Well, okay, not entirely the worst. But I do tend to lose track of milestones in friend’s lives at the most inopportune moments.
I haven’t been logging on to Facebook, so I missed two big events: The marriage of one friend and the birth of twins for another.
These are not acquaintances, but Friends. People whom I’ve known for years – decades, even – and who have seen me at my best and my worst. Folks who’ve spent days and days at my home. Friends I love and, though we live in different cities, I cherish. Yet I haven’t sent either a congratulations or other note of encouragement.
I feel like an ass.
But, since they are such decent and long-term Friends, perhaps they know I’m not ignoring them, that I’ll get to it soon … ?
Other people might take the opportunity to party like a rock star when their significant other is out-of-town, but I’ve learned the past few years – usually the hard way – that my body and psyche can only take one or two good party nights per week. Oh, and never two nights in a row – that practically kills me anymore.
Last night, I made onion and garlic parmesan chips while screening several documentaries on various topics. I’ve begun the long process of cleaning all the random paper off my office desk (catalogs from last Christmas? Really, Diva?). And I just finished steam cleaning the living room rug.
I feel so accomplished, I thought it worth posting. Which is weird, because I usually skip blog posts on such topics. So if you’ve gotten this far, thanks for sticking with me.
I’m not domesticated by any stretch of the imagination – I do have a hot date later at a comedy club and I’m headed south for a night with friends tomorrow – but I don’t like living in disorganized squalor, either. As those who have been to my house can attest, it’s usually pretty spic-n-span. Getting chores done also means I won’t mind heading out the next two nights for fun stuff, because the stress of taking care of home is somewhat alleviated in my mind.
Plus, did you know a relatively clean home and a nicely stocked liquor cabinet are excellent ways to ensure you get laid?
I had a disagreement with someone recently about rape culture. I believe many incidents, from cat-calling to women on the street to outright verbal harassment on public transit, a) contribute to the idea women are less-than in our society and b) help create an atmosphere where women become afraid of every man they encounter. His point was that when a woman judges a man without knowing him, it’s bigotry, plain and simple.
Funny thing is, I agree with his point completely; women are bigots when it comes to men. The problem is we HAVE to be, because our safety – maybe even our lives – may be at stake if we’re not at least somewhat prejudiced in our actions.
Since my discussion with this person several weeks ago, I’ve taken note of my own so-ingrained-as-to-be-innate behaviors in every situation that involves being alone and around men I don’t know. I’ve discovered it’s simply staggering how many times I think to myself, “Is this a situation I need to worry about?” followed closely by, “What is my escape plan if it is?”
This happens every time I’m alone, without fail, no matter my destination and whenever I encounter a male or group of males of any age and any description. At one point, as I approached the entrance to the parking garage at the gym, I sighed internal relief when I realized one of the group of three having a conversation near the door was a woman. If it were three men, I would have stuck around outside the doors and loitered until they dispersed.
This is second nature and it is deep. Sometimes I’m aware of it and sometimes it’s completely subconscious, but it is consistent.
I should note that not once, never in my life, have I ever been attacked, molested, or raped, by anyone of any gender. Yet I fear for my person all the time, every day – first because I was taught to do so by caring parents, second because many, many victims have shared their stories with me, and third because I watch the news and understand the statistics.
I know how lucky I am. I want to keep it that way.
My experience with rape culture seems innocuous compared to others. I’ve heard cat-calls and there is the occasional jackass in a club who won’t take for an answer, but I’ve always removed myself from the situation successfully.
When I turned 8, a neighbor, who was then 15, gave me a birthday spanking in his parent’s basement. I didn’t think much of it. He invited me back twice after that, but I never went.
When I was 15, my BFF and I were asked for directions, and when we approached the car the dude was jacking off. She had the best reaction ever, though: She pointed at his dick and laughed and he sped away, humiliated. Her mom had taught her to do just that.
