SHE SAID: Mainstreamedness

July 23, 2010

Samuel Johnson would have a field day with you.  On the one hand, yes language evolves and adapts, on the other, no.  You can’t throw a word and some suffixes together and celebrate your literary inventiveness.  Perhaps Jeremy has taken on a new occupation penning Sarah Palin’s speeches.

The main issue here isn’t whether or not a fan was a fan before the hype, but more whether or not the appreciation is genuine or not.  Because I have no issue with someone who genuinely appreciates something regardless of when they discovered their passion.

Passion is contagious and beautiful.  I love watching my friends enjoy something or do something they enjoy.  And it is our love of songs or movies or sports and our desire to share that love with those around us that leads to mainstream appreciation, which is what most who are producing something want.  I love my brother’s passion for the Red Sox, day in and day out.  I love my son’s obsession with Indiana Jones, even though the first movie’s came out when I was in grade school and Indy’s so mainstream that xBox and Lego are cashing in on his fame.  And I am not going to tell my boyfriend he can’t like the Kings of Leon because I introduced him to them once their third album was out.

I do, however, get annoyed by those who are fans only because it’s cool to do so.  The girl in high school who claimed a lifelong love of Led Zeppelin shortly after she realized her crush was a die-hard fan annoyed me.  The sports fan who only watches during the playoffs/finals/world series and won’t shut up about it makes me feel cheated.  The woman who buys not because she likes the item, but because she knows it’s “in” depresses me, as does her endless and ironically fruitless journey.  The friend who will only listen to small bands that have yet to go mainstream loses credibility because his appreciation is tainted.  And, making me listen to crappy new bands, each trying not sound like the band that influenced them, gets old quickly.

The real fan, the audience member who can enjoy as if he or she was the creator, the person ahead of the mainstream, on the cutting edge – is it all a quest to define ourselves as something beyond average?  Are we more special if we can truly enjoy or appreciate?  Better?  Cooler?  Smarter?

I think it would be fantastic if people didn’t feel the need to fake or build up passion.  Ultimately, however, I feel guilty judging and commenting on whether or not someone’s appreciation is genuine or not.  Do you have to feel like Bob Dylan is the eighth wonder of the world to be able to enjoy his music and message?  Do you need to have considered asking your girlfriend to marry you on the big screen at a Sox game in order to be considered a real fan?  Maybe Jeremy and my frustration over enjoyment and the genuineness of said enjoyment is only our juvenile refusal to share a favorite toy.

SHE SAID: Nicknames

May 7, 2010

My mom always said that nicknames meant you were well liked. This theory arose coincidentally around the time I was dubbed “sniffer” and I have a sneaking suspicion they might be related. My nicknames included Fire, Snifter, Brandy Snifter, and Kid Sister. I’m sure I’m forgetting some.

I tried to drop my lifelong nickname freshman year in college. I had everyone calling me by my given name, the unused one typed in on my birth certificate, for two whole weeks. It seemed, and still does, like someone else’s name and going by it was kind of like stepping into someone else’s skin, albeit briefly. My brief flirtation with normalcy was cut short when my dad came to visit and let the cat out of the bag. I see people from elementary school who are surprised I still go by my nickname. One of them said, “I thought you’d have grown out of that by now.” It appears I have only grown more and more into it.

I had friends called names that would make my mom blush. Names they would accept as monikers despite me being embarrassed to say the word aloud, much less address someone as such. I have had friends name their significant others something lame and terrible and oh-so-cheesy. I’ve had friends name their or someone else’s body parts, which I don’t really think is all that necessary. I had friends that fought nicknames tooth and nail, a tact which seemed only to make the name stick with more zealousness. And yet, I’ve had friends lament their nicknamelessness.

But if we are going to do a High Fidelity type list, as my co-writer is so fond of doing since everything seems to be rateable in his book, my favorite nicknames of the peer variety in no particular order are:

Log. One of my good friends was called Smokey after alerting the authorities to a fire. Since I was already called Fire, we got a kick out of the link. Our third friend, wanting to get in on the action, suggested we call her spark or flame. Smokey decided that no, Log was a much better idea.

FurPud. A guy I knew, called Pud by all who knew him, moved out West and dropped the nickname in the move. When some friends came to visit him, he reminded them that they were not to call him Pud since he didn’t want it catching on out West. His Eastern friends discovered, however, that his Western friends called him Furball, due to his extensive body hair, and when they all got together, Pud/Furball became Furpud.

Pearsie. When I was growing up, my best friend’s parents called his brother Pearsie. They said it was because he had looked like a pear when he was born. It always struck me as incredibly sweet, maybe it was the way they said it, and I remember it fondly to this day.

