Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The benefits of an open mind

Hope everyone had a good President's Day, Valentine's Day, and Half-Price Chocolate Day! That's the day after Valentine's...and Easter...and Christmas. Some holidays are really for everybody.

I got in some trouble last night. L'AIlee and I were grocery-shopping, and this three-year-old decided to scream, just scream, over and over, with no discipline from his mother. My wife put her knit cap as far down over her ears as she could; my hair provided no protection. I couldn't resist. When I got close, I said, "Son, we all know your lungs work. People in Australia know your lungs work. So stop it."
L'Ailee turned red, and the boy asked me, "Wha's A-straya?"
"A place that's clear on the other side of the world. That's how loud you are."
"This isn't your business," the mother said, louder than she ever did to her son.
"Yes, ma'am, I'm afraid it is. I'm going deaf because you can't discipline your child." I turned to the boy. "And now that I know you can use words like a big boy and not scream like a little baby, maybe you ought to try using words, okay? Words don't make people so angry." The mother was angry at my words, however, and L'Ailee was trying to turn invisible. I finally said, "Save it for your children" and walked away. A few aisles later, the little boy smiled at me while his mother glared! "That was very good," L'AIlee told me later. I guess I could understand why she didn't feel like chiming in at the time.

L'Ailee feels less cool since Britney Spears decided to adopt her preferred haircut. She's also not liking the talk about how the head-shaving proves that Britney is unstable. I think that noise is just because this is so random--Sinead did it before her first CD was released to make recording executives shut up about how she should dress sexier (like a precursor to Britney, fittingly enough), and India.Arie was making a statement about how black women are taught to hate their natural hair, and actresses have done it for movie roles where their characters go to prison or have cancer, but this is a woman who makes a living by looking conventionally sexy and has been spending the past three years freaking out. I've had to reassure L'Ailee that she looks way better bald than Britney ever could, and also that her abs are nicer than Britney's were pre-pregnancy. People have teased her about looking like Britney. One of them was her best friend, when we were watching the Daytona 500. L'Ailee nearly pounced on him, until I told him he needed to get counseling for those suicidal urges. I'm a survivor of self; I can say things like that.

The Daytona 500!!! Those of us who gathered at my house for it haven't stopped talking about it, and all the web forums and lists and blogs are still buzzing. Gods, that was amazing. It was kind of boring for a while there, but I could accept it because my beloved Tony Stewart was leading. I'd been knocking on wood or saying "Shut up" for a few days, whenever a reference was made to how good Smoke was doing at Daytona, how he was the one to beat, etc. Those commentators and fans were jinxing him! Well, the jinx took effect anyway. I don't think it was Kurt Busch's fault; Tony's car was going wobbly, and Kurt had nowhere else to go but into his bumper. That wasn't how I wanted to inject excitement into the race! I hope Tony won't end up like poor old Mark Martin, the best driver never to win a 500. *knocks on wood again*

I couldn't believe Jamie McMurray ran over that crewman's leg! It'll never be the same again, and I know because I was hit by a car when I was 16. McMurray's not a very good driver, but he's been to Daytona often enough to know better than that. Clint Bowyer had one hell of a ride, and the fact that he walked away from his car is a testament to all the new safety features NASCAR put in place A.D. (After Dale). When Mark Martin started leading, I thought, "Oh, let the old guy have it," but what an awesome move by Kevin Harvick!!! So many people are upset by Harvick being able to win--they said caution should have been called while Martin was still leading--but Harvick was making his move when the Big One happened, and he earned his win. L'Ailee jumped up, cheered, pounced on me, and shoved her tongue down my throat when the nose of Harvick's car got in front of Martin's. She still loves Harvick, despite his new yellow-and-red "Ronald McDonald" colors. Tony Stewart was typically hilarious before the race, showing a drawing of Harvick as Ronald McDonald and saying he worried about his "big shoes and gloves" getting in the way of his driving. I think Harvick likes the new colors just fine now.

We were horrified at the xenophobia that came out because of Toyota entering the NASCAR Nextel Cup and because of Juan Pablo Montoya, a Colombian who was the Formula One champion, joining the series. I insist that NASCAR isn't all like that, and it isn't. But there's still that troublesome minority that is. The New York Times published an editorial about the racism around the reaction to Toyota by a Japanese-American NASCAR fan. I hate to admit how right he is. It's so stupid, too, because Toyota employs more Americans than the "American" companies do. About half the people at my house were from the South and had NASCAR-loving relatives, like myself. We were cautious not to hurt the feelings of our immigrant friends and spouses, but we discussed how our older and more closed-minded relatives were taking both developments. (Not well.) My own grandmother got upset because she asked me what I thought of Montoya, and I blurted out, "He is soooo hot!" He is, too. That's one benefit of actively rejecting racism--you get to enjoy attractive people of all colors and cultures. We hope that everyone gets used to it eventually, and opens their minds a little bit. In the meantime, L'Ailee supports Montoya because she's not from around here either, and I support Montoya because he's really fine. We can't wait to buy his T-shirts. He's got a learning curve ahead of him, obviously, but he was learning already in Daytona. I'm pretty sure that come July, he'll know exactly how to drive a stock car around the Daytona Superspeedway.

