Sunday, August 29, 2004

Mr. Privacy

Why is it that when you put on a hospital gown, you look sickly and frail? I think it's because it is missing the little tag that has "Calvin Klein" on it.

One minute I'm a hip and stylin' motherfucker, the next, I am tentative and insecure, wearing a flimsy, faded aquamarine hospital gown tied haphazardly together. I mean, does anybody know which way a hospital gown is supposed to go on? Does it go on backwards, like a straight-jacket or forward, like a shirt? And how are you supposed to keep it together when the goddamn ties randomly hang from odd places?

I guess a hospital gown is designed for easy access. I'm surprised that no one's thought of including it in their Spring Collection. I can see Donatella Versace accessorizing one with chandelier earrings, a coordinating sash and stilleto heels. Yikes.

When I was at the hospital, it seemed that patients lost all sense of modesty. I saw flesh carelessly exposed, no attempt made to cover up hair or hide. I felt pretty much the same way. When you have strangers randomly touching you, taking your temperature, sticking you with needles, it’s hard to hold on to modesty. How could you? Besides, peeing into a bedpan has got to be the most undignified thing in the world, except maybe for being Carrot Top's mom.

I remember that when the time came to take the catheter off my dick, I pulled up my gown and let the nurse pull it out as if exposing my genitals was a commonplace occurrence--usually I only exposed myself to children.* She pulled the tube out of my dick quite Zorro-like--with one quick snap.

For the uninitiated, a catheter is a ¼" thick tube attached to a urine collection bag which is inserted eight inches into your penis through the urethra. Yes, I was flabbergasted too. I thought I was at least twelve inches long.

Last week, I went back for some follow-up tests. The doctors were not able to determine what caused the bowel obstruction in my intestines. That's probably because I refused to let them use scopes to poke through my ass when their dicks could have served nicely.

The nurse handed me a folded gown, soft, like your favorite bed sheets and nudged me gently towards the locker room. There was another guy, quite cute really, looking like a swarthier Colin Farrell who was in the locker room with me. We smiled nervously at each other as we emerged from the little changing stalls. We looked ridiculous in our gowns with dress shoes and dark socks hanging loosely around the ankles.

Already our inhibitions were leaving us. He didn't care that his gown allowed a small peek of his tight, hairy buns as he walked out ahead of me. I didn't care that the thin cloth at the lower region of my gown was starting to reveal my 'true feelings' for him.

The next hour I spent being herded from one x-ray room to another. I shuffled behind each nurse, mind devoid of thought. If I'd let myself think about my situation, I would have been scared of why I was there in the first place. That we were looking for what Ah-nuld the Governator called a 'toomah'.

Shit. I can't even say it seriously. A tumor. No, that's too scary, too real. It's not a toomah, not a toomah, not a toomah...

At some point, after they had completed all the tests, I was sent back to the locker room. Colin Farrell was there too. Like me, he looked exhausted even though we had not been tasked to do anything more taxing than lie still on a cold metal slab or hold our breath as controlled bursts of x-rays filtered through our rigid frames. We silently put our clothes back on. This time, we did not meet each other's eyes.

Yesterday, I got a call from my doctor. The results show that there is no evidence of anything unusual. No tumors. No cancer. He was issuing me a clean bill of health. I breathed a sigh of relief. It was hard pretending I was not worried. I was in-between botox shots.

In retrospect, privacy--physical modesty--is something that I shed so quickly in the face of fear. I don't know what to think about that. It's like somehow I became a slab of beef with all the dignity of one, pushed and prodded, devoid of personality.

It's a scary thought.

* calm down, I was JUST KIDDING.

Read about my stay at the hospital:

Part 1: This Is How It Happens

Part 2: Emergency Room

Part 3: Misery

Part 4: Discharged!

