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25 days of joy, constraint, & my holiday brain: Day eight.

This shirt has fucking pockets!

This shirt has fucking pockets!

This shirt has fucking pockets!

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Yes! This fucking shirt!

The one I got last night at the fucking Von Maur’s in the fucking mall. Six dollars!

My six-dollar, originally 78, plaid, heavy twill shirt has pockets!

All it took was a mindless act. Just putting away my earbuds. Sometimes, it’s the simplest acts which unlock the most.

I was walking into Franklin Park Conservatory, the giant municipal biodome. My sister had gifted me a membership. I would’ve been happy enough with the admission and 10% off in the gift shop. But I had a new shirt that the gentleman at Von Maur’s assured me looked as good as a six dollar shirt can look on someone.

In the 19th century, public parks were designed with promenading in mind. It was thought that a nice walk while wearing an interesting hat that you could periodically doff to the ladies was the bestest form of societal uplift.

Since I look stupid in hats, I wore the shirt I got the previous day. I was like the cool kids in high school who would wear their Loverboy tees the day after the concert because… Loverboy is so fucking cool?

Could a simple shirt make someone “Loverboy cool?” Not in terms of the awful Canadian band, but in terms of the Billy Ocean jam?

On a normal day, I do “bear” pretty well as I can easily grow hair on weird parts of my body and have type 2 diabetes. Grrr. But with this fucking shirt AND wandering around a plant museum where I can make small talk about plants and not name/hometown/major… I fucking belong. My acceptance of this belonging makes me a fucking thirst trap. I might make even make eye contact with somebody. Woof!

I gathered my things for my trek thru the hothouse. Did the spectacles/testicles/wallet/watch motion to make sure I had everything. Went back to the car to get the earbuds because you never know what’s going to be overrun with screaming infants.

But I had a good feeling I wasn’t gonna need them. Still. I rolled them up in a futile gesture toward making them easier to untangle later. My muscle memory went to put them into where the pocket on my green hoodie would have been had I not been dressed for promenading.

In a pre-shirt world, my left hand would have just continued down. My body would have followed, and I would fall flat on my face. In front of the plants.

The earbuds went into a pocket where there shouldn’t have been a pocket. They just stayed there, suspended only by a heavy twill plaid. I felt a lightness that comes with finding a place for your stuff. The sun brightened like I assume it did at Fatima. I could feel more warmth. I pulled my hand out and put it back in. Still, the pocket stayed. I had not had an “episode” like that time I imagined I was hearing “To Sir With Love” everywhere I went. This was real. My shirt had fucking pockets.

I looked around to see if this was a trick. Bullies will do that. Get you all joyed up. Then comes the pig’s blood. Even without pockets, this shirt does not deserve pig’s blood. But with the pockets, this shirt now gives me the power to lock all the doors and burn down this biodome if anyone tries to cross me. With my mind.

I was alone in the parking lot. A couple was getting out of sedan farther down my row. It was just me and the bright, bright winter sun. I felt it necessary to put both hands in their pockets, spin around three time, pull my hands out, then tussle my hair like Marlo Thomas in the opening of That Girl. that-2

Goddam, I feel like a young career gal in the big city in this shirt with the awesome pockets. I can take on the world AND get free admission to the arboretum.

I can put things in places you can only dream of.

Luxuriate in my heavy twill musk, Central Ohio!

23421931_706871346178094_7881705819308294144_n.jpgI strode over the couple and made eye contact with a gentleman who obviously understood the practicalities of fashion. He was wearing a dyed wool overcoat with a “7” in a 1970s Rhoda font. And because gurl was looking at plants, hiking boots with what seemed to be Cuban heels. I was in that ten-foot range where you have to say something if you make eye contact.

BTW… I NOW HAVE THE POWER OF EYE CONTACT!

“Morning!” he nodded.

“I got this shirt at the Von Maur’s yesterday in the mall. Six dollars! And…” I vigorously thrust my hands into my new pockets repeatedly, grinning broadly. “…it has pockets!”

“That’s… nice.” He looked over to his companion, a just-conspicuously-enough younger Brazilian-ish man whose tips were the same contrast ratio as the three-inch houndstooth pattern on his puffy down vest.

“You’re damn right it’s nice!” I chirped at the Houndstooth Brazilian.

Then I turned on my heels like they taught me in tai-chi and strode towards the biodome’s entrance. You know they were both looking at my ass. How could you not? The confidence that comes with pockets makes every ass amazing. You don’t have to carry shit, so baby can make those blue jeans talk.

