Essay, Humor, Things Happening RN

I’M EAVESDROPPING

THURSDAY, STARBUCKS – I just spent twenty minutes listening to two teenager/twentysomething girls complain about their babysitting wards, specificially some kid named Soren. I kept meaning to start writing something, but I was drawn in beyond understanding. Soren dropped something on the floor and then just walked away. She would totally clean it up no problem, one girl assured, but it was the laissez-faire attitude Soren possessed that really irked her. By the way, that’s never true. It’s never that you would totally clean something up but the person was rude about it – you also don’t want to have to clean it up. But for some reason, it’s unacceptable to say, “I don’t want to clean up after you, Soren!” I laugh so hard at this fake, imaginary person who loves cleaning up after people but loves politeness more.

“Do the parents care?” “No. I mean, they get mad, but they don’t really do anything.”

I’ve been doing a lot of eavesdropping lately. Not necessarily on purpose, but it’s just been happening. I work at a moderately hipster, reasonably priced popular grocery chain. And what I’ve learned in the almost five months I’ve been there is that nothing makes you more invisible to people than working retail. People, bless their hearts, really are blind to you.

The other day, I was manning a register when, behind me, a customer was loudly monologuing about the upcoming Super Bowl. “Tom Brady’s so mentally strong,” she was trying to convince my co-worker who, bless her, does not watch football. “He’s totally mentally strong,” she shouted into the void. When I turn innocuously to catch a glimpse of her, she latched onto me. “You watch football right?” she asked without waiting for me to answer. It’s a minute later before I found a dip in the conversation to say, “No, not really.” She bore a more-than-passing resemblance to Jenna Lyons, the former creative director and president of J.Crew – slightly more mannish and full, but strangely magnetic.

Even after we’ve all affirmed that we, unlike her, do not watch football – I’ve watched one game this season – she continued to launch several rhetorical questions into the open air. Receipt in her hand, she kept going. Next customer being rung up, still she stood talking. And finally, when she said her goodbyes and pushed her laden cart out of the store.

Days later, she came to my register and started talking – mercifully, not about football. She was ranting about The Walking Dead before offering up, sans spoiler alert, “Yeah Carl was bitten.” And when I said, “Oh I don’t watch that show,” she repeated the spoiler, “Yeah, he’s the son. He’s annoying. He’s dead, well, not yet but he will be. That show’s really going off the rails.” To so brazenly offer up what was surely a pivotal twist in the series without even the slightest concern or spoiler alert – what if I were watching the show? – was shocking. When I offered up that I was currently watching The Crown, she pivoted easily and naturally. She had not seen the show but her brother-in-law was the owner of some football team and also an ambassador to the U.K. She dug up a picture of him meeting the Queen and attempted to show me several more Instagrams before the lack of Wi-Fi foiled her. She would, she promised me, show me the photos next time.

As she left, I had to fight a smile from creeping across my face. When I first escaped her football speech, I pictured what the rest of her day must look like, as I often do with customers. I pictured her talking the ear off of other mothers at drop-off; I pictured her loudly holding court at the dinner table. I pictured her as loving fiercely, but suffocatingly. But something about her vicious lack of wherewithal about name-dropping shifted my lens of her.

She just, bless, didn’t give a fuck. She wanted to name-drop, and so she did. She had opinions about The Walking Dead, so she shared them. She had an effusive admiration of Tom Brady, so she expressed it. It didn’t matter to her that no one shared in her journey; an audience was entirely beside the point. What I had interpreted as an inability to read the room was actually just blind conviction. And there’s something about bald and bold confidence that draws me to people. People so often step around how they feel, like those girls did with Soren. Instead of just saying, “Fuck off Soren, I’m not your maid, I’m your babysitter. Now clean up the floor,” she couched it in the way he (or she, the name Soren leaves the gender mysterious) handled the dropping. But I imagined that “Mentally Strong” would have no problem eviscerating Soren. And Soren would probably, eventually, be grateful for the straight talk.

