An interesting potpourri. For those who conquered the week, I salute you.
Since I like few things more than leaving a warm apartment in order to brave the elements in search of confections post 10 o’clock, I had occasion to do just that with Dancing Feather some hours ago. I did not desire said confections and would have been fine remaining sockless on the couch. But the lady wanted some sweets, so away we went. A few observations and revelations from this sojourn:
- I feel bad for dads-to-be. I mean, I’m not one and I still felt compelled to go, which means they HAVE to go and it’s likely they will be making the journey alone. I wonder if there’s a point at which they just go to bed fully dressed.
- I know part of me went so that this incident could not be grounds for bringing up old shit at a later date. It’s absolutely a tactical move. A guy has to insulate himself from reprisal because, I believe it’s 2nd Corinthians that says, "She of Adam’s rib is genetically predisposed to remembering and bringing up all old shit." Amen.
- On the way back, I was plotting what the Friday piece would be. I decided on a lighter tone since too much of life is currently the wack juice and sometimes you have to force joy into your life. Of course, my thought train immediately took me to Force of Joy, my awesome name for a Christian Rock group (I’m never not playing Siiick Band Name). I bounced this off The Feath who thought it was OK. I mentioned that it’s certainly no Mighty Clouds of Joy, and then paused as we both wonder what, in fact, a Mighty Cloud of Joy was. Final Answer: Blunt smoke.
Like most of us, I am constantly in need of a good laugh and was rewarded by the gods of motion pictures who saw fit for me to see both Shooter and an episode of 30 Rock last night. As I watched, I couldn’t help but wonder who would win in a raspy voice-off, Alec Baldwin or Danny Glover. Danny hasn’t spoken up since Lethal Weapon and Baldwin Number One hasn’t gotten much above a smoky peep since Tina Fey picked his career off the cutting room floor.
Toys R Us is having a "Sale of the Century". Isn’t that a little premature? I mean, when OJ was having his "Trial of the Century" not only was that an arguable claim, but it also took place with enough time to think about the statement. Maybe Toys R Us should consider laying claim to the decade, which really isn’t a terrible thing. I mean, Obama son. Speaking of Orenthal, one out of two ain’t bad, right?
iPhones are amazing. AMAZING. Still, I’m not sure why a grown ass person needs all those apps, which is adultese for "games to fuck around with without looking like an absolute tool."
Kudos to Pedro Almodovar. Not only is Bad Education gripping storytelling, it left me sexually confused for a good thirty minutes after watching it.
The Feath had a scary dream the other night and woke me up to tell me about it and to gain comfort. While I can’t say for certain if she felt safer after telling her tale, I can tell you for certain that it scared the crap out of me, even prompting me at one point to turn the lights on while she moved a chair that was casting a creepy shadow on the wall.
To my good friends at Levi’s: I know putting on jeans is usually not interesting unless you’re a woman–and here you can replace "interesting" with "gut-wrenching", "soul sapping" and or "spirit siphoning"–but are we so creatively bankrupt that we feel the need to make it a freestyle sport? And while we’re on the topic, why would anyone help their buddy backflip into his jeans? Word? I personally would like to see all the footage, which no doubt includes blooper-worthy knee blowouts and ruptured nut sacs.
I sometimes watch American Gangster and wonder if Denzel ever fucked up a take by accidentally doing the one-tear hard cry. In other news, I still get pissed watching the end of Glory.
I’m unemployed at a time when my buddy has vice presidents from Goldman calling him looking for work; the line of work I’m interested in takes an abundance of patience I may or may not possess. I see all too clearly where my money’s going and am in a fog as to where it will come from. Yet I feel chilly feet on my calves every morning and know my head’s still above the water.
QUESTION OF THE DAY
If you could ask a person of your choice–living, dead, famous, not famous, real, fictional–one question, who would that person be and what would you ask them?
