Friday, March 26, 2010

Corrupting the youth

My sweet, adorable nephew just turned 11 and he finally got a cell phone from his tyrannic, cruel, cell-phone-withholding parents. And the domestic partner and I paid for a year’s worth of text messaging so he could keep up with his little buddies … and so he could pester us with hourly updates about his life. At dinner! Waking up! Going 2 school!

I pretty much live by text messaging. It’s fast, it’s convenient, it’s not disruptive when I should be paying attention in meetings I’m on the bus and it requires a bare minimum of human interaction. Text messaging may very well be the perfect husband! But until now I texted only with adults whose adult voices and adult senses of humor came through every time I read their texts.

Which is why it’s so weird to be texting with a kid. Even though I know my nephew better than I know my adult friends, I just don’t hear his squeaky little voice in the texts he sends me. For some reason, our text interactions feel abstract and clinical instead of warm and conversational to me. And it’s not just because he’s the only person I text with who actually uses doofy texting contractions without irony. U r the bst uncle evr!

But that’s changing.

The nephew and his sister and his parents are currently at the end of a whirlwind spring break trip to DC. And he’s been texting me minute-by-minute updates of the sites they’ve visited. At the natl hstry museum. Just came out of the house of Rep. In line at Arlington!

Like a conscientious uncle—and a person who freaking loves DC—I’ve tried to respond to all his texts with educational information or leading questions or suggestions for fun things to do. Like my insistence that they all sit on the top steps of the Lincoln Memorial and take in the gorgeous view of the Mall below. It’s seriously my favorite spot in all of DC.

And the nephew has done a great job of holding up his end of the conversation … especially when he told me they'd stopped to have dinner on their drive east to DC:

What 11-year-old says I know, right? HOW CUTE IS THAT? But I still don’t hear his squeaky little voice in that conversation.

And I totally don’t hear his squeaky little kid voice in today’s exchange, which simultaneously makes me laugh and wonder when he got clever enough to keep up with his corrupting uncle who is surely going to whatever circle of hell is reserved people who have no respect for the dead or the theater:

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

It becomes more official by the minute

I'm running New York this fall. Woot! And now it's officially too late to change my mind about Chicago. Not that I would have anyway. But still.

Monday, March 22, 2010

We managed to avoid the paparazzi on our cruise!

When you live the glamorous life of a world-famous blogger, ubiquitous celebrity spokesperson and A-list gadfly, you get really good at avoiding the paparazzi that hound you everywhere you go. Or so I hear. I mean it's a constant struggle.

Unfortunately, old habits die hard. And we somehow managed to avoid pretty much every camera on our cruise. And since I carried my camera with me everywhere but used it to take exactly 15 pictures all week—three of which turned out dark and blurry—there isn't a lot of photographic evidence we were even on the good ship Solstice.

But! Thanks to the miracle of the Internets and the stalker photo-stealing capabilities of Facebook, I've been able to assemble a bunch of other people's photos—some of which actually include us—into a picture directory I can call my own!

So let's cruise (ahem) through our borrowed trip memories, shall we?

First of all, here is the beautiful Celebrity Solstice, our home away from land for a whole week. See the row of orange lifeboats? Our private balcony—and now that we've sampled the charmed private-balcony life of people who scrimp and pinch so they can afford to sail in rooms with private balconies, we are never going back to the prison-like confines of an interior stateroom—was one floor above the space between the leftmost two lifeboats:

Before we set sail, we were docked in a space crammed with other cruise ships, including this one that sounds like it might be expensive:

Gay boys on gay cruises are compelled to decorate their doors in gay ways. I think we succeeded gaily:

We set sail the night of the Academy Awards, which were broadcast on a giant screen in the giant theater on the ship with a couch full of sassy drag queens and raunchy comedians sitting below the screen making catty comments. Here's my husband and our fabulous friends Curtis and Chris hanging out in the theater in the moments before the broadcast ... and before we discovered just how excruciatingly painful unrehearsed commentary can be, even when it comes from sassy drag queens and raunchy comedians:

