Your Mustache Makes Me Gag

7 12 2010

I was standing in line at Potbelly on Friday, just quietly contemplating whether I was more in the mood for roast beef or tuna salad, when the young man standing in front of me turned his head about 30 degrees to the right to reveal the two-inch long, reddish brown, twisted and waxed-out mustache protruding from his face.  I actually threw up in my mouth a little, and by that I mean literally gagged up a variety of stomach acids into my mouth cavity at the sight of this repulsive, narcissistic, hair-product-encrusted atrocity poking out of this man’s face.  It was all I could do not to grab it and yank it as hard as I could until he screamed for mercy and then say, “Oh, my bad. I didn’t realize that was supposed to be there.”

Exacerbating the unspeakable grossness of this man’s pointy, perpetually wet-looking mustache were an ironic Fidel Castro hat, neon hipster sneakers and prescriptionless thick-rimmed glasses.

Fidel Castro=Cuban dictator

You=huge tool.

This got me thinking about mustaches in general and how creepy they are when men grow them to get attention, and how this “Movember” trend of dudes growing mustaches through the month of November to raise money for charity actually has a negative net impact on the world. Sure, that cancer foundation you say you’re donating the money to will have an extra $159 to continue to not come up with a cure for anything, but everyone who has the great misfortune of standing near your face during that month has to deal with the emotional anguish of an image that’s burned into their brains forever.  Do the ends really justify the means?

Be honest: you’re not growing that mustache because you think the proceeds will cure cancer. You’re growing it because you love the idea of people having to discuss your face every time they see you.  You love the feeling of power you get when somebody reaches into her wallet and hands you a $5 bill for no reason other than the fact that your hair follicles are functioning on schedule.  You want people to take a look at that big roach stretched across your upper lip and know that A) you have enough testosterone to squeeze out a real mustache, and B) you are so cool and confident that you are willing to sacrifice being attractive for the sake of “charity.”

Well I’m hip to your tricks, mustachioed men, and I would like to state for the record that there is only one person in the world who can pull off a thick manly mustache without any surrounding facial hair to dilute its impact, and his name is Tom Selleck.

Please take a good, hard look at this picture.  If this man is not you, then do us all a favor and promptly shave your charitable ironic mustache so I can go back to keeping my food down.


Dance Floor Revelations

23 11 2010

I feel like dancing means different things to different people, but growing up in Louisiana, it was a kind of cultural currency.  Having rhythm and being able to dance was status quo–  almost everyone could and did do it.  But having really amazing moves and being able to dominate a dance floor made you especially cool, and standing over near the wall bopping your head insecurely and totally off beat make you especially uncool, and it was just kind of understood that that’s how the game of life was played.

I remember going to my first school dance in 7th grade, where the DJ was playing pseudo hip-hop songs from the 90s like “Tootsie Roll” and “Come On Ride It” while my friends had a very heated “back that ass up” competition.  In that setting, the people who could dance easily separated themselves from the people who couldn’t.  I remember watching the really good dancers intently, studying their moves and trying to figure out what it was that set them apart from the mediocre dancers, and then I went home and practiced dancing in front of the mirror until I could back my ass up with as much gusto and variety as they did.

I didn’t realize until I got to UVA, and later to D.C., that the dance culture in Louisiana was not actually a microcosm of the whole world, and that there were tons white people living in other places who actually look like gerbils on quaaludes when they try to move their bodies in tandem with a 50 Cent song.  It’s appalling– just really, really embarrassing and uncomfortable to watch.

I digress.

Now that I’m a bit older, dancing is still pretty much my absolute favorite pastime, but it seems like there are fewer acceptable venues for it. You either dance at weddings, which is like, two-stepping to an old Motown song with your friend’s gay uncle, or you can go to a dance club and subject yourself to a buttload of creepy men who feel like they don’t need any form of permission or encouragement at all in order to shamelessly grope you and dry-hump your leg.

