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An Ugly Rite of Passage

August 31, 2012

So a guy groped my ass on the subway yesterday.

I was heading home from the gym on the Q, where I’d gotten on at Union Square. I was standing by the door because there were no free seats, and the train was packed, so when the doors on my side opened at Dekalb and then Atlantic Ave, I turned and stepped slightly out of the car to let people pass and then took up my position by the doors again as they closed. At Atlantic, as I was standing waiting for the doors to close, the guy sitting next to the door reached through the seat railing and grabbed my butt.

At first, I was in shock. Did that really just happen? Maybe it was an accident. But it was a distinct fondle, not an accidental brush. I was at least five or six inches away from the seat–he had to reach out to grab me. It was NOT accidental. Did anyone see that? It didn’t seem so. If they did, they didn’t say anything. As I was processing what just happened, I moved a few feet away and closer to the door on the other side. I glanced back to the culprit and yes, the look on his face told me that he knew EXACTLY what he’d done. I considered making a scene, but ultimately didn’t want to draw attention to myself. And thus, I became fully baptized as a female New Yorker–I had been groped on the subway.

I’m still angry at myself for not doing anything. In my head, I always had this fantasy that if anyone put their hands on me on the train, I’d grab their fingers and twist as hard as I could while yelling, “WHOSE HAND IS THIS AND WHY IS IT ON MY ASS?” I wouldn’t let go until other passengers held the guy down and a cop came and arrested him on the spot and I’d have done my part to eradicate sexual harassment from the city. But it didn’t happen that way. I stayed silent. Because I didn’t think anyone would believe me, and if they did, they’d probably shrug and say, “What’s the big deal? Get over it, lady.”

That’s the kind of attitude that allows violence against women to perpetuate in our society. Not just the indifference of bystanders, but the inaction on my part. I feel awful now. I should have done something. But it’s a victim’s right not to make a scene or press charges. I shouldn’t have to feel a duty to do something that makes me feel uncomfortable in the name of saving other potential victims. At the same time, I SHOULD BE ABLE TO BE A WOMAN ON THE TRAIN AND NOT HAVE MY ASS GROPED.

The situation of having to spend two minutes on the train with the guy who groped me has brought up a lot of mixed feelings in me in the last 16+ hours since this happened. This is actually not the first time I’ve had someone touch me inappropriately on the subway. A few years ago I was getting off the N at Times Square when a guy striding down the middle of the car smacked my ass as I was stepping onto the platform. I turned around, agape, and he glanced back as the doors closed, smiling as if he was the cleverest person in the world. There was nothing I could do as the train pulled out a second later, but I sincerely hope that the people on that car beat the everloving shit out of him, or at least shamed him into never doing anything like that again. There was no chance for me to do anything about it, and so I didn’t feel what I’m feeling right now, where I had all kinds of time to take a picture, or tell someone, or scream at him, “THAT WAS NOT OK, YOU PIECE OF SHIT.”

Again, I feel strongly that a victim should be able to make a choice about pressing charges or not, but at the same time I recognize that the potential backlash and public shaming is a very strong deterrent to doing anything. Say that I had brought charges against the guy. I’m sure it would have been brought up that I was wearing tight spandex workout pants, and that I may have positioned myself badly by standing near the door and brought the entire thing upon myself. Never mind that even if someone has their butt in your face on a subway car with a skirt that is 3 inches long, that doesn’t give you the right to fondle them against their will.

I do remember his face, though, and if I see him on the Q again and he tries the same thing, you better believe that the next time, I’m breaking fingers.

The Most Fun You’ll Have With Something Double-Ended That Is Not Sold at an Adult Novelty Store

November 3, 2011

OK, so this is NOT a product review blog. While I do find them fascinating, and I enjoy writing the occasional review (see the MakeupAlley and Yelp review links on the sidebar), I do not want to make it a regular thing. That is, unless you are someone who wants to send me free stuff to review and then I will happily try it and report back with my honest opinion, because I enjoy free stuff and giving honest opinions.