The cafe on the ship is open 24 hours a day, and—in contrast to the formal dining room—it's very casual. Here's what a gay cruise looks like on the first morning. And for those of you who aren't gay, here's our secret for always looking so young and fresh:

Our first port of call was Coco Cay in the Bahamas. We couldn't pull our massive ship up to the island, so we had to drop anchor a couple hundred feet (or knots or ripples or whatever unit seafolk use to measure distance across water) away from shore and ride smallish boats called tenders to get to land. Here's the view of our mighty ship from one of our tenders:

Coco Cay, though lovely, has a distinctively Disney flair to it. I'm a huge Disney fan, so I'm not saying this as an insult. But I have a hard time thinking we experienced Coco Cay the way the pirates did:

Here's the view from our tender as it pulled up to the boat slip on the island. Notice how easily I throw nautical terms like tender, slip and aaaarrrrrgh! into this blog post.

Coco Cay beach is stunningly lovely:

And here's the view from our beach chairs:

Back on the ship, we had our first themed party: the Dog Tag T-Dance. A t-dance, which is often spelled tea dance, is just an afternoon dance where you're as likely to find tea as you are to find teabaggers and their misspelled anti-black people Obama signs. Here's a crowd shot I stole from someone's Facebook page. It illustrates nicely how useful my tattoo is when I'm trying to find myself in photos of giant crowds of men:

Here's another crowd shot I stole from the t-dance. It contains two of the five guys I drooled over all week but never got the stones to walk up and say hi to:

Our second port of call was St. Barth, which, like practically every island in the Caribbean, features charming architecture echoing a history of Dutch, English, French and/or Spanish occupation; stores dedicated to selling overpriced jewelry and dustables to tourists; pre-Revolutionary buildings with pre-Revolutionary cannons in front of them; and giant nautical objets d'tourist that you can use to lend drama to your vacation photos:

St. Barth has dramatic mountains and huge bays filled with giant private yachts. We asked a local to take a picture of us in front of both as though we were mega-wealthy yacht-and-mountain-owning moguls. But he cropped us too tight so for all you know this picture was taken in front of a flooded Walmart parking lot in South Carolina:

We tendered back to the ship in choppy water after sunset. Here's the best my intrepid little camera could do to capture the majesty and grandeur of the good ship Solstice without aid of natural light or terra firma:

Our next t-dance was disco themed. And the gays NEVER pass up a chance to dress in ridiculous polyester:

We met a lot of fun new friends on the ship, and we went out of our way to coordinate dinners with everyone in the ship's grand dining room. There was only one night where we couldn't scare up dinner dates so we asked to be seated at a table for four and play dinner-companion roulette with another couple. Unfortunately, we didn't specify that we wanted to be seated with an English-speaking couple, so we and our German dinner companions spent a whole hour gesturing at our food and making nummy sounds at each other. I broke out in a cold sweat from the awkwardness of it all. But! Most of our dinners were more fun, like this one with all our new best coastal friends who hail from New York and San Francisco:

Only on a gay cruise can you get away with wearing cheesy matchy-matchy shirts. Justin got to be Partner A because he's bigger and he can beat me up:

My favorite part of the gay cruises is hanging out by the pool and meeting new people. Here we are with our new best friend Ron from New York, who has actual Broadway connections. Which is like catnip to us. Sparkly, marabou-trimmed catnip. We might as well be posing with Sondheim himself here:

There is goofy poolside entertainment on the ship every afternoon, like spoofs of Project Runway or Dancing with the Stars. Those of us in the know stake out good deck chairs so we can watch all the goofiness without standing on our tippy-toes. And once in a while we get captured in strangers' photos that get posted on Facebook:

Here's a closeup of that last shot, which shows me sitting tantalizingly close to some distractingly attractive men:

Gay boys in speedos socializing in a giant pool. It truly is heaven on earth. Except for the love handles that glow so loudly from my lower back:

More socializing in the pool. More proof that I don't suck in my stomach hard enough when cameras are around:

The last t-dance of the week is called Splash, and it has a nautical/poolside theme. Unfortunately our cruise wasn't the epitome of warm Caribbean weather, and people actually bundled up instead of parading around in skimpy costumes for this dance. But not us! Because we had adorable outfits!

