Concatenation Nation

cause and effect. intent vs action. will vs outcome.

Just because you have a good heart about something, doesn’t mean you can project that positivity in any way upon what comes next. (In fact, Word doesn’t even recognize the word positivity at all, so there’s that). There are countless examples of this type of cause and effect throughout history. I don’t have to name them specifically, I’ll leave that to you. But think of the pain, loss, betrayal, and chaos imparted in myriad ways, all riding on the tail of a comet made of altruism and benevolence.

How can we know when our well-mannered actions are going to be offensive? By waiting for the effect? Does that teach us anything? Make us more knowledgeable on how misconstrued intent can make us look like an asshole? Rarely, do people realize that you can’t ever know how someone will react to what you have said or done, until it has transpired. And at that point, it doesn’t matter how honestly you can claim ignorance or sympathy. What’s said is said, and what’s done is done, and you get to watch your intentions get filtered through that person’s brain, through their emotions, and then morph into whatever follows. You did that, good or bad. That was you.

I sound like Mary Poppins. I believe she also said, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions,” as she poured medicine down the throats of freckled British kids who just didn’t want to clean their fuckin room. Did she think that old school cough medicine was going to get them cleaning, or get them more obedient? I think about what I know about cough medicine, which is A LOT, and then I think about when Mary Poppins was supposed to have taken place, and I know that cough syrup was loaded with the good shit. Way to go, Mary Poppins, you pusher.

What’s that you say? That’s a bible quote (it’s not a bible quote) and you’re not religious, so it doesn’t relate to you? Well maybe you’re a woman or man of science? Newton’s Third Law states that “every action has an equal and opposite reaction.” I always wondered why it had to be an opposite reaction (ex: why can’t a good intention end in a good reaction, and vice versa?) and, how can you measure the reaction as being equal or unequal? What is the quantifier? I know, I know, forces come in pairs, blah blah blah. I want to see the force.

Show me the forrrrrce!!!

Basically, if you do something, something will happen. What they don’t tell you is, when you do nothingstuff can still happen. I’ve tried it. I just stayed at home for three days, and then two days later, my boss said, “hey, don’t come in on Monday” like I even was gonna.

Also, I remember I didn’t pay my phone bill once, and the shit got shut off. You want to know a convenient time to have your phone turned off? Pretty much any, as far as I’m concerned, but when this example happened, I wasn’t quite in that mind set. I am now, and now I just wish I could afford the hassle of living without my phone. One day, the internet will go bye-bye, and we’ll be alright again. It’s just a matter of taking the choice away. I’ll be okay with that.

But you know what’s going to happen before the internet goes bye-bye? A whole mess of shit. And actions and reactions, and causes and effects are all going to be broadcast to the world, for all to see, and then you can all have your own reactions to that, and it’ll just keep grinding on that way, and oh yes, it will be televised.

The decline, that is.

The decline that was brought on by the good intentions of convenience. The convenience of the internet makes us think we need it, because it introduces micro-conveniences, one by one, until you have a whole pile of conveniences stacked up, all interwoven together, and it keeps you from leaving. It’s like strapping yourself down with bungee cords, until you can’t move. Sure, with one or two or three bungee cords, you could probably still get away. But once you have ten or fifteen of those fuckers, you’re probably not going anywhere. That’s the internet. Don’t fight it.

Or, do fight it. We’ll all watch it, streaming live on the internet. Hell, there’s a whole demographic of folks out there, who would pay to see that. There’s money to be made in everything, including the horrific effects of good intentions.

Good intentions such as wrestling. I mean, the people need to be entertained, don’t they? It’s the will of the people to be entertained, and the line of willing entertainers is not only neverending, it’s highly competitive. Why not let them fight it out? We like watching a fight, don’t we? It’s entertaining. Those are some good-ass intentions. 

One of my favorite ways to recognize cause and effect, comes in the form of expressing appreciation. I was raised to defy the value of people as anything but pieces of shit that didn’t matter. My father did a terrible job of teaching me how to behave around people, and he was way too strict to allow school dances or games, sleepovers, parties, school clubs, or trips to the movies or dinner with friends. He did a wonderful job, on the other hand, of teaching me to hate everybody, and to search for the fault in others; preferably the fatal flaw that could eventually be used to destroy them if I felt so inclined. I was not asocial, but quite literally anti-social, meaning I was against people… period.

As I’ve gotten older the effects of my father’s influence on me have worn off, and as a result, I have discovered what kind of person I am. I reflect on times when I brought people (who cared about me) to tears, because I didn’t fully realize they were a person – just like me. I feel shame and embarrassment when I think of how cruel I was to others, and so, I have worked consistently (though not completely) to be a better person.

People often get lost in their own shortcomings, and their biggest failure is the failure to recognize when they’ve done something good. But the flip side of that coin is, the lack of positive reinforcement. When you feel confident about something, and everyone’s reaction is underwhelming or non-existent, it becomes difficult to feel inspired to persevere.

I try to have the reverse effect on people, and overwhelm them with positive reaction to their work. Of course, no matter how hard I try to be friendly and eloquent, it’s just gonna come off as creepy sometimes. For example: I am not above writing an email to someone, to let them know they have affected me in some way, whether moving me to tears with a musical piece, or catching my eye with a photograph they’ve taken. A poem, or a piece of philosophy. An act of kindness I witnessed. And most of the time, these people don’t know me. They’re just getting a message from a complete stranger, about something they may not have put much thought into. I think celebrities get this all the time, just for being famous. Why should a regular person feel strange about getting an unsolicited Attaboy from me? I’m pretty great. And safe. Believe me, I don’t want to come kidnap you. I’m way too lazy for that.

But I will gladly freak out 100,000 people (give or take), if I make one person feel like they’ve made a positive ripple in the world. People need to know those moments exist. They need to feel like their presence on this planet is making a difference. There are plenty of opportunities that people will jump at ferociously, to point out the ways you’re fucking up. I say, as long as Participation trophies are a thing, surely we can spare a few words to let someone know they didn’t fuck up. This action rarely results in someone feeling worse about themselves, I promise.

I saw a young man give a speech about diversity at a rally a few months ago, and even before hearing that he was an aspiring journalist (yesssss), I was really feeling the connection to his speech. He spoke about the things that made him stand out, some of which I share, as if they were badges of honor in a world that doesn’t recognize that kind of honor. That kid is going into a field that will eat him alive, and he couldn’t have looked more confident. 

On another fairly recent occasion, I watched a young lady perform as Rizzo in Grease, and her rendition of “There Are Worse Things I Could Do” was so emotionally charged, that it brought tears to my eyes. I saw it three times, and I cried each time. She was it. I bet that wasn’t an easy thing, and she was next level. I said, “giiiirrrrlllll…”

There’s an anchor on the morning news, who is consistent as hell  with her impressive wardrobe, and every day, I would see her and say, “look at that dress!” This woman had a fashion sense that I found to be more sophisticated and pleasing to the eye, than most people in our area could ever dream of. She most likely put a lot of thought into her attire, and I felt she deserved to hear some positive feedback on her style. So I sent her an email. (Most of my surprise appreciation comes in the form of something they can re-read, and feel good about more than once.) I don’t watch TV anymore, but she still wows ’em, I bet.

None of those people had any idea that I felt such a connection to what they were doing, and very likely (and understandably) were freaked out by my sudden praise. But it didn’t deter me one bit. Being freaked out is just another form of surprise, which I told you I was doing to people.

