Like most people in the United States–and the world for that matter–I technically don’t have enough money to live in the city in which I reside, a city that has been known to cost a more than fair amount to be in. As is the prudent thing, I have spent my days trying to rectify this situation vis a vis the job search. Searching for employment is a somewhat paradoxical pursuit; indeed, you scour employment websites, polish resumes and tweak cover letters to exhaustion and at day’s end feel like you’ve accomplished less than nothing.
I’ve found that the key to keeping my spirits up is to break up the monotony by either: watching Law & Order, drinking at midday–yes; until I’m somewhat drunk–or reading. The first is always great, though we seem to be in a cycle of episodes I’ve already seen; the second is problematic on several levels and really isn’t an interesting enough pastime; the third always worthwhile provided the literature is up to snuff. Having already exceeded my Stoli and tonic intake for the week–and the next week too–I decided to float over to the bookshelf and peruse the selection. Kafka? No. Camus? Cover letter crafting has melted my brain a little too much for my boy. Into The Wild? I knew it to be a tale of a young white boy who died after dropping out of the world and going back to nature. Seemed engrossing enough, so I settled in and read it.
While I won’t sit here and give you an entire book review, I will say it was an enjoyable read. I both admired and despised the young man in question and any time a story can make you feel conflicted, you should chalk that up as a decent day’s read. One of the many question I, and others, asked throughout the story is,
“Is man equipped to survive in nature? Is nature natural to us any longer?”
Later that same evening, the misses and I were watching the news and sat in dismay as it appears subway fare hikes are on the horizon, though the broadcasters half-heartedly attempted to keep it a matter of speculation–as if a billion-dollar budget deficit would not come directly out of the pocket of the consumer. I went to bed with that familiar feeling I seem to go to bed with frequently these days; that less-than-hopeful feeling you have when you’re down to your last few dollars and don’t have any idea where the next few are coming from. It’s that foreboding feeling, as if someone slipped a slender hand underneath your chest and is gently massaging your heart in a completely unflattering way.
I woke up this morning and did the price hike figures. A twenty dollar fare increase for a one month unlimited ride metro card. A cool hundred dollars to ride to and fro with the other sad souls with a hand on the heart. Still in bed, I contemplated life as I know it: I’m a college graduate whose real skills and interests people tend to think should come for free, especially when there’s not too much money to go around. So, as a true son of Eli, I contemplated the next possible step: Law school. It’s the only thing I could think of that I could do that would very likely pay dividends if I so desired. Yes; it costs a lot, but, so does drama school and plenty of those degrees never, ever, ever bear fruit.
This isn’t a long, convoluted way to explain my decision to go to law school–though I suppose I’m still considering it–but rather I’m spelling out a thought process. Why would I ever consider doing something I have little interest in? Money, of course. And what does telling you of my sitting unemployed and enriching my mind through literature tell you? Hopefully something about man in his natural habitat.
I woke up this morning and did my figures and pondered law school and pondered this book I read while unemployed and came to this thought:
Modern Society–as man now knows it–is his most natural habitat. To survive in said habitat the only tangible resource necessary is money. Money is of singular importance because it allows man to gather what he needs to survive in the habitat and the pursuit thereof is thus amoral.
Now, I acknowledge that there is a particularly Western point of view inherent in the above. I also acknowledge that it is predicated upon a society that places value on money. Certainly the matter will be different when that is no longer the case, but until then I’m inclined to explore this further.
One of the common refrains from those who thought Chris McCandless was a delusional dreamer who had no respect for the Alaskan wilderness is that modern man is no longer equipped to survive the way he was attempting to survive. And those that can survive in that way are far more knowledgeable about the way to do it. Without the proper preparation, man simply no longer has a place in the wilderness. We’ve just plain forgotten what it takes.
