Random musings on a writer's life & times, with occasional input from acquaintances


Saturday, May 24, 2003

Nuke the Gay Whales.

Politically incorrect neanderthal that I am, I long have wanted a bumper sticker bearing that message to place on my car.

I was reminded of my sticker idea a couple of days ago when the Portland Oregonian printed a story about three local folks who, fed up with attention-grabbing protesters who like to wield signs but can’t be bothered with such mundane activities as voting, launched a weekly protest of protesters. Friday evenings, they take up a spot at downtown Portland’s Courthouse Square and flash silly handmade signs making fun of the politically correct.

My favorite, crafted by 23-year-old Andrew McCarger: “Save the gay Palestinian trees to stop the war for Jesus!”

Absolutely! I’ll back that, one thousand percent -- just like George McGovern backed Tom (Electroshock) Eagleton in ‘72.

In fact, I’ve considered joining the protest protesters. I need to come up with some good signs of my own, though. I could start with Nuke the Gay Whales. But what else? Let’s see . . .

--Honk If You’re Stupid.

--How Did Their Sand Get On Top of My Oil?

--I Have a Nightmare.

--No Nudes!

--I Support Our Military-Industrial Complex.

--We Shall Submit.

--Stop the Peace.

--Spay the Whales.

--Attack Iraq? Been There, Done That!

--Legalize Coricidin.

--Support Your Local Schols.

--Jesus Spends.

--Don’t Eat Grapes -- Try an Owl.

--A Waist is a Terrible Thing to Mind.

--Will Work for Money.

--Vote Yes on Measurement 38 C.

--Free Robert Downey Jr.!

Friday, May 23, 2003

I went to the dentist to have my teeth cleaned yesterday, so before I left home I flossed, brushed and used mouthwash. Does that make sense?

I fear it doesn’t, but my acts added up to just another goofy example of the many illogical ways we behave. Consider my wife -- she often straightens up the house the morning of our cleaning lady’s weekly visit. “I don’t want her to see what slobs we are!” Cookie Jean says in justification. Well, if that’s a concern, maybe we shouldn’t pay her to come to our house in the first place. Right? Right.

Then there's me and the bank. I hate to be caught with no cash in my wallet, because you never know when your car is going to break down five miles east of Horse Heaven and the local tow truck driver will refuse to help unless you pay with folding money. So I regularly visit my bank to withdraw money. But I dislike being without cash so intensely, I avoid spending it. I use credit cards whenever possible. As a result, my wife and kids know my wallet usually contains cash, and they dip into it when they want bucks for a movie or a hamburger or a quick trip to the grocery store. And that leaves me constantly short of cash, despite the fact that I’m the only one in the family who ever goes to the bank to get any.

Or consider my habit of rooting for underdogs in sports contests. Nine times out of ten, in any baseball game or boxing match or Olympic distance race I’ll be rooting for the underdog (Zola Budd, anyone?). When the underdog loses, as he/she/it does at LEAST nine times out of ten, I’m disappointed. If I’m going be depressed when my team or athlete loses, why don’t I get on board with the favorites? Hell, let’s all be Yankee fans! It would make more sense.

Irrationality runs rampant, it seems. I am reminded of my daughter, who would eat only one food at a time off her plate. First all the meat, then all the green beans, then all the mashed potatoes. Mixing foods was gross, she said. But it all gets mixed up in your stomach, people told her. No matter, she said. She couldn’t control that. But she could assure that food entered her mouth in an orderly fashion, and she would do so. Now pass the pie, please.

Anthropologist Ashley Montagu got it right when he said: “Human beings are the only creatures who are able to behave irrationally in the name of reason.”

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Should I buy myself a kilt?

That’s been a hot topic for discussion around our house recently. My 15-year-old son, Andy, turned me on to a website, Utilikilt.com, that sells American versions of the good old Scottish kilt. Utilikilt’s garments aren’t made of wool or colored in clan plaids. They aren’t ceremonial. They’re for everyday wear, as the website copywriters emphasize repeatedly. To drive home the point, the website contains several photographs of semi-ordinary dudes, most of them hairy and many of them muscular, building houses, fixing cars, fishing, etc., while wearing a kilt.

Andy heard of the website from his friend Weston, who claims he is ordering a leather kilt to wear to Lake Oswego High School. It will be way cool, he assures my son. Andy was intrigued enough to check out Utilitkilt.com, and he found the site so amusing he suggested I visit it.

I thought the site was funny, too, with all the pictures of shirtless guys in kilts and heavy boots swinging hammers and yanking on fishing poles. So I said to my wife, kiddingly, “Do you think I should buy myself a kilt?” She brought me up short by replying: “I think a kilt is about the sexiest thing a man can wear.”

Whoa! Sexy ? Hairy legs sticking out of a skirt? “You’re kidding,” I said. “Nope,” Cookie replied. “Lots of women feel the same way. I’ve heard them say so.”

Well, now. That cast a whole new light on the shopping situation. If I could be a babe magnet by going around in a kilt, I might have to pungle up Utilikilt’s basic $115 purchase price. I went back to the Seattle outfit’s website and cruised around.

I could go for a camouflage kilt, and look like I was chasing Saddam Hussein’s bagpipers across the desert. I could do leather and try to pass myself off as the reincarnation of Jim Morrison, but I’ve heard that leather makes your crotch sweat (maybe that’s why old Jim got in all that indecent-exposure trouble at concerts -- he was just cooling off). I could go for a subdued olive twill, something reserved that people might mistake for short pants if they didn’t look closely.