I wrote an email to my 3rd grade teacher, last year, because I just had to apologize for being such a little fucking shit when I first moved there. He was the first teacher I had in that school system, and even though he had a reputation for being a hard-ass curmudgeon, I still had no problem testing his patience (he failed). I was constantly disruptive: telling jokes, talking back to authority, and aggressively daydreaming to lure him into the idea that I wasn’t paying attention, only to “snap out of it” in time to answer his question correctly. Other students weren’t yet at the level I was, and I knew that, so I was also a show-off.

I was a dick. Like I was saying before.

So, I wrote the teacher an email to apologize, and to let him know that I appreciated that he had dedicated his life to educating children, and that surrounding yourself with 200 kids every day is a ding-dong move, if you value your sanity at all. I think he already knew that part, though. That age (3rd grade) is terrible, especially for boys. They have endless energy, and they want to scream it in your face, so you know about said energy at all times. That’s also the age where kids want to be a dick for no reason, and I’m trying to tell you that I was no different.

I’m different, now. I’m not a little shithead anymore. I’m way fuckin taller.

I appreciate when things look nice, when they smell nice, when things work out smoothly, when people are polite, when people are genuine, when something sounds pleasant, when someone has gone out of their way, when my time is not wasted, when I know I’ve done the right thing. I think recognizing these things has caused me to not be the person I used to be. I value kindness and simple things, even when it makes me look like an old corny person that I used to think was lame (and now know, isn’t).

I no longer feel the need to make myself look attractive, and rarely look closely at myself in a mirror. There’s no reason not to, but there’s no real reason to. It is not so important what I look like; I’m just happy my body is cooperative from day to day. Even that isn’t guaranteed, but as long as I can impart my will on the working parts to compensate for the broken parts, there’s not really anything wrong, is there?

I no longer strive to get the upper hand on people, or make myself look “good” by making someone else look bad. That competitive nature was hammered home in my childhood, and I used to delight in my victory being a lone one. This has caused me to try to understand where people are coming from, and think about what I could do to help, if anything at all. Sometimes, it’s nothing. Sometimes, it’s nothing to me, but everything to them.

I no longer value getting things handed to me easily. Not that I’ve ever had anything handed to me, but I no longer wish for that. Hard work has been more of a reward than anything else has been. I don’t think about taking away from someone else, to be able to have something they don’t have, because things aren’t important to me.

People are important to me.

Time is important to me.

Those are the two things which change us throughout life, and shape who we are. And once either is gone, you don’t get them back. Appreciate somebody, before it’s too late to tell them. Far too often, people think of what they should have said, after they can’t say anything. Don’t wait for that moment. Make the Aha Moment happen now. Cause some effect. Ripple that shit.

-jg

P.S. please don’t go stalking people, and sending weird messages. That’s not the kind of surprises I was talking about. I can’t express enough, that you have to choose how you approach people. Your intentions may be innocent, but there are more factors than just that. Consider how that person is going to receive your praise. I have changed my outlook to catch the things that evoke true emotion, and then present my appreciation in a safe way. Just to be clear.

 

 

 

Your Chocolates Would Have Been Discounted, Eventually.

You think you’re soooo special, don’t you? Just like everybody else. How can everyone be special, if they’re all doing the same thing? Of course, I’m referring to my least favorite annual tradition: Valentine’s Day, AKA Love Day.

This particular greeting card “holiday” has been long hated by me, ever since I was a smart-ass kid with no Valentine cards in my (expertly crafted) Valentine box. I hated it when I was in my first relationship in my teens, and I hate it as a 38 year-old woman in a committed partnership. To betray myself every year, I graciously receive chocolates from people who love me, and I eat them (the chocolates, not the people), and it’s a tradition I plan to uphold for decades to come.

But I won’t spend my money on anything that is marketed toward love in any way, on or around February 14th. Love is such a huge part of consumerism in this country, that I wouldn’t be surprised if the current generation of “First Loves” equates love directly with money spent. I have seen this be the case in many individual relationships (and fucked up people who are happy to admit it) and the more DeBeers and Hallmark and Victoria’s Secret make you think “more money = more love”, the more difficult it will become to find those remaining lost souls who still believe in true love, even without money.

I know, I’m just making shit up.

Basically, corporate America wants you to spend your money, and they have plans to go for the jugular when it comes to casting aspersions on your relationship.

Didn’t you get her chocolates and flowers the first year you were together?

It’s been a whole month and a half since Christmas… it’s time for the measurement of how much you love her.

How much do you really love your wife???

It’s usually aimed at the dudes, when it comes to the buying of chocolates and flowers and stuffed animals and jewelry, but it doesn’t work that way for the ladies. When you’re a woman, the gift for your partner is actually something that you buy for you to wear, for them.

I know you ain’t lost. The ladies are expected to go pick out some slutty lingerie, to display upon themselves as the present to their companion. That’s the gift. The woman’s body is the thing, and the lingerie is the wrapping paper that you are secretly trying on while she’s at work. Do what you want. Some people like to keep the gift box for future use, and you’re clearly no different.

I always thought it was super strange, to be someone’s gift, as an object for them to use. It has made me shudder since before I ever even had sex, and it makes me feel like a prude for not understanding the “logic” behind the gesture since being sexually active. It just feels weird. I don’t like to feel like I have only one specific purpose, and I don’t like to be vulnerable to someone’s desires, especially ones I may not have correctly anticipated.

Here’s your present! It’s my body! You’re in control of my movements and choices, now.

I am not sure my body would be a good gift like that. It has a few issues. I’d have to get some slick fuckin gift wrap for that present, and it still wouldn’t be exciting. Mine would be more like this:

Surprise! Yeah, I know you look shocked. This is your present! My body! Good luck.

Speaking of giving your body to your lover for Valentine’s Day, AND speaking of chocolates… there is apparently this dude named Magnus, who will take a mold of your asshole (outer portion only, I think. I don’t know for sure how far you can take it, with the right kind of money AKA love), and then he makes chocolates out of the casting of your sphincter.

For you to eat.

This Valentine’s Day, tell that special someone, “Eat My Ass.”

I should mention that he typically has them made in the shape of the butthole model they used for the prototype, but you can have special sessions in his apartment if you want. That’s not something I’m going to pay for. If I’m going to be ass-up in some strange dude’s apartment, I’d better be the one getting paid.

So the chocolates look strangely real. They might not freak you out, but I think if they were like, chocolate with any sort of liquid center, that would be a wrap for me. A cordial cherry would have me running for the hills, after the winter I’ve had. Okay, it’s not my aim to ruin chocolates for you, so picture one of those fancy soaps that are all delicate and detailed in their shaping. Molding can work that same way. They look a bit like those Chocolate Orange slices, really, but it’s supposedly a tight pucker that makes them look suh damn good.

Anyway, since I’m already giving a major shoutout, I may as well link his site www.edibleanus.com and yes, that’s real. He apparently didn’t want to leave any mysteries as to what he sells (I understand he goes through authorized sellers, so you might be redirected to lovehoney.co.uk; be prepared for that). As you can see, I wasn’t joking about the Chocolate Orange slices. Mind you, if you order from the website, you will be eating someone else’s starfish. Just to be clear.

Completely changing the subject altogether, there is a tradition in Japan (just stick with me, here) that began in the mid 1950s, and it’s a Feb 14 day just like Valentine’s. Except for a few things.

So, it starts on our traditional Valentine’s Day, Feb 14th, when women are forced/pressured/made to buy gifts and chocolates -called giri choco, or obligation chocolate– for the men they fucking work with. Not just guys they’re dating, or guys they can actually tolerate, but regular dickheads at work. It’s such an obligation, that they have extra shitty “ultra-obligation chocolate” called cho giri choco, which is reserved for the extra shitty coworkers you absolutely can’t stand. It’s still chocolate; just lower quality.

