Monday, May 31, 2004

There's a lot of penis in here

I have never seen so much penis in my whole EN-tire life as I saw this Sunday night.

My cousin Rolfe came to visit me, in preparation for his move to Boston. We went to a baseball game, and on a harbor cruise, and drank gallons of beer with my friends. By Sunday night, however, he wanted to (and these are his words, now) be among his people, so we went to Avalon for Gay Night.

This was somewhat problematic because I don't dance. Rolfe kept referring to the evening as a "good chance for you to practice your dancing", whereupon I had to inform him that I can no more "practice" dancing than I can "practice" the harpsicord. I just don't even have any idea of the basic principles involved. Also? Oh my goodness, I have never been in a club with so many men who did not care one bit about my cleavage. And many of them were not at all nice about it, either.

After the 9,000th shirtless muscley guy in slave bracelets bumped into me and then sneered as if to say, "how do you like that, fish stick?" I asked Rolfe what was up.

"The muscley ones," I hissed, hiding behind him. "They really, really hate me."

"Don't mind them," he said. "They're just pissed that they spent all those hours at the gym trying to get straight guys to fuck them and they'd still all rather fuck you."

"Can't they just fuck each other?"

He smiled. "They're all bottoms."


"They are. It's a thing."

What really struck me as fascinating, though, was how many men there were running around in nothing but their underpants. Not boxers, either: these guys were wearing teensy tiny bikini briefs. One guy was wearing leopard-print spotted ones and kept pulling open his waistband to peer inside.

"Check out this guy," I said to Rolfe. "What's he doing? He keeps pulling open his underpants as if to say, 'Hey, there, fella! I miss you up here! How's it goin'?' He looks almost fond of his penis. Like they've been through a lot and he's sorry they don't get to spend more quality time together anymore."

"Nah," Rolfe said. "He's just checking to make sure that whatever he's stuffed with isn't going to fall out of the leg hole of his briefs and embarrass him in front of all the other go-go boys. By the way, these are the worst go-go boys I've ever seen in my life. Look at that one over there. He's fat."

Fat or no, I couldn't take my eyes off them. They weren't even attractive. I was sort of repulsed. But their dicks or whatever they stuffed with -- if you believe Rolfe -- kept sort of flopping around. It's just not the sort of thing I see everyday. After awhile, I started telling people about it, as an explanation for my unusual lack of chattiness.

"I'm really sorry," I said to Rolfe, "It's just that there's so much penis in here."

Eventually, Rolfe's exboyfriend Matt arrived, and I told him about it.

"Hi, Matt," I said. "I'm Rolfe's cousin Jen. I'd really like to impress you with idle chatter, but I'm afraid there's just too much penis in here. I don't really think I can talk in front of all this penis. For instance, that guy over there seems to be wearing nothing but baby oil and some sort of wash cloth. Is he a slave boy? Is that a diaper? I don't know. All I know is that there's a lot of penis in here and it's nice to meet you."

"Is this your first time at a gay club?" Matt asked, looking sympathetic and only a little frightened.

"No. Nope. It's just that there's a lot of penis in here. I used to go to gay clubs when I was in college and trying to be a lesbian, but I have an aversion to touching vaginas other than my own, so that didn't work out. I still like Ani DiFranco, though. Omigod, did you see that guy? I think I had that bathing suit when I was five."

Finally, Rolfe and Matt just started steering me around by the elbows and not letting me talk to anyone. We had fun, actually. They made me dance. Even Rolfe had to admit that I looked like Elaine on Seinfeld, only, you know, not quite so comfortable with myself physically. Eventually, I stopped caring about the fact that everyone seemed to have forgotten their pants and that the muscle gays hated me, and I realized two great things about going to gay clubs: 1) no one, but no one, tried to touch me in any way, and 2) sometimes really good looking guys started making out with each other, like it was time to do that, or something. Oh, hey, lookit: 1:35 a.m. Time to make out with a hot guy. It was pretty interesting.

The experience on the whole was a positive one, and once I showered off the secondhand baby oil and smelled some coffee grounds to clear my sinuses of the all the Cool Water, I had to admit that I'd had fun.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Turn off all PC-screening devices to read this post

My extended family totally thinks I'm a homo.

