Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Step Back - A Rant's a-Comin

Instead of losing a push-up contest to Julie Bowen to see who gets to play Kevin James’s mean wife who he’s sick of having sex with, I’m going to skip ahead to being an amazing slut who wins Oscars

- Jenna Maroney

Today the Internet gathered together as one to clutch at their pearls and cluck their tongues because Renee Zellweger went and got herself a little plastic surgery. The concern trollers today have just done outdid themselves.

Here's something I've learned in my 45 years of walking around with a couple of x chromosomes: Men are allowed to age gracefully; women aren't.  And you can just spare me right now your #notallmen bullshit.  Your willingness to do Helen Mirren the profound favor of tapping her septuagenarian ass does not nullify a pop culture reality in which actresses go from fuckably nubile to second billing as someone's nagging wife or mother while their male counterparts end up cast opposite the next wave of fuckably nubile actresses.

Here's something else: men are allowed to be "interesting" looking; women are not.  For every Melissa McCarthy, there are a baker's dozen Steve Buscemi's or Kevin James or even Tom Fucking Hanks.  If you want to put your girl face up on a screen, no matter what else you’re bringing to the table you’d better make good and goddamn sure that the first thing you bring is your pretty face and your skinny toned ass which both better fit right into the narrowest definition of physical attractiveness.

Actresses will spend their whole career endlessly being told that their main value is to be objects of desire for straight white men because straight white men are still (dear sweet jesus for the love of all that's holy can we PLEASE get to a future where what I'm fixing to say stops being true) the normal thing to be.  Women (and gay men) are not the normal thing to be – so actors get to function beyond objects of desire.  They get to age (and be weird looking and lazy and fart) because that’s the normal thing for men to do.   Actresses, on the other hand, are endlessly compelled to first and foremost be something men want

And so an actress who has been mocked for her appearance literally her entire goddamn career gets plastic surgery to erase the source of the mocking and everyone is just so shocked SHOCKED that she did it

You don’t want actresses to hack up their faces in endless pursuit of the youth and the narrowest approximation of physical beauty?  Well, stop making fucking fun of them for not adhering to the system.  Stop talking about cougars and wondering if this one’s teeth are weird of if that one has cellulite.  Treat Renee Zellweger like we treat George Clooney. And then maybe actresses will stop shocking us by doing exactly what we’ve been telling them they should do their whole career.

And, Jesus Christ.  She looks fine. 

 

The March, Chapter 39: Teddy's Sanctuary is Breached; He Moves

Chapter 38

I’ll be back
-Terminator

Will’s relaxed presence at The March was pissing Teddy off.  He couldn’t bear walking past Will on his way to the bar, even though the two ignored each other entirely. And it galled him to see Will fitting in so well at The March.  No one seemed at all bothered by this interloper who had infiltrated his bar.  And it was his bar.  After all, he’d been sitting on his barstool longer than any other regular.  Hell, he’d been coming to The March longer than most of the staff had been alive.  But they just welcomed in his loathsome relative, who looked so at home leaning against the door or carrying cases of beer to the bar.  He bantered easily with guests, flirted with waitresses, followed orders from Caleb cordially.  It was intolerable.  Teddy was betrayed.

And so he decided to betray The March.  After 25 years of doing his post-research drinking at The March, Teddy decided to take his business elsewhere and began exercising his boozy post-mortems at Scottie’s, also an L.G.E. joint and conveniently located right around the corner from The March.  It wasn’t quite the same there.  Teddy didn’t like it as much.  There was no quiet dark spot at the far end of the bar.  Instead, Scottie’s had a large island bar right in the middle of the room, with two top tables around its perimeter.  No one had regular places to sit.  Instead, people just sat wherever there was room, no matter how many nights in a row they came in.  It was anarchistic. You never knew who you’d end up sitting next to.

Teddy hated that.

But he hated it less than walking past Will every night.  And eventually Teddy did manage to sort out reasonably unobjectionable seating:  a tiny table, situated between the basement and the cigarette machine where he could sit, spread out his papers and not risk distasteful barroom camaraderie from strangers.  It was unpleasant to sit there when intermittent smokers waged battle with the machine, an ancient thing known to reject any bill more than three turns outside the mint.  But it was better than sitting at the bar knowing that it would be only minutes before someone would attempt to strike up banal conversation about that ridiculous basketball team.  Before too long, Teddy became known to Scottie’s staff as “cigarette table guy.”  Also for being unpleasant, cheap and rude.  But, seated at his isolated table away from the horrifyingly intimate island bar, he wasn’t threatening enough to be sent away.

