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Seething Cakes of Hatred

Making pancakes, as I learned at AP's birthday bash at the beach this weekend, is an unbelievably tedious chore. I don't know why I...

Friday, January 30, 2004

A True Hero

I saw a true hero on television this morning. Justin Gregorich is a kid who saved someone's life on his way home from school this week. But there is much more to the story than that. So much more.

Justin was leaving school early because he was discouraged. He was being teased by the other kids because he couldn't bench press as much weight as they could. In addition to that, he has Tourette's Syndrome, which causes his face to twitch. So, tired of the teasing, he left school. Normally, he would call his mom for a ride, but that day he decided to walk so he could think things through. And that's when he saw the car veer across the road and right into a pond. He dove into the water and helped save the driver's life.

I watched Justin being interviewed this morning by Matt Lauer on NBC's Today Show, and to say I was touched by Justin's interview would be an understatement. I was so moved by Justin's kind spirit, courtesy and humility. When his interview concluded, I turned the television off and sat there weeping. It is a beautiful thing when a kid like Justin, who battles teasing and the stigma of "being different", fights back with courage and simply doing the right thing. It is so easy to respond to cruelty and injustice with anger. The temptation to just give up and believe the bullies may be right after all is strong. But Justin responded by becoming a hero.

Justin said that some kids at school are still unkind to him after his heroic rescue, yet he responds with an inspiring purity of heart. "That's life," he says. When he spoke, I knew that whoever raised this kid is a beautiful person and should be very proud. And I hope Justin knows that he is a hero not just because of what he did this week, but because of who he is. He inspired me, and I live thousands of miles away from him. The impact this young man can have on others is powerful, and he needs to know that.

Justin lives in Florida, a state that has been on my mind a lot lately since gay adoptions were recently banned there. I wonder why it is so hard for some people to understand that a person's sexuality has nothing to do with how much love they have to give a child. Justin Gregorich may have a long road ahead of him. He may be teased for being different, but he will survive and go on to do great things. I firmly believe this.

The tragedy is that some of us grow up being different and endure cruel childhood bullies. We are then disappointed to realize the battle is not over as we are bullied politically when we become adults. We aren't allowed to marry the person we love. In some places we can't even adopt the children we love and care for. But, like Justin, we can still do the right thing. We have the choice of becoming angry and bitter, or we can stand up for ourselves and act like the true heroes we are. Personally, I want to be like Justin.

Not knowing how to reach Justin, I sent a letter to the reporter in St. Petersburg who covered the story. She has promised to pass my message on to Justin and his family. I would be so proud to have a kid like Justin, and I know many other gay men and women who feel the same way. I hope someday we will have that honor.




Thursday, January 29, 2004

Candy Vendors on Night Watch

Writing yesterday about my worst job, I was reminded of another interesting job that is not listed on my resume. This job was stupid, like Target, but also fun.

I worked one summer as a camp counselor in the late 80's. When one works as a camp counselor, it is actually like working several different jobs. For example, there is the obvious babysitting aspect of the job. That sucks. But we would also work in the kitchen or supervise craft time, so there was some variety to the experience.

My favorite jobs at camp were working in the candy shop and being the night watchman. Those jobs were awesome.

As a Candy Shop Vendor, I was often paired with my friend Curfew. We would arrive at the "Candy Shack" for our shift and eat the entire time. We still had to pay for all the candy we ate. Each camp counselor received a five-dollar snack card every week that would be punched with holes as you spent your money.

When Curfew and I worked together, it was AMAZING how much candy we could buy for 75 cents. Typically, the scenario was something like this:

TODD: Curfew, how much is a Snickers bar? I forgot.

CURFEW: I think those are 9 cents, Hot Toddy.

T: COOL! I can buy two!

C: Oh, I thought you meant how much for two. One is just 4.5 cents.

T: COOL! I can buy four!

C: Are sodas still 3 cents?

T: No, they lowered the price, I think. I can't remember. But I know for certain it is "Buy One Get One Free".

C: Cool!


The Night Watchman job was a little scary. But Buttercup was my partner and patrolled the grounds with me at night. She made me feel safer.

Each counselor would be assigned night watch for one night each week. The next day that counselor would be allowed to sleep and take the day off. Buttercup and I were an amazing team. Under our watch, not one camper was killed in their sleep.

