Friday, September 30, 2005

Two observations

Dan Savage rocks. He’s articulate, entertaining, intelligent and pretty adorable. And he’s not afraid to say fuck in front of his mom (which, depending on your motherhood status and the cringe factor you find in that word, may or may not figure into the equation as to whether or not he really, truly rocks).

Bob and I heard him read from his new book last night at the Borders on Michigan Avenue, and Dan (I call him Dan) had the audience in the palm of his hand from the moment he got on stage. While his book is plenty funny and he tended to crack himself up just by reading it, he really shone at the Q&A portion of the evening … which he clearly relished. The man has a lot of opinions on a lot of topics, and he’s most definitely done his homework on all of it. And he’s not afraid to say things that might be unpopular, but he backs up all his opinions with logical, well-thought-out arguments.

And did I mention he’s adorable?

Peeing when you’re wearing your new cowboy boots (notice I didn't say "peeing in your new cowboy boots") is a little harder than peeing when you’re wearing your regular shoes. The urinal is just a bit lower, see, and it requires just a bit more aim.

In case you were wondering.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Tuesday night adventures

While I’ve been diligent in keeping up my distance training for the Chicago Marathon (12 days away!), I haven’t done any sprinting this summer. And now that I’m tapering down from my 20-mile run a week ago, I decided to do some sprints last night and see how they felt.

So for three miles I alternated between As Fast As Humanly Possible and Pretty Damn Fast. The results? 1) It KICKED MY ASS—I felt even worse when I finished than I did after my 20-mile run. Who knew? 2) It was weird to dress and eat and stretch for a training run … and then be done in just 24 minutes. I broke a helluva sweat, but it all seemed hardly worth dirtying a pair of socks.

Unless, of course, it helps shave 36 minutes and 31 seconds off last year’s time. Then I’ll be a huge fan.

The dog has developed a dark spot on the end of his red rocket. It doesn’t seem to be bothering him, and we haven’t seen any blood in his urine, but we decided last night at 8:00 that we should probably take him to a 24-hour vet just to make sure everything was OK.

And after a not-too-long wait, we learned that everything was indeed OK—the vet dismissed the spot as a bit of pigmentation, but not before doing a few things involving his fingers and the dog that would probably be considered illegal if they were videotaped and sold for $23.95 on the Internets.

While we were waiting, we also witnessed the heartbreaking aftermath of a two-dog attack on a cocker spaniel and his slightly bloodied owner. The poor little dog survived, but it looked completely shell-shocked—not to mention shaved and bandaged and pink-tinged from all the blood—when we saw it in the waiting room.

Thinking our evening adventures were over, we crashed when we got home and quickly drifted off to sleep.

But we were slightly awakened by what sounded like a timid little knock on our door and a muffled “Hello?” at 1:30 in the morning. We figured it must be the neighbor’s door—or a dream—but it happened a second time. Then a third. Then our door OPENED—and our penis-pigmented guard dog BOLTED toward the door with barks a-blazing. It wasn’t until the door slammed shut that we were fully awake and aware that something was seriously up.

My guest found his clothes first and headed out to the hallway … where he was met by A WOMAN WITH A GUN. Unable to locate my own clothes—which were RIGHT BY THE BED—I cowered nakedly behind the half-open door while he figured out what was going on.

And that half-opened door was the key to the story. It seems that we never closed our door completely last night. And when my neighbor came home from her night shift as a police offer, she found her own door vandalized with ice cream (I think I’m not making that up, but I was still a little groggy when the story was being explained). She went exploring around our floor to see if there was anything else suspicious going on, found our door half-open, knocked … and the rest is history (herstory? our story?).

All of which cost us a bunch of sleep and actually made me late for work today because I couldn’t get my sprinted, vet-visited, neighbor-interrupted ass out of bed this morning.

But, thankfully, it made for a heck of a blog post.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Financial alchemy! Just like Dubya!

As you might recall, I recently bought a Big Boy Car, which came all tricked out with a Big Boy Loan.