It gets worse. You may have noticed that I didn’t mention the part where the men do anything for that whole entire day, while the women of the company come in to work, and lay candy at their feet before continuing to work for less money. That’s because men “can’t” return the favor until a full motherfucking month later, on March 14. We’ll talk more about that in a second. I want to talk more about this workplace chocolate thing.

If I had to give chocolates to the males at my workplace, you’d better believe there would be some homemade ipecac chocolates being given, and subsequently eaten, and very immediately barfed up. No one would ever know I was the culprit, because of their sexist rules about every guy getting candy from every female. They’d have to shut that shit down, and I’d be a hero. Because that’s how I feel about forced relationships with coworkers, whether male or female. You don’t get my candy just because you’re a dude. Of course that was a brainchild of the 1950s!

And while we’re on the topic of gender, I’d like to know how the Japanese tradition addresses the issue of transgender, gay, and asexual people. Women are forced to give chocolate to men, regardless of their relation to them, and then a month later, the men have their gyaku choco, or reverse chocolate. And no, it’s not a promise to all women that there will be chocolate in their future.

No no. The men are forced to give chocolate to females, yes, but ONLY the ones they’re interested in dating (or are already with).

Let that one soak in.

The men get a choice, which… bully for you, men. At least you don’t have to give everyone the wrong idea that you’re interested in them. But what if you want to give chocolate to someone of your own gender? Can you? Are you then allowed to not give any chocolate at all on gyaku choco day? And how does the female-led choco-shower on giri choco day make you feel? You feel dirty, don’t you?

Speaking of dirty, Japan also has this “spa resort” where you can soak in steaming chocolate water. Just like you always wanted, you dirty girl.

When I was researching this asshat chocolate thing, I was pleased to see that a chocolate company had recently campaigned for women to boycott Black Thunder, which is apparently a popular candy, and not a porn star. How could I have known that? Word on the street is, they want the ladies to just start buying the chocolate for themselves, instead of the usual repayment to men for all the help they have given us women all year, because women just need saving, and men are the only ones who can save us.

I like the idea of the boycott. Anything that involves more chocolate for myself, I’m on board with.

The part that made me laugh, was their reasoning behind the campaign. It seemed perfectly fine in its obvious message to buy ourselves some chocolate, but they couldn’t leave it alone. The company took out full-page ads, because they so badly wanted to make sure everyone knew that “Valentine’s Day is a day when people convey their true feelings, not coordinate relationships at work.”

Well, we almost had it. I just can’t get behind the idea that people save their “true feelings” for one day out of 365, and either don’t show any feelings at all, or just show false feelings for the rest of the time. Or, most of the time. It did say “a day,” to be fair.

They convey their true feelings, not coordinate relationships at work! Workplace relationships are for other days of the year. Not this sacred one that is about love, and nothing else! Not revenue, not profit, not consumerism and demographics, not manipulation of the economy, and definitely not a weird mind trick being played on society. Just love.

So the ladies are buying themselves the chocolate at full price, and eating it in front of their coworkers who don’t get shit. Good. What the fuck is the deal with women being pressured to please the men they work with, so the guys can pick and choose which women are worthy? That’s fucked up. I’ve worked with some assholes, and I most definitely wouldn’t spend my money or my time, in trying to please them. I wouldn’t even buy them discounted chocolates at the end of the month. Not even if they were 90% off. I’d still just eat them, because to me, chocolates never go bad.

Imagine even having to do that. Imagine all the years women were stuck having to go out to the store to get candy, while thinking about all the dickheads they work with, and bring it back to their homes, while thinking about all the dickheads they work with, just knowing that they have to include every. single. one. Even the abusive ones, the ones that are on a constant ignorant power trip, the ones who have ten fingers to point at everyone else who is to blame for everything, the ones who go out of their way to embarrass you, and harass you, and make your life a living hell, just because they’re a natural piece of shit. And you have to walk up to them the next day, with the candy, and probably a smile, and you give them the fuckin candy, and you go back to doing your job, because that’s the real reason you’re even there to begin with.

And they may return the favor, a month later. But only if you’re worth boning, of course.

This Valentine’s Day, if I’m going to be around a bunch of assholes, they’d better be made of (or holding) expensive chocolate.

-jg

MisterRogersMamaRu

When I was younger, my siblings and I used to watch Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. I say “younger” instead of “a kid” because I watched the show well into my adulthood. Though Fred Rogers has passed, one thing I’ve never been able to get over, is the spelling of the title.

I mean, possession would be indicated by the “apostrophe before the s” at the end of any singular noun (or proper noun). So wouldn’t Mister Rogers, the singular man whose neighborhood we’re visiting, be the host of Mister Rogers’s Neighborhood? It’s not like there is more than one man named Mister Roger, and they’re both living in the neighborhood and hosting the show. That’s what the title leads me to believe, and I don’t know if I like it, because I feel like that is what that means, and I’m missing out on an entire other Mister Roger! I would like to double my fucking pleasure, please. If I’m watching Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, I’d better be looking at two dudes. At least.

An important thing I learned from watching Mister, is that every one of us has something that nobody else has: ourselves. I forgot to spoiler alert you about your mind being blown. He says, “there’s only one person in the whole world like you… and I like you just the way you are” which is also kind of weird, because it sounds like he’s telling me that there’s someone in the world like me. Is he telling them that he likes them just the way I am? Who is it? Are they old? Are they a baby? Are they a dog? Those are really the only three choices.

I took that idea of there only being one Me in the world, and I ran away with it. I used to do the most outrageous shit to get a reaction from people. I did dances, I wrote songs, I mastered different voices and impressions, I created characters, and on top of being my own biggest fan, I was extremely loud (voted Biggest Mouth and Class Clown in my senior class, thanks). If there is only one of me in the world, the world has long since gotten their money’s worth. I’ve forced friendship on people who didn’t really like me, because of the fact that I was so loud, but I thought I was funny, so they must have thought I was funny too. I used to talk to my friends’ parents like they were my friends, even though they probably thought I was too young to be saying some of the shit I was saying to them, but it didn’t matter because it didn’t feel wrong to me. I was just being myself. And I wasn’t sorry about it, because nobody told me to stop.

As much as I learned from Misterogers, I have to give credit where credit is due, and watching RuPaul’s Drag Race for ten years has taught me more about being myself, than Fred Rogers ever could. It taught me that I could not only be myself, but that I also shouldn’t feel bad about my lack of giving a shit what anyone thinks about it. Everyone has their darkness, and everyone has their suffering, and we all deal with it in our own way, and we all just try to do the best we can, until we die. I never heard that on PBS. And I probably could have used that wisdom in my teens, because the ’90s were brutal, and being a feminist back then was not very popular, especially in Bumblefuck, Maine. Wanna know who didn’t like me? Pretty much everyone, at some point. But I won them over with my humor and lack of shame, and then they had no choice but to hear me when I wasn’t being funny (but still loud), at least for a little while, until they could get out of earshot. And I wasn’t sorry about that, either.

The difference between what I learned from Mister Rogers, and what I learned from watching RuPaul, is how it pertains to me. I found Mister Rogers to be informative on how to be a good person, but I never felt like it was realistic to my world, because when I turned from the TV to the window, I was sadly disappointed in the disparity. People weren’t good, and they weren’t nice, and the sun wasn’t always shining, and things didn’t always work out in the end, and there wasn’t always a lesson to be learned, and nobody helped anybody that day, and everyone returned home with a frown. It wasn’t the same, so why should I try to be that nice person? RuPaul and the queens on the show are open and honest about ugly struggles, and have seen that people aren’t always kind, and the sun never shines on some people. It doesn’t set the expectation that everyone is doing good deeds and being selfless to make the world a better place, because the world is not like that. It can be made up to look pretty and sweet, but underneath, it’s really a hairy man with a dick.

