If you're not angry, then you're not caring hard enough.
My wife and sons were visiting friends for a few days, which was a good excuse for my brother to come down and raise some hell with me.
“We’ll go to a bar, drink beer, and watch the Cardinals beat the shit out of the Pirates,” I said, reflexively mapping out this manly agenda, a gift of instinct given to men after a enduring a million brutal years of evolution.
“Let’s do it,” agreed my brother, a single man living the life. Actually going to a bar, drinking beer, and watching sports was his life. But it was a good life, so it sounded good to him.
“First,” I announced, “we eat.”
A cloud of confusion passed across my brother’s face. “It’s only five o’clock.”
“Is it that late?” I said, grabbing my car keys. “We better hurry before it gets crowded.”
We beat the crowd. We had the burger joint to ourselves, except for a family of five. I watched the kids run around their table as the parents pretended to enjoy themselves.
“How’s your plate of meat?” I asked.
“There’s nobody here!” said my brother.
“Drink your beer!” I encouraged. Beer was served in glasses that accommodated at least half a six-pack. “Miller Lite always goes down smooth!”
We finished quickly, and I left a 17.5% tip. Then we drove to a sports bar a couple blocks away.
“We own this joint!” I said. And it was true. The only people in the whole place were a quartet of 50-year-olds playing table shuffleboard. My brother rubbed his eyes as though he were in some kind of pain.
“Let’s get a drink.”
There was a bank of overstuffed easy chair facing the big screen, and we seized them like pirates. Eventually, a waitress shuffled over and asked us what we wanted.
“Do you have a good Cabernet?” I asked.
“Cabernet?” said my brother, dubious.
“My stomach feels a little bloated after that burger and beer,” I explained. My brother ordered a beer and we waiting for the game to come on.
“What time does it come on?” asked my brother.
“In about an hour!”
“Plenty of time to have a few beers!” my brother said, cheering up. My stomach clenched a little, but I ignored it. When my wine arrived, I sipped it like a goddamn baron.
Nearby, the fifty-year-olds were whipping the hell out of each other at table shuffleboard. They stood with their hands on their hips, boisterously heckling their chums and calling each other colorful nicknames like “Hawk” and “Snake Eyes” and “Lady Killer.” When the waitress visited, they called her “Sugar” or “Sweetie.”
“How’s the wine?” asked my brother.
“Dreadful,” I said.
Suddenly, I had a great idea.
“Hey, let’s go get a six pack of beer and watch the game at my house,” I said, but in a voice that made it sound really cool. My brother dropped his head and sighed.
We pushed open the door and exited out into the bright sunshine of late afternoon, leaving behind the clatter of shuffleboard weights and half a glass of dreadful Cabernet.
Today, tennis superstar Serena Williams issued this formal apology:
“What happened in Steubenville was a real shock for me. I was deeply saddened. For someone to be raped, and at only sixteen, is such a horrible tragedy! For both families involved — that of the rape victim and of the accused. I am currently reaching out to the girl’s family to let her know that I am deeply sorry for what was written in the Rolling Stone article. What was written — what I supposedly said — is insensitive and hurtful, and I by no means would say or insinuate that she was at all to blame.”
Here are the insensitive and hurtful things she supposedly said:
“Do you think it was fair, what (the convicted rapists) got? They did something stupid, but I don’t know. I’m not blaming the girl, but if you’re a 16-year-old and you’re drunk like that, your parents should teach you—don’t take drinks from other people. She’s 16, why was she that drunk where she doesn’t remember? It could have been much worse. She’s lucky. Obviously I don’t know, maybe she wasn’t a virgin, but she shouldn’t have put herself in that position, unless they slipped her something, then that’s different.”
It’s my personal policy to regard all celebrity athletes as shallow-end swimmers of the intelligence pool, so Ms. Williams’ comments didn’t exactly blow me away. But you don’t have to be an out-of-touch tennis player to believe that a drunk 16 year old girl has a rape coming to her.
I’m a father of two boys. I have a trillion hopes and a trillion fears for them. Among those fears, will they ever, ever believe that any woman has a rape coming to her?
Serena drifts into sensible territory when she says “parents should teach you.” Parents should teach you not to booze like a wino and not to put yourself in a bad situation. But more critically, we need to teach our children what is right and what is wrong. What is honorable and what is a disgrace.
The rape of the girl in Stuebenville was horrible. And yet, I’m more disgusted by the boys who stood aside and did nothing. I’m mortified by the boys who stopped to take pictures and post them online. I’m nauseated by the boys who laughed at the posts as if they were watching a bootleg copy of American Pie.
“Some people deserve to be peed on.”