They've thought this for some time, because I'm (gasp) nearly 28 and unmarried, a set of circumstances that has never before occurred in the Hubley family. Also, I never have a boyfriend. Plus, there was that whole Ani DiFranco-shaved head-nosering phase in college, which probably didn't help matters much. I mean, really, what are they supposed to think?

They don't come right out and ask me if I'm gay, though. Maybe your family does this, but Hubleys are masters of indirection and innuendo. I receive invitations to weddings and such with the gender neutral verbal assurance that I can bring, you know, any special someone. When my aunts ask me what's new with my love-life, they never use the male pronoun.

This shouldn't bother me, of course. It probably means I'm homophobic on some deep, dark level. (And when I find that deep, dark level, rest assured I'm having electricity put in.) But it's kind of annoying to be taken for something you're not, especially when it's put in such a way that you can't really explain yourself without looking defensive.

The final straw was when my cousin Rolfe, who is actually gay, asked me how I liked living in Roslindale. This was two Christmases ago, shortly after I'd moved into my place. "Lotta lesbians in Roslindale," he observed.

"Yes, there are. But I'm not a lesbian, Rolfe."

He made the hereditary Hubley eyebrow wrinkle of embarrassment. His father does it. I do it, too.

"Oh. Okay. I mean, of course you're not."

I paused. "Although, to be fair, it is nice to be able to go into a bar and have a whole bunch of people think you're cute, and not worry that they'll try to assault you in the parking lot."

Monday, May 24, 2004

Come out to the country!

My friend Meredith and I walk around Jamaica Pond after work, whenever I'm feeling too lazy to go to the gym and have a proper workout. We don't burn many calories, but we do get to see baby ducks and pug dogs and toddlers all dressed up in funny outfits and happy couples and gnarly homeless people, and this one time I totally saw a lady give her dog a handjob. Okay, that happened when I was getting ice cream with Becca one afternoon, but I couldn't help throwing it in.

My point is that this walk around the pond is about as close to the country as I like to get. I've had occasion to think of this recently, because my aunt and uncle, who mean well, keep inviting me out to the Berkshires.

"Come out to the country!" They say. "It's beautiful! We'll go hiking! We'll go fishing!"

And I hem and haw and make excuses and try to bribe them to come into the city by promising to take them to a Red Sox game.This afternoon, during my walk in the not-country with Meredith, she demanded to know why I was so opposed to going to the Berkshires to see my uncle and aunt.

"It's the Berkshires, you know," I told her. "It's the country." She looked at me strangely.

"I don't want to go to the country," I explained. "There are no people in the country. That's why I live in the city. I hate the fucking country. If it's so great, why isn't there anyone there?"

Later in the evening, I had the same conversation with my mother, and she pointed out that I like going to the beach.

"That's the country, isn't it?" She said. "It's outdoors."

"Mom," I said. "I like going to the Cape. The Cape is like Route 66 or something. Every ten feet you can stop and get drunk. Or play miniature golf."

Now that's my idea of the country.

Friday, May 21, 2004

Today's fortune: A casual errand can become a grand adventure

I don't usually take lunch, because I'm addicted to the Internet and would rather read Salon on my lunch break than go out anywhere and spend money I don't have on food I don't need, but today I decided to take a little break and do some errands at midday. It's lovely out -- that's one reason. Another is that I have so much cool stuff going on right now that I'm all wound up, and I decided it would look more professional if I left for a bit and ran around outside than if I stayed and ricocheted around the office like some sort of pinball. (Short version: I got a new job at my same company, doing more interesting things with some of my favorite people. Seriously, my new boss is so cool that I hope she never gets a job in sewage treatment. I would hate to have to follow her there.)

I went to the Heights Pharmacy, to pick up my various fruity alternative remedies. When I got there, the place was mobbed, which is unusual. The hippie drugstore is usually pretty bare. Anyway, I guess that's the problem, because as soon I walked in, I overheard someone saying that the place is closing next week. Which sucks.

