Friday, December 29, 2006

I got shushed!

I’ve been getting up at some godawful hour every morning to trudge to the gym before work. Because with the new job and the awesome boyfriend, it’s the only time I can guarantee myself a workout. And if I don’t get my regular workouts in, I feel both fat and skinny. Which makes me irritable. And nobody likes to be around a fat, skinny irritable guy. Least of all me.

I have a bit of a head cold, so I wasn’t in the mood for anything super exertiony this morning. So I worked my core: abs, obliques and lower back. Lower-back exercises are pretty much limited to hyperextensions, where you balance the front of your hips on a little ledge and raise and lower your torso with a weight hugged to your chest. Someone from a smarter sexual orientation might think ahead and realize that repeatedly swinging your head above and below your heart when it’s full of snot would be perhaps a really stupid thing to do, but some of us gay types place tight little waists (or at least the pursuit of tight little waists) over sinus comfort on any hierarchy of importance.

I have no idea why I just gave you a belabored explanation of hyperextensions, but meandering off topic seems to be a hobby of mine. In any case, I was at the hyperextension bench this morning when a woman came up to me and started talking to me as though she knew me. And I had no clue who she was—most likely because she had on a baseball cap and no makeup and it was morning and I was bleary-eyed and snot-headed and I’d just done 20 hyperextensions. And I was a gay and she was a girl and all girls pretty much look the same to me. But we started talking and—like anyone who has a conversation at Crunch—we had to kind of yell over the loud thump-thump music Crunch seems to view as a basic fitness requirement.

So as we were chatting, some woman with her back to us on a stair-stepper at least 10 yards away started yelling something shush-y over her shoulder in the general direction of us and/or the entire western half of the gym. The woman was one of those working-out-is-an-event types: coordinated outfits instead of workout gear, an obvious application of hair and skin products even for a pre-dawn workout, and stacks of fashion magazines as standard-issue cardio tools. She had a bank of TVs in her face, a thump-thump speaker right over her head, a whirring stair-stepper under her feet and a Cosmo spread out on the reading stand in front of her. And yet our very top-line conversation (remember, I had no clue who my conversation companion was, so it’s not like the stuff we were talking about was interesting enough even to distract Dubya from his animal flash cards) was distracting her to the point of shushing faraway strangers speaking at a volume not unlike any other she’d hear in a loud gym.

On the other hand, my conversation companion was so engrossed in our non-conversation that she didn’t even notice the shush fascist. And, apparently happy with the interaction we’d just shared, she eventually said her good-byes and sauntered off to the rest of her workout. I tried to shoot the shush fascist a look that said both holy shit are you in need of a good slapping and your shoes SO don’t match your headband, but she had gotten herself caught up in one of those 20 Insignificant-To-The-Rest-Of-The-World Things He Does That Are Nevertheless Grounds For Divorce Cosmo articles, so she didn’t notice.

And I made a point to grunt through my last 10 hyperextensions. Which is surprisingly hard to do with a head full of snot.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

All you have to do is dream

The boyfriend and I first met on a Saturday morning, at a brunch. We spent the rest of the morning and afternoon together and parted ways only when … um … I had to leave for … um … another date. Which says either that I’m too stupid to recognize The Rest Of My Life when it’s grinning adorably in my face or that I’m conscientious enough that I honor my prior commitments, even if it means waiting another day for the rest of my life to kick in.

In any case, the boyfriend and I had our second meeting—which one would probably consider to be our first official date—the next afternoon. We met for a late lunch at a downtown restaurant and then saw The Devil Wears Prada and then headed to Sidetrack for show tunes. Which is probably not as gay as a pedicures-and-opera date, but it comes awfully close.

So there we were, smiling coyly at each other and making calculated small talk and singing along with our favorite show tunes, when one of the Dreamgirls clips came on. And the future boyfriend, in a fit of prescience and romantic foreshadowing, turned to me and invited me to see the Dreamgirls movie with him when it came out. In December.

Which was pretty huge; he’s a big Dreamgirls fan (I hesitate to use the word freak) who’s been waiting a long, giddy time for the movie to come out, and I know now he wouldn’t invite just anyone to share it with him.

I told him that making a five-months-out date was projecting an awful lot on our first 24 hours together, jumpy heart things and blinding fireworks notwithstanding. But I said yes anyway.