Night Watch basically involved walking around with flashlights and talking. I think there were probably other duties, but I doubt that Buttercup and I could really be bothered with them. I do recall one particular conversation, which took place at approximately 4 a.m. one morning.

BUTTERCUP: Isn't it ridiculous that we are night watchmen and are armed only with flashlights?

TODD: I know. What would we do if someone snuck into the camp with an intent on harming us? How could we possibly fight them?

B: We could shine our lights in their eyes.

T: That wouldn't be much of a deterrent against a gun or a knife.

B: What we need is something to throw at the criminals.

T: What do you suggest?

B: There is a Dunkin' Donuts near the camp. We should walk over there and get a dozen donuts.

T: Just to have them on hand.

B: Yes, in case we need a weapon.

T: Brilliant.


[Fade to Black as the two night watchmen head to Dunkin' Donuts.]

A Quick Announcement about the Margarine in the Break Room Refrigerator

I need to clear my conscience. There is margarine in the break room refrigerator left over from when somebody brought bagels to share with the office last week. Well, some things happened when I was using some of the margarine today, and it should really not be "public" margarine anymore.

So, if you read Toaster Oven AND you work in my office:
1. Why haven't I been fired yet?
2. Don't use the margarine in the break room fridge.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Poultry Sidewalk Surprise

Chuckles had a curious encounter recently that is really boggling my mind. Anyone with a reasonable explanation as to why someone would lay chicken breasts outside on paper towels and just watch them, please let me or Chuckles know right away.

There is really nothing pulling at me today, so this entry will be short. In addition to the above poultry/social norm question, the only other item I have been pondering today came from an e-mail that my friend Curfew just sent.

We were having a discussion about riding a Sea-doo. She claims that she only "Sea-dooed" once. Then she corrected herself and said she has "Sea-done" once. After I finished chortling, I did some research and discovered that....

Okay, okay.

I did not do research.

I Googled the term "Sea-dooed" and found a few examples of the word's usage. No "Sea-done" though.

I prefer "rode a sea-doo" but "sea-dooed" works too. Cause if it can be found through a Google search, it's accurate.

Thanks for your interest.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

The Worst Job I Ever Had

After a three year stint in a cult known as the International Church of Christ (Boston Movement) I fled to Texas to live with my parents and get my life together. I was 29 and owed thousands or millions on my student loan. I was in the pit of depression. I was a loser.

Already beating myself up for allowing myself to be brainwashed by an evil cult, I promptly began a process of utter self-destruction that included taking a job as a "Credit Representative" for Target.

My "job" was to stand at the front of the store next to a table covered in a Target Red-Orange (tm) tablecloth and try to sucker people into signing up for a Target credit card (prestige not included) in exchange for a mini photo album (approximate retail value 99 cents) or a deluxe pen (worthless).

The job was nonsense. It was worse than my high school job at McDonalds when I fell flat on my back carrying a tray full of barbecue sauce-soaked McRibs, which flew up into the air and cascaded down onto my blue polyester uniform.

Target was a depressing place to work. I felt like the most evil used car salesman EVER as I stood by the door trying to give away incentives (ie., crappy shit) to people so they would apply for a Target credit card, which was the last thing they needed because if their credit was good they would not be shopping at Target in the first place and certainly wouldn't need a damn 99 cent photo album that looked like it was covered with floral contact paper.

You would think I could succeed at that sort of chimpanzee work, right? Well, you would be wrong. One day my feet got so tired I went over to the snack bar, where I was almost rendered unconscious by popcorn fumes, and I took a plastic chair and put it behind the table with the Target Orange-Red(tm) (or was it Target Red-Orange) tablecloth on it. I plopped down and enjoyed sitting there watching shoppers waddle by with tubs of popcorn in their chubby arms.

Lo and behold, The Target Manager (bow or curtsey as appropriate) strode over to my little corner of the Target universe and said, "Are you comfortable?" He reeked of sarcasm. Or was it Aqua Velva (tm)? Probably both. I had taken all I could handle. I answered him, "No, not really. And I'm sort of bored." Not quite sure how to take my lack of zeal for handing out mini photo albums and pens, he said, "I don't think you are supposed to be sitting down." I answered, "No. It's okay. I was told I could sit." Now this was not really a lie. Earlier, when I was over in the snack bar bathing in the pungent hot dog smell, I told myself it was okay to sit.

