Happy March, everybody! Spring is here. The reason I know this? Lassiter has set up a baby pool in the foyer and been sitting in it wearing a toddler blow up ring with a unicorn head around his waist, surfer shorts in a vision-blurring pink and orange, and an inexplicable set of Army green flippers. He maintains he’s doing this in training for when the pool in the backyard is filled. If anyone mentions that’s a good three months off, at minimum, he says that’s how long his lounging skills will take to come back online.
As if he doesn’t lounge on the couch in the billiards room all the time?
The fact that he wears the blow up inflatable with the head in the back when he stands up and slaps around in his flippers seems like an all-wrong. Also, that slapping noise. If he could just stay IN the pool, that would be weird enough, but you could solve the problem by not looking at him. That slapping on the marble floor as he walks from room to room is infernal, even to me, and I’m not as reactive as, say, V. Who as you can imagine is beside himself.
And sharing his irritation of anyone around. Not that he doesn’t do that anyway. But for real? Last night, Wrath and I had First Meal in our room with L.W. because we were sick of the tension.
Now, the kids love the baby pool. L.W. has been in the thing- which is bright pink, because, hello, you have to match those surfer shorts. Nalla as well. Lyric and Rhamp also. I have to say, seeing those kids giggle and play in the water helps me forgive the flippers.
You know, the kid thing is weird. I’ve only ever known L.W. as a baby, as a toddler. Even though I realize intellectually that he will grow up, mature, be a post transition male- God willing- because I’ve only know him little, it feels like this incarnation of him is who he is. Except it’s not. He’s on a continuum that will make him taller and more independent and stronger, until he doesn’t need me anymore. Until he takes care of his bumps and bruises on his own. Until he has a life of his own that doesn’t revolve around me. Right now, I am his whole world- and it’s not that he doesn’t love Wrath. He is devoted to his father. But I’m on the ground floor of his care so he comes to me for his needs. So when he’s hurt, he’s scared, he’s hungry, he’s happy, he’s tired, he’s awake, he’s looking for me.
This is not permanent, however. No matter how pervasive, and at times, overwhelming, it is to be pretty much solely responsible for someone else, he will grow out of this. I will always be his mahmen, but the relationship will change and evolve as he changes and evolves- and spring’s arrival reminds me of this because it’s a more tangible sign of time’s passing than just flipping days on a calendar. As excited as I am for better weather- and trust me, being on the top of this mountain, I am VERY excited- I also have this mournful undertow to the happiness. You never get time back. It marches on. All of the things we hold most dear, our loved ones, our mates, our pets, our children, our routines and purposeful pursuits, our very health, are subject to its progression.
Sometimes, especially when L.W. is sleeping, I just hold him close. He gets really warm when he sleeps, and I love the smell of Aveeno baby wash in his hair. Already he overflows my arms, and soon it will be my lap.
It’s easy, as we go through our nightly rhythms, to forget how precision time is. As spring comes for all of us, here, and all of you, out there, take a moment to enjoy the simple gifts that we receive just by being alive.
They are more important and more fleeting than most of us know.
Maybe that’s why Lassiter baby-pool’s it and doesn’t give a crap how ridiculous he looks. When he plays with the kids, he is a kid. Then again, even though he’s an immortal, he never has grown up.
On that note, maybe I should go get a set of those flippers. I draw the line at the inflatable donut, however.
Anywho, that’s a quick update of things here. Until next month, I wish you a wonderful March!
Hugs and love,
PS Just to fully complete the picture in the foyer, I must point out that Lassiter also has a virgin Mai Tai with him at all times. And yes, with the paper umbrella and the maraschino cherry and the frickin’ pineapple slice on the rim. Short of putting old school zinc on his nose and sporting a dad-bod, he is a walking, talking ad for Carnival Cruises. You’re welcome.
This column has not been going as well as I’d hoped, and in the interest of full disclosure, I have considered giving it up. However, I will persist, because I believe I can open up important matters of discourse and present to you, my best friends, a polished, professional debate contest.
So I’ve chosen Fritz this month to compete for the jelly donut. Now, as you know, doggen are not ones to court attention upon themselves. I had to promise, therefore, to attempt to make bread in the kitchen two nights this week. In case you are wondering, I do not know how to make bread, but flour and water make sticky stuff (don’t ever say that again) and the chances of Fritz having to do a deep clean, even under the appliances, after I’m finished, is like tomorrow’s sunrise: it’s a-coming, but for an act of God. Apparently, the prospect of six hours in the kitchen with a bucket of soap motivates him, and who am I to argue?