And last night, we fulfilled that date. The boyfriend got us our tickets yesterday morning and got to the theater an hour early to stake out prime seating for us. By the time I got to the theater—45 minutes before the movie started—they were making us latecomers wait in a roped-off area to the side of the lobby. Which kind of sucked because I wanted to share my pre-movie excitement with the boyfriend, but I knew that no matter how much they made us wait I’d still have a great spot saved for me next to the most wonderful guy in the theater. AND I got to see Roger Ebert himself saunter through the lobby while I waited in the cattle chute. Roger Ebert! At the movies! Who knew?

I also spent my half hour in that line standing in front of a poster for the movie version of my favorite childhood book. At the risk of sounding like a complete exaggeration junkie, I can honestly say that Bridge to Terabithia changed my life. The story is pretty fantastic, and the book was the first to show me the awesome powers of the written word. While my own writing powers waited until I was in college before they emerged, I can still draw a pretty straight line between that book and my present career. And I am SO taking the boyfriend to see the movie when it comes out in February.

But back to Dreamgirls. It’s everything we’d hoped for, and it’s generally outstanding, despite the homophobic blemishes of Eddie Murphy and Jennifer Hudson in the cast. (Not that their homophobia has anything to do with the characters they play, but they chose to be in a gay-man-created show with a massive gay following, and their performances, though both good, will always be tainted by the things we know they’ve said about us.) The movie stays extremely faithful to the original Broadway material, cutting only a few songs and adding new ones the boyfriend and I really like. The costumes and wigs and makeup are over-the-top spectacular and must have been a hoot to design. I loved Fatima Robinson’s choreography, even though numbers like “Steppin’ to the Bad Side” and “One Night Only” looked heavily influenced by 21st century music videos and gay circuit parties. I’m pretty amazed in this age of hyper-realistic animation and perfectly synched music videos, though, that we’ve somehow lost the ability to make movie musicals where singers’ lips and voices match up realistically. We could do it in the 1940s. We could do it in the 1950s. We could do it in the 1960s. We had some obvious hiccups with 1985’s A Chorus Line, but they were the least of that movie’s problems. And 20 years later, we still have huge chunks of distractingly unsynched music in Dreamgirls—most lamentably in “And I am Telling You (I’m Not Going).”

The movie was good enough that I’d totally see it again in the theater. And before I could even suggest it, the boyfriend informed me we’d be coming back for a second showing. Which is, of course, why he’s the boyfriend.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Our first Christmas apart

Or, to punctuate that more specifically:

Our first Christmas. Apart.

I'm in Iowa with my family for the holiday weekend. The boyfriend has to work. So we're celebrating together in different cities. Which is actually fine. Christmas is really just another day, and (Warning! Noxious sentiment ahead!) every moment with the boyfriend is like a major holiday to me. We celebrated five lovely years months together yesterday doing what most couples do to mark special milestones: making an offer on a condo.

Peggy Sawyer Gardens, the condo we made the offer on on Tuesday, fell through. The developer, whose Realtor repeatedly described as "willing to negotiate," bottomed out a whopping 1.0137% below its list price. Assuming my math is correct. So we're moving on to a cheaper place with smaller bedrooms ... and more charm, better views, a rooftop deck, a fireplace and gated parking. And two-year-old bathrooms I hate as though they were the pope.

My drive to Iowa this morning was uneventful, but challenging on two fronts: First of all, we got up at 4:00 so I could take the boyfriend to the airport on my way out of town. I am a morning person in the same way Dubya is a good president, so I had serious sleepy issues on what was an otherwise painles, traffic-free four-and-a-half-hour drive. The second front is something I'm thrilled about even less. I've always been Cap'n Camelpee, the guy who could pee once in the morning and once before bed and be pretty much unencumbered by a need to find a bathroom the rest of the day. But as I'm inching toward my 40s, I'm finding I need to pee more often. Like every three or four hours. And when I'm trapped alone in a car with nothing to think about except how much I have to pee, I make a lousy travel companion. Which is why it's probably a good thing I'm alone when I'm alone.

But I'm here, and I accomplished an entire season's Christmas shopping in one afternoon today -- finding everything that is sold out in Chicago abundantly stocked on the store shelves in Iowa. I even ran into my fifth-grade teacher, who seemed genuinely impresed to find out I grew up to be a big Broadway star with seven patents and an eponymous line of grooming products for incredibly handsome men. But she was probably impressed mostly because I knew the word eponymous.

Enough about me. I have to get back to my uncommonly photogenic niece and nephew.