But TODAY–we depart from our usual blog blatherings and go to a review. I could put this on MakeupAlley too, but I am doing it here, because this is something that YOU, the infinitesimally small portion of the population who actually reads this blog, should know about THIS.

First, a little usual blog blathering.

If you had asked me to describe anything about my style or usual grooming oh, say, a year and a half ago, I would have said I was a straight up jeans-and-tshirt kind of girl. That started to change a bit when I recognized the joy of summer dresses, which are wonderful such that they are light and cool and not sweaty in the heat. Dresses are sort of like Clothing Yourself for Dummies, because you don’t really have to think too much in order to look at least somewhat put together. You don’t have to worry about matching the style and colors of a top and bottoms. Put a dress on, add some shoes that are Not Horrible, and BOOM–the dressing is DONE, dude. If you are feeling particularly adventuresome and stylish you can add some accessories and look Even More Put Together, and perhaps even approach Kind of Fashionista status, if you do it right.

Anyway, I discovered the Joy of Dresses and so the majority of my new clothes purchases focused on them. And then I got a job where I did have to actually make a bit of an effort to look Somewhat Like an Adult, which was especially important for me because it was teaching college and I am often mistaken for being a college student (although with the gray hairs that I earned from teaching, the chances of being mistaken for significantly less than my actual age are rapidly declining. Someone actually did guess that I was over 30, in recent memory [last weekend], and that made me realize, OH SHIT, my looks are catching up with my actual age and perhaps I should get out of denial about my adulthood already. So yeah, those days are numbered, and maybe being mistaken for a college student anymore is a bit of a stretch but I do not want to look as if I am approaching middle age when that is, in fact, Reality with a capital R fully intended, and to be perfectly honest, I have never once considered actually BEING old, and this is like a big fucking slap in the face to my self-concept. OK, done with overly long parenthetical digression). So, in order to set myself apart from my students and hopefully project an image of authority, I bought somewhat professional clothing (a term that the boundaries of which are tested quite thoroughly in academia) and started to think a lot more about what I actually look like, instead of basing my fashion sense on what tshirt suits my mood on a particular day and which jeans smell the least bad.

Dressing nicely is an insidious little habit, because soon you find yourself paying attention to Fashion and Trends and other Very Important First World Issues like that, and you start spending a lot more money then you did before and buying clothes more often than Threadless.com’s $10 tshirt sales. And then you start thinking about all the other little details, like Accessorizing and Styling, which is pretty much a fancy word for “changing the look of an outfit by putting on a belt or wearing different shoes”. And along with THAT, if you are of the female persuasion, comes a healthy examination of what your face and hair look like, because your outfit is not just what you are wearing, it’s EVERYTHING all put together and soon you start thinking about manicures and makeup and hairstyling too.

So that, Dear Reader, is how, in a mere 18 months, I went from a jeans-and-tshirt kinda girl to someone who notes the labels of what she is wearing when she gets dressed in the morning in case her dream comes true and she gets stopped by one of those seemingly ubiquitous street style blogs who seem to only stop people in SoHo to talk about their outfits. And who does her nails religiously at least once a week (for the record, I have always been religious about giving myself pedicures, but that was more because my toenails are exceedingly ugly when they are not polished and I didn’t want to horrify anyone in case I decided to step out in flip-flops), and who has read up on all kinds of ways to apply makeup but is still too nervous to wear much of it out lest she looks like a 9-year-old who played around in her mother’s vanity. I spend far too much at Sephora on a regular basis, buy nail polish in bulk, and check numerous fashion  and beauty related blogs and stores EVERY SINGLE DAY. What. The. Fuck. Happened. To. Me.

