Deep Doo-Doo

I hate “deep” people.

Please notice the quotation marks on that, because that’s really what makes the difference, here.

It’s actually not a bad thing to be Deep. In fact, it’s a nice compliment to be told that you are, and thought of as, Deep. It seems to say that you’ve got character, quality as a person… more to offer the world and someone special than just outward appearances and superficial qualities.

Now, I’m not going to start talking about how tough it is to be so Hot in this world (how would I know?)… because we’ve all looked at one of the “Beautiful People”, and seen them get perks and benefits, thought, “Gee, must be nice” while we dream of punching them in their privileged face… with the sharp end of a rusty crowbar… with a grenade taped to it… filled with battery acid… and my pee. (Or is that just my daydream?) But we should always take a second to look at the other side of it… if nothing else then for the fact it’s a nice thing to do.

For one… I think a lot of “Beautiful People”… don’t think of themselves as such. In fact, I bet a lot of them are looking in the mirror, and seeing nothing but faults. In fact, one of them may even be looking at YOU and thinking, “Wow, they’re so beautiful… lucky bitch/bastard. Must be nice to have it all.” Yep, we’re a species of fairly low self-esteem. Even if we look at ourselves and think, “Yeah, I look/feel beautiful!”… we always look at someone else as looking better and having more. Goes back to the whole “grass is always greener”-thing.

For another… “Beautiful People”… usually aren’t taken very seriously. Because whomever they're talking to is either looking at their boobs/butt/6-pack abs/shapely legs/body/pretty face/whatever… (in either a positive or negative way) and not bothering to focus on the concept that there might actually be some grey matter helping to run that biological system. (I’m talking guys AND girls here) If they do think there’s the possibility of a brain… well, it must obviously not be the most important thing about them, otherwise they wouldn’t have focused so much energy and work on the boobs/butt/6-pack abs/shapely legs/body/pretty face/whatever… Yeah, it’s very 1-dimensional kind of thinking, and not really grounded in reality… but we’ve all done it at least several times in our lives. We usually do it during first impressions… when all you have to go on is outward appearances and the first words you hear out of their mouth. (Where some people believe that if you’re not automatically quoting Kierkegaard, or reciting a poem by Browning [either one],… then you don’t have the intelligence gene, and henceforth consider you an idiot, regardless of your diplomas)

I’m not saying that all Hotties in the world are also undiscovered geniuses… No, there’s some great fools out there. But I’ve also seen a lot of Ugly people that are pretty F’in stupid themselves. In my experience, there seems to be NO connection or correlation… inverse or otherwise… between brains and looks. I’m saying that even those Beautiful People that *are* stupid… still have the presence of mind to love the idea of being called Deep.

Dumb or Smart, Beautiful or Ugly… being Deep transcends ALL of that and more. It goes past your skin and outward appearances, sees through your book knowledge and reasoning… because it is directly referring to your SOUL. Previously, the only things in life that could literally touch your soul is Music… or your favorite poem… or that really neat line in that movie that came out a few years ago starring that guy and that girl… but all that… is Art… and the connection of your soul to that art is via your interpretation of it… not necessarily what the writer/artist/etc was thinking at the time… now you’ve gotten evidence of an actual person… a physical human being in front of you, that is claiming to be able to look in and actually see what no one else has been able to… definitively knowing who you really are… a deep soul. And if they can see that in you… then they too must be a deep soul… a truly empathic person on your wavelength… that long-lost person that can actually understand you and everything about you. (*and* they’re good-looking! So, it must be genuine!)

That’s a connection we’d all long for.

Only one teeny tiny little hitch to it:

It’s complete and utter bullshit.

How do I know its bullshit? And why my possibly irrational hatred for these “deep people”?

Well… we can thank the other members of my gender for that. Yep. I blame Men for this one. Completely and totally. The ideas that Women get about being “Deep”? Yeah, they came from being sweet-talked by Men. You know, the guys that play head-games-that-don’t-seem-like-head-games… and say the stupid pick-up-lines-that-don’t-seem-like-pick-up-lines? (As most of you women know, there are some crafty MoFos out there) You see… I don’t call this an “irrational hatred”. This is a thought-out, consciously-realized, impassioned contempt for the whole “Deep” issue, and that pieces of crap that perpetuate it… and there are so many types.

One too many times I've seen a fortysomething single man refer to his "soulmate"... and he INVARIABLY is referring to a young 20-something attractive girl. (They never seem to refer to that 80-year old neighbor as their "soulmate"… I thought true soul connections know no age barriers? Or does that only work one way?) Seriously... I've seen that exact situation more times than I can count. A man in his forties… who brags about how he has a body of a guy in his thirties (we don’t need the shirtless MySpace pictures of you doing a full split! No one cares, it’s pathetic!)… trying to get with a young woman in her twenties… using the emotional relationship logic of a teenager… and throwing tantrums like a child in the single digits. (In the Regression Games, these guys are freaking Olympiads) It's a pathetic mid-life-crisis situation, where way too much drama ensues for everyone involved. So, alarms start sounding off with me when they always refer to a "deep connection" with this girl less than half their age.

