June 29th, 2005

pod

On being an adult male without being a man.

It's not that hard to be a man in our society. All it requires is two things. A penis and the ability to do the sorts of things that would make one handy. A penis is a rather simple matter, either you have one or you don't. Handiness? That's a whole different ballgame.

Every man likes to think of himself as handy on some level. For some it is complete self-delusion. You know the type, he tries to tighten a loose floorboard and ends up knocking himself unconscious with a ball peen hammer. His is clearly a lost cause. Yet despite the pathetic nature of his situation he will not surrender. Upon regaining consciousness he staunches the bleeding, picks up that hammer, and tries again. This will continue until a cohabitating female shows mercy on him and calls some sort of professional to do the job, then hopes that the serious head wounds he has suffered will allow him to think he was the one who did it. "You see honey?" He says beaming from his convalescence bed.

For others handiness is second nature. These are the guys who make McGuyver look like the nerd who failed shop class. The ones who can tell what's wrong with your car just by hearing it, and who take you out to their hunting cabins and say things like "Yeah, that king sized bed? I built it from an oak tree I felled a few winters back. That was a fun 45 minutes." These guys are the definition of handy and they not only know how to rewire a '97 Honda Civic using only a pack of spearmint gum and a clothespin but they've done it before...while being shot at...in a warzone. These are the real men.

Then you have the third group. The tweeners. They are manly enough to handle the occasional nail or leaky faucet, but their expertise doesn't extend far beyond that. On the other hand they THINK they belong to group #2, and this makes them a danger to themselves and others.

See guys from group #1 know their lot in life. They like to think they're handy, but they're not, and they accept that on some deep level. When they get a new appliance of some sort they pay someone to set it up. "Oh I could do it myself" they rationalize "But this is easier, and isn't an hour of my time worth more than $40?"(no). Guys from group #3 on the other hand have had enough success to believe they belong to group #2. They may have held a piece of wood while a #2 used a bandsaw, or helped fix their own car by standing around making inane comments and only sort of getting in the way. They own every powertool except that sander (The power sander is only useful if you've built something that could be improved by sanding and glazing as opposed to burning or being put through a wood chipper) and they think they know how to use them. They are the reason that powertool manuals have sections like "Don't panic, you've just drilled through the center of your hand. You'll be okay." And "Okay, so you electrocuted yourself. Now what?"

In other words they are a menace to society.

These are the sorts of guys who will look at that nice air conditioner in the box and say something along the lines of "Why waste money on installation when I can do it myself?" The store will beg them to pay to have it installed but they'll chuckle "What a scam. Ha. I'm going to beat the system!" No, asshole, you're not. The guy at the store (a 2) reluctantly loads it into the taxi for him, not letting him touch it until the receipts been X-ed off and the cab is pulling away from the store, as if his very hands will corrode the metal and destroy the unit before the store can assure itself of at least the restocking fee.

Once he gets the air conditioner home he opens the box and pulls out the instruction manual. #2s don't need an instruction manual, they have an instinctive sense of how everything goes together. Words are for losers. #3s say they don't need the manuals but they rely on them desperately "I have five screws and three holes, THIS MAKES NO SENSE. They fucked up at the factory, what am I supposed to do with...oh...there are holes on the side. Yeah. I knew that."

Unfortunately for guy #3 most instruction manuals are written for bilingual weapons experts. Seriously. They read like "First take flange A from area B in the box and insert Tab 19t into slot 418b using Volga Perestroika *tapers off into cyrillic*" No longer is there the English section, the Spanish section, and the Russian section, they're all mixed together into a glorious word bouillabaisse. So guy 3 looks at the pictures. Only they're all postage stamp sized and completely impossible to figure out. Literally there's a photo of a guy with a bunch of parts at his feet, and then he's sitting in a lounge chair drinking hot chocolate as his air conditioner cools the room to arctic levels. Nothing in between. Guy 3 tries to muddle through, pulling out his old Russian to English dictionary from the time he bought a patio grill and puzzling through. After five hours he manages to screw the top rail on successfully. Two days into the process the flanges are properly inserted. Meanwhile the music he's playing is getting angrier and angrier as time passes by, so while he started out with "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" by the time he learns that the flanges aren't wide enough to fit the thing into his window properly and he's going to need to install a plexi-glass bridge he's playing Megadeth's "Symphony of Destruction" and he'd hurl the whole contraption out the window if he could actually lift it.

So the next day he goes to the hardware store and buys the damned bridge. The people there (2s, 2s, all fucking 2s) try to convince him to let them install it for a modest fee (One BILLION dollars) but he refuses. He's beating the damn system. Finally they sell him the bridge and some screws and he goes back and spends a full month of his life drilling and re drilling holes with his $50 drill until finally he just gives up and bribes the super to put it in.