I defeated The Evil But Wise Target Manager with my quick thinking that time, but I knew that it wouldn't last. He was too cunning for me. Everyone knows that the vague and unproveable "I was told" defense only works once. For those not familiar with this system, which I have mastered, it is a useful argument in which one claims immunity because one was told by someone of obviously superior authority but unnamed identity that one could or could not do something.

Anyway - I never went back to that little Target Orange-Red (tm) table ever again. That was the end of my career at Target. Did I mention I graduated magna cum laude?

Friday, January 23, 2004

Careful with that Axe, Eugene - by Hot Toddy

From: “The Writer’s Nightmare” – Stark Raving Theatre, Portland, Oregon

The song that prompted the script was "Careful with that Axe, Eugene" by Pink Floyd.

I also put the other improv cues in bold text. These were scene locations or lines from the improvisational scenes that I incorporated into my script, as required by the rules of the evening.

It was a lot of fun, although I am not sure how well this will read for people not actually at the event!

January 2003

Cast:

Eugene
Pinky
Greek Chorus
Greek Chorus “soloist”


EUGENE: My fear of women has always caused me so much pain. While other guys seemed to have incredible luck with women, I have always felt so alone. So inadequate. My penis, being of smallish size has been a source of great embarrassment over the years.

Tonight will be different. I transferred to the University of Oregon because I had been rejected by all the women at Linfield College. Now it is a new era for me. Tonight, I, Eugene Floyd, will embark on an incredible journey known as, The First Date.

GREEK CHORUS: (in unison) We are here witnessing your new journey, oh brave one. We will support you. Counsel you. Guide you. Listen to us.

EUGENE: What the hell?

GREEK CHORUS: Life is hard and scary, Eugene Floyd. Sometimes we have no safety chain. You must trust and go blindly into the future.

EUGENE: Who are you people?

GREEK CHORUS: We are your guides, Eugene. We are the counselors you have called out for. From darkest hopelessness we have emerged. We are The Greek Chorus.

EUGENE: I’m not really into the whole fraternity thing.

GREEK CHORUS: We are here to help. We will help to free the kink of your hose known as your dating life.

EUGENE: Oh - - okay. Thanks.

GREEK CHORUS: We have witnessed your failures and your smallish penis. We want you to learn.

MICHELLE: And Grow.

EUGENE: She’s coming. Pinky Boyd! The hottest girl on campus.

Pinky: Hi, I’m sorry for being late. The fan belt went out on my car.

EUGENE: What’s that?

PINKY: It wraps around the pulleys.

EUGENE: Wow, I bet that was expensive to replace.

PINKY: 15.95.

GREEK CHORUS: Highway Robbery!

(Pinky is taken aback by the Greek Chorus)

EUGENE: Well, I’m glad you got it worked out.

PINKY: Thanks. So, have you decided where we’re going on our date?

EUGENE: Well, I thought maybe we could go to this flea market and - -

GREEK CHORUS: Tragedy! You are doomed to a life of loneliness.

EUGENE: I mean, we could go to the park and feed the ducks.

GREEK CHORUS: Be careful, Eugene. Those ducks can peck.

MICHELLE: Hard.

PINKY: I don’t know if I’m really in the mood for that. I’m kind of hungry after the fan belt ordeal.

GREEK CHORUS: Her life is hard. She is a beautiful woman who just forked over almost twenty bucks for car repairs. Show her mercy, Eugene. Show her mercy.

EUGENE: Let’s go eat somewhere then. Where would you like to go?

GREEK CHORUS: Take her to Hot Dog on a Stick. Their food is like a splendid buffet fit for kings or strippers.

PINKY: Strippers? What – who are you people?

EUGENE: Oh, um – Pinky…. This is my Greek Chorus. They’re here to help me. Greek Chorus, this is Pinky.

GREEK CHORUS: Nice to meet you.

PINKY: Are they coming with us, Eugene?

EUGENE: No – no! I think they’re leaving now. I got it from here Greek Chorus. Thanks for your help.

