In Passing

I was on the train going into the city yesterday and was listening to a woman behind me talking very loudly on the phone. It was a long conversation, full of ridiculous lines, but I had to write this one down as it was the topper.

“Girlfriend, I’m glad I met you on the chatline cause I wouldn’t know shit otherwise!”

There’s a few other websites that compile lines overheard from passing conversations, and I know I’m borrowing from their format, but this was too good to pass up.

Punctuated shrinkage?

In a culture where bigger is autmotically assumed to be better, from cars to penis size to television screens to fast food sandwiches to breasts, I find it truly unique and ironic that everyone on the block wants their cell phones and MP3 players to be as small as possible.
Yes it would help if both items could become smaller, but it’s counter-revolutionary to the super size culture we’re a part of. As Linda Richman would say, “There’s your topic. Talk amongst yourselves….”

Unclassifiable? (Is that even a word?)

Marketing people are always spouting off about how they can classify consumers according to what they buy and consume. Even Fugazi referenced this prospect once (“Never mind what’s been selling, it’s what your buying!”) This is common knowledge in the marketing/pr field, but today I think I might’ve made myself unclassifiable as a consumer. Here is the sum total of my purchases for today:

1 original framed needlepoint wall hanging that reads ‘The Rat Race Is Over and The Rats Have Won’ (used and found at the Salvation Army)

1 new jump rope from the dollar store (I actually broke my last one being sloppy, but that’s another story….)

1 package of Ant Poison (also from the dollar store)

1 Boy Scouts of America ‘Tiger Cub’ t-shirt (also used and found at the Salvation Army)

1 crispy Sesame Veggie Chicken and Beef entree (from Veggie Heaven in NJ)

What does this make me? Someone with an ant problem that’s given up on the world and wants something to remind them of that for their wall? Someone that doesn’t mind wearing used t-shirts from an organization that frowns against individuality but can teach you how to tie a lot of knots? Or someone that most likely doesn’t eat meat and also likes jumping rope? I guess I’m all that and a lot more.
Still, it makes me realize that if you list out your purchases for say, one week’s time, your perception of yourself as a consumer will probably differ drastically from your perception of yourself as a person.
And this leads to a much bigger question concerning capitalism. Does it help one connect more directly to an identity, or does it detract or complicate from one’s identity? If you’re into, say, Rage Against the Machine and riding Element Skateboards, and you make a point to go shopping for products from both camps on one particular day, and succeed, then you do connect more with the identity you seek. But if you’re into Rage Against the Machine and Element Skateboards, but do not choose to seek out products from both camps on one day, and instead go to the Salvation Army, the dollar store and Veggie Heaven in Parsippany, NJ, you probably are detracting and complicating the identity you seek to establish (even if it is only to the eyes of economists and marketing gurus that are studying what you buy.)
See what I’m saying? We’re constantly being defined by what we buy, so people can understand us and sell us more stuff. It’s a complicated cycle that ultimately involves a good deal of psychology, and I don’t want to be a part of it. I’d rather be the confusing 0.001% that doesn’t make any sense on paper…

By the way, I am not a fan of Rage Against the Machine. I’m glad they opened up debate on a lot of serious topics to a generation of morons, but I still think their music sucks. And Element, well, it’s a piece of wood with someone from MTV’s name on it. Do I really need to explain why it’s just an example and not an obsession to me? Good then…

HE PROBABLY TOLD THEM THAT HE HAD A LACK OF ‘CONCRETE EXPERIENCE’ IN THAT FIELD

Bob: “Here’s what you need to do. Have you ever been on the Craigslist website?”

Tim: “Briefly, why?”

Bob: “Have you ever been on the section called ‘Casual Encounters?'”

Tim: “No! Isn’t that for gay guys?”

Bob: “Mostly, but it allows you to anonymously post listings on there if you want to. All you need to do is make up a fake Yahoo email account and verify your posting that way, and then you can post all kinds of shit on there. Yeah, it is used by a lot of men looking for other men, but that’s the beauty of it.”

Tim: “And why is that?”

Bob: “Because, like I said, you can leave anonymous postings on there for people you don’t like, searching for other men. Yeah, it’s a little mean to fuck with people just looking for anonymous, discreet gay sex, but some people need to be fucked with that way, don’t you think?”

