Being a Man in America

My entire life has been populated by gay men. When I was eleven, I started taking voice lessons from a man who I will not name here. He ran the music program at my church and may be running a different program at a different church now. He pushed me forward for a solo in our Easter pageant and he told my parents that when I was ready, he wanted to give me voice lessons. I was born ready, so I went to his house with a little binder and a check from my mom. During our lesson, a man pulled up in the driveway and came around the back of the house. I asked my teacher who that was and he said, “That’s my roommate.”

I studied with my teacher for six years. He taught me to sing but he also taught me that people wanted to hear my voice. He was not alone, as it takes a village to raise the self-confidence of an awkward, chubby musical theater nerd, who seemed to run her straight male peers off just by being herself. This village was my sanctuary, the place where I felt safe. It wasn’t until long after the six years that I studied with this man that he ever introduced his roommate as his partner.

I am sad that the people who gave me refuge from a world that didn’t understand me did not and do not enjoy that same sense of safety. This fact was violently reaffirmed on Saturday night, June 11 at Pulse Night Club in Orlando. It was “Upscale Latin Saturday” and (mostly) Latino gay men came together to have fun in a space where they could feel protected. Omar Mateen walked in and opened fire on ninety-two of these men, fifty of whom are now dead.

Omar Mateen, who was on the FBI’s radar. Omar Mateen, who was so physically and mentally abusive to his wife that her parents flew to Florida to take her across the country after a year of marriage. Omar Mateen, who was a security guard and dreamed of being a police officer. Omar Mateen, who spoke openly of his hatred for gay people, black people, women, and Jews. Omar Mateen, who was allowed to purchase a long gun and a pistol “in the last week or two.”

Politicians and the media will paint Omar Mateen as a tool of ISIS and a Muslim extremist. He probably was. But please understand, Omar Mateen was distinctly American.

Here in America, we teach our men that they take what they want, if they are “real men.” We teach them that violence and guns are cool ways to solve problems. We teach them that women’s bodies and black bodies and really any bodies they don’t immediately identify with, are not as important as their own. We teach everyone that gay people and transgender people don’t deserve the same rights as the rest of us with our bathroom laws and our constant haranguing against marriage equality. We are a country built on the hatred of others and founded on violently destroying them. Even now, our leaders teach us that this violent person was an outsider because he was Muslim and that if we could eliminate Muslims from our country, this violence against American bodies would end. That if we can just get rid of one more kind of people, we will have peace.

Dylan Roof is not a Muslim. Robert Lewis Dear was not a Muslim. Aaron Alexis was not a Muslim. Brock Turner is not a Muslim. Daniel Pantaleo and Justin Damico, the police officers who suffocated Eric Garner, are not Muslims. George Zimmerman, Adam Lanza, Radcliffe Haughton, Wade Michael Page, James Holmes, Jared Lee Loughner are not Muslims. These are people who believed their bodies, their rage, their power was more important than the bodies and the safety of their victims. They are not isolated incidents. They are so common, their names leave us numb.

Yes, this tragedy might never have happened if we had anything resembling gun control laws in this country. Please write to your elected representatives and let them know that you are tired of reading about American civilians executing each other in cold blood. Let them know that the Second Amendment doesn’t mean an assault rifle in every cabinet and a handgun in every pot. Here’s how: https://medium.com/@nicolesilverberg/it-s-on-us-too-an-easy-guide-to-contacting-your-elected-representatives-about-gun-control-2e2d8eb20e3f#.wjhhdp33h

But this tragedy is also about hate. If you’ve ever so much as said, “I don’t mind ‘em, but…” about a group of people based on sex, race, religion, or creed you are part of the problem. Sorry if that’s heavy-handed, it is true. If you’ve ever told your child about “certain types of girls” or said, “Gross” at two people of the same sex holding hands, you are part of the problem. If you’ve heard of a man who did not resist dying at the hands of two police officers and scoffed that they wouldn’t have done that if he weren’t “doing something wrong,” you are a part of the problem. Until we address the hate and fear in our country of everyone who is different than us, our sons will keep turning on each other as did our fathers before them.

Concrete Jungle Where Dreams Are Made Of

What a day in the love life of me. He was cute, tall, a little older than I’d usually go for, but I’m open. It was the Internet. The cruelest part about dating in your thirties is staying “open”. I’ve spent thirty-one years honing my spidey sense to tingle at the first sign of asshole, but at the behest of well-meaning friends and a newfound fear of dying alone, I have to squelch my one super power at every turn.