Happy holidays!

LATE-BREAKING NEWS! As of 10:00 tonight, the boyfriend and I became the proud owners of Our Very First Condo! Well, the proud owners of a piece of paper stating that we're going to buy Our Very First Condo for $25,000 less than we would have spent on Peggy Sawyer Gardens. The closing date is January 19. We'll let you know when to show up and help us move.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

18 years

It’s been almost two decades since Miriam was murdered.

That’s enough time for someone to raise a child and send him or her off into the world. Enough time for four presidential elections and three new Sondheim musicals. (Five, if you count Saturday Night and The Frogs.)

It’s enough time for a gangly, unsure college boy to cycle through three cars and four houses and five jobs and three cities on his way to becoming successful, confident (more or less) man.

It’s enough time for him to realize that the world is not fair. That bad things happen to good people. That the bad people who did them don’t always get punished. That horrible tragedy gets easier to accept over time, though it remains impossible to forget.

I often wonder what Miriam would be if she were alive today. Famous actress? Influential journalist? Stay-at-home mom? She was among those people you just knew were going somewhere big with their lives. I’m sure that wherever the fates would have taken her, she’d be someone people knew about.

I also wonder if we would still be friends. Our friendship lasted only seven months until her murder. I’m only barely in touch with the other friends I made at the theme park where we all worked during the summer of 1988. I haven’t talked to her family in years. Would she and I have drifted apart as well?

Since at this point I’m pretty much in control of our story, I choose to believe that by now I’d have sung in her wedding and taken her kids to Disney World and given her a prominent link on my blogroll and kept her on my speed dial from the moment I got my first cell phone.

And I’m pretty sure she’d have written the same story for me if our fates had been reversed.

I miss you, Miriam. The world you never knew misses you. But I'm keeping track of everything you miss while you're gone: The musicals. The world events. The job changes. The bad haircuts.

And I'll get you caught up the moment our paths cross again.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Squeaky wheel. Grease.

Sometimes being a bitch is all a woman has to hold onto.

And sometimes it pays off. I've devoted every available hour since Friday morning to irritating the living hell out of every heel-dragging, buck-passing, dead-ending, half-truthing person on the shady developer's side of this three-month runaround hell I've been stuck in. Fortunately, some key people on their end were frighteningly easy to intimidate some useful information out of. You should have heard the surprise and irritation in the developer's attorney's voice when he realized I'd tracked him down today.

And an hour after that call, I was suddenly, magically free from my Two-Bathroomed Barbie Dream Condo That Wasn't Meant To Be. The contract release was signed, the earnest money release papers were faxed, and by 4:00 the boyfriend and I had an offer on the table for an even better condo—a Three-Bedroomed Barbie And Midge Dream Condo With A Wine Refrigerator—that we had waiting patiently in the wings for its big chance to go on. We shall christen it Peggy Sawyer Gardens.

Assuming we didn't insult the developer into never working with us; we made a freakishly lowball offer. On new construction. But we are unrestrained by bogus condo contracts and real-estate-selling contingencies and bad credit, and we can get it off the developer's hands by the end of the fiscal year. Let's hear it for good things coming out of bad situations.

But don't cheer too loudly; this day has aged me in dog years, and I'm going to bed.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Dear Guys We Met At Sidetrack Last Night,

The boyfriend and I love show tunes. We love show tunes in the way hipsters love trendy clothes and children love puppies and Paris Hilton loves attention.

And we love going to Sidetrack to bask in the warm show-tune glow together as often as we can. Even though they have played that insufferable “Nothin’ Dirty Goin’ On” to the point that the footage is starting to degrade and I’ve started to hate Dolly Parton just a little in the back of my throat. Even though it’s totally not her fault they keep playing that goddamn clip.

So it was great to find another couple last night who shares our weird-obsessive little passion. And when you started comparing notes on the Barbra Streisand concerts you’ve seen all over the country … well, let’s just say the boyfriend needed a cigarette and a cold shower when you were done.

But we have a little confession to make.

You see, we kind of lied to you about something. Something we lie about to a lot of strangers. Something that totally doesn’t matter, but you guys kept going back to it and then we started feeling really bad.

So …

Remember how you walked up to us and asked us how long we’d been together because people who’ve been together for a long time never hold hands and act all lovey-dovey in public the way we were? And remember how we told you we’d been together for five years?