Now, conventional wisdom (it would seem) would dictate that I should now curb my frivolous spending and maybe make some other financial sacrifices to accommodate this new pile of debt.

But conventional wisdom is (it would seem) a load of Limbaugh. Just axe President Dubya and his faithful Progress Congress, who take on debt faster than our unprotected port cities take on water in a hurricane.

Inspired by such leadership, I’ve been waving my credit cards around this last month like they were American flags and I was a Republican at a prayer breakfast fund-raiser.

Fortunately, I still have my ability to stick to a budget, and my booty (HA! BOOTY!)—though as pointless as a Pope—falls within the parameters of that dying art known as responsible financial management.

Plus, I took a picture!
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Clockwise, from the top left:
New boots!
ON SALE. The upcoming chorus show is called A Cowboy Christmas. And what do gay singing cowboys wear? You might think it’s concealer with a high SPF, but you’d be only half right. Cowboys also wear fashionable boots, and the cowboy boots I broke in so perfectly by singing and dancing in amusement-park cowboy shows all through college herding cattle on the dusty range seem to have gotten smaller over the years. Or else I’ve developed a bad case of duck feet.

In any case, I received a postcard last week informing me that fabulous Chicago cowboy store Alcala’s Western Wear is having a boot sale through October 10 (up to 50% off!), so this weekend I went in and got me some black pointy-toed boot-scooters that fit like a glove (except they go on my feet). And as I was walking to the checkout, I noticed some brown square toes looking up at me all sad and lonely with their big dead-cow eyes (well, they would have done that if they’d been made with the face part of the cow). And before I could stumble haltingly through a chorus of Friends in Low Places, I found myself stumbling out into the daylight with two new pair of boots in my possession. Yee-ha!

New books!
ONE ON SALE. ONE FULL PRICE. No use boring you with this story again—but if you’re that hard up for entertainment you can read all about it somewhere deep in this long and rambling post.

Used CDs!
ON SALE. I got an inkling a couple weeks ago to buy Billy Joel’s Greatest Hits Volumes 1 & 2 on CD, but I didn’t have an inkling to pay full price. So I headed to my friendly neighborhood used CD emporium, where I found exactly what I was looking for AND two Frank Sinatra collections AND Free to Be You and Me, Marlo Thomas’ 1972 TV cast album of feel-good songs and stories and poems for lonely, anti-social losers who cry a lot kids of all ages who need pre-disco show tunes to help them become good citizens and friends and neighbors … and who aren’t afraid to cry once in a while.

I probably haven’t listened to the album since I was seven or eight, but when I popped the CD into my car stereo last week and all those songs and stories and poems came streaming out of my speakers—even though it had been 30 years since I last sat Indian-style in a circle with my classmates for a listen—I still knew every word. I hadn’t realized it at the time, but the damn thing is a veritable who’s-whom of ’70s celebrities, including Harry Belafonte, Diana Ross, Tom Smothers, Carol Channing, Dick Cavett, Jack Cassidy, Shirley Jones, and singers (!) Rosey Grier (who’s not so good on the pitch thing) and Alan Alda (whose soaring baritone freakin’ ROCKS).

New shirt!
ON SALE. The danger of wandering unfocused into a Gap is that there will be cool shirts on sale and you will be tempted to buy them. Fortunately, I already have at least one of every kind and color of shirt imaginable, so I’m usually able to be strong and resist the urge to splurge. Unfortunately, I don’t have anything in a shade of orange that doesn’t make me look like Trent Lott at a gay wedding. At least I didn’t.

New centerpiece!
FULL PRICE. Friday night I happend to wander by (OK, into) a cheesy suburb chain retail establishment … and I wandered out with a lovely new tealight holder and a big bag of “Asian pear” scented tealight candles.

And now my Big Boy Table (which is all paid for) is complete.

Monday, September 26, 2005

A run, a reading and a rock

Note: All this stuff happened two weeks ago, but work and life and the flu got in the way of timely posting. It was half-written all this time, though, and I’ve finally cleaned it up and I’m posting it now. Which saves me from having to do anything interesting this week. So everybody wins.

