American Moments: Hotties, Hotdogs and Freaks

Last 4th of July, I took my first trip to New York City! And there, I had the best 4th of July celebration of my life. (Psst.If you want to read my New York Travel Blog from last year, it’s right here!)

Because of this, 4th of July has never been a holiday I go out of my way to celebrate. But yesterday I learned, there is one place in the united states that was born and bred to host the best 4th of July celebration in the country: Coney Island, New York.  For only there can you fully embrace everything America does best: Hotdogs, Hotties, and Freaks.

We started off at the side show, which featured sword swallowing, fire eating, shoving nails into noses, the Sam, Stretchy Man of the West, Messy the three-footed Hasid, and Orangina the citrus queen:

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After the side show, we sallied forth for hotdogs. Have I mentioned that NYC is teeming with hot dogs AND  attractive people? And that in the summer, these attractive people walk around in very little clothing? Not only was everyone attractive, but nobody seemed puke wasted, bro-ey, rapey, or trying to light their beer farts on fire–which is partly why I try to avoid 4th of July celebrations in general. The kids were festive, but well behaved. Adults were chill. And for an amusement park dense with people, this was beyond impressive-after all, this is New York, isn’t everyone supposed to be rude here? Why is everyone smiling at me? (Likely because my boobs were hanging out of my onesie)

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At one point, my friend Messy said “I wonder where all the white people go for the 4th?” I then realized we pale ones were in the minority here at Coney Island. It was the first time that had ever happened to me, and I gotta say,  it was rad.

We walked around the boardwalk. Messy wanted to play the squirt gun game, and so we stopped to do that.  The man running the game appeared to be either intensely intoxicated or had such a severe speech impediment, that nobody who was lined up to play had any idea what was going on, or when the game would begin.

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After the squirty game, we visited Zoltar the magical gypsy, who delivered a life-inspiring message from the astral planes:

“The crystal gazer has wonderful things in store for you. A dear one will return from a long trip and your whole life will be different. Your patience is about to be rewarded. Despair not, I say for your days of despair will soon be over. Your calm spirit, and good sense will see you through all emergencies.

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We watched the fireworks from the beach. Afterward, I said “Man, this is the best 4th of July party ever. The only thing that would make this night even more perfect, after circus freaks, hotdogs and hotties,  is a spontaneous dance party” -fortunately, the gods of Zoltar delivered exactly that!!  As we were walking back to the subway, two women were dancing up the street to a salsa groove, and we joined them.

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It was the best 4th of July ever!  Yay America!

I’m so digging the everything about Here.

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American Moments: Texas Rose

 

Hella America!!!!  Step right up, we have it all here. Mountain ranges, oceans, lakes, bears, moose, amber waves of grain, and about 350,000 people named Amber. But I would never in a million years call myself patriotic. At least not in the flag-waving sense of the word. America as an idea though,  is mighty nice: Land of the free, home of the brave, and justice for all!!! ( Except for  anyone who is not pale-skinned, wealthy, or the owner of a penis, of course.) But, see…When we brought our asses to this country, it was a mostly-peaceful green place of birds and fish leaping happily in streams. Then, us immigrants  said “Hey, this place kinda sucks. I hate all these stupid trees. Too peaceful. Hey, I know, Let’s chop down the trees, kill all the brown people who seem to really like it here, and put up a bunch of strip malls!  Lane Bryant outlet? Quiznos? Hooters?   Yolo, let’s do this brah. Don’t forget,  we can always  import more brown people from Africa, if we run out of natives to abuse!!!   Chinese people too. The Chinese people work hard, and  can build our railroads while we watch the superbowl and shoot at the gay neighbors during commercial breaks.  Hey, it’s cool. Jesus would totally  green-light all of this!”

Ahem.

Suffice it to say, I find it  hard to  get all  gobsmacked for a  country which generally  does a pretty shitty job of taking care of its own most marginalized people.  Therefore I don’t participate in blind patriotism.  However, I have had a few distinct moments where my heart has swelled up in its husk, and I’ve said  “God bless america bitches! This is what the land of the free is all about!”