Still, it’s not an utter impossibility. Man is still atop the food chain. Why? Because of our ability to be prepared, our ability to acquire knowledge, set rabbit traps, preserve meat and stay warm over the winter months. Fortunately and unfortunately, we’re not only able to adapt to a habitat, we’re also able to bend it to our will–until it bends back of course.
The stakes for modern man are different than they once were and here is where the question of amorality in pursuit of the only resource that matters comes into play. Save for our friends in PETA and the like, no one thinks those who hunted and trapped game were wrong for doing that which they deemed necessary to survive. Before we started overdoing it, felling trees so you could build a house was alright. Why? Because it was cold outside. But the question is different now. Man has money as an intermediary to the jobs he used to do. Want food? Pay for it. Need shelter? Pay for it. In fact, money’s something more than an intermediary because it affects every aspect of life; indeed, it costs money to do things that don’t cost money.
But there’s another piece to this puzzle. Immoderation is, and has been, the new moderation. To have enough is to have too little. This is where man’s ability to bend his habitat to his will comes into play. Being reasonable simply isn’t any fun. It isn’t simply a matter of surviving; rather, it is a matter of surviving comfortably.
Money is the means by which modern man survives. It’s both gun and deer; ax and shelter. Show me a person who is surviving well without money andI’ll show you a college student with a benefactor. Currency matters because it has a limitless amount of influence; it is able to do the work we no longer wish to do or are capable of doing. The things you can’t get with money–love, contentment, self-esteem–are the same things you can’t get without it. Yes; mo’ money, mo’ problems, but I think we often fail to see money for what it is: A resource. Money is often the patsy for human shortcomings. Perhaps, more fairly, it’s mo’ people, mo’ problems. Is money the root of all evil or is the desire to consume?
As I pondered this question of the interplay between money and morality–and under the umbrella of morality I’m placing generally agreed upon tenets of character, integrity, decency, etcetera–I found that money and morality were both powerful forms of currency, but only one can help you survive without prejudice. Am I saying that there’s no room for decency? Of course not; I am a person who is consistently awed and humbled by human decency. I’m merely pointing out that but having the first and last month’s rent does the work that the favors of friends eventually cannot.
I have to admit that this argument gets entirely more complex for those individuals who no longer have to hunt. When the need to pursue is no longer there, what is the impulse? Perhaps it’s simply a matter of desire which can no longer be governed. But the question being raised is based on having that which allows him or her to survive, not indulge.
For those of us still in the hunt, for those of us who have neither venison for the winter or a comfortable place to store, does the question of morality truly apply? On the physical plane on which we exist, would we not concede that mere righteousness rarely puts food in your mouth or a roof over your head? This is not to say that I’m all for survival at any cost; I still find infringing upon another’s life to be generally out of bounds, though I am willing to give a degree of latitude to that which a person considers self-defense.
Truly, this question hinges greatly on the matter of socialization. I, and others, have been shown time and again that money matters and, by and large, we believe that. We’ve also been told otherwise so we don’t go bat-shit crazy and truly give way to our baser instincts i.e. the pursuit of the truly important resource. Does this exonerate the drug dealers and gun runners and robber barons of the world? Kind of. Not fully, but kind of. As we tend to forget, most drug dealers and the like–and yes Wall Street, you get grouped in there too–are not wealthy and take part in the business for no other reason than to make money, the resource they need to survive. Period. If they could make the same kind of money selling fruit baskets, I’d wager most would (there’s always that percentage that like the danger. Idiots). We find them to be a tricky bunch because they work outside the law to give the society something it quietly craves and will cause bloodbaths and destroy communities in order to give society that which it quietly craves. We don’t so much begrudge them their money as we don’t like to see the blood and the mess.
This is a question of man’s nature. We tend to forget that we are animals. We do that which needs doing to survive, live in a society that appeals to that survival instinct and then hope that we have the decency to be “better than that.” We are animals. Yes; I’d argue we are the most complex in the animal kingdom but members of the kingdom nonetheless. It’s not essential that I know how to preserve a moose–though it probably should be. It matters little that I don’t know how to find water in the desert–though I may one day regret that. It does matter however that I find a solution to a twenty dollar hike in my monthly expenses. And righteousness isn’t it. Peace to John Krakauer.
