Opening My Fourth Eye

WARNING: this post talks about my b-hole, otherwise known as the a-hole. You know, the one that is (slightly) less-sexualized than its close neighbor, the vagina. Read at your own risk, but be warned that this post contains educational statements.

Nothing says “quit taking shit for granted” quite like having a rectal cancer scare. Every day, we hear about all varieties of cancer, and unless we’re a total sociopath, we sympathize with the person that has the cancer, and we think about people we know (or knew) with cancer, and it stirs up a lot of conversation about what could happen during treatment, after treatment, or in the absence of treatment.

It also gets people talking about what led to the cancer. There’s medical history evaluation, lifestyle questions, and a whole lot of being honest about what your regular habits may include. In my case, they wanted to know all the good stuff: how often I take a shit, what it looks like, how much pressure I use to wipe (and how much time I spend wiping) afterward, what kind of underwear I wear, whether or not I have anal sex, and if I’ve ever had hemorrhoids before. Not exactly First Date Questions, but that doctor definitely got to third base within 15 minutes of meeting me. Would the butthole be third base? I feel like it is.

Actually, I feel like I slid ass-first into home plate, and the catcher was waiting there for me with a red hot poker, because I had a rather invasive surgery that has changed me forever. I don’t even like baseball anymore because of these analogies. I don’t even like the word analogies because it just looks like something I don’t want to deal with. Anal oh-jeez.

I have spent the past 4 days on my couch, agonizing over what my brother-in-law Dave likes to call: The Second Butthole. Born out of necessity, this misery was coded as “elective surgery” on my chart. I suppose you could elect to suffer for the rest of your life, if you want to be technical about it. I figured 3 years was long enough, so I had a choice to make: throw my pride to the wind and start mooning my doctor without hesitation, or keep suffering like it’s not a problem. Let me tell you, IT WAS A PROBLEM. I’ve never been shy, but it takes a certain kind of suffering to get to that place where you’re talking openly about your shit within the first 5 minutes of meeting someone.

I didn’t have any problems with my digestive or intestinal systems, necessarily; my gut worked just fine. There aren’t many foods I can’t tolerate. The problem was with the “back door” not opening, due to a large mass that kept reopening and re-scarring, reopening and re-scarring, causing blood-clotting, as well as hardened, thick tissue formation. I tested for (and took medication for) all types of intestinal worms, despite never having them. I tried creams and ointments and special diets and all kinds of bathroom hygiene etiquette. The symptoms were unrelenting. The constantly healing wounds were also constantly itchy, in addition to the enlarged pulsating veins that were being compressed by the thickening scar tissue.  It was a nightmare. There wasn’t one minute of the day when I wasn’t thinking about it.

So I got the elective surgery. Hopefully my insurance covers it, though, at this point I don’t really care. I have a dime-sized hole next to my actual b-hole, and it can’t be stitched or closed in any way, because that promotes bacterial growth. It wasn’t packed with gauze or dressing. Because of the nature of my problem, I had to have tissue biopsy done as well, which means I also have a bunch of random “snips” that were left open as well, in and around my rectum.

IN and around it. IN IT. There are open wounds inside of my rectum. Who the fuck in their right mind would elect to get that kind of surgery, if it wasn’t necessary?! That shit isn’t exactly fun. I got my surgery last Friday, and I’m only JUST well enough to lay here on my side and type this now. It’s fuckin Tuesday. If I could have elected to just somehow live through an unwelcome mass growing ever more disruptive inside my asshole, believe me, I would.  Turns out… not that easy. Even now that the major player was removed, I still don’t know the status of the pathology, so I suppose I feel a little better?

Okay, I took a couple of days off, to wallow in my pain and suffering (because that’s what I do) and now it’s Thursday. The pathology came back NEGATIVE FOR CANCER (best news I’ve gotten in years) which is wonderful for my overall health. The downside is, my recovery is not going well. I still feel like I’m clenching in a razor blade that acts like it wants to come out, but is really just messing with me. I’ve been doing all the post-op care as instructed, but when it rains, it pours. Or as the French say: “Jamais deux, sans trois,” which means “Never two without three.” In my case, it means “you’re fucked.”

Have you ever compounded a blood pressure medication with lidocaine, and applied it to your bootyhole? Guess who has to… yep, me. I didn’t even know that was a thing, but I certainly know now! Anal fissures are another fun thing to have, post-op. Did you know about those? (Read this, for info) Did you also know you can get muscle spasms in your butthole, that actually slow down your healing? Well now you do, and you can just take my word for it, that IT’S WORSE THAN YOU’RE THINKING. That’s the reason for the blood pressure medication, explained. It’s almost as if not being able to poop, pee, eat, sleep, sit, stand, walk, or drive, just wasn’t enough. My body in my late 30’s, ladies and gentlemen. That shit doesn’t even have to make sense, for me to suffer from it.

Listen to me: don’t take your body for granted. Don’t just eat whatever you are able to survive through. Just because you can eat a ghost chile pepper without dying, doesn’t mean your body isn’t going to hate it. I don’t understand these people, who think it’s some kind of accomplishment to stand in front of a crowd of people, with a mile-long snot dripping out of their nose, tears pouring out of their beet-red eyes, their lips burning with the heat of a thousand suns, unable to taste anything but pain for the next week, knowing they’ll be shitting out red fire. Congratulations? Your body hates you. You’re just not listening to it, when it tells you how unhappy it is. Trust me, I’ve been having plenty of conversation with my body lately, and all it wants to say is “I tried to fuckin tell  you,” with its arms crossed.