Will was overjoyed to have forced Teddy out of his comfort zone.  But more than that, Will was having fun.  He like school and he liked working at The March.  And he especially liked not having The Future looming in front of him.  It’s not that he’d abandoned the notion of a future in politics; rather, he’d put planning for his future on temporary hiatus and was looking only as far forward as midterms or his next shift at The March.  It was liberating and he’d have been entirely comfortable if only he could exorcise a fervent desire to find himself working one of those quiet weekday nights at The March with Brooke.  But, no matter how hard he worked to keep his focus off Brooke, images of her bright eyes and beautiful hair would spring unbidden into his mind.

Fortunately, Caleb was no dummy when it came to potential drama and Will’s crush was obvious to all save Brooke.  Caleb scheduled Will at the door on weekend nights when Brooke and Gio were at the bar. Brooke was first cut that night, and home long before the post-shift social that happened in the gray morning hours.  When Brooke was working her waitress shifts, and the quiet, close atmosphere was more amenable to cozy chats between wait and door staff, Caleb scheduled another doorman.

Brooke found that she enjoyed Teddy’s absence from The March.  He’d always been a bit of a drain, especially where Will was concerned.  It was nice to get to work and just be with March people; folks generally pretty easy to get along with.

She preferred her weekend nights behind the bar to her weekday shifts on the floor.  Bartending with Gio suited her.  He was garrulous and liked chatting up the clientele.  Brooke, on the other hand, was the lightning fast workhorse.  She did all the service bartending (mixing drinks for the waitstaff), washed all the dishes and stocked most of the beer.  Gio chatted with the regulars, flirted with the ladies, exchanged good-natured insults with the guys and made about 10 times the tips Brooke did, which were split evenly between them.  This worked to everyone’s satisfaction.

Sometimes, though, John Farebrother or one of the other regulars would ask Brooke about her recycling plan.  If that topic came up, Gio knew he’d be the one pouring pitchers for the waitresses and washing dishes.  Once she started talking about her recycling program, it was hard to shut Brooke up.  Her recycling program (and Brooke thought of it as hers) was going gangbusters. 

The March was one of the few bars around to sport both black and blue garbage bins.  The staff was accustomed now to emptying ashtrays and tossing used cocktail napkins into the black bin while throwing bottles and broken glassware into the blue one.  The March had adopted this easy environmentalism without complaint. 

It wasn’t much, Brooke knew.  She hadn’t spent all this time with Teddy and ended up a pie-eyed optimist.  But she didn’t embrace his fatalism.  It didn’t matter to her whether or not Teddy believed that his work could save the world.  It just mattered that he do it, finish the book and launch it into the world.  When it was out, Brooke was sure that people would embrace its message and begin treating their world right.  Or she was almost as sure as she had been, anyway.  At least, she was used to being sure.

In the meantime, she could relish the feeling of forward motion generated by the recycling program.
As an added benefit, those blue recycling bins represented a nascent, cool environmentalism. This, along with the very trendy, very hot weekend DJ-ing that Rosie was doing, meant that the hipness quotient at The March had increased manifold.  The March, at least on weekends, was becoming something of a destination spot for Chicago twenty-somethings.

This had not escaped Tré’s professional notice.  It was time to kick off the rebrand across the business and he approached Bulstrode about making The March the inaugural store.  In the plan he presented to Bulstrode, he explained that The March was enjoying a nice uptick in weekend business thanks to Rosie, but it still retained its hold on its large core of regulars.  If the rebrand went smoothly (and why wouldn’t it?), it wouldn’t alienate the regulars while increasing the attractiveness of the bar to new visitors.  This would increase buy-in at other bars.  Bulstrode agreed.

Once it was all decided, Tré came into The March to help Caleb plan for imminent construction.

“I don’t know,” said Caleb. “Why us? Our numbers are good, people like the place.  If it ain’t broke, why fix it?”

“That’s not really how we see it,” said Tré.  “We’re just bringing all the stores in the company in line. The March will be the flagship.”

Mary snorted from behind the bar.  “Flagship my ass,” she said.  “More like some bullshit yuppie fern bar.”