I don’t love everything about myself, but that’s mostly because I hate feeling the physical pain that comes with being out of shape and almost old. The fact that I have stretch marks, cellulite, uneven boobs, body hair, a lazy eye, E.T. fingers, and hobbit feet… doesn’t bother me one bit. I will gladly take those things, because they’re just little things. I don’t apologize for being myself, even still. I realize not everyone is going to like me, but it’s important to remember that not everyone is going to be liked by me, either. They’re just doing their own thing, and trying as best as they can until they die. I’m a blip on their radar, if they want me to be.

I don’t even think my big mouth is my biggest drawback, to be honest with you. I’d say my lack of follow-through and ambition is probably the worst thing about me, besides the fact that I’m always right. Kidding about that ambition thing. I’m totally ambitious, just not in the way that everyone else is.

Don’t apologize for being yourself. No matter what it is, even if someone can rattle off 20 things they hate about you, so what? Fuck it. You’re you, you’re gonna be you when that person is a distant memory, and nobody else is going to be you, so you might as well fuckin just do that shit to the fullest. My kids have asked me for good comebacks for when people are putting them down, and I always tell them “Fuck off” works for me, because it literally does not matter what someone else thinks of you. It’s what you think of yourself, and how you want to represent your time on this planet.

“There’s only one person in the whole world like you… DON’T… fuck it up!”

-jg

The Feverish Brain

Flu season is upon us, and in New England, you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a reminder to “get your flu vaccine FOR FREE!” What they don’t tell you on the sign, is that the medicine you’ll have to buy when you do get sick (and you will) is definitely not free.

I’ve never been the type of person to get sick, and managed to get through most of my childhood and adolescence without throwing up at all. Iron stomach, diesel immune system, and a colon that could beat up your dad. I was as healthy as a malnutritioned middle child who was good at absolutely nothing could be. No sports to keep me fit, and my dad didn’t exactly stress the importance of getting your heart rate up, much less any real physical activity to speak of*, so I developed very little muscle tone. However, my brain was always sharp, and I could probably successfully run away from most people if I had to. What is “healthy” anyway?

*My dad, like most dads in the 1980s, was pretty big on the whole martial arts craze that came along to make every man in the Western world feel like he could do anything! He considered his interest in this subject to be the extent of his exercise, and forced us into it briefly as well. So in that way, I guess you could say that he did encourage us to be somewhat active, until his car accident gave way to a pill addiction (which he was able to overcome with the help of cannabis) and he stopped being able to force us into his dreams of being a black belt.

As an adult, when I get sick, I feel like the world is ending. I never had to deal with such pain and suffering, growing up (I guess jumping off the roof of a burnt house, into a pile of dried horse shit isn’t without its benefits) and it took me by surprise that I wasn’t dying the first time I got pneumonia. I stayed up all night, because I thought I was going to stop breathing in my sleep.

I didn’t die, by the way. I’m still here. And I still get sick, and it still sucks. That’s why I am so empathetic to others, when they’re sick: because I know what it feels like, and it’s not always obvious to the outside world that you feel like a walking zombie. When I’m sick, I don’t want to be expected to do a fuckin thing. I just want someone to say “Aw man, why don’t you sit down, so you can fixate on how shitty you feel, and I’ll make dinner.” Matt is really good for this. The kids try to ask me what they can do for me, but that just ends up looking like this:

Sonny: “Mom, what can I do for you?”
Me: “Nothing, just hang out and be good.”
Dot: “Can I get you anything?”
Me: “No, I just want to lay here.”
Sonny: “Well do you want a cold rag?”
Me: “No, I just want to lay here.”
Dot: “Do you want an ibuprofen?”
Me: “I took one already. I just want to relax, please, thank you, you don’t have to do anything for me.”
Sonny: “Want us to turn the TV down?”
Me: “No, it’s not bothering me.”
Dot: “Do you want me to make dinner?”
Me: “NO! Please don’t, I can’t even think about that right now.”
Peter Jennings Sonny: “Does your head hurt?”
Me: “Yes.”
Dot: “Have you been coughing?”
Me: “I have been up all night, coughing, with a fever, and haven’t slept in days.”
Sonny: “Do you think you have a cold?”

And that’s how I relax, when I’m sick. The sickest part of the whole thing, is that both of them were sick with separate illnesses the week before, and I fuckin got both of them. I think they saved up every question they weren’t able to ask when they were sick, and piled them on all at once. I’m no stranger to fever thoughts myself. I had a fever for almost 5 days last week, and I not only had some strange thoughts, but I apparently committed a few of them to a Google search.

“Can a human live off just broth alone?” – the answer is no. Depending on what your broth is made of, that is. If it’s made with proteins and stuff, I’m sure you could probably be alright, but I don’t think that’s the kind of broth I was drinking.

“Is lava the same temperature as my face?” – again, the answer is no. Turns out, lava is anywhere from 1,100- 1,600F, and hot snot averages around 102F. I’ve sat in hot tubs that were 115F, and that’s not that much hotter than what was stuffing up my entire face. There was steam coming off that water. Might as well be lava, when it’s that close to my brain.

“Can I overdose on Ricolas?” – this would be difficult. The closest you’d probably come to overdosing on any cough drop, would be severe nausea, caused by too much menthol. I always thought minty shit was supposed to alleviate nausea, but that wasn’t even close to being my problem.

“Nobody cares that I’m sick” – I stand by this statement.

“How can you poop if you can’t eat?” – oh, believe me… you can poop. It’s just not going to be food. Not gonna be food, because you didn’t eat, and you didn’t eat because your face was full of lava. And if you can’t even eat a baked potato, you need to get used to pooping out broth.

“Flu vs Cold” – I think I’m going to wait until I finish medical school, to lend my expertise on this one. From what the internet tells me (the internet is a doctor) there is minimal difference between the two, other than the fact that one comes complete with the Triumvirate of Suffering: fever/chills/headache. Remember when I said nausea wasn’t my problem? The Triumvirate of Suffering was the star of that show.

“Can a cold last forever?” – besides the fact that I didn’t have a cold this time, I would have to say that, historically, 100% of the time, my colds have not lasted forever. Could be a fluke.

“My pee is too cloudy” – lack of fluids, probably caused by too much broth and not enough water. Luckily, it wasn’t indicative of a bladder infection – or worse, kidney stones – because that may have very well sent me over the edge. When I’m sick, I have very little energy to do anything other than whine and complain, so driving myself to the doctor, and subsequently the pharmacy for antibiotics, wasn’t happening.

“Is it today, or yesterday?” – this was something I typed into my phone’s search function, so I didn’t get an answer. Is there an answer? I don’t think so.

Having a fever can also affect your judgment, such as your concept of time. I showed up to pick up my daughter from school, and ended up crying in the car, because I was 15 minutes early. I legitimately wondered – aloud – why she wasn’t coming outside.  When my son had a last minute practice, I could have jumped out the window of my car. That didn’t happen, mostly because I couldn’t move.