If I’ve learned anything from this whole ordeal, it’s that there are good doctors out there. Ones that make you feel completely comfortable with winking in their face from the back end. Ones that explain to you what is going on, and reassure you that butt surgery is not on everyone’s bucket list. Ones that don’t make you feel like you’re being a pain in the ass; you just have pain in the ass. I don’t know what encouraged this doctor to go into Proctology, but I’m glad he did. Nobody has ever cared about my b-hole as much as he has; apparently not even me. From now on, I’m going to treat my body like a temple, because you never know when you’re going to have to just stop eating potatoes and pasta and cheese and meat out of nowhere, and THEN what are you going to do? Just sit there and watch your family eat all that stuff, while you eat nothing?! Don’t be that person. You’re not invincible. Don’t be an asshole.

TAKEAWAY MESSAGE: If you’re having rectal issues, get them checked out ASAP. Mine could have been treated much more simply, if I had not waited. Don’t be embarrassed. I just tell myself “This doctor has seen some nasty buttholes, so mine is probably like the Sistine Chapel.” Don’t let your rectal issues go untreated, because they could turn into surgery you didn’t even know you were getting (and subsequently ruin your entire Christmas vacation trip back home). What starts off as a simple biopsy, could leave you with a second butthole: one which you can’t use at all, other than to test how much pain you can endure without dying, or how much your significant other loves you, because they have to apply the medicine. Do yourself a favor, and get over your ego, and have the butt exam. Just do it. I’m telling you, you don’t want to give up your precious scroll time on the toilet, to be replaced by awkward squatting and screaming and crying.

Love thy butthole.

-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

Is This Real Life?

I have been thinking about what (or when) my next post would be, after posting 2 days early last week out of a completely unexpected -but still very welcome- burst of ambition. Since then, it’s been a whole lot of nothing, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been “getting inspired” shall we say. (it’s okay to keep reading, it does get funny, if not solely for the sake of keeping you reading)

I’m never left with a shortage of inspiration, because I study the relationships between people, specifically where it pertains to technological advancements. The world has changed dramatically in the way we interact with each other, but of course the world does tend to do that, especially as our civilization society booms (in number, not in strength or intelligence). But the advancements have made things so “convenient” for us, that often, we glaze over many of the not-so-obvious changes that come with them.

Social media has been one of the biggest catalysts in the decline of our manner toward each other. That sentence alone, alienates so many people, almost as if I were trying to shame people off of social media, but I’m really just spittin’ the facts. Highlighting truths, such as the fact that we spend less time talking face-to-face, we trust less of what people are saying, we become “friends” with people we don’t actually know or like, we spread information that has no basis in fact, we spend our money differently, we give out our most personal information to strangers, and those are just to name a few.

Here’s another big one: without social media, we would have to remember everyone’s birthdays. Do you think everyone who wished you Happy Birthday this year (or last year) just happened to remember that it was your birthday because they had committed it to memory? I guarantee you, most of those wishes were to save face and to abide by the code of facebook ethics, which also requires the response that goes something like this: “Thanks, everybody, for the birthday wishes! #soblessed”

Tell me I’m wrong.

I’m not trying to say the internet and social media don’t have their place. Obviously, this blog is important as fuck. This post is about how stupid people sound when they’re bullying, which isn’t exactly trolling, because sometimes -sometimes- trolling can be funny. The bullies are the keyboard warriors who definitely know MMA and could beat you up, and if that doesn’t scare you, it should, because they can find where you live, and they’ve kicked people’s asses for less.

The bullies are the Comments Section Heroes who see one sentence they don’t like, and spend 540 sentences letting you know about it, and then letting you know what they think of you and your family, and what they’re going to do to all of you, when Hulkamania comes for you!

The bullies are the ones who talk a whole bunch of shit, based solely on your profile photo, and whatever you are so liberated to let the world see, because you honestly don’t give a shit who sees it. If you thought you were ugly before… you just better think again, because you’re gonna know how ugly you are, when they let you know about your ugly face and your ugly body and clothes. You’re so ugly. Isn’t that just the most clever, and hurtful thing you’ve ever heard??

The bullies definitely have no flaws or personality traits that are disgustingly repulsive, making it so that nobody wants to date them or admit to being their relative. That’s why they’re looking through the comments for things to say to strangers. Because they were charming and considerate, until you went and fucked it all up, by being ugly, with your stupid, ugly face.

I’ve been trolled plenty online (the funny and not funny kind), and I have admitted to trolling as well. Harmless stuff, on my part; no personal attacks or bringing family members into it, just some light poking at their ideologies, in an attempt to educate them. Something like that. I’ve never tried to “get” someone by hurting them, or sinking to the level of dissecting their profile. It’s not in me to do that stuff, because I study the internet with one purpose, and that is to LAUGH MY ASS OFF at everyone who is trying so hard to live the #internetlife.

Let me explain to you what I mean by that. #Internetlife is when someone super-edits their photos before selecting the one (of thirty identical photos) that will go online. The background is staged to subliminally convince you that they’re living a specific way, or that they’re into a certain thing, but it’s not necessarily the subject of the photo; it’s just a little static for you to build up the version of them that they prefer you to have.

#Internetlife sometimes requires you to do a certain challenge, which people readily jump for, but not if it’s exercise or charity work. Just if it’s a dance, or game, or something else you can quit when people have moved onto another trending topic and stop paying attention to your thing. Is there a “Pick Up The Trash” challenge that people are doing? No? A “One Sit-Up Per Fucking Day” challenge? No? Okay, that’s what I’m talking about when I say #INTERNETLIFE.