The second annual Run Hit Wonder was Tuesday night, which I ran with a handful of work people, a friend from the chorus and about 15,000 other hip ’n’ trendy kids.

And once again, it was a clusterfuck—but just a partial clusterfuck, not a total clusterfuck like last year’s run.

Aside from the sweltering heat (which I blame on the Republicans), the Dri-Fit shirts that were itchy and warm and barely breatheable and exactly what you would NOT look for in a running shirt, and the running path that at times was no more than two people wide (I remind you: 15,000 runners), the bands were fun, the runners were pumped up and the guys were HOT.*

*I’ve decided hot straight guys are way hotter than hot gay guys. Hot gay guys wear their bodies like suits of armor and use them to induce eating disorders in other gay guys. Hot straight guys just live in their bodies. And we’re all a bit richer for it.

I finished the 10K in 57:09, but I always run slower in uncomfortable heat. I also run slower when I’m trapped in a cloud of 15,000 runners all vying for space on a wee tiny path.

Speaking of wee tiny, this year’s race organizers put our bib numbers on our sleeves in mightyfine type—instead of on our chests in hella-huge type the way REAL race organizers do it—so the Joe Photo people who took all our pictures had no way to match up photos with runners so we could order copies online (see clusterfuck, paragraph 2). But I did find one photo of (most of) me sprinting clumsily across the finish line on the Joe Photo web site:
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And remember how I called the other runners hip ’n’ trendy (see hip ’n’ trendy, paragraph 1)? I apparently am not hip ’n’ trendy, because of all the bands playing along the race course, I recognized only one: headliner Joan Jett and The Blackhearts.

As for Chingy, Nina Sky, DJ Z-Trip, The Aquabats, Fountains of Wayne and The Donnas, I had at least heard the names of the last two groups (WARNING! COOL POINTS DANGEROUSLY LOW!), and when the race DJ played that your-momma’s-hot song by the Wayne boys before the race, I realized that was one song I had heard (accidentally) this one time when I was changing show tune CDs in my car. (BEIGE ALERT! BEIGE ALERT! TOTAL COOLNESS MELTDOWN!)

My poor friend Bob has been extremely patient with me and my work schedule these last few months. We used to regularly hit off-beat lectures, exhibits, plays and concerts all across the city, but I’ve had to turn down his last billion or so invitations to do these things because I’ve been so damn busy.

But when my Wednesday night magically cleared up like a zit the day after prom, I was able to join him for a (WARNING! FOO-FOO PSEUDO-INTELLECTUAL POSTURING AHEAD!) free poetry reading that was pretty spectacular.

For an enjoyable, thoroughly reinvigorating hour, Garrison Keillor, host of Minnesota Public Radio’s inimitable A Prairie Home Companion, read from and provided fascinating commentary on Good Poems for Hard Times, an anthology he just published.

And Garrison (I call him Garrison) doesn’t just read a poem. He climbs into it. He wears it like a tailored coat. He conspires in it like a trusted friend. He devours it like a peach, working his way ravenously to the core, leaving nothing unsavored, unselfconsciously letting juice and seeds run down his chin and hands and arms.

And when he’s not reading, he tells stories. Stories about the poets he’s selected. Stories about how poems can periodically fall out of fashion. Stories about the stories behind the poems. And he does it all in such a mellifluous, languid baritone, you just want to climb into his lap and hold on tight so you don’t miss a word.

I ate at Hard Rock Café on Thursday at a good-bye lunch for a colleague I’m really going to miss. I’ve never been to Hard Rock Café, and I have to say it was just as I’d expected: a little on the loud side, with decent-but-overpriced pub grub and a clientele that spoke volumes about how unhip the place has become.

And that’s saying a lot, considering what little clientele there was. The place was about 10% full … and even then we had to wait 20 minutes for a table.

But now I can add it to my list of touristy places I probably don’t need to visit again: Ed Debevic’s, Hooters, Planet Hollywood, etc.

