Monday, January 31, 2005

Back in Chicago

Can you stand one more bulleted list of my adventures in Iowa?

Too bad.

• Theater. On Saturday we took the kids to a children’s theater production of “Peter Pan.” There’s a children’s theater organization in my home town that gets the local high schools to stage different kid-friendly plays at different times during the school year—and, to provide continuity for the kids, there’s this giant ear of corn, see, who comes out before every show and sings and dances a little song and offers theater safety tips to the kids. Honest! The ear of corn is called Playtime Poppy and it looks like this (here’s a smaller, full-stalk shot), and this one time when I was in high school and we were doing a Playtime Poppy show, the girl who was in the Playtime Poppy suit fell off the stage into the pit in front of all the kids and broke her arm but she never broke character and she limped out to the hallway saying “Boys and Girls, Poppy’s hurt” and got in an ambulance still wearing her niblets and came back the next day with her stalk arm in a cast and the whole thing is still funny to me to this very day.

• Dinner. There is something profoundly satisfying to me about feeding and taking care of the people I love—especially my niece and nephew, who are in no danger of starving or freezing to death without their benevolent Uncle Jake, but I still like to feel like I’m an essential component of their survival. Anyway, I took my sister and her family to dinner on my last night in Iowa at a Mexican restaurant that’s actually pretty good considering its cheesy décor and its so-stupid-it’s-almost-insulting commercial jingle that goes—and I am not making this up—“Carlos O’Kelly’s Mexican Café! Carlos O’Kelly’s will make you shout ¡Olé!” I had the Más Macho Burro, which all but sent flames shooting out my rectum, but not before I was able to fill the kids’ tummies with cheesy quesadillas and chocolate milk and a little ice cream for dessert. Which, to me, is worth a lifetime of singed underpants.

• Shoveling. When I was young(er), I was convinced my parents birthed me in a snowy state just for the tortu-tainment of forcing a child to shovel snow. And I resented them for it well into my college years. My all-consuming hatred of shoveling was a large factor in deciding to buy a condo (with a built-in staff of people who shovel) when I moved to Chicago. (Another factor was the fact that I couldn’t afford any houses here. But we won’t mention that for fear of muddying up this engrossing narrative.) But when I got home to Iowa last week and saw how my dad’s rudimentary shoveling had transformed their driveway into an icy boulevard of broken hips, I dragged out their rusty old shovel and spent a good hour carving a few paths to get people safely from doors to cars and garbage cans and other outdoor things. Which officially makes me the adult who worries obsessively about the well-being of his parents. And I kinda like that.

• Irony. After five days of shoveling, throwing kids in the air, sleeping in a bunk bed and driving for hours on end, when I got home yesterday I managed to throw out my back lifting groceries out of my trunk. Yay. In my defense, though, these weren’t your usual side-of-beef or sack-of-potatoes groceries; these were eggs. And there were 12 of them. (Fun fact! A “dozen” equals TWELVE of something.) And they were Grade A. And they were in one of those cardboardy containers INSIDE one of those plastic bags from the grocery store. In my mind, the whole thing was just an accident waiting to happen—and my lumbar region was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. In any case, the pain greatly undermined my ability to unpack and then enjoy last night’s chorus rehearsal. But The Snuggler came over later with his magical powers of healing, and he diddled my sacrum (gosh—I hope that doesn’t sound obscene), which has made me all but completely pain-free today. So I count the whole trip as a success.

Friday, January 28, 2005

More snapshots from Iowa

Be warned: NoFo has become relatively interchangeable with my favorite mommy blogs this week—at least until I can escape this hellhole of uncommonly photogenic kids who do adorable things and smother their uncle with hugs and save their grapes for him in heroic acts of sharing and demonstrate their unconditional, enthusiastic love in unforeseeable ways that often catch me off guard and bring my heart to my throat and fill me with the wonders of this thing they call emotional bliss.

I'm just telling you because I don't want you to think I'm going all soft on you.

That said, here are some more blogworthy moments from the snow-covered wonderland of Iowa:

• Playing doctor with my niece. And that's not a metaphor for anything; we were playing ACTUAL DOCTOR. My niece informed me gravely that I had a sore elbow and she needed to make it better. So she took my blood pressure (because she is the Nobel Laureate of 3-year-olds and she knows all too well the correlation between a weak heart and a sore elbow), looked in my ears, got a temperature reading from my wrist and told me with deep conviction that she needed me to stay in the hospital for a few more days. Then she said she was going to give me a taco, and after a short search of the room she handed me a square blue plastic thing from a broken fire truck, which, apparently, was the taco. She patiently explained to me how it worked: I had to push the button on one side and talk into the other side when I wanted to call her in from the doctor's office. Get it? It wasn't a TACO at all! It was a TAWK-EW -- something you TAWK into when you haven't mastered the art of pronouncing your r's. TACO!

• Furniture shopping. Mom and my niece and I were putzing around a furniture shop when my niece found a rather ugly chair that was deep enough that you could sit in it with your legs straight out in front of you, which she promptly did. Then she summoned me to sit by her, which I did, only with one leg on the chair and one leg on the floor. WHICH CAUSED THE EARTH TO STOP TURNING ON ITS AXIS AND MADE THE DOLLAR WEAK AGAINST THE YEN, because my niece very sternly advised me to make my legs just like hers. So I did, but I thoughtlessly crossed mine at the ankles WHICH CAUSED THE CANCELLATION OF "CHICAGO HOPE" AND BROUGHT INNUMERABLE MARRIAGES CRASHING TO THE HEARTBREAK OF DIVORCE because it generated a second (less patient because I was pushing her THIS CLOSE to justifiable homicide) verbal reprimand from her. And once our four legs were in proper alignment, she began to sing. Like a sweet little angel. A sweet little rock 'n' roll angel with a CD changer full of '70s hair bands. "Little Willy, Willy won't ... go home! But you can't push Willy 'round; Willy won't go!" And then her rocker bravado pushed her to sing even louder: "Try tellin' everybody but, oh no! Little Willy, Willy won't ..." Clap! Clap! Clap! "... go home!" No shit. My 3-year-old niece knows all the words to "Little Willy." And she's not afraid to sing them in front of furniture salespeople. Once all relevant legs are safely in proper alignment, of course.

* Babysitting. I've been an uncle for almost six years now, and this morning was only the second time I've been saddled with the fate-worse-than-death burden of babysitting all by myself. (I've also changed exactly one diaper in those six years, but you won't hear any sarcasm-laced complaints coming from me on THAT topic.) My lack of solo babysitting experience is mostly because I've never lived in the same city as the kids, so when I'm around the whole family usually is as well, and nobody makes any plans that don't involve everybody. And also because Grandma would reschedule her own funeral if it meant one more opportunity to be the head babysitter. And also maybe a little because my sister knows I'd spend any unsupervised time with the kids teaching them the "I Will Survive" sequence from Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, which would TOTALLY trump her stupid "Little Willy" trick on the cuteness continuum. Anyway, I was alone with the niece all morning while the nephew was at school and the other adults were doing whatever it is that adults do all day. And the niece Wore. Me. Out. We spent two hours racing from one activity to another: drawing cows (apparently I am a shocking disappointment in the cow-drawing department), playing hide and seek (note to niece: if your foot sticks out from under the bed, you're a worse hider than I am a cow-drawer, SO THERE), quacking and laying eggs in our bean-bag nests (does it make me gay if this activity gave me serious pause because I didn't want the static electricity from the bean bags to ruin my hair?), various board games (Don't Break the Ice is more work than fun, but Ants in the Pants is so fun it should be illegal), and we eventually found ourselves playing schoolbus. In this game, my niece dragged a dining room chair twice her size across three rooms and set it up in front of an overstuffed chair so she could sit in it and be the bus driver while I sat in overstuffed comfort behind her being the rider. At every stop, she hopped out and laboriously dragged yet another dining room chair over for yet another new kid to sit in, while her lazy uncle sat there in his comfy chair and did NOTHING to help. Though he did eventually get to put all the chairs back. Once we'd made it safely to school, of course.

• Mall walking with Dad. Yes, mall walking. As in making laps around the mall. Just like genuine old people. And it was actualy great—I've been bugging Mom and Dad to get more exercise because I selfishly am not even REMOTELY ready to pick out their caskets, and walking is one of the best exercises for the bad backs that have plagued my dad and me for decades. So we made five laps around scenic Lindale Mall, talking about real estate, stores that have gone out of business, family friends who are getting old ... stuff like that.