There's too much of a difference between someone who's had 20 years to think about things... and someone who's had 45 years to think about things. The difference isn't so big if you're talking about a woman who's 50 and a guy who's 75... because you're "speed of emotional change/maturation" has tapered off to about 5 mph... while the speed of change is more like 95 mph in your twenties. I myself went through such major changes between age 20 and 25... and even more changes between 25 and 30. (I *still* feel like I'm going through changes) I don't care how "mature" you think you are (usually another red flag)... actual real-time and experience counts for a lot more than that. So the "deep connection" the middle-age guy is referring to? Yeah, that's based more on a visual, biological, "insert-Tab-A-into-Slot-B" type of connection rather than one based on maturity.

I've also seen one too many comments on ladies' MySpace pages of guys telling an attractive woman, "You have a beautiful picture, and yet I also see such a depth to your soul" or "Your poetry and blogs are very deep" (oddly enough, ALSO on the page of a girl with a cleavage-showing picture or model-quality looks).

I’m hereby calling: Bull.

Makes me want to puke. I find it so insulting to the WOMAN. And what astounds me so much more, is that a lot of women seem to fall for it. Why do they fall for it? “Because he’s so deep.”

You absolutely, positively can NOT tell how Deep someone’s soul is by a picture. Or reading one blog or poem they wrote… or even 100 blogs and poems. To imply that you can is insulting to everyone involved (whether they have a brain or not). Being “deep” is very easily faked. Many guys Act “deep”, even fooling themselves into thinking that they really are Deep (the first victim of a liar, is the liar himself), because they come up with such wonderful, poetic, Existential thoughts *all* on their own… despite the fact that those ideas have already been around for 100+ years. (The fact there’s even the *label* called “Existentialism” should be your first clue to that) No, you don’t get credit for coming up with it “all on your own”(if you really did)… that just means your philosophy is 2 centuries behind.

Does this mean there’s no truly Deep people in the world? Hell, no. There’d be no museums, no good music, or decent books and movies if there weren’t any (Or much of anything, really). But they just don’t act the way we seem to think “Deep” people would act. They don’t sit around, brooding, acting miserable and listening to the Cure… or saying how everyone that doesn’t like them “is an idiot, and obviously doesn’t understand me”. I’m willing to lay money down that Robert Smith of the Cure doesn’t sit around just saying, “I’m so sad.” He’s too busy writing songs, cutting an album, touring… and doing everything he can to channel any actual misery he has into something productive. (I don’t even *like* the Cure.)

If we’re truly going to consider the quality of being “Deep” to be a good thing… then we at least need to figure out what the hell it actually means to be so. I don’t buy the argument of “Either you are or you’re not… you can’t put it into words, you just know if someone is Deep or not”. Sorry, but the English language is varied and expansive… and we have concepts like metaphors that help us to explain the things that “you can’t find the words to”. (Hell, using words from OTHER languages can help) The word “Deep” itself IS a metaphor. “Depth” is a physical, practical dimension like height, width, and mass. Holes are deep. Oceans are deep. Canyons are deep. How does an intangible, spiritual idea have a dimension? Physically… it doesn’t. Metaphorically, it does.

So as I blab about what *I* think it means to get Deep… let’s get even more metaphoric:

Picture a hole in the ground. That’s your soul. The deeper the hole, the deeper your soul.

Fill it up with water, right to the top. We’ll call this your Character. You can’t have more character then the depth of your soul. Make sense? (I hope you’re nodding)

Now, like any lake or ocean… it’s impossible to tell how deep your Soul/Hole is just by looking at the surface. I don’t care how pretty your eyes are, how good of a picture you take… the appearance of deepness is not the same as actually being “deep”. You can put a sign by your mini-pond saying, “Careful… Deep Water!” But doesn’t actually make it so. Deep to a Hobbit is shallow to a Giant.

(Did I *really* just make a Lord of the Rings reference? *sigh*… I was doing so well… but the geekness always shines through, doesn’t it? Anyway…)

There’s only one way to find out how deep it is. By going in. Exploring around. Diving in and taking a swim. In reality that means to actually get to know the person. And you don’t get that from just one date. Talking to someone only tells you so much. You have to *experience* stuff with them. You need to see them on a bad day. You need to see them on a day when everything is coming up roses. How do they react? What do they do when YOU are having a bad or a good day? That takes time. A LOT of time. More time than a lot of people are willing to put into it. But if you give them the chance, put in the time, you’ll find that some people may be deeper than you think… or you’ll quickly learn if they’re shallow fakers.

And if you do find that they’re “deep”? Well, you know what you find at the bottom of a deep hole?

Mud. Dirt. Muck. Probably some slime, mold and algae, too. (I know… romantic thoughts, right?)

In fact, the Deeper you go, the more of that dirt and muck you’re going to find.

That’s essentially what I think makes someone “deep”. They have dirt in their life. They’ve made mistakes… crap has happened to them. And they’ve had some pain.

But then just being “Deep” isn’t enough.