One of my favorite things about the Heights Pharmacy is the crazy Russian lady who runs the counter. She has huge bushy dyed blonde hair and thick black eyebrows like two dashes over her eyes, and she just looks sort of generally emphatic. The first time I went in there, she handed my stuff over the counter and said, in her thick Russian accent, "What a pretty little girl!" I am a sucker for flattery, especially when it's delivered in an accent.

Anyway, the Russian lady saw me as soon as I came in, and raised her finger. "Wait right there!" She said. "Don't move! I need to talk to you."

So I waited in back while she served the customers, wondering all the while what she might have to say to me. I don't really go in there enough for her to remember me, and we've never had any meaningful conversations, so I couldn't imagine what she wanted. Maybe she had some medical advice for me. Maybe she could read my aura. Maybe my aura was particularly shiny and promising-looking, and she wanted to let me know that I would be famous soon, and that I should watch out for temptation, and continue to be good to the little people, and so on.

After a few moments, she came over, and leaned down to look into my face.

"Yes?" I asked her, expectantly.

"I am so sorry," she said. "I thought you were someone else."

I'm sure she still thinks I'm pretty though.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Fast guide to Boston's neighborhoods

I've been thinking a lot about Boston's neighborhoods lately, because my cousin is moving to town, and because I keep running into ex-boyfriends when I least expect it, in parts of town they never used to go to. (This is a disturbing trend, and I'd like to put a stop to it, especially since my Island of Exiled Ex-boyfriends idea was rejected by the Boston City Planning Commission.)

I've only lived in two neighborhoods myself, but they couldn't be more different. Cambridge, my first home when I got moved back to Boston after college, was pretty much a grown-up version of the super-liberal college town where I went to school. Women eschew make-up there, preferring to go around barefaced, wearing smock dresses and clogs whilst carrying WBGH totes. I was wicked impressed, as you can see. I don't know what the men wear, because I don't remember seeing any men, but I'm sure they all had ponytails.

My favorite part of the whole Cantabrigian experience was getting coffee. You'd stand there in line behind some woman who'd just been out on the street with a placard exhorting everyone to help the poor and needy -- which I'm totally on board with, by the way -- but who was now berating some poor barista who made eight bucks an hour because her soy latte was tepid. After a year of listening to everyone go on and on about the whales and Nader and the right wing, I was about ready to become a Republican hooker. I think we can all agree that it was time to leave.

I live in Roslindale now, which is much more working class, and I'm pretty happy here. There are lots of kids and dogs, and just the right amount of trendy little restaurants and galleries. Also? Two words, my friends: dive bars. That's all I'm saying.

Next door to me is Jamaica Plain, where I'd live if I had the cash, or could stand living with other humans. JP is super-hip, but so diverse it doesn't really grate on the nerves most of the time. You can find hippies and hipsters in equal measure here, as well as people who are not white and didn't grow up in suburbia.

My cousin Rolfe, when he moves here, will live in the South End, because he is young and successful and beautiful and gay. I like the South End, but I always feel sort of unkempt there. Maybe when Rolfe moves to town, he can help me out with that. He's always been great about recommending skin care products in the past, but I don't know if he'll be up for it, now that the fellas from "Queer Eye" have ruined everything.

Let's see, other neighborhoods. Well, okay, Allston, for example. I have some ex-boyfriends there. Allston was JP before JP was JP. If you were a hipster and you were broke, that's where you lived. All of my friends who got kicked out of their houses right after high school graduation moved to Allston. Now, it's so expensive that only European college students can afford to live there. It's funny how these things go.

The North End. Boston's Little Italy. I would get so fat living in that part of town. The cannolis alone would do me in. Also, there are far too many people on those little narrow winding streets, and I would never be able to find a place to put my car. This is of course my way about making myself feel better about the fact that I will never be able to afford to even think about living there.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Yet another conversation over IM

Jennie_Smash: i have one of those little burn marks on the back of my hand, the kind you get from the toaster oven, but i don't remember burning myself

VelvetWit: maybe it happened while your alternative personality was in control with your body

Jennie_Smash: my first thought was that it was some sort of horrible cancer, but i think it's a burn

VelvetWit: yes, most likely

Jennie_Smash: of course, it could be a horrible cancer

Jennie_Smash: in which case, i'm screwed

VelvetWit: it's not a horrible cancer

VelvetWit: horrible skin cancers don't look anything like burns

Jennie_Smash: what if it's one of those sores you get from AIDs or syphilis?