And so, as we creep up on our Day of Independence, I’d like to share a few heart-warming  True American stories with you. The first:

Texas Rose Country Dancing  @ Lake Merritt Dance Center

About a year ago, I was convinced to try Irish dancing at the Starry Plough. I assumed it would be something like Riverdance. Spirited jigs, leprechaun kicks, and other such solo moves. However, I soon learned that Irish folk Dancing  is a deeply terrifying,  partner-intensive  clusterfuck dance  of epic proportions. That said, I had a blast!  Furthermore, I will never go again. I’m so spatially challenged  that  spent the entire evening screaming, and clutching wildly at people like I was drowning in a kiddie pool.

And so, it was with great  trepidation that I agreed to join my friends at the Texas Rose Country Dancing. Would it be a repeat of Irish Dancing? Would I end up taking down a slew of cowboys? Stepping on the toes of someone named Earl, who then  breaks a bottle over my head and calls me a salty goddamn dog? What other country-western stereotype disasters could I dream up?

What a relief to learn Country dancing  out to be not only fun, but a perfect fit for me! I didn’t fall down, or scream once.   In addition to providing an excellent tutorial on how to two-step and line dance, our instructor dispensed sage wisdom about leading and following, that could be applied to all things. “The leader drives,” explained the instructor. “The follower looks over the leader’s shoulder,  and allows themselves to be led. When the two work together, it’s a harmonious movement of one organism.” (Or something like that). Brilliant! I thought. If only we could all live this way!

I danced ALOT that night.   I got spun around,  twirled,   and booty bumped.  I worked up a fine and joyful sweat. However, my favorite part of the evening was when I rested  on the sidelines tossing back a cold water, and watching all of the couples glide past me  as the music twanged. The venue hosts a regular queer line-dancing night, and many of the people there that evening were of  the same crowd.  There were people of every shape, size,  sexual orientation and ethnicity. All genders and ages were represented. There were no prescribed man/woman roles.  Women danced with women. Men danced with men. Men danced with women, women danced with men.  Some wore fluffy dresses, others wore flannel, and others just  wore regular street clothes.  It didn’t matter! Nobody gave a fuck!  Everyone was just having a good time to some good old American country music. (Yes, folks. I love me  some classic country!)  And that’s when my patriotic feelings began to rise up in me, like a 4th of July parade.    “This….this is AMERICA,” I said to my friend James, as I fought back a few tears. “This is the TRUE spirit of america. Don’t you think? All these people? All types  just….dancing together?”

“Yes,” he said. “I get what you’re saying.”

I don’t know what America means to you. But to me, the diversity and openness of an event like this, says everything good about America. Despite the current potential  threat of our nation being governed by an orange rodeo clown, it’s these little  things that keep my spirits up and faith in humanity restored. It’s these moments that make me proud to live in one of the most eclectic and colorful urban areas of the world.

Here’s a little video of a performance from that evening! These people are cute as hell. Enjoy.

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Dad’s Crab Dinner

 

On Valentines Day, 1994, my dad called us from work to tell us he  got a job promotion.

“Hell yeah, we’re going to celebrate tonight!” shouted my mom, as she hung up the phone. My sister and I cheered, because we knew what “celebrate” probably meant: A Fancy Seafood Dinner

My family was a low-budget household. We ate lots of hamburger helper.  Tuna  toast. Things from boxes, spruced up with canned vegetables (fresh produce was both  costly, and not terribly abundant during  icy Minnesota winters). Aside from fish sticks, seafood was  a rare luxury, and reserved for straight-A report cards, birthdays, and the occasional harrowing doctor’s visit.

We all assumed we’d be going to Red Lobster that night to celebrate the big promotion, but my dad surprised us by coming home with an armful of Alaskan king crab legs instead.

“These were on sale at Rainbow!” said my dad. “We’ll eat like Alaskan kings tonight!”