That was probably way too much background perspective on what I am about to share with you. Actually, there’s a little bit more. Being someone who is somewhat In The Know about stuff like this, I recently bought a shit-ton of stuff at Sephora for the Friends & Family 20% off sale. I got my package at work on Monday and I raced home to gleefully try on (or “swatch”, in the makeup blog lingo) the FIVE lipsticks, FIVE eyeliner pencils, TWO lip pencils, ONE pressed powder compact and THREE nail polishes that I bought.

Jesus Christ. I think I have a problem.

I am, however, returning some of that stuff, because apparently I still suck at knowing what is a good color for me and what is not.

One of the non-makeup things I bought was a Double-Ended Blemish Extractor.

This is simultaneously the awesomest and the most horrible thing I have ever bought.

Basically, this is a fancy little tool to pop your zits. And it does that really, really fucking well. It also exists to clean all the gunk out of your face, the shit that you had no idea was really there in the first place. I mean, I knew it was there, because it was a blackhead, but when I roll this puppy over it and stuff starts coming out, it’s like the Coney Island Freakshow in my bathroom: SEE THE WOMAN WITH THE BOTTOMLESS PORES!!! Seriously, I had no idea about the kind of evil lurking in there. I mean, I knew there was some gross stuff in there, but holy shitballs, not to this degree.  After a quick session with this and seeing all the disgusting crap come out, I just want to set fire to my face and start over again from the beginning. I’ve had extractions during facials before, but I never saw what was ACTUALLY being extracted. I’m a little afraid that now I’m going to become one of those girls who really gets off on popping her boyfriend’s zits or finds satisfaction in YouTube videos of people squeezing shit out of their pores. However, the thought of using this on someone else disgusts me, and that’s comforting because it means I’M STILL NORMAL.

But seriously, this thing is pretty crazy (in the good way). My skin sucks, and the way it usually goes is that any clogged pore eventually gestates into a full-blown zit (which may be one of the things that makes me look younger, the fact that I am dealing with MORE acne in my 30s than I did as a teenager), and if I can nip that whole process in the bud, maybe for once I’ll finally have clearer skin. Or a new hobby, at least.

This is funny…NOT.

October 17, 2011

There is something that has been bothering me for the last 20 years or so.

Twenty years. Think about that. 1991 doesn’t seem that far away, does it? But doesn’t 2031 seem like it’s a really long way off? In 1991, I was 13 years old, had braces on my teeth, Coke bottle glasses, and had my first period. In 2031, I will be 53 years old, will likely be completely gray and wearing bifocals, and will probably be going through the beginning stages of menopause. Fuck. Time sure flies.

Anyway, that is all beside the Very Important Point I am about to make. I’m arbitrarily picking 1991, because this was 3 years after the first “Wayne’s World” sketch aired on Saturday Night Live and a year before it was spun off into a feature film of the same name. Wayne Campbell and Garth Algar were a comedy fixture at this point, and many of their catchphrases had made it into the popular lexicon. Who wasn’t saying “Party on, [insert name of friend here]” or “Schwing!” or doing that dream sequence thing with their hands?

There is one saying in particular that caught on. The “Not!” joke. You know the one. “Yeah, Wayne, I’d go out with her…I totally would…NOT!” That one was a real kneeslapper the first time you heard it, right? And then you used it in every situation you could.

“Do I look fat in this?”

“Yeah, you do…NOT!”

Har har har.

Somewhere along the way, this joke lost the necessary sentence structure to make it work. Originally, you had to phrase things in such a way that the “not” negated the verb before, which was usually a conjugation of “to be”, “to do”, or “to have”. As shorthand, anything that could be shortened into a form such as “isn’t”, “won’t”, “couldn’t”, or the like worked. “I can…NOT!” “It is…NOT!” “I have…NOT!”

But then people started just plopping a “Not!” onto any old sentence. Even the joke “expert” in the movie “Borat” gets it wrong when he explains the structure of the “Not!” joke. He uses the example of, “Your pants are black…NOT!” Wait, what? No! That doesn’t work! That doesn’t make any sense! There is no verb that the “NOT!” is busy negating.