GREEK CHORUS: We will never leave you or forsake you, Eugene. We are your guides, Eugene. We are the counselors you have called out for. From darkest hopelessness we have emerged. We are The Greek Chorus. We are talkative and speak in unison. Sometimes we get a little wordy and have a hard time speaking in unison. Nevertheless, we are here to help.

EUGENE: Guys, please.

GREEK CHORUS: We’re not going anywhere, Eugene.

PINKY: Let’s just go, I’m hungry.

GREEK CHORUS: The two young lovers set out on their date. At first Eugene was very awkward. Like when someone finds out that you enjoy watching Hee Haw reruns. But as the evening wore on, Eugene began feeling more confident. And his smallish penis even began to feel a bit less flaccid.

** (Writer's Note: “time” was called at this point in my writing – I had about one minute to finish up the scene and present it to the actors for performance)

PINKY: Eugene, this has been a wonderful date.

GREEK CHORUS: Show off for her Eugene. It is almost time for the goodnight kiss.

EUGENE: I want to show you something before I kiss you, Pinky.

PINKY: What are you doing with that axe, Eugene?

GREEK CHORUS: As a lumberjack major, Eugene always carried a spare axe with him. But alas, that was his downfall. Pinky’s downfall, actually.

EUGENE: Pinky, before I kiss you, I want to chop down a tree for you. Show you what a man I am.

GREEK CHORUS: Swinging the axe. Recklessly diving into an unknown future like Brittney Spears in a Las Vegas Chapel. The last sight Pinky would ever see was that steel blade heading for her pretty face.

PINKY: Careful with that axe, Eugene…
You're Fancy
If I sing this song at the bar tonight, I am sure it will bring all the boys to my yard.

It's not my fault that I am playing around on pbskids.org on a Friday afternoon. It's his.
I participated in an improvisation comedy show last weekend that was a great success. I think we made about $900 for the theater. Here's how it worked: Three writers (me included) sat on stage with laptop computers. We watched improvised scenes by the group of actors and started typing away. We had to write a scene or sketch based on the improvisation. Then we printed off the scenes we wrote, and the actors immediately performed our scenes for the audience. It was a thrill!

Friday night I was one of the writers and Saturday night I was an actor. Writing was scarier! But it was fun to tackle something that scared me. I got great comments from audience members, and several actors told me they want me to write a part for them in my next play.

It's fun to learn you can actually pull something off when you initially doubted your ability. They say to do one thing every day that scares you. For the last year I guess I have just been living with the fear of being alone. Every day I have done one thing that scares me, and that has been to be without a relationship. No support. No partnership. That's a big one for me. It was nice to do one thing that scares me that has nothing to do with my status as a single person. And this was definitely in keeping with my theme for 2004.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

If a co-worker sporting a mullet tells me my shoes are ugly, shouldn't I take that as a compliment?

Friday, January 16, 2004

I am a bad-ass. You people need to stop pissing me off.

Last night I was driving home from a late night rehearsal at the theatre. It was almost 1 a.m., and all I wanted to do was get home, eat a Smart Dog and get to bed. I was nearly home when I got stuck behind a frightened person driving 20 miles per hour on a well-lit street with a 35 mph limit. Alberta Street is not difficult to navigate, and there was no other traffic on the road. Yet this person, let us call him "Mr. Pissywussy", was driving as if his car was traversing Norwegian glaciers.

I was getting very frustrated, but not enough to swerve around Mr. Pissywussy into the oncoming traffic lane. No, I just decided to use non-verbal communication to help coax Pissywussy to his destination. So I used my mental telepathy on him. "Faster. Go faster. You are an idiot. Go faster. It's save to drive faster. You're a fucking moron. Hurry. GO!!!"

When that didn't work, I employed the "I'm Going to Drive 2 Inches from Your Rear Bumper" method. Normally, this is a method employed solely by assholes who want you to drive faster than the posted speed limit. Clearly, I am not an asshole. No, I am known and loved by many. Also, Mr. Pissywussy was driving 15 miles under the posted speed limit. Don't contradict me here, or I'll be forced to do another drive-by. You do not want to be the object of my wrath, my child, for you are about to hear the terrifying story of my monstrous rage.

