The Shill is Smarter than Me

Here are two pieces of wisdom the Shill imparted to me over a decade ago. They are as true now as they were then.

1. If you want to tell if it’s ridiculous for you to be dating someone, take the older person’s age, divide it by 2 and add seven. If the younger person’s age is older than that number, you’re fine. If not, you look like an idiot.

Hmm. I guess I need to start considering any hot 24 year olds that come my way…

2. Some people, when they meet a person, basically give that person 100 points and take them away as that person disappoints them. Other people, when they meet a person, start that person out at zero and add points as the person impresses them. Those people are not going to have a lot of people they think very highly of.

What can dog nuts tell us about human gender issues?

In two of my dad’s churches, the front of the churches were set up so that there was a raised area surrounded by the communion rail. The podiums were towards the front of the raised area. Then there was some open space and towards the back, there was a table where the offering plates, Bible, candles, and cross were arranged.

Behind the table was a large velvet curtain on the wall. At one church it was red and at the other it was blue. Even as a minister’s kid who ran willy-nilly all over the church, I never went behind that table. So, for a long time, I imagined that there was something behind that curtain, maybe another room or a poster of Jesus or something that only the minister was allowed to know.

Finally, when I was in high school, I looked behind the curtain and found there was just an unfinished board.

I was thinking about this in terms of that porn that’s like “let’s stick a camera right inside your vagina” and you look at it and wonder who the hell gets off at looking at something that’s so devoid of context that it appears to be just a bunch of shiny soft pink billows and folds.

It’s like the opposite of the curtain at church. The curtain at church pretends to cover something mysterious, but really just hangs there as a backdrop. But the vagina is inscrutable. No matter how long you look at it or how close up you get, you’re never going to see that place where the boundary between here and there–the ordinary and the eternal–is always permeable.

And yet, there it is–bringing forth life when you want it and sometimes when you don’t or remaining silent and unmoved when you beg it to stir something up, making up unviable monsters and viable babies, dumping out blood and tissue and sometimes small humans.

The Legal Eagle once said, “Until you can impregnate yourself, men have a role in this thing” when he was arguing that men ought to have a say in abortion. It’s a little like the flour saying to the whole kitchen, “You can’t have cake without me.”

Fair enough, but you can’t have cake without the oven and the eggs and the bowls for mixing, either. Why does the person who supplies the flour have as much of a say as the person who supplies everything else? The flour is crucial to the production of the cake, but it’s not an equal contribution to all the rest of the ingredients and whatever else is in the kitchen combined.

Anyway, I’m sure most of you saw this story in the Village Voice this week, about the man who tortures pitbulls (Important quote from story: “Ed Boks, the director of New York City Animal Care & Control, says the blame for pit bulls’ negative image is shared equally by the press–which is fascinated by pit bull attacks–and breeders who take advantage of the dogs. ‘Pit bulls are actually a rather stable breed,’ says Boks. ‘The thing about pit bulls is that they are stuck with this bad reputation. They are extraordinarily loyal and loving animals and they will fight to the death just to please you.'”) in order to make them monsters.

Here’s the relevant passage to our discussion:

“The men always say, ‘You’re taking my manhood away.’ We get that every week. They say that they can’t walk the dog in their neighborhood anymore because people will see that his testicles are gone. They are adamant about it,” Clemmons says.

They’re talking about this over at Pandagon, too, and it’s the comments that have me thinking. One commenter in particular says, in response to someone talking about dog vasectomies, “That’s the solution for me. I’m sorry, I’m not going to be responsible for some other dude, whether human or canine, getting his balls cut off.”

Isn’t this interesting? It’s got me wondering if this is an opposite impulse to the “I must make sure those slutty women are punished with babies” or if it’s really the same impulse.

We could see it as an opposite impulse–some men saying “not my body, not my place to demand its modification to suit me.” But I worry that’s it’s evidence of the same impulse, one that understands the man as being defined by his manhood, which is represented by his ability to control the animals and humans beneath him. Their fecundity is evidence of his manliness.

The behavior of others–what a fragile and stupid thing to hang your own self-worth on.

My New Reader & Other Stuff

1. Today when the Butcher came to pick me up from work, he said, “Two dollar beers.” To which I said, “Are you going to come?” To which he said, “Can I sign autographs?” To which I said, “If people ask for them.”

And then I said, “Wait, how did you know?”

And he said, “I was reading Tiny Cat Pants today to find out if you were really pissed at me and just not telling me.”

2. I’ve added some fine monotheistic bloggers to the right–Josh Tinley, who is smart and Methodist; Katherine, who I think would probably kick my ass if we ever met in person, but I find her very thought-provoking; and Shaun Groves, who, damn it, I made fun of, but then ended up really digging on his blog. Let us pray that they don’t pray for my heathen soul.

3. It’s not really my goal to become the chick who rehashes Egalia, but America, how can you look at these girls and not love them?

4. Fisk University is getting a lot of awesome national coverage lately.

5. Every time the Butcher cooks, I eat without issue. Every time I cook, I have to have antacid tablets before bed. I don’t think I’m a bad cook, but I might be overdoing it on the garlic.

Why Blog?

You should blog because you just never know. Here we are, one of the most literate societies to ever exist. Almost all of us can read and write. In five hundred years, when historians wonder what that was like, for so many people to be so in touch with each other all the time, they’ll turn to forensic computer engineers or techno-archaeologists, and they’ll in turn uncover these little shards of zeros and ones, flashes of lights they can replay, and though our English will seem as stilted and strange as Shakespeare’s or Chaucer’s seems to us, they’ll delight in our electronic detritus.

You should blog because you’ll get arrested if you take a can of spraypaint to the wall by your office. Here’s your chance to leave your mark where any stranger might see it and say “What the fuck?” or “Me, too” or “I never considered that.”

You should blog because these are such strange and shitty times and all we have are each other, lone voices shouting into a vast virtual canyon, listening for the voice that is not an echo, the voice that says, “I am here, too.”

You should blog because there’s no money in books. At least here, you have an audience that has paid $1,000 for a portal to get to you and $30 a month for continued access.

You should blog because it pisses the alternative newspapers off. For so long, they were the snarky wit of the community, and now, the best and funniest voices work for free, available for free, undermining the free papers’ anti-establishment authority.

You should blog because there are more people like you than you think.

You should blog because your voice is unique.

You should blog because it’s fun.

You should blog because writing shows you the contours of your own soul.

Write because it’s the only real magic most of us have, this ability to squash together lines and curves and dots and create worlds, recreate worlds. Write because no one with power wants you to. They don’t want to hear from you and they don’t want others to hear from you. And this, this weblogged thing, no one in power has learned how to control yet.

Write here, write now. Because no one can stop you.

Even if they find you out, drop your name, pick up another one. Come back in. Even if they tell you they don’t want to hear it, they read it already, come back in. This is not for them. Not only, anyway.

Write because we need to hear from you.

Write because you need to hear from you.

But keep writing.