This misuse of “Not!” is rampant when people attempt to throwback to this joke. Nine times out of 10, when I see/hear someone make a “Not!” joke, they failed at it. And it’s a reminder that we lost the wordplay that made this joke funny to begin with. That verbal cliffhanger that brought the laughs is gone and replaced with a cheap, meaningless interjection. We have managed to dumb down an already dumb joke, people. This is fucking pathetic. You idiots will laugh at anything nowadays, won’t you?

I know you’re thinking, Jesus, Mandy, grow a fucking sense of humor already, will you? LET IT GO. And OK, sure, you have a point, there are bigger fish to fry when it comes to the downfall of American culture. I promise you, I will let it go, someday, I truly will.

NOT.

Today I Learned…

July 25, 2011

So I am a single lady. And I’m pretty happy with that. But I do enjoy companionship and every so often I get a wild hair (or is that a wild hare?) and I wind up doing yet another stint on OkCupid. I don’t really make any secret of the fact that I’m a habitual online dater. Unlike many others, there ain’t no shame in my game. Online dating has been working for me since approximately 1999, when I first posted a profile on Yahoo! personals as a junior in college. In the past 12 years, I’d say that only about 10% of the dates I go on are from guys I’ve met in real life. I don’t go to bars that often, when I go to parties I generally already know everyone there, and especially with derby taking up so much of my time, my lifestyle is just not that conducive to meeting new people of the straight, non-creepy male variety. Besides, I’m kind of selective (no vegetarians or vegans, must love cats, not want kids, have a college degree) and you just can’t narrow the field like you can online.

I never thought of this as a disadvantage in any way. I go on a pretty fair amount of dates and every so often I wind up with something approximating a boyfriend for a few months. Contrary to the stereotype of online daters, I’m not socially anxious or crazy (at least, nobody has ever told me if I am). But…I am realizing that making this my main method of meeting people may leave me at a slight disadvantage when it comes to meeting people the old-fashioned way.

Let’s take this past weekend, for example.

Saturday we had a bout (Bronx won, yay!), there was an afterparty and I went to said afterparty. This is the extent of my bar-hopping nowadays. Aside from the occasional beer or glass of wine at home, I don’t really drink very often. Bout afterparties/derby events and major holidays are pretty much it.

So, afterparty. I’m watching the bout we just played and talking to various people, and it’s generally a good time. At some point in the evening I’m introduced to two guys who happen to have animal noses and whiskers drawn on their faces. Turns out this is from a “cat face party” that was going on down the street. Apparently, it was lame, so these two wound up at Manitoba’s. One of them had been to the bout before the party but the other had not. I am conversing with these two gentlemen and they seem generally ok and not creepy and they are interested in roller derby, so all was good. The one who had not been to the bout expressed interest in me and I wasn’t repulsed, so I was not rebuffing his advances, but I wasn’t draped all over him or anything like that.

(I would totally use names here, but I seem to have lost them in the bottom of a pint of Mother’s Milk stout. So from here on out we have Bout Guy and Hipster Glasses. Bout Guy is obviously the guy who went to the bout. Hipster Glasses had, well, hipster glasses, was kind of beard-y, and had on a blue v-neck tshirt. Somehow, I remember this but not his name.)

So Hipster Glasses and I seem to be getting along OK, I don’t remember talking about anything other than derby, but I liked what I knew of him and he seemed to like me as well. It’s getting a little on the later side and I’ve made up my mind that I’m leaving as soon as our bout finishes showing on the TVs at Manitoba’s. I tell Hipster Glasses this and he asks if he can walk me home. I’ve made the  stumble home from Manitoba’s by myself many a time, but sure, OK, if he wants to. Bout Guy had already peaced out by this time and so I say my goodbyes and Hipster Glasses accompanies me the 4 blocks to my place. On the way there he runs into the bodega catty-corner from me for a bottle of water. I, bleary-eyed and exhausted, teeter on the corner for a minute while he does this. He walks me to my door and I give him a hug and he goes in for a kiss. I let him peck me on the lips but I’m not allowing any more than that. I know I’ve been drinking a bit and wasn’t trusting the potential thickness of my beer goggles at this point. Besides, I think it’s kind of gauche to play tonsil hockey on one’s stoop right after closing time.