Well, we kind of rounded up a bit. By … um … four years and seven months. (And five days, if we’re clearing the air here completely and starting again on a foundation of absolute truth.)

You see, we’re so sure of our future that we’re moving in together. Very soon. Once we survive the nightmare we’re mired in with an ugly consortium of incompetent developers and their Realtors we’re filing ethics charges against, that is.

I’ve never even considered moving in with a boyfriend before. He’s never introduced a boyfriend to his family—and I’m already in his family photos albums and email address books. We’re that kind of serious.

So we’ve started to resent the looks we get when we tell people how long we’ve been together. I’m sure you got them too when you started dating: the looks that say Five months? It’s obviously all about sex. You two will never last. I’ll give you my I-told-you-sos now so I won’t have to make the effort when you break up next week.

So we decided around our two-month mark to translate every month we’ve been together into years. But only with strangers who ask—and only with strangers who ask in casual, there’s-probably-a-really-good-chance-we’ll-never-see-you-again settings.

And until last night, it’s worked quite well—inquiring strangers get answers to their questions and we get to enjoy our young love free from the doubtful glares of people we just met. We even pulled it off on the bus on the way to see Barbra—and we figure if our dirty little lie was good enough for a busful of rabid Barbra fans, it was certainly good enough for consumers of the more general-interest show-tune selections they play at Sidetrack.

But you guys kept coming back to it. Five years! you’d say. Wow—you two grope each other like priests at a Cub Scout rally. Then a few songs would go by. Then Do you know [name of person who knows darn well that Jake's longest Chicago relationship has been only nine months]? He’s my best friend in the whole world. In fact, he just gave me his kidney. And all the while, the boyfriend and I kept muttering We are SO busted to each other. In between verses of “I’m Still Here,” that is. And when Shirley started pounding on the piano with her bare hand in that last verse, each beat was like a smack on the back of our heads—like in “The Tell-Tale Heart,” except to tell us we were liars instead of murderers. And that our hair looked fabulous.

But no one mourns the wicked, so we hereby apologize for misleading you.

On the plus side, you two totally nailed our young love when you saw us. We have no intention of ever losing our pathological need to cling to each other in public, though, so we promise to be just as nauseatingly in love on our real five-year anniversary. Maybe we’ll invite you to the party.

Hope to see you guys again soon. And this time we promise to lie only about things you’ll never be able to fact-check. Like what we do for a living.

We’re Broadway stars, in case you were wondering. HUGE Broadway stars. Just don't ask which shows we've headlined in.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Storming the Bastille

So my fabled Two-Bathroom Barbie Dream Condo has become a bit of a nightmare. After endless delays and a wall of silence from the developer whenever my Realtor or my attorney or I pose questions, my attorney found a clause in my contract that said I could demand to close in 14 days or the contract would be void and I could move on to something even more Barbielicious.

Well, that 14-day deadline came and went almost four weeks ago. And all we need is a signature of release from the developer and I get my down payment back and I can move on to another Two-Bathroomed Barbie Dream Condo.

Of course, there’s been no word at all from the developer.

So I took time off from work today to storm the developer’s office in person and demand a signature. I put on my most intimidating power suit and I wore my I’m-rich-and-important-so-you’d-better-do-what-I-say top coat and I marched in with release forms and pens in hand, ready for Contract Smackdown 2006.

And I left half an hour later even more frustrated than before. Because there was nobody there to sign it. But at least I got some answers:

• The developer essentially shut down in May after a personal tragedy. The office laid off its entire staff and halted construction (except for a few essential projects) on my building. Yet they still decided to sell me a unit (and they had no trouble finding someone to sign my contract) with the verbal promise that it would be done in September.

• The only person currently on the office staff is a receptionist. She claimed to have no clue about who could sign my contract release, but she promised she’d “get on it” and told me to call her on Monday if I haven’t heard anything.

• She said that a number of other potential tenants are working to get out of their contracts as well, and that she was afraid to come to the receptionist desk every time someone came in the door. Apparently lots of people got my idea to storm the Bastille. And apparently repeated demands for signatures haven’t inspired her to get very far “on it” and find a goddamn fucking person authorized to sign our goddamned fucking contract release forms.

• She also said there’s a title company in California who has the power to get the project going again, but the company isn’t returning calls. Yet she told me repeatedly the project would be up and running again next week. Because when a title company won’t return your calls or give you money, of course you’ll call in all your angry contractors the week before Christmas and have them start hanging drywall again.