At age 16, I had hours and hours of phone sex with a man I’d never seen and would never meet, who did no more than pay attention to me. He knew that was all teenage girls crave and he certainly knew who I was, because I received flowers after a high school musical performance. At my home address.*shiver*
Once on the way home from school, a gent with a thick accent approached me, told me I was beautiful, then grabbed me up in his arms and kissed me full on the lips. I was 17 and shocked, but I didn’t fight back. Instead I acted as if I was interested, waited for the right moment, and calmly turned and walked quickly away toward a busy street with lots of traffic. He started to follow, then thought better of it I guess.
I attended classes at night in the Los Angeles area in the 80s. My keychain had a thick, wooden stick on it and I always carried it in a “ready-to-strike” position. I never needed to use it.
In college, I once felt a hand on my ass on a bus, which I immediately grabbed, raised up in the air along with my own, and yelled, “WHAT IS *THIS* DOING ON MY ASS?!”
I punched a guy off a barstool back in the day for (seems to be a pattern here) grabbing my ass.
I wonder sometimes how I escaped real harm. Scratch that – I’m amazed I’ve gotten away mostly unscathed. So many don’t.
But here’s the thing: I befriend men in large numbers. I count more than a few very close friends. I’m not a man hater, by any stretch of the imagination. What I am is a smart woman who understands the society in which I live and I act accordingly. I wish I didn’t have to worry about whether my heels are too high to run if I need to, if my skirt is too short for the event I’m attending, or who I can get to walk me out to my car after dark, but I do. I am constantly at risk. All women are.
Unlike some women, though, I refuse to allow rape culture to give me boundaries. I still go places alone, sometimes even after dark. Last week, I walked a few miles up and down Hollywood Blvd., in broad daylight no less, and got harassed about every two blocks. I ignored it and moved on, but I’m still wondering why other men didn’t call out the perpetrators. A simple, “Dude, that’s not cool,” goes a long way.
I understand why some women – especially those who are prettier than I am and/or have been victimized – just give up and never leave the safety of their homes or neighborhoods.
So if you’re a good guy and you feel you’re being judged by women, trust me, you are. If you’re in my vicinity and I’m alone, then I’m judging you, period. Until I know you, you are Schrödinger’s Rapist. Hell, even after I know you, I may still question your motives and/or capabilities.
As much as I don’t relish the idea my love is headed to South Korea on business tomorrow – unless you live under a rock, you’ve probably heard about all the sabre-rattling from North Korea the past two weeks – I am looking forward to having the house to myself for a few days.
Granted, there’s not much I couldn’t do around here even when he’s home. I can still make coffee naked; I may, whenever I please, change the channel on the TV to something I deem more interesting; I run errands when I feel like it; I’m able to clean over and around him if necessary.
What I can’t do when he’s here is guess what time of day we’ll have to put out some fire that crops up with work; business phone calls and e-mails are best tended to during business hours, after all. I also can’t stay up until the very wee hours of the next morning writing, which is the schedule my circadian rhythms and writer’s zone tend to prefer. (Oh, I still do it occasionally, but it makes the early alarm the next morning harder to respond to.)
What I can do when he’s gone is get to the gym earlier in the day. We like to go together, usually – neither of us slacks off when we’re being watched by the other – but that means going after the work day is over. When he’s out of town, though, I get it out of the way and thereby free up my afternoons/evenings for other shenanigans.
I can also cook fish, which I don’t do often, because he retches at the smell of it. I will be able to play the TV, podcasts, or music at full volume as I work, which is normally impossible because he spends 80% of his day on the phone. Also, since he’ll be in a time zone that’s 1/2 day ahead of me, whatever he needs from me to accomplish various business tasks is automatically pushed into my next day.
So yes, I’m a bit worried about his destination, even though I know most South Koreans were more interested in the release of Psy’s new track today than anything Kim Jong Un said or did. Hell yeah, I’m wary enough I looked up all the embassy/consulate information, printed it, and made him put it in his wallet. And I just know my neuroses will be in full overload until I get the “I arrived and I’m okay” e-mail or phone call.