Hospital Gift Shop
Shiny Happy People in designer hospital gowns
More Hide: Gratuitous Tattooed Butt Shot
More Colin Farrell here and here

Mr and Mrs Carrot Top
We Love Ah-nuld!
Bodybuilder, Actor and Politician Arnold quotes

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

The Dive from Clausen's Pier

What if, just as you realize that you are no longer in love with your fiancé, he gets into an accident which renders him a quadriplegic. Would you still marry him?

That’s the plot, as one of the characters says in the novel The Dive from Clausen’s Pier by Ann Packer, but not the story.

Carrie Bell, a young woman in her twenties, has never left her small hometown of Madison, Wisconsin and has been with the same boyfriend since she was in her teens. When the boyfriend, now her fiancé, dives off the titular pier and ends up paralyzed from the neck down, I thought the rest of the novel would be about how Carrie would handle the terrible position she found herself in. Would she sacrifice her happiness for the sake of 'doing the right thing'? Can she abandon this man who still loved her in his hour of need?

When I was laid up in the hospital, I was hooked up to various tubes which in effect, rendered me immobile. I could not get out of my hospital bed without having the nurse unhook me from various machines.

In those four days, with no cable TV, I was bored out of my mind from the lack of stimuli. I never realized before how quickly boredom sets in without access to porn. My porn collection, my right hand and I had a joyful reunion as soon as I got home. Brian was my fluffer.

I was thankful that I was only there for only a few days. But in those hours of boredom I wondered what I would do if I had to be confined to a hospital for the rest of my life. I don’t know, but I had some pretty morbid thoughts while I was there. I thought about having cancer, being on life support, Cher finally ending her Farewell Tour, now in its fifth year.

The idea that I had loved ones who would take care of me was both comforting and disturbing. Even in only four days of being in the hospital, I appreciated having Brian see to my needs. Just re-arranging my hospital gown was difficult. My feather boa kept getting in the way. Those were beautiful summer days that he gave up, spending it inside a sterile, white hospital room. I don’t know if I would want him to give up a 'normal' life for me if I were paralyzed and be a burden. Would you?

When I started reading this book, I just vaguely knew it was on some TV book club. I bought it because I read the first paragraph of the book and it appealed to me. That’s pretty much how I pick books. A strong writer hooks you in from the first line. If you can’t bring a reader into your world within the first paragraph, it will be an arduous task with each succeeding one.

Ann Packer created many compelling characters whom I think you will enjoy meeting. The author thankfully avoids being a literary version of a Lifetime Movie and keeps the story moving along at a good pace. I was continually surprised at the events that unfolded in the novel. The story had so many twists that it kept me engrossed and on the edge of my seat.

I liked this book a lot. If you read it, let me know what you think.


Other books in my bookshelf

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Birthday Nookie

I just gave my boyfriend Brian his birthday nookie.

On this day of the year, I give him permission to defile my body any way he wants to. I'm like an all-you-can-eat buffet. I'll eat him out too, if he wants.

These are the days in a year where one in a long term relationship can have guaranteed nookie:

His Birthday
Your Birthday
Christmas Eve/Day
Valentine’s Day

The following are the days where one has a strong possibility of getting nookie, but may be trumped by extenuating circumstances:

New Year’s Eve, if you're not too drunk
New Year’s Day, if you're not too hung over
Sweetest Day, if you remember when it is
His Mother’s Birthday, if she’s not staying over

Christianity is probably the only religion that allows sex on religious holidays. I don’t think Jews or Muslims can have sex on Yom Kippur or Ramadan, can they? On the other hand, Christmas, Easter, St. Patrick’s Day are fair game for Christians. Anyway, the way some couples make love, it’s like a prayer: "Oh God. Oh God. Here I come. OH MY GOD!" or "jeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeesus-god!"

However, all bets are off if you have any kids over the age of one. Think about how many years there were between you and your next sibling—that's how long your parents had to wait before they were able to have sex again.

Being in a relationship is great, you can have sex any time you want, as long as you’re good at emotional blackmail. It’s better than being single, there’s a lot less humiliation involved—unless you’re into sadomasochism, then there's probably a lot.