It was an awesome week for us. The Valentine's Day blizzard made all the coupled New Yorkers I know extremely happy, because we all stayed in with our beloveds. It was so wonderfully cozy. L'AIlee and I couldn't get our gifts (we agreed to limit ourselves to flowers and candy in order to save money this year) until Half-Price Chocolate Day, because we both arranged for them to be delivered to our workplaces. I actually kept my gifts, the organic all-purple bouquet and the pink-and-turquoise custom M&Ms, in my cubicle to cheer it up and remind me of L'Ailee. We didn't miss them on Valentine's Day at all. We cuddled the cats, and cuddled each other, and...well, we found another use for those chinoiserie stencils. We both have some too-bright eyeshadows we hadn't been using. They became our paint, and the other's body was our canvas. It was such fun. We think we'll do it again when it's warm enough to show skin--ornate flowers trailing down her back, decorating my legs in lieu of pantyhose...

Unfortunately, some people had awful Valentine's Days. The one that rushes to my mind is the one a former member of the late Message Board of Love endured. Her husband was shot and killed the week before. His funeral was on February 13th. RIP, Cowboy. @}--'--- I am so sorry, Mafia. ----'---{@

I know I'm blessed. I know blessings don't last forever.


The amazing story of a Pentecostal Christian military chaplain who converted to Wicca. He lost his job as well as his faith. The military is throwing up obstacles in his attempt to become its first Wiccan chaplain, even though there are Wiccans serving in the military. I am blown away by Captain Larsen's integrity, compassion, and courage. I highly recommend that everyone read this.

Bill O'Lielly on homophobia in Mexico. Someone needs to tell him the difference between tourists and residents.

Barbara Gittings, a pioneering gay activist, died at 75, leaving her partner of 46 years. You can read about Barbara Gittings and Kay Lahusen in Eric Marcus' Making History, which is a series of interviews with gay activists who lived, loved, and worked between 1945 and 1990.

20 excellent questions for our presidential candidates. I'm hoping we can turn it into a stock car race, myself--we've almost got 43 in the field, after all.

Finally, a defense of "loose women" on college campuses! Not written by a college-age man. :-)


alan said...

I was hoping Daytona might bring you back to our little world again!

I was afraid you might jump through the screen when Tony went out as well!

Glad you managed to enjoy in spite of everything!


cats said...

wow, i don't know what to comment on...

good for you that you spoke up to that boy and his mother.

Jon-Marc said...

OMG, that is too funny about the boy. I am currently writing a post about an adult acting like a child.

Not much to say about NASCAR except that I love Columbians so I will look Montoya up.

The Valentine's Day "blizzard"? I didn't do anything for Ric but he did a couple of cute things for me.

Hope you are well,


oomm said...

Clearly I'm way way way outta the loop! I had no idea about Cowboy til I read it here. That woman can not catch a break I tell you what.

I was gonna tell you about my stuff here but the hell with that now, I can't believe I didn't know about Mafia before this. I missed it the first time I read this entry cause my eyes sort of glazed over when I hit the nascar stuff (sorry, my best friend's a big mark martin fan so as you can imagine I've heard quite a lot of nascar lately).

dondon009 said...

WOW.... your words to that child and his mother. AWESOME!

I'm sure we all wish we could say something like that at times, but some of us (me) don't have the "balls"!

.... and don't ya just love those half-price chocolate sales? Of course they never seem to mark down the Godiva, dammit.

The women I work with are major NASCAR fans and some went to the Daytona 500. I know nothing about auto racing but I might just become a fan. Let me check out this Montoya guy!



Dr. Deborah Serani said...

I abosultely LOVED what you said to that little boy. Too bad the mother didn't take your intervening as a sign that she should be more active when he misbehaves.

Lotuslander said...

Cracker, if you want to give your psychiatrist a hear attack, doing something radical to your hair is the way to go about it. L'aille did it because she liked it, but often someone randomly shaving their head or doing something out of character is a good sign that the person is having some kind of emotional crisis, though these days shaved heads are more common.