Tim: “Definitely. I can think of at least 10 people that I could easily do that to… Have you ever done that before?”

Bob: “Remember that job I interviewed for about a month ago?”

Tim: “The one for the marketing director at Penguin Publishing?”

Bob: “Yeah, and do you remember me telling you about how much of a dick the guy that interviewed me was, and how he said there was no way he would want me working with him because of my lack of ‘concrete experience,’ as he called it?”

Tim: “Yeah.”

Bob: “Well I went home from that interview feeling really shitty. Here’s a guy that barely knows me, but thinks he can size up most anyone because he’s the human resources guy, and then completely misreads me and makes me feel like shit about myself. Plus, he was a complete jock.”

Tim: “So you posted an anonymous hook-up link for him to get revenge?”

Bob: “Yes, and it was beautiful. I titled it ‘Human Resource Manager Looking to Get Ass Resourced,’ and went into all these intricate details about how I, or he, was looking for an anonymous gay man to show him the ropes, that it had to be discreet, and that he needed to be dominated. Then I left his phone number, but I spelled out the numbers to appear a little less obvious.”

Tim: “Did it work?”

Bob: “Well I hope so. That’s the one downside to Internet posting revenge; you never get to find out what the results were of the prank.”

Tim: “Yeah, but if it made you feel OK at the time, then that’s good enough.”

Bob: “I suppose, but it still would’ve been nice to know what that prick experienced when he had all these gay men calling him and asking to bust his anal cherry.”

Tim: “He probably told them that he had a lack of ‘concrete experience’ in that field…”

DON’T ORDER ANY MIXED DRINKS FROM HIM FOR THE REST OF THE NIGHT

Bob: “You know what I don’t understand.”

Tim: “What?”

Bob: “How we used to vilify people with addictions, and now we empathize with them and treat them better than regular people.”

Tim: “I don’t think that’s a recent development; I think that’s how it’s been for quite some time now.”

Bob: “Well yeah, of course it has in modern times, but two or three hundred years ago, you could be publicly flogged for excessive drunkenness. And now… we’re supposed to feel sorry for people that rely on drinking.”

Tim: “Maybe it’s because we all can relate to needing a drink on one level or another.”

Bob: “Possibly… still, there’s some drunks in my life that need a good flogging.”

Tim: “Mine too…. But you need to remember that people with addictions are technically suffering from a disease, no matter how compassionate your lady may be to the town drunk.”

Bob: “Was I being that obvious about where this discussion was brimming from?”

Tim: “No, I just knew it was an issue with you… I think what you need to realize in regards to that situation is whom your lady chooses as friendly company. If she’s going out of her way to search out drunks and druggies and doing her best to feel sorry for them and pretend to clean up their messes, then she’s probably got some addiction issues of her own, whether personal or familial.”

Bob: “I’ve already heard and read that one way too many times. So you know her… do you think there’s a problem there?”

Tim: “It’s not a problem to begin with. It may hurt like fuck and confuse the shit out of you, but it’s just the way she will instinctually act until someone sits her down and explains why she acts in such a way.”

Bob: “So you think it’s basically just another need for approval?”

Tim: “Yes, and harping on vilifying drunks and wanting to flog them will only bring her closer to that which you don’t want.”

Bob: “Umm, I just had a thought… Should we even be having this conversation in a bar?”

Tim: “For christ sakes! It’s Saturday night. There’s no drunks here. They know better than to come out drinking on the one night of the week when they can’t get their regular bar stool. I think it’s OK to discuss here. Besides, you brought it up.”

Bob: “Yeah, I know. It’s just that the guy I want to flog just poured us our latest round…. I hope he doesn’t remember who I am.”

Tim: “Well just to be safe, don’t order any mixed drinks from him for the rest of the night…”

A LOCK FOR HIS DOOR AND A SHEMALE PORN DVD

Bob: “This guy has quite a masturbation routine. I’ve never seen anything like it, well, I guess I have, but nothing so clear cut and systematic as his.”

Tim: “What, has he figured out a way to keep his hands jism free while working the remote control?”