When you’re single, you forget what it’s like to be in a relationship. You long to be back in one. But relationships are really quite unnatural, if you think about it. Mother Nature wants you to have as many sexual partners as possible in order to increase your chances to reproduce. Being in a relationship produces quite the opposite effect, so it's no wonder relationships are hard to maintain. We're not supposed to be in them.

So for homosexuals, since we are not able to reproduce, wouldn't it be the most natural thing for us to have long term relationships and get married? Marriage after all, leads to the decline of all sexual activity. Think about that you anti-gay marriage freaks.

I will take my leave while you ponder that.

I have to go and rinse out my mouth. It smells like dick.

some adult novelty cakes
If you have dick breath, get these.

Somebody's term paper on the "Like a Prayer" video
Like a Prayer: God and the Constitution
The updated serenity prayer and The Lord's Prayer
When married couples pray...

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Why Change?

Whenever I read articles or websites that purport to help the "tortured" homosexual find their way back to heterosexuality, I am filled with anger at how they prey on the questioning individual by telling them half-baked ideas and outright lies.

These websites always focus on the "sex" part of homosexuality as if all we do is have wild, depraved orgies. So not true! Our orgies are always polite and courteous. We always say "please" and "may I" before fucking you in the ass. In my orgies, I always provide wet naps because I think they work best with dried spooge. I am the consumate hostess.

I am also appalled at how these people twist things around to make it seem that our sexuality is what is causing us anguish. Such lies. Homosexuals are anguished because there are so many ways to accessorize and not enough parties to go to. We are really only somewhat annoyed that there is homophobia and gay discrimination. We try not to have deep feelings—it causes wrinkles.

So why should homosexuals change? This site has all the answers.

In a survey of 200 men and women conducted by one Dr. Robert Spitzer, the following are the top 6 reasons given by the gay respondents on why they wanted to go straight. The kind doctor looked at his survey pool and pronounced to these people that the root of all their problems is homosexuality. Let's examine them shall we?

1. Living as a homosexual felt wrong and conflicted with my moral beliefs or my beliefs about God's will for my life (10 responses)

NMP: There are people out there who are morally conflicted on everything from divorce, contraception, abortion, war in Iraq, pre-marital sex, cussing and showing one’s boob in the Superbowl. You don’t see them wanting to become hairdressers or flight attendants. Moral conflict is what makes us human. Besides, nobody told you to live with a bunch of homophobes—move to a more fashionable neighborhood already.

As for 'living as a homosexual,' see #2.

2. I felt emotionally unfulfilled in a gay life; it didn't meet my deeper needs (8 responses)

NMP: Gay life. Oh you mean like going to bars, drinking, cheating on your loved one, doing drugs, promiscuity, obsession with youth and beauty, one-night stands? Or do you mean show-tunes, lip-synching and Liza Minelli? If it is the latter, I could have told you that only Madonna can ever meet your deeper needs. The former sounds a lot like straight life to me.

3. I wanted to one day have a wife and children (8 responses) or wanted to hold together an existing marriage and family (5 responses).

NMP: If you're looking for someone to do your laundry, make you dinner or give you a blowjob, I think you are looking for a housekeeper or a member of the Swedish bikini squad, not a wife. For companionship, I suggest falling in love, gender notwithstanding. Children? I think you should give Sally Struthers your dollar. Or adopt a kid who is waiting desperately for the love of a parent.

Heterosexuals divorce for a lot of reasons: loveless marriages, they want to escape an abusive partner, poor body hygiene. You want to hold together your marriage because you are not attracted to your spouse. Haven't you heard? Married people don't have sex. Give yourself a break, stop beating yourself up about it. Nobody expects you to have any sex ever again. Bonus: you're still faaabulous.