I invented a personal challenge back when I was on facebook, and that was to say something nice to someone every day. I also did a separate mini-challenge, where I would text a delicious compliment to any friends who needed to hear something that wasn’t bad news or insulting. We face way too much negativity in life, and our compliments are limited to emojis and ‘likes’ on the internet. That’s mostly why I hate to compliment people on their looks, but I still do it. If someone has amazing eyebrows, I let em know how jealous I am, with my practically non-existent eyebrows (and lashes, honestly). If someone is wearing a cool-ass jacket, I say they have great taste, and that it looks good on them. If someone has a new haircut, I notice it. Rarely do I just say “You’re pretty!” and when I do catch myself saying it, I almost always follow it up with, “like that’s what’s important” just to let them know how much I can’t stand the stronghold society has placed on our physical looks. I guess that’s the real challenge: stop placing importance on looks. But it will never happen as long as we have social media, because it does little else beyond offering a snapshot of a person’s vanity.

That was too sad. Let’s get back to laughing.

Here’s something that never fails to make me laugh:  people who “chase” others out of threads, as if they had no other choice, and no other reason to leave. After you have gotten bored and left because they’re not quite making you laugh the way you thought they were going to, they brag about how they “SHUT THAT BITCH UP.”

Seriously? C’mon, Hero, has nobody ever told you that you were boring before? Or that they didn’t want to be around you? Or just straight-up walked out of the room while you were talking? That’s this. You’re literally bragging about someone realizing that they’ll never get back any of the minutes they have already wasted on you, and deciding to forget you exist. Just to be clear.

In a way, I sort of feel sorry for the chasers, because it’s obvious that they’ve dealt with rejection many times before, and have yet to cope in a healthy way. But then I remind myself that those are the same types who hold their significant others hostage with empty threats of self-harm, but real threats (and actions) of harm to the significant other. I know that narcissistic asshole, and robbing them of their target/audience is the worst thing you can do to them. Do yourself a favor, and “leave the chat room,” if you catch my drift.

(But also, just leave the fucking chat room, for real.)

I laugh at how fake the internet is, and it makes me laugh SO hard, that I forget I’ve been sitting there for fifteen minutes, watching some stranger get legitimately angry. The internet can be so real for some people, that it can affect their ability to control their anger. Think about it: have you ever had someone say something dumb as fuck to you, and it made you mad, and your muscles started to feel flooded with adrenaline, and your pulse quickened, and your face became hot, and you just wanted to savagely shut them down? It’s familiar, because lots of people say lots of dumb shit all the time. It’s how we deal with that anger, that differentiates us (me and cyber-dumbass in this situation), because even though my brain is saying “Hey, aren’t we gonna do something about this, and roast this fucker to pieces?” I know the person doesn’t even truly exist in my world at all, in any capacity. They’re a piece of matrix in my hand-held device’s brain. I don’t need to saddle myself with that by worrying about it. But there are some people who just live to say the nastiest thing possible, and nothing really shuts them up, so I refer to previous tip, “Walk The Fuck Away.”

In a time when internet bullying is so prevalent and cruel, that we have kids committing suicide over their experiences, we have to place importance on distinguishing between what is real, and what is NOT FUCKING REAL. Don’t let someone on the internet end your real life. I mean, don’t let anyone end your life anyway, but social media is a choice. It’s a choice you’re making, and if you’re allowing yourself to keep feeling worthless, it won’t end well. You need to shut that shit down. If you have a problem with what someone is saying to you online, shut it down. Walk away. Turn off your computer for three days. Turn off your phone’s data. See if you don’t realize that social media is an option for you to accept or refuse, or curate to be what you want. You don’t HAVE to deal with that shit. Make your profile private. Disable comments. Sign up under a generic email. Or hell, stay off social media. These are all better options than killing yourself, I promise.

If I get really honest with myself, I think the reason I laugh at Comments Section Heroes, is because I see those people believing in the internet version of themselves, and it reminds me of when you see someone’s shadow in the silhouette, and they look huge, but then when they come out, they’re tiny. That’s the way we have inflated our egos, to appear bigger and badder and meaner and more powerful and hotter and sexier and richer and tougher than we really are. It’s scrawny young boys, dressing up in their dads’ clothing, pretending to “go to work.” It’s little girls with the high heels and lipstick on, looking ridiculous but passing it off as “cute.” It’s a chihuahua with the bark of a doberman. It makes me laugh, because they are buying it 100%, even if you aren’t.

The internet is a wonderful thing, isn’t it?

I mean, it can actually convince you that you need it. It can convince you that you’re a better person than you are, and convince others of that as well. It can swing an election. It can get laws changed. It can make you think a color is a different color, or a word is a different word, or that someone looks better with a mustache than with a beard. Sheep mentality guides us toward the popular opinion, which we don’t want to be excluded from, and social media is the mecca for that weird shit. There will always be assholes, fake news, distractions from reality, and unreasonable standards, just as there will always be inspirational humanitarians, beautiful photos, poetry, and art. Social media is forever shaping our society. We can take it or leave it, but whatever you do, don’t be a Comments Section Hero. It’s just ugly.

-jg

High School (Not) High (Enough)

Recently, I had the pleasure of attending a banquet at my kids’ school, and it really opened my eyes to why I used to smoke so much pot in high school: it’s because high school kids are fucking annoying as hell.

Don’t believe me? I’ll give you some examples.

At this banquet, there were 20 tables. Each table sat 8 people. It wasn’t going to be a very big event. When my family of 4 arrived, there was only a total of 8 kids there. Did they all sit at the same table? Of course not, and I wouldn’t expect them to. Let ‘em spread out. My family sat around one half of a table that was in the middle of the room, and left the other half of the table open for another family of 4 (or fewer, whatever).

Here’s where my first example begins: as the other students started arriving, the sitting students would scream their names, as if they hadn’t seen them for like, THREE WHOLE HOURS. And one by one, these kids were invited to “The Cool Table” at the front of the crowd, leaving the rest of the peasants to feel collectively excluded. I didn’t even know that shit still existed.

