Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Conversations with Complete Strangers

I've always been sort of fascinated by the prospect of random conversation, and the appropriate times in which it one should strike up some banter with a total and complete stranger. It seems like it's sort of a lost art among the people in my generation--especially the men--and I've always wondered why. I guess it's because, as a rule, men are more private and quiet beings. I don't think it's too far of a stretch to say that the typical male is not as talkative as your run-of-the-mill female. We just basically mind our own business and do our own thing, and if we don't like somebody, we don't put on a false air that leads them to believe we do. We just put our heads down and go about our way (or some of us beat the shit out of people, but more on that later). Even females, I've noticed, don't just strike up conversation with other broads right off the bat as much as they used to. (I actually don't know if this is true at all, but I always like to include women in this whole thing, because maybe they can somehow emphasize with what I'm about to talk about.)

I've found, though, the one place in the world where men seem to be absolutely ready to speak to whoever the fuck may be standing next to them: at a urinal stall in a public restroom. I do not know what the reason for this is, and I can't even begin to guess at it, but it's true. Ask any male who isn't agoraphobic, and they'll tell you.

Recently, I have found that the random conversation between strangers seems to be elevated to a whole new level in the restrooms of a bar. I don't even need to explain the reasons for this, because they're rather obvious.

I'm pretty much a rookie as far as bars are concerned, since I've only been 21 for half of a year and rarely go to them when I'm at school. But, last week when I went to the bar for the first time since arriving home for a few weeks of the summer, I finally discovered that people really love to jabber in the pisser at a bar.

I walked into the restroom at a local bar I was at with a few of my friends, and immediately saw one man talking to another while they had their cocks out and were hanging a wire into the urinal.

"Yeah, man, if those mother fuckers don't shut up I'll show 'em what a real hockey fight is all about," the one dude said to the other, and I immediately started to chuckle a little bit. Firstly, because I was drunk. Secondly, because we were in a bar and you can't really have a fight on ice in most bars, which would've made it pretty difficult for this man to have shown anyone in the bar what a real hockey fight was like. And thirdly, because I'd seen this man the last time I'd been at this particular bar. He was drunk, and kept thinking that my friends and I had stolen a pitcher of beer he had set down on the table we were sitting at (probably because we had).

The second guy obviously didn't know the man, and wasn't nearly as drunk as he was, because he just said, "Yeah..." then zipped up and walked away. I'm pretty sure he pinched off mid-stream, but I'm not exactly an expert. But, since I'm always looking for a good laugh, and since I was pretty intoxicated by that point (it was my first night of drinking since I'd had surgery a couple of weeks prior, so I was what they like to call "three sheets to the wind"), I decided right then and there that for the rest of the evening I would attempt to strike up a conversation with every person that lined up at the urinal next to me. (I feel it should be stated right now that I have the world's smallest bladder. It is a source of constant frustration to me, and one of the crosses I bare. When I get drunk, I piss literally every 15 minutes sometimes).

I was under the impression that I'd just had the greatest idea of my young life--which, in hindsight, was untrue, because one time I was a kissing booth for Halloween, and that was the best idea I've ever had--and I decided to test it out that moment when I got my shot at the urinal. My brother was standing next to me, and I like to fuck with him a lot.

So it was a nice start.

"Hey man," I said. "How's _________ (insert name of woman that equals next socially crippling mistake) doing these days? Did my 'save your date' get lost in the mail, or are you guys on the rocks?"

"Shut up, dude."

"No, really, I'm interested. What's it like doing charity work? Does banging her count as a tax writeoff?"

My brother started laughing then, and I was satisfied that my first go at urinal talk had gone well. I didn't think about how my brother has known me my entire life, and doesn't really take offense to me saying shit like that to him. My brother is not everyone else, that's for damn sure, and I was about to find out.

Less than half an hour later, I went back into the bathroom, and ended up with another kid that had graduated from my high school. I didn't know then, and still do not know now, what his name is, or exactly how old he is, or basically anything at all about him, but he does know a hell of a lot of fake information about my friend Jordan.

Jordan has been one of my best friends for years, and I remember when we were younger children people used to say that we looked alike. His older sister even used to call us twins, but I never really saw the resemblance. But, as I sauntered up to the urinal and tried to sift through the drunken cobwebs of my ideas to find the perfect random icebreaker, this kid started the conversation.