Hipster Glasses is trying pretty hard to get past just repeated pecking, and I make a move towards my door. “Would you like me to walk you up?” He says. I know I am not that drunk to let some dude I just met at the bar come up to my place. I also know that there is a bag of the worst-smelling skate gear ever on my kitchen floor, along with my sweat-soaked uniform, sports bra, and shorts all airing out in my bathroom and counters. My apartment was barely habitable for me, let alone a visitor. Not that that made much of a difference. For a dude with a cat nose and whiskers drawn on his face, he’s already lucky I let him walk me home and peck me goodnight. I giggle and tell him I’ll be OK, and he tries again with the kissing. And again, he’s not getting anywhere. Finally, I kind of nudge him away, because I’m nearly falling asleep on my feet at this point, and my bed is calling out for me, and me alone. We stand there awkwardly for a moment.

“Um, so I guess this is the part where I give you my phone number?” I say.

“OK. Sure,” he says, unlocking his iPhone and bringing up the “add contact” screen. He hands it to me and I dutifully enter my number. I helpfully add my full name, for some tipsy-logical reason that I can’t remember. I can’t even remember his name at this point but I feel it necessary he know my legal one.

“There you go!” I say, in as chipper a voice I can muster after 4 hours of yelling to be heard at the bar. I sound like I’ve gargled with lava rocks at this point so it sounds more like a growled threat than the cheerful sendoff I was going for. Hipster Glasses takes his phone back, hugs me goodbye and mentions he’s getting a cab back to Murray Hill, or Kips Bay, or whatever you call that horrendous bro-infested area that is not quite Gramercy and not quite Midtown. “Get home safe!” I croak as I unlock my front door. He nods and walks off towards 1st Avenue.

It wasn’t until the next day and a doozy of a hangover later (which demanded an emergency order of cheeses, bread, and cured meats from MaxDelivery), that I was in the shower and it occurred to me that OH MY GOD Hipster Glasses totally thought he was going to get laid. I was laughing so hard at my naïveté that I had to turn the water off and sit on the edge of the tub until the fit passed. He likely bought condoms along with the bottle of water as I was waiting obediently on the corner for him at the bodega. And he probably thought I was going to invite him up, but when I didn’t, he tried to ask himself up.

I dried off and got on IM with my friend Andy, who is a gay dude, but a dude nonetheless, and knows better than I do how dudes think. He confirmed my suspicions:

Andy: i think he just got the wrong idea
i think he thinks walking home from bar = action
and he probably thinks ur a tease for not asking him up
me: maybe
i just don’t see how walking a girl home that you just met equals sex
Andy:
guys who don’t get it always call the other one a tease
some people think there are promises
they’re idiots
me:
he probably told his friend he got laid
i hope he at least said i was good
no tongue kissing is a pretty clear sign that it’s not gonna happen, right?
Andy:
nah
i mean the walk home is why he was sure
me:
I’ve let guys platonically walk me home and never got any expectation of anything
Andy:
i’m saying that’s why he got it
me:
that’s so weird
Andy:
yeah, ask around
me:
i totally take that at face value
Andy:
yeah u do, ur literal
“walk me home” = “walk me home”
me:
yeah, in what world does “walk me home” = “I wanna have sex with you”?
Andy:
manyyyy
me: I’ve dated a lot and have never had that implication before
EVER
Andy:
someone u met in a bar
walks u home
thinks he’s getting laid
me:
well that’s my problem
I have literally never met anyone in a bar before
Andy: right
that’s the nuance
how u met
me: ahhhhhhhh
that’s so weird
it’s like a whole subculture i know nothing about
Andy: well this makes more sense to me now
that u say u’ve never met anyone in a bar before
cuz i couldn’t figure out how u didn’t get it
me: yeah this was a total first in that regard
oh this makes the whole thing even more hilarious

 

Well. You learn something new every day.