Because you have that hole filled with water… because if you make the hole suddenly deeper, the water level drops down… because you have the same amount of water in it, the same amount of character as before. So, you may be “deep”… but if you just sit there in your misery and brooding, never growing and learning… if someone DOES dive in, they’re still going to find that you’re pretty damn shallow.

So, you need to fill up that hole with MORE water/character. You have to learn from the experiences that made you so deep… and fill it up with the Garden Hose of Introspection… (Uh… okay I almost lost myself on that one. But stay with me…)

But that’s how you become a better person. So when someone is swimming around, with plenty of water to swim in, and they emerge back to your surface… they’re breathing fresh clean air, feeling free, refreshed, ready to dive in again. And you might have a good shot at being that person’s favorite swimming hole.

If you don’t learn? Then whoever you tricked to jump down in that hole isn’t having fun swimming in the shallow water… because all they see is mud and slime. The breathing isn’t too good down there… and they may be feeling pretty trapped, and wanting to get out.

I’ve known people that have been in prison. And many others who have been through horrible circumstances… some of their own making, some not. Some didn’t bother to change for the better… that’s why they remained shallow, nasty, out-for-yourself people… and ended up back in prison or whatever pit they were unfairly born into, or even dug for themselves. Others… learned from it. Decided they didn’t want to be like that anymore, and made a conscious effort to better themselves. I used to know one guy… arms covered in vulgar, tough-looking tattoos. Even had one right in the middle of his forehead. Looked like the kind of guy you wouldn’t want to be caught alone with… and for good reason, because he had done some nasty things in his life. Hurt a lot of people, and did hard time for it. He was one tough, old sumbitch. But then when I got to know him… and talked to him for 10 seconds, I realized that this guy became one of the nicest, most polite, and gentlemanly guys I’ve ever meet. He readily admitted what he did… and he decided to learn from it. No, he didn’t quote Nietzsche, or do Art… he didn’t brood and act mysterious and miserable… he had simply become a quality individual after a life of mistakes… and his wisdom and life lessons made him one of the “Deepest” people I ever had the pleasure to meet.

So I highly doubt that young 20-year-old upper middle class kids with trust funds have souls that are "deep"... no matter how "angry" their garage band sounds. And the forty-year old pathetic freaks that put shirtless pictures of themselves online (*shudder*) may have had a lot of crap in their lives, and the holes may be "deep"... but there isn't a whole lot of water/character there, and their Soul Hole is uber-shallow.

So... to quickly sum up what I've been spewing here... "Deep" entails a lot of pain, and a lot of introspection to heal it. Though I think if I started off with that, it wouldn't have made as much sense.

Not saying it makes a lot of sense NOW… but… maybe a little? *shrug*


Doing it Well, Doing it Well-Done

From a suggestion by my friend "Fritz".

I’m a man that likes to cook.

I often say that if I never went to school for Theatre, I would have gone for Culinary Arts… and that’s 100% true.

When I was in middle school (6th-8th grade)… they had the “Extra” courses of Music, Gym class, Shop Class and Home Economics. Over the course of each year, you’d hit all of them, one per quarter.

Music class… I was passable. One year I did piano, the next the trumpet, and the third was saxophone. If you asked me at any point in the last 20 years to pick up any of those instruments and “show you what I got”… you’d see I got nothing. “Passable” simply meant I faked it enough to pass the course, and that’s it. Once the class ended, the information left my brain.

Gym class… I was miserable. I was small, scrawny, geeky and made fun of. I was also yelled at by the other kids for screwing up during the games, and being called an “idiot”. The fact that no one ever took 5 minutes to actually explain the RULES of the games… may have contributed. The coach just assumed everyone inherently knew ALL the rules to ALL of the games. I knew None to None, because I wasn’t a competitive person... nor did I ever watch sports. I preferred the activities where I didn’t have to compete against anyone but myself… so even if I didn’t follow the rules, no one cared. I’d be lucky to hit maybe one of those activities during any particular year.

Shop class… I was okay in… I liked woodworking and making things, only I never really got to do the big elaborate projects, because the more “macho” guys were hogging all the equipment. The first year was leathermaking… and while most people were making elaborate wallets and cases… I managed to make a leather wristband. With my initials punched into it. I didn’t even get to do my full name, because I was only able to wrangle those 2 letters. Second year was a CO2 Derby Car… sans cool designs, carvings and paint job like most others… and the last year I made a very simple clock.

Home Economics… I actually did really well. The Home Ec course was actually divided in half… one half doing the cooking/baking, and the other doing the sewing portion. So, you actually didn’t get as much of a focus as the other Extra courses, that could pick one activity and do it over the whole quarter. Here, just as you were really getting into the project, it was suddenly over, and you were moved to the other area.

The sewing was kind of relaxing. You’re still “making” things like in Shop Class, only these are softer, cushier, and my cat could sleep on them. (I don’t think my cat wanted to sleep on my octagonal wooden clock) Most of the other guys obviously hated being in Home Ec because it challenged the “manly” views of their 13 year-old selves. So, they half-assed it just to get it over with. (Kind of like what I was doing in Music and Gym class) But I liked it. It was quiet… I was pretty much left alone, and materials were more plentiful then in Shop Class. First year, I made a pillow in the shape of my first initial… I even did an extra one, and had both first and last initial. Second year, the project was another pillow… but a more elaborate one. I did a pizza-shaped one, and I still have it. The last year was a pair of Jams. (Ah, Jams… the lame late-80s euphemism for “ugly shorts”. No, they weren’t Pajamas… that’s “Jammies”. This was just “Jams”.)