And can I just sidetrack for a second, about the fact that MY table WASN’T The Cool Table?! I mean, my family is fucking hysterically funny, and we have THE BEST dinner time conversations. If our table isn’t The Cool Table, then I don’t want to be cool, I guess, and it’s my choice, not because they said I wasn’t.

Back to the examples of my nightmares personified. The Cool Table started filling up, until there were like 450 kids at this table. What I want to know is, how is it The Cool Table, if everyone is sitting at it? Wouldn’t that just be A Table? As for the handful of parents and other students who weren’t screamed at invited to sit with all those hip turds, I’m sure they all loved hearing the sound of screeching banshees in their dreams last night too.

The Cool Kids started taking the chairs from the other tables, while those people were up at the buffet, WHICH WAS AMAZING. The buffet, I mean, not the stealing of chairs. That was pretty annoying, because they took 6 of the chairs from our table while we were gone, and we had to steal them from other jerks from Less-Cool-But-Still-Pretty-Cool tables. It wasn’t my proudest moment, but I have principles, and I was not about to eat a whole plate of delicious meatballs while standing up. Those kids thought I wouldn’t be that lazy, but they obviously underestimated me.

The banquet presentation began, and just in case you were wondering, no it did not shut them up. On the contrary, there was a slideshow, so every time one of their faces was on screen for even a half-second, they would erupt in a roar of laughter and screams. This went on for 10 long minutes. It was a nice slideshow, and I’m sure they were just excited. But, I’ll go back to my earlier statement about having to cope with that excitement, with the help of my bff, Mary Jane.

Now, I know what you’re saying: “Well, my kids don’t do that stuff.” And I would say to you: shutup and stop lying to yourself. Just because your kids aren’t doing these particular things, doesn’t mean they aren’t acting like little shitheads when you’re not around, and they’re allowed to be “cool.” Believe me, they’re doing just that. And they’re good at it. No matter how great you think your kid is, I guarantee there is someone whose nerves they love to work on. Maybe it’s you. Who knows.

Some people like to say, “When you were their age, you did that too,” and to some extent, they’d be right, but I wasn’t even remotely excited about anything my peers were doing in the 90s, so they’re also kinda wrong. I mean, I remember being annoying, but everyone is. Everyone is annoying, including your kid, remember? But there’s a difference between being annoying, and being an experience that everyone has to live through. Perhaps it has something to do with how big the person’s platform is, how many people they reach with what they’re doing and saying. In that vein, we can rest a lot of the blame on social media, and the constant flow of positive reinforcement kids/teens (and adults too!) receive from their peers online. They adopt the position that they have gained unconditional acceptance among others, and that the virtual flow of adoration is going to be relatively similar in their real-life interactions.

So maybe yours is not screaming at the top of their lungs, to welcome a peer to the table in the most extravagant way possible. Maybe they’re the peer that is being showered with those feelings, making them believe they are extra special, just like everyone else who walked in. Maybe yours is wildly unpopular, and would die to feel the acceptance that others so freely give away. Maybe yours is like me, and realizes that, after you graduate high school, shit changes. Prom King and Homecoming Queen don’t translate well on a resume, and certainly not when it comes to keeping yourself alive.

My high school experience was full of days that I swore I had wished away hard enough, but didn’t. Every day was a struggle, in and out of school, and graduation day seemed like an eternity in the future, to the point where I couldn’t even decide what that would look like. I just knew high school was not what I thought life would be like, so I tried to laugh through as much of the bullshit as I could, which was a lot, it turns out. And as soon as I graduated, life got real.

I was back at the starting line, with everyone else, even the popular kids, and the century was turning. The next generation was already being born, and technology was changing the way we perceived each other (and life). The internet taught us how to parent, and we took those tips (sometimes from people who weren’t parents, and had no education on the topic) and we ran with them. We kept checking back, to make sure we were doing what everyone else was doing, and NOT doing what everyone else thought was wrong. It changes all the time. One day spaghetti is the best thing for kids, and the next day, it causes brain death. We could no longer afford to make the mistake of not being in-the-know.

Spaghetti doesn’t cause brain death, so if you’re not one of my regular readers… I exaggerate sometimes. Go ahead and feed your kids spaghetti. Or don’t, I mean, I’m not your kid’s parent, so that’s just some advice you can take or leave. I feel like they won’t die without spaghetti, but I’m no doctor.

Innovations in social media and personality shaping, as well as unrealistic hyper-active parenting woes, as well as the deadly sharpening of peer scrutiny and judgment, have all created a monster. Kids are being held to impossible standards, not by parents (though that’s another topic I could go on about) but by their peers. They feel the need to change. They feel the need to chase perfection. They feel the need to fit a mold. They feel the need to replicate what others admire. It’s just an image, based on the heavily edited photos and videos they see online and on television and in magazines, and we know this, but girls and guys alike are all susceptible to it. It isn’t just the ladies who are feeling the pressure. It’s everywhere, and if they aren’t adhering to the latest tweet or post from a major influencer (which is a fucking job now), they can expect to be rejected everywhere in their physical life.

That’s something I find annoying, and new. I didn’t have to deal with social media, so maybe that’s why I think things are so much worse now. Remember, I thought high schoolers were annoying before; there is nothing new about this. The part I find new, is the immediate broadcast of every feeling and reaction people have, before they have the opportunity to process the emotion. A minor tiff between friends can easily escalate to someone’s entire life being ruined, because social media allows us to share our feelings (about a person or event) amongst a wide net of people. The bigger the audience, the more people to share in that view, and the faster that immediate reaction turns into a group opinion. I’m not sure how I would have made it through high school, if I had to deal with social media. Knowing my own self, and my own mental health, I can honestly say I may have been one of those cases that didn’t make it out alive. It’s a scary thing to realize, especially when it’s mapped against my own daughter’s experience in this modern world.