4. For me, homosexuality was addictive, obsessive or compulsive (5 responses)

NMP: If we're talking about sex, I guess somebody forgot to tell Paris Hilton that she is a homosexual. Don’t you watch Sex and The City? This is called sex addiction, not homosexuality. Addiction to Versace however, is another matter which probably requires intensive reparative fashion therapy.

5. I couldn't find "Mr. Right" and stopped believing he existed in the gay world (5 responses)

NMP: Well, he doesn't exist in the straight world either. You should probably read Cosmo or something, they have articles like "How to find Mr. Right in Five Easy Steps." They have all your answers, none of them requiring electro-shock therapy.

Did you even try hanging out in some place other than a bath house or a dark forest preserve? You know, judging a man by his abs is not exactly the best way to find Mr. Right.

6. I feared disease and early death (5 responses).

NMP: Last I heard car accidents, lung cancer, heart attacks were not gay diseases and are much more likely to kill you, unless you live in Podunk, Minnesota—then you'll probably die of boredom.

If you wear a condom and stay monogamous, you increase your odds of not getting a sexually transmitted disease. AIDS is global epidemic that affects everyone. With proper medical treatment, one can live with it much like people do with chronic illnesses like diabetes. Besides, haven't you heard of wanking? It is a very nice past-time which could only let you get to know yourself better.

If these 200 gay respondents gave me these reasons, I would ask them look closer at their answers. Being gay is not a lifestyle. Living a modest, introspective, spiritual life is not in conflict with being gay.

Let me ask you this: what if you were raised in an environment that said we were planted on Earth by aliens who lived in Heaven and we would one day rejoin them when we see the Hale-Bopp comet in our skies by committing mass suicide while wearing Nike shoes? Would you have known any better? I mean Nike shoes are soooo 80s--

I am not comparing Christianity/Islam/Judaism/Buddhism/etc. to an insane cult, but think about it: You're willing to die for your beliefs, they are willing to die for theirs. Clearly, devoutness is not a barometer for spiritual truth. In fact, what blind devotion indicates to me is a lack of plain common sense, which God, in his/her infinite knowledge has bestowed upon every one of us.


The Awful Gay Agenda

Apparently, the Heaven's Gate cult isn't the only one which believed that God is a UFO. Meet the Raelians.
Have a Virtual Religious Experience
Which Enemy of the Christian Church Are You? - a quiz
Egad! Another Angry Asian Man
If you want to get really angry, look at this. Izzy's reponse.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

This is NOT a Test

"If Jesus came back and saw what's going on in His name, He'd never stop throwing up." – Woody Allen, Hannah and Her Sisters

I am not the tortured human being that the Religious Right paints me to be.

The only thing that tortures me is the pair of Fluevog shoes that I bought one size too small last year. The memory of that hasty purchase at an amazing half-price sale still haunts me and my poor, bleeding feet.

I am at peace with myself and my homosexuality. I am also at peace with God--yes, the Christian one, not the one who lives in The House of Dior.

When I was growing up, I often asked God why I was made to be gay. Why was I singled out to suffer this pain? Am I being punished for trying on my mother's lip gloss? It was only because it smelled like strawberries, I promise! Our pastor always said that when you suffer, God is testing you. I prayed for him to test me on Algebra instead.

I suffered in other ways too. One Christmas when I was ten, my godmother gave a single present to my twin and me to share. It was a plastic toy machine gun that lit up and made a loud rat-tat-tat whenever you pulled the trigger.

Oh how I wanted it for myself! Why are people so cheap that they buy twins only one present? Why do I always have to share all my toys with my brother? I prayed to God that he take my brother to heaven so I don't have to share my toys anymore. My brother would be happy singing with the angels, I would be happy shooting down imaginary people with their horrid paisley ties.

So I suffered and suffered.

Until one day in college, in my religion class, the professor who was also a Catholic priest, said (well yelled, really) something really quite amazing. He said:

You are responsible for your life! You are responsible for every good and bad thing that happens to you!