• Rehearsals. Yesterday afternoon I ran into Damon, the fabulous music director of the fabulous "Follies" song-and-dance extravaganzas I did for 10 straight years when I lived here. And he invited me to come watch some rehearsals for this year's show, which I did last night. It's always great to be greeted as a conquering hero when you poke your head in on a roomful of old friends (you should try it sometime—really!), and these friends didn't let me down. Best of all, not one of them has aged a MINUTE since I moved away 5 years ago. It was great to watch them dance around like the fools we all are, and I'm going back tonight to watch some more and then maybe head out for drinks with everyone. I tell you, this vacation is one of the best I've ever been on. And I'm still here for two more nights. Woo-hoo!

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Uncle Jake in Iowa

The first 24 hours have been nothing but fun:

* The Snowperson Mall. My nephew's kindergarten teacher had invited assorted parents, volunteers and homosexual uncles from Chicago to come help the kids purchase the materials they needed to build custom snowpersons this afternoon. Each kid was given fifteen cents and set loose amid a sea of tables hawking such wares as popsicle sticks, flattened bottlecaps, ribbons, macaroni pieces and plastic forks -- all a penny apiece. I was the proprieter of the shop selling feathers, buttons and felt letters of the alphabet. And our little shoppers were incredibly well-behaved as they agonized over crucial decisions like pink vs. red feathers, budgeted their assets and made their purchases. Except for one boy who was QUITE upset with me for running the shop that took his last penny and thus ending his extravagant spending spree.

* My sister's boneless, co-dependant kitty. Remember Lucy? My sister got her for her birthday last June. She's now a full-grown cat, and my hyperkinetic destructo-niece has transformed her from a docile, lap-craving sack of fur to a cowering, corner-dwelling, talk-to-the-paw husk of her former self who still craves attention but fears (rightfully so) enduring any more Hugs Of Death.

* My old stomping grounds. Yesterday afternoon I stopped by the theater where I did shows for 10 years before moving to Chicago, and I had a lovely visit with old friends like Margaret, Amanda and Richard. And I ate WAY too many Hershey's Kisses. Urp.

* Melting my cold, black heart. We asked my nephew last night if it would be OK if Uncle Jake slept on his bottom bunk, and the look on his face -- as though SANTA CLAUS had just appeared in a BASKETBALL OUTFIT on a FIRE TRUCK carrying a GIANT RACE CAR -- just melted me. Melt. Ed. Me.

Now we're off to my niece's music class. Stay tuned for details of more adventures ...

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

The red dress

She came from the poorest elementary school in the district. So many of her peers qualified for free lunches that the school served everyone free lunches to eliminate the stigma. The school even employed full-time staff members to act as surrogate parents, driving to kids’ houses when they didn’t show up for school, taking the kids to doctor or social worker appointments—doing everything they could to provide the support the kids might not be getting at home in the hopes of creating an environment where the kids wouldn’t be too distracted from their studies.

Hers were among the parents who didn’t offer a lot of support. None, actually. By the spring of her fourth-grade year, her teacher hadn’t even met them, despite repeated attempts to schedule parent-teacher conferences.

But despite overwhelming odds against her, the little girl actually stood out as an academic leader among her peers. In fact, that spring she was named the school’s outstanding student—an award bestowed on one child from each elementary school across the district based on a range of factors including intelligence, ability, motivation and leadership skills.

The award included an afternoon away from school for a formal recognition ceremony with the outstanding students from all the other schools in the district. The ceremony was designed to be a Big Deal, and it would be attended by dignitaries from the school district, the city government and even the local media.

Embarrassed that she didn’t own anything nice to wear to the ceremony, the girl walked a mile and a half to Goodwill one weekend afternoon and found a slightly frayed red dress. It cost almost all of the six dollars she had to her name, but she thought it would make her look pretty—elegant, even.

The day of the ceremony, she rose early to shower and wash her hair and try to find a way to make it especially nice. She worked for quite some time, brushing it and rolling it around her fingers to make it curly and bouncy like the women she saw on television. It ended up as flat as it always did, though—so she found an old scrunchie and wrapped a red scrap of material from her blanket around it to match her dress. Then she pulled her hair back into her usual ponytail, carefully packed her dress in her school bag and headed to school.

She kept her dress with her by her desk all morning. Before she was set to leave for the ceremony, she took it to the bathroom to get dressed. But it had never occurred to her to try it on—and she discovered to her horror that it was many, many sizes too small. After a good 20 minutes of struggling and sucking in her tummy and wishing it to fit, she had to admit defeat. She went to get some help, but not even her teacher—always able to work magic for her students who were conditioned to expect so little—could get the dress pinned together for her. So the girl had to wear her dirty old coat over her pretty six-dollar dress.

The girl’s parents weren’t interested in coming to the ceremony, so her teacher drove her there and waited in the audience to bring her back to school.

She accepted her award all alone that warm spring day—in a used dress that didn’t fit, hidden under a dirty coat that made her look completely out of place. She stood on the stage with all the other kids, who were combed and dressed and fussed over. There was a constant flashing of lights as the other parents took pictures. Her teacher counted eleven video cameras. But there was no one else there to smile up at her and congratulate her with a warm parental hug and share whatever pride she could muster over the event.

And while the other kids left with parents in one hand and award certificates in the other, headed to celebratory dinners at their favorite restaurants, the little girl climbed into her teacher’s car and sat quietly for the ride back to school.

And when her teacher—my little sister, who was in her first year of teaching—got home, she sobbed.

Monday, January 24, 2005

How much do I love the snow?

About 95%, which is a way higher rating than I give Britney “Whoops, I recorded the same song/mocked the institution of marriage again” Spears. But you already knew that.

For those of you who haven’t been checking compulsively since Friday (just like I haven’t), it snowed like a badass all weekend in Chicago, covering the ground and trees and cars and everything else with 72 feet* of fluffy white winterness.

*I made that number up because I’m too lazy to look up the real number. But the snow did pile up/drift/get plowed into piles as high as my nipples in quite a few places. And I walked by plenty of cars yesterday that were identifiable only by their lonely little antennas sticking up like ugly little (I need some better imagery here) lightning rods on amorphous white mountains as high as (I need a better benchmark here) my nipples.

I would have been perfectly content to ride out the storm from the warmth and safety of my little shoebox in the sky, but my weekend schedule had other plans for me. And the hearty Midwestern souls who helped me fill my schedule were not the types to let amorphous mountains of snow get in the way of anybody’s plans.

So I spent the weekend riding the train and/or marching through the drifts—dealing with driving and parking in this stuff was not on my list—to get from auditions to rehearsals to directors’ meetings for two different shows because I’m that gay. On the plus side, everything’s choreographed and taught for next weekend’s drag show (8 pm-ish at Hydrate on Saturday the 29th, if you want to go). On the other plus side, plans are shaping up nicely for the chorus’ spring show, which I’m also choreographing (co-choreographing, technically, with two other guys). On the other plus side, all my hiking through the snow gave me some up-close-and-personal time with the staggering beauty a simple layer of snow can add to everything it touches. And on the other plus side (are you getting bored with my relentless optimism here?), walking through unshoveled snow in sturdy, unfashionable boots is an amazing cardio workout.

But what about the 5% I don’t like about snow? Two words: dog pee. Snow provides a strikingly high-contrast background for dog pee, which hits each fluffy white drift with enough force and heat that it lasers little caverns of crystallized yellow repulsiveness that hang gape-mouthed, suspended in time until nature mercifully raises the temperature and melts it all into the grass where innocent children romp barefoot in the summer.

Granted, the summer brings even more—and even fresher!—dog pee for children to romp in, but it never appears in that unsettling, frozen shade of Martharita yellow. And it never stares up at you—mockingly, leeringly, effectively destroying your taste for the syrupy goodness of flavored Sno-Cones forever—for weeks and weeks the way it does as you trudge by on your daily winter business.

And when you live in Chicago—where there are more dogs per capita than there are Bush haters—that adds up to a lot of frozen pee caverns.

So even though the snow has a good beat and you can dance to it, I have to give it a 95.