People so rarely say what they mean. We’re wrapped up in manners and culture – it’s not necessarily a bad thing – but it was so arresting to see someone so unconcerned with the norms. A normal person would exchange meaningless banter at the register – their weekend, the weather, perhaps a recipe or two. But for her, all the world’s a stage.

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music, pop culture, Sports

CONGRATZ PATS (?)

Most of the people I know are queers, cynics and ladies (and some various combinations of the three) so I was largely unaffected by the Heterosexual Roman Triumph otherwise known as Superbowl LI. Super Bowl? Super-Bowl?

*googles it* Super Bowl. But now all I can see is “super bowl” like “Gee, what a great bowl!” And I don’t mean to brag, but I know my way around a super bowl. Have you ever been to Paint Your Own Pottery? I’ve been. Twice.

I watched the Super Bowl in the way God intended—I made Moscow Mules, ate dip and kept saying to my friends, “I can’t believe it starts at 6:30.” Because seriously, I get that it was in Houston, but that’s a long time. By the time 6:30 rolled its lazy ass around, I was two Moscow Mules-deep and had accidentally chipped my nail polish on a tooth as I vigorously ate a tortilla chip.

Also full disclosure: I left after Gaga performed, was asleep by 10 p.m. and then jerked awake at 2 a.m. and checked my Twitter to find out that the Patriots had come from behind (gay) to beat the Falcons in OT (overtime) 34 to 28.

I first was very confused because my entire Twitter feed was just, “THE FALCONS WON THE POPULAR VOTE” and I had just woken up so the joke didn’t translate for me. But then I went on my Twitter moments and understood the ref. Funny (?).

I am very petty, so my immediate reaction upon waking up and finding out the Patriots had won was deep, unbending anger because that means that the annoying people I go to school with (i.e. everyone who isn’t a cynic, a queer or a lady) would be happy. I am very petty. If I were a Golden Girl, I would be Petty White. Also I’m very much over the Patriots doing so well. How can you root for someone like that?

Side bar: my mother expressly rooted for the Atlanta Falcons because she “loves an underdog.” So some of my pettiness is probably genetic.

While watching the game, I was overcome with confusion and I had tried to learn as much as possible before the game. I didn’t even make any jokes about the position “wide receiver.” But as soon as the game actually started, all my learning went out the window. First of all, I didn’t realize what I was watching was the game until about a minute into it. Secondly, it’s kind of impossible to figure out what’s the game and what’s just a replay. Like, are they trying to make it more confusing?

Thirdly, I find it offensive that they disregard time as a concept so flippantly. Sure, it says “20 minutes on the clock” but those 20 minutes could be forty minutes. They took a “break?” “pause?” “time-out” with three seconds left on the clock. Could anything happen in that time, or couldn’t they just take those three seconds to get comfortable before the (what’s the in-between time called? Rest period?) started.

Gaga’s performance was very good. Very surprising, because I assumed she would play a lot more Joanne than she did (she just sang “A Million Reasons”). But Gaga is always subverting expectations, and instead of playing to the Texas crowd with her rock-folk-country album vibes, she served vintage queer Gaga.

She also subverted expectations by not going full-throttle political. A story circulated the week before the Super Bowl that the NFL was trying to muzzle Gaga’s political speech. Whether or not that’s true, we’ll never know, but the performance was very patriotic. And some reactions I’ve read online say that that was the most political and radical thing she could’ve done. That she could’ve softballed it and gone crazy-divisive and angry and scorched-earth. But instead she praised American unity and set the message as “We stand together.” That shows a lot of intelligence and restraint on her part, to not give into the anger of the people and to stand for something greater.

God, I love her.

Literally that’s it. Congrats Pats, but can we limit the masturbatory praise to this week? I don’t feel like avoiding articles about how amazing the Pats’ comeback is. Like, they’ve been in the Super Bowl forever; it’s not that amazing. It’s kind of expected now. They could take a leaf out of Lady Gaga’s playbook and give us something unexpected. And they could totally incorporate her football gear into their uniforms.