• And she told me that filing a lawsuit or a lien is useless because every unpaid contractor on the project is already in line ahead of me. And while I find it hard to believe most of everything else she told me, this seems like it might be true.

In the mean time, my life is kind of hijacked: I can’t make an offer on a different Two-Bathroomed Barbie Dream Condo (my favorite place got bought out from under me last week). I can’t access any of my winter clothes or the clothes I’ll need for my January cruise, all of which are stored in a POD 50 miles away. I really don’t want to lock myself into a new gym membership (I’m currently going to my old gym by my old job, which isn’t very convenient) until I know where my new place will be. I don’t want to mail my epic four-page Christmas letters until I have a permanent return address. And while I love the friends I’m staying with and I love their beautiful home, I feel like I’m always in the way. They’d bargained for a month at the most when they agreed to let me live with them last fall. And now they’re forced to look at me AND the boyfriend day after day, month after month. And with only a few changes of clothes at my disposal, I’m probably getting pretty boring to look at.

But! Tonight is our company holiday party. And the boyfriend is coming with me. And while the above long, boring, whiny drama is unpleasant and unfair and at its core probably illegal, I have a lot to be happy about: I really love my new job. I’m living in a beautiful home with people who don’t wear Capri pants or stab me in my sleep. And I somehow landed me a boyfriend who is kind and decent and attentive and loving (and hot!) and brimming with more show-tune trivia than your average encyclopedia. I love him and he loves me back. And no unscrupulous developer can take that away. No matter how many Two-Bathroomed Barbie Dream Condos they steal out from under me.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Dirty little secret

So the new job is making it impossible to work out over lunch—and almost impossible to work out after work. But that’s not my dirty little secret.

Since the boyfriend often has to leave for his job at ungodly morning hours, I’ve been getting up with him and working out before work this week. Which hasn’t been as hateful as I’d expected; I always get a seat on the train, there is almost no competition for gym equipment, I’m surprisingly energetic enough to get in a decent workout, and so far I’m 3 for 3 for getting to watch a muscular little cowboy go through his morning ablutions at the locker room sink. But that’s not my dirty little secret either.

I’ve been chugging a protein shake before I leave the house each morning, and I have an Odwalla smoothie after my workout—followed by grazing on oatmeal and cereal and bananas and whatever else I’ve stashed in my desk for the rest of the morning.

Which is where the dirty little secret comes in. You see, toothpaste doesn’t go well with protein shakes. And it’s positively revolting with fruit smoothies. And I get so busy between meetings and food grazings all morning that I often don’t do my first tooth-brushing until later in the day. Like when I leave the office. At … um … 8 pm. (Does anyone want to kiss me right now?)

But! In my defense, I have four toothbrushes (at home, at work, in my gym bag and in my travel bag) so I could brush my teeth any time I want. So I at least get credit for good intentions.

And if anyone does want to kiss me right now, my teeth feel as smooth as angora sweaters. Mmmmmmmm.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Weekend adventures

Standing ovations
The chorus show was a smashing success, undermined only by tiny technical glitches and the occasional misguided usher trying to seat latecomers during a tender ballad. My parents had to cancel their trip to see the show at the very last minute as my mom got violently ill on Friday morning. And her illness was not, as early reports had indicated, induced by the fact I wore a discount-brand shirt on stage. But some family friends from Iowa and Tennessee—all women of a certain age who come to Chicago every December for a girls’ shopping spree and a group mothering of yours truly—came to see the show without my folks. And the boyfriend met them sight-unseen for dinner beforehand while I was getting ready backstage, and then he very graciously sat with them during the show. Then he came to all the rest of the shows. And he didn’t once embarrass me by doing a monkey dance. Which makes him the best boyfriend ever. I shall buy him socks for Christmas.

Vacation plans
The boyfriend and I are making a show-tune pilgrimage to New York the first weekend in February. We’ve been talking about it literally since the hour we met last July, and we finally booked our tickets this weekend. So our first vacation together is set in stone—or, more accurately, floating somewhere in the ether. And if that weren’t enough to induce heart-fluttering excitement, we got the tickets for a whopping ninety-five dollars. Round-trip. No stops. Major airline. Holy shit.