Bob: “Hardly, he doesn’t even own porn. He’s afraid it would incriminate him if his girlfriend found out.”

Tim: “So what does he do then?”

Bob: “He uses a Mac-based web browser called Safari.”

Tim: “Big deal, everyone jerks off to internet porn. That’s no routine.”

Bob: “Let me finish. He’s taken the time to set up Safari so that MPEG files download to his desktop, so he can save any MPEG movies he downloads. But he’s set up his download manager so that it doesn’t save a history of recent downloads at all. He also set it up in his preferences to erase the web browser’s history each time he quits the program.”

Tim: “There’s still tracks left though, even if his history is erased each time he quits. Doesn’t he know what a cache is?”

Bob: “Yeah, he’s set that up so that it resets each week. He has an occasional shemale fetish, which he’s real paranoid about anyone finding out about, so he even trashes the program once a month and re-downloads it from the Apple site.”

Tim: “Shemales? Are you serious?”

Bob: “I wish I wasn’t.”

Tim: “Then why is he telling you about it?”

Bob: “Because I was on his computer one day. I was researching oil sources for different oil companies for that Mother Jones article I’m writing, and I wanted to go to the Shell Oil Company website, which is shell.com, and I started to type in w-w-w-.s-h-e, and before I could go any further, the browser’s menu bar suggested going to a site called w-w-w-.shemaleantics.com, because it was in his cache.”

Tim: “Ouch.”

Bob: “So I asked him what that was about, and he seemed confused at first, but then just blurted out that he’s got an occasional lusting for men, but can’t get down with the men actually looking like men… so he opts for shemales.. I was a little shocked at first, but after a few minutes I just figured that I wasn’t womanly enough to be an object of desire for him. ..Plus I was glad he was honest about it and not stumbling over his words, trying to make up a reason why he would have shemales in his internet cache.”

Tim: “I would’ve been saying, “Shit, I was playing a joke on my friend and wanted to send him some really nasty porn, so I downloaded a shemale photo and sent it to him.”

Bob: “Well we can’t all be wise asses and quick witted like you now, can we?”

Tim: “You can be if you want to, especially on the internet.”

Bob: “That is true.”

Tim: “So anyway, how does he hide the MPEG files he downloads to his desktop?”

Bob: “He doesn’t. And this is the part I thought was so systematic. He only downloads 4 movies at a time, and then he arranges the MPEG files on his desktop in a square, hits Apple+L so that the movies loop, and then has a good hands-free jerking experience. It’s almost like a modern day peep show without leaving the house, and without needing a free hand to switch channels.”

Tim: “So what does he do with his free hand, play with his balls or something?”

Bob: “No, he holds the door shut so that his girlfriend’s dog can’t get in the room. Apparently, the dog mistakes him jerking off for some kind of playing and always jumps in his lap when he (the dog) catches him jerking off!”

Tim: “I know what I’m getting him for his birthday then: a lock for his door and a shemale porn DVD.”

THE DAY WITHOUT THE NIGHT

Bob: “If you had to choose between coffee or alcohol, what would you choose?”

Tim: “Wow, that’s a great question. Both beverages offer so much on so many different levels, from the physical to the psychological to the societal.”

Bob: “Which is why I’m asking. I’ve been asking people for years now. It started out simple enough, just asking women that depended on both to some degree and trying to figure out if I would like them or not, and eventually, I started to understand how you could characterize and categorize different people according to their results.”

Tim: “And what have you found?”

Bob: “Well, this is all speculation, but I’ve found with people that drink both forms of beverage somewhat regularly, that you have day and night people. Correspondingly, the day people choose coffee, while the night people choose alcohol. And then there’s often one or two weirdos that asks about coffee cordials and what group they would fall into, but I’ve never understood the people that want to combine a chemical on switch with a chemical off switch.”

Tim: “Because coffee is a stimulant and alcohol is a depressant?”

Bob: “Yeah.”

Tim: “I know what you mean. Lately, I’ve been noticing so many people drinking Red Bull with vodka, which probably tastes good, but is also probably physically confusing for your body.”

Bob: “Exactly, and it’s hard enough to understand and separate the motives of the coffee drinkers from the alcohol drinkers, let alone a new group that wants to combine the two, but then also, join the night people at the party.”