If you have a Chemistry exam on Thursday and you spend Wednesday night playing video games and flunk out, don’t come to God crying, tears rolling down dramatically, "Why? Why?!? Why are you making me suffer? What are you trying to teach me?"

In fact, don’t bother God with your petty suffering. God didn’t make you suffer, you made yourself suffer. And don't pray to him if you lost your house, your life savings or get a venereal disease. You could have paid the mortgage, kiss your boss’ ass or worn a condom, all of which you have control over!

That last sentence woke me up. It made me realize what that curious itching was down there.

It also changed my life, because from then on, I realized God did not make me gay to 'test' me. I am suffering because I let people around me dictate how I should feel about myself. I let them interpret for me God's will.

I left all of that behind. I decided to move to Chicago. I started to live my life as an openly gay man. In taking responsibility for my life, when I stopped assuming that God was punishing me, I found peace very easily. I realized that the suffering I had experienced was at the hands of people, not God.

Now, this is the point where other Christians would probably quote Bible verses to me, about how I got it all wrong. But you know what? I can read the Bible too. God gave me a brain and I have used it. You say po-tah-to, Dan Quayle says potatoe.

When I read the Bible, I see only that God loves me as I am. Where did I find that? The same place that Reverend Fred Phelps says that GodHatesFags. How can one man find hate and another find love in the same holy book? I know the answer to that, but do you? The Bible holds no contradictions for me, absolutely none.

Before I end this post, I want to point out something that somebody a long time ago asked me about born-again Christians: what is it that makes Christianity different from other religions?

The difference, I said, is that Christianity is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ--it is not a set of doctrines or beliefs. That is why their faith is unshakeable.

When I heard myself say this, I realized that the stress is on the personal relationship.

Not what other people told me to believe about God. Or their own interpretations of the Bible--but what my own heart believed.

That, for me, was when the torture ended.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Bagel Sandwich

When I say "no cheese," I mean NO CHEESE. But it never happens that way.

When in a restaurant, I have come to expect that I have to send my food back although somehow, it always seems to make me the one at fault; that if I didn't special order it, everybody wouldn't have to wait until I got my food right before we could go on our way.

I admit that my brand of dairy phobia is quite weird and has so many loopholes in it that my friends have given up trying to understand what it is that I will and won't eat. Maybe one of these days I will write a definitive list to get people off my back. It could become the rider to my contract whenever I am invited to grace a dinner party with my celebrity.

I hate going to dinner parties. I hate having to discuss with the host my food eccentricities. I often avoid it entirely. Instead, I would eat before going to a dinner party expecting that I cannot eat anything. At some point in the evening, I often have the urge to shout "Look! Is that Hugh Jackman?" so I can shovel the uneaten food into a baggie while everyone is distracted.

In people's eyes, I am Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally, the kind of high maintenance guy who thinks he's low maintenance; that I am making things difficult for people because I can. Sure, sometimes I may not offer my preferred seat on the bus to the infirm or elderly, but mostly I am as easy-going as your wallet and the trick you had last night.

Besides, I don't think asking for no cheese is that hard considering other people ask for things like peanuts, shellfish or cilantro to be withheld. I mean, talk about high maintenance! Sheesh! Who asks for no cilantro? Amish people?

Brian and I went to get bagel sandwiches at Einstein's. His was a bacon and cheddar breakfast bagel. Mine was a Santa Fe bagel, a sandwich with turkey sausage, salsa, pepper jack cheese and jalapeno cream cheese. I'm sure you can figure out which of these ingredients I don't want.

Now, when I order food, I never toss out "no milk, please" or "no sour cream" or "dry toast" nonchalantly and giggle afterwards. I look deeply into the person's eyes, and say the words slowly and solemnly, with proper gravity. I say it very much like the perpetually sun-burned Phil Keoghan on The Amazing Race:

"Paul and Brian. *suspenseful pause* You are the last team to arrive. *regretful pause* You have been eliminated."