Friday, January 21, 2005

January adventures

1) I cooked dinner for The Cuddler last night. And I didn’t burn it. (The funny thing is he actually watched me cook—with great intensity—as though I knew what I was doing and he might learn something. The joke’s on him, though; I can make exactly three things—all of which usually turn out dry and tasteless—and he’ll get nothing but disappointment if he’s looking to me for a culinary education.) After dinner, he indulged me in my newest obsession: an hour on the couch wrapped—BONUS!—in each other’s arms watching CSI. So you can tell right there he’s good people.

2) I’ve seen some amazing stuff on stage in the last few days. Last week Eric and I got comp tickets to see Dance Chicago, a festival of the best work by the best companies in the city. I am now madly in love with Melissa Thodos & Dancers, especially their works choreographed by Paul Christiano, who uses bodies both as props and as instruments of expression—all with a bold, breathtaking synergy of kinetic energy and poetry. The show also featured some kick-ass, bone-rattling, pound-the-floorboards tap by M.A.D.D. Rhythms. Tap rocks. Especially the way this group does it.

Then this week Matt and I saw All Shook Up, a cheesy musical working its way to Broadway next month. A blatant ripoff of the Mama Mia! format—a silly story written to string together a canon of unrelated songs by one artist (in this case, Elvis instead of ABBA)—the show is eminently predictable, sillier than most but a whole lot of fun. And it features some fabulous sets and powerhouse singing, especially from this handsome fella, whose golden voice is eclipsed only by the piercing beauty of his eyes.

3) I take off Wednesday morning for five days in Iowa with my family. On the docket for this visit: spending a day with my nephew’s kindergarten class, watching my niece’s hit-buckets-with-spoons music class, hours and hours of canasta with any available adult, quality lap time with either of two very friendly kittens, Mom’s home cooking (which, unlike mine, has actual flavor), and a stop at my favorite grocery store (what kind of freak has a favorite grocery store?) on the way home to stock up on milk that costs less than $4 a gallon.

4) The lipo is healing better than I’d expected. I’m happy with the results as they are now, and my doctor says there’s still two more months for the “considerable” swelling to go down. So my waist is only going to get smaller. (But I’m not breaking out the International Male catalogs until I know just what my new measurements will be.) I consider myself fully healed, save for a tiny bit of tightness and some residual numbness around my midsection, and I’m working out at about 90% intensity. The best part: My sad little butt looks almost … butt-like now that it’s not hidden under a gooey pile of love handles.

5) I’m choreographing some numbers for a drag show (January 29 around 8 pm at Hydrate, if you want to go) that’s a fund-raiser for the Chicago Spirit Brigade. My dancers are working their butts off and looking pretty fierce—and the go-go boys backing up one of the numbers are smokin’ hot. And I can make them do whatever touching-each-other-in-sexual-ways things touching-each-other-in-sexual-ways things I want because I am the all-powerful choreographer! Bwa-ha-ha-ha-ha!

6) I just wrote my name in the snow.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

How to make an entire gym loathe
(or at least mock) you

Use empty workout benches to hold your notbeook, towel, sweatshirt, water bottle or your lazy butt as you flirt with other gym members. (Gym equipment not furniture. And you are not making any friends by hogging it.)

Leave sweat on everything. Or hair product.

Grunt like you're giving birth as you squeeze out those last few reps. (Really. It's not manly. It shows everyone you suck at math. And it makes the rest of us nervous that you might be, like, pooping on the bench or something without even realizing it.)

Do a training circuit on multiple pieces of equipment and get mad when people have the gall to use "your" machines when you're not on them.

Wear little coordinated outfits. (There is a strong statistical causality between wearing little coordinated outfits and accomplishing nothing more than just being in the way. They … um … did a study.)

Wear layers and layers of baggy clothes and lots of bling, as though you just came from shooting a hip-hop video. (Ditto.)

Wear a sweatband just below your elbow. (That fad was over before it started. Unless you're a 12-year-old girl.)

Hold up your shirt and check out your abs in the mirror. (They haven't changed since you last checked them, slugger. And they may look ripped, but admiring yourself makes you look really desperate.)

Work out in a tank top that's so big your nipples show through the armholes and the waist is down by your knees. (We get it: You're built like a brick shithouse. But you look like you're wearing a sundress.)

Be completely unaware that your balls hang out when you do stretches in boxer shorts.

Be smokin' hot and refuse to sleep with me.

Call somebody a "faggot" loudly enough that other people can hear you. (You're not fooling anyone but yourself, cocksucker.)

Wear your steroid patch where everyone can see it. (Though I guess it saves us the trouble of having to sneak a peek in the locker room to see if you have really small testicles.)

Yell GOD DAMN IT! and slam locker doors when you discover someone else is using your favorite locker. (Dude, lay off the steroids. And why do you even have a favorite locker? It's kind of creepy.)

Masturbate in the shower with the curtain open.

Masturbate in the shower, period.

Don't shower for a couple days before your workout. (Save your pit-whiff for the back room at the Eagle, pigboy.)

Douse yourself in cologne or perfume before inducing a 45-minute sweat on the treadmill. (See those unused treadmills going wasted on either side of you? See those asphyxiated corpses littering the floor? That's because of you.)

Stand in front of the drinking fountain to read the sign over it without checking to see if there is a line of thirsty people behind you. (If you've ever done this, you suck and I hate you.)

Use the last tampon without shouting, "I'm using the last tampon!" (I'm totally guessing that this is even an issue, but I felt compelled to include it so the denizens of the women's locker room wouldn't feel excluded. I'm sensitive like that.)

Waste $40 million on a vulgar inauguration festival celebrating a painfully divisive election you barely won while people all over the world who are suffering and dying because of poverty, epic natural disasters and a war you lied us into starting could find a million more productive uses for that kind of money. Um … and wear little coordinated outfits when you work out.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Are you into black guys?

I’ve posted profiles on a small number of dating sites—though I have completely given up on getting anything worthwhile out of them. The dates they’ve generated have all been pleasant … but devoid of much chemistry, which just reaffirms my belief that on-paper compatibility counts for very little while personal sparks generate the legitimate heat in any kind of relationship.

(On a side note, I’m completely, utterly, sitting-slack-jawed-in-a-puddle-of-my-own-drool appalled by the number of people who lie like a rug in their profiles and then hope you don’t notice when you finally meet. As far as I’m concerned, dating sites (at least the ones with shirtless pictures) are now strictly for entertainment purposes. Warning! Too much information ahead! And by “entertainment” I mean the marriage between one man and one Kleenex. Or maybe two Kleenexes if it’s been a couple of days.)

Anyway, my profiles are pretty open about my absolute deal breakers (addictions to drugs, alcohol and religion), the things that are important to me (a dominant sense of humor, a passion for life and an innate sense of decency) and the things I absolutely don’t care about (the hair on your head, the labels on your clothes and the color of your skin).

And yet, almost without fail, nonwhite guys feel compelled to start any Internet dialogue with me by asking if I am inclined to dismiss them for being black. Or Asian. Or [insert nonwhite ethnic flavor here].

Which breaks my heart. We, at the dawn of the enlightened, global, gloriously polycultural 21st century, are obviously still living in a white man’s world, where black and brown and red people feel they have to pre-screen for racism before they can begin any meaningful dialogue with white people.

And yet I’m not surprised. I still hesitate to let clues about my homosexuality slip into conversations until I’m sure the people I’m talking to aren’t going to condemn me to hell for it. People have stupid prejudices that often trump politeness and decency when they’re dealing with strangers. And in a culture that celebrates the irrational histrionics of angerphiles and extremists like Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and even Michael Moore, I guess we can’t be shocked.

But we don’t have to like it. And we can’t sit idly by while others perpetuate this culture of sister-fucking ignorance. I usually reply to questions like "are you into black guys?" by expressing my sorrow over the fact these guys feel they have to start our conversation on the topic of race. They usually respond with silence. (I have no idea what that is about, but it’s not cool. A guy who abruptly, wordlessly ends a dialogue HE started is just an asshole in my book, no matter what color he is.)

But yes, I'm into black guys. And brown guys. And tan guys. And white guys. In no particular order. But that stuff isn’t important to me. So—unless you want to tell me about a cool ethnic festival you just attended—can we talk about something else … at least at first?

Monday, January 17, 2005

Show and tell

I had so much fun showing you-all my new bathroom a week ago that now I'm going to show off the other two rooms I've painted and decorated with my unique brand of not-very-gay not-much-of-a-flair.