There are huge themed parties almost every night on the ship. We packed fabulous costumes to wear to the FantaSea party and the Lost Island party, but they started too late and we were too tired to go to them. But we did stay up past our bedtime for the week-ending White Party, where people dress any way they want as long as they're in white. And our $25 white nerd costumes were pretty fabulous, despite the fact that my pocket protector kept sliding down like it was some kind of kitten-sized messenger bag:

Atlantis, the company that charters these cruises and makes them fabulously gay, knows how to throw a party ... with lasers and fog machines and massive speakers and top-name deejays. Here's a shot of the White Party crowd dancing away to thunderous music on a gorgeous ship in the middle of the Caribbean:

And here's a shot taken without a flash, which shows all the cool laser effects:

The guy on the right went to my high school. I used to deliver his family's newspaper. He's five years older than I am but he looks 10 times younger and hotter. Life is so not fair:

I leave you with one more look at us in our fabulous White Party costumes as we flank our distractingly tattooed and distractingly hot stateroom neighbor:

And let me point out that micro-spray SPF is about as useful as a Sarah Palin opinion. I applied my micro-spray SPF 45 every 45 minutes or so on our cruise and I still turned bright red on the first day I was in the sun. Unfortunately, that's all the sunscreen we'd packed. But rest assured I'm going back to the thick goopy SPF 45 that's kept me reliably pasty white for all my smooth, relatively wrinkle-free years. Sunburns are for nerds.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

We're back!

But our luggage isn't. While we wait for it to be delivered so we can fire up the washing machine and start scrubbing all that sun-drenched happiness out of our cruisewear, I'm slowly coming to the conclusion that I was a big dork for carrying my camera around the whole damn trip but taking pictures with it exactly 15 times.


We did get someone to take a picture of us in our fabulous costumes for the fabulous week-ending white party. And while everyone else on the ship dressed as angels or sparkleponies or tiny little underpants wearers or people in basic white garments, we very cleverly went as nerds, complete with white high socks, white support underpants, white bow ties, contrasting white-or-black taped glasses (because I couldn't find two pair of white ones), and clear pocket protectors (because I couldn't find white ones). But they were packed with brightly colored pencils! Arranged in the order of the rainbow! Because we're gay!

But! Nobody told me my pocket protector had slipped well below my shirt-pocket area for this picture, lending a saggy-bosom effect to my otherwise awesome nerd costume. Which made me look totally nerdy:

I'm in the process of stealing other people's cruise photos off the Internets so I can present you with a more complete Atlantis cruise photo portfolio ... and to give you the impression that I am actually capable of remembering to use my camera. Stay tuned!

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Gratuitous Nipple Shot

Here we are looking all macho and stuff in our adorable matching camo shorts (camo = très butch!) on last year's Atlantis cruise:
And we're about to go back for more! And compared to last year, this year really is all about the more: More adorable matching outfits! More tattoos! More body mass! More speedos! More gay!

We board the good ship Solstice in Ft. Lauderdale on Sunday and I'll go an entire week without access to blogger, facebook, gmail or I just hope there's something to see or do on the ship to keep me entertained.

And I'll be sure to tell you all about it when I get back. Be good while we're gone.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Dear dude who asked me for directions last night,

By now you’ve figured out what a moron I am.

You wanted to go to the Palace Theater. You clearly could tell I’m a big ol’ homo because you singled me out of the entire crowd of people on the sidewalk you could have asked for directions to a big ol’ Versailles-inspired theater.

In my defense, I physically pointed you in the right direction: north and west. But I told you to walk up State and turn left on Roosevelt. It was only when we’d walked a good block away from each other that I realized Roosevelt was so not the street you wanted … because it was actually more than 10 blocks behind you.

So I sprinted back to find you and tell you breathlessly that you wanted to turn left on Lake. North on State and left on Lake.

You thanked me profusely and I headed back to my bus stop to play Words with Friends, my newest obsession on my iPhone.

And when the bus came and I got on it and we started driving north on State, it suddenly hit me. The Palace Theater is actually on Randolph.