The worst part about being sick, at least this time, was the idea that I couldn’t sleep, which meant the sickness was going to either get stronger, or at least maintain its stronghold on me. When I tried to sleep, the lava mucus in my face threatened me with brain boil (just an FYI, brain boil isn’t real, unless you were in the Vesuvius disaster). If you can’t sleep, and your face is on fire, you don’t necessarily wake up with hope that things are improving. Maybe you do, but I think you’re lying. Waking up with a fever and headache, then wrapping yourself in a blanket and cranking up the heat because you’re freezing, only to immediately realize you’re roasting… not a great morning routine. Especially when you know that you’re probably going to drag those symptoms around with you all day, and they’ll be accompanying you to bed.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, being sick is fuckin stupid. It kept me from writing, and made me feel like a turd for not being able to power through it. I would like to be one of those humans whose will is stronger when they’re sick, simply because they want to be the one behind the fight, and claim the recovery as their victory. Instead, I rag on myself until every ounce of self esteem has been flushed from my body, like three days’ worth of chicken broth. When I do feel better, it’s because the universe has finally decided it’s fucked with me enough for now, and it lets me go free so I can run home to my mommy to nurse my wounds… until next time it gets bored and decides my suffering is entertaining. Who would’ve known that sickness was my weakness?!

Now that I’m feeling better, I can get back to my life of no irrational fear or unreasonable judgment. It’s gonna be great.

-jg

Did Someone Just Fuckin’ Say “Christmas”???

It’s only October.

But it’s late October, which means a few things in this consumerist society in which we’re drowning. The first, is the Party City enema everyone is forced to endure on television. I don’t watch much television, but Hulu shows enough commercials to offset any lost time we may have experienced otherwise. Thank you, Corporate America! It’s virtually impossible to miss the fact that it is, indeed, Halloween, but that doesn’t stop us from putting up our own decorations, even if our neighborkids are just going to rip them down and destroy them anyway. We’ll probably make our own costumes, like we always do in my family because we’re cheap, because we just love the idea of being someone else, for just a few hours. It’s an escape no other holiday can offer. In my opinion, costumes should be heavily marketed all year round, but that’s not this blog post. It’s another one.

You may have also noticed that it’s prime season for pepperings-in of holiday commercials. While still few in numbers, there is no denying that these earlybird companies are merely the first to dip their toes into the icy cold water of the dreaded SHOPPING SEASON. That means more commercials, more catalogs, more magazine ads, more store displays, more articles about the “big toy of the season” that you’ll definitely have to pre-order, because just the very mention of something potentially becoming popular, is enough to make everybody want it. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, really; it’s only popular because consumers were afraid it would become too popular, and so they take “precautionary” measures, and those precautions result in what we call A Clusterfuck.

Since I’ve been cognizant of the phenomenon of holiday product pushing, I’ve always noticed the stark absence of commercials for clothing, other than Macy’s or Kohl’s, and those ones are fuckin strange. The ads show a group of people usually laughing, and they’re bopping around or moving in some unnatural way for hanging out, and literally nobody is saying anything. Everyone is just laughing and smiling. What was that shoot like? Was it… like this….?

Director: “Hey, put these pants on, and get in there and laugh.”
Actor: “At what?”
Director: “I don’t know, just laugh. You’re having a great time wearing that sweater and scarf and super tight pants.”
Actor: “That’s not funny, though. What am I laughing at?”
Director: “Think of something funny. It’s method acting.”
Actor: *shrug* “Okay.”
Director: “Pick up that giant red ball, too, and throw it at her.”
Actress: “Me?!”
Actor: “You want me to throw the ball at her?”
Director: “Yeah, it’s fun. It’s what people do in scarfs and jeans. Make sure you get that kid laughing too.”

I’ve seen some good old fashioned snowball fights on commercials for clothing, too. Mostly for outdoor clothing, but some featured people without coats -but with scarfs and earmuffs and gloves- throwing snowballs at each other. I don’t know.

The majority of holiday ads are geared toward children and teens. You know why. It’s because they’re the ones who are doing all the watching; watching TV, streaming Hulu, or they’re checked into YouTube to watch some idiot watching something else. They’re getting their daily dose of commercials, and they’re going to know exactly what they want for the holidays, because it’s not just the adults who lose their minds over the next Tickle Me Elmo, it’s the young ones too. They know what The Big Ticket is, and if they don’t see it for themselves on TV, they’ll hear all about it, and you bet your ass they’re going to let you know. And then, the deal is fuckin sealed for you, because if you don’t get that thing, you didn’t do enough. Doesn’t matter what else you get them. If it’s not that particular thing, you get to hear about how you should have pre-ordered it, and you’ll learn the names of 16 other kids who did get it, and you realize holiday consumerism is a scam, and watch your hard earned money just sit there on the floor, because it’s not The Big Ticket.

And then they play with something they already owned. Is that in the holiday ads? Where the kid just says fuckit, and starts playing with the Legos he was playing with the night before? Or where they get mad that they can’t have candy canes or bell-shaped chocolates for breakfast? Where are those ads? I remember one time, my dad put dry Lucky Charms in my stocking, just to get me to eat cereal instead of candy. I ate the marshmallows, and left the rest. Holiday Loopholes.

Speaking of loopholes, there needs to be one for relatives, because physics has forbidden me from being in two places at once. I’ve used up all of my freebies with the universe, so now I can only be in one place at one time, and that essentially guarantees that someone is going to be feeling like the asshole (spoiler: it’ll be me). I have to tell somebody no, or at the very least, reschedule for a time that is convenient. You know what isn’t convenient? Having to tell someone that they are the person you chose to reschedule. Friggin holidays… creating unrealistic expectations and incredibly realistic arguments since too-long-ago.

I don’t know if you know this or not, but there’s a holiday we celebrate here in the United States, and it’s called Thanksgiving. It’s a bullshit holiday by its very existence, but it’s cloaked in an air of “appreciation” so people aren’t allowed to talk shit about it. You have to be thankful. Don’t be a dick. That’s for the other 364 days of the year. Surely, you can spare one day of your year to not be so greedy, because that’s what Thanksgiving is about!

NO IT ISN’T.

In the United States, Thanksgiving is a food holiday that we use as an excuse to eat more than we normally do, and we pretend to be nicer than we really are. There are not usually gifts involved, but like Christmas or Chanuka, there is a fair amount of prep work that must be done, in order to successfully drive you insane execute the holiday. There is usually a big-ass turkey as the star of the meal, unless you’re a vegetarian, or you have a weird bird thing. I don’t know what people eat, if they’re not having turkey. I could eat turkey every day for the rest of my life, and be alright about it. Aside from that, you gotta have potatoes, stuffing, gravy, and pie. That’s the big four, as far as I’m concerned, and I would need nothing else on my plate, to make it a good night. But for most people, that’s just the appetizer.

I used to run a Biggest Loser competition at my old job, and when Thanksgiving came around, I had to tune everyone out, because even someone who is trying to lose weight will still glorify the horrific extent of consumption that happens on this holiday. It’s almost a necessity to over-indulge. Americans are convinced that this day just doesn’t count, and their bodies won’t pay for the random day of odd dieting that could easily equal 3 days’ worth of caloric, sodium, and fat intake. The fact is, if you give a day a special name, Americans will find a way to incorporate food into it, even if we’re unhealthy. It’s what we do. It’s why we are the way we are. If you try to figure it out, you will get lost (make sure to bring some snacks, in case you get hungry along the way).

I’ve seen some Thanksgiving dinners that were ridiculous. My sister and mom are notorious for doing way too fuckin much. 3 turkeys, AND ribs, AND roasts and stuff. And that doesn’t even include the milliondy-four sides they have prepared. You’d think they were going on vacation, and wanted to cook up everything in their house before they left. Nope, just cramming enough food for 50 people into 10 people. Because it’s a celebration! It’s weird how far we have come, from celebrating our hard work paying off in a plentiful harvest, to spending $500 on a meal that normally costs you $40 to make. Happy Thanksgiving.