Street harassment for the timid

May 5, 2011

If there was any ever doubt that the Craigslist Missed Connections are really just delayed reaction street harassment, this post really proves that point:

Fine little shorty black tights early am damn baby that assssss – m4w (les)

your also very beautiful i pulled over had to see that again annnnd again wowww

*facepalm* I’m having sympathetic squickedness for this poor woman.

My Life in TV

March 12, 2011

I’ve been rewatching “My So-Called Life” on Netflix lately, because it became available streaming. Watching it again…wow. It’s like taking a time machine back to high school.

I had a love-hate relationship with this show when it came out. I was exactly the same age as Angela, the main character. This show, paradoxically, was so completely my life, yet it was the fantasy of what I wished my life was like. I loved that I could relate, but hated that I did. I hated that some TV writer out there knew my experience and could put it up there on TV for every single person to see. I felt exposed by that show. It spoke to me, but it also revealed to everyone else in the world just what was running through my head. At the time, I was still caught in my web of adolescent egocentrism–there was no way anyone else could ever truly understand me or my experience. Yet, there it was, on the screen for an hour, one episode at a time.

Angela Chase was a cooler version of me. For one, I never had a Jordan Catalano. I mean, I did, in the way that I had that guy who I pined for and he totally ignored me 90% of the time. My crushes were never reciprocated in any way, shape or form. Her friends were also cooler than mine. I hung out with the band geeks (despite not being in band myself) and there were never clubs or shows to go to. We hung out in school and then went back to our tame home lives at the last bell, studying in our rooms and not out having adventures like Angela, Rayanne, and Ricky. I didn’t live near anyone I went to school with or have former friends from elementary school hanging around, so there were no Sharon Cherskis or Brian Krakows constantly popping up in unexpected places when I was at home. Despite the intrusion, I would have really liked that, though.

I also have never owned a single thing that was made of plaid flannel. I failed at the 90s.

I suppose I could keep up the nostalgia by following this up with a review of “Felicity”, which pretty much summed up college. I don’t think there’s anything that corresponds to grad school, adulthood and beyond. Or wait–”How I Met Your Mother” does this pretty well. Sigh. Art imitates my life far too well sometimes.

Nope.

January 7, 2011

So I had this plan to watch the new season of “The Bachelor”, that terrible, awful, disgusting mockery of relationships that airs weekly on ABC. I was going to watch it because this guy, Brad Womack, was previously on the show and (spoiler alert!) didn’t wind up proposing to either of the girls who made it to the final round of this mess. Apparently America had its collective panties in a bunch because of this. I mean, how could it be that a guy could not fall in love and want to propose to a vapid girl after having cameras document them in a series of carefully orchestrated interactions over a mere 6 weeks? HOW??? Brad Womack, WTF is wrong with you?

As is revealed in the opening minutes of this new season that just started airing, and once again starring Mr. Womack, he’s been in therapy. Not for the stress of a bunch of people who don’t know him saying negative things about him because he seems to have more sense than the average brainless hunk they put on this show, but because he had “relationship issues”. *eye roll* Anyway, now he’s “fixed” and ready to do the whole thing again. I was thinking I’d watch this debacle and see if his relative amount of sense would prevail through a round 2.

I got through 13 minutes of this crap before I had to turn it off. I just can’t hang. I’m sorry. This show is infuriating in its stupidity. These women make me sad. I’m sure they’re lovely people, but I just can’t watch them with their man-hungry eyes and single-minded patheticness patheticism pathetitude absurdity.

I pretty much just added a day to my life. Even if I spend it surfing Reddit, it’ll be time better spent than watching this show.

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