“Come on, Mary,” said Tré.  “I’m not an idiot. And I like this place.  We’re not going to ditch the place.  We’re just going to change the sign, clean up the place, get some new uniforms, new barstools…”

“Uniforms!” said Mary.  “I’m not wearing a fucking uniform!”

“Cam down,” said Tré.  “It’s just a tee shirt.  A plain, simple black tee shirt that says L.G.E. over the right-breast pocket.  Wear it with jeans or shorts or whatever. We’re not trying to turn this place into a Friendly’s”

“Tré,” said Caleb, carefully. “Of course we’ll do what you tell us.  You don’t have to convince us, because we don’t actually have a choice.  This place belongs to Bulstrode.  But I just want to make sure you know that I’ve been running this place for 15 years now with limited interference from corporate and I’d prefer to return, post-rebrand, to that way of business.”

“The way I see it,” said Tré.  “Is that once we’re done with our limited remodeling and rebranding, we’ll be out of your hair and moved on to another joint.”

“Let’s hope so,” said Caleb, looking significantly at the door.  “But I’m not hopeful.”

Bulstrode was walking in, looking uptight and irritable.  He joined the three at the bar, demanded a diet coke from Mary and dove right in.

“You guys ready for this,” said Bulstrode.  “We’re kicking off soon.”

“Here we go,” thought Caleb, as he nodded grimly.

“Here we fucking go,” thought Mary, pouring the soda.

---
When Tré and Bulstrode walked out after the meeting, they were both anxious and overwhelmed.  Bulstrode was being blackmailed and Tré was mired in debt.  Both situations were bad – exhausting and nerve-wracking.  But Tré was 30 years younger than Bulstrode.  Despite it all, Tré had a little energy to spare.  He hadn’t run out of hope. 

Bulstrode couldn’t help but take notice.  He wondered if Tré might not come in handy at some point.

That little glimmer of hope was contagious, but corrupted as it was communicated.

Monday, October 20, 2014

On Resentment

Way back, a long time ago, when I was a young lass of twenty-something, someone asked me what my goal for life was.  I said my goal was to live as resentment-free as possible.  Now, that is quite a wise goal for such a young lady, right?  For a little perspective, at around the same time, I would have told you that I would have run to the ends of the earth to be with Adam Duritz.

This guy:


Shut up. August and Everything After was a great album and Recovering the Satellites was a really good album and both Jennifer Aniston and Courtney Cox hit that and he hadn't yet done that unforgivably horrible cover of Big, Yellow Taxi.  It was a different time, is what I'm saying.

I digress. I do that.  

My wisdom was not unassailable is the point I'm trying to make.  

Still, some twenty-odd years later, I think that's a pretty good goal for life. Resentment has to be the most toxic force out there. My friend, Jessica, told me that being resentful is like swallowing poison and expecting the other person to die.  The Internet(tm) tells me Nelson Mandela said that.  But I'm gonna go ahead and give the credit to Jessica.  She's smart.

There was a study recently that made a pretty hard-to-argue case that simply giving the homeless free housing was cheaper than having them on the street.  There are further studies that say a guaranteed basic income is better for us a society than requiring people to work for money.  

I'm for housing the homeless and guaranteeing everyone a subsistence income because I don't want people to be homeless or hungry, even if they're super lazy and watch Two and a Half Men on purpose every week.  But America increasingly seems to be a place where some asshole saying, "No one gave me nothing" passes for a reasonable argument against housing the homeless and feeding the poor, even if housing the homeless and feeding the poor is good for all of us, even for the asshole in question.  

_______________________

Laney recently came home from school and told me about this girl who was texting in the bathroom.  Kids at school aren't supposed to have their phones during school hours. (side note: sometimes I like to imagine having a phone on me when I was in sixth grade.  I could have recorded those horny little sixth grade boys who flipped up our skirts and shown them to the priest and they would have gotten in SO MUCH TROUBLE.  Or I would have had to suffer through an exorcism, because I reckon a cell phone video would seem like the devil's work to Fr. Stritch back in 1980).  Here's the exchange we had:

Me: Did her texting affect your life at all?
Laney: splutter splutter something not fair something splutter
Me: Was your life in any way affected by her texting?
Laney: It's not fair!  You're not supposed to!
Me: But answer me, is anything in your life altered by this girl's bathroom texting?

She gave in in the end.  This is a lesson we teach our kids, right?  Her life is not your life and even if she gets something you don't, you can be damn sure you've gotten something someone else didn't.  Don't be resentful.  It's cheap and will make you bitter and then you'll end up making shitty comments on local news websites.

