Mr. Squish has been looking for a gym since Winter is Coming. A snazzy, newer one in town let us have a trial period, which included a free fitness assessment. I suspected that this free thing was like the “free” breakfast my parents went to and got suckered into buying a time share. But whatever! Woo! Free stuff! So far so good.
The assessment was given by a nice, slightly shy younger woman who followed what was outlined in the gym-branded handbook. We chatted a little bit about goals, and I pretty much just stopped short of saying, “I don’t care how fat I am. I just want a pleasant, attractive person to congratulate me each time I complete a weightlifting set and give me high fives.”* Maybe I should’ve been more forthcoming.
Some time in middle school, a family friend dropped off a huge box of books and I proceeded to read nearly all of them in a summer. The only age appropriate ones I remember are By the Great Horn Spoon!, which is a sheer delight full of cleverness, boxing butlers, and the California gold rush, and The Once and Future King, which had some parts that were still outside my grasp. Though the Arthurian legend in general is emotionally fraught, containing incest, patricide, and the weird situation of loving one’s wife while also loving the guy she’s cheating on you with – I don’t blame myself.
This box also provided The Age of Innocence, which taught me about love and conforming, and that a gentleman can be thrilled when a lady’s eagle feather fan brushes his knee. It also taught me that after a lifetime of mooning about someone, said same gentleman could decline to see her because, “She’s more real to me this way.” WTF, dude?
Most people who have known me for a while, know that for a very long time I struggled with body image. I hope, at the very least, that I kept it to a dull roar because that kind of thing is tiring and toxic to be around.
It’s hard to remember when everything started because it started so early. Kids aren’t dumb; they spend a lot of time figuring out their environments, the social pecking order, and how to behave to get what they want. So even though my parents never put me on a diet, never put me down about my appearance, and never said that looking a certain way would bring positive or negative outcomes for me, I still put two and two together. From fairy tales to cartoons to toys to advertisements, I was taught that feminine beauty is linked to goodness and good outcomes. There’s also a pretty narrow definition of feminine beauty that I remember being shown: slender, white, blonde, unmarked skin, mostly hairless – a princess who is “fair.” I’m pretty sure I picked up on all of this before I could reliably count to 100.
As long as we believe that the sole purpose of salads is for women to laugh alone with them, there’s going to be a lot of macho men avoiding vegetables to keep their cojones intact. An understandable reaction, I daresay!
But I want to be part of the solution, dear readers. Men should be able to enjoy vegetables with gusto! Not only because they’re good for you (depending upon medication and whatnot), but because they’re delicious! Alas, vegetables cannot win over a population just because they’re awesome. If there’s anything I learned about getting people to do stuff, it’s that you need to speak to your audience about their values, in this case, cojones integrity.
Today is a day that Americans are implored not to forget. There are things about 9/11 that I absolutely want to remember, and to tell to those too young to remember.
When I heard that a plane crashed into the Pentagon, my first thought was that it was impossible. Where the hell did this classmate get her news? But the news kept coming, and more people were dying. We sat helpless in our classrooms watching the horror happen on TVs wheeled in so we could see. All our after school activities were cancelled, and we exited the school to find an empty, silent sky. You never realize how used to the sound of planes you are until there are none in the air – because something unimaginable happened.
I’ve managed to give away my bumper crop of beer bottle plants in time for the pre-winter reaping, the time in which I will again cultivate more beer bottle plants. (That’s the Toxo talking.) One of them has even become set dressing at a local theater. They’re so easy to give away because there’s nearly no danger of killing them. I’m sure Balthazar is well pleased that his spawn are doing so well.
A friend sent me the above picture and requested that I parse out why feminine armpits should smell like fruit or sexy intrigue. I asked for some further specifics regarding sexy intrigue. Imagine my disappointment that it did not smell, as I had hoped, like slim cigarettes and broken promises made in Paris, but instead like a cinnamon sugar cookie. The gauntlet has been thrown, and I shall retrieve it.
Now, one can take the expedient route and say this is just personal preference or “culture,” or one could probably write a book involving details about the history of personal grooming and perfume, cultural attitudes and expectations, the role of marketing, biological responses to scent, etc. I will attempt to pick and choose judiciously to come to an answer, but as this is not a peer-reviewed article or anything, keep in mind that this is more of my answer as opposed to “The Answer.” In order to do this properly, I’d also have to try to disprove my theories, hence the possibility of a book-length answer. I’m just going try to keep this simple.
Many fairytales start with a young man going to seek his fortune. It’s usually the youngest son who doesn’t have a stake in the family mill or farm; there’s just not enough to go around, so he leaves and sees what happens. (Girls don’t seek their fortune in fairytales; fortune happens to them, but that’s a post for another day, dear reader.) We’ve largely abandoned this mindset of seeking one’s fortune in favor of a disciplined, well-organized plan. Things rarely go as planned, but that doesn’t stop us from believing that making The Plan, sticking to The Plan, and making sacrifices for The Plan will eventually lead us to the fortune we deserve. Sometimes this even happens.
I certainly believed in The Plan. The limit of my fortune seeking was within college and what major I ended-up with. Even while I enjoyed learning and the arts, my understanding was that these things were part of what would propel me through school and ultimately into a well-paid, rewarding career that I was supposed to find right out of college. (Isn’t strange how much self-improvement and artistic enjoyment just falls into nothingness once your life is supposed to be all about working hard, make a living, and not complaining?)
Against my better judgment, I watched the Republican debate on Thursday. It went pretty much as expected, and I had a sad. However, I came across one thing I did not expect: feeling uncomfortable for Megyn Kelly. I think she acquitted herself as well as could be expected for this overall weird event. (Who has a “debate” with ten people in half of a basketball stadium? Much more mind boggling were some of the answers, but I digress.) I just remember being struck that she was the only woman in a group of thirteen, which put her in a precarious position: her role in this sideshow was to represent 50% of the U.S. population. This is an impossible feat, and nearly impossible to escape unscathed, which she didn’t.