Kat-breath. I don’t know this woman, she’s a friend of a friend. But all her friends call her this both behind her back and to her face. Seems a bit … too specific. I hope she’s not a close talker.

America’s Guest. He came. Sometimes invited. He bummed a ticket, invite or twenty off of you. He was adored, stayed too long and entertained everyone the whole evening. Again and again and again.

SHE SAID: DJ or band?

April 29, 2010

Jeremy and I have already posted on our love of attending weddings and I can vouch for him being one of the more entertaining wedding guests OF ALL TIME.  Actually, I lie.  Jeremy and I have never attended a wedding together and so I cannot regale you with tales of his chicken dancing, his talent for toasting, or about that time when he tripped while coming off the dance floor and had to be rushed to the emergency room to get a splinter taken out of his palm.  But we both have some weddings under our belts and I know that he enjoys partaking in the merrymaking as much as I.

This past weekend I went to a family wedding and was a little disappointed, at first, to see a DJ’s table in the reception hall.  I don’t mean to offend any DJs or aspiring DJs out there, but I have to confess that when I get to a wedding, seeing a DJ setting up is almost as bad as seeing that the lead singer of the band is sporting a serious mullet and white platform patent leather boots.  You can’t help but start conjuring exit strategies and calculating how much time is appropriate to spend tolerating the music before you can ease out the side door without offending the new couple.  Things could be worse, I’ll admit; a cash bar or some Disney theme …

After the cocktail hour (during which my date and I dominated the bar and thusly were the most obvious candidates to welcome a DJ enthusiastically), we headed into the main room to welcome the bridal party fresh off their photo shoot, toast the couple, eat, and ultimately, dance dance dance.  Only, before the toasting commenced, the DJ had us twirling our napkins over our heads while he paraded around the room in a chef’s hat and managed to get one unlucky fellow (who happened to have said yes when I suggested attending a spring wedding in Connecticut) doing the twist as a demonstration for the whole table.  I was downing drinks faster than a pre-teen who had just discovered virgin piña coladas and anticipating high tailing it after the cake.

And then somewhere in there, the DJ became totally okay.  It was fun hearing songs I hadn’t heard in forever.  It was fun spending the entire night dancing.  I saw my date’s face light up with unbridled enthusiasm when a country favorite was played, my niece jumped at the chance to dance to some Train, and my mother almost cried when Lady in Red started to play.  There was some line dancing, some twisting, some Charleston-ing and some confusion explaining to my mom that it’s okay for two women to dance together – thankfully she got over it and I was able to throw her around on the dance floor a little.

And all of a sudden, my anti-DJ stance went out the window and I owned that dance floor, despite the pain my being out there caused any innocent bystanders.  And maybe the lesson here is that alcohol can make anything fun.  Maybe it’s that we shouldn’t let our stereotypes stop us from having fun or changing our hell bent stance on something.  Maybe it’s that with a little help (be it an informed friend, a strong drink, or an unexpected encounter), an experience we weren’t anticipating or even one that we were dreading, can be a hell of a lot of fun and even memorable.

Although, and this is the one draw back of a DJ, I come from a singing family.  An overwhelming, enthusiastic, and very loving family that happens to love to jump up on stage and start singing, especially at weddings.  My sister has one of the best voices I have ever heard and thankfully, it’s usually her that’s up there.  The one draw back of a DJ is that were one to sing, it ultimately sounds like karaoke.  No matter how stunning the vocals.  And that is where the band comes out the clear winner in this comparison.  Because while karaoke is fun at a dive bar with friends and a healthy sense of confidence, a wedding is neither the time nor the place.

And yes, I was most definitely trying to convince the DJ to let me up there for a few songs on Saturday.

SHE SAID: Walk of Shame

August 21, 2009

Always more embarrassing for a women.  I don’t care how dressed up you were the night before, even stumbling home in the morning fog wearing a disheveled tux with stubble is more distinguished than stumbling home in heels with a wrinkled dress and your hair only slightly reminiscent of its previous night’s splendor.  And most times, let’s figure the couple in question was at a bar, the guy is wearing something he could arguably wear in the morning … while the girl is in something that is clearly evening attire.  Eyeliner, mascara … it can get ridiculously messy.  We women give away WAY more when trying to ease our way home the next morning whether or not you snuggled, snogged, or slept with the person you spent the night with, it is assumed you spent the night grappling with the double backed beast when caught slinking home.

walk-of-shameIn college, these walks were more prevalent for most people.  Myself, I was saying my prayers at nine thirty and in bed by ten with all my homework done, but some of those ruffians I hung around with would come home the next morning.