I made one more wide arc twirl on my way in. I paused. Took in my surroundings like a lion on the veldt. The employee at the counter and I locked eyes. She nodded, and I approached.

In one elegant hand ballet, I took out my wallet and the temporary membership card.

“I have this.” I handed her the card.

“Nice.” She inspected it and handed it back to me. I put it back in the wallet. Then, making sure she saw, I put the wallet into one of my new pockets. “Ooooo, pockets,” she cooed.

Knowing I had to cut this sexual tension for the sake of the children present, I asked what benefits came with the membership.

She listed them. When she got to the part about “reciprocal benefits,” a surge of energy hit me. I thrust my hands deeply into my pockets, and bounced up and down. She snorted a tiny laugh, just enough that her modified bob moved a little.

I stopped, took in a breath, and smiled. “Sorry.” But I wasn’t sorry. It was just my “sorry” tic.

“Not sorry.” I raised my eyebrows like I knew the heist would be successful.

“I know,” she said. “I bounce when I’m happy, too.”

OH FUCK… I’m happy?!?

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“The Bear Who Auditioned First” [On parlaying a Jeopardy! audition three weeks ago into fifteen minutes of fame, then into a lifetime as a cherished cultural icon.]

Please note: For the piece itself I will forgo the exclamation point after Jeopardy. It is stupid. If they had one of those Spanish upside-down exclamation points before it, too, I would happily reconsider.

This morning I’m in a coffee shop writing. I forgot my earbuds, and I’m way too lazy to walk out to the car and grab my “emergency” pair. Then I remembered that I auditioned for Jeopardy three weeks ago, and, as parting gifts, they gave me a set of Jeopardy! earbuds and a Jeopardy pen. “Please do not use the pen as a ‘practice’ buzzer. We do not travel the country to hear people click pens.” Noted. The earbuds came in a little Jeopardy blue pouch –Pantone 2935 U, because if you want to be on Jeopardy, you need to know these things. I took the pouch out of my bag, removed the buds, and flopped the pouch on my table. It landed logo-side-down.

IMG_1183That would not do. I flipped the pouch over. Now folks coming through the front door of Luck Brothers Coffee can see the blue of the pouch highlighted against the black of the café table. This is by design. When the eye is fully adjusted to darkness, blue stands out against a black background more than any other color. This is why railroad signals and those little reflectors people in the country use to mark their driveways are blue. Yes, it’s bright sunny out today, and everyone’s eyes are adjusting in the opposite direction, but if someone does ask me about the pouch I can tell them all about blue reflectors. And they will say, “Wow! You certainly do belong on Jeopardy!”

In my time as a Jeopardy Auditioneer™ (I figure I should start trademarking various aspects of my upcoming fame and icon-hood), I have been amazed at how many people are interested in the audition process. As luck would have it, my audition coincided with a visit to NYC to see friends that I was already planning. (I used to live in NYC. If someone asks about the blue pouch, I can also work in that I used to live in NYC. Moreover, I will tell them I lived in Brooklyn because that’s more specific, and people crave specificity –especially specificity that involves the word “Brooklyn.”) So in NYC, instead answering “Why are you visiting?” with “Columbus is boring.” I could proudly say, “I had a Jeopardy audition.”

Then they would inhale a little bit, maybe subconsciously stroke their hair or beard with a couple fingers. “You did?!? Please do tell me all about it? This will certainly be enlightening and fill an intellectual void I did not know I had.” Continue reading “The Bear Who Auditioned First” [On parlaying a Jeopardy! audition three weeks ago into fifteen minutes of fame, then into a lifetime as a cherished cultural icon.]

Don’t touch the Bear there

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The belly in question.

This morning I’m filling out my registration for this year’s Bear Pride, which is to be held over Memorial Day in Chicago. For the uninitiated, the term “Bear” refers to larger gay men who usually choose to sport facial hair. They proclaim that they prefer to gather in groups with other “Bears” to get a little something-something and to fight the stigma of body shaming.

There is a lot of body shaming.

I know I don’t wear flannel shirts and a beard because they look particularly fetching on me. I wear flannel shirts and a beard because flannel shirts are easy to find in XXL, and a beard is really only the socially acceptable way to cover a triple chin, extra jowly.

So I will travel to Chicago for Bear Pride to NOT be nervous about my body and instead judge people on normal things like the wittiness of their quips, or the irony of their t-shirts, or inanity of their WOOF tattoos. [FYI to the uninitiated: Some Bears like to say “Woof.” Avoid these Bears. They are stupid, and this one word will be the extent of their conversation.] Continue reading Don’t touch the Bear there