It would be so nice to live in a country that believed in the virtue of a resentment-free life instead of in a country where stuff like this is said on major news networks and goes unchallenged:


I still love you, Zeke. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

The March, Chapter 38: Fred Proves Quite Competent in the New Year

Chapter 37

Ray, when someone asks you if you’re a God, you say YES
-Ghostbusters

Christmas came and went and all of the sudden it was a new year, 1991.

The Soviet Union had collapsed and the United States was headed into its first war in the Gulf.  Home Alone was number one at the box office and a nation waited with bated breath to learn who killed Laura Palmer.

The Chicago Bulls were firmly in first place.  It was very exciting!

Gio and Brooke were the new weekend night bartenders, slinging drinks the same nights that Rosie spun tunes at The March.  On weekdays, Rosie was still clubbing it up. 

Will worked the door five nights a week at The March and went to school during the days and was pretty committed, studies aside, to sha-la-la-la-la-la living for the day. 

Tré was walking the straight and narrow, but, despite that, found himself more and more mired in debt.

Teddy’s epic work was no closer to completion.

Mary was in her last year of law school and fretting mightily about the bar.

Raff still popped up unexpectedly and unwelcome in Bulstrode’s life, more strung out and wilder looking each time.  Bulstrode kept paying him off and wondering how this situation would resolve.

Fred had begun school again, taking 21 hours at DePaul University, desperate to finish his undergraduate and make something of his life.  He’d gotten a few thousand dollars from his mother and used that to begin paying Caleb back. He was determined to get back in the good graces of everyone.  Especially, Mary.  And he was, by hook or crook, determined on a future in law.
One night, early in the semester, he passed near The March and decided, spontaneously, to drop in.  

He was missing the place.

Fred paused at the door to shake hands and exchange pleasantries with Will, who seemed very much at home there, leaning against the door and toying with a yoyo.

Will and Fred chatted for a spell about their individual returns to school and how the Bulls were doing and how crazy stupid cold this long winter was.  Will told Fred about a new waitress named Casey who’d started at The March and walked in with him for introductions.

Staff turnover is the norm at taverns.  Boys begin working at the door, girls on the floor.  As time goes on and folks leave, if the manager and staff are so inclined, a promotion to the bar comes along.  And then they finish their schooling or get promoted at their day jobs and slowly their shifts fall away and before you know it, they’re gone.  Moved on into the real world.  The process is organic, sometimes glacial and only really noticeable during those first few shifts of change. For a brief time, the current staff will seem as though they’ve always been there, and are the heart of the bar.  But time passes, some come and others go, and then there’s a new heart of the bar, a new crop of people who’ve always been there.

Regulars roll their eyes when being carded by the new doorman, and compare the new waitress or bartender unfavorably to the old.  Brooke was compared unfavorably to Rosie when she was a newbie.  Casey is compared unfavorably to Brooke now.  Gio and Brooke are not nearly as attentive or quick with a free drink as the nameless sometime bartenders who went before them.  Eventually Gio will leave to work full time in corporate America and someone new will take his place.  And that person will deal with grumblings from the opposite side of the bar as to how much better it was when Gio was serving the drinks.

The process is evolutionary and to be expected. People come and people go, staff and patron, in front of and behind the bar.  Except for Caleb, who is where he will be until he retires. This is not a sad fact of his life.  For Caleb this is his career, not a way to make rent.  Some people are very good at this line of work.

Having met Casey, Fred navigated through the crowd to the bar.  The March was surprisingly busy for a weeknight.  And the tables were full of people doing the same thing – watching basketball.  

Since December, it had seemed like The Bulls just could not lose.

Fred sat at the bar and ordered a Budweiser.  He scanned the regulars in the corner, looking to see if there were a conversation he could join, when be noticed the regular named Mike looking fidgety and kind of pissed.  Fred was not surprised when Mike leapt off his barstool and turned to face the bar.

“Fuck, Caleb!”  he yelled. “Put on the Hawks!  The game started 10 minutes ago!”

“No, way!” came the shouts from the corner.  “We’re watching The Bulls!”

“Goddammit, Caleb,” shouted Mike.  “The Bulls go on the TV in the back of the room.  We watch the Chicago BlackHawks here!”

Everyone began airing opinions at once, at increasingly urgent volume. 

