Archives for the month of: March, 2013

Facebook is convinced I’m gay.  It’s true.  The targeted ads they have sent me flatter my fashion sense, try to set me up with other men, and on one occasion have attempted to enlist me in a study of gay Jews with AIDS.  The point here is 1) Facebook is terrible at directing ads at me, and 2) though I am a straight man, I am fervently in support of gay rights, just as I am fervently in support of women’s rights and bald people’s rights and left-handed people’s rights and North Dakotan’s rights and just all people’s right in general.  In fact, the only people whose rights I don’t particularly support are Pepsi enthusiast’s rights, because I’m not sure they’re really people at all.   But that’s a story for another time.

So naturally, all this hulabaloo about gay rights lately has gotten me pretty riled up.  I fire a Nerf gun at the TV every time someone comes on to complain that gays are going to topple their loving family, and I invented a drinking game where I take a shot every time someone uses the words “traditional marriage” that left me so inebriated one night that I nearly ended up in a traditional marriage of my own with a total stranger.  But the thing is, I’ve heard all of their arguments before.  People claiming that gays are against the founding principles of marriage, people claiming that gays are unfit to raise children, people claiming that God hates gays and is only making them out of some sort of confused divine boredom, etc.  But as these theories have all been rebutted and debunked, opponents of gay marriage have had to go to some really weird places for their defense.

I recently saw a New York Times article that quoted several of the Supreme Court justices as asking if it was the “right time for a decision on a fast-moving social issue.”  I have grown used to the more common arguments against gay marriage, but this one is brand new and confusing to me.  What exactly would constitute a “right time” to talk about this issue?  Would there need to be some sort of pressing issue that would require a more immediate decision on this issue without waiting for the infamously lethargic American public to make a louder demand?

If there were two massive gay mansteroids (a word here meaning “asteroids that are also gay men”) flying towards Earth and only by allowing them to get married could we prevent Armageddon, would that be reason enough for the justices to render a decision?

gay mansteroid

“They’re headed straight for Washington, Mr. President! Think of all the traditional marriages they’ll destroy if we allow them to make impact!”

If the Ring of Power came back from the depths of Mt. Doom, was recovered by Lesbian Frodo, and the only way to end the ensuing war was to send her on an epic journey to find her lady lover Sam and allow her to “put a ring on it,” then would the timing be more convenient? I don’t know.  What I do know is this: if the timing right now, when literally all I hear anyone talking about on the news is this Supreme Court case and all I see as I scroll down my Facebook feed is people posting red equal signs in support of equal rights, if this timing isn’t good enough, then I don’t know what the right time will be.  So we’d better finish this discussion now, because I’ve already seen enough homosexual tension between Frodo and Sam to last me a lifetime.

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For some parents, the moment their child tells them they want to spend thousands of dollars a year to go study music ranks somewhere in between coming out of the transvestite closet and joining the Nazi party on things they don’t want their child to do.  Mine, thankfully, were much more accepting of the choice, and I think it may have had a lot to do with the fact that I would have been just the worst person ever in the traditional business world.  Here are a few of the foolproof business opportunities I tried to start up as a kid.

Bednar’s Blacksmithing

Blacksmith_working

Like many kids of the millenial era, after watching The Lord of the Rings movies I developed a strong and incredibly nerdy obsession with the Middle Ages.  No one ever bothered to tell me that there weren’t actually orcs and sexy elf ladies in the real Middle Ages, so the obsession burned on for several years.  I collected everything medieval I could get my hands on; I had toy armor, knight action figures with mace-swingin’ action and a photo with the King at Medieval Times.  However, despite the incredible amount of feudally-themed knick knacks I had lying around, I still felt empty.  I was lacking the most basic medieval object of all: the sword.

Having a sword would really round out my collection, so I begged my parents day after day to let me buy one off of many of the reputable sword dealers on eBay. Sensing about 10,000 ways having a sword in the house could lead to disaster, (my brother once chased me around the house with an X-acto knife for not letting him play my drums, a sword could only have exacerbated that situation) they repeatedly said no.  It was time to take action into my own hands.