One made it home in a shower curtain liner after leaving his fair lass’s room to use the lavatory and not remembering which room he had left once he exited the bathroom.  This necessitated some quick thinking.

One friend never found her other shoe despite panicked rummaging and her prince never sought her out.

Another was relieving himself of last night’s ingestion in a bush on his way back to his room while a prospective student tour happened upon him.

In hind sight, I wish I had planted myself somewhere on a Sunday morning where I could have taken in some of the walks of shame.  I’m a little bummed when I think of the people watching I missed out on that would have been so easy to witness.  Head down, eyes focused on the sidewalk, pace quickened…heels clicking.

And therein lies the fun.  Not getting caught.  There’s something victorious about making it back to your room without getting seen.  Not that you won’t laugh about the story with friends or brag to your buddies, but there is some key part in getting back to your room before someone sees you.

As an adult, it gets less exciting, a little more pathetic.  Getting spotted driving home early, your car seen in someone’s driveway, your parent’s drinking coffee at the breakfast table while you’re sneaking in the back door.  And no, that never happened to me.

But one time, having thought I snuck in unnoticed at an ungodly hour, I went to join my father for breakfast after grabbing a few hours of sleep.  He put the paper down as I sat to eat and said, “You looked really beautiful last night.”  Thinking this was one of those touching father-daughter moments that Hallmark attempts to construct, I thanked him.  Then he picked the paper back up and as he cracked it to make sure it wasn’t folding over and hampering his reading, he followed with, “Maybe that’s why you didn’t come home last night.”


SHE SAID: Sports Trades

July 28, 2009

Part of sports teams is the trading that goes on.  It has both saved and devastated teams throughout the history of sport.  And while I understand, I have trouble when a player I love is traded.

Thinking about it now, I’m not sure if my fear of trading is why I shy away from naming a favorite player.  Ever since Damon (who wasn’t my favorite player, but I enjoyed him nonetheless) went to the darkside and lost all individuality in doing so and Nomar was traded (which I understood as a business move, but couldn’t wrap my mind around the Red Sox without him on their roster for a while and yes, winning the World Series helped me get over that in a hurry), I cannot tell you who is my favorite player for the Red Sox.  The last shirt I bought was a Renteria shirt which I quickly realized was a horrible investment and thankfully, I didn’t go for the replica jersey, as my brother did.  His rationalizing after the trade?  Someone else will pick the number and he can wear it again.

He was lucky.  My younger brother had the unfortunate destiny to fall madly in love with Mike “The Gator” Greenwell, left fielder for the Red Sox from ’85 – ’96.  While a dependable player, he was never a super star outside of my brother’s head, and in Greenwell’s defense, it was hard to follow in the shoes of the Splended Splinter, Yaz and Jim Rice (congrats on making the hall of fame).  Greenwell played out his entire career for the Red Sox, I don’t know how common that is for someone to play their entire career with one team … but for years my older brother and father had a blast trying to convince my younger brother that Greenwell had been traded to another team. Some mornings, my younger brother would come to breakfast only to find a section of the NYT cut out and my older brother claiming there was an article about Greenwell getting traded to the Yankees that he had needed to cut out for some reason.  It was easy fodder.  And I wonder how much this stress effected my younger brother.  Loving a player so much, yet knowing at any time they could be traded and that they had no, or at best limited, loyalty to their team.

Now, I love the teams and admire the players.  But I can’t bother getting attached to them.  It’s too hard.

So, one would think I would apply this to the other teams I follow.  Not so.  And oh, what a rookie move.

Aaron Ward.  I have no idea how you became my favorite player.  You’re not flashy, you’re not the high goal scorer for the Bruins, you didn’t kill it in PIMs, in fact, it’s almost like you did everything you could to not stand out.  You came across as intelligent enough, dependable as a defender, and man, you threw your body into it.  You respect the sport.  And my son and I grew to adore you.  His Bruins jerseys all had 44 on the back, we knew where you were at all times both on the ice and the bench.  We felt for your hurt wrist in the playoffs and yelled at the other teams for slashing you when it was hurt.  We celebrated you at all times.  We went to great lengths, stretched one might say, to point out how you were involved in all successful plays on the ice.

But you were traded on Friday back to the Hurricanes in a “salary dump”.

And at 30, I have to learn the don’t get attached lesson all over again.