Personally, I can’t decide what exhausts me more. Beating my dough (stop it, I know where your mind went,) watching it rise (yes, the bread, I swear) or putting it into a hot oven until it’s ready to get off-
Get out. I mean. Sh*t.
Anywho, Fritz is here with me. Say hi, Fritz. (He’s waving.) Here are the rules. Five rounds on a topic of my choice where there is a pro and con. Coin toss determines who gets pro, who gets con. At the end of the rounds, a winner is determined by a disinterested third party, and the Jelly Donut of Victory is awarded.
This month’s topic: Lassiter is a good guy.
Coin toss results: I picked heads and I won. I choose pro because it’s been a hard month after the Betty White Documentary Debacle (check it out on Netflix, she is a QUEEN.)
Pro (Lassiter): I’m an angel so I have to be a good guy. If I weren’t a good guy, I couldn’t be an angel.
Con (Fritz): Oh, I disagree, sire. You are not a good guy. You are an incredible bastion of goodness in this world.
Pro (Lassiter): Really?
Con (Fritz): Indeed. Yes. The premise that you are merely “good” does not go far enough so it fails.
Pro (Lassiter): You are SO damned smart.
Pro (Lassiter): I am a good guy because I worry about the people in this house *raises voice toward pool table* EVEN THOUGH PEOPLE DON’T APPRECIATE IT.
Con (Fritz): I know how much you worry over the First Family and all of the Brothers. You are there for them always. That is why you are so great.
Pro (Lassiter): OMG, you totally get me.
Pro (Lassiter): *raises voice again* ARE ANY OF YOU LISTENING TO THIS?
Rhage: *from over by the bar* I’m busy making OJ. If you’re smart, you’ll leave me out of it. I’m crushing oranges and I might get bright ideas with your melon head.
Pro (Lassiter): I resemble that remark.
Rhage: *looks up* You know, I’ve never understood that come back. Plus, hello, you just called yourself a melon head.
Con (Fritz): I believe we have lost the thread of this round? But may I say that your head does not call to mind a cantaloupe in the slightest.
Pro (Lassiter): I love you. *glares at Rhage* And I mean the doggen, not you, dragon boy.
Pro (Lassiter): I am a good guy because no one who likes Betty White could be bad.
Con (Fritz): I also like Betty White. So yes, I believe your point stands very well, sire.
Pro (Lassiter): You are the smartest person I know.
Pro (Lassiter): I am a good guy because I haven’t blown anyone who is over at that pool table with a goatee up over their insults.
V: *looks up from shot* I’d like to see you try, motherf*cker.
Butch: *shakes his head* Will you two quit it. I’m about to win here, and Lass, if you blow my roommate up, I’ll miss the bragging rights.
Pro (Lassiter): Fine. But V, you’re still breathing only because you SUCK AT POOL.
Con (Fritz): See? You are great and glorious in all your acts of mercy.
Pro (Lassiter): *puts hand on heart* This is the best column ever.
Saxton: Ummm... I am entirely unsure how I got roped into this, but it appears that I am the judge this month. It is at this point that I am required by the rules of engagement to introduce the Donut of Victory. This month’s donut is a maple frosted from Dunkin’, chosen by me, as a goodbye to winter.
*everyone in the billiard room goes Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh*
There is no formal way of scoring this *coughs* venerable contest of intellectual pursuit, but I believe I will award this donut to Fritz. It is not that he won the arguments necessarily- I’m not even sure how the pros and cons have worked here if the Lincoln-Douglas standard is applied. But the fact that he was willing to participate at all is what inclines me to award him the donut.
*extends plate to Fritz*
Fritz: *flustered* Oh, I couldn’t possibly. My reward is the making of the bread. Lassiter, would you please accept the donut?
Lassiter: *wipes away tear* *accepts Donut of Victory* Fritz, I would hug you if it wouldn’t make you pass out. *takes bite* This is the best night of my life! Until next month folks, I love everyone!
*glares at pool table* Except you, Vishous.