But the other half was over in the kitchen area. No big main project… just several little recipes we learned. And by “learned”, I mean they were photocopied and handed to us. But we were shown and practiced the specific “techniques” like sifting, creaming, rolling, etc. I do still have those recipes (somewhere)… but most of the cooking was all “baking”. We never learned to do any stove-top stuff… only the stuff where all the work was in the prep, and the oven did the rest. Nothing about messing with the food WHILE it was cooking in a pan or pot.

To me, *that’s* real test of “cooking skills”. Most people can follow a baking recipe to the letter… but I think it’s more impressive when your own judgment is involved in the process… by putting in a “dash” of this, or a “smidge” of that… or looking at, or even tasting something and saying, “yeah, this seems ‘done’”.

They never offered Home Economics in High School… least that I can remember. If they did, I for some reason wasn’t eligible to take it… why, I don’t know. They still had shop, music and gym. But Music and Shop were now fully “Electives”… Freshman were forced to take a full year of Gym Class (which isn’t fully a bad thing)… and all other Gym Classes for the rest of the years were all Elective. But the next time I started to learn any kind of cooking… was when I was being paid for it.

My first job was washing dishes at this little family-style restaurant (well, if you don’t count the paper route from 8th grade). After a while, they moved me up to train as a short order cook… and within a month, moved me back down to Dishwashing. Yeah, I wasn’t picking up on that menu as fast as I hoped. It was intimidating, not knowing how to cook a whole heck of a lot, and then suddenly having to manage an entire grill full of different orders. I was overly self-conscious… and easily got flustered, and made a LOT of mistakes. If I had chilled out a little bit… I think I would have done much better. But I did get another chance several months later… and did succeed. Wasn’t the best cook they had, but I did okay holding my own. The food itself was fairly basic… mostly burgers, salads, fries, a stir-fry, stuff like that. Occasionally, you’d get something a little different, but it still entailed throwing it on the grill, flipping it, and then setting it on the plate.

Though I will say… when I was moved down to the Ice Cream section to make sundaes and desserts… I was the Undisputed MASTER. You see, you can’t just slop down a couple of half-assed scoops, randomly spray on some chocolate sauce, and call it a decent dessert. The whole secret was “eye-appeal”… people want their dessert to look JUST like it does in the picture when they order it from the menu. I was complemented by the owner and Big Boss himself when he flat-out told me that *My* sundaes had the best eye-appeal of anyone. They looked BETTER than the pictures. The scoops were perfectly rounded… the sauces poured over just right, the whip cream symmetrical with no chance of falling over into a glop… I was the king of a very chilly and messy little castle. But I took pride in it, as sad as that sounds.

Life in the food service industry comes with it very interesting stories, and any short order cook or wait-staff will tell you such. Because of my years of experience in it, I always try to be generous with my tipping, I never raise my voice to my server… and even when a horrible mistake is made (or finding a bug on the food), I never insist on anything more than a quick apology. I try to be the kind of customer they would *like* to serve… plus, it’s generally just not a good idea to f**k with the people that are handling your food.

Probably the biggest leap in my cooking education… came when I started living on my own, and HAD to cook for myself. No longer did I have parents or a school cafeteria to rely on to make my food… I had to start doing it myself. It’s about that time when you start to realize that you need to get in the habit of making MORE for yourself than just Ramen Noodles or Macaroni and Cheese.

So, I started experimenting.

I’d actually try recipes that I saw and liked the sound of. I tried to learn how to cook fish, or cook chicken in different, healthier ways. (Not to say everything was a resounding success… quite the opposite.) Eventually, I got me a George Foreman Griller (that was such a great appliance!). Also, I learned about Flavored Olive Oil.

No matter what I’m cooking… if I’m using Flavored Olive Oil… I feel like a Gourmet. I’m a big fan of the Basil-flavored. A close second would be the Garlic flavored.

Speaking of garlic… that is such a wonderful thing to add to so many dishes. I used to know a professor in Grad School that believed “have garlic-press, will travel”. I learned from an Asian roommate I once had about 4 years ago… to add a clove of garlic into your Ramen Noodles. Actually ups the health-factor of the cheapo 13-cent package of noodles, and really helps give it an extra kick when you bite into it. Now, whenever I make Ramen Noodles… I put a clove of garlic in. I can’t imagine it *without* it now.

Just go easy on the garlic if you have a sweetie… for their sake.

In most of my relationships… I was “the one who did the cooking”. Occasionally, they would cook… but admittedly, it never got too fancy. It was usually pasta or something like that with not that many steps. I’m definitely not complaining… just knowing someone was making the effort to cook something, anything for me, gave me the warm fuzzies. But I was mainly the one doing the occasional “experiment” with new dishes.