One block from my street, the trembling Mr. Pissywussy decided to seek revenge on me. He turned on his blinker and slowed to a complete stop before turning onto his stupid little side street inhabited by the dumbest people in the world.

(Because Mr. Pissywussy lives on that street, I have decided that all people who live on that street are idiots. I've been the object of unbelievable bigotry from the God Hates Fags faction my whole life, so I am well-trained in irrational hatred based on ignorance. )

So, there sits the villain waiting to turn and probably expecting me to slam on my brakes. Hell, no. I had two inches to spare, and I intended to keep moving. Besides, I knew he was bluffing. Mr. Pissywussy fearfully backed down and continued his turn, and I still had at least a quarter of an inch to go before I hit his car. As he drove off at an amazingly brisk pace (at least 21 mph now!) he flipped me off. He. Flipped. Me. OFF!

"What? You can't flip me off, Mr. Pissywussy," I thought to myself. "You were driving too slow, and I didn't even honk at you or scream out my window that I was going to kill you if you did not put the fucking pedal to the metal and move your stupid pansy ass. I just politely tailed you like you were The Rock wearing a tank top at a gay bar." Come on! Only assholes should get flipped off, and I have already quite thoroughly proven my innocence on that account.

I drove the block to my street and decided that I was going to have to do a gay drive-by. Yep. I am sorry, but sometimes you just have to engage in some late night vigilante justice. I drove past my house and headed for Mr. Pissywussy's street. Now, this gets pretty graphic and a little messy. Brace yourself...

I turned on my brights, headed up his street, cranked up the Japanese pop soundtrack to Dance Dance Revolution blaring in my kick-ass cassette deck, and approached Mr. Pissywussy just as he was walking from his car to his house. Then I rolled down my window and, and... I glared at him. I slowly drove by his house and just glared. He looked angry and a bit hurt. Maybe even mystified.

I'm sure he doublechecked the locks on his doors as he went to bed last night. I'll bet he was trembling as he lay awake in bed watching the Home Shopping Network and listening for Japanese pop outside. I felt great, and I knew that I was truly a bad ass.

Who says there is no such thing as the Gay Mafia?

Thursday, January 15, 2004

She really stirred the pot this time. The pervasive ignorance is unbelievable, isnt' it?

I'm at a loss with how to allow you to post comments. I've tried two different commenting services and the comments keep disappearing. I am so lazy I can't imagine learning how to code my own. I think the comments may be back, though. It seems to be server problems or something.

I just added my e-mail link in the sidebar, so now I will probably get tons of spam. Yes, I already tried to use the e-mail riddler but I couldn't figure it out. I am a genius.

Good thing I am not working in a technical field at all.

Oh, wait. I am.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Just thought I'd say hi...

Just received one of those short noncommittal hello e-mails from my ex. Quick short thoughts. Incomplete sentences. Like a telegram. Said he was thinking of me. Stop. Just saying hi. Stop. "Anyhoo not much more to say" (he actually wrote that). Stuff like that. Stuff like this.

Then I responded with about six paragraphs on my thoughts about music and our dog and the house we once shared together and the way Jann Arden's music makes me cry and what I did for New Year's Eve. It's not like this is the first time I have heard from him since we split a year ago. I mean, he was just saying hello. Why do I feel the need to share so much of myself? I wonder if I would be happier if I could learn to just shut up? Maybe. He certainly seems to be content with his anyhoo-not-much-more-to-sayistic approach to life.

Why are some of us born with the overwhelming craving for connection with other humans, while others prefer keeping people at arm's length? I'm sure that is one of the reasons M. and I did not last. I think I am a lot to handle.

I was about to say "thank God for blogging" but I think maybe that has only aggravated my condition. Blogging has the potential to create a false sense of self-importance. Maybe the people who read my blog actually care about what is going on in my personal life! Sure, the people who know me care. But the stranger in NYC who glances at my entries now and then doesn't really care. It's just something to do.

So, I have no choice but to spill my thoughts out to the people in my life and let the overflow dribble into my blog. Anyhoo. Not much more to say.


