So, when a man and a woman come into your dealership together and say they want to test drive a car, it’s a good idea to notice that the woman is, in fact, able to speak. I suggest noticing the plural pronoun she deploys when she opens the conversation by saying “Hi, we have an appointment to test drive a car.” Maybe she is even asking you questions and telling you that she thinks your car is roomier but that she likes the mileage better on THE OTHER CAR SHE IS THINKING OF BUYING. Because when you step over her to hand your clipboard to the man and tell him you’ll need his driver’s license if he wants to test drive the car, she is going to be displeased. And then she is going to GO BUY THE OTHER CAR SHE IS THINKING OF BUYING.
outrages and indignities
So the latest outrage on my list is that the International Astronomical Union is acting like this girl I knew in junior high who lived for male attention. She’d stop talking to you mid-sentence if a boy sauntered by. I’m all for a little boy-craziness—okay, a lot—but what I’m trying to say is this girl had no standards. She didn’t discriminate between a pint-sized Johhny Depp and a pint-sized Jeffrey Dahmer (am I spelling that right? I don’t know, but I refuse to google Jeffrey Dahmer). She’d start orbiting around the nearest boy faster than you could say Pluto.
If these astronomical-sluts get their way it’s the end of the solar system as we know it. They’ve decided that a planet is—wait for it—a round thing orbiting a star. That’s like saying that a symphony is something you play on the piano.
There are apparently now 12 planets: we get to keep Pluto and we have to add Ceres (hello, asteroid?), Charon (the planet previously known as a moon of Pluto), and the charmingly-named UB313 (nicknamed Xena, with a moon called Gabrielle, which, okay, I even have to admit is cute).
And of course if we actually apply the new standards, assuming our backs don’t give out as we stoop down to scrape them off the floor, there are around 50 other chunks of cosmic debris out there that qualify as planets. What is this going to do to mnemonic devices everywhere? How am I supposed to take “Mother Visits Every Morning Just Stays Until Noon, Period” and make it work for 50 more planets? And what will this mean for astrology? Am I even still a Capricorn with a moon in Gemini?
Everyone was all worried about Pluto, the “darling of school kids everywhere.” How can they keep Pluto and not add all this other junk, everyone wondered? Screw Pluto, I said. It never counted and “school kids everywhere” could stand a little taste of disappointment. It’s good practice. Pluto never made sense in my mnemonic device anyway.
But, no, the IAU has gone all planet-crazy. Like a hypochondriac who sees germs everywhere, they’re busy rechristening every hunk of rock out there. Apparently the whole body is going to vote on the concept later this week. Let us hope that cooler heads prevail.
It’s old news by now so I’m assuming we’ve all read “Contra Contraception” from the May 7 New York Times Magazine by now? If not, you’re behind on your homework, Chicklets.
Turns out the new frontier among the “we like to say we want the government off your backs but what we really mean is we want no taxes but reserve the right to dictate what goes on in your private life” conservatives is the anti-contraception movement. And, no, we’re not talking about abortion, we’re talking about good old fashioned birth control. You know, what they used to call “family planning” when we were in school.
The Republicans, it seems, just don’t want birth control around any more. And no, they don’t just mean they don’t want your kids labeling confusing abstract diagrams of fallopian tubes in school. They mean they don’t want it around at all. Like, throw those condoms away and stop taking your pills because using birth control makes you “anti-child.” And dooms you to hell for all eternity, natch. No, I’m not making this up.
In an 8,000 word tour de force, Russell Shorto infiltrates the movement, which not only includes fringy wackos organized into various leagues for the protection of the rights of the sperm, but, scarily, government officials like the anti-birth control Joseph Stanford, whom Bush appointed to the FDA’s Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory Committee (because you know, appointing someone who opposes birth control to a committee whose function is supposed to be only to rule on the safety of drugs makes so much sense), who said that excluding the potential of fertility from sex means that spouses begin to see each other as sources of sexual pleasure; sex becomes separated from procreation. And that’s bad, Chicklets! Bad! (Keep up with the class.)