I don’t claim to be the greatest cook… but I do think I’m pretty darn good at it. Much better than a lot of people I know. My best friend, at once time… quite literally … burned water. Don’t ask.

And I’m still willing to learn. One thing I’ve always wanted to do is learn to roll my own sushi. I *love* sushi, and would like to have it more often than I do. I have an actual Sushi-Roller pad… and a nice little serving set for sushi… (a good part of cooking is in the presentation)… and I know where to get the nobi and rice vinegar. I just don’t know where to get sushi-grade fish (cause I want to do the kind with fish), nor do I know how to cook the rice “just right” (so it’s fluffy and sticky in just the right way). One of these days, I’ll learn… and hopefully be in company that’s willing to try it. (My family isn’t too big on the idea of sushi… even the all-vegetable kind.)

I like cooking. I like cooking FOR people, especially. For a sweetie or just dinner guests. Give me the opportunity for a PotLuck… I’ll always break out one of my favorite recipes… and my favorite form of Chicken… Chinese Chicken Wings. If you have a pot big enough, you can make enough for a small army. Growing up, I remember EVERY family party having Chinese Chicken Wings to munch on (not so much in the last few years… unless I was the one that made them. But my memories contain chicken wings. Grilled or baked in the oven… then hot or cold… them is always good eatin). And they’re fairly simple to make… but you do have to start them at least 12 hours in advance, because they need to marinate. Usually I’ll start them the night before a party or event… let them sit overnight, and then throw them in the oven about an hour before I leave (leaves enough time for multiple batches).

Would you like the recipe? Well, here it is:

Chinese Chicken Wings

5 oz. Soy Sauce
Chicken (12-15 pcs.)
¾ cups brown sugar
1 ½ cups water
1 Tbsp oil
garlic powder (approx. 1 tsp)
ginger (approx ½ tsp)

Put all the ingredients in a large pot and bring it to a boil. Let cool and place in refrigerator overnight. Next day, warm up pot just enough to easily remove chicken pieces. Place chicken on baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 30 minutes or cook over grill until brown, and skin is crispy.

See? Easy. Normally, I’ll double or triple the recipe for a party, and also because I just want lots of leftovers. No sense going through all that marinating and trouble just to eat all the chicken in one sitting…

I always get compliments on it… I hope you do as well.

On the DVD for the movie Once Upon a Time In Mexico, the director Robert Rodriguez has a special feature called, “10 minute cooking school”, in which he shows you how to cook a slow-roasted pork dish that’s featured in the movie. (“Puerco Pibil”…I’ve yet to try that recipe… I don’t know where to get banana leaves) But he nicely (if not bluntly) sums up a neat little philosophy about cooking:

“Not knowing how to cook… is like not knowing how to f**k. You have to eat for the rest of your life… might as well do it well.”

(Forgive me if I’m misquoting at all.)

I agree. Especially if you’re open to learning how to do BOTH those things well. Now, *that’s* what I call quality of living.


Tetchy About Touchy

I’m not a touchy-feely person.

Sometimes, I wish I was… I see friends who are more “touchy” than I am, and they’re all being so friendly and warm and touchy with each other, and often I envy them. But I just can’t do it myself.

I am *very* aware and protective of my personal space, and if you invade it without the proper authorization, I start quoting Bugs Bunny:

“Of course you know… this means War.”

Now, I know cultural practices become involved. I think that here in America, the distance of one-arm’s length from your body is the general rule of “personal space”… referring of course to the radius. Swoop that imaginary gap all around you, and that’s our own American-style Bubble we use to bounce around the cosmos in.

From what I understand, by world-wide standards… that’s a pretty big bubble. I believe the Personal Space Bubble Concept (PSBC… I just made that up!) is much smaller in Mexico… I learned that when I used to work summer’s at a Metals company, where about 90% of the workforce were illegal Mexicans. (That’s not an unfounded generalization meant to offend and insult. Just stating a fact. Seriously, I.N.S. went through there once and pulled out everyone that didn’t have a green card… the place was practically empty.) Every time I was working, and had to demonstrate a procedure to one or more guys who barely spoke English (which was wonderful lesson in the concept of “language barriers”), they would stand INCREDIBLY close to me. Honestly, our faces were almost touching. Even when I stepped backwards to give myself some room, they’d just move forward again. Rather than follow my gut instinct… which is to flat-out Head-butt them… I would eventually have to sternly stop them with my outstretched arm and slowly and clearly say, “No!” (It felt odd, talking to men probably twice my age as if they’re little children with learning disorders… but that’s just another thing that comes with the language barrier.) I was not down with their idea of Personal Space… but who knows, maybe they were just consciously messing with me. *shrug*

I don’t really know what the PSBC is in other countries… I’m curious to know. (If you do, or have experience, please comment.) Might be handy to know… would hate to travel to Norway or something, only to find out the hard way that their PSBC is 10+ feet.