Ten minutes later, we get our food and one look at my sandwich and I see that the bagel is slathered with some kind of orange colored cream cheese which smelled vile. I took the sandwich back to the guy and said, "I didn't want cheese." He frowned and said, "You didn't say cream cheese."

What if I said I didn't want meat? Would he say, "Duh, you didn't say 'turkey'."

Back at our table, I bitched while we waited another ten minutes for my new sandwich. Brian said, "You give people too much credit. Most people don't think of cream cheese as cheese."

"Really?" I said, "I thought the word 'cheese' sorta gave it away."

I ranted on. "I mean, people should pay attention more! What does it take to make a sandwich? Bread. Condiment. Condiment. Vegetable! Filling!! Bread!!! We're not inventing a cure for yeast infection!"

"Chill out," said Brian. "You'll get your sandwich soon."

"It took ten minutes to make that first sandwich. That's ten minutes of my life that I will never get back. I could have won the lottery in those ten minutes!"

"Oh," Brian smiled, "Somebody's gonna give you a winning lottery ticket?"

"No, but I could have walked out of here, found a lottery ticket that somebody dropped and won a million dollars!" I said, "But now, all I will have is a bagel sandwich that the guy probably added his 'special ingredient' to. I want my goddamn ten minutes back!"

I coulda been a contendah! I coulda had a meeellion dollars!

I cursed fate and I cursed my dairy phobia. I cursed my fucking cheeseless Santa Fe bagel sandwich, which tasted like so much cardboard in my mouth.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Hello, Pretty

I am the king of parallel parking!

I consider it a particular challenge when I see a parking spot that has been passed over by other more timid drivers; a parking spot that left only an inch of clearance between bumpers. I would back into the space confidently, turning the steering wheel sharply right just at the sweet spot right at the end of the passenger side door and ease the car into the space.

I am not averse to bumping the bumpers of cars to get into a tight parking space. There's no other way, unless you want to drive for another hour to find a bigger spot. That would be like looking for true love in a gay bath house. You can find it, but what's the point? Your hair will be all frizzy from the steam and humidity and your relationship is doomed from the start. Everybody knows the foundation to a long term relationship is good hair. When a guy stops caring about his hair, that's when he starts taking you for granted. Besides, that's why it's called a bumper, right? It is meant to be bumped.

Sometimes, I would see people who are trying to carefully back into a spot without touching either car in front or back. Very often, these drivers would be sweating, looking harried or frustrated; their girlfriends outside signaling frantically to turn this way or that. I would shake my head sadly, thinking about how much time is wasted, how the driver is missing out on the satisfying crunch of bumper on bumper. I think about their movie theatre going dark or a maitre d' canceling their coveted dinner reservation—all for the sake of not bumping bumpers.

But then, that all changed.

I bought a new car. A 2004 galactic blue Volkswagen Jetta GLS. It is beautiful. I could go on and on about its virtues: the grey leather interior, the sound system, the moon roof, but I won't bore you. Let's just say that this winter, when you are freezing your ass off getting into your cold, cold car, my ass will be greeted by a warm seat courtesy of built-in ass warmers.

A stray thought: what if ass warmers become so wide-spread that it caused the end of the world by lowering sperm count? What if scientists found out that birth rates plummeted because of raised testicular temperature of those who drove these cars?

When you get a new car, it's like having a new baby in the house. You fanatically keep the interior clean, picking up any microscopic lint or spore. You buy special wipes to polish all surfaces. You refuse to give your boyfriend blowjobs in the car because saliva and spooge might stain the leather.

Outside, you worry about whether you're parking too close to the grocery cart corral at the supermarket. You drive around parking lots evaluating which car would likely not give you a ding by a careless driver opening the door. You avoid cars with any sign of duct tape.

You go shopping at places like Pep Boys or AutoZone, places you normally avoid because their bathrooms have no glory holes. But now you find yourself considering a shelf of nodding dogs, their curious, glassy eyes imploring you to take one of them home.