Never mind that these people have blood on their hands in a big big way since they’re responsible for exporting the Bush administration’s abstinence only curriculum to AIDS relief programs in Africa.
But kids, my fave outrage of the many Shorto catalogs is the Purity Ball. Put on by various groups, these balls are attended by teenage girls and their fathers. “At the ball, a father gives a ‘purity ring’ to his daughter—a symbol of the promise she makes to maintain her virginity for her future husband. Then during her marriage ceremony, the daughter gives the ring to her new husband.” Gag me with a double standard.
All we can do is hope that all those purity pledges backfire (as apparently they often do: the pure kids apparently have way more sex than the ones who didn’t promise nuthin’ to no one, say the stats).
Let’s close our eyes, click our heels together three times, and pray to the gods of Kobol that those poor girls all turn out to be lesbian Wiccan social workers who dedicate their lives to organizing political campaigns for the Green party.
Seriously, you should read the article. Or if 8,000 words is just about 7,500 too many, go read Dan Savage’s excellent recap. He frames the whole thing as a straight-rights issue: having been agitating and insisting that straight people’s rights are coming under attack, our fave gay sex columnist saw this coming way before anyone else did.
You thought contraception was pretty well a settled issue didn’t you? Thought you maybe had to keep track of what those Republicans were doing in sex ed courses and abortion clinics. Turns out you’d better watch your back.
I went to the mall yesterday and as I was standing in line to pay for my black and white diagonal striped skirt that looked exactly like something I would have worn to a school dance in 1985, David Bowie’s Space Oddity came on the Muzak. Then when I got to the front a teenager named Britney whose name tag said she had “served two years” asked me if the gray streak in my hair was natural. It was, I said. “Awesome,” she said.
I am not making one word of this up.
The latest celebrity sighting from Lily…
I saw Axl Rose at Misshapes. And I just wanna say that I saw him 19 years ago on Guns N’ Roses’ first ever U.S. tour, and he was just….OMG….and then there he is in a half-empty trendoid club on a rainy Saturday, just like some dork like me. I don’t like it. He deserves BETTER!
The “Do you have a moment for Greenpeace?” people are the bane of my existence. Maybe this is a Toronto thing, so allow me to fill in my American friends. In the last few years we’ve witnessed the rise of street corner canvassing. Fresh-faced young people stand on the sidewalk in heavily-traveled areas and hold up binders that advertise their cause: The Hospital for Sick Children, UNICEF, Greenpeace.
“Do you have a moment for Sick Kids?” they ask. On an individual basis, I feel sorry for them, I really do. I am sure they are earnest and idealistic university students triple majoring in environmental studies, international relations, and women’s studies. I am sure they are buried in a mountain of student debt and they’re just trying to earn enough to pay for their grande lattes without having to work for The Man.
It’s an ironic twist that the public street corner is the last bastion of privacy in this crazy modern world. They call you at home, they send you spam, they come to your door. But is that enough? No, more is required of you. Now they must invade the last fortress of solitude you have, and that’s walking down the street minding your own business—thinking great thoughts perhaps, or maybe just making a mental grocery list. What happened to urban anomie? Don’t talk to me! Can’t you see I’m alienated and irritable?
Here’s how it works. They see you coming and you see them. You used to be able to kind of cut a wide loop and if the sidewalk was busy enough you could slip past them. But now they’re deployed in pairs so you have to pass between them, run a gauntlet of do-gooders. You look away until you’re right upon them, because you’re a nice girl and you were raised to acknowledge people’s existence. So you make eye contact. And then they say it.
“Do you have a moment for Sick Kids?”
You can try to say, “No. I have several charities I give to each year and though I am sure you do noble things, you are not one of them. I actually prefer to give my money to modern dance troupes, because I think art gives us meaning and anchors us and makes us more human—and even dancers have to eat. And since we live in a country of socialized medicine, shouldn’t the government really be paying for hospitals?” But that’s kind of a mouthful.