Tim: “Plus Red Bull’s a lot more fucking expensive than tonic or club soda… But that would lead me to assume that it’s not about people trying to combine stimulants and depressants, but actually just a chance to appear more lofty in a dirty bar. Of course, I don’t inhabit bars all the time, so I don’t really know.”

Bob: “Yeah, you’re probably right. Some idiot saw an ad in an upscale cigar magazine suggesting the combination, and thought to himself, well, fuck I better do this if I want to get woman while I’m out partying.”

Tim: “Or it could’ve been one of those little alcoholic drink street teams that go to bars, give away free samples and tell people that it’s the cool new thing to do. Coincidentally, that’s how I heard about Sparks, the Alcoholic Energy Drink.”

Bob: “That sounds awful.”

Tim: “Yeah, it was, but it was free so we drank it til our stomachs hurt, which wasn’t long… What beverage did you choose to eradicate by the way?”

Bob: “Coffee.”

Tim: “Why?”

Bob: “I found a loophole by asking the question using the word coffee. I’d still have access to caffeine, just not coffee.”

Tim: “OK, well modify your own question then: caffeine or alcohol?”

Bob: “I’d choose to cut out caffeine then. I’ve been drinking it for so long, that it’s not really a kick start for me anymore. It just makes me more regular in the morning, which at this point, is just detached and apathetic. I guess what I’m getting at, is just that coffee is more of a daily requirement than an enjoyment, like taking a shower or shitting. It doesn’t do much for my mood. Alcohol, on the other hand, can either enrage me or force me to appreciate something I wouldn’t have thought twice about were I sober…. I become more emotionally charged if I’m drinking…. It makes me less regular and I like that part of it…. I’ve also had some great sex while I’ve been drunk…. But I’ve never had great sex with a woman after being out all morning drinking coffee with her. We might have some great shits together, but that would be about it..”

Tim: “So your take is just that the novelty of coffee has worn off then?.. And also that you’re not interested in joint-shitting with women?”

Bob: “Yeah, plus it’s not as socially or emotionally valid to my well being anymore.”

Tim: “And this makes you a night person then?”

Bob: “I presume so. Days of drinking coffee are too mundane for me. What about you?”

Tim: “I’d give up alcohol without thinking twice about it…. I can go days without drinking alcohol and feel fine, but caffeine withdrawal is a bitch. Anytime I’ve gone without coffee or caffeine, I get the worst headaches ever, and they last all day long…. The simple act of giving it up for me right now just doesn’t seem physically feasible.. if I were to… well, at least keep going at the pace I’m at. I can’t go a day without coffee.”

Bob: “So you’d say you’re physically addicted to caffeine then?

Tim: “Definitely, and any medication I might take if I were to withstand caffeine withdrawal would just be full of caffeine anyway, which would negate the effects of eliminating it from my diet. I’m officially a junkie I guess.”

Bob: “At least you’re honest about your shortcomings…”

Tim: “If I were to be totally honest with you, I’d tell you there’s no way I could do one without the other at this point. That’s my biggest shortcoming…”

Bob: “What do you mean?”

Tim: “Just that I’m dependent on both to some degree, and that eliminating one or the other would simply involve some sort of change that I’m too comfortable to make right now…. I can’t take the day without the night I guess.”

REFERENCING BRYAN ADAMS WITH EASE ISN’T SOMETHING YOU SHOULD NECESSARILY BE PROUD OF

Bob: “Name one person that really irritates the shit out of you, just by their being.”

Tim: “That’s easy: Bono from U2.”

Bob: “And why’s that?”

Tim: “Because to me, he embodies all of the excesses allowed by being filthy rich into one person… and also, because he has no problem in flaunting them.”

Bob: “You get all that from dark suits, bug eye shaped sunglasses and bad pop music?”

Tim: “It’s not his physical persona at all. It’s the fact that whenever I see him in a music video, he’s always surrounded by harsh weather conditions like pouring rain and wind gusts.”

Bob: “And this, to you, symbolizes a lavish lifestyle?”