I feel like you might have gotten a letter like this some time ago. I dunno. But I’m hoping that you’ll choose mine to address anyway, because I’m at the end of my rope. I’m a guy, twenty-seven years old, and I live in a medium-sized city. I’m not dating anyone seriously, and I basically like my job. Neither of these is the problem.
Three of my buddies and I moved into this apartment four years ago. It’s a four bedroom, and two of the originals left after they got with their (future) wives. Because my remaining roommate and I were making okay money, we decided to convert one of the bedrooms into an office for him (he telecommutes) and leave the other one open.
It was a great arrangement. Until his little brother graduated from college and needed a place to crash. I was fine letting the brother in here in the beginning- because it was supposed to only be for a month or so until he found his own place. That was almost a year ago.
The little brother is a pain in the a$$. For one, he doesn’t have a job. He livestreams on Twitch, makes YouTube reaction videos, and plays Dota 2 and Apex Legends for days (and nights) at a time. (As a side note, I should have seen trouble coming when he showed up on our front door with an office chair that looked like the driver’s seat of a Formula One car, and a computer screen the size of a bay window. But I digress.)
Aside from the noise of the games, the shouting, and the relentless narcissism involved with filming himself constantly, he is a slob. He has never cleaned a dish or a bowl in his life- nor can he seem to understand how to put them in our dishwasher. He never does his laundry, which grosses me the hell out. And all he wants to talk about is his gaming. If there is one good piece of news, he does not use the refrigerator or the stove. Of course, the bad news is that he lives off of Grub Hub and there is trash from the Olive Garden, Zaxby’s, TGIFriday’s and Panera all over his room.
He needs to go. And yes, I’ve expressed my frustration to my roommate. His response is that his brother “can’t really function” in the real world and wouldn’t do well independently. The kid’s parents have started to pay his share of rent and utilities, but this makes the situation worse for me because, in my view, it signifies that this supposedly temporary solution to the housing situation of an otherwise fully functioning adult is now permanent. Look, the kid is smart enough to make a living with his Patreon account and his livestreams. He graduated from college. He’s good at gaming. Yet his brother and his parents are treating him like he’s fifteen and fragile. It’s ridiculous, and I know that my roommate handles the inconveniences because it’s fricking brother- whereas to me, the kid is taking advantage of things in a huge way.
What the hell do I do. I like where I live. I can bike to work in the good weather, and I have a parking space in the back (which, thankfully, the brother doesn’t use because he doesn’t even have a damn driver’s license.) The price is right and the building quiet. More than all that, though, and I hate to sound like a dick, but I was here first. This is my gig. I don’t want to be forced out by this kid and my roommate who’s being manipulated like he is.
That’s all I got. What do I do? I hate coming home. I’ve lost respect for my roommate and I can’t stand this kid.
Bob (not my real name, but whatever, I can’t think up a tagline name)
Mary: Bob, thank you for writing, and let me say that challenges with roommates are not uncommon-
Vishous: My guy, oh, my God, this is f*cking awful. This is just the worst. I am so f*cking sorry- what.
Mary: *blinks* I just- I haven’t seen you so compassionate. Maybe ever.
V: Well, how can you not feel for Bob? To work hard during the day, and come home to someone who is disrespectful of the physical space you share, taking advantage of the hospitality, and totally annoying to be around? I mean, your home is your sanctuary. You go there to recharge. And Bob’s stuck with this kid. Seriously. My heart goes out to him.
Mary: Well, this is a nice surprise. I’m glad you’re being so empathetic. It’s a refreshing change. Now, Bob, I think that you-
V: Can you imagine? My guy has to wake up knowing the kid’s right next door. And he has to go to sleep with the dumba$$ down the hall. Everywhere he goes when he’s at home, the scourge is there. Breathing. Eating. Existing. It’s enough to drive a person insane-
Mary: Yes, I think that part of the issue is pretty clear. And I’m glad you’re sympathizing with Bob. But let’s now look at possible solutions-
V: *lights up* Always there. The kid is always there. Twenty-four hours a day. So that even if you’re outside in the field, doing your job, you know- you know- that you’re coming back and getting trapped indoors with him. There’s no escape. Wherever you are, he’s looming-
Mary: *narrows her eyes* We’re not on Bob’s letter anymore, are we.
V: Of course, we are. *exhales* It’s all Bob, all the time. I’m just opening myself up to other people. Haven’t you wanted me to do that?