Recently, she added a new colt to the rotation and had yet to decide whether or not she would give him a shot at the title (I mixed so many metaphors right there that I am almost ashamed). While he was a nice guy, she deemed him a bit too paunchy and in need of some paunch loss before slapping stomachs could legitimately be placed on the table. She had a requirement, a requirement he didn’t know about, of fifteen pounds or (no) bust.
The above was of course contingent upon the rest of the rotation fulfilling their dictal obligations. But, as is wont to happen to everyone who has ever engaged in the Life, ole girl hit a drought. Worse, her MVP went on sabbatical and thus she has been deprived of the catnip. Sadly, among singles in the post-modern era–or any era really–such dire straits tests the resolve; some power through the rough patch and emerge with standards in tact; others open the gates to Jerusalem and let the heathens in.
As you may have guessed by now, my friend, in need of some quality time, forwent the fifteen pound double secret ultimatum and let the young colt saddle up. Remember, he was a nice guy, nice enough looking sans paunch, and history has often shown that the its the people who you don’t expect that lay the pipe illest. Here, history was apparently on sabbatical.
His grade: F-.
And here’s the rubric as to why:
1. He had man boobs. “A legit 32B, possibly a C depending on the bra”
2.He was a tongue down the throat kisser. “I literally had to tell him, ‘Whoa buddy, too much tongue.’”
3. He was a hard sucker. “My nipples hurt.”
4.It lasted 5-8 minutes maximum “I wasn’t even that mad because Iwas so bored.”
5. He wasn’t packing “I mean, his dick wasn’t even big.”
When I heard stories like this in school, I’d laugh and heckle. When I heard this the other day, I shook my head with legitimate sad feelings in my heart. See, it’s different in real life. You don’t have that critical mass of people with whom to make up sexual follies with–for free no less. Out in the world, you’re very likely frequenting a limited number of places–work, your home, maybe a social place (assuming of course you have the money to do so); not only don’t you have to time or money for critical mass, you very likely don’t even know where it is.
On the occasions you get to slay, the margin for error is much slimmer. In school, you have bad sex on Tuesday, that situation could be reasonably rectified by Wednesday, if not Tuesday depending on the time of the incident. Bad sex in real life is often only followed up by the realization that good sex is some oasis in the distance.
While my friend, who will usually try to find something redeemable about someone she’s rolled in the hay with, just sort of shrugged off the performance, I sat outraged. I just don’t understand what some guys are doing when they get in the cut. On one hand, I blame the women that allow them to just be bad and never tell them, but I mainly think the onus lies with the guy. I fully believe that every guy can be OK at sex. Not great, but OK; I mean, even “unremarkable” is leagues superior to F-.
Let’s take our friend’s rubric for example and note the little, little things he could have done to better this for himself.
1. Some dudes have tits. While it’s best not to, it is something that happens and shouldn’t preclude them from procreating. HOWEVER, the ratio of your boobs to G has to be proportional. Namely, the bigger your boobs are, the greater your swag must be. Use any fat rapper as an example and it holds Kool-Aid. This guy was “nice” which, doesn’t mean he has no G, but if “nice” isn’t followed up by “charming” or “charismatic”, you needs must have less boob.
2. Just don’t put your tongue down peoples’ throats. In my opinion, when your first kissing a person, less tongue is better. Granted, I also think tongue kissing should be reserved for people you know like that, but if you feel the need to slip some pink, you should not be hitting wisdom teeth. You should be more like a kitten drinking milk, using just the right amount of tongue and savoring the moment.