We exchanged a couple of hilarious messages. I obviously slayed. He was making some pretty hip dick jokes but then he dropped the tiniest red flag*. I’m paraphrasing but the gist of what he said is, “OkCupid is fine, but I have to deal with a lot of old stalkers.”

Old stalkers?

OLD STALKERS.

Bro, you are forty-four years old. Unless there are great g-mas creaking around your apartment sniffing your sheets when you’re gone, I doubt that very much. But I’m giving chances. So, to give this guy a chance to not sound like a prolapsed asshole, I said, again paraphrasing, “LOL, old stalkers? You must be a celebrity, how do you deal? I’m cool and fun so don’t worry about offending me!” He replied that OkCupid’s match algorithms were off. So I checked that profile. This dude is forty-four. The age range of his ideal lady? Twenty-two to forty-two.

Surprisingly in the age of outrage, we don’t talk about this obnoxious but common situation. There are so, so many men on dating sites who will date women twenty years younger then they are but WON’T DATE WOMEN THEIR OWN AGE. In my experience, without fail, they turn out to be assholes. Never in my many years of dating on the Internet have I met one who turned out to really like and respect women but just had too much energy for a women in her forties. That’s not a real thing.

Usually I would just ghost at this point. But tonight, for the first time, I dyed my hair to cover my grays. It’s not the time to quietly ignore a little misogynistic ageism. So I told this guy, who really I should be nice to since he’s dealing with so much dry old puss being flung at him, that because of his age issues and the way he talks about women, we do not share the same values. He wrote back and told me that I really am funny, maybe being nice but also maybe turning my most sought after compliment into a patronizing put down.

I don’t have a cool ending to this story, simply the fact that everyone is the worst but if you give them a chance, at least you might get re-inspired to visit your blog.

*That is how football works right? Progressively larger red flags? Soccer? I know it’s in the rules of one of the sports.

A Baker’s Dozen

This past Thursday, as I walk through my local gym from the elliptical to the showers, I spot a friend who was talking to her gym classes friend, let’s call him “Vance”. Vance is a man in his mid to late thirties. He goes to a gym in midtown Manhattan, sometimes has drinks in SoHo, and lives in Brooklyn. We are similar people. He casts aspersions on the G train; I defend the G train. This is pleasant chat.

All of a sudden, Vance says “I love [Italian Name] Pizza Place, but it’s a pain in the buns to get there.”

Pain in the buns.

PAIN IN THE BUNS.

PAIN

IN

THE

BUNS

If that phrase doesn’t make you feel like a tiny doll’s hand is fingering your spinal chord, you are made of stone. Bad as it would be from a grandmother or small child, from the mouth of a peer, it is the most upsetting thing I’ve ever heard. If you say “pain in the buns”, I assume you have a murder room, are your own mother, and fondle other people’s delicates if they leave them unattended at the laundromat (washer or dryer, probably). I assume you also say “no-no place” and use “moist” to describe too many things.

Why, WHY would anyone use this phrase? Why? If you don’t like swearing, “butt”, “head”, “neck”, and “rear” are all at your disposal. If you like to be whimsical and fun, why not “derrière”? “Glutes” is not bad. The combination of lasciviousness and impotence makes “buns” the worst possible thing you could ever say. Even Ned Flanders would not say “Pain in the buns” because Ned Flanders knows the line a man must not cross. “Pain in the buns” is the verbal incarnation of accidentally walking in on an acquaintance jerking off and having that person give you a slow, shy smile.

I’ve spent the entirety of my adult life eschewing poop talk, but that seems like child’s play now. What is a little poop talk compared to staring into the void and only seeing angry clowns? What is a little bathroom humor when you’ve been buried alive in a coffin filled with earthworms? What’s a joke about d***** when you’ve woken up with a ghost made entirely of maggots sitting at the foot of your bed? I mean, still please don’t make poop jokes to me, but mostly now because of what I’ve been through.

Everything’s Coming Up Santorum!

You guys, Christmas has come early this year. Rick Santorum is running for President in 2016. It’s truly a time for America and the baby Jesus to celebrate.

Making this my cell phone wall paper for six months is really paying off now.

Making this my cell phone wall paper for six months has really paid off.

What bounteous riches will Santorum cover us in during this 2016 campaign year? So far, the traditionally tightly-wound candidate has assured the Daily Caller that he’ll appeal to young people by letting them know he has “…seven kids, so obviously sex isn’t a real problem for me.” The idea of Santorum asking his wife if she’d like to “procreate with him tonight” is sure to get these young people’s attention.