Mary: Yes, but I’m not sure that’s what’s happening here.
V: Fine, let’s go on to solutions.
Mary: Excellent idea. Bob, I see that you state you’ve spoken to your roommate about his brother. I’m going to suggest that, before you do anything rash like move out, you sit down with your roommate and his brother and clarify some-
V: How big’s your trunk, Bob?
Mary: Excuse me?
V: *shrugs* I’m just throwing it out there. You mention you have a parking space so you must have a car. Does it have adequate trunk space? And if not, do you have a trusted friend with a truck or a sedan?
Mary: Um, where are we going with this?
V: *taps handroll over ashtray* Now, Bob, here’s my advice. I want you to go get a shovel, a hammer, some plastic tarping and a big box of commercial grade Hefty bags-
V: -a hack saw and a good butcher knife.
Mary: No! No, no, no-
V: Look, I’m just telling him what I would do-
Mary: That is a murder kit! You just told Bob to go get a murder kit-
V: Not at all. A murder kit has duct tape. I didn’t mention any duct tape. Although, Bob, that’s not a bad idea-
Mary: No! And I’m stopping this right here. Bob, I- we- *glares at V* do not condone murder as a solution to interpersonal conflict-
V: It’s not murder. It’s self-defense. The kid is terminally offending Bob.
Mary: This is not an episode of The Sopranos!
V: Of course it isn’t. I’m not suggesting he go to the mob and find himself a freelance enforcer. I’m advocating for him to take of this himself.
Mary: *puts head in hands* Oh, my God.
V: So, here’s what you do, Bob. Wait until he’s into a game, sneak up behind him, and-
Mary: No! Just no!
V: *curses* Fine, you want to be so critical-
Mary: Not condoning murder is not being critical!
V: *tilts head to the side* Boy, Mary, you’re really worked up. You want some water? Maybe a cold compress on the back of your neck?
Mary: *rubs temples* Look, can we just finish this. Properly.
V: Fine, so what’s your solution. *eases back in chair* You think you’re so smart, what’s your advice.
Mary: *take a minute to calm down* I think the three should sit down together like reasonable people and discuss expectations and a timeline. Jeez.
V: Okay, I can get on board with that.
Mary: *stunned* Really?
V: Sure. If the kid isn’t out of the apartment in ten days, Plan Get The Shovel goes into action.
Mary: I give up. *grabs bottle of Motrin* Bob, sit down with the two of them and talk about your expectations for the brother’s behavior. Provide them with a reasonable timeline of about thirty days, and explain that if the behavior doesn’t change, the brother will have to move out. Then wait the thirty days. If the brother is still being difficult, then he has to go.
V: Get ready with that shovel, Bob. The kid’s not going to change.
Mary: *glares at V again* This is not about Lassiter.
V: *looks shocked* Who said it was?
Mary: *takes two Motrin* Let us know how it goes, Bob. And do not buy any shovels. Until next month, I’m taking a spa day.
V: Amazon Prime can get you a Tabor 47 inch D-handle digging shovel for $42.88. Order it now, it’ll be to the front door of that apartment in 48 hours.
Happy March, everybody! I hope everyone’s doing well, and... well, to be perfectly honest, and I really do not want to offend anyone (especially my Mary,) you may want to skip this month’s column.
Look, part of being in a long term mating is compromise, k? And as you might be aware, my Mary has a much more refined taste in movies than I do. For every Deadpool I enjoy, she gravitates toward Parasite. For all the Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Last Lost Ark of the Crusading Raiders series I watch, she is into Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight. I am Jurassic Park, she is Monster (the 2004 Oscar winner for Best Actress.)
So last week, we had a date night, and because I like to make my shellan happy, I suggested she pick the movie. A lot of the time, I do the picking, and it’s not fair to expect her to suck up my schlock films all the time.
Annnnnnd that was how Ice Storm happened last Thursday night.
Now, some of you may assume that such a film is compromise on her part, a way of meeting me in the middle. Like, maybe it is a J.J. Abrams, big budget, weather-gone-haywire action flick like The Day After Tomorrow, where New York City ends up covered in ice and the Rock has to rescue a bunch of stranded nuns. Or orphans. Or puppies.
Yeah, nope. And PS, I would totally see that movie.