3. Don’t suck hard. It’s foreplay, not liposuction.
4. I’m not a marathon man, but you need to stretch out that first go-round to a reasonable length of time. This is your audition and in order to get a callback, you’ve got to put up competitive numbers. There’s no getting around this. In the cases where you just can’t hold out, there has to be something that you do very well. In these instances, this is where you can use as much tongue as you like (sort of). Frankly, I think you have a borderline obligation to give her some love below if you can’t break the couple minute mark/ get it up. In my least fine hours, this theory has served me well.
5. Dick size is something you can’t do anything about, and if it’s not something you can hang your hat on, you just have to make sure your game is airtight in other areas.
Before my friend got off the horn, she wryly quipped, “See, this is exactly why you should take the car out for a test drive before you buy it.” Perhaps more importantly, we should be asking ourselves every now and again, “Does my lot sticker say ‘Fully loaded’ or ‘Needs work’?” Peace to the fundamentals.
Penultimate Thought: Supreme Obnoxiousness of the Week: The Michelle met Stephen A. Smith at a bar and, while drunk, continually said “HOWEVA” to him, even after he made it clear it was not funny to him.
Final Thought: The sun is better than lots of things.
The other day while drinking in my slacks and hard bottoms, I received a phone call from my misses who was at a churchie wedding in Washington state. To be more accurate, this was a returned phone call, me having rung her hours previous to that moment (Sidebar 1: I don’t know why, but I’m not much of a voicemail leaver. I guess the way I see it, unless I’m calling to tell you something you need to know, I don’t have the patience to go through the message-leaving process. Some have you press one, others have weird pauses between the end of the voicemail and when you can start your message. I just don’t have time for that nonsense).
Getting back to the actual point, I received this call from a churchie wedding reception and after saying about five to seven words, I knew I was in some sort of trouble. I was in cross-country trouble. There was a palpable politeness on the phone that let me know I had done something wrong. Sensing doom, I did what any person who has ever dealt with a (Black) woman would do: I asked whether something was wrong, knowing full well that I most likely had something to do with it, but not actually knowing what.
Sensing that I sensed doom, young Shareef replied that nothing was the matter–of course–and that she was merely returning my call. Since the tone of voice was all wrong for her to be A) telling the truth or B) bothered by something other than me, I knew for certain I was getting set to go to Lump Town (which is like Pump Town, but with more anger and absolutely no sex whatsoever). Caring not to wake a sleeping giant, I said the requisite, “All right, I’ll talk to you later,” hung up the phone, returned to my drink on the couch and waited.
After having peed on the Trouble Test, the little blue plus sign came back about five minutes later via a text message. My transgression? Not having called back when I said I would. This is a particularly egregious repeat offense of mine, one that–thankfully–didn’t require rehashing at that moment in time. Indeed, it was of the swift “This is what you did, I’m heated about it, but I’m gonna sit at this wack reception across the country, get a little flavor–I’m gonna choose not to speak to you–recharge the batteries a little, shut down the engines and get back to neutral” ilk that any man worth his salt will come to appreciate with age.
Rehashing the event with Steve “Grey Goose” Biko the next morning, I sat befuddled. I wasn’t confused by why she was mad, I was more perplexed as to why that thing makes her mad. As Biko and I reasoned, it wasn’t like I had intentionally not called her back; I had legitimately forgotten and called back after the time that I said I would. Brainstorming, BIko and I realized that was precisely the problem.
Gestures–phone calls, letters, gifts–are, at their most basic, demonstrations of the respect between two people. There is an understanding on the most fundamental level that these gestures are saying, “Hey, I think you’re an alright cat.” Trouble, particularly in the realm of the phone call, seems to arise when those two people are of the opposite sex. Why? Because the scales of respect for men and women are different and disaster can strike when those schools of thought collide.