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Celebrity Sunday, pop culture

THINGS THAT ARE HAPPENING RIGHT NOW

Do you ever have one of those weekends where suddenly it’s Sunday night, you’re lying on the floor of your apartment on a blue shag carpet, and you’re realizing that the most culturally significant moments of the past weekend involved eating food, and that you can name exactly what you ate but not any other thing that happened? No? Never mind.

I was overwhelmed and amazed and pleased at the response my last post—read here if you would like—but the response was so explosive that now I am the literal definition of “deer in headlights.”

And since I didn’t do adequate planning—due to the “deer in headlights” (or the “when the kitchen lights come on as you’re sitting on the counter eating chocolate ice cream out of the carton”) aspect of these last few days—I’m giving you, in lieu of a specific spotlight on what’s happening celebrity-wise, a sort of “What You Should Care About Right Now” list. You’re welcome (?).

WHAT’S HAPPENING RN:

1). The Super Bowl: No comment, except that I essentially view the Super Bowl as a three-part musical—football, BEYONCE, football—and I will, until I die, refer to the field as a “stage” and football players as “Beyoncé’s warm-up act” because I think that is hilarious. But, if you care, it’s the Panthers versus the Broncos. I’m assuming that I’ll just get the low-down from my mother, the Queen and a total Sporty Spice, tomorrow, since she is watching the game.

2). BEYONCE: Beyoncé released a new music video, “Formation,” out of nowhere, and my eyes were not ready for the Instagram stills that she put up when the video came out. I’ve watched the video, and I have a few things to say. Blue Ivy is so big now, it’s crazy! I love the whole “back to my roots in Givenchy” vibe, as well as her braids. I like the synchronized dancers, and the “I Slay” mentality. I also will be incorporating “Always stay gracious, best revenge is your paper” into my daily life.

3). BEYONCE, part dieux: I just need to make her more than one point. She’s so great. I can already tell that I will be awkwardly and inappropriately dancing to this song in a club/my shower, someday very soon. Also I’m craving Red Lobster.

4). This quiz about which Kardashian-Jenner you are: Necessary, and culturally relevant. I got Khloe. Obviously.

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Source: Danny McCarthy

5). Kocktails: I’ve been binging on Snooki a lot lately and she was on the third episode of Kocktails with Khloe. This was the least cringe-worthy episode of the show, so while I will not be watching consistently, I will at least be checking up to see who the guests are to see if it’s worth me having very tense shoulders for forty minutes.

6). This video from Mic: The music video of Coldplay and Beyoncé (BEYONCE) has been criticized for cultural appropriation, and this video from Mic does a really excellent job of differentiating between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation. Basically, appropriation occurs when one borrows recklessly from another culture without understanding the historical significance behind what they are borrowing. So for instance, Chris Martin (referred to in my mind as “Gwyneth Paltrow’s ex-husband”) being followed by a crowd of adoring Indian children might seem weird on the surface, but when you consider that less than 100 years ago, the British Empire was oppressing and ruling over India—which inspired Gandhi to rise up and call for Indian independence against the British Empire—the image becomes almost horrifically self-indulgent and inappropriate. It’s well done and succinct, so watch it!

7). Paris Geller is confirmed to be in the revival of Gilmore Girls: This might be the most important revival of history and my life, so I’m excited that one of the key players will be returning.

8). Gloria Steinem, Bernie Sanders, and Hillary Clinton: I might go into this in deeper depth—omg am I political??—but basically Gloria Steinem, noted feminist and author, said that young women are gravitating towards Bernie Sanders to impress boys and are shying away from Clinton. She later apologized, because…obviously, but it’s still relevant. Also Bernie and Hillary had a Democratic debate this week on who was actually deserving of the term “progressive.” Things got heated. Watch this Late Night with Seth Meyers clip to get a deeper look—but not funnier, because I’m the funniest—at what went on.

This has been “What’s Happening RN.” I’m your host, Danny McCarthy. Good night, and good luck out there.

Psst. Aren’t I so official?

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