I couldn’t decide, so I hit on a plan to make Andy my test model. I said I’d buy him a kilt if he’d guarantee to wear it. After pondering my offer overnight, he said he couldn’t accept. He couldn’t be seen in public in a kilt. He might push the envelope at Central Catholic High School by wearing his “Nuns with Guns” tee-shirt, but he just couldn’t walk into math class wearing a kilt.

I offered by phone to buy Andy’s big brother, Mickey, a kilt, but he just laughed. He lives in Bend, which is cowboy country. Cowboys don’t wear kilts.

This left me as the cutting edge of the kilt question. To buy or not to buy? Cookie Jean said I’d have to get some clunky boots to go with the kilt in order to carry off the total effect. That sounded okay to me. She said real men don’t wear underwear with kilts (the website mentions sitting in front of an air-conditioner with your legs spread on a hot day as one of the positives of kilt wearing), and even that didn’t dissuade me. Then she said she felt I needed to make a commitment to wearing the kilt if I was going to buy one. I would have to put it on one day a week or somesuch and just wear it to the grocery store, the library, the post office, wherever. If I bought a kilt with the idea I would wear it “some day,” that day would seldom if ever come and the investment would be a waste, she asserted.

The latter point gave me pause. I already have a blue wool cape with a red silk lining that I bought a dozen years ago when I fell in love with it at a store in Victoria, British Columbia. I’ve worn it twice, to a New Year’s Eve party and to a Portland Arts & Lectures soiree. I also own a fine safari jacket, featuring dozens of pockets, that I bought to wear traveling so I could keep track of sunglasses, camera, film, tan lotion, car keys, etc. I’ve never worn it, although I’ve owned it ten years. My trips keep turning out to be to the wrong places -- you’d look like a bozo wearing a safari jacket in New York or Boston, and in Puerto Vallarta it would be too hot. I am embarrassed by these possessions, and hanging next to them in the back of the closet a $115 kilt that I never wore would not improve matters.

So I went back to the website and looked closely. That olive twill was appealing. But then I mentioned laughingly to Cookie Jean that Utilikilt offers as a design option costing $25 something it calls “the Beer-Gut Cut.” She came to the computer, studied the website and allowed as how I might want to consider that option. “The Beer-Gut Cut” involves tailoring the front of the kilt so that it is shorter than the back, allowing guys with big bellies to sling the front waistband under their stomachs but still have the bottom hem hang evenly all the way around. I admit to having a bit of a paunch, and even when I was skinny I always wore my pants below my belly button. Who wants his belly, whether it is fat or skinny, squeezed? I had to admit Cookie Jean had a point.

But what if I ordered the olive twill kilt, “Beer Gut Cut” and all, only to find it didn’t fit because of the experimental tailoring? I would have the hassle of mailing it back and ordering another one or asking for refund. I am not a man who appreciates hassles.

Cookie Jean rescued me from indecision, at least temporarily, by pointing out that the website says Utilikilt has a store in Seattle, and we live only 150 miles from there. “Why don’t you wait until the next time you go to Seattle for a Mariners game or something, and just go down to the store and try some on? You could find one that fits for sure.”

That, I agreed, was a good idea. So I didn’t order a kilt off the website. I intend to go check the faux skirts out in person. I only visit Seattle once or twice a year, though, and I went in April. So it may be a while before I drop in at the Utilikilt store. Until I get around to it, I’m soliciting advice. What do YOU think? Should I buy a kilt?

Sunday, May 18, 2003

Ah, those good old Sunday Seven questions. Here they come again.

1) What are you wearing?

Nothing. I’m sitting here in front of this computer stark nekkid. Picture it! No, not really. I’m just boringly attired, what with the purple Kansas State University sweatshirt, gray Lowe Tech tee-shirt (Get Fuzzy!), aged-in-the-woods blue jeans and white Nike sox.

2) What are you reading?

“Little Lord Fauntleroy,” by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Seriously. I have been moving into the new office remodelers have almost completed in the attic of my house, and the schmaltzy children’s classic emerged from a box I was unpacking, so I sat down and started reading it. I’ve heard of the central character all my life, it seems, but I’d never read the 1886 book or even sat through the 1936 movie in its entirety, so . . . I’m on page 81. Cedric Errol, the American 7-year-old who learns he is an English lord, has just met his curmudgeonly royal grandfather for the first time.

3) What’s for dinner?

Turkey, potatoes, pineapple and strawberries. My wife bought artichokes, but she doesn’t feel like cooking them.

4) What’s the best thing that happened this week?

I’m almost finished moving into my office! (See question #2.) Most of my books and files have emerged from boxes in the garage and basement after being stored away since last July. Huzzah! It feels almost sinfully luxurious to escape the tiny room off the kitchen where I have pretended to conduct literary business for the last 10 months.

5) What’s bugging you?

I feel as if I need to write a masterpiece to justify the new office, and none seem to be pouring forth. Maybe I’ll try a sequel -- “Little Lord Fauntleroy Moves to Oregon.”

6) Where in the world is Carmen San Diego?

Solitude, Indiana

7) What’s it all about, Dave?

Sunshine on my shoulders. The sun is out and about in Portland, Oregon, for approximately the second time in the month of May.

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