Monday, March 01, 2010

The many ways I'm a douchebag

I stole photos
My third and final Hustle up the Hancock is behind me! And I did OK for not doing any stair training. I routinely do 100 squats twice a week, so I was counting on my newly beefy quads to propel me up 94 flights of the John Hancock Center. But my quads started quivering around floor 15. And I made it the rest of the way on little more than get-this-over-with-ness and the highly appropriate Dreamgirls snippet that got stuck in my head and fit perfectly with the seven-step chunks of stairs I was climbing: STEP! MOVE it MOVE it MOVE it RIGHT to THE top STEP (walk walk walk) STEP! MOVE it MOVE it MOVE it, etc. I did the climb in 19:09 the last two years, but my utter lack of training this year added a minute and a half to my time. So I staggered to the top-floor observation deck yesterday in 20:36 and gladly accepted the fact that my Hustle days were over. And as a card-carrying douchebag, I have no intention of forking over any money for commemorative photos. So all I have to show you that I did the Hustle is this proof (you can tell it’s a proof because of the giant word PROOF angling up the middle) that I stole from the photo people’s web site:

I destroyed a rehearsal
Hustle up the Hancock is a fundraiser for the Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago, so there is cruel irony in the fact that all those people climbing all those seldom-used stairs kick up tons of metallic-tasting dust that we all suck deep into our lungs. And by the time I went to rehearsal two hours later, I had a hacking cough and a throat full of rust-flavored pudding that prevented me from doing important rehearsal things like controlling pitch and matching tones and blending with other singers. All of which become glaringly obvious when everyone is singing a cappella. So I was the sucky douchebag who brought the whole rehearsal down for two hours.

I hoarded food for invalids
A friend of ours is currently recovering at home from a pretty horrific encounter with a car. He’s immobilized in casts and for the next few weeks pretty dependent on his devoted husband and the parade of friends who drop in and demand to supply vast mountains of food and flowers and assistance. And in the spirit of making their lives easier I thought I’d make him good and farty. So I made a massive crock of my favorite turkey chili for them, of course skimming off a few bowls for myself before I delivered it to their door. Because I’m not that altruistic.

I made a child cry
The domestic partner and I spent Saturday afternoon teaching our nieces and their mother how to make pies. We let the girls use the kick-ass apple peeler my folks bought us and we got flour and sugar and other surprisingly sticky ingredients all over the kitchen, but we managed to make a latticed apple pie and a crumbly Dutch apple pie without searing any flesh off any body parts except for my left pinky. While we waited for the pies to bake, the girls bounced around the family room to Just Dance, a Wii game that shows you an abstract-y girl doing arm-wavy choreography to trendy pop songs. You’re supposed to dance along as though the girl were your mirror, and every time the Wii remote thingy detects that your arms are moving in the right ways, a little shoe or hot dog or other cartoon symbol that you chose to represent your badass self rains sparkle dust into a giant clear tube to measure how well you’re doing. Just like any Tuesday night in our bedroom! Everything was going fine until the girls decided to challenge us uncles to a dance-off. And, being a federally licensed choreographer, I naturally smoked my little 8-year-old challenger on my first try. And being a total heartless douchebag, I turned to her and said, “I smoked you!” Not “Good job!” or “High five!” or “You rock!” or “You obviously do a lot of practicing!” or “Can I try on your shoes?” No. I went right to the trash talk I always do with people who have mortgages. And the look on her face made me want to stab myself in the heart. Once I pulled the knife out of hers, of course. In my defense, we were dancing to one of the most heinous-anus abortions of pop music known to man: that “zig-a-zig-HA!” dreck by the Spice Girls. So I get a thousand points just for playing along. Plus I totally did smoke her. And it’s not like I broke her nose with a hearty head-butt like I normally do when I win dance-offs at nursing-home sing-alongs and abortion rallies. But I was still a total douchebag. And even though she seemed to get over it once the next song came on … and especially once we served her pie and ice cream … I will always and forever be the uncle who made the little dancing girl cry. And I now have two reasons to hate that stupid song.