Neither of my kids have social media, mostly for the reason that I don’t want them to be subject to the cruel judgment that is obviously the result of others’ insecurities. When they’re grown, they’ll have the choice to jump on the Social Media Bandwagon of Doom, but that will be then, and this is now, and I won’t allow it to work its corrosive magic on my offspring’s sweet minds. It’s not helpful. If my kids wanted insecurities projected onto them, they’ve satisfied that interest fully, by tormenting each other every single day. Getting into unfair biases on looks, body fat, talent, taste, and opinion, is something they can do without, for now. As I said, that’s a choice they’ll make for themselves, and hopefully once they see how fucked-up it is, they’ll just live in the real world and call it fucked-up enough.

I am fully aware that I am subjecting myself to criticism every day, and that I am also still vulnerable to unfair attacks, but it never occurred to me to care what others think, so until I’ve caused harm to someone, I’m not likely to apologize. Yes, this post is about Parenting and Pot, in the same sentiment, but I’d much rather be judged for making investments in my kids’ health and well-being while under the influence of cannabis, than to be that person who has nothing better to do than look for shit like that on the internet. I’m not beating my kids. They’re fed, they’re clean, they’re up-to-date on their education and current events. They don’t swear in my face, they don’t get physically violent, but they know not to be pushed around. They are accountable for their whereabouts, they aren’t partying (yet), they care about safety, and they are open about it. They care about humans as a species instead of a group of smaller sub-sets to be classified. They show love every day, as well as respect. And, super important, they see how plastic their generation is. They know how fake it is, and how much manipulation and hypnosis goes into growing up in the age of social media.

Not saying my kids are better than yours. They’re annoying too. But they’re well-adjusted enough to know they don’t want to be applauded into a room by attention-starved kids, who are really just priming the pump for reciprocated adulation. And that’s something I can feel good about, even without the influence of Mary Jane.

-jg

*Please note that I think students who participate in activities and get excited about school are absolutely wonderful. Students who could care less about the time and effort that is being given to them in the name of a free basic education: crap. Sorry. It’s my blog, and as much as I criticize schools, they’re still providing a service to your child, that you aren’t providing. (I know, homeschooling is a thing, but I can’t tell you how much I MYSELF ironically complain about the free school system, which is actually what I am talking about. No need to educate me on the fact that homeschooling is a thing.) I used to hate school, but I realize how valuable people’s time is, and teachers get paid bullshit to sit in a room with a whole bunch of annoying kids who aren’t all having their best day, day after day, after day after day. It’s hardly rewarding. The school I am speaking of in this story, is a wonderful school. The students work hard, and they have fun. Sure, there’s exclusion and constant evaluation and fake praise, but anyone in a thankless job such as -oh, i don’t know- a teacher, could tell you that there is a healthy dose of all that shit in any job. It doesn’t end after high school. This article was purely satirical, in the name of justifying the reasons I hated being in high school, and the reasons I hate seeing the weird unfair treatment teenagers bestow upon their peers now. I guess I’ll always be in high school, in my heart.

Writer’s Block

How do you get writer’s block, when your writing style is “journal”? It hardly makes sense for anybody, but I am especially surprised that I personally am unable to talk about myself. How do I have nothing to say, and I’m me? I was voted Biggest Mouth in my Senior class in high school. I always have something to talk about, even when I don’t.

I sat down to get my writing surroundings in order, and I’m moderately comfortable, for how hot it is, and especially for how humid it is! I have my fully charged laptop, my pillow chair that I customized to my own weird comfort needs, my coffee (okay, that’s gone now), my fan on, my lighting dimmed, my mood elevated, and my hair out of my face (for now)… I even put on some tunes, to get my brain primed for entertaining.

Unfortunately (I don’t find it unfortunate) for me, I chose to listen to Aesop Rock, and I don’t know if you have ever listened to Aesop Rock before, but he doesn’t exactly make you feel like you know a fuckin thing about the English language. And here, I thought I was exclusive in some sweet love affair (with super light expectations) with the English language. Then I met Aesop, dude. Then I met Aesop.

I didn’t meet him, but I did see him at a small show a couple of years ago, and he was like, pretty much sweating on me (during the show, guys…) because of how close I was. He looked really good, too. Hey, Aesop. What’s up with you coming back? My boyfriend is totally cool with me asking.

So as I was saying, Aesop Rock magically uses language to create stories from beyond my wildest dreams, and when I listen to his music, it reminds me of how good I think I am, only to then realize how good I could be, but still am not. He plays with parts of speech, and captivates the listener with relatable anecdotes, pop culture, double entendre, and philosophy, all blended by his hypnotic vocal style. To say the man has an extensive grasp on vocabulary would be an understatement, and I almost always learn some new word or foreign phrase from his songs. I am so captivated by wanting to listen and dissect, that I find it impossible to be able to write. How could I? Nothing I say matters.

If you haven’t listened to Aesop, that’s fine, because you still can. I recommend the entire Labor Days album, as well as Float, but that’s just because I luh dat old shit. His new stuff is great as well. You may not be into hip hop music, and I think that’s fine for you, weirdo, but even you may still enjoy his work. I don’t know if you will or not, but I don’t much care, so that’s where that part ends.