Isn’t this a silly thing to fight about?  Nowadays, our sports bars are fitted with about a bajillion TV’s.  If you traveled in from East Yemen, there’s a good chance you could find your local football team on some TV in some tavern.  But in those days, a neighborhood tavern came with maybe two or three TVs and people got surprisingly territorial over the programming.

Still, it was stupid.  The Bulls game had five minutes to go on the fourth quarter and would be over long before the end of the first period in the hockey game.  But Mike’s objection was only nominally about hockey vs. basketball.  His beef was much more sociological in nature.

There was an unspoken seating code at The March.  One group of regulars, let’s call them B Regulars, sat at tables. The other group, A Regulars, sat at the corner end of the bar. And there was little doubt as to the added cachet of being in the A group.  A Regulars drank beer from bottles and bought shots for each other.  B Regulars shared pitchers and argued over whose turn it was to buy next.  A Regulars knew Caleb’s last name and got called, affectionately, Fuckhead by Mary.  They had at least one drink a night comped.  B Regulars broke in the new cocktail waitresses and then watched as, once they became familiar, they moved to the bar where they’d be tipped better by A Regulars. 

The good TV was in the same corner as the A Regulars.  And Mike, who enjoyed his status, was not enjoying the Bulls-induced encroachment into his area.  He felt his status was being diminished and was frustrated that no one with whom he shared this space was questioning it.  It is also, of course, true that he preferred the Blackhawks to the Bulls by a large margin.

The argument at the corner grew heated.  When someone said, “The Blackhawks fucking suck anyway…” Mike whirled around and threw a wild punch.

It was so wild that sit missed the intended target all together and, instead, landed on its downward arc right on the tray Casey was bringing out to a table.

Glassware shattered liquid splashed across the patrons near the wait station and the room went quiet.  Mike looked around defensively and the tension level in the room skyrocketed.  But, then, surprisingly, Fred laughed.  A loud, friendly guffaw.  “Opaa!” he shouted, in the manner of waiters at Greek restaurants.  “Way to go there, butterfingers.”

Caleb joined in the laughter and soon the whole east end of the bar was laughing, good-naturedly, with Mike.  Will grinned as he swept up the glassware.  The Bulls won shortly after and the Blackhawks began skating around on the good TV.

The tension was gone.  And all because Fred knew when to laugh.

Later that night, after the room cleared out a little, and Fred was paying his tab, Caleb said to him, “You know, that was nicely handled, Fred.  You have a way with people.  If you ever want to work here, let me know.”

“Thanks, Caleb,” said Fred, who felt proud and touched, but also kind of sad.  “I don’t think Mary would go for that though.”

“She might surprise you,” said Caleb.  “Keep it in mind.”
---

The next morning, Caleb stopped into The March to do some paperwork.  He told Mary how Fred had cleared the tension from the room.

“Hunh,” said Mary.  “I guess he’s not a total fucking idiot.”

“Not a total idiot,” said Caleb.


“But mostly,” she said. “Mostly an idiot.”

Things I Don't Understand: Endeavoring to Explain the Ways In Which I Do Not Quite Fit

I wanted to check in on a customer today so I sent him an email.  This is fascinating start to a blogpost, right?  Anyhoo, as I was sending the email I thought of my boss who told me recently how annoyed he gets by people who email instead of picking up the phone.  He thinks of email as a way of taking a shortcut rather than  committing fully to the engagement.  I, on the other hand, find unscheduled calls kind of irritating. I feel like a phone call is another way of saying, "I need you to stop what you're doing right now and deal with me" while an email is "hey, I need something from you but am willing to wait for you to do that thing in your own time."  The heck of it is, though, that I can see the other side - I can see that my boss's predilection for phone over email makes sense.  It is more personal.

So this got me thinking of all the things that people I respect and love believe that I just cannot grok.  So here's a list. With Parks and Rec gifs because I miss that show and want to look at Parks and Rec gifs while I write it!

Doing business on the phone rather than via email
Covered this above already


Sometimes I answer the phone, though, instead of stabbing post-its


Driving Rather than Walking
There are not many things I look forward to about aging.  Aging sucks.  But I plan to give up my car the slap second that kid of mine can get herself around OK.  I will give up my car with extreme prejudice.  I want to live in a world where I walk everywhere. But there are people who will drive two blocks rather than walk.  And it's not like I'm all fit and healthy and care about the environment (I do, though!), it's just that I HATE driving.

Although, maybe if my car were as nice as Donna's...