The funniest thing on Thanksgiving, I think, is the sheer number of hours we spend watching the Christmas commercials. You think you’re watching football, or the Macy’s parade, but you’re just being violated by the grubby intentions of corporate America. They know you’re watching. They can practically smell the food on your breath. They know the kids can see, and if they aren’t in the room, that’s okay, because the toy ads play just a little bit louder than the show you’re watching. The second that one kid hears the annoyingly sugary voice of a woman excitedly telling you about a tiny plastic dog that just shit out some puppies, the stampede is imminent. They need the toy, but they also need to see the commercial for the toy. Right after that, while you’re still reeling from the sound of screams, it’s the commercial that tells you what your wife wants for jewelry. They know your wife can see, and if she isn’t in the room, that’s okay, because the jewelry ads play on EVERY FUCKING STATION.

Let me tell you something about jewelry ads: they’re funny as hell. The only commercial funnier than jewelry ads (and As Seen On TV ads) is a food commercial. Sidetracking for a second… What kind of reality exists, where someone takes a bite or a drink, and they close their eyes and breathe in deeply so their shoulders shrug up toward their ears, and they smile, so you know they’re thoroughly enjoying what they just consumed? Seriously. It’s lunch meat. It’s coffee. It’s a pasta dish. It’s a damn chocolate that is gonna send you to heaven, apparently. I have never eaten anything like that, in my entire life, and I love food more than I love some of my siblings. But jewelry ads are so fake, they make the food orgasm scenes look like Shakespeare in the park.

“This Christmas, show her you mean forever. Get her the Eternal Sweetheart Wife In Love diamond set from Shitz’s.”

Let me stop you there. I like the fact that they’re encouraging people to show love, instead of just saying it with dumb old words (who does that anymore?) but this is a pretty expensive way to say it. Diamonds? I’d much rather have $400 in nachos, or massages, or shoes, or cookware, or books, or paint, or scrap wood. In fact, don’t even spend that much money on me, unless it’s in car repairs or vacation details. Diamonds have no purpose, and still, they’re constantly pushed on couples, as a means to prove how strong their love is. Why not just get her the 100% steel set instead? That shit is strong. Not even jet fuel can melt it.

Christmas is the time for buying a car. If you have been putting off buying a new Lexus, now is the time. If you have perfect credit, come down and get the best deals, so we can work on your credit score. Get $1,000 off a $45,000 car, with no money down, and 0% APR. There’s no better time to surprise your spouse with a major expense, without discussing it with them first, financially. Hurry in to your Lexus dealer, before all of the cars are gone… because that’s something that ever happens. When this sale ends, it ends, until our New Year’s sale, and then our Presidents’ Day sale, and then the St. Patrick’s Day sale, and the Easter Sale, which is right before the Spring Clearance! See your Lexus dealer TODAY, and get a large red bow at no extra cost! The large red bow indicates that it’s a gift, even though the payments will be a joint expense, and you’ll probably also drive or ride in it. It’s a gift for them, which you’ll be able to successfully hide until Christmas morning, because they’ll never look in the garage. No garage? That’s okay, we will drive the car up into the driveway for you, when you’re ready to present it to your spouse (as a gift, for your spouse) and then sneak away stealthily on foot, back to the dealership on Christmas day! We have nothing to do, trust me, it always works out this way. It’s the Christmas miracle.

It would be funny to see holiday commercials change with the season, to reflect how tired we are of the ads by mid-December. The guy has the sweater on, and he’s making the Angry Dad Face at the kid, who has half of his clothes off, and the pants have grape juice and cheesy fingerprints on them, and the dog is working on the turkey, on top of the table, while the woman is drinking a glass of wine and running away. There’s half-written Christmas cards on the floor, without stamps on them. A toddler is pulling a Santa costume out of Dad’s bottom drawer. Nana is snapping the Christmas records in half. The director might tell them: “I don’t give two fucks, I just want this nightmare to end,” and they’ll all be motivated by that.

I’m not ready for the holidays yet. I can dig Halloween, because I love candy, and free candy is always good (well, maybe not always, don’t listen to me, Kids). I don’t want to think about Thanksgiving, and I certainly don’t want to think about Christmas yet. There are so many things that have to happen between now and then, and if I start thinking about the holidays, the other things will just become unimportant bumps in the road, and I don’t want that. I want to enjoy each day, and experience each bump for what it is. We are always so obsessed with time going by, that we’re forever reminding ourselves of what’s to come, instead of just living it when it gets here. When it finally does arrive, we are too busy thinking about what’s next, to fully appreciate what is happening. Let the days go by, but don’t forget to live them. Make something special out of each day. Just like Mr. Rogers said for you to do. I’m copying him, is what I’m trying to say.

It’s only October. Let it be.

-jg

I Was Almost Vinced.

Last week, I learned the meaning of the word “vincible” in more ways than one. Obviously, I looked it up in the dictionary, and wasn’t surprised to see it there. It literally means the opposite of “invincible,” which we all know, means you can’t be vinced.

I also learned the definition the hard way, by getting into a car accident. It’s worth mentioning that everyone survived, so, this isn’t that kind of invincibility (or vincibility, as it were) story, you can relax. It’s more about realizing that you’re human.

As of the day I am writing this, it has been a week since the crash, and I have experienced a metamorphic transformation of sorts, in those seven days. Nobody ever expects an accident, and when you get into one, it happens so fast, that you can easily get lost in the true events of what you’re experiencing. You ask “How did that happen?!” which is a fair question to ask, unless you were doing something risky and it just caught up with you. In that case, be your own detective.

Not only do you wonder how it happened, you can actually block out the details of what happened. One minute, you’re driving, and the very next moment, you’re spun around in a ditch on the other side of the road. If you were rear-ended, it can be extremely unclear, and you’re left with unanswered questions because the other driver probably isn’t going to want to incriminate themselves for the sake of your peace of mind. Sometimes, they’re an old couple, who you run over to check on, and they’re grouchy fuckin dicks to you. Or, it’s a redneck who wasn’t paying attention while driving way-too-fast mph on a back road in the winter, and they tell the insurance company that it was your fault. Or, sometimes it’s an extortionist who wants to make a quick buck on an insurance payout, and isn’t afraid to lay low for awhile to prove how useless injured they are. In any case, even if they’re nice, they aren’t worried about you, as much as they’re worried about themselves. But feel free to call them for an interview, if you think you’ll be able to figure some shit out. I wasn’t so lucky.

This was my second accident with my son in the car, and I’m grateful beyond all that is powerful in the universe, that he was not hurt in either one. This one was a bit less intense, but he was a champ throughout the whole thing, and has been ever since. The thing I haven’t been able to shake, is the feeling that, if we had collided one second sooner, my son could have been killed. I don’t know what I would do without him in my life, but if something happened to him because of my inability to protect him, I would struggle with being able to recover and cope. Again, I am so thankful that he is okay, and that he isn’t also caught up in this line of morbid thought that I can’t seem to get out of.

Another thing I have been struggling with, is the fear that everyone is going to come out of nowhere and hit me. I can’t check both ways enough times before pulling into the street or turning a corner. I can’t slow down enough, or allow enough space between myself and other vehicles. I know it’s normal to feel this paranoia after a crash, but I feel like it’s becoming ingrained in me. I am always a cautious and attentive driver; I never text and drive, I don’t look at my phone at all, I watch my mirrors and blind spots, and I minimize my interactions with other features in the car. I have impeccable reaction time, and have always been able to work around the poor planning and neglectful habits other drivers. I do well with rotaries, highway traffic, crazy drivers, construction, darkness, inclement weather, and distractions from my passengers. I can drive for long distances without falling asleep, and even though I’m a terrible navigator, I can follow direction. So, being in the mindset that I need to be even safer than that or we’re all going to die, is so unhealthy. Matt says the more I think about it, the more distracted I’ll be. I do know this already.

