Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Men's Lib

Catching up with some old friend’s at lunch this past week I came to a disturbing realization. My friend rides motorcycles, has for years, and he rides with a group of buddies. Talking about a trip they took he stated, in a matter of fact way, his friend doesn’t ride in the rain anymore because his wife “won’t let him”.

Won’t let him? This is a grown up man. Won’t let him?!

Immediately I recalled a running dialog my wife and I have while watching Pawn Stars on the History Channel. In nearly every episode some poor schmuck shows up with a highly sentimental item from his past that he’s trying to sell because his wife/girlfriend “won’t let him” keep it in the house or is “making him” get rid of it.

We think it’s kind of funny because usually it’s a pretty bizarre item or something that a grown man probably should not have. It wasn’t until talking with my friend though that I realized that I’d never seen a woman come into the store with something her husband/boyfriend “won’t let her” keep in the house or is “making her” get rid of.

Why doesn’t that door swing both ways?

I’m not ignorant of the progress that women have made in the last century or the unfair treatment they’ve received in the past. I’m not a chauvinist and have a tremendous amount of love and respect for women. I’m not a king of the castle, caveman mentality type either. However, it seems that scale has tipped ever-so-slowing and men now find themselves sliding off the back side.

Think about it. What if a man said to a woman, “I don’t want that in MY house” or “I don’t want you doing that anymore”? He’d be patted on the head like a toddler and given that ‘How cute. You have an opinion’ look.

When I brought up this injustice to my wife, not only did she not deny it, she smiled and said, “And I’ve had you change your shirt a time or two as well.” What the frack is that?! She might as well have stamped OWNED on my forehead.

I know this is a popular sentiment now with shows like Man Up and Last Man Standing on the new fall schedule. But I’m now talking about returning to some bygone era or reclaiming a lost machismo. I’m talking about regaining an equal footing in a world gone mad.

I’m not a fool either. I understand that women will be able to get away with things that we never will. For instance I would never tell my wife I didn’t like something she was wearing and order her to change it. I’m not suicidal. As much as a guy wants to look nice he will never care as much as a woman does about it so I’ll concede to the more passionate position.

We may not be the king of the castle but we should at least be a co-captain on the same team. It can’t be “her way or the highway”, it should be “which way is our way?”

If you want to keep your life sized Wookiee figurine, that you’ve had since adolescence, in the living room then I think there should be a definite dialog around that (or an intervention if civil discourse fails), but I don’t think Chewbacca should be thrown to the curb at her command.

Men if you enjoy playing rugby well into your 40’s even after multiple concussions and broken bones then I think your partner should be able to voice her displeasure at your pursuit of death and disability. I do not, however, think she has the final word on the matter and that you should abandon something you love because she “won’t let you” do it.

I’ve heard all the “secret of a happy life is a happy wife” or the key to a happy marriage is two words, “Yes, dear”. I get it but I think it’s gone a little too far. The best marital advice I ever got, besides never say “I bought you a cookbook”, came from my father-in-law. He said you’ve got to have compromise, sometimes that’s a 50/50 compromise and sometimes someone’s got to compromise 100%.

Listen, if you want a happy successful relationship you’ve got to respect your companion and her feelings. That goes both ways ladies. It’s time to stop this “I have spoken” attitude and find a place of compromise and mutual respect.

There’s probably some of you reading this right now thinking ‘I can’t believe she “let him” write this’. Well I’m a grown up man and I do as I please…and she said I could, so there.

Friday, October 21, 2011

It's Complicated

I love golf.

I hate golf.

I want to play golf the rest of my life and dream of having more time (and money) to play as I get older.

I want to give up golf and never pick up a club again.

Confused by these contradictions? It gets better. I can feel all that on the same round, the same hole, heck, I can feel all that on the same swing.

Golf is a gentlemen’s game. It’s a game full of etiquette and ethics.

Golf is a game for losers and masochists. It’s a game full of pain and discouragement.

At its best golf teaches lessons that extend far beyond the course and gives clarity to life.

At its worst golf makes you want to give up and forces contemplation of the trivial nature of life.

An illustration

You start your day on the links. The sun has just crept over the horizon and a gentle breeze blows through the mature lush trees that surround the fairway while the birds are singing to you. You start your day off with a par followed by going birdie, birdie on the next two holes. ‘I love birds’ you think to yourself, ‘and eagles’. The sky is a brilliant blue with cheery fluffy white clouds, providing the perfect mix of sun and shade. What a beautiful day.