But damned if I’m not looking forward to some “me” time.
See, they are express toll lanes now, not high-occupancy lanes. What about air quality? What about traffic control? What about the electric or hybrid vehicle exemptions for the HOV lanes that benefit both air quality and traffic control? What about all the other selling points given to install them back in the day?
I guess none of that matters when several cities in your state go broke. L.A. County doesn’t want to end up on the bankruptcy list and this is just one way to make more money, right? So screw the environment. We’d rather make $15 on a one-way trip per vehicle than get cars off the road entirely.
And don’t tell me to take the Metro. You built a subway system in earthquake country – don’t expect me to trust it. Also, it doesn’t run to/from the airport, so it’s pointless to me and other visitors in the first place.
So good job, guys. Kudos. I hope you enjoy returning to 1970s-level air quality. You know, back when my school would cancel phys ed because it was too dangerous to suck outside air into my young, developing lungs.
It’s 70 degrees in L.A. and snowing at home. Word has it our flight may even be delayed due to the high winds.
Don’t care. I want out of this place. I miss Denver, that cold-hearted bitch, and can’t wait to get home to her.
To describe my relationship with SoCal as love/hate misses all the nuances of the place. I love we could sign up for tickets online and see tapings of The Jeselnik Offensive and The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (via 1iota, if you’re curious); I hate the people sitting next to me at both tapings, who didn’t bother to laugh out loud even when told specifically to do just that. I love how packed Bar Sinister is on a Saturday night and I hate how incredibly superficial those who attend it are. I love seeing Yvonne de Carlo’s star on Hollywood Blvd., but I hate hearing the bouncy blonde standing over it say, “What a cool name!”
For every Lucky Devils on the Blvd. there are seven fly-by-night tourist traps full of t-whirts and kitsch. For every well-read, literate bartender who can hold his end of a conversation, there are three servers who are too busy studying a script for an upcoming audition to give you the time of day. For every leisurely Sunday drive on Sunset Blvd. all the way to the beach, there are 1,000 other drivers who had the exact same idea at the exact same time of day.
I can shop on a particular stretch of Melrose for a couple of hours, but have yet to make the length of it unmolested by the homeless, spanging punks, or other derelicts. I can arise early on a weekday to avoid the crowds at LACMA only to arrive and realize – once again – there is no beating crowds in Los Angeles. I can stop at a chain bar/restaurant for a quick drink and use of their bathroom … for about $25 with tip.
L.A. is a Tourette Syndrome sufferer who yells the possibilities at the top of its lungs and then whispers, in a version of verbal fine print, the problems to be encountered in experiencing those very possibilities. It is genuine superficiality, authentically one-dimensional, and the truest of all lies. Exciting and scary, beautiful and awful, exhilarating and sad. A literal, sometimes simultaneous Tale of Two Cities every time I visit.
And I can’t wait to show it off, in all its schizophrenic glory, to my BFF this summer.
In fact, I don’t think anyone else at the Johnny Rocket’s on Melrose even knew who he was. The only reason we did is because NPH is from Albuquerque, the very place we were visiting SoCal from. We both found it funny the only celeb we saw in five days in and around Hollywood was someone from back home.
Whenever my love and I head to L.A., we always get tickets for one of the improv shows at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater. It is by far the best $5-$8 ticket in town and it gives us the excuse to have an early dinner near the venue. Hence, late yesterday afternoon we headed to Franklin & Company and ate and drank our fill before the show, but when we were done, we still had about 30-40 minutes to kill. So we decided to get some supplies – bottled water and the like – at the nearby Gelson’s supermarket and walk it all back to the rental car.
As we approached the cash register, I glanced about at the impulse items and spotted Ron Perlman – yes, Hellboy himself – pushing a cart to a nearby register.
I elbowed my love and gestured in that “don’t look now or too quickly” fashion only couples and others who are close seem to share. (It’s like a kind of telepathy, really.) He was the very picture of nonchalance when he took a discreet look and nodded at me to confirm that yes, it was indeed Ron Perlman, right there in the flesh.