White cupboards. White appliances. Mousy-gray countertops. So what color would a not-very-imaginative homosexual pick to paint the walls? I'll give you one guess: It rhymes with gray gay. And actually, I think it turned out looking rather confident and masculine.

Until I started decorating. Note the glass salt and pepper shakers that turn into a white kitty and a black kitty when they're filled. They were a gift from my friend Jennifer, and I love them. But confident and masculine? Please. And how about all that foo-foo shit above the cupboards? It's all random vases, reproduction plates from a traveling Titanic exhibit, Norwegian knickknacks and a host of other things I found on clearance at Pier 1 important pieces that aren't even in the picture but are still essential components in the act of representing me and my complex personality. But still. Paging Gaylord McHomoperson!

It's hard to tell in this picture, but all that foo-foo shit is backlit by a hidden rope light. Indirect lighting is the hallmark of a civilized society, and my ultra-handy, project-loving ex, Jeff, installed the lights both above and below the cupboards. See those switches next to the outlet? They control the lights. Left is top and right is bottom. HA!

My kitchen is set up so that the side of my refrigerator is the most visible element from any vantage point in Shoebox Manor. So I convinced my sister to have a couple kids. Now that ugly old refrigerator is a showplace for pictures of and art by my uncommonly photogenic niece and nephew. And I, in one stroke of decorating brilliance, look like a doting uncle and a confident (there's that word again) decorator. Everybody wins!

Note to self: The next time you take a glamour shot of some part of your house, do some freakin' quality control first. Example! Empty the recycling bin. Example! Make sure the pictures aren't falling out of their little plastic frames. Jeez—did you grow up in a frat house filled with sweaty, athletic men who do nothing but walk around in their underwear BARN?


Painting stripes on a wall seems like a fun do-it-yourself project. So very Thom Filicia. So very Martha Stewart. So very bold and creative. So very slow and painstaking and time-consuming and eye-crossing you vow you'll staple your lips to Rush Limbaugh's drug-addled scrotum before you ever decide to take on a similar project again.

Painting these stripes took the entire week I had off between Christmas and New Year's last year. It took endless measuring and taping and making sure lines were straight on walls that were decidedly NOT straight. It took more paint than I'd estimated. But it also took a bland off-white corner of my shoebox in the sky and transformed it into a swanky little hot-cocoa-and-vanilla-bean reception area for visiting guests and various dignitaries.

If you ever decide to do this, here are a few tips: 1) Paint one color in satin and one color in semi-gloss for added contrast. 2) You know that blue painter's tape? It's imbued with magical powers. Do not fear these powers. Embrace these powers as you block off the areas where you want effortless, clean lines between paint colors. You will love your tape when you're done. Even though it's kind of expensive. 3) Measure, measure, measure. Then measure again. 4) But you can fudge on the width of the stripes so they more neatly wrap around corners and meet the edges of doors. My stripes vary by a whole inch and nobody can tell. (I hope.) In fact, I wish I'd fudged some more just to create perfect visual symmetry. But I'm not going back to redo any of it. This room is DONE being decorated.

If you look really closely, you can see a closet door masterly camouflaged kinda hidden in the stripes. Actually, this ghetto closet door was the inspiration for the whole stripey project; it was the ugly centerpiece of a rather visible wall, and I wanted to do something less embarrassing about it. And I'm really pleased with the results.

Please, though, do not laugh at my cheap art. I got these lovely museum-quality Sistine Chapel reproductions on sale at Target eleven years ago when I bought my first house. And though you can easily spot their low-quality paper and shoddy framing and piss-poor attempt at imbuing culture on their surroundings, I love them. Besides, they were like $5 each, and you just can't beat art that costs less than a Grand Slam® breakfast at Denny's.

So that's the tour. Thanks for coming! And stay tuned for the next installment of Decorating the Shoebox with Jake, where I show you … um … actually, you've seen pretty much everything interesting there is to see. So maybe I'll show you how neatly I've stacked the sheets in my linen closet. Or something.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Stock up on toilet paper

because you're about to make the best damn bran muffins ever:

Pour 1 cup boiling water over 2 cups All-Bran cereal. Let cool.

Cream 1 1/2 cups sugar with 1/2 cup softened butter. Add 2 eggs and 1/2 quart buttermilk. Mix well.

Mix 2 1/2 cups sifted flour, 2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 cup Bran Buds cereal.

Combine dry ingredients with buttermilk mixture. Mix well.

Add boiling water/All-Bran mixture. Mix well.

Bake at 350° in standard muffin tins for 20-25 minutes.

And then just TRY to stop yourself from eating every last muffin you make. I dare you.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Friday, January 14, 2005

My two new obsessions


Last week while I was confined to my couch in my lipo girdle like some drag queen on house arrest, I stumbled on this fabulous show that turns grisly murder investigations and lurid pre-murder backstories into a spectator sport that’s fun—and educational!—for the whole family. I loved it so much I put all three channel options (CBS and the two channels that show reruns) at the top (well, right under Queer Eye) of my TiVo Season Pass list. And now, every night when I get home, I race to the TV to cram in at least one episode before I go to bed. Which is such a productive use of my time.

True to the television rule that franchising a popular show is better than coming up with new ones, there are currently three CSI siblings on the air right now: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (the original, which takes place in Las Vegas), CSI: Miami (which features the perpetually weird-talking David Caruso) and CSI: New York. The best by far is the Las Vegas version, mostly because it features the boy-next-door hunky George Eads as wholesome, earnest CSI rookie Nick Stokes. I have yet to see Nick take his shirt off on the show, but a quick visit to Google found me exactly what I was looking for. Google also produced a second helpful site that contains a number of visual “reasons of why” George is such a hottie.

As an added bonus, CSI seems to be a veritable breeding ground for actors who are about to make it big. In one night alone this week, I saw two separate reruns that featured none other than Bree Van De Camp and her philandering husband (as the killers, no less)—only months before they met each other (in prison?) and moved to Wisteria Lane.

But for all its severed-hand-in-a-microwave fun, CSI does have some bad habits. One is an addiction to painfully lengthy montages where we see lab technicians suspending candy wrappers in smoke-filled fishbowls to check for fingerprints or dicing up cadaver livers, putting them in a blender and pipetting the resulting goo into test tubes that go into a mysterious machine that spits out a sheet of paper with a Magical Piece of Missing Information (I was eating chili the night they showed that montage). The show could clearly use this airtime better by showing Nick Stokes going to the bathroom.

The second bad habit is the following scene, which plays out at least 10 different ways in each episode:

Lab technician (who used to be on that one sitcom with that one girl who had really big boobs): I’ve identified the mysterious substance you found on the body/at the murder scene. It’s polyfartypoopoochloride.

CSI person (who just came from the morgue and is dressed in body-hugging couture): Aha—sugar-free hair spray! That means the killer likes puppies.

Lab technician: I know. So I cross-referenced the handy wallet card I carry that lists the names and addresses of everyone in Budapest who drives a Volvo with our computer database of everyone who shopped at Sears the night that I played an extra in the coffee shop on “Friends” and look who I found:

(shows CSI person the computer monitor)

CSI person:
Thomas Jefferson!

(cut to interrogation room)

Thomas Jefferson (who clearly has hair and looks unmistakably diabetic):
I didn’t tell you I have a puppy the first time you questioned me because you didn’t ask. That doesn’t make me a killer.


When I tinkered with the design of this site last week, I had to go to Sitemeter to change the colors of my hit counter (you know, because if the colors didn’t all match, people would laugh). I had originally added the hit counter out of sheer vanity to see if anyone was actually reading my blog, and one of the interesting little Sitemeter bonuses has been a weekly email giving me hour-by-hour breakdowns of the number of hits I get.

But that was NOTHING compared to what I discovered when I poked around the Sitemeter site trying to figure out how to change the colors: Sitemeter keeps track of—and can show me with the click of a mouse—how many people are reading my blog in real time, tells me how much time people spend on certain posts, and—best of all—shows me how they found me, taking me directly to other blogs that have links to mine and directly to search results pages on Google, Yahoo, MSN and a handful of other search engines I’ve never even heard of.

So of course I visit Sitemeter CONSTANTLY, gaping with open-mouthed fascination at the ways people have stumbled on my blog.