SHE SAID: Just Friends

July 15, 2009

Is it possible for men and women to be friends?

guys and girls

I grew up sandwiched between two brothers.  I had a bowl cut, skinned palms and knees, and didn’t wear a girl’s bathing suit until people started making rude comments.  Even then, I wasn’t psyched about it – Jams were cool and sand didn’t get all caught in the lining.  My best friend, Joe, lived next door and we had a path between our houses, a break in the stone wall, and a whole world in our backyards.  This all crumbled when an upperclassman asked us on the bus ride home from school if we were dating.  I didn’t understand it back then.

Is it possible for two people of the opposite sex to respect each other and enjoy each other’s company without a relationship developing or the want of something more on either side fucking everything up?  I would like to believe so.  Because if not, any time a man is nice to me, it would follow that I have to assume it’s because he wants to sleep with me or that he wants me making his waffles and folding his underwear on a Saturday morning in the future.  And that’s pretty depressing because I think we all have a lot to offer as friends and people in addition to what we offer as a lover or spouse.

And I hope that every time I smile at a guy and look him in the eye he’s not thinking I want to sleep with him or that I’m hitting on him.  Because I’m not.  I’m being polite and nice and nothing else.  Is male/female interaction really all about sex?  Am I incredibly naive to think it doesn’t always have to be and that I don’t always want it to be?

I enjoy my girlfriends.  I enjoy conversations with close girl friends that I would never have with my brothers or close guy friends.  But I also enjoy my guy friends and the ease of their personalities, the dynamic that can be cuttingly sarcastic, downright crude and also incredibly helpful.

I enjoy my guy friends and I don’t want to sleep with them – hopefully that doesn’t offend them.  I don’t want to have to worry when we’re hanging out that they want to sleep with me.  That by laughing at a funny joke I’m leading them on.

It’s kind of along the same lines as the whole just because a woman is gay doesn’t mean she wants to bone every woman who walks the face of this earth … or vice versa for a gay man.  Yes, I have friends who are insane and attracted to a LOT of people, but that’s the exception, not the rule.  And yes, some of them might want to take every guy they meet who has a pulse home, but for the most part, if “it” isn’t there, a friendship sure as hell would be a sweet second option.

I get bummed out thinking about the friendship that Joe and I missed out on because some ass made a comment that made us both uncomfortable.

HE SAID: Just Friends

July 15, 2009

Nifer, in the words of one of our good (male) friends, you are “intelligent and attractive woman,” but that doesn’t mean all your male friends want to sleep with you.  Just kidding, I know that wasn’t the point of your post, it just felt right to start off that way.

The answer to your query is a resounding, ‘yes.’ It is absolutely possible for men and women to be friends, without the want of a relationship or sex involved.  I have many female friends who don’t interest me sexually in the least.  And I’m pretty positive that I do not interest them sexually, which makes things perfect. 

But the major issue is when there is a friendship between a male and a female, and one member of said friendship wants to, excuse my language, fuck the friend six ways from Sunday.  This can cause a bit of friction, to say the least.  We’ve all been on both sides of this position before (I’m not referring to missionary, doggystyle, etc…rather the position of wanting more with a friend, or having a friend want more with you), and there are certain steps that can be taken to try to push the relationship back on the road to friendship.  

For example make a poignant effort to spend a little less time together.  Often times someone can fall in love just by simply being around another person.  One time I’m pretty sure I fell in love with a girl simply because we would hang out four nights a week. I didn’t plan on it, I just got so used to being with her I missed her when she was not around (PS – good thing that didn’t happen , that bitch is crazy). 

When you do spend time together, probably best to do it in a group setting.  I was best friends with a girl in high school, and by ‘best friends’ I mean I was head over heels, hopelessly in love with her.  Once at a high school party I decided to go home, and she asked if she could crash at my house.  Of course I let her, and I ended up on my bedroom floor while she snored away soundly in my twin bed.

I know this would suck, but try toning things down like eye contact.  When people start to fall for others, they will rationalize the shit out of things.  As in, if all of a sudden I’m feeling sexual feelings towards someone, that eye contact just went from “that’s just me and my good friend connecting” to “she is gazing into my eyes, I think she wants me to take her down on the kitchen floor right now.”  The last thing you want to do with a friend is be unnatural and what not, but sometimes it’s best just short-term, to drive the point home that nothing is going to happen.

If time passes and your ‘friend’ is still asking you to go mini golfing  with him/her, camping together (“of course I’ll bring an extra sleeping bag”), etc…and you simply don’t see the situation resolving itself, my advice have one incredible session of sex.  It might ruin the friendship, but if things were past a point of no return anyway, it was probably already ruined.   And at least this way you can get laid.