Just when I was thinking that there had to be a happy medium between weddings and creepy nightclubs, my friend invited me to a Cuban bar called Habana Village where he was celebrating his sister’s birthday.

Now, here’s why I plan to become a regular at Habana Village: You walk in, a man from Mexico or South America grabs your hand before you can even take your coat off and asks you to dance, and then instead of trying to cop a feel on the dance floor, he spins you and dips you and moves your hips around in a salsa or meringue or bachata routine that is not only relevant to the actual beat of the music, but makes you look like a great latin dancer, even if you have no clue what you’re doing.

Then, after one or two dances, he drowns you in superlatives– “You are the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen in my life!” “You have the bluest eyes in the world! Where did you get the blue in your eyes, did you steal it from the ocean?” “I think I love you more than anyone I’ve ever loved before, you smell like fresh coconuts and happiness!”– and that is not an exaggeration.  You peel one guy off of you and the next guy is right behind him, ready to tell you that your hair is so shiny his brain is about to explode, and then you dance with him too.

So I returned to this heavenly place on Saturday and was immediately dragged onto the dance floor by this tall Columbian man.  After about three minutes of intensely staring into my eyeballs with a deathly serious expression on his face as I tried not to trip over his feet, he declared that I was the best dancer in the world.  I rolled my eyes and told him he could go ahead and stop blowing sunshine up my ass because, honestly, I was the worst latin dancer in that bar. Then he said the best thing ever:

“I’m not talking about your salsa moves.  I just mean that Louisiana women seem to understand what dancing is really about.”

Hoooooly smokes, if that man had any sense of humor at all I would have definitely given him my phone number and/or hand in marriage, both of which he later requested.  But he didn’t, and it’s probably better that way.

Even Jesus Wants An iPad

14 11 2010

Approximately one day before I was officially hired at my job, the boss spontaneously decided to give the entire staff free iPads.  I was still technically a paid intern on that day, so I didn’t receive one, and it stung. BADLY.

Over the next couple of weeks, I sat in my desk pouting while every single person I share a table with made a huge to-do about his iPad, comparing apps, drawing little pictures of spiders with his draw tools and then passing the damn thing around to show everyone, talking about data plans, etc., and it was all I could do not to punch the whole staff in the face, one by one, for their egregious insensitivity toward my situation.

From that day forward, securing a free iPad became kind of symbolic for me.  It became the Holy Grail of legitimacy, or acceptance, or respect, or something.  Every time one of my co-workers whipped out his iPad to wave it around in my face, I imagined myself as Mel Gibson, riding my little horse around the office with a half-blue painted face talking about iPads and freedom in a bad Scottish accent until they all drummed up the motivation to fight for my rights as a new staffer.

And on Friday, it happened.  I was typing away, minding my own business, when a package was casually dropped onto my desk.  I ripped it open to confirm that it was, in fact, a free iPad, and that it was mine.  I was so elated that I made a little papoose for it out of my scarf and carried it around with me on my lunch breaks and bathroom breaks and to the water cooler.  If I could have spoon-fed it mashed avocados and burped it on my shoulder, I would have.

It wasn’t until I finally got it home and sat it on my coffee table that I realized I had no clue what to do with it.  What are iPads even for?  I literally just stared at it for about 20 minutes, feeling guilty, like I had promised to entertain it or something and was horribly failing to do so.  So I dialed for back-up.

“Mom!” I said. “Guess what?!  I got a free iPad!”

“Ohhhh, I’m so jealous!” she said.

“Yea you are!  So wait, why are you jealous?”

“I want an iPad so badly!” she said.  “It’s like a bigger version of the iPhone that you can carry around in your purse, but you can’t call people on it.”

“OK. I don’t get why you would want a bigger phone that doesn’t call people,” I said.

“Well for people like me with bad eyes, it’s awesome.  Everything on the screen is just bigger!”