And people have found me in some of the weirdest ways—with some of the last search parameters that I would ever guess would put NoFo on the first page of results.

For instance, in the last 24 hours, people have clicked on my site after searching for the following things:

virtual anesthesia maching (sic)
Julie Andrews marriage
porno aubergine rectum
Oprah’s interior designer
jake nofo (I’m blushing!)
picture of Rush Limbaugh house
condom picture jokes
best exercise love handles (Jokes’ on you—it’s LIPO!)
short Internet cartoons
photos of naked gay men
women girdle pictures
pizza real estate
Paris Hilton naked (Really!)
red mold pictures
chemical face peels what about them
funny picture with bad breath
and, just moments before I wrote this post: fat boobs

All of which just means I’ll be peppering all my (midget fucking) posts with all kinds of random (sundress! rotisserie chicken!) stuff just so Google will point innocent (nun-slapping) Internet users to my twisted, subversive (moist and delicious) blog. Let the games begin. (Burma shave!)

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Who rocks the house?

My codemonkey friend Bob rocks the house!

Bob single-handedly figured out the problem with my blogger source code that was making the sidebar jump to the bottom of the screen in Internet Explorer browsers. And he patiently explained it to me so I think I kind of understand it. (He at least explained it enough—over the phone, no less—that I was able to fix it. Which makes me codemonkey-by-proxy. I might have to get a commemorative plaque or T-shirt made with that impressive new title on it.)

And now—for the low, low price of a dinner some night very soon—I have the coolest blog in the entire universe. Really. It's even better than this one.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Mousy Boy

He was cute. A little mousy for my tastes, but cute.

He’d walked up and interrupted my show-tune reverie at Sidetrack not too long ago. I had been singing along with a small group of friends who had randomly wandered off for drinks or bathroom breaks or laps around the bar to check out boys, leaving me momentarily alone … and giving this guy an opportunity to pounce.

Normally, I give major points to anyone who walks up and starts a conversation with me in a bar—because I still have weird little shyness issues that sometimes prevent me from doing it myself. So I have to respect anyone who is braver than I am on that front.

But he launched right into the why-does-someone-as-hot-as-you-not-have-a-boyfriend bullshit almost immediately. (I know, I know: Boo-hoo. Poor Jake has strangers telling him he’s hot. It’s supposed to be a compliment, you arrogant moron. Point duly noted. But the question puts you on the defensive—like you suddenly have to pull out a résumé and prove to a complete stranger that you’re not a total loser. There’s no right answer. And after you hear it for the 50th time, you start to think maybe there IS something wrong with you. So if you’re ever tempted to use this line on someone, just remember: It’s NOT a good way to make him feel comfortable around you. Or interested.)

To deflect Mousy Boy’s sycophantic praise, I turned the focus back on him by asking a standard bar question: What did you do tonight?

His answer killed any shred of interest I’d had in him to that point: He told me he was on a blind date with a guy. They’d had dinner. It was nice. They’d come here. He decided the blind date wasn’t worth his time. So he had just abandoned the guy across the bar to try to come pick me up.

Then he—without a whiff of subtlety—pointed out his blind date to me. The poor guy was standing, defeated, at the other end of the room, trying as hard as he could to look upbeat and nonchalant while stealing surreptitious glances our way to see what the heck was going on with his date. And he was MUCH cuter than the asshole who was so inelegantly ditching him.

And then Mousy Boy ramped up his aggressiveness, touching me repeatedly, bragging about his sexual prowess, and demanding to know when he and I could leave Sidetrack and “get busy.” (Who says “get busy”?)

And I—usually pretty skilled at saying no in a way that people’s feelings don’t get hurt (even when they’re being complete jerks)—was speechless.

“You’ve just proven to me—proudly—that you’re an immature, spineless, rude, socially inept asshole. Why on earth do you think I’d want to go home with you”? It was a little harsh for my style, but it would have been totally appropriate in this context. Unfortunately, those words didn’t occur to me. Neither did something simple like: “I’m sorry, but I don’t ‘get busy’ with people I just met unless they’re both incredibly nice and smokin’ hot and you’re neither.”

Instead, I just blinked at him, stunned. Like when Dubya gets asked a question at a press conference that wasn’t on the practice test.

But I finally mustered a polite no, thank you.

Unfortunately, stunned silence and an eventual no weren’t obvious enough clues for Mousy Boy, so he asked for my number. You know: “for later.”

And then the biggest Pussy Boy Of The Universe response popped out of my mouth: I told him that guys who ask for my number never call. I whined that I was tired of being treated rudely that way. Though this information was largely true—and constituted my biggest pet peeve about the men in Chicago—I basically destroyed my level-headed, morally superior upper hand in one stroke. I went from an object of desire to a whining, sniveling posterboy for perpetual bachelors everywhere.

And you know what? That still didn’t deter Mousy Boy. Instead, he got mad at me, poking his finger in my chest and accusing me of “playing games.”

Fortunately, at that point my friends started trickling back from their adventures around the bar. And I got to use the one line I swore I’d never use on another human being in a bar because it was so unbelievably rude and wounding even though it sounded completely friendly on the surface: “It was nice talking to you.” As in “I’m telling you to your face to get the hell away from me because you’re so beneath me and so not worth my time.”

And Mousy Boy reluctantly walked away. But not in the direction of his blind date.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Guess what I'm not wearing today:

1) Pants
2) My grandmother's lacy underthings
3) John Ashcroft's sweaty wifebeater that I got on eBay for $17 (a steal!)
4) My freakin' lipo girdle

If you guessed 1 or 2, you're weird. But in a killing hookers in the basement fun kind of way. If you guessed 3, please never read my blog again.

If you guessed 4, you are hereby invited to celebrate a lifetime of ungirdled freedom with me. Woo-hoo!

I just got back from my 11-day checkup—the one where the doctor is supposed to tell me I'm healing nicely but I need to keep squeezing my kidneys down into my rectum wearing the girdle for another week. But instead, he said I'm healing nicely and I am hereby allowed to celebrate life with my tits to the wind (that's just an expression, for the record—I don't actually have tits and if I did I wouldn't let them flap in the wind because it might hurt innocent passers-by attract amorous lesbians and they can be harder to get rid of than fundamentalists and once you have an infestation of either there goes the neighborhood because suddenly it's all flannel and Dockers everywhere you look and you start to feel out of place in your discount couture and god knows nobody wants that) and he doesn't want to see my bruisy, swollen ass again for two months.

So I marched triumphantly—albeit slightly unsteadily since my core muscles had forgotten how to hold me up during the evil Girdle Regime of 2005—out the door and into the street. And I came straight home to blog about it since I have no actual human friends who want to hang out with me to park myself in front of a TiVo hard drive packed with CSI reruns since I have no actual human friends who want to hang out with me.

I also have full permission to head back to the gym but I've decided I like being lazy and I'm going to lounge around and see if I can regrow all that fat which I plan to do tomorrow over lunch. Though I don't think I want to change my shirt in the locker room just yet; my bare midsection is still a little disconcerting to behold—even for the pervy homos who think nobody can tell they're gay straight guys.

In the mean time I'm left to contemplate just how freakin' hairy my tummy gets when I don't shave it. (I've been shaving everything but a saucy little trail that leads south from my belly button for at least 10 years, and I'd forgotten what a teddy bear I'm capable of being. But I didn't shave for a couple weeks before the surgery to pre-empt any itching issues. And I'm not shaving any time in the near future because now my tummy's kind of like that science experiment you did in third grade where you rubbed a piece of Wonder bread on the dusty blinds ostensibly to make mold grow but more likely because the janitor was too lazy to clean the blinds himself because he was busy killing hookers in the basement and I'm curious to see how hairy it actually gets.)

Anyway, we can all breathe a sigh of relief that Jake's gonna finally stop bitching about his freakin' girdle Jake's gonna finally stop bitching about his freakin' girdle. Although, given the shaky state of his core muscles at the moment, your sigh will most likely be louder than his.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Inner sanctumoniousness

Last July, after taking three years to pick a color, I finally painted my bathroom, transforming it from a nightmare in beige to a fiesta of … um … darker beige, acutally. But I think it looks hella-cool, and it no doubt has tripled* the value of my condo.

*Or not.