But the invasion of Personal Space is not limited to misunderstandings between cultures. No, there are plenty of Americans, born in America and never left, that live in blissful ignorance when it comes to accidental invasions. (“Accidental Invasion”… there’s a term you’d never hear applied to Napoleon or Hitler)

Now, there’s certain situations, where I’ll give allowances to total strangers if they have to invade personal space. Airplanes, for example. Sure, they’re big… but that just means they can throw MORE people inside them. They’re packed, cramped, and not everyone is having a good day. So, when sitting in the seats, or waiting for the loo, you accept that you’re going to be feeling like a sardine for however long the flight lasts. So, when someone can’t help but notice what brand of deodorant you wear… you can forgive them for their trespasses, or at least give a little more leeway.

Supermarket checkout lines… however, are NOT one of those forgiveable instances.

To the guy that is in SUCH a rush to get out… who feels that even though there’s 5 people in front of him in line, he will *obviously* get out faster if he’s 17 inches closer from where he was standing… BACK THE F**K UP! If you’re going to stand THAT close behind me while in line, you better be wearing a condom! I’m there to buy milk and deli meats, NOT to get violated! When the person in front of you moves forward, take a second and wait. Let a gap of a few feet form between you and the person in front of you (Me!)… do NOT immediately close the gap to mere micrometers! I swear to Jeebus, I’m gonna spin around and wack you across the ignorant skull with the plastic hand-basket! (It probably won’t dent the obviously thick bone, but at least I’ll feel better.)

Respect the personal space!

Now, if you’re female, and invading my personal space (without authorization), I’ll mainly just back up myself, or find some other excuse to get away from you. (Because I can’t justify any violence against women) But if you’re a male? Then you need to keep something in mind: “Personal Space” can also be referred to as another term…. “Striking Distance”.

(Now, I haven’t actually been in a fight since 6th grade, but I’m surprised how often I want to come to blows with the average joe on a weekly basis.)

I don’t know where I got so edgy about this. Now, my parents aren’t exactly “touchy-feely”… but they have their moments.

To those that are now Gasping in surprise… No, I haven’t been molested. Don’t jump to conclusions… I’ll throw you towards all the conclusions you’ll need.

After I first went away to college, the first time I went home was at Thanksgiving. (I was one of the only people in my dorm that DIDN’T go home every weekend… I was the *only* one that didn’t want to) When I first saw my Dad when I arrived home… the man hugged me.

I can NEVER recall a time before that when that man hugged me. I almost jumped backed and screamed, “Who are you, and what have you done with my father?!” (Which is also what I said when, after years of hearing his complaining about people that drive “obnoxious” pickup trucks, the man went and bought a pickup truck.) Definitely NOT something I was used to… and it felt very awkward.

The only other “touching” the man ever did on a regular basis, that I can think of… is when he’s having a conversation with you. He’ll just lean over and randomly touch you… on the arm or on the leg, while he’s talking. When I’m riding in the car with him, and I’m in the front seat with him, he’ll do it at least 4 times during a short car ride. Now, that’s probably just his way of “connecting” with people he’s talking with… but it annoys the hell out of me.

My Mom also touches me in annoying ways. The other day, it was the end of the weekend. I had no plans nor did I go anywhere… so I didn’t shave. I was fixing my plate for dinner, and she just reaches out and puts her hand on my face, making a “scruffy” comment… my initial reaction to whenever she does that is to flinch. She still has not figured out, after 32 years of that body language… I don’t like it. I find face-touching to be a bit on the intimate side… so it feels really damn weird when a member of my family does it. Creepy to the max. I know it’s not intended that way… but who said feelings had to make sense? (Intentions and Feelings are two different things) Though, the biggest annoying touch, is when she hits me.

Stop gasping, already! Sheesh… Not THAT kind of a hit! This is the “playful thwack” on the shoulder. It doesn’t hurt, doesn’t leave a bruise, and is obviously not meant to mean anything malicious. Nevertheless… no matter WHAT the intention behind it is… I don’t like being hit. I just don’t. We’ll be talking, maybe a crack will be made by me… and because my Mom doesn’t have the lighting wit, the reaction is a “playful thwack”. Now, the first time I’ll always let slide, but I still say, in a pretty serious tone… “Thanks Mom, very funny. Please don’t hit me.” But then, hearing this… she scoffs, and thwacks again. “Mom! I asked you not to hit me!” Another scoff, another thwack… this is about the time I just turn and storm away, now thoroughly pissed off. They’ll make a comment about being “too sensitive” and brush it away. So, no matter how many times I sternly state it… no matter how often I get pissed off, regardless of the “joke” or “innocent intention”… it still doesn’t click in:


Like I said… Intentions and Feelings are 2 different things… and so is Hearing and Listening.

I know this kind of thing wouldn’t be a big deal to most people when they’re “in the moment”… and you’d think my own parents *would* have that level of privilege when it comes to touching me. (Especially because the above examples… are actually pretty rare) *shrug* They don’t. And that’s just me, I know that. I can’t give you a Freudian psychoanalytical reason as to why I’m that way, but I’m open to suggestions.

But I’m also not saying I live my life solely in my bubble, never being touched, and never touching other people. There ARE people I’m more touchy-feely with.