Of course, once the new parent figures out that the "baby" is not made of glass, they start to relax and become more tolerant of the little scrapes and falls. They don't freak out and start yelling at each other about who parked too close to the curb or why there are coffee stains in the cupholder.

I'm sure that day will happen soon. But right now, the car is shiny and new and pretty as can be.

Yes, "Pretty." That's what Brian's been calling the new car. I personally call it "myyy pret-teeee" while rubbing my palms together, cackling. I don't know if the name will stick. It's a new car's name. Maybe when it's not so new we'll call it "Pretty Dingy" or "Pretty Crappy" or something.

This is Pretty. Very Pretty.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Straight Cop, Gay Cop

Why does buying a car have to be such a fucking hassle?

Why does it have to be such a pain in the ass? Buying a car is worse than going to my dentist. At least my dentist always tells me politely to say "ah" before ramming his cock down my throat.

And why can’t two people pay the exact same price for the same car? I don’t think anybody is averse to having a car salesperson make a profit. But I feel very strange if I had to pay more because I didn’t bargain like a hard-ass. It’s not like this is a flea market and we’re arguing about the dubious value of Beanie Babies.

It’s like you have to have a strategy to get a good deal, whether you play the fresh-faced college grad, tough-talkin’ construction worker or a soft-spoken white woman. It’s a ruthless game played with a smile pasted on your face.

Brian and I came up with a strategy which is a variation of the Good Cop, Bad Cop routine:

Straight Cop: The engine’s smooth man, and the styling is very cool. And you can get it with helicopter blade rims?

Gay Cop: Guuuurl, the interior’s a hideous shade of beige. I can’t image how anybody can mess up a neutral color, but that’s like, fucked up. It's all wrong for my skin tone, umm-umm-ummm! *waves index finger, chin does a three-point-turn*

Straight Cop: Roomy backseat, man, perfect for tail. *raises eyebrows* Very niiice. Leather too?

Gay Cop: You call this a power package? There isn’t enough power here to run my vibrator!

The dealership could also be playing the Good Cop, Bad Cop game. Typically, the salesperson is the Good Cop because they are the ones who are going to bat for you, persuading the Bad Cop Evil Sales Manager to give you an extra discount just this one time because you’re so, so special. The salesperson will come back shaking his head ruefully as if he fought the battle of his life and lost and says the Manager said that $1,000 over Blue Book is his best offer. He throws in free splashguards as a consolation.

I wonder what the salesperson and the sales manager really talk about in the office while you are waiting for a quote? I suspect they were talking about how much of a discount I was gonna get after they screw me over. I heard Saddam Hussein was a car salesman before he became a ruthless dictator.

Yes, I’ve heard that you can get a better deal when you buy at the end of the month, end of the year, or at the end-of-model clearance sale. But the reality is, the car dealers have you by the balls. They won’t make the sale if they are not making a nice profit—I don’t care how desperate or accommodating the salesperson is acting.

So if you’re a teenager who wants mom or dad to buy you a car, then please, I implore you, give them some slack because the car dealer won’t—they will be squeezing every penny they can from your parents’ nuts. With giant, rusted pliers.

Our strategy fizzled out after about 15 minutes; we were not the seasoned veterans the dealership was. At one point, I remembered that I just kept nodding my head even though I didn't understand a thing about the great deal the salesman claimed we were getting. According to him, his cards were all on the table. Buyers have all the power right? We looked at our one-pair and we folded.

For days after buying our new VW Jetta, I second-guessed myself. Did I do my best to get the best possible deal? Was I too easy? When people ask me how much we got the car for, I say the amount apologetically, not knowing if they know someone else who got a better deal. I remember having the same sort of feeling when I bought my first car, Helen.

I hope that the new car lasts awhile. I hope it will be as enduring as Helen. Don't get me wrong, I love the new car; it drives like a breeze. I just really don’t want to have to go back to another car dealership any time soon.