Meanwhile guy #2 has been fucking #3's now ex girlfriend for the past month after #2 consoled her when her boyfriend wouldn't return her calls (in #3s defense he did lose phone service for awhile there after the part where the sledgehammer blows all went awry) and #2 fixed that leaky shower that #3 kept promising to get to. Ability to be handy allows for penis utilization. What about guy #1? Probably a homosexual.

This is just one example of how the handiness factor plays out, but trust me it's important and it definitely matters. If you can handle the mechanical world you are a man. If not? Well there's always chess club.

What about me? I'm pretty sure I'm a #2. I mean yeah a few times I've nailed things together only to find out that my shirt somehow sneaked between the nails and wood, but who hasn't? And shorting out the house may be unfortunate, but it happens. It happens.

I'll be getting a power sander soon too. Once I finish this shelving I'm going to need it!
  • Current Music
    Megadeth - Symphony Of Destruction
Dance For Mazzie

I want your aperture

Lust and jealousy are sins that can take many forms. You can see a young couple on a bus, their hands intertwined, a smile playing on her soft red lips just for him, and think "Why not me? Why can't I have that, why can't she do that just for me?" Or it can be an object that sparks your interest. A car so sleek and silver it looks like it was recently delivered from 2015, or a computer monitor so flat and sharp it's like a window into another world, a world you desperately want to inhabit.

Me? I'm looking out at the buildings across the alley and realizing just how deeply I desire their tiny windows.

Big windows are generally considered to be a good thing. Windows are...windows...out into the world, and more is better. We spend so much of our lives cooped up inside buildings that just the appearance of the external world can be the sweetest salve possible for eyes strained and tired by computer screens or magazines. The priciest properties in the city have walls of glass, the better to let in the light and allow the resident's eye to wander over his domain. One's corporate status can be determined quickly and accurately by the size and number of windows in the office.

So a big window, like the one I have, is generally a cause for celebration and pride. Except for one thing. You can't put a damn standard air conditioner in it. And when it's hot, like it is now, surveying the building next door is cold comfort when exchanged for a cool oasis. Even worse my big window allows me to see the windows of dozens of other apartments, and the exhaust ends of precisely 49 air conditioners. I feel like moses on the mountain, told by god that he can look at the promised land to his heart's content but entry will ever be denied him.

It's not a good feeling. And I can't help but think that behind each of those wonderfully standard sized windows lies an air conditioned paradise, with beautiful women reclining in comfort on clean silk sheets. The sheer material of their soft white shifts sliding quietly over softer breasts, their nipples proudly erect in the cold morning air. If I could only install this damn thing I could gain entry into that world, that pleasure zone that lies just beyond those drawn curtains and metal vents.

The air conditioners mock me, like dozens of block-shaped penises standing at attention, declaring dominance in clear and certain terms. My window is large and smooth with a too wide aperture, distinctly vaginal. They can expel the hot air out into the world, while I can only hope to take in. It's humiliating.

So I look out at their windows, so compact and convenient, and I feel jealousy and lust. It's not my fault, it says nothing about me as a man. How was I to know that oversize windows were such a dreadful curse? It's not my fault, but I can't help but think that maybe in some way I brought this upon myself. Was I arrogant? Did I take my enormous windows for granted? Did I spend too many hours peering out at the world instead of looking...inside?

I pull the shades, flip on my computer, and sit down to write. As the current pulses through the PC the room begins to heat up. The blinds aren't all the way closed. I look out again, and see movement in one of the windows of the next building over. What's that shape, could it be, a breast? Yes. She's standing with most of her body just out of my line of sight, but I can see her chest, bulging forward covered in soft white cotton fabric, so real and so close I feel like I could almost reach out across the alley and touch it, but I can't. I can see the promised land, a land of ice cold beauty, but there's nothing I can do about it. There might as well be a million miles between us. I'm stuck here in the heat, all alone. Curse these giant windows. Curse my ugly fate.

Wait, she's stepping forward now, into full view and...oh fuck. It's just a fat dude.
  • Current Music
    Whitesnake - Here I Go Again
pod

Everybody hates French Midgets...or do they?

Nobody likes the French. Everyone hates a midget. These are facts of life, carved into the stone of our collective consciousness. But what of the French midget? Is he the most hateable creature on the face of the earth, surpassing even the girl with perfect tits who scowls at you when you glance at her? Is he doomed to live a sad and miserable existence, weeping quietly into his tiny bowl of fois gras? Or is there hope for him? Is it possible that by combining two of the most obnoxious forces on earth one could create something actually...tolerable?

We set out to learn the truth.