Once I got to college, and starting gaining good friends… I found myself getting more comfortable with casual touching. There were of course, limits. And most of the casual touching was with the opposite sex. With the guys, we all pretty much had the same macho-mentality of the Clint-Eastwood-like-stoic-independence. Any accidental homo-erotic moments were immediately followed by a low-toned coughing and approving comment about “the Game that was on last night”. An old roommate of mine liked to add a “tie-straightening” to his personal reaction. (The fact that I’ve never seen the man WEAR a tie, notwithstanding.)

When I got to Grad School… and came to California, the liberal views started pouring in. Eventually, quite a few of them started rubbing off. I came to realize that I was quite comfortable in my own sexuality, and also grew close to some men who were not of the Heterosexual persuasion. That’s about the time when I really got comfortable with the act of hugging another man. (Yeah, it’s probably related to it) Now, I don’t go around hugging every guy I know… but the ones I’m comfortable with, I have no problem. They still need the correct Authorization Level… but the benefits of those levels became expanded for my fellow males (for those that are comfortable enough to take advantage of them).

I have 4 basic levels of Authorization.

Level 4: This is pretty much everyone in the world that I *don’t* personally know. The only authorized touching that’s pretty much allowed is shaking hands… but do not go anywhere above my wrist. Passive, solitary instances of touching… such as bump, a slight gesture meant to get my attention… those will slide for the most part (just don’t do it too often). Level 4s are allowed to enter the outskirts of the Personal Bubble… but don’t get comfy. And Lord help *somebody* if you do the old “tap on the shoulder from behind”. When someone has their back to you, and you tap them on the shoulder, forcing them to turn around and face you… that’s very confrontational. If a woman is doing that to me… I’m thinking, “Great… what did I do now?”, as I prepare to get verbally chewed out. If it’s another man? Well, that’s an invitation to a Rumble. 20 minutes from then, I’ll either be in Jail or the Hospital… depending on how big the guy doing the tapping was.

The only way to make the shoulder tap non-confrontational, is that immediately after you tap them on the shoulder (2 fast taps, not the intentional ‘1…2…3’ tap that precludes fisticuffs), you move up to their side… so they don’t have to turn around, rather they just turn their head to the side to see you. Talk briefly and to the point, and it will be obvious you mean, “sorry to interrupt, hate to be rude, thank you for your time”. That’s the shoulder tap that will easily slide.

Now, if I meet someone (who always starts at Level 4), and I soon conclude that I actually like this person… they will be moved to Level 3 Authorization.

Level 3: This is where most of the people I know are. This allows all the hand-shaking of Level 4, plus adds high-fives, the rare and friendly “slap-on-the-back”, and the occasional hug. This is also where pretty much all of my family is. Though, if there were sub-levels within this level… Many family members *would* be more at the top, closer to the Level 2s. But generally, Level 3s can enter my personal bubble and hang out for awhile.

Level 2: This gets into a more exclusive-type club. Level 2 is for the REALLY good friends… the people I’m very comfortable around. Level 2s can enter my Personal Bubble and stay as long as they want. Whenever I did shows with fairly small casts, usually all the members are given at least temporary Level 2 access while we’re doing the show… because we were working so closely together. (Once the show closed, we often never saw each other again… ah, the tragedy of live theatre.) Generally speaking, if a Level 2 Authorized friend needed a shoulder rub or a neck massage… they simply have to ask me, and they’ll get it. (I wish more would request it… I used to be really good at them, and it’s been a long time since I’ve given one… and longer since I’ve received one) Also, if a friend with Level 2 Touching Authorization needs a comforting Hug, again… they’ll get it with no problem. Guys with Level 2 are the ones I’m comfortable hugging on a regular basis. Girls with Level 2, are allowed to get the hugging PLUS the occasional innocent flirtation, innuendos, and kisses on the cheek, should the situation allow it. All the stuff that I let “slide” with the lower levels… Level 2 is able to do without a problem. Now, just because someone HAS Level 2 authorization… doesn’t mean they’ll always get all the benefits. Obviously, if a female friend with Level 2 authorization is married (as several are), that will contribute and dictate to the actual behavior used when hanging out. They will NOT get the flirtation and innuendos. Guys that are married, however… WILL get the flirtation and innuendos, because I find it funny.

Level 1: Level 1 can enter my Personal Bubble… and I won’t want them to leave. There is, and only ever will be… 1 person at any one time that will be granted Level 1 Authorization with me. 1 special person that’s allowed such a sensual level of access. (Sorry, guys are not eligible for Level 1) I’m not talking just Sex… I’m talking real Intimacy. Hand-holding. Cuddling. Face-touching and playful thwacking is not only allowed, but encouraged. The last person with Level 1 Authorization liked to give playful thwacks on the butt. If I happened to walk in front of her, and my derriere is right there… she’d have to slap it. (Something she did with her friends all the time) Anyone in Level 2… could get away with it about once a day with me. But Level 1 could do it as often as she pleased… and I’d occasionally shake my booty in her face to even invite it. Arm-touching, leg-brushing, laying-head-in-lap, fingers-through-the-hair… all exclusively Level 1 benefits (giving and receiving). Level 1 is the ONLY person that’s allowed to come up to me from behind and touch me or hold me. While Level 2 gets neck and shoulder rubs, Level 1 also gets full back massages, foot rubs… and a personal favorite: Hand massages.