Parking tickets
I got my first parking ticket in Chicago a month ago. Well, the first one that I will accept as my fault. The first one I received happened soon after I moved here in 2000. The ticket was for parking too close to a fire hydrant, and it cost $100. Having just moved here, I had just read the book and taken the Illinois driver’s license test, so I knew quite well that cars should be parked nine feet from any hydrant in Chicago. The hydrant in question, though, had no paint on the curb, so my eyeballed nine feet didn’t match the goddamn fucking meter maid’s eyeballed nine feet. And even when I submitted photographic proof that no paint = an obvious money-making trap, the city denied my appeal. Stupid fucking city. The second ticket I got was for a surprise street cleaning not in synch with the once-a-month street cleaning that had happened two weeks earlier, which was also a goddamn fucking money-making trap. And the third and fourth tickets were earned by people who had borrowed my car. Totally. Not. My. Fault.

The ticket I paid this weekend was also for a street cleaning—on a street where I’d left my car for a whole week without bothering to check the cleaning signs. So I will accept responsibility for it, and I paid my ticket this weekend without using a single goddamn or fucking in the process. Not even under my breath.

Uncle Boyfriend
The boyfriend’s niece’s birthday was yesterday, and we had an extended-family-including-the-uncle’s-gay-boyfriend celebration last night that was quite lovely. First of all, I got to hold the baby. I haven’t held a baby in a long time, and there’s something about holding a baby (at least a happy, cooing baby) that makes me feel so nurturing and valid that I almost produce milk. (Come to think of it, though, the baby should have been listed as second of all; the first-of-all part was where the boyfriend’s brother made me my very first (light-on-the-vodka) vodka tonic, which I actually liked. So I hereby revise the order of this paragraph to: 1. Drink vodka. 2. Hold baby.)

My first boyfriend’s parents didn’t know he was gay. And the parents of the other two guys I’ve dated either met me once or never met me at all. So I’m incredibly new with the “Hi! I’m now a part of your family. Can I eat your food and hold your baby?” stuff. I’ve long entertained a delightful-inlaws domestic fantasy, and the boyfriend's family delivers everything I’d hoped for in spades. Though I have met his nieces a total of three times now, their parents are already calling me Uncle Jake—which we could call a premature unclejakeulation if we were inclined to make a vulgar pun, but we aren’t so we won’t. Besides, words can hardly describe my delight over being considered such an integral part of the boyfriend’s family that his niece’s parents are already committing me to honorary uncle status. I wear the title with pride, and I’ve gotten tears in my eyes twice just by writing this paragraph about it.

In discussing the party last night, I would be remiss in not mentioning 1) the free legal advice I got from the boyfriend’s brother to help me combat the negligence of the developer of the Two-Bathroomed Barbie Dream Condo I am now not buying, 2) the boyfriend’s brother’s mother-in-law’s Jell-O® salad that was so good it caused me to disrespect my own mother’s delicious Jell-O® salads in comparison, 3) the fact that the birthday niece loves horses and I had the presence of mind not to buy her glue and 4) the fact that there were TWO desserts: a giant delicious fruit tart and a giant cupcake cake with those soft-crunchy candy sprinkles that are so delicious they make you blurt out inadvertent yummy sounds even as they pack doughy poundage on your hips.

The fire
The boys I’m staying with until the Great Condo Fiasco gets resolved have a fireplace. The boyfriend and I snuggled and talked in front of it last night when we got home. It was perfect.

Friday, December 08, 2006

The lazy blogger

Instead of real content, today I give you a bunch of links. Cat links. Which are like sausage links but not as quiet when they want you to pet them.

Cats that Look Like Hitler
The Infinite Cat Project
Stuff on my Cat

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Farts on a Plane

I’m a pretty polite farter. I may let the tiny ones slip out in my cube* or other settings where I think they’ll have no impact on innocent passers-by, but if I feel I have something brewing that might register on the Richter scale, I’ll head to the bathroom or even outside, where I have a more direct chance of making my way into an Al Gore PowerPoint presentation.

*The moment I fart in my cube is usually the moment that every co-worker in the office finds the need to drop by and have me proof something. I usually tell them to come back later when they don’t smell like they just farted.

Of course, all bets are off around my posse. We’re the kinds of rebels who drink beer, wear flannel, play loud music, laugh at children who can’t compute logarithms and fart proudly in front of each other.*

*I don’t have a posse, so none of that stuff is really true. But I do fart in front of the boyfriend. And, for some reason, my brother-in-law and I share a kind of fart-positive symbiosis. We really have a gas together.