I took pictures right away to post here and share with all of you, but I got distracted by … um … the way Ann Coulter looks like a third-world drag queen. (Really! Someone please feed that poor hungry man some cock—no wonder he's always so irrational and angry.) Anyway, I'm finally making amends and posting bathroom pix here and now, for your early 2005 weekend enjoyment:

Funny how a darker wall color can transform the look of a cheap mirror from ghetto to fabulous. Really. When my walls were off-white, this scabby old mirror looked like Ann Coulter something you'd find next to the condom machine in a truck-stop bathroom. And now the darker wall color suddenly gives it a deep, rich luster*.

*Saving me the cost and effort of replacing it.

And check out the bas-relief medallions I have hanging next to the mirror. They represent the four seasons, and because I'm too pathetic to have real, actual hobbies I rotate them so the current season is always on top. True story! In this picture, see, "summer" is on the top, followed (naturally) by "fall," "winter" and then "spring." Whenever you're in my bathroom, you always know what season it is AND which seasons come next, just by reading down. Except for right now. Because I haven't changed the medallions since I took this picture. In July. (That would be "summer," for those of you having trouble with the math.)

How much do I love this stencil? Let me count the ways: 1) It looks funky, retro, modern and tribal all at once, with a dash of Keith Haring flavor thrown in as if to say Hey, I'm kinda gay here! 2) The pattern has no discernible beginning or end, so I didn't have to measure and center and fudge and worry about balance and how it wrapped around the corners. Things like that keep me up at night. 3) The stencil pattern, paints and brushes cost less than five bucks. 4) The whole stencil process took like 30 minutes. 5) It's the finishing touch that makes my bathroom look like a high-end day spa. If you squint real hard.

In addition to hating my bathroom walls, I also REALLY hated the sink. The sink bowl is a mousy-blah light gray with a utilitarian round shape designed to complement the décor in any prison or livestock housing facility. But it was in good condition, and replacing it was more work than I cared to take on. So I simply replaced the faucet with a curvaceous piece of hardware that was a bitch to install—though it gives the sink's roundness a sense of holistic purpose and elevates my whole bathroom experience to something approaching cosmic meaning. (And if you look closely, you can see that I took this picture with my shirt off.)

These fabulous little candle shelves were made by my spectacularly handy ex, Jeff. I'd seen shelves like these on the Queer Eye episode where the hunky little monkey boy with the bad breath was afraid to walk down the runway with his purse-designing wife. I'd looked all over for similar shelves, but they were nowhere to be found. So Jeff came to the rescue, making a bunch of them from scratch for me. He totally rocks.

A view of the finished product. The slogan on the Fairy Soap sign asks "Have you a little fairy in your home?" I bought it because I think cleanliness is the most important virtue (right after voting for my bloginess), and I live to preach the gospel of soap to the unwashed masses. Too bad the people who need it most—like that bitch Ann Coulter—are banned from my bathroom and will never get to see it. (Hey, a man's gotta poop—and with people like him her in the room, all holes clamp shut in instinctive self-preservation.)

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Odds and ends

Jude Law is off the market. But Brad Pitt is back on.

I saw Jude Law naked and in person before he was famous. He was in a disturbing little Jean Cocteau play called Indiscretions on Broadway with also-yet-to-be-famous Cynthia Nixon and starring an in-over-her-head Kathleen Turner. Jude (I call him Jude) started Act II in a tub and spent a good part of the opening scene drying off and wandering around the stage looking for his clothes. And I was in the front row. I have never, for the record, seen Brad Pitt in person, naked or otherwise.

Apparently the sidebar on my new blog template isn't showing up in Inernet Explorer browsers. And I'm not sure what to do about it. But it looks like once again, Microsoft is incompatible with the rest of the world. Imagine that.

I saw the boringly named National Treasure last night with Eric, and we freakin' LOVED IT. A fabulous hybrid of Indiana Jones, Leonardo "Da Vinci" Code and Alastair Cooke, it has everything I love in escapist adventure movies:
• Ancient secrets propelling modern protagonists (and antagonists) from adventure to adventure all over the country
• A quest for long-forgotten treasure that may or may not even exist
• A creepy old ghost ship that—BONUS!—has lain undisturbed under ice for centuries
• Comically implausible plot twists you happily embrace just to keep yourself in on the fun
• Rah-rah American patriotism that makes me tear up with no warning
• Educated scriptwriting peppered with arcane and pretentious historical tidbits
• A wrinkly old (way older-looking than he actually is, at least) leading man who thinks he still reads as virile and sexy paired opposite a nubile young love interest who looks half his age
• A goofy sidekick who just gets cuter and cuter as the movie progresses

If when you go see it, don't be a dork like your friend Jake and make sure you pee first. By the time the movie was over and the butler had killed everyone before being devoured alive by the alien I was markedly uncomfortable—and more than a little worried as I waddled as fast as possible to the bathroom.

The pain is virtually gone (except when I roll over in bed). The swelling has gone down enough that I'm clearly smaller around the middle than when I started (but I'm still puffy and still not so pretty). The bruises are all healed except for the big painful one right on my pubic bone. The giant black porno cock has faded from aubergine through the periwinkle family to its current state, where it looks like I went commando in a new pair of jeans and suffered some minor dye-to-sweaty-crotch transferring. I've more or less gotten used to the girdle, which is good because I may be wearing the damn thing for another week.

And I'm still shocked by the the reactions I've been getting. I thought I was taking the route of admirable honesty by being open about it—instead of giving me undeserved pity for undergoing a mysterious "operation" and undeserved praise for working out so hard when they see the results this summer, people will know up front that 1) I chose to suffer through surgery and recovery and 2) if I look good this summer it will be from a combination of hard work and surgical help. In any case, that honesty is lost on pretty much all the straight guys I work with, who now give me a you're-a-freak look when I talk to them. Yay.

The lipo has also inspired a bunch of blog posts about gay self-image issues—some of them thoughtful and introspective and some of them about the "rage" they feel as gay men when they see guys like me succumb to aesthetic pressure.

I know my inability to write short posts may have clouded my explanation for deciding to go through with lipo, so I'd just like to state it again. And I'll try to be short about it: I had love handles that made me extremely self-conscious and would not respond to more than a decade of eating right, working out regularly and running competitively—including a marathon. I gave it a lot of thought, I did a lot of research, I saved up for five years, and I decided to surgically remove what wasn't going away on its own. While I was going to be having surgery and suffering through recovery anyway, I asked the doctor to also remove the thin layer of fat over my abs while he was in there—though he said it probably wouldn't make a huge difference. But I'd worked hard (waaaaay harder than most, and without the "help" of drugs) and I wanted the body to show for it—for no reason beyond the fact that I simply wanted it, kinda like some people want Hummers or yachts to show off their wealth; it's superfluous and largely symbolic, but I wanted it nonetheless. So I decided to have both procedures done.

I honestly don't see a difference between what I did and someone who gets floppy ears pinned back, a woman who reconstructs her abdomen and breasts after childbirth and breast feeding, HIV patients who have fat injected into their cheeks to mask the effects of wasting, balding men and women with plugs or implants or Propecia prescriptions, people who straighten and whiten perfectly functional teeth—and, to a lesser degree, anyone who's had a piercing, tattoo, body waxing, laser hair removal, tan or even a dye job. We all found something we didn't like about our appearance, and we all had it fixed, with varying degrees of risk but with no degree of necessity.

Anyway, sorry to keep harping on the topic. I'm just genuinely surprised by all of this oddly hostile backlash. But, for the record, I've definitely had my last adventure with plastic surgery.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

New year. New look. Same old lack of talent.

The elitist snob in me I was getting tired of visiting other blogs that looked exactly like mine (I am a Boy of Destiny! My blog must be fancy!) so I changed my blogger template. (Please hold your applause. It makes it harder for you to click.)

And never one to do something simply when there's a complicated option out there, I also decided to tart up modify the template I chose using my vast array of superpowers rudimentary HTML skills.

So far, those skills include:
• changing the colors of stuff using this handy chart

Admittedly, my final product isn't as fancy as, say, this thing you might not want to click on at work. But where there used to be pansy-ass orange and teal words on my blog there are now masculine and huggable (but in a masculine way) red and blue words. With maching red boxes around stuff. (See? The carpet DOES match the curtains!)

But wait! There's more! I also have some fabulous ideas for making this blog even more compelling and impressive to behold! Unfortunately, short of visiting every one of you and decorating your computers with crayons and glitter stickers, I have no idea how to make those ideas spring to visual life. Yet.