"Jordan!" he yelled, with a great deal of excitement. I turned and glanced behind me, to see if my friend had magically appeared, but then realized that he was actually in Virginia at the time. "How's it going, man? I saw your game on ESPN a while back!"

I guess now is the time for me to tell you that my friend Jordan plays football for a university, and that he won a national championship with them in a game that was televised on ESPN in late 2008.

I thought that maybe I should correct this guy, and let him know that I wasn't my friend Jordan, but if he was going to make urinal talk this easy and ridiculous for me, I couldn't just let that happen.

"Oh thanks, man," I said. "I appreciate you watching, that's really cool."

(I feel as though I need to point out how often the words "man" and "dude" are incorporated in the random talk between men who are strangers. When you don't know a person's name, these two words are what you immediately fall back onto, and they are about as indispensable as your favorite Affliction t-shirt, if you're on the way to a Nickelback concert.)

"Hey, no man, really, that's fucking awesome. What have you been up to?"

So this was when I took some creative license and just talked about what I thought it might be like to be a college football player. I told him about all of the different workouts I'd been doing and stuff, and how time consuming football was. He just stood there at the urinal, looking at me and shaking his head in the affirmative, just going with whatever it was I was saying. I don't even think he was urinating anymore.

Later on in the night, this guy bought me a drink. Awesome.

Following this episode, I walked outside of the bar with one of my friends to consume a water bottle of fruit-flavored vodka that he'd brought as a reinforcement for the night. Then, we ventured back into the bar, and I continued my continuous flow of frequent urination.

The next man I pissed beside was visibly a hick--a visibly large one, at that--and had I been sober, I'd immediately have been struck with trepidation at the prospect of saying something he'd find offensive.

But, I wasn't, and decided to be antagonistic. The only thing I had to do then was decide between saying something about either the potential legalization of gay marriage or Nascar. Or gay people getting married at a Nascar race.

"Dale Jr. fucking sucks," I said, and spit into the urinal.

"Yeah, I know, I like Tony Stewart," he said, and zipped up and walked away.

That plan obviously backfired, but it's probably for the best, because I could've ended up with my ass kicked in the least damaging scenario. In the most damaging scenario, I could've woken up at a secretive KKK death camp in the backwoods of western Pennsylvania, where I would be held hostage for years until I was brain-washed. And all they would have to eat was raw venison and Bush's baked beans.

(Speaking of baked beans, remember those commercials when the talking dog had the recipe? That shit was funny. Sometimes commercials with speaking animals just really tickle my fancy. Like that one with the penguin that walked around with beer and said "doo-bee-doo-bee-doo." That was a classic.)

My last attempt at urinal talk was probably my best, but it was planned. All of my friends wanted to leave, and I told them I wanted to have one last drink. So, they all had one, too. The real reason I wanted to stay was to wait for the man who wanted to hockey fight to go to the restroom one last time, so I could follow him and try to piss him off.

He went, and I followed. I got to the urinal and proceeded to drop my trousers the entire way down, Michael Buesink style. My belt hit the ground with a clank, and I heaved out a sigh of relief. I then took the quarter I'd been holding in my hand, and dropped it into the urinal.

It landed with a splash and I said, "Whew, that is cold! I really have to remember to hang onto it."

The dude laughed, kind of drunkenly, and then slurred out, "Ha, shut the fuck up. I bet mine is bigger."

I laughed and said, "Well, maybe it is, but I don't think we'll ever know. Like, what the fuck do you want to do, compare or something? Because I'm not into that, man. My locker room days are behind me."

"No way, man, you callin' me a fag?"

"No, not at all."

"I'll fuck you up."

"That's what your mother said last night, minus the 'up.'"

He took his hand off of his cock and tried to take a halphhazard swing at me, and I ducked below the piece of plastic separating the urinals. I quickly pulled my pants up while he started yelling about how he was pissing all over himself. I slapped him on his ass and then ran out of the door, yelling, "Ahhhhh that dude in there just tried to look at my dick! Let's get out of here!"

So, we left, and I don't think I'll be going back to that bar in the near future.

The moral of the story? Communication between strangers can be fun. And mom jokes to people you don't know have a very powerful effect.