Perhaps the oddest piece of this puzzle, is that, no matter how hard I try to relive the crash, I cannot figure out where those old people came from. They weren’t there, and then they were. They were not there, and appeared in the same space as me, at the same time, and my car fell apart, while theirs was virtually untouched. Not a scratch on it. And not only that, but neither of them were hurt even a little, and they didn’t call their insurance company, or talk to mine. Didn’t even give their names. Which leads me to the conclusion that they weren’t real.

Maybe I’m just trying to compensate for my momentary lapse of perfection on the road, but I have been so confused about their existence, that I can think of no logical explanation to account for their involvement in the accident. There was nobody on that road with me, in any direction, and it was broad daylight, bright sunshine, no distractions. I didn’t just imagine this; my son is also perplexed by the fact that they literally came out of nowhere. This is some Unsolved Mysteries shit, at the highest level. Someone needs to open an X-File, not an insurance claim!

When your car becomes worthless, it’s what they call a Total Loss, which means your car has sustained more damage than it could ever be sold for again. I think mine was already at that point, prior to the accident, but if someone thinks they want to give me the Kelley price for it, then I’ll take it. It certainly helps, when you have no idea how you’re going to get around all of a sudden. If you’ve ever been one of those people who doesn’t have multiple working vehicles, ATVs, boats, snowmobiles, and motorcycles in their garage, you know the struggle. In my area, everyone has 450 trucks and cars in their yard, but you can’t borrow one for a few days, because that person needs those cars to sit there, in case all of their other vehicles somehow mysteriously stop working at one time. You figure your own shit out, but don’t forget… they’re there for you if you need anything. Just ask.

Since the accident, I have driven over 400 miles, and I may as well be walking on eggshells. The anxiety I feel over the responsibility to keep my family safe has been great. Not great, as in good. Great, as in MASSIVE. I have a brand new car, and every sound is making me obsess over whatever the worst case scenario could be. I hate that feeling. I feel like I already live my life that way, ruled by irrational fears, due to traumatizing experiences in the past. (I am aware of what PTSD is, thanks) I just want to be able to shut out those thoughts, so I can be happy and enjoy life while it’s going well.

But the dilemma is, if I relax, I might miss something or neglect to act somehow. I know I’m vincible now, and that I have to rely on more than just my instinct; I have to be mindful in every second. How can I just sit back and enjoy life, when I am responsible for so much? I don’t have the “working” job, I have the job where everyone’s well-being rests in your hands. They eat, because you shop for food, cook the meal, and feed them. They go to school and work, because you take them and pick them up. The bills are paid, because you call the company when there’s a problem, and when there isn’t, you are making sure that things remain problem-free. The laundry is done, because you took care of it between other tasks. The appointments are scheduled around each other, however plentiful they may be, because you pay attention to the packed schedule, and ask what everyone is doing, or needs. Teachers and counselors stay informed, because you keep them in the loop. Unspoken issues get attention, because you notice that something isn’t right, and you dig. It’s not a paid job, but it takes from you. You end up being the one who pays, because the worry and responsibility of being a parent at home is a lot to bear.

That is, if you love and care about your family. I don’t know, some people don’t. Some people let all of the responsibility rest on the child(ren). Some parents don’t even like to be considered a parent. They want to be the Best Friend. In my opinion, a Best Friend would offer to do my dishes once in awhile, or clean up their shit around the house. Might be why I don’t have a best friend (just kiddin, Matt!)

I’ve learned about the fragility of life, and how easy it would be to just stop living, if we don’t take the time to care and consider. Even when you think nothing is happening, even when you think you’re not in danger, even when you think you’ve taken every precaution… it’s important to realize that we are not invincible, and that we are constantly surrounded by circumstances that we don’t even notice. Circumstances that can change your life greatly (great, as in massive). Even the most cognizant of people can miss something, and everything can be taken away in that instant.

But don’t forget to relax.

-jg

p.s. nothing heavy next week, I promise! I will come back swinging, whatever that means in the writing world.

 

Oldies, Not Goodies

I like just about every style of music (almost) and when I find myself getting “bored” with one style, I just start binge-listening to another style until I get sick of that one too. Right now, I’m back on “oldies” music, because I’ve been listening to a lot of old hip-hop, and I get fixated on the samples, so here I am. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the genre of “oldies” music, it refers to the clean-cut, radio friendly, seemingly innocuous songs of the 1950s and ’60s, which mostly focused on love and happiness.

In the spirit of the zeitgeist, this post is to highlight some of the things music artists used to get away with, that just sound ridiculous now. Society has changed, in the way we interact with each other, our interests and priorities, and the way we express ourselves. People don’t sing about the same subjects, because we don’t worry about or value the same things we used to. That’s not to say music has gotten better, where profanity is now encouraged to be as explicit and sexual as possible, but there is at least a new taboo around certain slurs that used to be allowed (I don’t even want to go into the numerous songs I found, which used “faggot” and “retard” freely on radio versions). Different things bother us, as well as delight us, and as a result, music is drastically different.

Take the song “Down In The Boondocks  by Billie Joe Royal:

Down in the boondocks/ down in the boondocks
People put me down cause that’s the side of town I was born in
I love her and she loves me/ but I don’t fit in her society
Lord have mercy, I’m a boy from down in the boondocks

People don’t really sing about caste or class in songs anymore. With the advent of Tinder and Bumble, as well as online services like Match.com, people can date across the tracks, and not have to face any backlash. I tried thinking of a recent song that deals with this issue, and I could only think of “Sk8r Boi” by Avril Lavigne. He wasn’t good enough for “her” but he was certainly good enough for Avril (wait- was Chad Kroeger the sk8r boi??). He just had to stick to his own demographic, which is something Billie Joe Royal couldn’t abide.

Have you ever listened to “The Wanderer” by Dion a million times, like I have? The message in this upbeat tune is pretty questionable on its own, without Dion actually doubling down on it: “You say to a chick, ‘Stay away from that guy,'” Dion said in 1976, “and she would say, ‘What guy?’ Chicks loved a rebel.”

How charming, Dion. I mean, you told her to stay away from the guy, and she didn’t listen to you?! The nerve! She must be asking for it, I guess. It’d be like, if your buddies told you to stay away from a girl, and you didn’t, but then when your buddies were right, you blamed it on the chick.

Oh wait, YOU DID. On the SAME RECORD. Let’s talk about “Runaround Sue” a minute, shall we?

She likes to travel around, yeah
She’ll love you and she’ll put you down
Now people let me put you wise
Sue goes out with other guys
(-Runaround Sue)

Okay, so what about:

Oh yeah, I’m the type of guy that likes to roam around
I’m never in one place, I roam from town to town
And when I find myself a-fallin’ for some girl
Yeah, I hop right into that car of mine and drive around the world
(-The Wanderer)

So let me get this straight: The Wanderer is some mysterious sex bomb, born to drive the women crazy (which is clearly all we want in life), while Sue doesn’t even get the luxury of being called by her first name, without the slut-shaming prefix? Interesting.

If you’re wondering why she goes out with other guys, it’s probably because you’re out fucking every girl in the world, not even telling them your name, because to you, “they’re all the same.” If you were home once in awhile, perhaps Sue would be happy to get a good dicking, but you’ll never know that, because you’re drivin’ ’round the world in your car.