First we did a little research. Why do we hate the French? It is a question with many potential answers. Do we hate them because of their snooty attitudes towards people who believe that bath time is not a biannual event? Do we hate them because of the ridiculous berets and their unnatural love for Jerry Lewis? No. It's because French men have spent all the time other societies used fighting wars and developing affordable deodorant sprays figuring out how to have sex with pretty girls. Oh sure the French claim to be a fierce warlike people, but that's just to throw the rest of us off the scent. "Sacre Bleu, we are quite the warrior types. You silly English Americans cannot compare!" they say, knowing full well that we'll go off to Afghanistan or some place and conquer it to prove them wrong, and that while we are away dealing with the danger they can sneak across our borders in droves and take advantage of our women. Then they'll criticize us internationally for not obeying the U.N. while they know they are illegally dealing with the Hussein regime. The whole of French foreign policy is designed to send the rest of the world on a wild goose chase while they butter their baguettes in crocks that don't belong to them.

We have every right to hate the French.

And what of midgets? Do we hate them because they're short, or because they have oddly oversize heads for their bodies? Do we hate them because they remind us of the frailty of the human condition and the mortal nature of man? Hell no, we hate them for the same reason we hate all physically disadvantaged people, they're mildly inconvenient.

"Say, could you get the corn pops down from that shelf? It's a little high. What time does that clock say? It's too crowded, I can't see up there."

"Fuck you midget, fuck you midget. Just because you're 2'10" doesn't mean I should waste my time getting your damn cereal. I don't go around asking for you to make sure my shoelaces are tied, do I? I don't ask you if these pants make my butt look big even though you are at the perfect height to know."

Midgets are like the blind, always looking for a helping hand or a boost up into the bus, but unlike with the blind you can't just pretend not to notice them and walk away because they can fix their beady little eyes on you and tell what you look like. Then the next time you're hitting on some cute girl they will leap out from beneath the table and scream "This is the man who refused to help me. And I'm a MIDGET. All I wanted was a boost." And you can't get away from them because they're tiny and relentless, and they can hide anywhere and lord knows they scoot around fast on their minuscule legs.

So yeah, fucking demanding midgets. We have every reason to hate those bastards too.

But what about when you combine the two. When you take the obnoxious poon-hounding of a French dude and meld it with the inconvenient shortness of a midget? Does this create a doubly loathsome creature, or is he so obnoxious and pathetic that he seems almost lovable? We tried to contact the society of Midgetry in Bastion France but there was nobody there, just an outgoing phone message that said "We are so so sorry American English Nnnnerrd. We are not to be available for the phone because we are out doing the sex with your girlfriend or wife. Please leave the message and we will give an answer to her to bring you when we are finished ravaging her nnnuuudddeee body." Things did not look good. Since we couldn't locate a legitimate French midget we decided that we'd find a midget actor and have him pretend to be French.

First we called Verne Troyer but he wanted too much money ($15 plus carfare) then we left an add on Craigslist but all we got were a bunch of kind of short guys who didn't fit the bill at all. "Get out of here you 4'10" not tiny enough man. You fucking Malay, you don't even look French."

Finally we found our guy, passed out in a gutter off 54th street drunk off his ass from like two mini bottles of scotch. We took him home, bathed him in the sink, and offered him $3 and a slightly past its expiration date bag of Swedish fish if he'd help us. He agreed. He said his name was Mitch, Mitch the midget, but we asked him to change it to Michelle for the experiment and he agreed. He also agreed to wear a black and white horizontal striped shirt, a red scarf, and a blue beret. Mitch...Michelle clearly wanted those fish.

We weren't quite sure what to do with Michelle to make him more French, since he didn't speak the language and the closest he'd ever been to the Gallic shores was when he French Kissed a 9 year old (His rule is if she's taller than him she's fair game.) Eventually we decided to just scrape up some of the filth he'd left at the bottom of our sink and reapply it to his body, creating a very authentic French stench.

In the end we decided that Michelle was pretty cool after all. Sure he did a few annoying things, like stealing Pete's Mojito and puking all over his shoes, or climbing into Tonya's underwear drawer and repeatedly masturbating there while she slept, but overall he wasn't so bad, and there was definitely something endearing about his sheer loathsomeness. We almost felt guilty when we had to take away his new clothes and dump him naked back on the streets of Midtown (His old clothes burned. We didn't burn them, they actually spontaneously combusted. I guess there's only so much skin oil that can soak into corduroy before it ignites at room temperature.) He cried a little when we told him that for his safety we couldn't give him the last bag of Swedish Fish (they aren't supposed to be brown...or flop around in the pack that much.)

So what did we learn? The French are obnoxious liars who enjoy nothing except ravaging our women, Midgets are irritating inconvenient pests, but when you combine the two you get something greater than the whole of its parts. Something almost...lovable. And if you happen to see a tiny nude man huddling under an outdoor staircase around the 30's in Manhattan, blasted out of his gourd on 3 ounces of Tequila...tell him hi for us, and that Tonya's dropping the charges...out of love.
  • Current Music
    Randy Newman - Short People