Is that what this is?  A super-sized iPhone for old people?  Because I’m actually quite pleased with my normal-sized iPhone that does call people.

I turned to my roommate for a second opinion.

“Jodi!” I said.  “I got a free iPad!!!”

“Woohoooooo!” she shouted.  “Have you downloaded Fruit Ninja?”


“Fruit Ninja– that game where the pieces of fruit fly up on the screen and you slice them with your finger!”

“Um. Ok. But for those of us who aren’t into slicing fruit on a screen,” I said, and then observed the look of profound sadness and confusion on her face. “Nevermind. I’ll download fruit ninja.”

I mentioned my free iPad to about 12 other people that day, and all of them nearly peed their pants over it in the middle of the street, but not one of them was able to give me a solid reason why I should be excited about it.

“You can draw things on it with your finger.”

Cool, I can draw on a piece of paper with a pen.  Next?

“You can store all your pictures and music on it!”

Cool, I already store all my pictures and music on my laptop. Is that seriously all you people can come up with?

So the Holy Grail sat in its little white box on my coffee table, untouched, all weekend.  I was a little dismayed about the whole situation until Sunday morning, when I was awakened at 8:30 am by a text message.  I rolled over, glanced at the text, and then dropped my iPhone face up on my chest as I dozed off again.

When I opened my eyes about ten minutes later, I noticed that there was some light streaming in from my window that was reflecting off the surface of my iPhone and making one of those little light spots on the ceiling that dogs and babies go nuts for.  I was lying perfectly still, but the light spot on the ceiling was jerking about an inch to the left every second or so, in tandem with my heartbeat.  My iPhone was resting on my chest, and every time the blood pulsed through my veins, it moved the phone ever so slightly, allowing me to actually watch my heartbeat projected on the ceiling.

What was cool about this, to me, was that the neatest thing I had ever seen my iPhone do had happened while it was turned off.  It was basic science: light reflecting and refracting, obviously, and that whole phenomenon (I don’t know what it’s called) where the tiniest movement happens in the center of a circle and it projects into a much larger movement around the circumference.  I’m geeking out here, but THE POINT IS, computers are still just physical objects, subject to all the rules of the universe, even when they can do things like throw bananas up on the screen and let you slice them with your finger.  So my plan is to think of all the exciting things my free iPad and I can do together that don’t necessitate him being powered on.

For instance, maybe I’ll slice real fruit on him when all my cutting boards are in the dishwasher.  Or I could use him as a tiny personal yoga mat, and if he wants to play some music while that happens, that’s his prerogative.  Maybe I’ll hang him on our doorknob and stick passive aggressive post-it notes on him for my roommates to find as they’re leaving the house.

…Or I could just give him as a Christmas present to a kid who really wants one, because the truth is, I don’t really have room in my polygamous marriage with my iPhone and Macbook to fall in love with another piece of useless technology.

The Anxiety of Hosting

19 07 2010

This is not me.

Hosting a party is masochistic.  It’s like jumping out of a plane, crying and vomiting and peeing your pants the whole way down to the ground, and then brushing yourself off, saying, “OMG that was so fun!” and doing it again.

It only takes about a week to forget how much you hated hosting that last party, and then you’re ready to get up and do it again.  Hey roommates, you guys mind if I invite a couple people over on Thursday?  Just a laid-back barbeque type thing. Next thing you know, you’re at the grocery store buying a hundred bucks worth of beer and meat and chips and paper plates.  Then you’re at home, trying to frantically clean the house before people get there, and you look up at the clock and it’s 7:15.  You told people to be there at 7:30, so you have to choose between leaving the house a little messy to take a shower or hosting the party with day-old hair and smelly pits.   You obviously choose the shower.

By 7:45, you’re finally looking decent enough to greet people, but nobody has shown up yet except for that one weird dude you only invited because you were worried not enough people would come.  You laugh nervously and say, “No one ever shows up at the time you tell them to.  I’m sure they’ll be here soon. Can I get you a beer?”