Friday, May 15, 2009

To be a Lefty

A few weeks ago, my friend Haley asked me if it's difficult to drive with my right foot pushing the pedals since I'm left-handed.

"Not really," I said. "Why do you ask?"

"Because I was trying to do it today, just to see what it'd be like, and it's really hard"

Two things went through my mind at that point: my friend is really weird for doing such a thing, and that I'd never really thought about whether or not it'd be easier for me to drive using my left foot. It makes sense that it would, since I kick with my left foot, and do most things with my left appendages, but it wasn't something that had ever really crossed my mind.

"It doesn't really make a difference to me," I said, "because I guess I've just been conditioned to drive with my right foot, and I've never known any different. Kind of like Amish people, or those really religious folk who refuse to have sex before they get married."

This weird conversation got me to thinking about what it means to be a lefty, if anything at all. It's an odd thing, because I've always taken pride in being a left-handed person, but I don't know why. I did nothing to influence whether or not I would be one, and I assume I was just born that way. There's no conceivable reason that this makes me better--or worse--than anyone who is right-handed, because it's just the hand that I do things with.

It does, however, make me a little bit different, and I think I take pride in being left-handed because I'm sort of bitter about it. To be frank, being a lefty can suck dick, because like anybody who is different or is a minority, we are discriminated against. Not in any hardcore way, like apartheid or anything like that, just in ways that are more annoying and inconvenient than anything.

The one that seems to haunt me more than any other one is the whole system of writing. In the English language, we obviously write from left to right, and if you're a left-handed person, you just get straight-up shit on in this category. I haven't used a pencil (except on Scantron tests) since 9th grade, because everytime I do I end up with a gigantic graphite stain all over the outside of my hand from it rubbing over my own previously-written words. The words on the paper would also usually be smeared beyond recognition, as well, leaving my already extremely messy penmanship altogether unreadable. (I also blame my terribly messy writing on my left-handedness. Watch a lefty write sometime, and you'll see that it doesn't seem like a very natural action at all. Most of us bend our wrist in a very uncomfortable way in an attempt to crane our hand above the smearing area, which just results in smearing the words of the lines higher up. The whole process of writing is is totally unnatural for a left-handed person, and since all I ever do is write, I'm constantly reminded of it. I would've graduated from elementary school with a perfect A grade point average, but I always got C's on handwriting. Why the fuck do kids get graded on handwriting? That's like grading someone on how high you can jump or whether or not you have a nice singing voice. You either have it or you don't. You can't exactly study to become a great handwriter, and if you did, people would just beat the fuck out of you and steal your lunch money anyway.) Sometimes, this even happens with pens. A couple of months ago, I bought a friend of mine a pretty ridiculous birthday card at our student bookstore, and when I went to write a message for her on it, I smeared the black ink from my gel pen all over the glossy surface of the card. So, I had to go back in and buy the exact same card all over again, and I'm pretty sure the asian chick working at the counter thought that I was fucking insane, because it's rare for a kid to buy a card with a bunch of bikini-clad senior citizens on it. It's just plain weird for him to buy it twice within 10 minutes of each other.

In retrospect, I should've just went with whiteout.

It's obvious that when the written form of the English language was invented, it was invented by a right-handed person who paid no heed to the 10 percent of people in the world who are left-handed. He fucked over a lot of people, but he's probably hailed in history as some sort of genius. But then again, I'm trying to think of a way that I could solve this problem, and can't think of anything. I guess it's better to screw 10 percent of the people instead of 90 percent.

To further the whole writing problem, it's very difficult to find a desk that is made for lefties in college classrooms. It seems like they're all for right-handed people, and I can't ever get one that works for me unless I show up to class 20 minutes early, and that is definitely not an option.

Another discrimination against left-handed people comes from scissors. They can only be conveniently used by right-handed folk, and this has been pissing me off since day one. Or, more accurately, the first grade. We were making cookbooks shaped like the face of Santa for our mothers, and we had to cut his face out of every single normal sheet of paper. As the only lefty in my class at the time, I was the only one whose paper book came out with a bearded man that looked more like a homeless man than Santa, who has always been very well-trimmed for a dude who spends most of his life away from society at the north pole. My mom pretended that she liked the gift anyway, even though she doesn't cook and had to have realized that it looked terrible. I guess she just felt bad for giving birth to one of those dreaded southpaws. (I should note that I'm the only lefty in my family, and that it's the first exhibit I always point out when making my case for being adopted. I'm very different from everyone in my family, and I constantly talk to my mom about how I may be the mailman's child, because I'm left-handed. And cool.)

