vendredi, septembre 21, 2007

My Recovery

If by the end of this, I have your sympathy, then I have truly failed. This is not a plea for help. Sometimes you just have to be willing to think out loud. Explore an idea. It was, once again, the girl pants that started it all.

The originals. The black ones of the stretchy corduroy. I found them in the bottom of the black pants drawer. I couldn't remember the last time they'd been worn. I put them on and couldn't believe how comfortable (and hot!) they were. Why had they been relegated from my bottom to the bottom of the drawer for so long? No answer forthcoming, I wore them to work. I mostly work nights, and all night I reveled in the pants. Not until the sun rose did I know. In the parking lot, as I fished the car key from the shallow pocket, I noticed several faults in the coloration that are absolutely invisible under anything but the sun. A bizarre red area. A bit of worn, inexplicable blue. The discoloration is as unmistakable as it is inexplicable. They reverted to perfection in the shadow of the car's interior, but the reason the pants had been in exile remained clear.

My penchant for cleanliness is well known. OK, it's more of a need than a penchant. My family would say it's more of a mad, Hitleresque regime of perfection that rules the house to the chagrin of all who dwell therein. But I think that's an exaggeration. I'm a neatnik. I prefer order to chaos. Tidiness to clutter. Am I a freak for recognizing civilization's reasonable decree that a toilet be as springtime fresh as it is winter white?
That said, I have to admit that not being able to even think in my house when it is cluttered or in need of a good vacuum might be slightly beyond the pale. And lying in wait to catch the person who can't seem to keep their foul fingerprints off my stainless steel fridge might not be the best use of my time.

"Aha! So it's been YOU all along!"
"It has a handle for a reason! The handle is fingerprint proof. Use it!"
"I just wanted something to drink."

On the other hand, I'm sure this conversation takes place all over America a thousand times a day. Someday I'll have one of those new titanium fridges that doesn't accept fingerprints. Until then, I suppose I'll just have to keep the Windex stocked and ready.
But cleanliness is easy--totally rooted in a desire for a better world. And I don't call other people slobs or tell them how messy their houses are, I am not germ-phobic, so there is obviously no reason for concern.

Until you consider the tag problem. I wish people would either put them down or cut them out. There was a girl at the Salvation Army whose tag was sticking out. I approached her to mention it, but she turned to explore the jeans, and as it turns out she was kind of beautiful. I realized that she might take my interest in her tag as an interest in her time. I turned to make my purchase. But I had to stop, and turn around, just to see if she had, by some miracle, noticed the tag and put it down. She hadn't. I decided on the only sane course of action: Sneak up on her and see if I could fold the tag in without her noticing. I'd be doing her a favor, right? I'm sure many of you would have done the same. But she was too wily. She kept turning and shifting. I think after a while she thought I was following her or something, because she looked at me funny. If she could have focused for just a second, she would have heard me say "your tag is sticking out." But she turned away and I ended up just mouthing the words. To my credit, I accepted that it was a complex situation that wasn't about to be resolved, and I moved on.

I also have car problems. I realize: when I change lanes on the freeway, I am bitterly disappointed if I cannot do so without touching one of those bumpy things. I have pulled over to clean specks off the dashboard. I almost crashed reaching for a candy wrapper on the passenger side floor (which would have made it into a proper receptacle if not for the breeze.) I have repeatedly pulled over at car washes to vacuum the car.

When I go to the cinema, popcorn is a guilty pleasure, as long as I grab a napkin on the way in and stop at the drinking fountain to moisten it. Without a wet nappy to clean the quality butter flavored alternative from my fingertips, I'd have to smuggle in a rubber glove with which to eat the popcorn. Either that or just get up and go wash my hands when the small or medium bag is done.

Sometimes I am late because my jacket or my jeans or my shirt or my shoes, or the combination of said elements, isn't quite right. And even as I panic a little about being late, I cannot leave the house until I can see the clothes and say: "This I must wear." And I keep telling myself "Just leave! it's fine! THEY'RE JUST CLOTHES!" But then my brain tells me, "The perfect jacket is the next one you try on." Three times in the last year I left work to buy a shirt, because the one I had worn wasn't quite right, and home is too far away.

For a long while, when a drinking fountain featured a tall one for adults and a short one for the kids, I couldn't just take a drink from one and ignore the other. It had to be both. Sometimes one, then the other, and then the other again, just to make sure. Sure of what, I really couldn't say.