An hour of excruciating small talk later, a couple people start trickling in, but none of them know each other so you go overboard trying to make up for the gaps in conversation.


And everyone’s like, uh, we came to your house because you used to be cool. But I think we should get going now.

You inevitably either run out of food or beer or realize that you bought $50 too much of it, and you can’t even enjoy yourself because you’re so busy making sure that there’s toilet paper in the bathroom, that your iPod doesn’t randomly start playing Boyz II Men, and that your roommate’s coworker who doesn’t know anyone at the party has someone to talk to at all times.

Your friends get to show up, have a burger and a couple beers and head out to bars when they get bored.  But you have to stick it out to the end because it’s your party.  “Oh, you guys are headed out?  Cool.  Maybe I’ll come meet you at that really cool bar down the street after every single person here has left and I’ve cleaned up after them.”

But by the time everyone leaves, your personality has been on overdrive for so long that you just want to flop down on your bed and stare at the ceiling for 12 hours, but you can’t because your deck is covered in beer bottles and condiments and remnants of your dignity.

You look wearily at your roommate and say, “That got out of hand,” and she agrees. You say, “Let’s let someone else have the barbeque next time,” and she agrees.  But both of you know deep down inside that the emotional memory of this hosting anxiety is going to wash away sooner than the bar stamp on your hand, and that sure as the Pope poops in the woods, you will be changing your wet pants and jumping off that plane again next week.

Long live the laid-back, BYOB summer barbeque!, You’ll think, as you hand your debit card over to the evil grocery store man.

BYOB my ass.

A Five-Year Reflection on D.C.

16 07 2010

Ever since I moved to D.C. exactly five years ago, straight out of college, I’ve been expecting to leave.  I told myself this city was just temporary, and that I was only coming here because I had other friends coming here and really didn’t know where else to go or what else to do.

Everyone loves to hate on this city– especially the people who grew up around here.  90% of my friends who live here are “planning” to move somewhere else at some point– usually either San Francisco or New York, with the occasional Philly or Chicago thrown in there.  For the first four years I lived here, I was one of those people.  You’re always hearing how much better every other city on the planet is than D.C.:  The people are nicer in Chicago, cooler in San Francisco.  There are much more outdoor activities to do in Colorado, and nobody is stressed out all the time like they are here.  New York is just much more fun– there’s more to do, more to see, bigger energy.  New Orleans has more flavor, Philly and Baltimore are grittier and more “blue-collar,” Phoenix is less humid, L.A. has more attractive people, San Diego is great for surfing, Montana is far more beautiful, Nashville has a better hippie music scene.  All D.C. has are a bunch of ugly, uptight political-types and a lame night-life.

With all of this buzzing in my ear for the past five years, it’s really a wonder that I’ve stuck it out.  But each year when my lease was up, there was something keeping here– either a job, or a boyfriend, or a grad program– so that over the course of my five years here, I was really forced to put down some roots.  I have a D.C. license, D.C. plates, I know all the Starbucks baristas and the people who work at my dry-cleaner by name. Almost all of my closest friends are either here or an easy drive away, either to New York or Charlottesville.  I spent a whole summer doing an internship in Chicago, and while I totally fell in love with that city, I missed D.C. so much by the end of the internship that I purposely missed a connecting flight from D.C. to Charlottesville one time so that I could have an extra 12 hours in D.C. and catch a ride down with a friend instead.

Now, when I think about moving somewhere “cool” like San Francisco or Chicago or London, like I once dreamed of doing, I think about all the people that would no longer be in walking or driving distance, and it’s just not worth it to me.  Obviously, I would eventually make new friends in all of those places, but it took me five years to make the friends in D.C. that I’ve made, and not only are they irreplaceable, but I really don’t feel like starting over from scratch.

