Tuesday, June 26, 2007

while i'm on a roll

Respect.

Not just Aretha deserves it. Why does it seem that people have lost respect for each other, as well as themselves? Respect covers a lot of ground. How you interact with other living beings, how you walk on the earth and see the world around you. How you treat yourself.

From simple observation, this basic tenet instilled by parents on their children at a tender age seems to have gone the way of the record player. Some people still have one and some people have no idea what it is.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said “Men are respectable only as they respect.” A backbone of my beliefs are summed up by the rule of three - what you put out there comes back to you threefold. More clearly stated “Treat others as you want them to treat you because what goes around, comes around.”

Is there any more to say?

the double standard of freedom of speech

Not too long ago, my husband ceased working for a Peetown client on a complete gut and renovation of their house. Let me clarify, one of their several houses. This was the never ending project - I kid you not - it started with a deck in 2003 and moved onward and upward from there. Years of working on a house that was destined for Architectural Digest. Years of making the smallest, and sometimes ridiculous, changes at a moment's notice on because that was what the client wanted and because my husband is really, really good at what he does and takes a lot of pride in his work. Years of making a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

Years too of tolerating sexual harassment. Yes, that's what I said. The girl who rarely gets offended regardless of the jokes, innuendos and crass comments. He was called names that a woman would not have tolerated under any circumstances and for which she would have sued the pants off of an employer for. But in this case, these names were to be accepted you see because the client was gay. And being gay in today's society allows you to do and say pretty much anything you want without repercussions.

The "nicknames" my husband was dubbed with were something that we both ignored, excusing it as "well, that's just George's way" and leaving it at that. However, this past weekend my husband and I were in Peetown working on finishing a small carpentry job for Mark, another long time client. Well, Hot Carpenter Man was working and I was lending moral support and playing with the client's puppy. Both very important tasks.

Side note: The actual reason why my husband doesn't work for George is that he was fired. Without notice. You see the scapegoat for the inability of the sow's ear to become that silk purse became my husband. "Why this wasn't finished," "why that didn't get done on time," blah blah blah. Never mentioned was that the client called one night last summer to say "stop working, there is no more money indefinitely." Never mentioned was that the sub contractors who the client personally selected were sub standard in their work. Never mentioned was that the bathroom tiles had to be sorted by color gradation so they could be installed from lightest to darkest at a 45 degree angle outwards from the shitter.

Side note #2: Oh, one of the bonuses that came out of this? My husband paid each and every one of the sub contractors himself personally out of his own account to make sure that they wouldn't get screwed by the "ran out of money" problem despite almost going broke himself. He now has subs that will gladly work for him anytime, anywhere in a building community where you can't get an electrician or drywaller for at least 2 months out. He earned respect.

Back to Peetown. My husband mentioned to Mark that he was no longer working for George and told him briefly the circumstances why. All Mark could say is "I'm sure that he'll be backstabbing you around town like the queen he is and that you'll end up being the bad guy in this because you're straight and you can't tell a fag to go to hell. I can call him a fag but you can't."

There's that double standard of freedom of speech rearing its ugly head again. Only gay people can call each other fags or fairys or whatever with impunity. It's still an insulting thing to say. Only black/afro-american people can call other black/afro-american people "nigger" and get away with it. It's still a horrible and disrespectful word no matter what the color of the uttering mouth is. Why is it acceptable that anyone can say these things to other people at all? Never mind that our books, movies, video games etc. all make it commonplace.

Why should someone actually be responsible for what comes out of their mouth?

Why is it that Americans feel that just because it's their constitutional right to have freedom of speech that they can say absolutely whatever they want and then hide behind that First Amendment fence and thumb their noses? When insulting and degrading terms become commonplace and used without boundaries, shouldn't we look at our "freedom of speech" a little more carefully? What about respect? Calling a gay person a fag just because you are gay yourself doesn't make it right.

Just because you can say something doesn't mean you should.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

In a position to wreak havoc.

OK, so I have never wreaked (wroke?) havoc in my life. And here I was, poised on the brink...

My best-est friend asked me if I would join her in doing something completely queer. Since we both understand that "queer" really means odd and ridiculous rather than homosexual, I happily agreed to it before knowing what, in fact, we were doing. You see, we've done oodles of queer things and it ALWAYS ended up with us needing Depends and snorting & laughing until we cry.

So this queerness was a croquet clinic being held at 10am at a lovely place called Heritage Plantation in Sandwich. Of course, doing anything at 10am on a weekday that doesn't involve employment was enticing enough for me. I was in.

Suddenly, I was overwhelmed by visions of Great Gatsby-esque men & women sashaying across perfectly manicured lawns twirling croquet mallets whilst sipping on iced beverages. Actually the vision was a deja vu of a time when I attended Ocean Edge's Wine & Croquet Fundraiser in 2000 with the owners of Brewster Wine Cellar & Spirits and ended up on the society page of the Boston Globe. White dress, picture hat and all. True story.

What was I getting myself into this time? Initial costs were significantly cheaper ($10 not $250) and I was sure that no iced beverages would be served. Should I go? Would I really have to play croquet? This was a "sport" I had managed to avoid. Until now. Carpooling was arranged; there was no escape.