Don’t think I’m getting all food-snobby on you, though; I’m always gonna love my Cajun chicken pasta at Chili’s and my Cheddar Bay biscuits at Red Lobster and my Victoria’s Filet at Outback and especially my barbacoa burrito at Chipotle.

Just because they’re low doesn’t mean they’re still not standards.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Know what I like about working until 12:30 am?

1. You get a little loopy, and you joke about the most inappropriate things with your co-workers.

2. You all swear a lot.

3. While you're waiting for something to print so you can proofread it, you discover the scanning station down the hall. You suddenly remember you've been wanting to scan your driver's license photo to post on your blog because, in your humble opinion, it's a rare and valuable example of relatively flattering DMV portraiture. And the scanning station is usually backed up with hours of work, but at 12:30 am it's deserted. And there are instructions.

4. And even though you don't have a CLUE what you're doing, you actually make the damn thing work:
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Thursday, September 22, 2005

Know what I like about being sick?

You're practically required to lie around and watch TV all day in your underwear. (It's in the job description. Look it up.)

And when you have a backlog of CSI reruns and that silly Dancing with the Stars: The Dance-Off waiting patiently in your TiVo cache, your job is even easier.

Except for all that button-pushing. Using a remote can freakin' wear a guy OUT. TiVo clearly has no respect for the frail.

My day of leisure (and coughing) yesterday was rudely interrupted a couple times by my insatiable thirst and my eventual need to stand in a freezing shower to try to bring my temperature down. It seemed to work, though.

In any case, I'm back among the living (and working) today, with only a slight cough, aching joints and a monster headache to remind me of my halcyon day of leisure.

Ah, memories.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Hit. By. A. TRUCK.

Have you ever been so sick you quietly hoped you'd die in your sleep and make the misery go away? I was ALMOST there last night, with fever, chills, a monster headache, and profound pain in my joints and neck and spine. And a slight cough that made my whole lower torso feel like it was filled with shrapnel. (But, thankfully, no bodily substances fighting to get out for some air. So far.)

I woke up yesterday at 5:30 feeling kind of iffy, but I had to get to the airport for an 8:00 flight and I didn't think I was that ill. By the time I landed in NYC at 9:30 local time, I knew things were just gonna get worse, but I really couldn't turn back then, so I spent the day pretending to be perky and engaged at three client meetings.

And when I finally tumbled painfully into bed last night at 10, the ugly thoughts had started creeping into my head.

I slept 11 hours, though, with the phones turned off and a cold compress on my forehead that got immediately hot and steamy and completely unhelpful. And the fever and chills seemed to be gone when I woke up. But I'm not out of the woods yet, and I actually called in sick today for about the 7th time in my entire professional life. (Which is gonna turn out to be a good decision, because I could really use this day to get caught up on my TiVo rest up and get better.)

Wow. This post is really on the boring side. I'd apologize, but I'm SICK, people! I can't be entertaining you with stories about poop and hookers 365 days a year. Show some respect.

And bring me some TheraFlu.

Monday, September 19, 2005

A pirate walks into a bar.

The bartender says, "Hey, Pirate! Do you know you have a steering wheel sticking out of your fly?"

The pirate answers, "Aargh! It's drivin' me nuts!"

Happy Talk Like a Pirate Day.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

¡El Sábado Gigante!

¡La mañana temprana y las 20 millas!
Where were you at 6:00 am on Saturday? I was gently unlocking my hamstrings and choking down some gritty energy bars in preparation for the longest run of my marathon training. And when I stepped out the door at 6:30 and discovered it was just on the cold side of perfect, I knew my run would be a breeze.

20 miles later, I returned triumphantly to my refrigerator to chug a quart of victory Gatorade and officially mark the beginning—the blessed beginning—of my tapering. From now to October 9, the longest run I’ll do is 10 miles, and I’ll be able to freakin’ SLEEP IN on Saturdays.

And, unlike last year’s festival of debilitating injuries, I’ll be just fine when the marathon finally gets here. Yay!

