crawl with someone who can’t relate to your kid stories beyond a chuckle and a sympathetic pat on the shoulder.   When you tell me your offspring laid on the floor and talked to the ceiling fan for a half hour, you probably want me to say your baby is brilliant and funny.  I’m secretly thinking “he’ll make a good drunk”.  At least I’m smart enough not to vocalize that.  Unless I’ve had two or three drinks, then all bets are off.

The easiest way for me to express my Team Jacob perspective on how I lost my friends to their children would probably be to follow the chronological progression of events, so let’s rewind about five years ago or so.

Phase One:  Congratulations, your friendship at this juncture survived its first major hurdle already – someone got married before someone else, and yet here you are!  Conversing together!  One of you might not even be married, but at least you’re dating someone and that’s LIKE marriage, so you can talk about who left the toilet seat up, the crazy furniture breaking sex you had in the dining room, and how you should do more couple things together (ALL THE THINGS) like go to dinner and a movie, and maybe travel.  And who cares if your friend’s husband has nothing in common with your boyfriend.  Boys don’t have feelings.  They’ll just bond over the fact that they both have jangs and deal with it, cause your BEEEEEST Female Friend married that other guy and thaaaaaat makes him awwwwwwesome, and if your boyfriend ever wants to get laid again, he better figure it out faaaaaast.

Phase Two:  You’ve done lots of cool things with your friend and her husband, and made your boyfriend play nice under controlled conditions with the other male in the mix.  They didn’t even fight to the death like cocks in a hen pen.  Your double dating has become a wonderful staple of life!  And then there’s the announcement:  Friendzilla who was once Bridezilla is now going to be Momzilla, and isn’t that great!  At this juncture, you don’t quite understand how everything is going to change, so you express glee and give hugs and order a Diet Coke to show your support of your friend’s alcohol free ways, though secretly you’d like nothing better than to celebrate by opening a bottle of Pinot.

Phase Three:  This is where you start to figure out something might be off.  It’s not SO bad yet, but the things that made you friends in the first place – certain personality quirks, conversation pieces, hobbies – none of those things are discussed anymore because everything is about what your friend’s baby is going to be like, look like, and what it’s like to puke non-stop for days at a time because morning sickness is SHITTY.  You’re still in the early stages of denial about your friendship, though, so you nod and say “that sucks” and try to be supportive, even though you can’t relate to a dream of parenting an astronaut, and really, you miss ordering wine at lunch but doing that would make you a dick, so . . . more Diet Coke.  Yay?

Phase Four:  She’s big pregnant now, like having trouble navigating around furniture pregnant.  You’ve stopped trying to talk about what life with her was like before because this is very, very hard for her.  You can see that she’s uncomfortable, and talking about that time both of you were ass up and puking in shrubs in Tahiti is probably sort of disrespectful of her condition.

Phase Five:  It’s BABY SHOWER TIME.  This is a breaker for some people, largely because you go to this party with little booty party favors, and everyone around you is talking about babies, birth, labor, toddlers, teenagers, and sometimes if you’re really unlucky, placenta and vaginas.  You have nothing to contribute here beyond “I saw a baby once!”  You’d actually take the vagina conversation over what comes next, though, because it seems like every eye in the room turns to stare at you as your hugely pregnant friend asks “SO WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO GIVE MY BUTTERCUP A LITTLE FRIEND?”  The pressure is on.  If your mother hasn’t asked you that question already, she’s psychically bombarded you with it, and now this gaggle of strangers is expecting you to commit to spawning more overlords.

If you’re me, you say something creepy like “I’d devour my own young, so for now it’s best I wait” and eat a cocktail shrimp, maybe pointing out “hey look if you turn it this way it looks like an embryo.”  If you’re someone else you make a feeble excuse about a full bladder and lock yourself in the bathroom until the baby shower is over.  You weren’t going to muster much enthusiasm for a diaper caddy, anyway.

Phase Six:  The baby has arrived, you brought your friend flowers and a big, ugly stuffed toy for the astronaut-to be.  She decides to share with you the experience of thrusting this wriggling watermelon from her loins, and you learn things about your friend’s body you never wanted to know.  Even if you drunkenly made out with her at one point, there’s limits to the “hot factor” of her anatomy lesson.  It doesn’t help that she’s sitting on the couch with a tit hanging out.  It’s not like breastfeeding isn’t natural, it’s just . . . not something you ever wanted to get this close to.

If the baby shower didn’t freak you out, this experience will, as you figure out that you have a major decision to make regarding this kid:

A)  You can choose to become one hundred percent entrenched in this child’s life and become Auntie _______.   You’ll change diapers, offer to babysit, share birthday cakes and get vomited on.  You’ll be invited to family parties.

B) Back the fuck off and pretend the baby changes nothing, though this path will lead to disappointment.

There’s two challenges with option A.  The first?  Is if your friend wasn’t that close to you in the first place, trying to BE Auntie ________ is just plain awkward and probably not welcome.  The kid’s probably got real aunts, after all.

The second challenge is that you weren’t ready to dive headlong into having your own baby, so how the hell are you emotionally mature enough to commit to being a positive role model to someone else’s?  What if you decide that the drunken Tahiti parties are more your style, but you’ve already been playing at the whole Auntie _______ thing and failing spectacularly?  The answer is you’ve potentially fucked your friend’s kid up.  Well done, Asshole.

Not that it matters.  Most people will unconsciously decide that B is the better choice anyway.  Your friend will eventually be comfortable getting a babysitter and having drinks, right?