If you keep coming back, though (and voting for me every day like clockwork), I promise to at least have more poop jokes and inappropriate links for you. Deal?

Wednesday, January 05, 2005


Me: My folks' cat has ringworm.

Liza: Is that contagious for humans?

Me: Yes, but apparently only if you do something stupid like lick the cat.

Liza: And your parents aren't cat lickers?

Me: No. They're Protestants.

You’ll probably regret reading this post

because it’s about poop.

And why am I writing an entire post about poop?

1) Poop is funny. Say it with me: P-o-o-o-o-o-o-p. HA! Funny!
2) It’s Sweeps Week for the BOB Awards. And nothing is proven to boost ratings faster—whether we’re talking about Teletubbies or The Rush Limbaugh Drug-Addled Serial Divorcer With Bad Hair And Unpleasant Fans Radio Show—than poop. Plus it gives me the opportunity to say something most bloggers only dream of getting to say: Vote for me! It’s as easy as pooping!
3) Poop is funny even if you don’t actually say “poop.” Example! What can Brown do for you? HA!
4) Poop issues figure into the whole lipo process more than I’d anticipated.
5) Remember: P-o-o-o-o-o-o-p! HA! Funny!

WHEW! Amid all that funny pre-poop talk, I almost forgot to get to the whole point. And, actually, there are two points to this post. So here’s the (ahem) poop:

The night before the lipo, I did a pre-emptive poop because I figured pooping after the surgery wouldn’t exactly be a box of kittens. (And I was right, but more on that later. If you can get that far.) And I tried again the morning of the lipo, but I didn’t have to go.

So I got to the hospital, got checked in, got into my gown and my extra-fancy stick-on underpants, got the IV thing stuck in the back of my hand—and as they were walking me to the operation room, I suddenly kinda felt like I had to go. But it was too late.

So I climbed on the table, got knocked unconscious, underwent The Change, and woke up all groggy and begirdled in the recovery room. And I mysteriously didn’t have to poop anymore.

Which was the least of my worries … until I got up to get dressed and I found a stain on the sheets where my butt had just been. And while the stain could very easily have been I-just-had-surgery blood, I to this day live in mortal fear that the damn spot was glowing, screaming, mocking proof that the anesthesia had turned me into a human soft-serve ice cream dispenser and I pooped on everything and everyone in the operating room the whole time I was being vacuumed.

(I can just hear it: “Nurse, hand me the scalpel … cotton swab … suction thingie … whoa, gross! Hand me the ice cream cone … STAT!”)

What makes it worse (if you can imagine this story getting worse) is the fact that I didn’t poop for a full two days after the surgery. Which just proves to me that I emptied the ol’ tank all over the doctor’s Ferragamos when all he thought he was in for were a few splashes of hip goo. I’m so embarrassed I could just shit.

NUMBER TWO (Ha! More poop humor!)
Pooping in a girdle is harder than I thought. The next time you’re parked on the throne, pay attention to what you naturally do with your body: You slouch forward (presumably to pull your curtains apart and aim your cannon at the hole in the bottom of the toilet).

Now imagine doing that in a corset. Right. It doesn’t work. You have to sit as straight and tall as (ahem) Gary Bauer. What’s more, you have to keep your feet directly under your torso (on either side of the bowl) so you don’t topple backward into the tank. Which means you have to take your pants completely off. Just to poop. (Remember: You pooped all over an entire medical team just a few days earlier. The indignities don’t end!)

And then consider this: If every muscle in your midsection is angrily recovering from a li-pokefest (lipo-kefest? is this attempt at portmanteau even funny?) … if every muscle in your midsection is further weakened by a corset that grips tighter than Paris Hilton with a school bus in her vagina … then you don’t have a lot of firepower for squeezing out your puppies, if you know what I mean.

And that’s when poop abortion starts looking like an ethical option—Vatican be damned! (Vatican be damned anyway, but that’s a topic for a different post about poop.)

WHEW. So that’s all I have to say on this topic for the day. (Lucky you.) Except for this: Vote for me! It’s as easy as pooping!

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Lipo: Day Five

In which our hero jumps back into life and recounts in graphic—and cringingly inappropriate—detail the recovery process from his hopelessly misguided attempts to make men love him liposuction.

All in the name of giving his lipo-curious readers an in-the-trenches perspective on what it’s like, of course.

I didn’t take them last night. My low-level pain hadn’t changed all day, so I climbed into bed after watching the news and fell right asleep without any chemical help whatsoever. I have a couple more days on my precautionary antibiotics, but otherwise I’m back to being completely pill-free.

I woke up on my side this morning. And I don’t remember heaving myself painfully into that position in the night. Woo-hoo! But the spot I was lying on—where the little fucker love handle used to be—was pretty sore from being crushed for however long I was sleeping on it. Warning! Too much information ahead! I also woke up with a … um … functional … um … “friend” that … um … needed attention. So we can all breathe a sigh of relief and dismiss our haunting fears on that topic.

The doctor had warned me I would be tired after my first full day back at work. “Hogwash,” I’d thought at the time. “I’m always brimming with vim and vigor and other outdated phrases that reveal my rapidly advancing age.” But when 2:00 rolled around yesterday … YAWN. I was pretty worthless the whole afternoon. And when I got home last night I cuddled up on the couch with a blanket, a bunch of corset-friendly pillows, a giant glass of water and the remote and watched three hours of Very Bad TV—including some in-the-field reality-type program on Beverly Hills plastic surgeons and their archetypal patients. (On this episode: the Demanding Jewess Who’d Sued Her Last Plastic Surgeon, the Model Whose Small Boobs Were Undermining Her Marketability and the Ugly Woman Who Thought Her Perfectly Fine Nose Was The Problem When In Reality It Was Everything But Her Nose.) I was too tired to let any irony register in my muddled head.

And my giant black porno cock? It’s still there—only the bruise blood is slowly dissipating and now it’s more like a giant aubergine porno cock. If I could somehow remove and stuff it, it would make a lovely lumbar pillow on one of my morel-colored chenille club chairs.

When I finally took the corset off Sunday night, my first impulse was to collapse on the floor because OH MY GOD ALL THE MUSCLES IN MY MIDSECTION HAD ATROPHIED TO NOTHING AND I COULDN’T HOLD MYSELF UP ANYMORE. But I steadied myself against the wall and took my first look in the mirror. And what I saw was neither good nor bad.

First of all, the little fuckers love handles are definitely gone. But in their place are funky purple bruises stretching out in every direction from my hips like creepy handprints. There’s also a curious bruise on my coccyx (heh, heh … coccyx) that looks like it reaches down between my buttcheeks. I have no idea what it’s from—and it doesn’t hurt—so I’ll just dismiss it as a chafing burn from my surgical stick-on underpants.

My abs look better than my backside. They’re not defined—and they probably won’t be until the swelling completely subsides, which could take three months—but they’re not too bruised. And the whole area looks definitely smaller and tighter. Which was the whole point. (Permit me a cautious smile here.)

The only other bruise is right on my pubic bone where the doctor made his incision. It’s a big ugly bruise—and the only one that’s really puffy and sore—and it stretches out laterally across my pelvis and points triangularly down toward my huge aubergine porno cock. At first glance it looks like I have a giant black muff hidden under my manpubes—like a long-forgotten cache of WMDs in a sparse Iraqi forest. But it, too, is slowly dissipating. Though the bottom of the corset keeps pressing into it, which is NOT a happy feeling.

The weirdest part so far is this: When I take the corset off for my brief showers, my whole midsection feels like … well … like it’s not mine. I can neither hold in my gut nor let it all hang out—though that could be from wearing a very tight corset 23.75 hours a day. I’ve never been ticklish, but when I touch myself (heh, heh … touch myself) through the corset my whole body surges with goosebumps. But when the corset is off my whole midsection is completely numb. Which is what I was told to expect, so I’m not concerned.

The other weirdest part is this: I can’t believe I actually went through with it. I’ve been thinking and talking about sawing off my don’t-respond-to-diet-and-exercise love handles for at least 10 years—and saving up for it for about 5 years. But it was always this carrot dangling far out in my future: If you can’t erase your stubborn trouble spots naturally, it seemed to say with its little carrot mouth, there’s always lipo.

HA! Like I’d ever have lipo!