Tim: “It just says to me that this person is too good to appear in everyday mundane life. If I were to see Bono walking down the street and stumbling over cracks in the sidewalk created by overgrown tree roots, I would think different. But to create the illusion that he must only be seen in extreme weather conditions, come on! It says to me that he thinks he’s some sort of god or prophet or biblical figure. It’s the same shit Charlton Heston pulled when he played Moses.”

Bob: “Wow, you’ve really thought this through huh?”

Tim: “I actually have. I keep seeing that damn commercial of U2 on TV where he’s singing that ‘Vertigo’ song in the desert with the wind focused behind him as if he’s control of it, and I get madder each time it’s on!”

Bob: “But I also saw a photo of Bono as a pall bearer for his father’s funeral though. You’d say that’s pretty everyday and mundane, right?”

Tim: “For people that aren’t famous and rich musicians; yes. For him, it’s just another press opportunity to actually support the myth that he is in fact a good human being.”

Bob: “That might very well be the case too… I don’t know though, it seems like there’s always been a tendency for music video directors to depict musicians in harsh weather conditions as well. Is it really just a Bono-centric occurrence?”

Tim: “Who else then?”

Bob: “Ummm… Bryan Adams in the song ‘Run To You.’ He got rained on more in that one video than I ever have in my entire life.”

Tim: “That’s different. The rain in that video signified desperation.”

Bob: “Maybe Bono’s just eternally desperate then?”

Tim: “Would you be if you had his money?”

Bob: “Probably not. I know I would find it hard to actually have the everyday, mundane life you speak of if I had the fame that he has.”

Tim: “Point taken… OK, another example then?”

Bob: “How about…… Milli Vanilli’s ‘Blame It on The Rain’ video?”

Tim: “Are you fucking kidding me?”

Bob: “Yeah. I just can’t think of anymore examples off the top of my head. I’m lucky I pulled that Bryan Adams reference out of my ass.”

Tim: “Bob, referencing Bryan Adams with ease isn’t something you should necessarily be proud of….”

SHOULD WE SHAKE ON IT THEN?

Bob: “I don’t get people that base their whole impression of you on the handshake you give them.”

Tim: “You mean people that used to be in the military?”

Bob: “Not specifically them… I mean anyone or any situation where offering a firm handshake hints at many other social ramifications, like getting interviewed by people for jobs and meeting your girlfriend’s father… I guess you could include ex-military in that group actually. Those guys are haters to anyone that doesn’t look them directly in their eyes and choke their hands. I guess you’d be really fucked if your girlfriend’s dad used to be in the military…”

Tim: “The reason I blurted out that reply was because of that actually happening to me. I was introduced to a friend’s father that used to be a Marine, and I softly shook his hand because I really didn’t give a fuck about being properly introduced to someone I really didn’t give a fuck about knowing. He got all grumpy and asked if I was a real man.., so I told him that I probably wasn’t by his account, and that was that.”

Bob: “Have you seen him since then?”

Tim: “Hell no, so I’m glad I didn’t play his ‘Be a real man’ game…”

Bob: “Because you’re not?”

Tim: “Well, like I said to him, probably not by his account.”

Bob: “It’s as if certain people take entire stock of people they meet simply by measuring the amount of force one uses while clenching.”

Tim: “You know what they should do, and I’m surprised this wasn’t on Seinfeld already, they should make a handshake gauge that measures PSI, and then assign recommended pressures for varying people and situations.”

Bob: “That would be a brilliant idea! Imagine the recommended amounts scale: 60 PSI for a girlfriend’s father, (80 PSI if he’s former military), 65 PSI for a job interviewer, 90 PSI for your girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend….”

Tim: “And… get this… you could wear the gauge disguised as a wristwatch if you weren’t sure of pressures. No one would suspect or even notice…. We should actually pursue that idea.”

Bob: “Well it was your idea. All I did was sarcastically suggest recommended pressures for different people and situations.”

Tim: “Yeah, but you broached the topic… I’m serious, this could actually be a useful idea for a place like that joke gift shop in the mall. Fuck, what’s it called…..”

Bob: “Spencers? The place the sells dildos disguised as personal massagers?”

Tim: “Yeah them.”

Bob: “Should we shake on it then?”