We met a friend of hers and her boss (yes, her boss is indeed that cool) in the parking lot and off we sauntered to the field. The field of perfection. Where the grass was so mind-numbingly green and well manicured that you immediately wanted to hurl yourself upon it and roll around shrieking "woll in da hay, woll, woll" ala Terri Garr in Young Frankenstein.

Snapping us back into reality was a very perky cruise-directorish woman who cheerily announced the start of the clinic. The clinic, ergo us, were to be duly honored by being led by a 2 time world croquet champion. A WHAT? There are world championships for this? Are you kidding?

As I glanced at the other attendees, who were nodding most gravely, I realized that we four were decades younger than everyone else there. Uh oh. Fun factor could be reduced drastically. As the honored champion began his elaborate instructions on the finer points of the strategy involved (strategy?!) and the proper way to handle a mallet, Susan started giggling when Sarah whispered in her ear, "he said shaft." He did not just say that. Being of the potty humorist ilk, we were of course, reduced to uncontrolled fits of giggling. There would be fun goddammit and we were the ones to make it.

Our professional then released us to our courts, with the directive "you're now in a position to wreak havoc." Havoc? In croquet? He just said havoc, right? Aha! We had ourselves a motto. We scampered off to find suitable whacking devices and targets, however, no one else followed our snickering quartet to the far corner; in fact they all moved away from us with suspicious glances. Perhaps we were going to come near them? Desecrate the sacred whiteness of croquet. Egads, NO!

The fun we had goes beyond words to explain it. There are photos but I have been threatened with bodily harm if I post them. I still am laughing - what a blast! When any of us actually made it through a wicket, a leaping high-five was the reward. I think our octogenarian co-attendees were jealous. We had proved that white girls, can indeed jump! We raced around the croquet court like wild women - laughing and truly enjoying ourselves in only a work-skipping, cell phone-free, temporarily childless, sunny summer weather kind of way.

After our 2 hour clinic was over, we were off in search of lunch in Audrey's convertible Beetle. Actually, tea. At the Dunbar Tea Shop. What else could we have possibly done after playing croquet? There was chicken curry. There were scones. And best of all, there were dishes of clotted cream. A tea pot with a tea cozy. And the stories. I think that was the best of all. All of us being smug marrieds, we exchanged "how we met" tales and laughed more. What a day.

Susan and I then scampered off and met up with her husband to make the kid & car swap. The truly best part of my day was when her kids repeatedly shrieked "Auntie Iss!" at the top of their lungs when I walked toward them. The perfect ending to a perfect day.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Cartman and Corgis

OK, so you have to admit there is something slightly wrong with the Welsh Corgi dog proving once again that the Universe does indeed have a sense of humor. If you don't know what a Corgi is, click here.

Recently, while lounging at a local bay-side beach, I noticed a woman walking her Corgi. As I was thinking, "Lady, did you not see the sign that says NO dogs on the beach after Memorial Day?" I realized that the dog was enjoying himself thoroughly, so I continued to watch without getting all righteous on the owner.

It was a very calm day on the water with an onshore breeze and an incoming tide (Craig, I do know the difference) and the waves were of the height to knock over my little friend Studley (see Trout Towers blog), so they were about 1.75 inches high. This Corgi was running, if you could call what a dog with legs a 1/2 inch high does, and leaping, yes, leaping over the lapping wavelets.

In fact, the resemblance to Eric Cartman was so strong that I started giggling. And laughing. Snorting in fact. Tears were flowing as dog's front end went up, then down, then the back end, went up, then down, to be repeated over and over again - a breaching of sorts.

Truly a vision of Cartmanesque-ness.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

The Word is Crapulous

The first planting in the word garden.

Crapulous is how you feel on Thanksgiving Day after ingesting two pounds of turkey, three cups of stuffing, mounds of mashed potato, and four glasses of red wine. You feel, in short, like crap, and yet crap and crapulous are not related to one another. Crapulous derives from the Latin crapula, meaning intoxicated, though in English the word has been associated since the sixteenth century not just with overindulgence in drink, but also with gluttonous eating.

Crap, on the other hand, belongs to the Germanic branch of Indo-European; the word also exists in Dutch, for example, where it is spelt krappe. Originally, back in the fifteenth century, crap denoted the husks that were removed from grain in the milling process — what we would now call chaff. By the sixteenth century, however, crap was being used to denote the crunchy residue left over after rendering pig fat. Also known as graves, crap was considered dog food in the sixteenth century, but by the mid nineteenth century it was being served to company with tea, usually seasoned with salt, mustard, and vinegar. It would seem, however, that crap was considered by most Victorians to be a second-rate snack, as the word developed a further sense of excrement in the late nineteenth century.

By happy coincidence, the development of this sense of crap occurred around the same time that Thomas Crapper, a London-based plumber, began to market a toilet that he promoted as "Thos. Crapper's Patented Waterfall No. 1." The name-brand recognition of "The Crapper" was no doubt facilitated by the accidental word play implied by his surname.

Hearts & Homes

If home is where the heart is, I live with a lot of unsuspecting people all over the country.