Monday, January 12, 2004

Dear Dr. Phil:

First of all, I would like to thank you for allowing everyone to call you by your first name. This familiarity with the masses inspires great confidence. Very few professionals are willing to be on a first name basis with ordinary people like me. In fact, the only others I can think of right now are Judge Judy, Dr. Laura and Pope John Paul. It is very handy to know right off the bat what a person does for a living, and I wish that President George would follow your example. I truly believe we could be much happier if our world more closely resembled Sesame Street and we simply called each other Grocer Bob, Lawyer Johnnie or Big Slut Paris.

I’m sorry I got sidetracked for a moment, and I hope you will teach me what to do about that problem on an upcoming show. If you have already covered that topic, please send me the transcript or fly me to your studio for further psychological treatment. My primary reason for writing goes beyond commending you for your folksy charm. I am concerned about you, Dr. Phil. In addition to promoting your son’s books, I know you are also in the business of righting wrongs and addressing concerns, so I know you will pay careful attention to what I am about to share with you.

Dr. Phil, you seem unhappy to me. You are sort of crabby with people when they come to you for help in spite of the fact that the lunatics of this world are increasing your television ratings. I would think you would be happy to see us - them - on your show. Please try to smile more, and stop being so harsh. I know you will take this constructive criticism from me, because I heard you say one time on your show that you are not perfect. This was a really courageous thing for you to admit, and I am proud of you. I hope your mostly natural beauty of a wife, Robin, did not coerce you into making such a statement. I worry sometimes that she forced you to say that on the air because of something you may have done to hurt her. I am not saying you hit her or anything, but, as I mentioned, you do seem crabby sometimes, and I would not put it past you.

I think I may be able to offer you one more intelligent observation, Dr. Phil. Just one more, and then I think I’m pretty much tapped out. Dr. Phil, you are trying to help people lose weight with that Lard Ass Challenge or whatever you call it, but you do not strike me as being particularly svelte. I could be wrong, as I have not seen you with your shirt off and have not yet decided if that is something I would enjoy. (I do find your son attractive, and I would like to see shirtless pictures of him. Please consider posting sexy photos of Famous Person's Son Jay on your website.)

A few years ago Richard Simmons conducted a reign of terror on fat people. He was looked up to as a fitness guru by millions, yet his body was repulsive to me. I hope this does not seem superficial but I prefer getting fitness advice from someone that’s really hot.

Well, if there is one thing I’ve learned from watching your show it's that advice is most effective when delivered in eight-minute segments between commercial breaks, so I will not drag this out further.

Thank you for all you do for me, and please say hello to Homemaker Robin.

Love,
Senior Information Technology Technical Writer Todd

Snow Days

Apparently, I am unable to blog when I am snowed in. Blogging is part of my daily routine, and who wants to follow a routine when you have the gift of leisure time?

Last week a snow storm brought much joy in my household. Juju and I spent three wonderful days trapped inside our house. I had time to catch up on reading and also some DVDs I've wanted to watch. I've now seen every episode of The Mary Tyler Moore Show (First Season). I guess I had never seen any of the first season, because I don't remember any of the plots at all.

Unfortunately, the show I was scheduled to do at Stark Raving Theatre was also cancelled. So, we'll be performing this weekend only.

I am glad to be back at work and have some time to catch up on all my favorite blogs. I've been exchanging e-mails with a few really great writers.

Monday, January 05, 2004

100 Things About Hot Toddy

Yes, if everybody else jumped off a bridge so would I, so shut up:

1. I was born at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri

2. I was not, am not, and never will be a Baptist

3. My first word was 'cookie'

4. I was voted 'Most Likely to Succeed' by my sixth grade class.

5. Yes, I am well aware of the dubious nature of that honor.

6. I was hospitalized for juvenile rheumatoid arthritis when I was 12 and couldn't walk for a week.

7. When I was a kid someone told me I sounded like Marie Osmond when I sang.

8. I took it as a compliment.

9. I tasted alligator and gazelle at a restaurant in Kenya

10. I studied Swedish for two years in Washington, DC

11. My favorite color is purple.

12. I thought I was of Polish descent for many years.

13. I learned I was of Ukrainian descent when my grandfather changed his story during my adolescence

14. I learned that I was actually of German descent when my mother informed me my grandfather adopted my dad.

15. I was told not to let my father know I had learned of his adoption.

16. My father told my 10 year-old nephew before he told me.

17. I cry when I watch Candid Camera.

18. My parents have been divorced (from each other) two times.

19. My parents have married each other three times.

20. I have one sister, and she's five years younger than I am.

21. My sister figured out I was gay before anybody else in my family.

22. My father met Anita Bryant and had his picture taken with her while he was in the Air Force.

23. I came out to my father in 1996.

24. I broke my front tooth playing Duck, Duck, Goose.

25. I was a freshman in college when it happened.

26. My body fat has decreased by 27 percent since 2000.

27. I've gained over 60 pounds of muscle since 2000.

28. My ex-boyfriend said I was a "wine snob" because I don't like White Zinfandel.

29. When I was in third grade I dressed up as my mother for Halloween.

30. My mom tried, unsuccessfully, to talk me out of it.

31. My dad was out of town.

32. I came out to my mother in 2001.

33. I was crushed against a fence by a cow at a petting zoo when was a kid.

34. I was trying to hug her.

35. My biggest fear is regretting missed opportunities.

36. I graduated magna cum laude from Asbury College.

37. The lowest grade I received in college was a C for Lifeguard Training

38. I don't kill spiders even when they get in the house.

39. I met Shirley Jones at a Salvation Army Advisory Board dinner in Washington, DC.

40. I own every video in the Time-Life "Little House on the Prairie" collection.

41. I planned on being a missionary after college.

42. My missionary assignment was going to be Paris, France.

43. I withdrew my application after I joined a cult.

44. As a child I loved the ocean but had to be carried into the water because I refused to walk on the sand.

45. The first time I had a crush on a teacher was in fourth grade.

46. My fourth grade teacher was Mr. Cramer.

47. I still remember his height and weight from the day he mentioned it in class.

48. He was 5'9" and weighed 180 pounds.

49. The first boy who ever kissed me was named Kody and was dressed as a cowboy for Halloween.

50. I was 28.

51. I failed Algebra in 11th grade.

52. I received an academic honors award from the principal the same day I failed Algebra.

53. I can quote the entire "fill it to the rim" Brim commercial from memory

54. I wasn't allowed to watch Laverne & Shirley when my father was home because they "screamed" too much.

55. I put ketchup on macaroni and cheese.

56. I put ketchup on corn.

57. I put ketchup on pizza.

58. I have ketchup packets in my car for "emergencies"

59. I hate lima beans.

60. I hate cantaloupe.

61. In the first nine years after college I had 23 different employers.

62. I have a strange phobia - I am scared of telephone busy signals.

63. I'm really not afraid of busy signals, but I think that would be a really interesting phobia to have, don't you?

64. My favorite cereal box prize was a Bobby Sherman record I cut out of the back of an Alpha Bits box.

65. The first book I ever read by myself was Go, Dog, Go.

66. My first acting role was in Sleeping Beauty 3000 at Ft. Lauderdale Children's Theatre.

67. I was called to the principal's office my senior year in high school for "stage fighting" in a parking lot.

68. I had to write an apology to the school board.

69. I was put into a learning disabilities program in first grade because I wrote some of my letters backwards.

70. I was placed in a gifted students program in sixth grade.

71. I wanted to be a dentist when I was younger.

72. My plans changed when I realized I had to put my hands in other people's mouths.

73. I hadn't thought of it, really.

74. Until I was in high school I thought that milk was cow urine.

75. I loved drinking milk in spite of my misconception.

76. A guy once offered me money to pee on him.

77. I didn't do it.

78. I had a crush on John Schneider (Duke of Hazzard) when I was a kid.

79. I played baritone and tuba in my high school marching band

80. My first live concert was Amy Grant

81. I like country line dancing

82. My favorite drink is a Maker's Mark straight up

83. I lived in Washington, DC (Dupont Circle) in the early 90s.

84. I was in the closet in the early 90s.

85. I love singing karaoke

86. I ended a seven-year relationship on my 36th birthday.

