1. Cassie calls me from the coat room of some rich New Yorker’s tech soiree, she’s taking people’s coats and talking to me about coming out to San Diego to visit me, my mom and her grandma. Cassie is one of those people who is just funny, her being is just funny, and she is one of my best friends. Our friendship was forged as nine year old junior lifeguards who decided to jump canoe because the other girl we were with was too square and we wanted adventure. Back to the party. Something has happened, and it smells like cat poop, and she is trying to be polite to these 23 year old socialites, pouring them champagne, taking their coats, exclaiming quietly and then loudly about how terrible it smells, and then between all that, asking me “How are you doing?!!!! I miss you! Oh my god, it smells so bad, these rich people are walking in here, and it smells like they are walking into a toilet, Hi! Can I take that for you? Have a great night. Yeah, it is cold out there, good thing you’ve got a coat….”
I can just see her, dressed all nice, this struggling actress and hilarious beautiful soul, standing in the coat room, with this terrible smell, these people living an entirely different life where they may struggle but not with money, and so easily laughing it all off. She finds the culprit; it is a constantly rotating litter box, the litter rolls through some sort of machine that filters out the poop for the people so they never have to touch it with a scoop. We both laugh at the ridiculousness of it all. “Two years ago I did this party,” she tells me “and I got a little too drunk and there was all this extra food. I mean, amazing food, endive salad, fig, candied nuts, cheeses, eggplant pate, and they were going to throw it all away, so I told them I would take it and give it to homeless people. Dashielle, I walked out of there with grocery bags full of food, and I could not find one single homeless person. I went home, and I had been on a lemon juice fast, and I was having a horrible time with it, and I just sat down in the middle of my floor with those bags of food, and I just pigged out. I never could finish those frickin fasts…”
2. I had about 1000 Christmas cards to stuff in envelopes, label, stamp, seal and stack yesterday and today. Tedious yes, but I listen to NPR and learn about the hopeless plight of the polar bears, hear Barack Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech and the commentary afterward, and other random stories about people reunited and others trying to be lost. My boss comes in, and he’s looking around with a little frown on his forehead, like he’s not happy about something or there’s something he needs to ask me. I’m pretty sure he wants to tell me to turn the radio down, I’m not listening with headphones. He, without introduction, or set-up, or anything, starts telling me about Jordan a swim instructor. I’m thinking, hmmm, is this really what I think it is?
“He’s 31, he’s good looking, and he’s a nice guy. He camps, which I don’t really understand. I mean I did it once when the hotel was full and I was on a trip in the east, but I didn’t like it.” He says “camp” as though it’s a strange custom he has heard of, but that personally disgusts him. He says it as though I should know this one thing about him. You know, he camps, code for eating beetle dung. I’ve occasionally met people who don’t camp, or have never camped, and it always surprises me. “No camping for you huh? Well I guess if you didn’t grow up with it, you wouldn’t have the positive associations. I camp, and back pack, but I learned with my family.” I say of by way of making conversation.
To this he replies “One time Jordan was camping in Hawaii, I mean like sleeping on the beach and everything, surfing, and he came back with all these bug bites all over his face. I mean, it was too much.” He says with an absolutely disgusted look on his face. I think two things, 1. Ed doesn’t really know that much about me. If I could spend half my life camping, I would. But …I’m kind of enjoying his awkwardness about this, and his strange somewhat pained manner of expressing information, what he thinks is important, etc. and 2. I hope nobody ever tells a story about me to a person they’re trying to set me up with that ends with that kind of disgusted look on their face.
I don’t really know what to say in return, because what can you really know about a person from someone else’s description? On one hand I think it’s kind of sweet that he is thinking of me, but also sort of inappropriate? In addition, nothing I’m hearing is particularly exciting to me, but then again, I just don’t know this person. What am I supposed to do? Should I express excitement or interest? The only thing I know how to do is ask how this idea came into his mind, why he had thought of it, why he had thought of me. Turns out, he’s a good matchmaker, or so he says. As he leaves he says we should all go swimming together! oh no. I don’t want to go on a blind swimming date with my boss as a chaperone, it’s difficult for me to imagine this being a more awkward proposal. Then I am left to stuff envelopes and return to considering just war doctrine and Michael Walzer’s comments on Oslo…
3. This wasn’t a conversation but an article. I read it yesterday, but upon rereading certain parts today, and laughing again, I thought I’d share it. The article discussed new dress codes on traditional black campuses like Morehouse.
“Sometimes, we drive around campus and if I see someone sagging, I’ll pull down my window and I’ll yell ‘Hey you, pull up those pants young man!’ But if I go around the corner and come back, those pants will be sagging again. If I went to my dentist and his pants were sagging, I think I would find a new dentist!”
The mode of enforcement is driving around and harassing people. Another mode of enforcement is an option of a hundred dollar fine or going running with the dean on Saturday morning. This is a present day college mind you, not a fifties high school. There was a further quote where one administrator explained that his sense of dismay came out of the inappropriateness of unfettered personal expression. Noooooooo! Not unfettered personal expression!! It makes me so uncomfortable!! What did all of those patriotic men and women die to defend if not a forced concept of decency? I ask you, citizens, what kind of world would it be if people could just dress and speak however they wanted to? Gives me shivers thinking about it
Here is a link to the article, but you’ll need a subscription to get to the funny parts…