After swallowing our collective disappointment knowing that Red Lobster was no longer a possibility, my mom brought out a giant kettle, filled it with water, and snapped open a tube of Pillsbury biscuits. My dad popped some champagne, lit some candles for atmosphere, and put on his favorite Moody Blues CD. It was party time.

In the midst of the meal production, the phone rang.

“Skjerly residence, this is big bad Randy speaking.” said my dad.  By this time, he was about three glasses of champagne into the evening’s festivities. “Greetings Gregg. Why yes,  my eldest daughter is here. Do you wish to speak with her? Hold please.”

My dad looked at me, and flicked his tongue twice. This was The Signal to indicate my boyfriend Gregg* (name changed to protect privacy)  was calling. Why did he do this? Because he was certain that Gregg was some sort of lizard creature.

“His teeth are too small, and his gums are too big” my dad said, after meeting Gregg for the first time.  “And his eyes are too far apart. Never trust anyone with their eyes too far apart because they’re criminals.”

I took the phone. Gregg informed me he was getting off work early and wanted to hang out. Though I’d been excited to finally celebrate Valentine’s day proper-style with an actual boyfriend (my first one!) Gregg had already given me a long speech about how stupid and commercial Valentine’s day is and how he doesn’t recognize it as a holiday. (Note: This didn’t stop me from writing him a sappy poem for him that I planned to share as soon as I saw him again.)

I told Gregg we were celebrating my dad’s job promotion, and that he was welcome to join us for crab dinner if he wanted. Though Gregg was a vegetarian, he accepted the invitation, and said he’d just eat the side dishes. Cool.

So, there we all were, sitting around the table: Me, my mom, my little sister Laura, my dad, and Gregg. Laura, who wasn’t a fan of crab, took the job of cracking the crab legs for us. She’d grab some crab, crush it with a nutcracker, and throw  it to whoever was next up for a bite. Sometimes she’d make the crab legs dance first. Sometimes she’d open and close the claws menacingly.

“Isn’t it kind of weird that crabs are sea spiders and we eat them?” I said, dipping my crab leg into a bowl of hot garlic butter, and sucking down the sweet meat inside.

“Ooooh, I’m a big sea spidah! Don’t eat me madam!” my sister shouted, in the voice of Sebastian the Crab from the movie Little Mermaid.

Everyone was having such  a  festive time that nobody noticed Gregg was no longer nibbling at his biscuits, and  his skin was starting to turn gray.  When my sister accidentally hit him in the face with a crab claw while pitching to my dad, Gregg cleared his throat and asked, in a small creaky voice, if he might be excused.

We all stared at him, baffled. Nobody in the history of our family dinners had ever formally asked to be excused from the table.  We always just roll up, plow our plates, and leave the table belching whenever we’re done.

“Suuuure,” said my dad.

Gregg disappeared, presumably to the bathroom. My dad flicked his tongue twice at me.

“Daaaaad!” I shouted through clenched teeth. “Stop it!”

After about 10 minutes, Gregg had not returned to the table.

“Do you think he’s dead?” asked my Dad, with the a hint of a hopeful look.

“Err….Maybe I should go look for him,” I said.

I searched around for Gregg. He wasn’t in the bathroom. He wasn’t in the backyard. Had he gone home? Then I heard it. A strange noise in the basement. It sounded almost like someone was rolling something. A wagon? A rolling pin? Marbles?

I ventured southward, and  there I  found Gregg in the vegetable bin, rocking back and forth on his skateboard and groaning.

“What’s wrong Gregg,  are you sick?” I asked, reaching out my hand to him.

At first he said nothing, just kept rocking. Finally, he said. “The crab….The cracking…It…reminded me of…of…oohhhhhhhh….so….awful….”

I thought perhaps he had a traumatic childhood crab memory that had surfaced over dinner.  Was he attacked by a crab on a trip to Florida perhaps? Did he eat some bad seafood once and get food poisoning? Or, was it the noise itself…”The cracking.” Lighting? Baseball bats? So many things can make a cracking sound.