Were that my son’s reaction to watching a classmate violated, I’d know that I was a terrible and dangerous failure as a human being. My years of fatherhood would have counted for nothing. I’d consider putting my remaining children up for foster care, because I have demonstrated absolutely no ability to raise children.
I’m a Dad, and it is without a doubt the most responsibility I have ever been given. It’s daunting. It’s intimidating. It’s terrifying to know that the tiniest things I say or do could have major ramifications in the future. I can’t expect to be perfect, but goddamnit I think I can do it well enough so that my sons would never join a “Rape Crew.”
Boys are impressionable people who enjoy an easy joke. When Daniel Tosh makes a rape joke, you know who laughs? Teen age boys. Do you know why? Because too many Dads are laughing along with them. And when Dad laughs at something as disgusting as rape, then you begin to think that maybe some people really do deserve to be peed on.
Like many middle-class, middle-aged men, I’ve begun the surprisingly laborious process of creating a “man cave.”
The premise of a man cave is simple enough: devote a room of the house wholly your own, sans the entrapments of civility inherited by marriage. A stroll through my home is a coordinated, handsomely furnished experience notably absent of beer hall mirrors, sports paraphernalia and softball trophies. My Y chromosome could use a man cave.
The space set aside for my man cave is less cave and more hole – about 300 windowless sq-feet. My manliness requires little space, so I’m not complaining. Still, I had to delete the swimming pool from the blueprint.
My vision of the manhole (as I’ve begun calling it) is frustratingly blurry and undefined. I have some mandatories: a secret-door entrance, an antique desk decorated with a real human skull, a suit of armor, recessed speakers emitting smooth jazz, a forged diary confessing to fictitious murders, and maybe a neon beer light.
It was easy enough to buy (for far too much) an antique desk. But to my chagrin, I discovered that a real human skull will set you back a couple thousand dollars. Even the fake ones are pricey. Additionally, I know somebody who will draft plans for a secret door, but no one who will actually build one. At least these are challenges fit for a man and his manhole.
Without a budget to acquire new appropriations, I reviewed the inventory of hairy-chested items currently at my disposal: a Batman themed bong, a slightly broken Herman Miller chair, a vintage movie poster of Father Goose, a rubber werewolf mask, a copy of Grey’s Anatomy, a water color of a horse-drawn carriage I painted in high school, a seedy ottoman, a GoDaddy Bowl football signed by Gus Malzahn, a cork bulletin board and an old studio photo of Claudia Cardinale from Once Upon a Time in the West. Not bad.
“You know, that’s the first thing you see,” said Mrs. Angry, pointing to the Claudia Cardinale photo tacked to my bulletin board.
“So she’s naked.”
“She’s wearing a bath towel.”
Waves of disapproval. Already, my manhole was compromised. I took down the photo of a semi-naked Italian actress and replaced it with a snapshot of my son’s ultrasound.
After ordering and assembling an inexpensive swivel chair from Target, I arranged my pieces so that I had at least a start on my manhole. With pride, I snapped a picture and posted it on Facebook.
“It looks like a school office,” somebody remarked.
Well, yeah. I wanted someplace where I could sit down and write. That’s what a manhole is for, correct?
“Where’s the 60-inch TV? The PlayStation? The vintage 80s sports posters?”
I don’t really have that. Listen, I like sports, but sports as décor isn’t really my thing. Did this unsporting attitude impugn the integrity of my manhole? I have a Hamed Haddadi basketball jersey. Perhaps with proper framing from Michael’s, I could hang that up.
The manhole is currently a work in progress. I’d like to rip out the carpet and put in some basketball court hardwood. (That’s kind of sporty.) I have visions of punching out a window over the desk. Maybe I’ll raid an old graveyard for the skull, I don’t know.
Meanwhile, I need to find more discreet location for Ms. Cardinale.
You know that on Easter, I enjoy watching The Ten Commandments starring Charlton Heston.* I own a copy on popular DVD format. (Two discs, plus the bonus features I will likely never watch.) The movie runs for 220 minutes. Watching The Ten Commandments requires a full 15% of your entire Easter.
Such devotion compels me to contemplation. I study Heston’s performance and note the similarities of his roles. For example Charlton Heston spends a tremendous amount of screen time without a shirt, and often in some form of bondage. Take three of his more famous movies: Ben Hur, The Ten Commandments, and Planet of the Apes. See? We love stripping and chaining Charlton Heston. Perhaps it was a bullet point in his studio contract. The pressure on Heston to remain in good bare-chested, chained-up shape must have been enormous.