I wonder how many times Aesop has gotten writer’s block? I doubt he ever could get that deep into nothingness, rather, he probably has writer’s floods; always having so many ideas-per-minute, that I can’t imagine he would ever have a moment’s peace inside his mind. I wonder what it would sound like in there, or what a scan of his brain would look like. I remember that movie 8 Mile, which I am in no way admitting to having viewed, where Eminem is talking about the song “just coming to him” or something like that, and basically just naturally forming in his mind, and that seems like a very very mild version of what happens to Aesop. But with considerably more talent. Like Little League vs the MLB, except I hate Eminem.

That’s not to say Eminem hasn’t written some funny and clever punchlines, but I did drugs too, before, so… bravo, Eminem. I don’t do drugs, and I stay making people laugh.

I wish I could make someone laugh right now. Perhaps my writer’s block is due to the fact that my kids are back in school now, and I feel like I have no purpose. Today is the worst day to feel that way, considering how much shit I have to do, but “writing” was also on that list of shit to do, and we’ve seen how well that turned out. I’ve just bitched about how good of a writer Aesop is, and how good he probably smells. I still have to bake a fucking cake, and make turkey meatballs, and pick up Sonny’s glasses (which I was supposed to do yesterday, but have since forgotten about 4 times), pick up Dot from school and go to an appointment, which we have to rush through, to get to her second appointment, which takes place inside the house. I mean, counseling has to be in a comfortable setting, and already being at home is nice for when the counselor leaves, because then I have to get back into doing way more shit. There’s always more shit to do. Forever.

I did a professional dye job of 3 colors on Dot’s hair (’twas slick as fuuuuuck), gave Sonny a tight fade, cut my own hair, and surrendered a bunch of my old awesome clothes (that Dot thinks are cool all of a sudden), just in time for the 4-day weekend that will make me feel like I did all of that shit for nothing. Because here’s something I never understood: the whole “school-starts-before-labor-day-but-then-there’s-an-immediate-long-weekend-to-get-your-kids-back-into-the-swing-of-being-lazy” thing. I mean, start it after labor day.

There. I figured it out.

And, since I know there are some of you saying “Well that’s too late,” I say to you this: I am a proponent for year-round schooling, and think it’s ridiculous and counterproductive to get a break for such a long period of time, especially one which is completely unrealistic to the “real world” (whatever that is). People have to work at a company for many years (TOO many!), and that is, if they ever earn 15 weeks (plus holidays) off! If kids aren’t in school, they need to be doing something sustainable, like farming or gardening or fishing or carpentry or electrical work or mechanics of some kind… just like an adult. My two cents, which is coincidentally how much I got paid for all that cosmetology work I did on our hair.

It makes me sad to not be able to give you something worth reading this week. But then I start thinking about all the stuff I’m supposed to be remembering, and I stop feeling bad. It reminds me of that scene from movies, where the sleeping guard is like “wha-? oh shit” and jumps up to do his fuckin job. That’s what my brain does. The part where it’s “sleeping” is the feelings, and my brain just needs to wake the fuck up and get back to work. Maybe next week, I’ll care more about you, than I do about focusing on the unattainable goal of not forgetting any of the eleventy-billion things I am expected to remember, whilst micromanaging the individuals and collective family life.

But who knows. It’ll be a surprise for us all! See you then!

-jg

 

Well? How Did I Get Here?

My daughter turned 17 years old this week. Remember the shit you were doing when you were 17? Well, she’s not doing that yet. But she wants to. She watches enough movies and TV to know that she is held back from a lot of interesting trouble. She is also a much younger 17 than I was at that age. She’s still more of a 14 year-old level, aside from realizing she’s almost a legal adult.
She has a boyfriend, who shouldn’t even be blessed with the privilege of sharing her air. He has no ambition, no plans toward which he could apply that ambition anyway, and no concept of consequence. He starves for attention, and will say anything to get it, which caused my daughter to fall behind in school. I’m not saying she’s absolved of responsibility there, but I’ve seen first-hand what it looks like to ignore him. He doesn’t go away. She already has a difficult time focusing, and I can’t imagine he’s very good at standing by while she studies.
He also has a habit of just showing up. Showing up at our house. Showing up at the school (after he graduated – yeah, he’s 18, by the way). Just dropping by whenever he feels like it, or at the very least, just texting incessantly until the midnight hour (to my phone, and yes he does know this).
I don’t want my daughter dating him, but she is in the phase of falling head over heels for whatever dumbshit happens to say the right thing to her. He has never been mean to her, and hasn’t disrespected her, rather, he seems to prioritize her happiness and safety. That being said, he also puts major emphasis on her presence in his life. He doesn’t want to lose her. Everything he does out of anger is someone else’s fault because they said something about her. He repeatedly crashes his bike because he is always speeding around town with no brakes, but insists that she ride around with him. I’ve made some poor choices in my life, especially when I was her age, but when everyone around you sees that you’re settling so hard you’re practically collapsing, it’s time to step back and think about who you’re dating.
Are they good for you? It’s one thing for your partner to want for your happiness, but there comes a time when they have to be unpopular, and help you reach what you need, instead of what you want. If you have $10 to your name, and you want to go to a movie, but you also need gas money for the week, you gotta make the better choice. It’s not always the one you want. If your partner doesn’t support that same mindset, they’re not good for you.
Are you giving up something important, because you want to make them happy? A college degree, your dream job, a hobby, your social life, your family relationships, your personal regimen of care… if something is taking a backseat to your relationship, and it’s not a necessary compromise, GET IT BACK. Relationships need give and take, and it’s completely inappropriate for one person to sacrifice, without the other person reciprocating. If your dream is being smothered by what your partner wants, speak up for yourself, and decide how much you really want to spend your life with someone who doesn’t want you to reach your goals.
Do they encourage you to grow and better yourself? Same thing as above. Do they tell you to go back to school, or quit smoking, or draw more (even when you don’t want to), or get the body you want, or go for the job you don’t know if you’ll get? Do they pump you up, when you feel discouraged or unsure of yourself? Do they push you to find the best parts of yourself, when you want to crawl in a hole and die of guilt and shame? Wallowing in your depressive state alongside you, has its place I’m sure, but when you need to stop being so harsh on yourself, your partner needs to shine. They need to show you why you lean on them, why you let them into the most private parts of your life, why they are good for you.
Do they show that they love you, without holding you hostage? That’s the one that gets me the most. I’ve heard “You can’t [leave/break up with me/do that]. I love you!” Let me tell you something: love is strong. It can make people see things that aren’t true, and things that others don’t see. It can change a person completely. It can convince you that things are going to be okay forever. But most of the time, things aren’t going to be okay. You’re going to break up with a bunch of people, and it’s going to suck, regardless of which side you’re on.