Between men, the respect is in the gesture. Unless a dude needs that other dude to call him back for a particular reason–you have my keys, I need XYZ phone number–the time at which he calls is irrelevant even if a time was set. If your boy says 3 and calls at 4:47, you don’t really trip because he’s your boy and your happy he called. Shit, a guy can be days late on a call and it’s OK.
Between women, the respect is in the details. The thinking seems to be this: Anybody can call them, but a friend calls when they say they will. If a girlfriend says they’re going to call and they don’t, regardless of whether or not the issue entails something of import, there will be at least a mild sucking of teeth by the offended party. They expect other females to be on the same wavelength. It’s not to say that every female goes overboard, but it is to say that it is a noticed offense.
Even the matters of exception differ between the sexes. For women, there are maybe 1-2 slots reserved for trifling friends that are exempt from teeth-sucking unless it is a matter of import and extreme triflocity on the friend’s part. For the fellas, there’s vague commendation and praise for “mufuckas that call back when they say they will” which is actually greatly overshadowed by the black list of “mufuckas it’s not practical to call when it’s time to get down to business.”
Working separately, these philosophies peacefully coexist, but intermingled, they are a hotbed of catastrophe in which the males get in trouble and the women get worried about.
When a man doesn’t call back at a time he said he would, it’s not necessarily that he is careless; rather, he is operating (to his peril) under the male gesture system (clearly we are excluded situations where he doesn’t call back on purpose, which can’t really be ascribed to males exclusively anyway). He may be focused on something else, busy doing this, that or the other and a call that isn’t part of that focus gets lost by the wayside. Understand, I am not saying that this excuses the action, I’m merely putting forth a possible explanation. I mean, let’s be honest, since any woman worth being around is probably the boss any damn way, you and I both know that when a man neglects to remember the female gesture system, he’s gonna get his ass busted, so excuses aren’t worth a damn anyway.
When a woman doesn’t call back at a time she said she would, more often than not something happened. Women (and I’m excluding flaky broads here) sweat the details. 4 o’clock means that hour before 5. So for a guy not being called back by a girl, there is a multi-step thought process. First, we find it peculiar that home girl hasn’t called yet; second, we get a little pissed because we consistently get cracked to the white meat for doing the same thing; third, we get worried because, unless you date a floozy, a callback is a matter of detail that would not be generally overlooked by a woman. Though I don’t have any imperical evidence to support the following, I’m still very willing to bet that missing persons reports are filed for women more quickly than they are for men.
Women can barely get their ass busted for the non-callback (unless they’re dating an Ike Turner-type, which, on multiple levels, is just too problematic an exception to spend time on here). If they call within step one, a guy doesn’t even notice. If she calls within step two, a dude can try and get buck only to have her remind him of EVERY SINGLE TIME he didn’t call when he said he would (and who needs that aggravation?), and if a woman calls during step three, a guy is just relieved she’s alright and can only muster a half-disappointed “Please don’t do that to me again, you had me worried sick” sort of thing that couldn’t really be considered a reprimand.
(Sidebar 2: In the above steps, you can possibly put step 2A which involves thinking your women is stepping out on you, but that lack of trust/jealousy is best reserved for people Richboy would term “fuckniggas”)
(Sidebar 3: Don’t think for a second that I don’t think women are capable of such a thing [see TLC's 'Creep'] but I’m of the belief that you don’t need to go there unless you need to go there, ya dig?)
These differing philosophies–much like the clitoris not being close to the vagina–are a cruel trick of fate. I cannot and will never be able to tell you why men find respect in the gesture and women find it in the details. Maybe a combination of the two is what one could call perfection and maybe that’s what the relationships between men and women are about (though I still find perpetuation of the species to be fairly compelling). Or better yet, perhaps they are merely matters of sick amusement that someone, somewhere threw into the mix to add humor and drama to this folliful three-legged race we call man, woman, chaos. Peace to the Night Rider.
Penultimate Thought: The New York Times: Fox News for the liberal elite.
Final Thought: I can’t enjoy a meal if I have to pee.