VelvetWit: also, don't look like burns

Jennie_Smash: oh

Jennie_Smash: ok

VelvetWit: we're talking like a red mark on your hand

Jennie_Smash: yes

VelvetWit: ok

VelvetWit: the only thing that looks like that is a minor burn

Jennie_Smash: see, now, this is why i'm so glad you're friends with me

Jennie_Smash: i hope you never find out how really and truly crazy i am

VelvetWit: I already know

VelvetWit: and I still like you

Jennie_Smash: ok

Jennie_Smash: well then

Jennie_Smash: that's one less thing to worry about

VelvetWit: yes

VelvetWit: good thing for you too

Jennie_Smash: no kidding

Monday, May 17, 2004

In which Ms. Smash exercises her mental health benefit

ANONYMOUS CUSTOMER SERVICE REP: Hello, welcome to ______ Behavioral Health. How can I help you?

JENNIE SMASH: Um, I have a thing here, a bill, which says that you're not going to pay my shrink for two of my sessions.

ANONYMOUS CSR: What does it say exactly?

JENNIE SMASH: It says, um, "under review."

ANONYMOUS CSR: Oh, that doesn't mean we're not going to pay it.

JENNIE SMASH: It doesn't?


JENNIE SMASH: So you are going to pay it?




JENNIE SMASH: Okay...not to be be, I don't know, obnoxious, or anything, but are you really going to pay it? Because I don't have $240 lying around, and as you may of guessed from the fact that this is a mental health benefit, I'm just not well enough to worry about it. ANONYMOUS CSR: We're going to pay it.



JENNIE SMASH: Okay. (Sigh.) Wow. Thank you. Hey, can I ask you something?


JENNIE SMASH: Do they, like, give you special training on how to deal with crazy people over the phone? Cuz it seems like it might be a good idea. Given the nature of the claims you're reviewing.

ANONYMOUS CSR: Um, not really.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

The gender gap widens

For Mother's Day this year, my father got the the three of us Red Sox tickets. I was a little worried about how this would go over. My mother is not a baseball fan. I have no idea what's going on down there on the field, myself, but I do enjoy going to baseball games. I like that the sport has remained essentially unchanged since its start -- unlike football, say -- and I like that you can drink beer while watching it. Also? Baseball players look like they're in worse shape than I am. They're kind of fat, for one thing, and definitely on the pasty side, regardless of race. They look boozy. I'm always waiting for them to reach into their baggy britches and haul out a flask of bourbon or a pack of smokes.

Strangely enough, though, Mom seemed pretty happy about it when she told me. Not being one to look familial harmony in the mouth (nor to let a metaphor go unmixed, apparently, but whatever), I just left it alone and agreed to meet them back at the homestead a few hours before the game.

When I showed up, I quickly realized how wrong that was. For one thing, I should have offered to drive. I am a terrible driver, really, and I don't particularly enjoy it, but I'm used to traffic in well-populated areas, which is something my mother has never gotten used to, having spent her whole life driving up and down the same street between her house and the hospital where she works. However, she doesn't particularly like it when anyone else drives, which means we're all in somewhat of a pickle whenever we have to go into (dum dum dum) the City.

Something you should know, if you're reading this, and you don't live in Boston, is that in no kind of a way is Fenway in "the City." According to my Mom, however, the City is everything on the train line, which is basically all of Boston and its major suburbs, from Newton and Arlington, plus some of the more densely populated sections of the North Shore. Basically, if there's a chance that she'll have to parallel park, my mother doesn't want to drive there.

So my Dad drove. He drives really, really fast, in a kind of careering headlong fashion that reminds me, oddly, of a woman running in high heels. He's in a hurry, he's not quite in control, but he gets there with a great deal of style. It had been awhile since I'd been in a car with both of them in a stressful situation, so I'd forgotten the routine.

"What?" My father asked, swerving around a terrified pedestrian standing in the middle of a crosswalk.

"What?" My Mom said back.

"You hissed. Between your teeth."