There were, after all, other ways to get swords in this world besides paying weird men on the internet to send them to me!  I saw people making swords all the time in movies, how hard could it be? This was a question that I asked myself, and apparently never bothered to answer, because if I had attempted to answer it the answer would have been a loud and resounding “VERY hard. It is VERY hard to make a sword.”  Luckily I didn’t have time for answering my own questions; I was far too busy laying the groundwork for Bednar’s Blacksmith.  I scavenged around the house and garage for any scraps of metal that looked like they could theoretically become a sword.  After 3 hours of searching, I didn’t find anything, so I just grabbed a pipe and started wacking it with a rubber mallet for a while.

After 20 minutes of pipe-wacking, a phrase here that is actually NOT a euphemism, it became clear to my adolescent brain that I had a gift for iron-working (still not a euphemism) that needed to be shared with the world.  I abandoned my barely-dented pipe and went inside to make a sign for my new blacksmith shop.  After 2 hours of backbreaking labor in Microsoft Word, I had a sign for my business in my front lawn but had already officially abandoned my one real attempt at making a sword. Luckily no random passers-by actually asked me to craft them anything, even despite my reasonable prices.  It would not have ended well.

The Elgin Roller Hockey League

inline_hockey_jerseys

It seemed like kids in TV shows and movies were literally always off to go play some sort of pickup game with their friends.  I don’t know where these kids grew up, but it was clearly not Elgin, IL.  I had never once seen a bunch of kids spontaneously start playing any sport unless you count running away from girls as a sport.  However, this total lack of real-life precedent couldn’t stop my dreams.  And I had some big dreams.  Not content to simply try and organize a pickup game with my friends once or twice, I aspired to create the town’s first and foremost for-profit roller hockey league, all at the age of 8.

The plan looked simple on paper.  I was going to round up enough people to make 8 teams, build an arena for us all to play in, buy uniforms for the teams, promote the league at major events, charge people $5 to come see our games, write a bitchin’ theme song for whenever someone scored a goal — wait, that’s not very simple at all…

Now, apart from the general craziness of this scheme, there were quite a few reasons why this was just a totally ridiculous idea.  For starters, I had never actually played a roller hockey game.  I had no friends who played hockey.  I knew no one who played hockey.  I just really liked The Mighty Ducks 2 and they looked like they were having a good time.

The second reason that his was a ridiculous idea is related to that old real estate trope: Location, location location! Now, I don’t mean to push stereotypes, but apart from two exceptions, everyone I’ve ever known to like hockey has been a honky-ass cracker.  This was trouble for me, since I was living in a heavily Hispanic neighborhood of a heavily Hispanic town.  So even on the off chance that I found enough people to form teams for this league, (at the league’s peak I had 2 whole people registered) there was pretty much no market for a U10 amateur roller hockey league in my town, no matter how bitchin’ their theme song was.  By the time I finished building the 2,000 seat stadium I had planned and stocking it with slurpee machines and an arcade, it was gonna be awful tough to break even.

But I guess it wasn’t a total wash because I designed some sweetass uniforms. If anyone’s ever looking for a cool jersey for a really awful hockey team, I can hook you up.

Wyeth’s Strawberries

Chandler_strawberries

While a little kid starting a strawberry stand might seem like the least ridiculous item on this list so far, I assure you, this was perhaps my most poorly conceived attempt at money-making ever.

For reasons that still sort of escape me, I went through a brief phase where I was super into planting things. Usually I go through phases because I watched a movie that made things look really fun, but either I had a fundamental misunderstanding of The Constant Gardener, or I was just really bored one afternoon.  As such, I set about to plant my very own garden.  My dad is a landscape architect and avid gardener, so the backyard was off limits for my tiny plot. I had to move my operations to a small patch of dirt next to the house.  Along with a small pack of strawberry seeds I got from my neighbor, my garden amounted to a spearmint plant, 4 dandelions, 1 sprout of crabgrass, 2 sticks and a hole I dug before I realized I didn’t actually have any more seeds to put in it.

Now, as I mentioned before, my plot of land was confined to the side of the house, well out of reach of the hose.  After walking back and forth a couple of times to fill up the watering can, I got sick of the effort involved.  When it came time to plant the strawberries, the flagship of my new garden, I had already completely written off walking back to the spigot as an option.  So instead I just stuck them in the ground and then spent about an hour spitting on the dirt repeatedly.  I planned to sell these strawberries in a little wooden box with a picture of me in a straw hat and a logo that read: “Wyeth’s Strawberries – Watered Wid’ Mah Own Spit!”