Phase Seven:  If we were talking about the stages of grief, this would be the acceptance phase.  The baby’s been around for a year or so and your friend still isn’t keen on babysitters, which means your delusion of martinis on Friday nights and talking about the good old times has dissolved into a pile of smoldering ash.  The few hours your friend CAN give you during the month is likely mid-day, when Grandma’s got junior, and all your friend talks about is how tired she is and what junior did that was spectacular that week, like grow a tooth.  You cheer for the tooth, and then announce that you did something awesome yourself – like beat Assassins Creed:  Brotherhood.  Your friend says something like “when are you going to grow up” and you realize that somewhere along the journey, your friend joined Team Edward.

This will sound fatalist, but the cruel reality is, the real life meet ups will probably dwindle from there on out, maybe until Astronaut is in first grade some years later.  Friend-Mom will take stock around then, see that she now has the time she didn’t have before to rekindle her friendships (and man, she could really use that martini now).  She’ll make a friendly overture, usually by a digital medium as it eliminates that whole pesky “having to have inflection in your voice” thing.  The fleeting promises on facebook to “get together soon!” begin, but soon roughly translates to “never”.  Inevitably even the cursory digital messages will one day end with your friend asking “so ARE you ever going to join Team Edward?” and despite it being years after the baby shower, you’re still hoisting a cocktail shrimp and comparing it to an embryo, hoping this will buy you enough time to change the subject.

I understand that my experiences being the “fruitless womb” are not everyone else’s, and I don’t try to speak for the non-breeder crew everywhere, but I can say that the scenario I’ve outlined above?  Has happened to me more than once.  And I suppose I could be less of a dick and actually go through with the promised Facebook meet ups, but having done that, it’s like you’re visiting a bizarro version of your old friendship.   You’re both different people than you were, and reliving drunken shrub puke stories five to ten years after they’ve happened is pathetic, sort of on par with the 50 year old guy that can’t stop talking about all the tang he got in high school.  It doesn’t work anymore, and as much as you can feign joy for a glowing report card or sports prowess story?  You’re so far removed from your friend’s kid’s life that it’s hard to react with anything remotely earnest, and that makes you feel like a shitty person.

Do I resent my friends going off and having their lives and letting their children become the all-consuming things they are?  NO.  No because that means they’re doing the parenting thing right, and I am all for loving the snot out of your gut goblins.  We want those kids to become productive members of society, and if we’re shooting his ass up to the moon in thirty or so years (ahem, if we have the /funding/) I want to know that kid is as mentally and emotionally stable as (s)he can be.  On the other hand, do I miss the drunken Tahiti makeouts and the martinis?

Hell yes.   You bet.

The Unsung Heroes.

I was sitting at my mother’s house this morning talking about a few potential blog posts I had whirling around inside of my cranium. I mentioned that I intended to write about Azazel (one of the lords of hell) next, and she gently reminded me that not everyone in the world is as creepy-crawly as I am, and maybe something a little less fucked up on occasion wouldn’t be a bad thing.

“Like what?” I asked.

“How about like what you’re thankful for?”

“But everyone does that. It’s so ordinary.”

“So make it creative,” she said.

Fine. Creative it is.

I’m thankful for this:


This is my step-father’s Thanksgiving day chair. It’s a lawn chair specifically brought into my mother’s gorgeous living room so he can watch football. It’s equipped with all-weather nylon fabric, netting, plastic covered fake metal rods, and two drink holders. On the left you can spy Drew’s beer can. On the right? Is a remote control. Mind you, the channel will not change once the homoerotic ballet that is the Patriots’ game commences, but it’s there like an old friend – a comforting weight in his hand when things get intense. Like the blue people throw themselves at the red people on an imaginary line, and someone has a ball somewhere only I have no idea where. Hrmm. Drew’s screaming. That might be frustration.

Why is this game so confusing?

So, why am I thankful for the football chair? Because it reminds me of how wonderfully, absurdly off-kilter my family is. If you need more proof, take a peek at the little decorator pillow my mother put on the seat. It’s french toile, because Mom said she wanted the chair to blend with the rest of the decor. Yes, a french toile throw pillow on a chair that should – by all accounts – be outside.

There’s other things I’m thankful for – things I’ll call the unsung heroes. Things people don’t usually thank. For starters? Deodorant. Why? Not because I really care about my own stink, but I certainly care about other people’s stink. I thank you, deodorant, for making standing in lines and being on public trains way more palatable.

The same can be said for toothpaste. Nothing’s grosser than someone talking to you, using a lot of h’s and exaggerated vowels, and their breath being sour enough to curdle milk. Crest, Colgate, and Close Up? I salute you. You make me hate people just a little bit less.

I’m thankful for bathroom spray, the smell of a new car, and dryer sheets for making my laundry fluffy. I’m thankful for the convenience of a laptop, over sized coffee mugs, and hot apple cider when it’s cold out. There’s bars of soap, the feeling of crisp sheets on your back, and lemonade in August. The guy that invented the bread bowl for soup? Him. Yes, thank you bread bowl guy.

I’m thankful to granny panties for being so comfortable, having JUST ENOUGH toilet paper left on the roll so there’s no disasters, and busted out old jeans. I’m thankful for pizza delivery, my dvr, and snow blowers. Oh, and neighbors with slow plows who do your driveway when you’re not expecting it. I’m thankful for tweets that unexpectedly make me laugh, Old Spice commercials, and flip flops. I’m thankful to Deep Woods Off, my super limp down pillow, and open windows when there’s a bad smell in the room.

(Thanks Gus. No more turkey for you).

I’m thankful for tissues, commercial free radio hours, and odor eaters. I’m thankful for tweezers and those sponges that have a hard scrubby side and a soft spongey side. I’m thankful for the satisfaction of filling your mouth with whipped cream directly from the can, and cold milk combined with warm cookies.

There’s a whole lot more, I’m sure, but for now . . . thank you unsung heroes of my daily life. Thank you for being -awesome-.