The Ice Storm that my beloved chose is actually the 1997 movie staring Kevin Kline, Joan Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Christina Ricci, Elijah Wood, Tobey Maguire and Katie Holmes. It was directed by Ang Lee, who, according to my Mary, is a true artiste who did films like Brokeback Mountain, Life of Pi, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Sense and Sensibility- and The Hulk from 2003 which is the only movie of his I’ve actually seen. Oh, and this particular Ice Storm movie was based on a book by a guy named Rick Moody.
OMG. All I can say, and I don’t mean to be mean, is that it was two hours and one minute of my life I will never get back. The only good thing is that I got to hold my Mary’s hand through the whole thing.
The set up takes us back to upper middle class suburbia in 1973, and the desperate, distracting and unproductive ways two generations of two separate families try to fill the hours of their listless, unsatisfying lives. I mean, honestly. Like I give two sh*ts.
Sorry. That was mean.
But come ON. One husband is having an affair with the other couple’s wife. The daughter of that first couple is sleeping with the son of the other couple- and coming on to the other brother who has aggressive tendencies and likes to blow things up and hang GI Joe dolls from nooses. And PS, I am NOT interested in seeing teenagers and their sexual explorations in any form for any reason (nothing graphic or gratuitous was shown, and I guess you’re supposed to draw some kind of parallel between the cheating going on at the parental level (the wife of the first couple eventually ends up sleeping with the husband of the second as a way of getting back at her husband,) but that particular storyline did NOTHING for me other than give me a case of icks, and frankly, I think it is the main reason this movie left a totally sour impression on me.) The rest of the plot was a bunch of entitled, whining, depressed people in polyester going around and smoking weed, getting drunk, cheating on their spouses and going to something called a Key Party? Apparently, at least according to this offensive, snooze-fest of a “drama,” Key Parties were something that went down in the seventies, and were where couples go to a house, put their keys in a bowl and the wives blindly pick a set up out of the collection. Whose-ever it is? They go and f*ck the guy.
Look, I know I’m happily mated, k? And I realize that all kinds of people have all different kinds of things going on in their matings- and that as long as it’s consenting adults, it’s cool. Fine. Dandy. But I do not want to watch it go down, thank you very much, and frankly, I just wanted to yell at them all for being rich and bored and stupid. There was nothing sexy or titillating about any of it.
Which brings me to my opinion about the movie. Predictably, there is a tragedy at the end. I’m tempted to spoil it- because listen, I took one for the team and sat through this load of bullcrap so you never have to, and therefore, I would urge you all to give this a big, fat SKIP IT- but whatever, I’ll just say that someone dies. And I didn’t care.
Seriously, the tragedy was supposed to effect me. It didn’t in the slightest (and hey, I cried during Deadpool II. TWICE.) The reason the life-altering event didn’t effect me is because:
1) I didn’t care about any of the characters. At all. (Except maybe for Joan Allen’s, and she lost me when she stole the lipsticks out of that pharmacy.)
2) Did I mention I didn’t care about the people? There is NO ONE in this movie that I felt sympathy for.
3) Oh, and about the characters. They were all, from the kids to the parents, cold, emotionless, nasty and unappealing. I’ve watched paint dry and had more of a reaction.
The thing is, in order for tragedy to work, you have to be connected to the people who it happens to. Otherwise, you might as well be reading a phone book. For all the dark and underside present here, because I didn’t give a sh*t about the people, it was like reading a dictionary entry on “agony.” All definition, no resonance.
I got online and checked and apparently Siskel & Ebert gave it two thumbs up when they reviewed it back in 1997. Maybe standards have changed in the last twenty-three years- and hey, when it came out, critics found it a penetrating look into the seventies sensibility. Whatever the f*ck that means. Personally? Well, you know what I think. I got more out of my box of Milk Duds.
Oh, and as for Mary’s opinion about it? She analyses things on a whole different level than I do. She talked a lot about ennui and middle age and stages of life. Frankly, I just wanted to kiss her the entire time.
And as soon as the movie was over, I did. A lot.
In conclusion, the best thing about the movie was that I saw it with my Mary. Then again, for me, she’s the best part of everything. But serious, give this dumpster fire a pass.
Until next month, I’m sending good entertainment vibes to everyone!
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THE SINNER (out 3/24/20):