¡Los maricónes y los aficionados de Cubs!
Normally, I give myself a couple hours to warm down, stretch, and locate my strangely silent appetite after a long run. But my secretary booked me to the gills on Saturday, and I had all of 45 minutes to recover, shave, shower, get dressed and even put on a freakin’ necktie because I was scheduled to sing the National Anthem with the Chicago Gay Men's Chorus at Saturday’s 12:20 Cubs game.

It was our third time singing for the Cubs, and it’s always so much fun that I’d reschedule my own autopsy to make sure I wouldn’t miss it. About 90 of us sang on Saturday, and the crowd wasn’t sure what to make of us when we marched on the field in our white shirts and our expertly dimpled ties. And, as usual, there was a bit of a surprised buzz when we were introduced as a group of homosexuals at a sporting event. But about two bars into the music—when our bass notes began to rumble and our gorgeous sound washed through the alcoholic vapors in the stands—the stadium fell completely silent … and then erupted in patriotic whoops and cheers when we finished.

But by then my appetite had awakened from its hibernation, and the Cubs fans were starting to look like food to me. I had to get to a restaurant STAT.

¡Los zapatos unidos mal!
I headed back to the car first to change out of our monkey suits and plug my meter (that’s not a metaphor for anything) … and when I pulled all my carefully packed clothes out of my backpack, I discovered I’d packed two different flip-flops. Like a moron. (Thankfully, I had one for each foot—just imagine how thoroughly Dubya’s PR people would have destroyed my candidacy if I didn’t at least have that accomplishment to stand on. So to speak.)

Then some friends and I hobbled over to a nearby diner, where I proceeded to eat everything in our bread basket, everything on my plate, half of what everyone else ordered and a few of our neighboring patrons who, frankly, weren’t very fast anyway and didn’t deserve to survive.

Then we went and got pedicures! Marathon training hasn’t made my feet all troll-like and repulsive like it does for some runners—I barely have blisters, and only one pinky toenail has turned purple—but it sure has made them sore. So my focus at the pedicure store was all about keeping my feet in the little footsie hot tub as long as possible. Plus: I got to read all about Kirstie Alley’s weight loss in People! So now I’m all caught up on my celebrity news.

¡Los libros nuevos!
And while I was in a literature frame of mind, I headed across the street to Unabridged Books for some post-pedicure, still-in-mismatched-shoes browsing, and I stumbled back into the sun an hour later with American Gothic: A Life of America's Most Famous Painting and David McCullough’s Pulitzer-winning John Adams in my hands. Not that I’ll have any time to read the damn things, but at least they’ll be within arm’s reach should I suddenly find myself with a couple free hours and no CSI reruns on my TiVo. (The horror!)

¡Las fiestas de cumpleaños sin fin!
But my Saturday adventures were far from over. I headed back home to shower and upgrade shoes and then I trekked back out into the world to celebrate three birthdays (which were, mercifully, condensed into two parties).

And after four hours of food and drinks and cake and singing and conversations with strangers and looking for parking, I headed home once again for the final leg of my jorney:

¡El agotamiento completo!
Yes. I was completely exhausted. And I slept like the dead. Like the poor dead patrons of the diner who weren’t fast enough to escape my ravenous hunger.

And on a completely unrelated note, has anyone seen my cat?

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

You know what I suck at?

(Aside from performing brain surgery and giving birth and spinning kitten poop into gold and saying “innuendo” without giggling, I mean.)

I really, really suck at making small talk with security-desk guys.

And it’s not some hooty-falooty elitist/classist thing. I pretty much suck at making small talk with everyone. Dinners with old friends, date nights with the boyfriend, family reunions, strangers in bars … my whole life is one long string of awkward, deathly silences. And it’s all my fault.

But security-desk guys are supposed to make small talk. It’s in their job description. (Right?)