I really don’t.

Next: The new car - Hello Pretty!

Stormy Summers had shared some of her expertise as a former car salesperson. Check out her Car Salesperson's Guide to Buying a Car. You could save yourself a bunch of money!

Monday, August 02, 2004

Goodbye, Helen

She had been nameless for five years before one found her.

Helen is—or I should say was—the first car I’ve bought with my own money. She was a 1993 Subaru Impreza. She was a trusty four-door, a quirky, crimson streak on the road.

My best friend Joe and I were driving around our gay neighborhood, windows down, music blaring, having a gay ole time when it just felt right, you know, to name the thing that is giving you pleasure, like my ex-boyfriend’s dick or the knife I used to slash his designer suits when we broke up.

It was serendipity or something when Church of the Poison Mind by Culture Club came on the radio. If you know this song, you know that the soulful wail of Helen Terry, the band’s backup singer, commandeers the song’s bridge before a joyous harmonica takes over. When you are a die-hard fan of a band, you know the names of all their back-up singers, girlfriends, pets.

I had joking called the car "Helen." Everybody knows how you get stuck with a stupid nickname right? Can you explain how you got the nickname "Curly," "Red," or "Asshole"? Your friends playfully use the name a few times and then suddenly it sticks. And now you’re afraid that it will end up in your tombstone.

"Helen" stuck.

Now, I don’t normally name random non-living things, but naming Helen must have unleashed some kind of dam. Since then, other things in my house had garnered a moniker, most significantly my body pillow which I had christened "George" after the Looney Tunes episode where Marvin the Martian captures Bugs Bunny to give him as a pet to the Abominable Snowman ("I will call him George and I will hug him and pet him and squeeze him"). God, anyone ever notice how those old Looney Tunes shows were so gay?

I have lived in Chicago for twelve years; Helen had carried me faithfully through work, leisure and love for eleven of those.

Helen still looked great despite a graze on one of her rear doors. There is a depression on the driver’s seat that conforms nicely to my shapely aerobicized ass. Under the seat, probably $3.62 in lost change and a two year-old french fry. I had been in at least five accidents while driving her, none of which I am at fault, or so my attorney says. I could have lost my life in one of them but I had walked away deeply shaken, but unscathed.

Sometimes I think of her like an old dog: loving, loyal, arthritic. The spirit is still there, but the dog poop ends up in the house instead of out in the backyard. In the back of my mind, there is a sense of dread.

In my job as a consultant, I drive a fair amount to my client out in Naperville, over an hour away by car. A couple of weeks ago, the air conditioning which had been sputtering for awhile finally conked out. The repairs were going to be over a thousand. I had already spent $800 to get the tie rods fixed only a month ago. For a car whose Blue Book value was less than $1,500, it made no sense to get Helen repaired.

Brian and I went out and got a new car. A dark blue 2004 Volkswagen Jetta. At the dealership, the sweaty guy behind the desk offered us $100 as a trade-in for Helen.

I fucking lost it, man. I yelled at the guy, I did. He offered me another $100 as an appeasement. After all, the deal was nearly done, why fuck it up? He’s already made his money. I had no fight left, I gave in.

We took our old plates and put them on the new car. It felt weird. It’s like somebody other than Sarah Jessica Parker wearing the "Carrie" nameplate necklace.

I loved that car.

Goodbye, Helen. I will miss you.

Next: Getting a new car - Straight Cop, Gay Cop

Pictures of Helen: 1 2

Hear the famous Abominable Snowman quote
Pillow is Perfect Boyfriend - courtesy of Peter, Changes in the Glass

What Constitutes an Asshole
Another Asshole. How about a blown-out asshole? (It's gross, but you know you want to see it)
And this one is just plain weird (not work safe)...

Culture Club and Helen Terry singles
Carrie Bradshaw. The other Carrie.

Make your own License Plate
Goodbye, Cruel World
Goodbye, Internet