Suburbs/Small towns over cities
Part of this may be the driving thing.  But it's also that I really, really enjoy every day being surrounded by people that I do. not. fucking. know.  I get that this is weird.  People like knowing the people they live among, as we are generally pretty confident that folks we know are not fixing to rob or murder us.  But, I love seeing a parade of strangers walk past my house every day.  It makes me feel part of a real community but not one, you know, where I'm expected to engage in conversation all the time. 

I was not born in a small town.  Nor do I plan on dying in one.  I plan to die amongst strangers.  As god intended.

Wanting to live where it's the same temperature all year
On a conference call (a scheduled conference call), a work buddy was talking about how awesome it would be to live in San Diego where every day is sunny and 72.  Oh my god, I would hate that so much. This is like some kind of Satrean level of existential despair.  Hell is not other people. Hell is always 72 and sunny.  

And, therefore, utterly lacking in romance + fabulous outerwear

Light Beer
Oh, sure, you guys, I get it! We all want to watch our girlish figures! But light beers, and especially those ultra low calorie beers, are the work of the devil!  If you want a low calorie beverage, drink a whiskey and water, for god's sake.  Or just poor half a beer into a glass and then top it off with water.  Same thing. Lite beer.  Gross. I feel so strongly about this I'm gonna double-gif it.

Yes, April.  Yes it is.
No, Ron. There are wrong ways to consume alcohol.

Thinking kids are ugly
I said this on Facebook a while ago, and I continue to mean it.  I smile at literally every picture of your kid that  you put on Facebook. Every one of them.

Literally

And if you think some kids are ugly - it's probably you, not them

Refusing to Watch The Wire or Breaking Bad
I watched both of these shows after having been exhorted to do so by other people.  If I like the same stuff as you and you say "YOU HAVE TO WATCH THIS SHOW" I will watch it.  The Good Wife and Game of Thrones are both on the list. But there's something about these two shows that people just refuse.  They're like this:

Say yes!  You won't regret it.

Dark Superhero Movies
I have some nerd cred. Considerable, as a matter of fact.  But I do not get dark superhero movies.   Christian Bale is a fine actor and all but how does anyone not groan and roll their eyes at that ridiculous gravelly voiced palaver? Ugh! 

What's next?  Batman weeps?  Wait.. I would watch that. 

Fretting About Social Media
The internet is all kinds of new and I get that we get nervous about new things.  But when confronted with a think piece about the dangers of social media it's like I'm Jerry and the think piece is the pie:

Which is a shame because I love pie!

Bacon.
All the time with the bacon.  I know it's delicious and I get it... but oh my god, it does not give you orgasms or cure cancer.  Just, for crying out loud, enough with the damn bacon!

If bacon IS giving you orgasms, you're doing something wrong.  Something really wrong.
For literally (LITERALLY) every point up here, I know and love some person who is going to disagree with me (pretty sure several of you will claim that bacon does give you orgasms).  But, you know, I walk a different beat.  

For example, if I were queen of the world, this would be literally (LITERALLY) everyone's ring tone and that way every time a phone rang, I'd feel cheerful. I'd still never answer it, though.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The March, Chapter 37: A Revolting Task

Chapter 36

I love it when a plan comes together
-        The A-Team

By the time he woke up the next morning, the school idea had concreted and he was ready to move.  He’d already been accepted at the University of Chicago.  So, he got on the phone with the Registrar’s office and begged and cajoled and found that, yes, they would let him come in beginning in the spring semester.

Now, all that remained was a check for tuition.

And so, on a freezing December morning, Will found himself knocking on the door of his loathsome cousin’s apartment, faced with the revolting task of asking him to pay for his schooling.  Will suspected that Teddy loved to give him money, since it gave him a chance to put on his favorite performance: Decency vs. Profligacy, the Weary Patriarch Provides for his Wastrel Kin.  But Teddy wasn’t there.  Instead, it was Brooke who came to the door.  She looked tired and wan, and a little depressed.

“Hi, Brooke,” said Will, as he stood awkwardly in the foyer, crumbling his winter hat in his hands.  “You look tired.”

“Oh, I started working the late night shift at The March,” she said.  “And I guess I’m not used to it.  I just don’t feel right.  My body clock is all messed up.”

“Well, give it time,” said Will.  “I bet before you know it your circadian rhythms will be set to vampire just like the rest of those bar people.”

“Feels more like zombie, now,” said Brooke.