When I was little, I wanted to be a writer and an illustrator, until I figured out that I couldn't even adequately operate a pair of scissors, let alone oil pastels. Those motherfuckers smear like nothing else, let me tell you.

I know you're probably saying that left-handed scissors are, in fact, manufactured. But I don't own any, because I'd have to go into Michael's or some other crafts store to get them, and those places smell awful, like a mix of potpurri, death, and vomit.

***SIDENOTE: I just walked into my kitchen to get a drink, and on the way I passed my dad, who is sitting on the couch in the living room. He's watching a Tyler Perry movie on TBS. I just want to say that this proves he is not cool enough to be left-handed, and would also like to include this as further evidence that I am, in fact, adopted.

A lot of my friends are into golf, but I haven't ever gotten that excited about it. I mean, it's a cool sport that doesn't require a great deal of physical exertion, and you can do it fairly well while drunk, but it's a lot more difficult to find lefty clubs. I mean, I can find them if I look hard enough, but I don't as a matter of principle. I get pissed that they're difficult to find, and as a result, the world of golf will be forced to live without the likes of me.

I also really have a hard time getting excited about it, because there aren't many lefties to idolize on the pro circuit. In every other sport, there's at least a few left-handed athletes to pick from, and I tend to like them because I can empathize with them. In golf, the only famous left-handed pro is Phil Mickelson, and he's not the most likeable golfer ever. He has bigger man-breasts than I do!

Some people (right-handed) try to make lefties feel better about all of this by saying that they actually have an advantage in baseball, but I'm not buying that shit. Sure, left-handed pitchers are in demand, but I was never a pitcher. I wanted to be a shortstop, and they wouldn't let me because I was left-handed. If you're left-handed and want to play in the infield, you get to play only first base, which is a cool position, but there's really no variety. It's frustrating. I spent most of my baseball career standing in the outfield, and that wasn't very appealing because I quit before the age when kids could actually consistently smack it that far. As a result of this, I picked a lot of dandelions and did a lot of thinking about the meaning of life while my team was on defense as a child, and I don't think it had very positive effects on me.

All of these things seem pretty trivial, though, compared to this next statistic: apparently, left-handed people die an average of 10 years earlier than your normal right-handed person. This is something my friend Evan told me, and never hesitates to bring up. That asshole will probably outlive us all.

This is a scary statistic, and I have no idea why it is at all, so I'm going to choose not to believe it. Sadly, with the way things are these days, it's increasingly more difficult to simply die of old age or natural causes. I'll put a positive spin on it, though, and say that lefties just up and die because they experience a lot more and have just a hell of a lot more fun than your average righty. We're kind of like blondes, or something.

All of these things have put a pretty negative spin on being left-handed, and I guess a lot of people that are part of this hallowed group wish that they weren't. In my research, I actually came across a website that had advice for the parents of a lefty. Apparently, some people treat it as though it were a disease, and I don't think it is at all. I'm glad I'm a lefty, and now I'm going to tell you a few reasons why.

Firstly, since there only 10 percent of the world's population is left-handed, it helps to make me an individual. I'm basically an average, white, middle-class male, and it's kind of cool to actually be part of a minority and be able to break away from the status quo. I realize that being left-handed doesn't make me a different person, per se, but it's still domething different, and I enjoy that.

Being left-handed helped me with basketball. For some reason, southpaws seem to have a natural knack for shooting from distance, and since I am--as previously mentioned--an average white male who happens to be really slow, this helped me get decent at my favorite sport.

Lefties are traditionally more creative than righties, and that's something I'm proud of. I consider myself to be a creative dude (though this may not be true), and we're also among good creative company. There are many famous actors and writers who are left-handed, because lefties traditionally think with the right side of their brain, which is the creative side. I can't solve math problems without using my fingers and toes, but fuck it. I can write a sonnet if I have to.