It occurred to me recently that there are two kinds of people in the world:

1) The kind who love to move around every couple years and constantly travel, spending a year here, six months there, who really derive the majority of their energy from being in a new place and meeting new people and learning a new language and feeling disoriented for a while.  I have a lot of friends who are like this, and I respect them immensely for their ability to do that.  Sure, they miss their friends and family, but they are willing to only see their friends and family a couple times a year if it means that they get to keep moving.


2) The people like me, who derive the majority of their happiness less from the newness or coolness or beauty of their physical surroundings than from the feeling of being physically surrounded by a relatively large, supportive, high-quality network of family and friends.  I am not ok with seeing these people once or twice a year; I want to see them once or twice a month.  My wanderlust is satisfied by traveling abroad, or visiting people for a week here or a week there–I don’t need to actually move to these places.  I need to be able to have barbeques at my house and invite my favorite people over for trivial pursuit whenever I want, or take a bus up to NYC for the weekend when I haven’t seen one of them in a while, and it’s worth it to me to miss out on snow-shoeing and rafting in Colorado to be able to do that.  Once I am forced to move somewhere, my immediate instinct is to dig my feet in and wiggle my butt into the sand until it makes a clear impression and then stay there as long as humanly possible.

I’m not saying that I agree with anyone that D.C. is as lame as people make it out to be– it’s really not, especially in the last year or so.  And I’m not saying that my surroundings are totally irrelevant to my relative happiness, because they’re not.  Ever since I moved from Adams Morgan to Mount Pleasant, I have been a markedly happier person.  But again, that could be as much because of my awesome roommates as it is the neighborhood itself.

I can acknowledge that there are thousands of other amazing places in the world that I’m probably missing out on by continuing to live in D.C., but my main point is that I don’t care.  I love my people in this city and the surrounding areas, and that is enough to keep me here for a long, long time.

What do you guys think?  Are you more of a type 1 or a type 2?

No, I Don’t Want to Read Your Happiness Blog.

12 07 2010

Some of my dear friends came to visit me from Charlottesville this weekend, and we got into a conversation about blogging.

“Our friend has a blog,” said J.

“Oh yea? What’s it about?” said I.

“It’s just about her cute, happy life.  She bakes muffins in the morning and takes a picture and blogs about it.  She blogs about her garden. Etc.”

“EW, BLAAAGHHH#@(*%^@(#^%(,” I reacted, pretending to choke on my own tongue and vomit up the bite of pasta salad I had just taken.

J didn’t understand my reaction.  She thought the happiness radiating out of her friend’s blog was lovely and contagious.  But I would rather stick a burning hot needle in my eyeball than read a blog about somebody’s perfect life (especially after my brief, depressing foray into reading Pioneer Woman, which my cousin quickly cured me of).  If you’re going to blog about yourself, blog about how hilariously bad you are at cooking or driving, or that awkward first date you went on last week, or your daily struggles to control your pathological lying.  But for GOD’S SAKE… PLEASE don’t blog about that cute e-mail your boyfriend wrote you, or the thriving produce in your prolific garden, or the fact that you baked MUFFINS this morning for your husband and perfect, towheaded toddlers.  GROSS.

Why do I feel this way?  It’s not the whole “misery loves company” cliché, because, by and large, I am actually a very happy, un-miserable person.  And it’s not that your monologue about your well-earned weight loss is making me jealous, because I could do a masochistic pepper-and-lemonade body cleanse too if I wanted to drop a few pounds from my waistline.  There is just nothing funny or interesting or relatable about people who only talk about how great their lives are.