You approach the fourth hole with a smile on your face wondering how one applies for a PGA tour card. You can’t think of any possible way this day could get any better and there’s nowhere else you’d rather be. After a booming drive on the last hole you step up to tee off with anticipation of the greatness that is about to ensue.

Tempo you tell yourself as you start into your backswing. The club comes through the ball and from the sound you know you didn’t strike it well. You look up to see the ball soaring to your right which wouldn’t be so bad if the course didn’t dogleg left. Still it’s a par 5 and you can recover.

After a bit of searching you find your ball a couple hundred yards up just off the fairway in the tall stuff. Where’s that cool breeze? Without much thought other than distance you pull out your 4-iron and line up your shot. You let back and swing topping the ball and sending it bouncing just ten or twelve feet ahead of you. Cuss.

Well at least it’s on the fairway now. That’s just two shots. You can still save par. You get out your 5-iron because you remember you’ve never been able to hit your 4-iron and don’t know why you tried to hit it then. You double check your grip turning the club ever so slightly in to avoid going right again.

Good news, you avoid going right. Bad news, you go way left. CUSS. You are now in range of the green though and with a good putt you can save par. Why is it so blazing hot all of a sudden?

Sitting at about 150 yards now, even in the tall stuff your 8-iron should do and your 8-iron never fails you. A large tree stands about twenty feet to your left but that doesn’t matter because the green lies dead ahead. Your backswing and follow through feel perfect, you get that beautiful ping sound you were looking for and know that ball is headed for the pin. Thwack!

Although the canopy of a tree is 80% air your ball manages to find a small part of the 20% which sends it flying over the fairway into the rough; back on the right side. CUSS! Where did those blasted clouds go?!

Okay, your laying four now but even with a bogey you’re still -1 on the day. This heat is relentless.

Your next shot lands on the green and promptly rolls off the back. Why have you forsaken me God? You get out your lob wedge and take a halfhearted swipe at the small white sphere that torments you. The ball trickles up about six feet from the hole. A good approach by almost any measure, but you fail to enjoy it because there goes par.

Taking extra care on lining up your putt you decide it breaks slightly to the right and set up just to the left of the cup. Be the ball, be the ball. You strike the ball and watch it roll. To your bewilderment it doesn’t break at all and rolls to a stop dead even with the cup only to the left. CUUUUUUSSSSS!!!!!

The usually delightful sound the ball makes when it drops in the hole fills your soul with disgust as you tap the ball in thinking of all the things you’d rather be doing right now. You’re wasting a perfectly good Saturday morning out in the blistering heat surrounded by annoying chirpy little birds and lugging around these deficient heavy iron clubs. You could be mowing your lawn for heaven sake. This is a game for fools and clearly designed by the devil himself.

You step up to the next tee just wanting to pack it in. And I don’t mean just golf but life itself. Thank goodness it’s a par 3 so the agony will be over all the sooner. You snatch your stupid 6-iron from your bag with little hope for the future (again and not just in terms of golf). You strike the ball well and when you look up its sailing straight for the flag. With two soft bounces it comes to rest less than ten feet from the hole.

Ceremoniously you place your beloved 6-iron gently back in your bag, throw your clubs over your shoulder and strut like George Jefferson all the way to the green. The breeze is blowing, the birds are singing and you’re the king of the world, baby. What a beautiful game.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Making Me Ill

Have you ever eaten something that’s made you sick?

I don’t mean made your tummy hurt or made you a little nauseous; I mean something that’s taken you straight down Upchuck Boulevard, hung that perilous right on Spew Street and brought you all the way to Puketown.

In my life I’ve had this misfortune befall me on three separate occasions. My poor friend Clay has had a handful of recycled McDonald’s milkshake flung at him from the backseat of his VW bug after he was kind enough to pull over at sounds of my distress. I assure you he was NOT ba-da-ba-da-dah loving it. That earned me the nickname Barfy. (again Clay my sincerest apology)

My poor wife loves Fuddruckers and you’d think that would be a perfect match as I love hamburgers of all kinds. Alas no, another well chronicled adventure of Clay and Barfy has sadly robbed her of Fuddruck’n it up at least where I’m concerned.

In both cases I’ve completely blocked these places from my mind. If I’m in the mood for a hamburger Fuddruckers doesn’t even register when mentally scrolling through my options. If I fancy a shake I have to be reminded that McDonald’s even has milkshakes. I’ve consistently maintained that I’m boycotting said establishments due to “a bad experience” but it’s more than that. It’s almost as if my brain is trying to protect me.

Still the granddaddy of them all happened when I was a child. [Warning: kids it’s about to get real] ***disclaimer***The following story contains graphic depictions of hurling, heaving, retching, tossing ones cookies and throwing up; also known as vomiting. This is not for those with a weak stomach or constitution. You have been warned.