Polar bears are left-handed.

And my favorite reason for being left-handed actually coincides with a discrimination against lefties. Computer mouses (mice?) are made for right-handed people. You can purchase left-handed ones, but if you're anywhere using a computer that isn't yours (a friends, a lab, etc.), you have to use your right hand to operate the mouse. This was how I was conditioned to operate a computer, and now I'm thankful that I was.

You know why? Because I can operate a computer mouse while simultaneously writing, eating with a fork, or--most importantly--catching a beat.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Just Some Ranting.

I'm sitting here, void of my damaged tonsils and high as a kite on Percoset. I figured that for the first few days after my surgery, I would be the most agitated and inconvenienced by the excruciating pain that would accompany such a procedure, but I was wrong (probably because the medicine helps so much with this aspect of the process). What's really bothering me is my inability to speak. I can barely talk, and when I do make an attempt, I don't have much resonance behind it.

This is particularly difficult for me, because I'm constantly filling the silence, and very often have a great deal of difficulty keeping my mouth shut. Especially when I am in some form intoxicated. So, since I'm incapacitated and unable to do anything else, I figured I'd just let my mind wander, and ramble on some of the random things that I think of in the next hour or so (or until I exhaust myself and pass out). I don't know why this would be of an interest to anyone other than myself, but I'm going to do it anyway. It's important to talk about the...issues.

--I really, severely dislike Asher Roth. I'm watchin MTV Hits right now, and he's presenting his "Hit List." This is about an hour's worth of videos that an artist enjoys and chooses to present. I've been watching it for about 15 minutes, and in that time have not seen any videos that I even remotely enjoyed. I didn't even know it was his Hit List until he came on to introduce the video I'm currently watching--which is one of his own videos. That's how you can always tell if the person doing a Hit List is a douche bag. They play one of their own fucking videos. If that's not conceited, I don't really know what is. Fuck this shit, I'm turning it off. Maybe I can find an episode of Murder, She Wrote or True Life: I Have Man Tits.

I think where my real problem with Asher Roth stems from is probably jealousy. It's a different brand of envy than I'm really familiar with, though. I'd usually be jealous of a celebrity because they're so much cooler than I am, and though I can't say that Roth isn't exponentially more hip than I am, I can't help but feel that what he's doing isn't hard, and that it's not something I could feasibly do myself. I mean, this dude writes songs about how he loves college, and he pretty much loves it for all of the same reasons that I do, except I'm apparently not as adept as he is at getting women naked. I also do not really like Banker's Club, and can honestly say that I have never sipped it. I've taken shots of it and thought about how it might be capable of taking paint off of walls (maybe this somehow contributed to the deterioration of my tonsils...), but I've never sipped it.

--Since we're talking about rap music, I'd like to address the term "swagger," or "swagga," as it were. Just what the fuck is it? Do I have it? I mean, I hear a lot of stuff in songs about "turnin' the swag on" and what not, but nobody ever really defines it. Is it just some type of extreme confidence? Can you see it in somebody's walk or distinctive gait? How do I get it? I feel like if I gain some swagger, I'll be a lot more successful in just about every aspect of my life. I'm going to start experimenting and trying out different approaches to acquire an adequate swagger. I'll start by wearing obscure flat-brimmed hats, smoking White Owls, laughing slyly about nothing in particular, and washing myself with that Old Spice bodywash that is, in fact, called Swagger.

--Yesterday evening, I was reading my local newspaper, and saw that a student had been thrown--or coaxed--out of Grove City College because he was a gay porn star. GCC is kind of against porn, or anything else cool, because they're one of those really christian schools. You know what I'm talking about, one of those places where boys and girls aren't allowed to be in the same room with one another with the door closed, which could possibly be why the dude in question decided to go with the whole gay approach.

Now, I don't agree with someone being forced out of the school they pay to go to because of something legal that they do with their personal life, but that's not really something I'd like to get into right now. Basically, the Jesus freaks are the way they are, and I don't think I'd be able to change that. They are about as rational as Kanye West at times, and probably just as stubborn.