“It’s okay, you can tell me,” I said, stroking his damp hair.

“Oh god. The cracking reminded me of….of the Jews in Schindler’s List”

A week earlier, we had  seen the movie Schindler’s List. Like most people in the theater that evening,  were both moved to tears. Gregg, in particular,  was so moved by the film that he fell into a 48 hour funk, which included sour naps and rumination about the evils of humanity. However, it seemed we’d moved on with our lives since then.

But….how?” I asked.  I was genuinely perplexed at the connection between crab legs and Jews. No doubt, the Nazis inflicted terrible atrocities on Jews, and many other people during the holocaust. Unspeakable horrors, each one worse than the next. But, to my knowledge, there weren’t any Nazis who boiled the legs of Jews, and ate them with garlic butter. I mean, the Nazis were a sick bunch, but….cannibalism?

“You don’t…..get it,” he said, shooting me a patronizing look.

“I’m sorry,” I said, and continued to stroke his head. And then, I remembered something! The Valentines Poem I had written for him, folded up in my pocket.  I figured this would surely cheer him up.

“Hey, I know you don’t like Valentine’s day, but I wrote you a little poem anyway,” I said, fishing out the piece of paper from my jeans. It was decorated with vampire hearts because we were goths. I handed it to him.

“My love for you is  a midnight sun.

A hot thing, shining through darkness.

I was lost, but you’ll find me all the time,

I was scattered, but you brang me home.

Now I’m not so totally alone,

And now, I must  bid adieu.

All I have to say is  Gregg I love you.”

He looked at it for a long long time. My face got hot. Why was he so quiet?

“Well….?” I asked, expecting him to leap into my arms.

“Please……don’t ever do anything like this again,” he said, frowning at me.

“Oh,” I said, “Sorry.”

“It’s fine, whatever, it’s just…it’s embarrassing….”

I felt like I wanted to die. The pound of crab meat in my belly started churning. I put the poem on top of some canned peas, and fought back tears.

“I’m so sorry,” I said.

I can’t remember what happened right after that. Probably we kissed and made up.  What I do remember is coming home from school  the next day and finding the Valentines’ poem on my bed. From 20 feet away, I could see that there was a note attached to it, in my dad’s loopy wild red-pen scrawl. (Note: my dad is a writer, and former English teacher)

“Bean. Nice poem you wrote there! Lovely images with the midnight sun. But be careful of mixing verb tenses.”

It didn’t take the sting away from Gregg’s episode at the crab leg dinner, but I felt validated by my dad’s note–especially because I was a wannabe writer, and emulated him in every way. Though Valentine’s Day is sorta ruined for since that incident, I would still sit down and crack some crab with my dad any day, because he makes everything fun.

Happy Father’s day, Dad!

 

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War on the Roses

Last year, I spent a whole day in the back yard
trying to evict the roses from their hard,  drought-cracked beds.
My goal, (I guess) , was to plant vegetables or succulents in their place. something useful, something hardy.
And besides, those roses are diseased as fuck, I told myself. When they bloomed,  IF they bloomed they wore dirty neon pink and yellow tie-dye shirts, like crooked sideshow hippies.

“It’s for the greater good” I said, taking my spade in hand, and thus I began my eviction proceedings.

The smaller rose bushes on the far right of the bed came out easy enough. I dug up their tuber feet, and hacked and whacked with my hedge clippers until there was nothing left but holes.

The last rose bush,  however, which I presumed was the Big Mama Bush,  met me and my garden spade with surprising ferocity.
After whacking her down to the nubs, I started digging mightily.
As soon as I got deep enough into the soil,  I put my foot on her underroots,  and pushed with all my might and this is where we brawled.

 

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I should have known she was stronger than me.
Perhaps with a shovel, things would have gone down differently.
I yanked, kicked, yelled “Motherfucker give it up, bitch!!”
Big Mama Rose stayed strong. I managed to sever a few roots, and kick her askew.
But I couldn’t dislodge her.