Neither of us approached the man, but we did have that “oh-my-god-oh-my-god-oh-my-god” moment with each other. I love the man’s work, and though I haven’t watched Sons of Anarchy, I have tuned in to many terrible movies just because he was listed in the credits. (Acts of Violence, anyone?)
Once in the parking lot and safely out of earshot, my love turned to me with a sudden realization:
“Holy crap – I’m taller than Hellboy!”
We dropped our bags off at the car and headed back toward the theater. As we crossed the street, I noticed a small crowd had gathered near the door to one of the restaurant/bars, so I scanned for an opening to pass through … and looked right into Steven Tyler’s face.
Yep. Two major celebrity encounters in less than 15 minutes. My charmed life, right?
We walked on by – Tyler hasn’t really been on my list of “WOW” for a couple of decades – but it was neat to see him in person. He is one tall, lanky dude, too.
We checked in for the show and I immediately texted my sister, who is a HUGE Steven Tyler fan. Not to gloat, but to let her know it’s possible to have encounters like this just a few miles from her own front door. Of course, you have to be willing to leave the house and head into unfamiliar neighborhoods in the Hollywood Hills, but I digress …
When I looked up from my phone, I noticed there were three very pretty motorcycles parked on the street right in front of where we were standing. I told my love I just knew Tyler was on one of them, and sure enough, he and his two companions – one of whom I recognized but still can’t place – each made their way to a bike and off they went.
I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me to pull out my phone and video record the entire experience, but I did manage to get off one decent photo of Tyler before he took off into traffic.
Truthfully, though, I’d rather run into Neil Patrick Harris again.
We stopped at the Whole Foods to pick up some snacks and Emergen-C, as we’d both awoken with that tell-tale throat itch which usually portends a cold or some other bug. It was flu season and we’d spent the weekend clubbing in and around Hollywood, so it was possible we’d managed to pick up something along the way.
We were on yet another “stealth mission” to SoCal, one of dozens we’ve taken over the years. That’s what we call it when we visit but have zero intention of notifying any of my family we’re nearby. Though most of them live in one of the country’s most vibrant, hopping, always-something-to-do region, hardly any of them take advantage of the dining, drinking, shopping, museums, concerts, and other activities offered just a few miles from their doorstep. So we take these “stealth missions” to fill ourselves with all El Lay has to offer without family obligations getting in the way.
We parked the rental car and my love headed for the supplement aisle while I headed for the restroom. We were in no hurry, really – we weren’t due at the airport to head for home for several hours yet – but we did want to get in and out ASAP. The Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s stores in and around Hollywood are always packed with people, no matter what day of the week or what time, and therefore are no place for two cranky misanthropes who just want to fly home and recuperate.
After using the bathroom, I washed my hands thoroughly because I’m conscientious like that. I was craving the fresh, wholesome goodness of the salad bar and if I was indeed getting a cold, I found no sense in spreading the wealth. I instantly got annoyed at the thought other people don’t do the same, because if they had I wouldn’t be feeling so poorly. Lost in this thought I approached the lettuce end of the bar, picked up a plastic container and …
… literally bumped into Al Yankovic.
You know, “Weird Al.”
Yeah, that guy.
Wrapped up in my own head, I wasn’t paying much attention to my surroundings. And it wasn’t a bump, really, more a shoulder tap. Still, I excused myself and apologized before I even realized exactly who it was I’d made contact with. Like I said, I’m conscientious like that.
He smiled a little, said, “No problem,” and returned to filling his own plastic container. I was too tired and irritable to strike up a conversation. I also was more-or-less raised in the area, so I know most celebs don’t wish to be bothered when they go out in public. (Conscientious. Me. Yes.)
On the way out of the store, my love asked, “Hey, was that Weird Al in there?”
Yes. Yes, it was.
I ate my salad in the passenger seat of the car, humming Eat It nearly all the way to LAX.