I’ve never had a fart so caustic, though, where I felt the need to light a match to burn off its lingering toxicity. In fact, I’d never even heard of the idea until a guy I used to work with (hi, Marc!) came up with the idea of marketing BathrooMatches™ for just such occasions. Marc is still toiling away in the same line of work, though, so I’m assuming BathrooMatches™ never really burned up the fart-masking market. So to speak.

Politeness notwithstanding, there are a few places where even the most epic of farts can rush an entire room without even being noticed: Smoky bars. Funeral homes. Foo-foo stores that sell scented soaps and candles. Long car trips with a dog you can blame. Dance floors where the music is so loud it overwhelms all your other senses. Airplanes with all their whirring engines and fast-circulating dry air and lingering scents of spilled diesel fuel.

And on an airplane—where they specifically tell you that smoking is banned and they remind you that there are smoke detectors in the bathrooms, which they always call “lavatories” because “bathroom” probably offends the delicate sensibilities of people who honestly think that letting gays get married will somehow cause straight people to get divorced even faster—only a complete moron would light a match for any reason.

Which is what makes this story so funny.

You have to admire the woman on that plane for her misguided sense of politeness. She was probably horrified beyond belief that her attempts to hide a fart grounded an entire airplane. But every person she delayed on that flight—and on all subsequent flights domino-delayed by her actions—deserves to give her a blue-water swirly.

I just wouldn’t bend her forward over the toilet to do it.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

I park like an idiot

Well, actually, I don't*. But these are so funny I almost wish I did.

*It's true! If I park in a spot that's a car and a half long, I'll get out and decide which end of the spot I should move my car to so I'll inconvenience the fewest possible people once the cars around me move. I'll also do the same if I squeeze into a really tight spot -- I'll get out and decide which car I should park closest to so everyone can get out easily. If the rest of the world did this, I wouldn't have to buy these stickers. And I wouldn't have to be so goddamned smug about it.

Monday, December 04, 2006

That’s gonna leave a mark

There’s no better way to look confident and sexy and unrepentantly macho in front of your boyfriend than to slip on the ice and collapse at his feet. And then whimper in pain.

We were walking along a little alley-driveway yesterday where car tires had created deep ruts and sharp peaks in the snow, all of which had hardened into a rock-hard grooves of ice as cold and black as Dick Cheney’s heart.

As careful as we were, I managed to put my foot on the slipperiest part of the steepest groove and suddenly found myself tumbling to the ground with all the grace and masculinity of a drunken showgirl. As I landed, the side of my right shin slammed into one of those rock-hard ice grooves. And then the I’m-in-pain noises came out of my mouth.

As I lay there watching my leg-model dreams skate away to the theme from Ice Castles, I suddenly realized this was the first time the boyfriend and I had ever seen each other in any context other than happiness and ice cream. Which is kind of redundant. Fortunately, I was able to get up and limp inside and preserve some shred of my fading dignity. And save our relationship. And the pain that felt like it could easily be a break or a sprain or at the very least a loss of blood turned out to be just a really bad owie.

And though it hasn’t bruised yet, the thing hurts worse than a Republican Senator in December. There’s no way I’m escaping this little incident without a visual souvenir, so I hope the bruise ends up being one of those horrifying greenish-black things that will give me tons of street cred in the gym.

And then I hope it clears up by the end of January. I want to be perfectly healthy when I cruise the good ship Freedom of the Seas .

Friday, December 01, 2006

Favorite Things!

The Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus holiday show is December 8 and 9, and if you’ve ever wanted to see me sing a solo in a blue-and-white striped 1890s bathing suit, this is probably going to be your only chance.

It’s our 25th season, and our show, Favorite Things, celebrates a quarter century of the best of our holiday performances—including dancing rolls of wrapping paper, a drag-queen menorah, Franz Biebel’s stunning two-chorus “Ave Maria” and a big-band version of “Jingle Bells.”

I’m one of the show’s three choreographers. And as a Norwegian-American who grew up in the Lutheran church, I’m naturally singing a solo in the Jewish section of our program.

Our shows are usually irreverent and slightly naughty, but this show is nothing but great music and boisterous fun. I’d even call it kid-friendly. Unless you have a strict policy against letting your kids see an awesome show.

You can get tickets here, but if you want to avoid evil Ticketmaster charges, head to the Athenaeum Theatre box office (2936 N. Southport) and get them in person.

And remember: It’s never Christmas until the homosexuals say it’s Christmas.