87. I used to pretend I was on a cooking show and talk to the audience when I made sandwiches as a kid.

88. My sister had an imaginary enemy, Sheila, instead of an imaginary friend.

89. My father built a stage for me in the basement when I was 14.

90. I am a Libra.

91. I had a relationship with a man who lied to me about his HIV status.

92. I am HIV negative and, thankfully, did not put myself at risk with the person who was lying to me.

93. I got yelled at during high school graduation practice by the principal.

94. I was dancing down the aisle of the church.

95. Wearing socks to class was mandatory at my college.

96. I love animals so much it makes me cry sometimes.

97. I once dreamed I was dating Matthew Perry and woke up missing him.

98. I am a member of a sketch comedy group called "The Exotic Actors Guild"

99. My favorite instrument is the cello.

100. My friends mean everything to me.

Friday, January 02, 2004

2004 - The Year of Blind Choice

Yes, I am of the mindset that one's activities on New Year's Eve may forecast the coming year's theme for one's life. That is why I am declaring 2004 the year of blind choices.

I spent my night at a 70's party, where I was the official "ball-dropper". If you have never been a ball-dropper, you don't know what you are missing. As midnight nears, the ball-dropper gets to stand in the center of the room holding a lighted ornamental ball. The entire room focuses on you (no, not the ball, silly - they were looking at me - I was hot) for approximately 15 seconds, which is always a thrill for dramatic types such as myself. As the room counts down the new year, the ball-dropper slowly lowers the ball and then tries very hard to make it look spectacular when it reaches the midnight position (somewhere near my crotch, actually).

This is my third year as a ball-dropper, but it may be my last. This year the party host decided to rig a nail over the archway. The ball's cord would loop over the nail, and the ball would smoothly descend during the countdown. That's how it would happen in theory. I don't want to sound like a diva, but I have never worked with a nail before, and was thrown off by this technical enhancement. I think we should have at least held a dress rehearsal before the party so that I could learn to work with the nail. I'm sure Britney got a chance to rehearse a couple times with the 5 foot python before she performed with it. I mean, they didn't throw a feather boa around her neck and tell her to pretend, did they?

It was no surprise to me that the countdown was disastrous. The ball was dropping splendidly until we hit eight. At the count of eight, everything fell apart. The cord caught on the nail, and I struggled to free the ball. The party guests nervously continued the countdown, albeit much more tentatively. For a clearer idea of the crowd's reaction, think back to 1986. Remember when everyone cheered the launching of Challenger and then slowly realized they were watching an explosion? Their cheers turned to horror, and people began screaming. Well, it was like that only worse because this event embarrassed me, and the Challenger explosion didn't.

The nail held fast. I thought about calling a do-over, but I have never seen Dick Clark do that, so I don't think it's allowed. He basically sets the rules for this holiday, the way Old Navy sets the rules for Christmas festivities. As we reached four, I desperately pried at the cord and the God of New Year's Eve (Dick) smiled on me. The ball plummeted quickly. 3-2-1 went by in a blur, and 2004 arrived with all the glory of a premature ejaculation.

I choose not to focus any further on that glitch in the party, because I do not wish to label 2004 as The Year of Technical Glitches. How boring would that be? Besides, that was George Bush's theme for 2003, and I don't want to steal his thunder. Or imitate him in any way, thank you very much. Instead, I have opted for a more romantic theme, which came to me (as all good ideas do) while snacking.

The hors-d'oeuvres for this soiree happened to be displayed along one wall in a very dimly lit dining room. All night I popped snacks into my mouth expecting one taste and experiencing quite another. As I munched a cookie, I would realize it was a savory cracker. The coconut macaroon I ate turned out to be a crab cake. This is a jarring experience, but tantalized my love of surprises. I don't believe in peering over the edge of my glasses at an unidentifiable piece of food and timidly asking, "What is this?" Nope. I'll down it faster than Popeye can swallow a can of spinach and ask questions later. After I finish vomiting, I'll ask around and find out what I consumed that made me so violently ill. Somehow, that's more fun.

Agnes DeMille said, "Living is a form of not being sure, not knowing what's next or how. The moment you know how, you begin to die a little. The artist never entirely knows. We guess. We may be wrong, but we take leap after leap in the dark."

I'm planning on leaping a lot this year. Sure, I risk giving up a new dishwasher for the booby prize (a tractor driven by Carol Merril) behind curtain number three. Maybe I will drive into a fake road painted into the side of a mountain. At least I'll be surprised. Happy 2004.