Eventually, sweating, exhausted, I collapsed next to her.
Two banged up prize fighters, trying to catch a breath.
I stared into the earth where her roots were jutting out from the soil
like middle fingers. My own fingers were all blisters.
I may wage many idiotic battles in my life, but thank god  I know when to accept defeat.

“You win,” I said, patting Big Mama Rose on her snapped spine.  “Good game.”

And then  I left her there, half dug up, and cut to the nubs.
I didn’t water her.
I assumed she would just die off. That after several months of drought
and the licking I gave her, she’d wither and die.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.

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One year later, she’s thriving, and better than ever!
She’s spitting out babies, her blooms extra potent, extra gaudy
almost mocking.

I’m not bothered anymore by the roses.  Big Mama Rose is no longer my enemy
but my totem.
I’m amazed at what blooms of  life can burst violently
from violence and wreckage.
How severed roots can flip the bird
How drought, aphids and middle-aged women with garden spades
Have fought to destroy her.
How beauty finds a way to triumph over destruction, always.

 

 

 

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Are you always that scary?

Usually, when I get a message on OKCupid like the one below,  I just ignore. I pretty much ignore everybody who writes me,  unless it seems like there’s a fraction of a chance that they might not suck. Which turns out to be 1/2 of .00001 percent of people who write me.

My ignoring, by the way,  isn’t a form of snobbery, like “ooh, I’m soooo much better.”  It’s more like I don’t want to provoke men to anger by saying no.  Men do not take rejection well, I’ve found. Better to just let them think I just didn’t get their message, or am in the hospital undergoing a kidney transplant.

Lately, however, I’ve been feeling less afraid of saying no or passing. And so, I’m writing back to the guys who are particularly irksome, or clueless. My responses vary according to the flavor of the message, and arrogance of the person writing.

Side note: I sometimes wonder if the source of all  misogyny in the world is the result of just one really pissed off dude  from ancient history, who got rejected by a lady, and managed to convince his buddies, —because he was also a good convincer of people—that women are the root of all evil. And those buddies, convinced their buddies. Fast forward to the internet, MRA assholes, Okcupid dicks,  and gamer gate.

Behold:

 

 

scary?

 

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Why yes. My cat DOES have big balls. Thank you for noticing.

A few months ago, I adopted a new cat.  He’s an orange,  3 year old tiger-stripe named Willis; former feral gang member turned shelter staff favorite.  I adopted him through the fantastic Cat Town Cafe, where my roommate volunteers. (Of course, I had a personal cat consultant.)
Here, have some photos!
The  details of my first few months with Willis  are being inked into a comic strip, which I may or may not share with y’all depending on how it shakes out. But for now, I need to talk about  a Willis-related subject which comes up whenever I introduce him to a new friend:
“WHY ARE WILLIS’S BALLS SO HUGE?”
When I was first asked this question, I answered the person rather  dismissively, “Oh, I don’t know. I guess he’s just blessed or something.” And then I probably laughed in a  creepy way.  But the truth is, I hadn’t even noticed Willis’s enormous balls until someone pointed it out to me! Honest.  Despite full and conscious recognition that Willis is very buff and built like a feline ken doll, I failed to give his balls a thorough looksy. Who looks at a cats balls anyway?
“Is he…. neutered?” The friend will invariably ask.
“Yeah, yeah.  The  Cat Town sent me his vet records, and he has definitely for sure been neutered… But you know…… He wasn’t neutered until three months ago. So maybe that has something to do with it?”
“Oh, that probably explains it.” They will say.
“Yup. More meatloaf?”
“Sure, I’ll have some more.”
What usually  follows is 5-10 seconds where my friend and I  eat some meatloaf, and stare openly into my cats crotch— as if it’s one of those magic-eye paintings from the 90’s, waiting for the schooner to appear.
“Y’know….I always thought they took the balls off with neutering.” The friend will then say, after a few more awkward seconds. “His are just so….so…”
“Nah,” I’ll say,  “They just, y’know…snip the little tube thingy, so the sperms can’t get out of the nut sack.” (Note: I am an actual certified sexual health educator)
Truth is, I didn’t actually know the procedure for neutering male cats at all, and was only guessing at it based on what I know about human vasectomies.  As each  new friend met Willis, and proceeded to make more or less the same comments, I began to grow  more and more unsure that the vet records I was sent from Cat Town were accurate. I too, had never seen cat balls that freakishly large before. Whereas a normal neutered cat might have balls the size of two baby bumblebees, Willis has two jumbo fuzzy dice hanging from his tail, like the dashboard of a Florida hillbilly.  Maybe CatTown made a mistake with vet records? People make mistakes, right? Of course they do.
So I typed “How can I tell if my cat is neutered?” Into a search engine. This led me down a very dark hole of horrors and graphic close-ups of cat testicles.  Turns out, there’s no way to know for sure if your cat is neutered or not, unless you give your cats balls a good squeeze.
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Though my doubts and curiosity were strong, they weren’t strong enough to get me to feel up my cat. No way. But I also couldn’t rest until I knew for sure that he was neutered. I had to find out!
So, I emailed Cat Town.
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So there you have it. The final word. Willis the cat  is WITHOUT A DOUBT neutered, but because he wasn’t neutered until he was 3 years old, he had three years of marinating in his own testosterone and masculinity. This resulted in beefiness, and huge balls, which will slowly, over time, shrink down to a normal cat ball size when he out-gasses his excess hormones.
So, if you want to come see a cat with the biggest balls you’ve ever seen, nows the time!  I’m selling tickets right now at $25.00 a pop, or two for $40. Step right up!
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I’m still so popular on Facebook. But why?