Are you still reading? Seriously? You’re sick.

I had a sleep over at my friend Brigham’s house. We thought it would be a good idea to pool our money and go down to the Circle K and buy all the gummy products we could afford. We bought gummy bears, gummy worms, gummy rings, gummy spiders and gummy fruit in all varieties. We filled a stainless steel punch bowl with them and sat down with his brother to watch a movie while we consumed this cornucopia of gumminess.

We of course stayed up way too late messing around but finally settled in to the couches in the living room and went to sleep. I awoke suddenly in a panic immediately knowing there was nothing I could do to stop what was about to happen. I rolled off the couch in an attempt to reach the bathroom. At that moment a rainbow of regurgitated gummies came flying out of my mouth as I ran (it was like something out of The Excorcist). I eventually made it to the toilet just as the horror was subsiding. In my wake was a trail of decapitated gummy bears and masticated multicolored worms. It looked like the rainbow bridge to Asgard, only disgusting.

My friends awoke to the smell of the gummy madness that had just ensued. To their credit and to my everlasting gratitude, without complaint, they began to help me clean up this gummy tummy mess. Unfortunately the smell of gummy and gut juice triggered my sensitive gag reflex and sent me back to pray to the porcelain god once more. I don’t know how they ever recovered because I still haven’t.

It’s been more than twenty years and to this day the smell of gummy anything makes me ill. Last weekend I was offered gummy bears. As the open bag of gummy bears was extended towards me and the aroma wafted towards my nostrils I felt that old familiar feeling and suppressed the urge to Ralph. I answered him as I’ve answered so many well meaning gummy givers.

“No thanks [closed mouth urp suppression], I’ll pass.”

Friday, October 7, 2011

Thanks a lot Steve Jobs

It is an interesting thing when someone famous passes away. In many cases they don’t know you at all but you feel a loss in varying degrees because of a role they played, great or small, in your life. This was the case with the passing of Steve Jobs. We have never met and I actually consider myself a PC guy and mock Mac guy at every opportunity, however, Mr. Jobs gave me my beloved iPhone.

I’ve written on several occasions about my iPhone and how I’d be lost without it. This device hasn’t changed or enriched my life in a holistic or spiritual way but in many ways it HAS changed and enriched my life. Just this week it aided me on my lengthy and sometimes arduous journey of self discovery.

I start nearly every morning with a walk. I do this because of my well documented love of food. But I do enjoy my walks, largely because of my iPhone. I listen to iTunes and track my distance, rate of speed and calories burned on my RunKeeper App (yes I know it’s called RunKeeper not WalkKeeper, shut your face). Having all my music on one small portable device is amazing enough but tracking my progress on that same device is really quite extraordinary.

A couple of months ago I became bored with my music and playlists and took advantage of another techno-delightful innovation, Pandora. I can stream music from a variety of artists and genres, depending on my mood, for free. I’ve got stations ranging from 80’s music to hits of today, from Ozzie Osborn to Justin Timberlake and everything from Country to Reggae. It’s magical.

The best part is you can control the music on the station by giving songs a thumbs up or thumbs down, telling Pandora almost exactly what you’d like to listen to. Over the past several months I’ve refined my musical cue casting my vote for songs I like and songs I don’t. Pandora kindly plays more of the music I want and doesn’t offend my ears with the rest.

This past week I set out on my walk on a beautiful morning. The temperature had dropped into the cool range. The sun was peeking through several well placed fluffy clouds. There was even an ever so gentle breeze. I was feeling good. I fired up Pandora and the first song in the cue was Katy Perry’s California Girls ft. Snoop Dogg (Katy my lady).

Next was Rihanna’s S&M Remix (don’t judge me that song is the jam. I like it-like it Come on!). I was feeling it now, stepping with the beat and moving. As I rounded the corner Your Love is My Drug by Ke$ha came on (great song but I’m really not proud of that one). I was still in the groove when The Cardigans Love Fool started bump’n (Love me, love me, say that you love me, I don’t care ‘bout anything but you. There, that’s implanted in your brain the rest of the day)

It wasn’t until the second Katy Perry song, User Your Love, came on that I began to reflect on what I’d been giving my thumbs up to while Pandora-ing. All the likes for P!nk, Brittany and Lady Gaga’s pop hits. Then, like a ton of bricks, it hit me. Pandora thinks I’m a girl. And kind of a dirty girl at that.

So thank you Steve Jobs, now I’ve got to reevaluate my life.

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