Hand massages are what I sometimes use as an “invitation” to Level 1 status. If I have someone in Level 2 that I’d like to be Level 1… the only thing I have that could be considered a “move” is to somehow find a way to offer them a hand massage. The hand massage itself is not seemingly intimate… but it can feel that way when receiving one. I’m pretty good at them… yet, even a clumsy one can feel relaxing. I consider that my “offer-of-candidacy-should-you-so-want-it”. I have no idea if it’s ever interpreted that way. *shrug*

But it’s also innocent and non-invasive enough that I can give them by requests. Again, if a Level 2 wants one (and knows to ask), they can get one. If it’s requested by you… it’s a bonus for Level 2s. If it’s *offered* to you… then it’s an invitation for more and better things.

Though, not all who have attained Level 1, got it by hand-massage invitation. (Most didn’t) Some weren’t even in Level 2 before getting to Level 1. Oftentimes, it became a weird, case-by-case kind of situation. Those always come around and pop up, throwing monkeys into the wrenches.

Currently… there is no one with Level 1 Authorization with me.

There was one that I wanted to invite to that level… but I apparently was not at the same Authorization level with THEM. It only ever works when we consider each other to be the same level. If I want her to be a Level 1, and she sees me as only a Level 3… we’ll only ever be Level 3 friends… or not friends at all.

Maybe it’s just another example of my over-thinking things…

Maybe it doesn’t even make much sense to a normal, rational mind.

But I never said it did make sense. Nor did I ever imply that I’m normal. (Rational is up for debate)

Bottom line: I *like* being touched. I love it.

I’m just very, very, VERY picky about it.



Rules to live by...

There’s something about “rules to live by” that’s kind of comforting.

It’s the kind of thing that you can think, “no matter how screwed up my life gets… I can keep it in check, and stay in control as long as I follow these proven rules”. I like them in the same way that I like songs that directly say in the lyrics, “Everything is gonna be alright”. Maybe it’s a comforting yet neurotic, anal-retentive thing… who knows?

It seems like good sense to follow the advice from Ghostbusters… “Never get involved with possessed people.” (Actually, that’s more of a guideline than a rule) Sure, there’s going to be occasions where the “guidelines” aren’t going to be followed… but at least we come out of those situations believing that particular one more than ever.

And besides, when someone says, “Never play 3-card-Monte against a cigar-smoking Albanian Transvestite in Tijuana during Lent”… you know there’s a good story behind that. Not to mention that it probably IS good advice…

But all the rules that we come up with have stories behind them. Maybe not overly-exciting stories… or even particularly long ones. (Though when someone asks for an explanation, saying “It’s a long story” is always an impressive-sounding answer.) A few of the ones that I like, aren’t originally mine. They may be a saying that I’ve read in a book, maybe heard an impressive “long” story from someone else, or from just plain sitting and thinking. Some rules could be very specific… so, if it doesn’t apply to you… you don’t need to bother remembering it.

Probably the only magazine I read on a regular basis is Men’s Health, and most months, they have a recurring feature that is some kind of a list… “25 things you should never regret” or “30 excuses to get rid of”. I often see small snippets of good advice in there that I figure can apply to my own life… and I try to.

Naturally, it’s boring to live your whole life following rules. Where’s the flexibility? Where’s the spontaneity? That’s why I try to keep my personal rules a bit on the open side… I don’t like to include ones that might restrict a little of the fun in life. Hopefully, the ones I have are honestly good guidelines for improving oneself… but still allowing for things like adventure and a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants attitude. Besides… since I take the Ghostbusters approach and call them “guidelines”… it’s okay to break them every now and then, should the situation apply. Cause there will ALWAYS be exceptions to every rule.

So here are some of MY guidelines to live by:

Never underestimate a cross-eyed stripper.

Never flex for anyone older than 6.

Don’t trust your eyes, unless you know where to look.

Don’t always dismiss a message because of the source.

Be careful when sharing information on “How To Be Amazing”. Not everyone wants to know.

There is no such thing as Constructive Criticism.

Just because someone doesn’t seem “mysterious”… doesn’t mean there’s no mystery.

“Deep” people… rarely are.

Every mistake and embarrassment seemed like a good idea at the time.

“Freedom” does not absolve one of responsibility or consequences.

When writing fiction… be honest.
When writing reality… embellish only a tad.
When writing opinions… don’t embellish at all.

Facts are realistically honest.
Metaphors are emotionally honest.

Don’t blame someone for being ignorant… Blame them for wanting to remain that way.

And finally…

You are what you do when it counts. (this one is my personal motto… I got it from the book Armor, by John Steakley)

I hope to add to this list in the coming years.

Some links to a few other lists that I’ve found:

Niven’s Laws (from Sci-Fi author Larry Niven)

The Pentabarf of Discordianism (pointed to me by my friend SeeSee)

The 16 Rules of Bob Parsons – founder and CEO of GoDaddy.com

So how about you? What are some of YOUR “rules to live by”?