But, we live on, because love is strong, but not stronger than your personal will. You can’t get that from anybody else, no matter how much they love you. So when someone suggests that you overlook a personal principle about your life, just because they happen to express love for you verbally, look for how they treat you. Do they back up those confessions of emotion with actions that show their love, or do they just kinda say it over and over again, and expect that to be enough? If someone loves you, they’ll show you. You won’t have to hear it all the time, because you’ll feel it and see it in how they treat you, as well as how they treat themselves. Telling someone you love them is not enough, and love alone is not a reason to stay with someone, if they don’t even have the respect (for you, them, or your relationship) to stop a behavior that is damaging. If they love you, they will show you, by growing and maturing with you. If they are just focused on the way you make them feel, and not about how you feel, they will try to use their “love” to guilt you into staying, without actually changing the behavior. They know what you want to hear, and exactly how to say it to you, and you’ll melt in their hands, and nothing will have to change, because you remember how much they love you. That’s love, right?
I’ve been a love hostage. A few different kinds, actually. Ones where the guy was lingering and submissive and still clinging to me, after I essentially told him to fuck off because he was too passive for me. The tears and wailing and moaning about what “we had” was embarrassing to stand around for, and I felt like I was in a bad movie. He loved me. I’ve also been a love hostage to someone who was in fatal attraction mode. He repeatedly stole cars and drove them 50 miles to my town, only to ditch the car and break into my apartment. He loved me. The point is, everyone was okay afterward, and the shitty situations dissolved once the shitty relationship was severed, despite whatever “love” remained unrequited. Had I stayed because they were in love, I may still be miserable to this day.
My daughter will be fine. I want to guide her toward loving herself, accepting the great things about her, as well as the areas for improvement. I want her to know that she doesn’t need to be in a relationship to be happy. She needs to be a strong, independent person, because that’s how we come into this world, and that’s how we go out. You can’t let someone love you, if you don’t love yourself. If/when the time comes, I hope she is with a good guy, but she’s currently madly in love with this guy, and I just have to deal with it for now. I was so smart when I was her age, and I still made such stupid choices. I can’t imagine the ones she’ll make. She so naive and trusting, and admittedly gullible (why she tells people that, I have no idea!) so people will take advantage of her, and that scares me. I want her to find love with someone who knows how to live with her, and that isn’t easy. It took me 32 years!
Being with Matt has been great, because he knows how to live with me (for the most part) but we’re still learning. We’re learning how to be together, and how to be ourselves. We have battles, but we try not to say anything that we would want to take back. Love has very little to do with why we stay together after a fight. We argue, but then we de-escalate because we have mutual respect for the great things we do together, and for the challenges we face, and we each realize how the other one is integral in making things work. It’s a finely tuned machine, and it wouldn’t run without both of us. I want that for my daughter.
Hell, I want that for my son too! He will one day find a girl that will most likely break his heart, because he’s very old-fashioned, so that will bring a whole different set of challenges, where my daughter likes the attention and acceptance of someone admiring her, and is easily swayed by it. My son is a gentleman, and we all know girls like assholes, until they grow up and realize their worth, so once he does find a good girl, he’s probably going to do everything he can to respect her. Some women don’t want to be respected. They should stay away from my son.
The past 17 years have not flown by at all whatsoever, and actually feel more like 27 years, but I’ve just been unguided through too many terrible situations. I’ve let too much happen to me, since becoming a mom. I never thought about how my personal sacrifices were affecting my kids. My daughter wants to be like me, because she has no idea how many years I was just a shitty person, and just didn’t get help. If I have anything to do with it, my daughter won’t have to go through those years of doubt alone, because I’ll be right there beside her, even when there’s some asshole there, trying to convince her that he loves her more than I do.
Psh. Losers.

-jg

Andy! You Goonie!

It’s Friday the 13th, y’all, which is my faaaavorite! Sometimes, there is a full moon on this night, and that’s extra special, but tonight, there is a new moon, which means you can’t see shit. Still, Friday the 13th is a fun day, because you get to act like your bad luck is a result of the day, when it’s really just because life wants to shit on you.

As you may know, I am digging for answers all the time, and some of you know from my previous article I Wanna Dip My Balls In It!, that I am currently seeking answers regarding an unfortunately-named product called Man Dip. In the article, I mentioned that I had contacted the founder of Man Dip, Andy, in search of the answers to my questions. I used the email address given in the contact information on the website, so thinking I would get an answer soon, I hesitated to post the article, but ultimately ended up just putting it out there. I’m glad I did, because the process is taking a bit longer than I’d anticipated.

Matt thinks I’m coming off rude, pushing it too far, and that I probably scared Andy with my raging feminism (uh, humanism, thankyouverymuch) but I don’t think I was that mean. Judge for yourself. Below, is a copy of what I’ve sent to him, so you can see that I’m just a woman, looking for some conversation on the topic.