And getting his head out of the gutter for one second, Santorum has a message for immigrants: we need to pause immigration for now because we haven’t indoctrinated the ones we have. “That’s not anti-immigration, that pro-immigration, because it says we want folks to come here to experience the American experience, to learn what it means to be an American, to assimilate into our culture.”

Y’all, Rick Santorum is really into you but as long as you insist on hanging onto your own culture, you’re ruining things for everyone.

Wipe it clean

Black people, Rick Santorum will probably have something to offer you soon, if history tells us anything. Remember the good old days of the presidential race of 2012, when Santorum told a mostly-white group of Iowa voters, referring to welfare programs, “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money. I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn money.” Santorum must have quickly realized his faux pas in not promising job opportunities for Iowa’s underprivileged white population (9% of food stamp recipients in Iowa are black, and 84% are white) if the movie posters for his Christian film company Echolight are any indication.

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Ladies, Santorum didn’t have time to whip himself into a froth over us in his most recent Daily Caller interview either, but I think we can all be pretty confident that he’ll continue to work to make abortion illegal even in cases of rape and incest:

“I believe and I think the right approach is to accept this horribly created — in the sense of rape — but nevertheless a gift in a very broken way, the gift of human life, and accept what God has given to you…..we have to make the best out of a bad situation.”

We can only hope that Rick Santorum will continue his press tour and that America doesn’t forget his past genius ideas for single mothers (get married!), Palestine (∄),gay marriage’s equivalence to dog marriage and 9/11, condoms (unnatural), porn (Ban it. No, like actually take the time and money to pass a law to ban porn.), and bowling ball colors (pink is for girls only). Instead, let’s look to the future as Kirk Cameron’s political equivalent promises that after all the campaign fumbling and pushing and the final release when the election’s over, he always comes out in the end.

No, But I Am Seeing A Whole Bunch Of Unspecial Guys

Well, well, well. Look out pandas, I’m back.

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Not that I went anywhere per se, except into the world of being busy with work and improv and a social life and flimsy excuses to not write….

And I have been doing one other thing; I’ve been online dating. Regardless of what Neil Clark Warren and my mom would have you believe, it is the fucking worst. Guys, I would not wish the fate of online dating on anyone. However, I am turning 29+ in short order and no less than six of my friends have gotten engaged since August. And I’m fine with adding a year to 29 in my age. Totally fine. Really, really  fine. But it does light a tiny fire under one’s new Steve Madden wedge sneakers that were free at a sample sale she saw after brunch. And cute wedge sneakers probably melt, so I’m not going to fuck around.

In case your New Year’s resolution list includes “Getting out there!”, allow me to provide you with some tips I learned in the field in 2014:

  1. Don’t commit to brunch as a first date; brunch should only ever be pleasurable.
  2. Never turn your nose up at a date location where the game is on. ANY GAME. It gives you a place to look when you’re wondering how your life turned out this way.
  3. Only meet a date in a public place. Your worst fear should be self-loathing, not being chopped into pieces.
  4. Always have a plan for where you have to go after the date; it can be fictitious, but never think just because you’re having a bad time that your flimsy, “Oh, I have a place to be where a thing is happening” won’t be scrutinized by your partner in awkward conversation.
  5. If someone apologizes more than once for being in the bathroom when you arrived…I don’t know, but this might happen so just know that I guess.
  6. If someone is even slightly creepy at the beginning of a date, he will eventually touch the spot where your bra and your back fat meet. Please, please do not stick around long enough for this to happen to you.
  7. If a guy will date someone 15 years his junior but not someone his own age do not go out with him for he is an asshole.
  8. Do not reply “Bullshit” or snort water out of your nose when someone tells you he does Crossfit and/or anything else there’s no way in hell he does for then you are the asshole.
  9. Kill all hope of finding true love online. Better to hope to that you will not be touched in the place where your bra meets your back fat or that your date will not mostly consist of you trying to find by feel where you put your phone.
  10. Never regret these bad dates; they are the best stories.

 

How You Lose Amnesty and Prom Dates

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Sometimes Meme Mondays happen super late. But seriously, you guys, what is Edward Snowden thinking? If you were Venezuela how would you feel about being second choice to China? Russia won’t put up with that shit; if Putin isn’t first don’t even bother calling. Nicaragua? Bolivia? Cuba? Get it together guys. You’re worth more. Hold out for someone who seeks political asylum with you and you alone. Remember James McAfee? You deserve that.