Will smiled.  “Well, I just came to talk to Teddy.  I need to ask him something.  Is he around?”

“No,” said Brooke.  “He’s off researching at the Newberry now.”

“Jesus,” said Will, putting his bat back on.  “I can’t believe there’s a book on the subject left that he hasn’t read.  Tell him I stopped by, would you?”

“Oh, come in and have some coffee,” said Brooke.   “He’ll probably be back soon.”

Off came the hat again and Will followed her into the kitchen.

“So,” he said settling himself at the kitchen table.  “I’m planning to go back to school.”

Brooke felt that education was an unassailable good.  Education, after all, was the main reason she was living here with Teddy.  Or the second main reason.  It was a reason, anyway.  And a good one, goddammit.

“That’s great, Will,” she said.  “Where are you going? What will you study?”

“Poli sci,” he said.  “I applied to the program at University of Chicago when I graduated and got in.  But I decided against going. Now that I’m here, though, it feels like the right thing to do.  Politics is what I want to do, and this feels like a way to get started.  I thought when I came out here that the family connections we had would open some doors.  But I was wrong about that.”

“I bet Teddy could help,” said Brooke.  “I mean, not that going to school is a bad idea or anything.  But he’s older and probably closer to those times than you.”

“Nah,” said Will.  “Teddy was never part of that world.  He’s always thought of politics as beneath him.  And he definitely didn’t think much of my mother or grandmother.”

“Your grandmother and Teddy’s mothers were pretty different, huh?” said Brooke.  She was curious about Teddy’s family.  He only ever talked about them in snippets.

“Well, I only met my grandmother once,” said Will.  My mother was sort of perpetually mad at her.  I guess Granny was this society wife, always throwing cocktail parties and air kissing.  Mom rebelled with her hippie lifestyle.  She lived in communes and didn’t shave her legs.”

“Could have been worse,” said Brooke.  “She could have named you Moonbeam or something.”

“That’s true,” said Will.  “I miss her though.”

“Me too,” said Brooke. “I miss my Mom too.”

They at quietly for few minutes, sipping their coffee.  Brooke broke the silence with “My mother taught me to ride a bike.  When I was little, she used to let me sit on the seat of her bike while I rode around.  I loved it.”

“Is that why you ride one now,” asked Will.

“I guess so,” said Brooke. “My mother’s legacy”

“My mother and I came to Chicago once,” said Will.  “We came to visit Granny. I was a little kid maybe 7 or 8.  She flew us in and tried to convince my mother to come home. “ Will paused.  “I thought she was nice.  She let me go through her purse and keep all the change I could find.  And when she put me to bed, she read me as many books as I wanted.  But when I woke up the next day, my mother said it was time to leave.”

“Is Teddy like them at all,” asked Brooke.

“Oh, god no,” said Will.  “My mother said he was a little like my grandfather, but I never met him.  I guess he was one of those learned types, liked being alone and reading weighty tomes.  I’m not sure how he ended up in politics.  I guess he just kind of migrated from lawyer to judge and then the party approached him and asked him to run.  So he did.  I don’t think he was a very good alderman.”

“Can you imagine Teddy as an alderman?” asked Brooke, with a smile.  “Can you see him at a fundraiser, gladhanding the money people and kissing babies?”

They both laughed at the thought.  We can laugh wryly too, since we’ve actually seen Teddy at a political fundraiser, sipping cheap draft beer and reading about environmental devastation.  Teddy is the same man in both times.

“So, school,” said Brooke.  “I thought about going back too.”

“Why didn’t you,” said Will.

“Well, I’m doing this,” said Brooke.  “I’m getting a pretty great education here.”

“You are,” asked Will dubiously.

Brooke nodded emphatically.  “I am,” she said.  “I really am.  Teddy knows so much and even if he’s a little bleak about the future, I think he’s going to change the world and I’m going to help him.”

“I really don’t think that’s what he wants to do,” said Will.  “But I guess it’s possible.  You probably know him better than me anyway.   I’m starting to think I don’t know much of anything.”

“Well, go to school and learn more,” said Brooke. “I think it’s great.”

Brooke really was hoping for Will. She tended to want good things for other people.  And Will realized this.  He realized that Brooke wants good things for other people and is not petty and resentful. And she is smart and funny.  And she is beautiful.  But what he mostly realized was that he wanted to be with her and she was with his horrible uncle.