Monday, January 03, 2005

Why I started blogging:

Because it sounded like something fun to do.

Because I can't stop writing.

Because I was desperate to write about something I cared about that didn't have to be approved by a corporate legal department first.

Because I love reading other people's blogs, and I wanted to jump into the fray.

Because I wanted to impress my first blog crush with my effortless charm and convince him to move to Chicago and be Best Friends Forever. (He's since fallen off the face of the earth. Or turned straight. I seem to have that effect on men.)

Because interesting things always seem to happen to me. And if they don't, I make them happen to me. My life is Blogburger Helper.

Because I thought it would be fun to write snarky, cryptic posts about the porn-quality sexual adventures I may or may not be having to titillate people into visiting again and again and again. And maybe to give the impression that I am a total studbucket with perfect hair. But I stopped doing all that the day my family found out about my blog.

Because I wanted a place to vent about horrible dates, rude bus riders and bad customer service providers. And to make fun of Rush Limbaugh. Because he's a total poopy-head.

Because I could recycle my blog posts as field-tested paragraphs in my epic Christmas letter.

Because there was a possibility I could build a following that could maybe support me in the event I actually wrote a book. Kinda like David Sedaris and NPR.

I never set out to write a gay blog—I just wanted to write a Jake blog that let me shake loose odds and ends out of my head and practice writing outside the world of advertising. And it's been as fun as I'd hoped—it's helped me strike up some nice friendships, meet some cool people, exchange steamy emails with hot bloggers ... and it's definitely made me a better writer. When you realize you have people reading your stuff mere seconds after you post it, you develop a panic attack knack for writing final drafts the first time (though I constantly edit the posts I make here) and you work extra hard to be clever and funny and engaging every time you write something. Because as every blogger knows: You're only as good as your last post.

So imagine my surprise when all this self-indulgent blogging got me nominated for a gay BOB Award. Given all the fabulous, addictive, way-more-engaging-than-mine blogs out there, I am truly humbled to be singled out. And truly terrified that I'll let all of you down.

I'd never heard of this award, but shameless attention whore that I am I'm thrilled to be a finalist. So vote for me if you want. Or don't.

Or do.

And thanks for reading. And liking. I'm truly touched.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Lipo: Day Three

So it's been three full days since the surgery. For all of you who've sent well-wishes and inquiries about my recovery, I'm great, thanks. A little uncomfortable, but great. And you ROCK for being so concerned. For the insignificant handful of you who've expressed anonymous (why are you folks always anonymous?) desire to see me rot in hell for my unquenchable vanity, um ... my abs are more ripped than yours so your opinions don't count.

And for the vast majority of you who have asked tons of questions about the good, the bad and the ugly involved in recovering from lipo, you're in luck! Because I'm about to blather on and on endlessly on the topic:

I'm on the same pain medication that turned our virtuous friend Rush Limbaugh into a hypocrite victim—an innocent victim—of drug addiction. The bottle says to take my drugs as-needed, but—aside from the first night and the first morning—my overall pain level has been hovering around the mere-discomfort level. And the drugs make me as rational as a right-wing talk-show host with three divorces and a drug problem loopy, and I don't like to be loopy. So I just take them at night to help me sleep. Besides, I kind of like being aware of the pain—it gives me a more honest perspective on my recovery. So as long as the pain isn't debilitating, I don't see any reason to mask it.

While the last-shred-of-Rush-Limbaugh's-credibility memorial drugs seem to help me get to sleep, the dull pain that flares up every time I wiggle—along with the fact that I'm in the least pain only when I'm on my back and I'm not a back sleeper—helps me wake up about 500 times a night. I did manage to heave myself over onto my side last night—a triumph!—but the pressure on the spot where the love handle used to be created a rotting ache that quickly forced me back onto my back. Baby steps ...

The one unpleasant side effect of recovery—leftover bruise blood following gravity to my scrotum—is manifesting itself a little differently from what I was told to expect. Instead of turning my nutsack into a saggy purple man-tit, the blood is following a slightly more ventral path, giving me instead a huge black porno cock. It doesn't hurt, and it's strangely compelling to behold—but if I hadn't been told to expect something like this I'd probably be freaking out about now. (And, for the record, I've opted NOT to take pictures of it. Because the last thing I need is to have those pictures all over the Internet when I'm trying to run for Miss America.)

The girdle thing is still on tight, and it's still holding the absorbent contouring pads in place where the fat used to be. And it's still giving me the posture of a Victorian spinster. With a Galileo thermometer up her ass. I was told before the surgery that I should avoid slouching in the girdle at all costs because it might make the skin grow back in funny (to everyone but me) flaps. Fortunately, slouching is NOT an option in this contraption. (Smelling like a bedpan, unfortunately, still is.)

The discharge papers I got at the hospital said specifically NOT to remove the girdle until my checkup on January 10. But the nurse called me this afternoon and gave me permission to remove it—and the stinky pads, which I can throw away—long enough to shower tonight if I wanted. Which I am SO going to do.

I still can't get my pants buttoned over the girdle. Maybe once the pads are out. If not, I'll be going to work in sweat pants this week. Klassy!

I've had surgery twice in my life: I got my tonsils out in kindergarten and I got my wisdom teeth out in high school. Other than that, I've never been in a hospital, I've never been sicker than a mild case of the flu, I've never taken more than one sick day a year (usually for a migraine)—and I've never had much empathy for the frustrating inertia of people who are chronically ill. I have a distant family member who is ALWAYS sick; she's had something like 30 major surgeries in her 30-year life. And I've never quite understood how she couldn't just bounce out of bed and jump back into life once she'd spent enough time recovering. And now I understand how pain and discomfort and exhaustion—and drug side effects—can zap your energy and render you pretty useless. For what it's worth.

Probably not. While I'm thrilled I actually made my self-perceived "problem" go away—and though I feel fully justified about it after discovering that eating right and running a marathon weren't going to do it for me—the fact remains that I spent a lot of money on a potentially dangerous operation that I absolutely didn't need. Warning! Gray Area Ahead! I have no regrets about doing it, though, and I'm psyched to see how it all turns out. But the pain and the isolation and the months of recovery—at least from my perspective three days after the surgery—ultimately aren't worth it. I fully reserve the right to change my mind, though. And I probably wouldn't try to dissuade anyone from doing it if he or she had equally valid reasons, realistic expectations and responsible financing.

Now I'm off to my shower—and my first peek at my results ...

I got this from Santa

Except I always thought he used elves to make his presents.

Saturday, January 01, 2005


• Repair the giant gap where the outside wall of my condo is ripping away from the inside wall. (The building engineer assures me it's a cosmetic thing and not a structural thing, but the gap makes it look exactly like the back of the building is falling off and one of these days I'm going to come home to a giant, breezy window 24 stories in the sky.)

• Change the HVAC filters. (It's been four years. It's probably about time.)

• Learn to use a punching bag. There's one in my gym. All the cool kids can do that BA-da-da-da-BA-da-da-da rhythm with it. I sure can't. Yet.

• Heal from lipo and never do it again. Right now, I'm in this weird place between sheepish incredulousness over having spent a ton of money on an unnecessary, invasive procedure and ecstatic relief over actually getting rid of something that has bothered the shit out of me for at least 10 years. (It may end up looking great, but right now it hurts and that's cutting into my fun. And I'd rather spend my time having fun.) Judging from the feedback I've gotten here, your opinions cover an even broader spectrum on the topic—from surprise to congratulations to curiosity to admiration (?) to irrational, immature, sometimes vicious (and always anonymous) personal attacks. (Hey, if you don't like me, don't read my blog. Duh.)

• Get rid of at least 100 things that are cluttering up my house: clothes I never wear, books I'll never read again, CDs and DVDs I never really liked in the first place, sheets and blankets and towels and coats that other people need more than I do, knickknacks that mean nothing to me ... I'm tired of feeling constantly beholden to my stuff. And tripping over it.

• Run a 5K in under 8-minute miles.

• Run the Chicago Marathon in under four hours.

• Learn enough Web design that I can make a Web site of my own.

• Get my long-dormant book published and/or my old newspaper column revived and syndicated.

• Continue in my personal quest to demonstrate to the world that gay people aren't abstract "threats" to the common good but are human beings who contribute to society and pay taxes and feel real pain when we're insulted and vilified and lied about and beaten and used as political pawns and voted into inequality.