Here’s how a typical morning plays out in the lobby of my office building:

Me (walking through door): Good morning!
Security Desk Guy (barely able to tear himself away from the fascinating stain on his tie): Hi, Jack. (The entire security staff in my office calls me Jack. See how much I suck at this?)
Random homeless person who wanders in behind me: Mumble, mumble.
Security Desk Guy: Didja watch that Bears game last night? Here’s a picture of my wife naked. Do you need a kidney?

It’s just as bad in my condo building—and I see those guys waaaaay more often. I pass by the security desk at home at least six times a day, and all I get is an occasional nod and a complimentary opening of the automatic door. (Modern security guys have tons of cool remote-control toys that let them open doors, dim lights and probably even manage Willie Aames’ career with just a touch of a button. Little buttons are the future of technology, I tell you.)

In sharp contrast, my dad comes to visit me about once a year. He’ll pass through the lobby just once to buy a paper across the street, and by the time he gets back he’s gotten Lakers season tickets with the entire security staff.

I. Cannot. Win.

And just what would I hope to accomplish if I could make small talk? Manage FEMA, for one. Apparently all it takes to get that job is to chat blithely with Dubya about … oh, I don’t know … horses. Or something. And Dubya’s apparently a total crack whore, which is kind of like horse. And for him, managing the country is more about making kind-ofs than addressing realities.

Anyway, I gotta hone my skills first before the real job interview. So if you need me, I’ll be in the lobby. I hope my voice doesn’t get too … um … hoarse.

Monday, September 12, 2005

My running club

I’ve been getting up at 6:00ish every Saturday for the last few months to pound out my long training runs. It’s a great time to be running because the temperature’s cool, the lakefront trail isn’t clogged with pedestrians, and Dubya is usually out cheering everybody on and passing out FEMA directorships to the runners who don’t spit on him.

And even though I quickly get lost in my zone when I’m doing these runs, a few other runners consistently pop out at me week after week. They’re like members of a running club that’s so secret, they don’t even know they belong. And the cheapskates NEVER pay their dues.

Anyway, I‚d like to introduce you to a few of them:

The co-workers. There are two women in my office training for the Chicago Marathon and hoping to qualify for the Boston Marathon (which means they have to finish Chicago in an inhumanely fast time determined by their age and gender). I see them EVERY TIME I go running, and I’ve logged a good 10 or 15 miles with them over the summer. And even on the hottest, muggiest days, they’re always cheerful and chatty and too perky for their own good. (I think they might be robots.)
The other co-worker. He’s training for the New York Marathon. I see him only once in a while—usually at the free Gatorade stations sponsored by the totally cool people at Fleet Feet. (I think he might be thirsty.)
The Great Dane. Tall and lanky and handsome in a quirky European way, the Great Dane seems like a hardcore runner … who needs a gay best friend. He wears this cheap sun visor, see, and he has this terrible short-on-the-sides, long-on-the-top haircut that pooches out of his visor like a bleached sea anemone. And everyone knows that sea anemone are, like, soooo ’80s. (Just ask the Sturgeon General.)
Cap’n Gaspy. This Rastafarian-looking dude is always sprinting at the speed of light in an oversized T-shirt, heavy track pants and a massive set of dreadlocks that look hotter than a wool blanket in a tanning bed. And he always sounds like he’s about to hurl a lung.
Circuit Boi and the Abinator. I assume these two are a couple. I always see them together, and—bless them—they almost always have their shirts off. Circuit Boi is your standard-issue handsome muscledude who won’t make eye contact. The Abinator is tall and muscular and so unbelievably ripped he should really come stamped with a government label saying “Warning: Contemplating my abs can induce eating disorders in grown men.”
The Abercrombie Twins. These guys have it all: well-defined muscles, tiny waists, smooth skin, nice, even sheens of sweat, faces so handsome they borderline on being pretty, and a turbo pace that leaves me plodding along in their dust like a pregnant camel on a broken skateboard. I usually see them four times on a run, which means the fuckers are clearly running the course twice every morning. They’re the Hottie McHotHots you love to hate and the serious athletes you have to admire. And, on some mornings, the eye candy that totally keeps you motivated.
The 12-year-old. This poor guy will be carded until he’s 72. He’s cute and tiny and built like an Altarboy centerfold. I’m pretty sure he’s gay (and well into his 20s), but he’s always too focused on his runs (his training runs—not the other kind of runs) to look up and smile.
Matthole. I used to think this guy was pretty smokin’ when we went to the same gym five years ago. All his sycophants friends clearly thought the same thing. And, apparently, so did he. I made numerous friendly overtures to him, but he never showed much interest. Then one day I found myself on the bus with one available seat: right next to him! I sat down and tried to chat him up, and—panic-stricken—he pulled a magazine out of his bag and turned his back on me without even a pretend “excuse me.” Then he decided that wasn’t rude enough so he gathered his things, abruptly got up and finished his ride standing in the back of the bus. I soon left that gym, but I still see him around town—and on the running trail every weekend. Lucky me. He’s obviously been running a lot over the years. So much, in fact, that now he looks like the lost Olsen triplet. And since he’s not so smokin’ any more, he’s suddenly trying to make friendly hellos with me when we pass each other on the trail. But I’m usually too busy reading my magazine to notice.