Luckily the strawberries died because you can’t grow strawberries with saliva, and no one ever had to eat my spit-watered strawberries.  You can all be very thankful I decided to go into composition, where it’s decidedly harder for me to inadvertently poison people.

I’ve been looking for a job that really fits my unique skill sets for quite some time now.  It finally occurred to me what the best way to utilize myself would be, and I immediately posted this ad to Craigslist.

 

Do you run a coffee shop that sells gluten-free crepes and are hoping to appeal to a more family-friendly crowd? Or perhaps you own a vintage bike store and are looking for someone to help sell 1980’s Schwinns to high schoolers. Even if you are just a simple manager of an art house movie theater trying to convince the folks down at City Hall that you’re not blowing your arts grant on bongs, I am the guy for you! I am a 20 year old white male from a middle-class Chicago suburb, and I can make your business look hip and trendy while still being so wholly non-threatening that mothers will have no problem bringing their daughters in to shop for artisanal pastries on warm Saturday afternoons. Please allow me to explain why my services are so vital to your success as a business.

It may come as no surprise to you that I attended a large church full of other non-threatening white guys back in my hometown. One of the things that always struck me about the church was that in the band, they would always have a guitarist who looked like he was on the verge of headlining the next Pitchfork festival. He would wear tight jeans and a scarf, or perhaps an undersized beanie in July. For all me and the other non-threatening white guys at my church knew, this man was the face of rock and roll! Of course, he wasn’t. He was actually just a community college student with a rewards card at American Apparel, but we didn’t know any better, and this man was the closest we would ever come to meeting a real live member of the urban elite. This one guitar player was able to give me, along with every other non-threatening white guy at the church, a real sense of edginess and, dare I say, danger, while all the maintaining our carefully cultivated comfort zones. It was essentially the religious equivalent of a roller coaster. But I digress…

In today’s fast-moving urban business market, it is imperative for any aspiring Boston establishment to give off a vibe that it’s a divey neighborhood gem, but one that people from that neighborhood would never actually go to. To create this vibe, you need someone that so boldly walks the line line between “Bohemian rebel” and “corporate stooge” that it is unclear if they are on the new cutting edge of hipsterdom or if they simply lost track of which type of jeans are popular these days. I can be that person for you! I am that rare white guy that is exactly hip enough to wear cardigans, but not hip enough to actually look cool while doing it. My hair is neatly parted in such a way that its questionable if its an acute fashion choice or simply a lazy conformity to the same hairstyle my mom fashioned for me at family functions during my formative adolescence. My jeans are at the ideal tightness where its impossible to tell if you can see through to the bulge or if perhaps it’s just an idiosyncrasy of the fly.

Gone will be the days of suit-wearing yuppies shunning your establishment because they frowned on the bearded man with the ear gages you hired to hock nostalgic t-shirts with Boy Meets World quotes on them! When the passing professionals see me standing behind the counter of your store, they’ll know that there’s simply no feasible way that anyone remotely intimidating could ever have set foot inside the building.

Gone will be the days of floral-print-clad college girls shuffling past your doors without a second glance to the stuffy 30-something man named Rajmit you hired to brew the coffee! When the hordes of relocated suburban college kids see me taking their orders, they’ll know that they’ve finally found a place where they know they will be able to sit on their laptop without fearing that a homeless man will come crashing through the door and spill watered-down malt liquor all over their keyboard.

In short, it is impossible to fathom that you will be able to sell enough locally-sourced throw pillows from your upstart local business to make a profit unless you have me there, affecting my most neutral and unassuming smile as patrons ask me to confirm that the cotton used in the stuffing was, in fact, cage free. I hope you consider my proposal, and I look forward to hearing from potential employers soon!  To conclude, I have attached some photos of me being non-threatening, partially so you can see for yourself, and partially because I thought this page could use a little color.

 

Soup

Me making soup in a non-threatening fashion

Wall

Me looking at my wall in a non-threatening manner

Christmas

Me opening Christmas presents in a slighly weird, but still ultimately non-threatening manner