"I see it, I see it."

Mom sighed.



"You sighed."

And so on. During all of this, I did my best to distract everyone by telling amusing stories, or commenting on the weather, etc. This was somewhat difficult, as I'd had three hours of sleep and was fighting a raging hangover. Finally, I just closed my eyes, and let the swerving car lull me into a deep and restful sleep. We made it to Fenway in one piece, and enjoyed the game, despite the fact that the Sox lost.

On the way home, Mom told me that for Father's Day this year, she's getting Dad knitting lessons.

Monday, May 10, 2004

A real conversation over IM

Iceman: Have you ever looked at the ingredients on a box of raisins?

Jennie_Smash: no

Jennie_Smash: what does it say?

Iceman: raisins

Friday, May 7, 2004

I, on the other hand, am a light minty green color

I'm not going to name any names, but I've seen several people in the last few days who are clearly suffering from tanorexia, and need to be cut off from all light sources until their burnt orange hides return to a normal hue. I understand that as a paddy, my idea of a normal hue might be different from yours. I know that most people don't have their primary skin pigmentation in the form of freckles. But all I'm saying is that if your skin is the same color as the residue left on your foot by a poorly cured leather sandal strap, maybe you need to dial the tanning down a notch, you know?

Fortunately, most of my friends are indoor people like me. (It's like being an indoor cat, only we use the toilet most of the time, and we can run away if people try to chop the top parts of our fingers off.) You can see us glowing palely two blocks ahead of you on the darkest and foggiest night of the year. Woooo! It's spooky. But not nearly as spooky as when we all go to the beach, and the reflected glare from our milk-white skin blinds innocent bystanders.

Wednesday, May 5, 2004

You kids get off my porch

When did I turn into the crazy neighbor lady? I'm think this is a new thing, but perhaps I've been an incipient wacky crone for some time now, and didn't realize it until just recently.

Let me explain.

About a year ago, I got a new upstairs neighbor. Two, actually: Susan, and her son Brendan, age ten. Three, actually, if you count Brendan's small yappy dog. All of this would be trying enough for a single lady with no kids or pets, but when Brendan moved in, my house became a mecca for every Declan, Mike and Joseph in the neighborhood. And like Brendan's small dog, these kids can make a lot more noise than their size would lead you to believe.

Little Joe is the worst offender. He's an undersized kid, with huge eyes and a home haircut that leaves his smallish head looking shorn and vulnerable. He wears sports-themed t-shirts, many sizes too large. Before Brendan moved in, I used to see him peddling his bike around the neighborhood, his "Reverse the Curse!" tee hanging nearly into the spokes of his BMX. I thought he was kind of a cute kid, until Brendan moved in and he started showing up on my front porch everyday, leaning indiscriminately and repeatedly on the first doorbell he came came across. Since I live on the first floor, that means it was usually mine.

Let me tell you, Little Joe doesn't speak, as far as I can tell, but he's a hell of a doorbell ringer.

At first, I was patient. He'd lean on the doorbell, and I'd go out and let him in and remind him that I live on the first floor and Brendan lives on the second, so hit the top bell. Then, one day, the poor little bastard had the misfortune to ring when I was on the phone, and I let him have it.

"Okay, what's the problem?" I asked, holding the handset against my hip and leaning on the doorframe. "Do you just like my doorbell? Is that it? It's more attractive to you somehow?"

Little Joe stared at me with his enormous Victorian waif eyes, and didn't say anything.

"Because, as I believe we've already established, Brendan lives UPstairs. UPSTAIRS. So when you want to reach him, which bell do you ring?"

Little Joe's mouth opened slightly, and a bit of drool spooled out over his cracked lower lip.

"The UPPER bell. That's right. Now let's try this again." And I shut the door.

There was a momentary pause, and then Joe started hammering on the upper doorbell. Shame washed over me in a wave. Had I actually just berated a ten year old?

I put the phone back to my ear, and retreated back into my apartment. "Sarah?"

"That was awesome."

"I'm totally the crazy neighbor lady."

"Whatever. He's got to learn."

"I should definitely have my tubes tied now, because if my kids do stuff like that, I'll probably drown them."