Um … so as I re-read this list, I see that the only people I don’t already know who can break through my three-hour running zone seem to be men.

Do you think I might be gay?

Friday, September 09, 2005

It’s official!

After only:
• three weeks
• three phone calls
• two trips
• three separate checks
• three filled-out forms (pressing firmly for the duplicates!) and
• four relatively short lines in two different buildings,
my fabulous new Big Boy Car is now officially a resident of Chicago.

Let us commence celebrating.

The three-week wait stems from an epic surge of projects that has kept me at work—and unavailable to go stand in all those lines even for two business hours—late into most nights for the last couple months.

The two trips stem from the fact that my dealership neglected to give me a Very Important Document that was the critical first step in getting my car licensed and registered and stickered when I finally made it to the DMV last Friday. So once the VID was found, FedExed and in my hands I went back this morning and got everything taken care of.

Except there’s this receipt for my city sticker, see, that’s housed in a folder where I store the documents I’ll need when I do my taxes next spring. Had it even occurred to me to bring the receipt to the DMV—which it hadn’t, obviously—I could have gotten a $50 credit on the cost of my new city sticker. But I decided the promise of having all this form-filling and line-waiting and building-hopping over and done with NOW was worth $50, so I just forked over the full payment and got on with my life.

In refreshing counterpoint to all this needless bureaucratic cocksuckery document-locating and line-standing, the people at the DMV were actually very nice and very helpful … but if they didn’t have thick foreign accents, they sure went out of their way to mumble.

Now, I’m thrilled when foreign nationals come to America and find a way to blend their cultures and ours and land jobs and succeed here. I look at their accents—even the nearly impenetrable ones—as part of the great celebration-of-cultures-and-peoples fabric of blue state America. Seriously. But if you were born in America and grew up in America and speak English as your native language—and if you work in the public sector where you use your mouth to communicate with people all day as a key part of your chosen profession—SPEAK THE FUCK UP.

I know that makes me sound like I’m gonna run out and start one of those “Take Back America!” petitions that declares English the official language and heterosexuality the official fight song and Dubya the Exalted Supreme Leader, but really: Am I asking too much here?

There’s a distinct—and profoundly useful—difference between “wabkhsyrln” and “what bank has your loan?” And if a fine, upstanding, enunciation-enabled citizen has to ask you to repeat your lazy-ass “wabkhsyrln” THREE TIMES, you clearly have a problem providing the minimum skills required for doing your job.

And, believe me, you WILL be blogged about.

Or perhaps I should say: yuwlbblgdbt.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Perpetuating the stereotype

10 things about me that are really, really gay:
1. I use high-end foo-foo skincare product.
2. I use the word product.
3. I regularly shave more than my face.
4. I have the perfect shoes for every occasion. With backups.
5. I’m good at catching innuendo and bad at catching a ball.
6. I’m a competent piano player and a damn good tap dancer.
7. I can find a show tune that’s relevant to pretty much any occasion.
8. And I usually know the composer, the lyricist, the original artist and at least two lines of harmony for each song.
9. I’ve gone out in public in drag. And tried to look good.
10. I’ve gone out in public in Abercrombie & Fitch. And hoped I looked good.