I’m not just talking about blogs, either.  I feel the same way about picking my friends.  My favorite kinds of people are the people who, when you haven’t talked to them in a while and ask how they are, instead of saying “I’m great! Just made some strawberry cupcakes for John’s birthday, and we’re about to go to Home Depot to look at paint colors for the nursery! How are you?”, they fill you in on interesting details, like: “I’m pretty good.  I didn’t get that raise I asked for, but my boss shamelessly hit on me last night at a company happy hour, so at least I’ll be severely uncomfortable at work for the next three weeks.”  Or, “I’m alright.  I’m heading to the Outer Banks this week with that barista from Starbucks I was telling you about.  Wait, did I tell you about him?  He may or may not be a serial rapist, but at least he has a steady job.”

Maybe it’s just me, but I find perfection to be incredibly dull and alienating. It’s people’s imperfections that make them endearing.   Does this make me a bitter asshole, or do you guys agree?

The Family Vacation

8 07 2010

I just returned from our annual 4th of July family vacation in Florida (the Redneck Riviera!) on Tuesday, and let me tell you: Nothing gives you a clear picture of your own mortality quite like a family vacation.

It’s amazing.  You’re sitting there with a group of people who kind of look like you, but they’re all at different stages of their lives– stages you either have already experienced or will experience shortly.  My little 17-year-old brother is still in that phase where he’s trying to figure himself out.  He listens to music at absurdly loud volumes in his car, sleeps past noon, and boasts about being able to get past the firewalls set up by his school and access Facebook in class.

I remember those days.  We would drink Strawberry Boones Farm before school dances because we hated the taste of beer, but still wanted to be cool.  I would blast Juvenile in the car on the way to school in the morning, and make faces and sarcastic comments behind my teacher’s back in class to cover up for the fact that I was probably getting an A.  We were always trying to strike that balance between being cool, which, in high school, equals being bad, and performing at least well enough to get us into a decent college.

But being around my brother just makes me feel old.  I have to ask him to please turn down the booming Lil’ Wayne music in his car, because shit, it’s 9 am, and my ears are not ready for loud music at 9 am.  Every time I walk past him in the kitchen, he wants to fight or ninja wrestle or otherwise block my way to the toaster, and instead of fighting him back like I used to, I just whine and ask him to please not be so violent because I really don’t feel like going to work with a big bruise on my leg.  Then I say to my Mom, “Mom, have you been letting him play too many violent video games?  I’m not gonna let my kid play violent video games.  Look what it does to their psyches.”

My middle brother, 24, is like a mini-me version of my Dad.  He looks exactly like him, has the same sense of humor and facial expressions, and wears the same button-down fishing shirts with weird flaps everywhere.  He goes to the same law school my Dad went to, is ridiculously picky about food like my Dad always was, and is a similar sports fanatic.  When I look at him, it’s like I’ve traveled back in time to hang out with my Dad in his 20s, and then I look at my Dad and it’s like looking at a fast-forward version of my brother in 30 years.  It’s like I stepped onto the set of that Benjamin Button movie.  And THAT freaks me out.

But the weirdest to be around is my Mom, because she is the fast-forwarded version of me.  We go out on the beach, and I lie out in the sun with no sunscreen because I really want to go back to D.C. with a great tan.  My Mom sits in the shade and warns, “Don’t sit in the sun.  Your face is going to get wrinkled like mine. Do you see my face?  This is from years of doing what you’re doing right now.  I wish I could go back to your age and put on sunscreen and sit in the shade.”

Then I defiantly lie out in the sun for like, one more minute, before submitting to her warning and throwing a towel on my burning legs and scooting back under the umbrella.  “God dammit,” I tell her, “You are going to ruin my bronze glow with your sinister warnings.”  But honestly, when the fast-fowarded version of you tells you she wishes she could go back to the age you are now and do something differently, how can you not do it?  You have to do it.  It’s the closest to time travel you can ever get.

I love family vacations, because it’s good to see your parents enjoying them so much and to know that, even 30 years from now, if all goes well, you are still going to be going to that beach house on the 4th of July and enjoying it with whoever your family is at that point.  And you will look at your 27 year old kid and think, Man. Being 27 was fun, but I’m really happy to be out of that phase.