I mean, you literally talk about how, when you’re spending the night with Janie (not Sue), you tell her you love Rosie (again, not Sue) the best, so Sue probably has the right to be going out with other guys. It’s only fair. Sounds like you either drove her ass crazy while you were in your “Wanderer” phase, and she couldn’t take it anymore, or, maaaaayyyybeeee… she was such a powerfully crazy whore, that you finally broke down and turned into a whore as well, and now they call you The Wanderer.

Still, if the latter were the truly the case, you said it yourself, “ask any fool she ever knew, and they’ll tell you” so why the fuck didn’t you listen?? You knew she wasn’t trying to settle down. It’s like when you tell a chick to stay away from a guy, and she doesn’t. Don’t expect monogamy from someone who is sexually liberated, and then go blaming them for your own transgressions.

Here’s another song I’ve always hated, that still makes me shake my head:

The purpose of a man is to
love a woman
and the purpose of a woman is to
love a man…
Come on, baby
‘Cause the time is right
Love your daddy with all your might
Put your arms around me
Hold me tight
Play the game of love

c’mon baby, let’s play the game of Love
(- The Game of Love)

Say what???

First of all… let’s just say we’ve learned our lesson on sexual attraction being limited to heterosexual couplings. Let’s pretend we all Oops!ed our way away from that whole tragedy, and agree that it’s a horrendous indoctrinating mindgame. Beyond that… I’d say the purpose of a man, back then, was mostly to either serve his country, and/or go to work and be the breadwinner, and provide discipline to the family, and wash the fucking car in the driveway. He didn’t have much purpose, beyond that. And let’s not glaze over the purpose of a woman, which is apparently to love a man?? Can we still pursue our dreams, though? Or rear our children? Do we have any other options, or can we do other things with our lives, while waiting to fulfill our life’s purpose? Just checking, for someone else.

Don’t even get my overly-analytical ass started on the disgusting Daddy/control issues at work in the last part. He feels the need to tell her that the time is right, as if she has no say in the matter, or simply can’t tell if the time is right or not, and then he keeps bossing her around like she’s some kind of voice-commanded sex doll. Why does he have to call himself her daddy? Why?… because daddies are bossy? Let’s shrug the daddy shit off, shall we?

Also, why have we not updated this song, to say “The purpose of a human is to love themselves, and the purpose of other people is none of your fucking business“?

Much better.

Tommy James had a song that goes: “My baby does the hanky panky”  over and over, for the whole song. I never actually knew if he was excited about it, or if he was slut-shaming, but he apparently felt the need to tell everyone about it in a song. I mean, there are only a couple of ways a person could take that line, both of which I’ll go into now.

If his baby does the hanky panky, and one assumes that he is the one doing the hanky panky with her, then why is he putting all of the focus on her? In that case, he and his baby are both doing the hanky panky, and he’s telling everyone that she’s doing it. Not cool. Own that shit, dude. If you’re proud of your lady, and you’re open enough to let others know she’s boning, be proud of the fact that she’s boning you.

That is, assuming “hanky panky” means boning.

On the other hand, if his baby does the hanky panky, but he is not doing the hanky panky, then he sounds unnaturally upbeat bout her doing the hanky panky with other people. The whole thing smacks of Open Relationship vibes. In either case, it sure does seem like he wants everyone to know about his “baby’s” sexual appetite, and could think of little to say about it.

Not exactly a ’50s or ’60s song, but in 1970, there was a fun little summer ditty called “In The Summertime“, in which Mungo Jerry celebrates all of the free-spirited excitement and adventure the warm weather brings. You’ve heard it in movies and TV, on the radio, in stores, and probably just in passing, more times than you can count. But have you ever listened to the lyrics? Particularly these ones:

“Have a drink, have a drive
Go out and see what you can find
If her daddy’s rich, take her out for a meal
If her daddy’s poor, just do what you feel”

Couple things: if you’re drinking and driving, it’s bad enough that you’re taking your own life into your hands, but your lack of compassion for other motorists on the road… not a cute trait. I don’t know about you, but I don’t make it a habit to get into a car with a drunk driver, much less, one that has been trolling around for “whatever he could find” before settling on me. This song doesn’t relegate the singer to his own class, as mentioned in the lyrics, though I’m still unsure if he truly understands the distinction between rich and poor. Who knows, maybe he’s spot on. Just seems more logical that the girl with the poor daddy is going to need that meal a little more than the rich girl. She would probably also be more inclined to be financially conscious at said meal, or at least bring home the leftovers, and probably eat them, and definitely not just leave the doggy bag in the fridge, like I do.

1970 produced another gem, called “Vehicle” by a group called Ides of March (like the warning). The very first line in the song lays it all out on the table, in the creepiest way possible:

I’m a friendly stranger in a black sedan
won’tcha hop inside my car
I got pictures, candy, I’m a lovable man,
and I can take you to the nearest star”

Uhh, what the hell?? That guy is using every cliche available to rapists in 1970. I mean, at least he’s friendly, but damn, he’s still telling you straight-up that he’s a stranger! Apparently he wants you to hop in his car, based solely on your looks, which just doesn’t ever lead to anything substantial, but if he can get you to the nearest star, he’s wheeling and dealing extremely well. Pictures? I can get those anywhere. Candy? You’re speaking my language, but again, I can buy my own damn candy. But when you start talking about taking me to Alpha Centauri, well, I just might be putty in your 1970s hands.

Not to further my point about the ’70s being equally weird, but in 1972, The Four Tops decided it was time to remind us what #RelationshipGoals look like, with “Ain’t No Woman.” I admit, I used to love this song, because it’s otherwise romantic as fuck, and I still do enjoy listening to it, but I cringe so hard when he sings the line “I would kiss the ground she walks on/ ’cause it’s my word, my word she’ll obey.” 

You mean, her value above others in your world is strictly contingent on whether or not she’s going to do whatever you say? Why does she have to obey your word? Do you have some unreasonable expectations, on which bullshit has been called? Not to be a buzzkill or anything, but that ain’t romance. It reminds me of that line in The Labyrinth, when Jareth says “Just fear me, love me, do as I say and I will be your slave.” What is it with guys thinking that’s a fair exchange?

“Hey girl… your free will, for some dick?”

I think we have arrived at a point, in our current society, where it really isn’t safe to sing or talk or write about anything, without incurring some backlash. I have come to accept this, and it seems that more and more performers are coming to the same conclusion, plowing past the red tape of PC civil rights and humanistic compassion, and glorifying misogyny, rape, murder, and racism. If you think the lyrics from the 1960s were questionable, just turn on your radio today. There is nothing to even question anymore; between the lyrics and the video themes, the messages are clear, and they set both genders (and society as a whole) back so many decades, the 1950s seem like yesterday.

But remember: nothing is safe to say, so even this post itself will come off as “anti-feminist” to someone, because they could argue that music videos nowadays are sexually liberating for [insert gender here] and I should break free from the chains of sexual repression in the media. I like to think there is a happy medium, where sexuality and the human form have their platform to be celebrated, AND creativity and ingenuity get to shine on their own platform as well. Sexuality can be liberating for people, and anxiety-inducing for others, but it has its place. Using sexuality as a replacement for anything, seems to surrender your own power over it, defeating the purpose of it in the first place.

Love and sex and relationships between people will always be changing. We will look at each other differently in the future, than we do now, than we did 50 years ago, and hopefully learn from our poor choices. I wonder what we’ll be singing about in another 50 years, when Li’l Pump and 6ix9nine are considered “oldies.”

-jg