Since my girl is light but, in fact, not Black, last Sunday we went to the Native American museum on Bowling Green to see what the haps on the craps were. After culturing ourselves, we were riding back on the train when a gentleman with a less-than-convincing toupee boarded the train. My first inclination was to make some snarky remark to Dancing Feather, but seeing as I’m trying to work on some judgment issues of late, I decided to keep the comment to myself. Riding along, I couldn’t help but wonder what series of events brought this guy to make this follicular decision. He wasn’t a bad looking guy; 40s, tall, regular building and somewhat handsome, in a ruddy sort of way. Sitting with my mostly full head of hair, I found myself hoping that I would age gracefully. It’s funny; rather than revert to the knee-jerk heckle, I attempted to try and place myself in this man’s shoes, or, more accurately, hairpiece. Somewhat surprisingly, after deciding not to heckle him, my first emotional response was to feel bad for him, to pity his decision. And while some of the feeling was probably tempered by believing I’ll age into the All-State guy, I can say confidently that my compassion was of the “damn” rather than “awww” variety.
Arriving at my stop, this question of empathy gave me cause to pause. Pushing my way through the turnstile and up the slippery station steps, I could not fully grasp why I felt bad. Chalking it up to being a sensitive human being was not enough of an answer. And I’m not a person who can force an emotion. I mean, I laughed my ass off when Brad Pitt got tuned up by those cars in Meet Joe Black. So what was it? Fighting of the elements on Lexington Avenue, I saw very clearly the Empathy Stages of life. Why did I feel a weird sort of compassion? Because the man in question was in the right age bracket. The ways in which people feel for others is directly linked to age.
When you’re a young gun, you get Stage One empathy. People feel bad when you are physically hurt. Broke your leg? Sign the cast and try to find some joy in a painful situation. Need stitches? As long as it’s not in some place that will come back to haunt you as adolescent cruelty begins to rear its ugly head, you can rest easy with the knowledge that you will have a scar and a story. Young people, it is reasoned, are supposed to be physically hurt and that hurt needs to be allayed by the proper empathy. There’s a flip side to the coin however. For all the casts and scarring, the empathy isn’t really allocated for emotional hurts, especially from adults to kids. Adults may sort of feel bad that your prom date was a nightmare or you had a bad break-up the summer before sophomore year, but deep down, they’re really thinking, “Man, this shit ain’t even hard yet.” Young gun emotional hurt is dismissed as, well, juvenile.
But one day, all young guns get older. As this process happens, so too does the nature of empathy. At this point you’ve graduated to Stage Two empathy. People certainly still feel bad when you fall off your ladder or slip on the ice and break your leg, but the empathy is more confused. When adults hear that other healthy adults get hurt, they say, “Really? That’s terrible.” Note that the first word is “really,” as in, “Hm, usually only kids seem to have these sorts of things happen to them and I find the fact that it happened to someone who is not a kid somewhat perplexing.” Most adults aren’t foolish enough to think that they’re invincible, but they are also out of practice signing peoples’ legs. Adults are tuned for emotionally damaging situations—lost job, failed marriages, aging and mortality crises—and other adults (or would-be adults) recognize that and respond accordingly. I couldn’t sign this guy’s forehead or be regaled by an interesting tale of balding and how he decided to respond to it. So, I sat and empathized as best I could.
As Dancing Feather and I trudged home through the November rain, we decided that the people with the best compassion bracket are old people. Think about it: If you’re lucky enough to get old—and you better believe it takes luck—people feel bad for you about everything. Your emotional and physical bases are covered. Now you might say ubiquitous pity is nothing to aspire to. I disagree. The way I see it, if you get to a point in your life where people are unequivocally compelled toward compassion; if you’ve been granted enough time and experience to get to Stage Three, you’ve lived a good life. Or at least had the chance for one. Peace to Big Mama.
Penultimate Thought: Somehow, Will Smith’s movies keep dragging me back in.
Final Thought: The air is better in the clouds.