Monday, August 28, 2006

The joke's on you

I have this new favorite joke. It was on Prairie Home Companion over the weekend. But it's very difficult to retell.

See, it's a knock-knock joke, and it goes like this:

Knock knock
Who's there?
Control freak. Now, you say "control freak who?"

People seem to get tripped up and say "control freak who?" And that just ruins the joke.

My wife says it's up there in funniness with the feminist light-bulb joke:

Q: How many feminists does it take to change a light bulb?
A: That's not funny.

Ah, intellectual humor.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Public transit story #10: I like the way you move

Yesterday we went to Emeryville, home of the big-box retailers. Emeryville boasts (among others) Ikea, Borders, Home Depot, Old Navy, Gap, Office Max, Babies 'R' Us, and Michaels. Emeryville has movie theaters, a California Pizza Kitchen, a P.F. Chang's (don't get me started on how I got food poisoning from my first and only P.F. Chang's meal), a multi-ethnic food court, a Denny's, and of course the Swedish meatball cafeteria at Ikea. Emeryville also has an Amtrak station, some scientific industry, a cafe co-owned by the bass player of Green Day, and a whole lot of condos.

On the way to Emeryville, home of all that is commercial and shiny, we happened upon a lovely gentleman. Although perhaps I should say that as we were standing around at the bus stop, (im)patiently waiting for the #57, this dude blurted, "Hey, are those Doc Martens?"

"Yeah," I said, "the only pair I've ever owned." This is true. I have never been able to afford Docs, and then I saw a pair at Shoe Pavilion for $40 and I just had to have them.

He smiled.

A few minutes later, the guy piped up again: "They're nice."

"Thanks," I said.

The bus came. My wife and I headed to the back of the bus and took two inward-facing seats.

This fellow passed up a few other empty seats in order to sit right across from us. He stared at my shoes. "Those are nice," he said again.

I smiled and looked away.

Then: "I like them, how they move. With the toe part."

I had no idea what he was talking about. My Docs are Mary Janes. The tips move when I move my toes. They're not, like, motorized or anything. Or independently ambulatory. This was all starting to creep me out, so I pretended I couldn't hear him over the noise of the bus.

Then the dude got this big grin on his face and said, "Yeah, that's what I'm talking about! MM-HM!" I looked down and saw that I had been wiggling my toes out of sheer nervousness.

The next stop, thankfully, was ours.

I suppose it could have been worse. Had he also been a frotteur, I would have had to fend off ambush footsies.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Meat salads

Here we are in New Orleans, this year's home of the American Psychological Association's annual convention. The city is hot and steamy, and sadly it's still fairly disheveled. But the convention's fun, and the air conditioning is divine, and hey, it's more or less a vacation.

New Orleans cuisine, however, leaves something to be desired. I realize I am biased, as I'm (a) vegetarian and (b) a picky eater in general. But dude. Everything here has meat, sometimes two or three kinds in a single dish. The red beans and rice has meat. The jambalaya has meat. The gumbo has meat. Even the salads have meat.

I am not making this up. At the convention center they are selling lovely-looking, pre-made green salads topped with meat. And not scoops of tuna salad, either. I'm talking strips of chicken, slices of beef, and some pretty sizable shrimp on otherwise perfectly appetizing beds of lettuce, tomato, and cucumber.

Yes, I know, this is the South, where the bigger and meatier, the better. But meat salads?

It's a shame I can't survive on coffee and beignets alone.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Hot stuff

I have never really thought of myself as a particularly attractive person. Perhaps this is some self-esteem thing. Or perhaps it's from years of being teased for being short and dorky-looking. I don't recall ever thinking that I was ugly, just not pretty. For a long time I thought I was overweight, but I wasn't. Then, for a few years, I was indeed a bit larger than I should have been because my metabolism had been pharmaceutically hijacked. My wife and I disagree as to whether I was "huge" (my opinion) or "curvy" (hers); but at least we agree that I was larger and sleepier than usual.

So now, for the first time in my life, I am... skinny? thin? slender? svelte? (Can short people be svelte?) And sometimes I catch myself thinking, hey, I am kinda cute.

But then some testosteriffic dude in a beat-up red pickup truck wolf-whistles at me and it ruins my moment.

These men do not seem to grasp the concept of keeping their eyes on the road. They actually hang their heads out the window and rubberneck (in my conservative pants and shirt) as they drive, very very slowly, past me. This is so not cool. I am surprised it's not caused an accident yet.

I wish people would pay this much attention to me when I'm trying to cross the street. Crosswalks make me completely invisible.

My wife's theory is that guys notice me because of my hair, which is almost to my tailbone and in severe need of a trim. I think this might cover about 50% of these incidents: People coming toward me can't see my hair until they've passed me, and I get hooted at from all directions.

Why does it bother me, all this hooting? you might ask. If I feel pretty, oh so pretty, then why don't I care for cross-gender interrater reliability? I will admit that, on account of some early experiences, I can get really scared by men who think with their men-parts. I will admit that I actually kinda liked it when I got a "heeeey..." from two women in a Subaru. But I see a big difference between a genuine "you look nice today" and a catcall. Especially when the offending party is operating a car or other dangerous machinery.

But what frightens me the most is that I am routinely mistaken for jailbait, and these dudes all look at least 25 or 30. When I put aside my feminist indignations, I am just plain grossed out. These guys probably think they're ogling a 16-year-old.

So, gentlemen. Keep your eyes on the road. That means off my ass.