Hey.  Remember three weeks ago, when I made a half-assed comment on an ad for eyebrow gel on facebook, and it  became THE MOST POPULAR COMMENT and then LEE FORD took over with her shitty comment and usurped me?

Well, I have updates:

  1. Lee Ford’s eyebrow gel  comment  is GONE. I know y’all are  looking at me, but I have nothing to do with it. Seriously. I know I’m like a really big deal, and have great power and control over  many minions who could Tonya Harding the shit out of Lee Ford, but I honestly had nothing to do with it. But am I glad? Oh hell yes.
  2. Despite the fact that none of my facebook friends can find the original link to the eyebrow-gel ad in question, my  popularity on the comments page  has been SKYROCKETING. I HAVE NO IDEA WHY THIS IS.

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3. A few super- lame bitches have been trying to start flame wars with me, on the comments section with the dumbest comments ever. For instance, Ms. Samantha Spears:

browzfantasy

 

I gotta admit. This comment mystified me. “Just like your dreams.” How does Samantha Spears know about my dreams?   Does she think “Revlon Brow Fantasy” is an actual, uh…..fantasy ? and not (as it is) a cheap eyebrow gel sold at Walgreens?  If so, what kinds of brow fantasies could I possibly be having?  Do I daydream about being nuzzled by a pair of friendly eyebrows?   Does she wonder why, in lonely moments,  I’ve  drawn up several shakey prototypes of a body pillow-sized eyebrow that I can snuggle up to at night?

Then, there’s  Kelcy Walton WHO SHOULD  BE DISQUALIFIED FROM EVERYTHING  IN LIFE  because she spells Kelsey with a C.

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I’m glad that KelCy acknowledges the fact that nobody asked me. Asked me what??? I have no idea. For my  opinions on brow-gel?  For a detailed description of my spindly  eyebrows that are the result of my mom shaving off my eyebrows as a child AND THEM NEVER GROWING BACK? (true story.)   I have to assume, since KelCy neglected to include a comma, that she means “No one fkn asked Arlene ABOUT ANYTHING.” Which is true. Often, I feel like people should just ask me. About anything. Because I can answer stuff. About anything. Thanks, KelCy! (PS: congratulations on all your hundreds of FB engagement photos! That must have taken a lot of work. Glad to know that your fiance still loves you, even though you troll eyebrow-gel ads )

So there you have it, everyone. Stay tuned for more!

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