10 things about me that I like to think aren’t that gay:
1. For me, cooking a fancy meal involves reading instructions off a box.
2. I have no admiration for Madonna or any of her pop-princess progeny.
3. I use girlfriend only in its traditional context. And I never use mangina. (But I think munt is a pretty funny word.)
4. I’ve never been to a diva concert.
5. But I have been to an Oak Ridge Boys concert.
6. I’ve never been a drinker or a smoker or a drug user. Unless you consider ice cream a drug.
7. My coiffure is Le Salon de Supercuts. My wardrobe is La Maison de Old Navy.
8. My decorating sense is more drabulous than fabulous.
9. I’ve done seven skydives, two triathlons and (so far) one marathon. And I once threw a ball.
10. I have my own toolbox and enough handyman skills to install a faucet, replace a light switch, fix a toilet, repair drywall and reinforce a closet shelf so it can support 20 boxes of off-season shoes.

Monday, September 05, 2005

6:00 a.m.

I’m deep in the heart of Insanely Long Marathon Training Country—which means weekend runs that cover anywhere from 15 to 20 miles (which translates to a good three hours of huffing and puffing). And since the temperatures here are still landing in the low 80s, I do everything in my power to make sure I’m done with all that huffing and puffing well before the weekend has a chance to get hot.

So I tend to be in bed on Friday nights by 10 p.m. and I get up at 6:00 on Saturdays to get my dirty, farty sweaty deed done and out of the way.

Which isn’t all bad. Running in the cool morning air is definitely a high point of my week. Most hardcore runners are up at that hour, so I get to splash in puddles of runner camaraderie and train without armies of civilian dorks wandering aimlessly all over the lakefront path. And I love the feeling of accomplishment I get when I finish my training just as the rest of the world is tumbling out of bed.

Best of all, I sometimes get to witness a Walk of Shame.

This weekend, for instance, I had a trashy, shameful dinner on Friday night at a chain restaurant in a mall parking lot (but it was Olive Garden, I was carbo-loading and it was delicious). Then I snuggled in for a long, restorative sleep. And when I got up before the sun headed out into the morning, I rode the elevator partway with an obviously lost couple who 1) had clearly just met 2) were doing that weird drunk leany thing where they could not find their center of gravity (or their correct floor) and 3) left a toxic effluvium of alcohol, smoke and the promise of really bad sex in the elevator when they finally got off (HA! GOT OFF!) at (presumably) their floor.

Somehow I get the feeling that my 18-mile Saturday morning was way more satisfying than their 18-minute Saturday morning. (Plus: No chlamydia!)

Speaking of bodily discharges—and I know I’ve stated this before—there is no quiet way to fart when you’re running. And running long distances definitely makes you farty—especially if you’ve just eaten one of those gritty energy bars. I’m really good about checking—twice—over my shoulder to see that the coast is clear before I let anything rip when I’m out running, but some runners just open the floodgates with no concern for any potential victims behind them. (Public service announcement: Do NOT be one of those runners!)

Unfortunately, I made a less-than-discreet trumpet call Saturday morning that I’m still flush with embarrassment over. There’s this old stone bridge, see, that the running trail goes under. And you turn a sharp corner before you go under it, so when I did my double-over-shoulder-check, I didn’t see the guy who was just about to turn the corner and go under the bridge behind me. And since it’s a stone bridge, it has the acoustics of a Medieval church—which gave my demure little gas bubble all the subtlety of a hunter’s duck call.

Which means the guy behind me has probably already told all his cool runner friends about the out-of-control farter in the green wife-beater he got trapped behind on his morning run, and now I’m the laughingstock of the Chicago running community.

But still: No chlamydia!