You can try to say, “I might if every third person I know wasn’t running / walking / biking / hopping / competitive eating for HIV / cancer / literacy /obsessive compulsive disorder and in need of my immediate and generous sponsorship.”
So I’ve decided the best answer is just plain old no.
“Do you have a moment for Sick Kids?”
“No. No, I do not. I am very busy and very important so I do not have even a single moment for Sick Kids.”
Chicklets, I just went down to my local newsstand to buy the April issue of Out magazine, which has Madonna on the cover and an interview with her inside. I browsed around for a while, looking at all the interesting and random magazines that there are in this universe. I couldn’t find what I was looking for so I went up to ask the clerk, a nice young girl.
“Do you have Out magazine?” I asked.
“Sorry, what magazine?”
“What kind of magazine is it?”
I was starting to get irritated because surely if you can buy 7 different knitting magazines at this giant store, which is part of a big national chain, you can buy Out.
“It’s a GAY magazine,” I said.
She shook her head. “Oh, no, we don’t have that.”
“Do you have THE ADVOCATE?” I asked. The Advocate does not, as far as I know, have Madonna on the cover of the April issue and I was not looking to buy it, but I was trying to make a point.
No, she did not have The Advocate either. So I took myself down the street to my local bookstore, where I should have gone to begin with, and bought the damned magazine.
This experience lingers, however. Is this editorial ommission the choice of a local franchise owner? Is it corporate policy?
I shall investigate and get back to you.
I painted my nails today, which I never do. I went to the drug store and spent about half an hour searching for the perfect shade of pearly sheer-but-not-too-sheer white. I ended up with Revlon’s Pure Pearl, but was ever so slightly dismayed to find the result a bit too silvery. Very nice, but not what I was going for exactly: a little too Judy Jetson. I was, however, severely dismayed by the familiarity of the end result. Yes, Chicklets, after a rummage through the bathroom cabinet, I discovered that I already owned Revlon’s Pure Pearl. This offended my Inner Cheapskate but was also kind of thrilling and exceedingly comforting. If nothing else, I am at least consistent. Remember this, I instructed myself, next time you question your taste, the next time you feel yourself about to be paralyzed by hesitation.
I am reminded of the time that Lily drank the manicure water. We were in university, at our student jobs, manning the reception desk of a counseling office. Things were slow, so we were forced to concoct projects to occupy us and today’s was manicures. We brought in lotions and emery boards and an array of polishes. We had set up a Dixie Cup of cold water to soak the painted nails in so as to set them. Lily finished her shift before I and began to gather her things. She stood up, put her books in her bag, and reflexively tossed her head back and drank the manicure water. I asked, knowing full well the answer, but feeling nevertheless the impetus to disguise my accusation as a question, “Did you just drink the manicure water?” Oh, the horror, the horror. Eleven years have passed and she has yet to live this down.
Well, we all have our own personal pore-cleansing nose-strip disasters, don’t we? Lily recommends that anyone thinking of buying the Ponds version because it is a buck cheaper than category-leading Biore, think twice.
At home recently, she read the directions on the Ponds strips, and, as instructed, held the strip to her nose with one hand and moistened it by dipping a finger from her other hand into water, and passing it over the strip. Chicklets, her finger stuck to her nose! Being nothing if not crafty, she managed to salvage both the situation and her finger and sat down to wait the appointed 5 minutes for the strip to dry.
Twenty-five minutes later, it was, she reports, still sopping wet. “I don’t have all day,” she said, so she got out the hair dryer and began to blow dry her nose.
“And all I was thinking,” she says, “is about Pompeii and about how if something catastrophic should happen, I’ll die blow-drying my nose strip.” Indeed, Chicklets, there must have been people immortalized in ash doing the first-century-A.D. equivalent of removing blackheads with off-brand nose strips, mustn’t there? If death arrived instantaneously, what would you be doing?
“The lesson,” Lily says, “is spend the extra dollar.”