“Andy,
I have a huge issue with your product. Don’t you realize dip is for everyone, regardless of the ingredients, and calling it “Man Dip” is purposefully alienating the majority of the population? Given these divisive and exclusionary times, branding your product under this name is a huge mistake. I urge you to reconsider your mission statement, where food is not given a gender label.
Feel free to contact me.”

I didn’t receive a response, so I wrote to Andy again, just to check in and make sure everything had been received okay.

“Good morning Andy,
I am following up on the email I sent to you 9 days ago, regarding the name of your product Man Dip. I had figured I would get a canned response, but I got nothing. I realize Public Relations 101 would tell you that saying nothing is better than saying something that might make you look like a dick, so I understand your lack of response altogether. I also realize that I am just one woman, in a sea of many women, whose opinions you probably don’t care about. That may be a rash generalization, but I’m mostly just assuming based on the content of your website. I’m sure you didn’t “get where you are today” by caring about a woman’s opinion.
So when I didn’t get a reply from you, I wrote an article about your product, your website, and your company. Also, being that it’s in the public domain, I mentioned you by name when I talked about the part when I emailed you (and you didn’t reply). Now, you may be on a two-week vacation with your family, or just working really really hard, but you should probably have a canned response for inquiries like mine.
The article is getting a lot of attention, so if your website has seen a recent spike in foot traffic… you’re welcome.
Thank you for your time.”

I included a snippet from the article, for his viewing pleasure, thinking he would be so impressed, that he would write back immediately!

That was on June 16th. As of today, I still haven’t received a reply from Andy, or from any other PR people, or any kind of agent or assistant or customer service representative. I haven’t written a third email (yet) since there is purpose behind their radio silence; a conclusion I came to, when I realized that any positive emails or good feedback is probably getting through just fine. I wonder what is happening with my emails, then? I have ideas…

I picture a big board room full of powerful females, sitting around a big table, reading my email. They’re impressed by my outlook on this stupid matter, and they’re all wondering how such an exclusionary idea could have ever been marketed from their company. How did it get by their brilliant minds? Oh, some dude’s Frat Bro nephew gave it the green light, even though he is only working at the company because of nepotism? I see the powerful females educating him on how fucked up the country already is, without adding chip dip to the list of things that promote divisiveness… they’re showing him a slideshow of products that are marketed to women for more money, for less of the exact same product, just in a flowered scent… they’re showing a slide of the dip, with the red Ghostbusters thing around it, because it shouldn’t be a gendered item…  they’re offering the branding and marketing job to someone else now… it’s a woman… she’s taking the Jersey Shore mentality out of the dip industry… she’s sitting on the desk… she’s eating a big scoop of dip out of the container, and laughing at how delicious it is… the taste of victory, that is. (I find this to be a legitimate use of time, and thereby, an acceptable excuse for not returning my email.)

Or, some old rich grumpy asshole is yelling at his grandson, because he got my email from an assistant of some kind, and he’s mad that his grandson used family money to start a business, and “This is the best you could do?!” He’s super embarrassed. The grandfather is yelling, because he has spent his whole life working hard, and his grandson doesn’t know the meaning of struggling, and doesn’t think things through. He throws the printed-off email on the floor, and the grandson looks at it with failure in his eyes. Man Dip? Really? He asks himself, as he realizes how dumb it sounds.

Or what about like, the wife is checking the email one day, and she sees the email, and she’s like, “Yes, girl, I thought Man Dip sounded stupid too. It may come as a surprise to you, but he didn’t listen to me when I told him that it’s borderline sexist to target a food to one specific portion of the population. When I offered him alternate names, he swiped all of his containers of dip off the desk in a fit of rage, and ran out of the room.” But before she can send the email reply, something happens. I don’t know. I haven’t figured that part out yet.

Or maybe it’s the woman who came up with the name in the first place, and she doesn’t realize she’s a grade A turd? Maybe she thought she was being “clever” somehow when she thought of it, even though it really just sounds like she’s trying to impress her man and his buddies. It also sounds a lot like someone just wants to be One Of The Guys. That’s cute. Now ship me out some free dip, while you think about how you’re setting back our gender 70 years.

These are just ideas. Change or no, at least acknowledge when someone is contacting you about the product you put out there for consumption. Don’t just ignore them. What kind of business plan is that? How busy is the dip industry, that the founder of the company can’t even get a minute to respond to an email? Is he back there, making all the dip by himself? Milking the cows, tirelessly, for the cheese? Mixing the delicious Chorizo sausage by hand?? Harvesting the Habenero Habanero peppers into the midnight hour??? What is consuming so much of his time, that he can’t even get a break? Does OSHA need to pay a surprise visit, to make sure he’s okay? Let’s get legit concerned for Andy, guys. Dude needs a break. #Andyhumanizing

I didn’t ask him for a miracle. He could just write back and say, “Hey, your email caught me off guard because the whole Gendered Food game is new to me, and I hadn’t thought of literally any of the things you said.” At least open up the conversation, dude. And throw me some free dip. Damn.

Customer service is something that goes hand-in-hand with consumer reporting. If you are fine with listening to good feedback, you need to be able to take the bad feedback as well, and use it as an opportunity for improvement. It’s not just about making money. You have to be a mindful businessperson to be able to survive marketing, because your advertising and branding is the face of your company; it’s what represents your name, your employees, your company culture, your mission statement, business plan, and ultimately, you. When someone approaches you with an issue in your advertising, it’s probably a good idea to pay attention to it. These days, you never know who is going to see the bad review of your product… it could be a much bigger group of people than those who see the website itself.

-jg