What strikes me most about The Ten Commandments is the change in Heston’s Moses after communing with God on the mountain. Pre-Burning Bush Moses was dashing and romantic. He was always scrapping with bullies and catching the eye of sex-starved maidens. Sure, he could be annoyingly over-achieving (a brilliant military general and a brilliant engineer?), but at least he didn’t allow his professional interests to impede upon his pillow talk.
Consider one of Heston’s lines to his hot wife just before chatting with the Lord:
“Your eyes are as sharp as they are beautiful!”
Bear in mind that The Ten Commandments is loaded with similar Shaft-like pearls. Two hours into the film, Heston is sinking these bon mots like routine free throws. You barely even notice. However, this is the last time Heston’s Moses lays on the charm. The fire of God fails to consume the bush, but it successfully purges Heston’s panache.
In fact, Post-Burning Bush Moses might be an accomplished liberator, but he’s a lousy husband. Pressured with the Exodus, the weight of God’s expectations, and with the Egyptian army hot on his heels, you can forgive Moses for being a little distant at the dinner table. But would it kill him to have a coffee with Mrs. Moses every now and then?
You know what would have been nice? Inviting Mrs. Moses to join him on the trip up Mount Sinai. “Let’s take a walk, babe. We’ll pack a lunch, take our time, and lug down God’s almighty law to the Hebrews.” Chicks like that.
Maybe nothing lowers your T more than an important assignment from God. Last thing I want to do is hold hands with the wife and watch Downton Abbey after a hard day of work. But man, you got to power through that shit if you want your marriage to last, Moses. Leave your work at the office.
In the end, God rewards Moses’ sacrifice of the best years of his life by denying him entry into the Promised Land. The particulars aren’t clear: some clerical error involving a rock and water. But maybe that was only the official reason for the permanent file. Maybe God just wasn’t cool with Moses’ fuddy-duddy attitude. Maybe He was like, “Man, we already have Joshua and Aaron bringing down the party with their boring lectures. You just need to bail, Moses.”
You will also note that, after the Burning Bush, Charlton Heston keeps his shirt on for the remainder of the film.
*You likely did not know this
The United States is the greatest country in the world. It’s not even close. Other nations want to be us. We occupy the corner booth at the night club. We are the undisputed land of the free and the home of the brave.
And Fox News wants to save us from this.
Specifically, Sean Hannity wants to “save America,” presumably because Glen Beck failed to “restore America’s honor.” Thanks Sean. Appreciate your concern, Glen. America doesn’t need saving. We’re already awesome.
We are a country of unprecedented freedoms. We’re permitted to cross state borders without submitting papers to armed patrols. We’re allowed to fly airplanes, purchase firecrackers*, join hate groups, alter our appearances with plastic surgery, control our own reproductive systems, change our sexual genders, worship God and gods, assemble in large groups, protest the government we elect, create offensive art, start a business, drive a motorcycle across the country, shirk military service, quote Atlas Shrugged like it’s the Bible, watch The Bachelor, divorce as often as you like, download porn and bomb-making instructions from a free world wide web, bring a concealed weapon into church**, do the Harlem Shake, write poorly edited blogs, shout “ahoy” to girls in bikinis, and drink all the booze we want.
For lunch today, I was afforded a selection of three sandwich cheeses.
There’s nothing wrong with America! Go save Somalia, Sean. Restore the honor of Malawi, Glen! They could use your penetrating insight into the erosion of the human condition. Because we’re doing just fine here, Jack.
Fox News, with all its influence and “journalistic” power, is playing upon fears and paranoia. Have you every read FoxNews.com and felt good about our country? Has Fox & Friends (the Morning Show for Curmudgeons) ever supported anything that didn’t defy the separation between church and state? Is Karl Rove still claiming a victory for Mitt Romney?
America is awesome, y’all. I know because I recently bought a new Dodge Challenger at a ridiculously low interest rate. I dropped my kids off at school 100% certain that they wouldn’t be kidnapped and conscripted into a child army. When I shop at the grocery tonight, I’ll have an insane selection of meats to choose from.
God, I know the United States isn’t perfect. We have nuts shooting up theaters and schools, and nuts defending their ability to do it. Our government is sloppy with spending. The healthcare is pricey. Sometimes, my high-speed Internet runs a little slow. I’ll take these inconveniences over experiencing the best day in Congo.
Quit stomping on America, Fox News. Rupert Murdoch is not the future of this country. Gays are going to marry. Assault weapons are going back on restriction. Women (and men, damnitt) will control their own reproduction. Young people will continue to surprise you by showing up at polls. We’re tired of your gloomy-ass shit, Fox News. We’re tired of you hating America.
Take a day off and enjoy freedom.
*Some states are a little less lenient with fireworks than others.
**In Arkansas, you can pack heat in church, just like Jesus did.