“You know,” he said, pushing away from the table. “Don’t tell Teddy I stopped by.  I don’t need to ask him for anything.”

And then he fled.  He ran out of that apartment like he was being chased.  Taking money from Teddy would be intolerable.

---
Teddy came home about an hour later and sat down in the kitchen, waiting for Brooke to bring him some lunch. He told her about what he’d done that morning and Brooke was careful to ask lots of questions.  She was conciliatory, interested and approachable.  She made him his favorite lunch.

“Will came by,” she said, carefully nonchalant as she spread mayonnaise on his bread.

“He did,” asked Teddy.  “What did he want?”

“He came to see you,” she said.  “He’s going back to school and wanted to tell you.”

“Humph,” said Teddy. “More likely he wanted to ask me for tuition money.”

“Well, even so,” said Brooke.  “Going back to school will be great for him. Maybe you should help him with tuition.”

“Why are you so interested in his future,” said Teddy.

“Oh, I don’t know, Teddy,” said Brooke, wearily.  “He’s family.  He’s a nice guy. He’s trying to do something instead of just talking about it.”

“Fine,” said Teddy, shortly. “ Maybe I will help him.”
---

Teddy called Will and arranged to meet him at The March, later that night.  He told Will that he’d happily finance his way through any graduate school he wanted to attend, provided that school wasn’t in Chicago. 

But Will didn’t want to leave.  And the more eager Teddy was for him to go, the more bound he grew to stay.  He told Teddy to fuck off and that he’d take out student loans and stay right where he was.  And then he ordered another beer.

Teddy’s face turned red.  He got up and moved several barstools down, opened a notebook and ignored Will who was asking Caleb for a job working door at The March.  Caleb, with no real urge to keep Teddy happy and down a doorman anyway, agreed.

Thing were going poorly for Teddy.


But, suddenly, a few decisions made, things were looking up for Will.

The Earworm Malady


There is almost never a moment where there's not some song going through my head.  Sometimes it's a song I like and I cure the earworm by just digging out the song and listening to it all the way through a whole bunch of times- like last week when I had Black Skinhead on about a three day earworm loop.  Other times it's horrible - like the roughly three month period last year when I could not stop hearing Robin Thicke telling some poor girl (whom I think we can safely assume has profound daddy issues) that she knew she wanted it (it is a scientific fact that the only way to scrub the ick of that song out of your brain is to listen to Prince telling you that women not girls rule his world, simply rule his world).

But as repulsive as I think Blurred Lines is (and I think it is really just so very gross), it's been worse this week.  Do you guys know this song "Rude"(don't click on that link if you don't know the song. SAVE YOURSELF!) by the band Magic this is never not on some pop music station?  Here's the chorus:

Can I have your daughter for the rest of my life
Say yes say yes, cause I need to know
You say I'll never get your blessing till the day I die
Tough luck, my friend, but the answer is no

Why you gotta be so rude?
Don't you know I'm human too
Why you gotta be so rude
I'm gonna marry her anyway (anyway)

Oh. My. God.  Hold on - I need to find a gif:


It is the year of our Lord 2014 and it is still (STILL!) somehow part of our general cultural understanding that fathers get to decide who their daughters marry.  This is a song where only potential husbands and fathers get to be human.  The girl in between them might as well be wrapped up in a big old red bow holding a title exchange document in her teeth.

Lookit: before Don proposed he called my parents (parents, note, not father) and asked for their blessing (blessing, note, not permission).  But, sweet as his intentions were, can we just agree that it's time for this tradition to end? It's a terrible tradition. It is sexist and horrible.  It is worse than Blurred Lines.  Let it die.

When you are raising your daughter, you have many years to impart life lessons to her. Teach her to avoid debt and to brush and floss every day.  Teach her to be kind and how to change a tire and hard boil an egg. Make sure she is computer literate and that she is aware of all the cultural influences in our lives, from the Bible to the Odyssey to Star Trek.  And, for crying out loud, teach her that if she decides to marry, the only people who get to decide whether or not this marriage will happen are her and the person she's marrying.  

Daughters are not things to be given away.  We really need to stop doing that.

Also, it's a fucking TERRIBLE song.  It is pablum.  It is bland and stupid.  And it is ALWAYS ON THE RADIO.  I need to get satellite radio, right?   

Don says the best way to cleanse an ear worm is with The Partridge Family.  I disagree.  Angry rap is much better palate cleanser.

  

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