I'll stop there, because to list all the details would take pages and pages. Let it suffice to say that working for County Mental Health, I became acutely aware of the implications of some of these tendencies. So special steps were taken. I made it a point to ignore the bathroom sink until my slob family let it fall into a state of abject filth before hitting it with the Windex. I took one long drink from the tall fountain and walked away. I would ignore my coworker's tag for a good half an hour before taking the scissors to it. I would eat the dark chocolate M&M's in whatever order they fell. Even the brown ones.

But during this period of self intervention, I had failed to pull out The Pants, and put them on, and wear them in the bright light of day, just to say I could. So here it goes. I don't wear them to prove anything. There's nothing to prove. Because I'm fine.

They say that when an Indian woman is weaving a blanket, she weaves a flaw into it, to let the soul out. This is a beautiful assessment of what it means to be human. Or it's insane, or just a great way to cover up an obvious gaff in order to sell more blankets. Whatever it means, it's a great little mantra to keep uttering to myself every time the sun highlights the discolored patch, the dashboard dust, the fleck on the carpet, that other drinking fountain, the tags all over the world, the stray hairs, the cat dander, the clutter, the disorder, the filth, the fowl, the fake, the fools, the fat, the fray, the . . .

mardi, septembre 18, 2007

Burn in Hell, Barry Manilow

I've said it many times before. But this time I mean it: Barry Manilow represents everything that is wrong with this country.

Before, it was in jest. Because I was raised listening to his muzak and have a special secret place deep in my heart where listening to it doesn't make me grind my teeth to powder. And let's give the Devil his due: he has written some of the catchiest tunes in the American catalogue, even if you only count the millions of advertising jingles he has composed and, of course, the old theme to American Bandstand.

But all that is out the window now. Flushed down the toilet of poncy leftist hypocrisy. (It's a big toilet. It rarely gets flushed, and it backs up and oozes stench and filth all over the arena of ideas.) All because the man who writes the songs that make the whole world sing refused to be on the View.
Before I go on, let me say this: The concept of the View, when you think about it, is sort of beautiful. Four women of divergent backgrounds and philosophies discussing events and ideas in an open forum. Beautiful, really. And furthermore, give Barbara Walters credit for teaching us all the true value of the cat fight. Add a good natured hiss here and an ideological scratch there, and a good (but slightly stayed) concept has teeth.
On the other hand, the one time I tried to watch it, actually made me wish for death. I didn't want to live in the same world as that show. It was embarrassing that I could feel that kind of visceral hatred for four reasonably intelligent women. So I tried to be serene and let these ladies have their say. I even found it in my heart to be grateful for the show, because it inspired some really great parodies on SNL.
Even so, when I heard Mr. Manilow had refused to appear, my heart applauded a little. Until I found out why.

Turns out he is not a discriminating viewer of televised infotainment. Neither is he a dedicated artist who refuses to lap up even the most offensive opportunity for exposure. He is, simply, a ridiculous hypocrite. The reason he refused to be on the show is that he disagrees with one of the women. I didn't know which one at first, because her name is the same as an NFL quarterback, and that is where my knowledge (and interest) ends. So I forced myself to watch an entertainment show, to find out she is the so-called "conservative one." I don't care which woman it is, but if you have to run scared from her views, than yours must be exceptionally petty.
Think of it: here is a show that celebrates diversity of opinion. Barry Manilow's response is to take a stand against diversity of opinion. "I disagree with you" he says, "therefore I refuse to even occupy the same room as you." The sad result is that thousands of intellectually bankrupt haus fraus are deprived of hearing a song that might have reminded them of the halcyon days when they could fit into their husband's jeans (and when he wanted to get into hers). You might have even brought back a few of the overweight lesbian demographic that left when Rosie turned tail.

Come on, Barry! I might be petty and celebrate that those four yapping blabbers are silenced for a few minutes, (even if it has to be by the mellow tones of an aging, jobbed up composer of elevator muzak). But I at least consent to the fact that those women should have their say (and not have to temper their views--not even to cater to the man who gave us "Mandy.") I would never dare send the message that if someone disagrees with me, then I'm just not going to show up. You are pitiful. You are a joke. You and everyone who applauded your action is a mental pygmy who will rot in the cellar of humanity's wasted brains. Go to hell and fester there, you colossal idiot. I don't even believe in Hell in the traditional religious sense. But I'm making an exception for you (and whoever invented easter grass). At least there you'll be surrounded by individuals who won't hate your guts for looking down your nose at someone who represents another side to an argument. No, they'll congratulate you and tell you how brave you were for taking a stand. And you'll feel that same sense of inflated self worth that was your bread and butter on earth. And you'll be content.

Until someone turns on the TV. Because Hell has only one station. And it plays only one show around the clock.

Enjoy the View, Barry.