What I would like to talk about, though, is how the administration found out. Allegedly, another student at the school recognized the aforementioned student when he was viewing pornography on a video website. That strikes me as funny, and I wonder why that kid isn't in trouble. Isn't watching it and punching your clown to it (because I doubt he was just watching it for the acting) nearly as bad as actually being in it? Why was this kid watching gay porn, and why would he e-mail it to a bunch of his friends? Is he not being made fun of at all?! Because he should be.

I also found out yesterday that the first case of Swine Flue found in my hometown area came from a student at GCC. I don't know if that's related, but maybe god's trying to strike them down for their hedonistic ways. Also, isn't a case of the Swine Flu something that would probably garner most of your attention, and not some guy cornoholing people on video? I'm just not sure if they have their priorities straight or not.

--Sometimes I see people with mustaches, and wonder if anyone has every honestly thought that their appearance is more appealing if they are rocking a full-grown mustache. Has anyone? I know peopel say that Tom Selick and Burt Reynolds and people like that look better, but this is probably only because they've never, ever seen them without one. Mustaches are, for all intents and purposes, a joke. The only people in my generation that grow them are people who want attention and think it's funny, or are truly dissilussioned. With that being said, I think I'm going to grow a post-surgery 'stache.

--Have you ever seen a hardcore sex scene on television that involves a severely tatted-up vampire throwing it at a woman in the doggy style position while she's tied up? Sounds pretty ridiculous, right? Well, I saw it just the other night when I was watching the pilot of a series about vampires called True Blood. This is something that I can handle, because I'm a 21-year-old kid, and I appreciate that tv shows only get ahead now if they severely push the envelope.

Watching it while you're mom is in the room sitting on the couch next to you, though, is another story altogether, and I hope none of you have to ever experience a moment of such profound and discomforting awkwardness.

--I saw a segment on CNN today (I'm already running out of shit to watch on television) about a number of new websites that are offereing teenagers sexual advice via text message.

Seriously, what the fuck?

Technology is overtaking everything. Pretty soon people aren't going to know how to have a conversation face to face with their parents or anybody else, because they aren't required to. This is going to take a lot of the fun out of life. I feel like every kid should get to have some kind of "birds and bees" conversation with their parents, if only for the humorous story it will produce years later when they recollect about it. There's nothing memorable about learning how to put a condom on via text message. It's a lot like losing your virginity to a flesh light.

--How about that Manny Ramirez guy? What a fucking idiot. He was one of the only superstars who hadn't been busted in the huge steroid craze that has dominated professional baseball in the past few years. So, what does he do? He decides to take something and get busted this year. Baseball is now an absolute joke, and I mean it. I'm not only saying that because my fantasy team is in last place, either.

One thing I don't understand, though, is why the government gets involved in the entire steroid scandal. Don't they have more important things to worry about, too?

--It has surfaced recently that the guy from Jon and Kate Plus 8 has been messing around on his wife. I'd spend a few paragraphs talking about how appalled I am that he's doing that when he has a wife and eight kids, but I'm rarely surprised by acts of infidelity anymore. It has become pretty commonplace in today's society, and sadly so.

What really surprised me about this, though, is just how awful these parents actually seem when they aren't filming their show. The first article I read about this scandal said that Jon was seen leaving a bar with a broad at like 2 in the morning. Apparently, his wife wasn't around to figure it out because she was in Seattle on a tour promoting her new book about how fucking hard it is to raise so damn many kids.

But, doesn't this bring up the question of who the fuck is taking care of their kids? He's at a bar all night, and she is out of town. Think about it.

--I read an article on CNN's website that maintains that praying may help to improve your sex life. I am literally speechless. I guess I could make some joke about "pulling and praying," but even I have enough tact not to go there.

--I often complain that people don't read anymore. Apparently, I'm wrong. I read an article about a 54-year-old woman who has posted nearly 13,000 book reviews on Amazon's website. This equals out to one book a day, every day, for 35 years. She says she makes her way through four or five books a day, and posts reviews for all of them. I think it's awesome that this woman reads, but when does she get laid? Or even eat? She says that her ultimate goal in life is to read every single vampire book ever published. I say good luck, because people are taking the whole vampire craze a little bit too far. Twilight was a phenomenon that will probably not be repeated, and the more people write about vampires, the worse it seems to get. I bet Bram Stoker would be ten kinds of pissed if he was still around.

--Percoset is a hell of a drug.