Sunday, November 29, 2009

Aunty Christ lives in her own little turkey world

The only people who would find this amusing are the same people who pretend to throw balls to their dogs, only to misdirect the dog’s attention and hide the ball in their pocket, and then laugh and laugh and feel utterly superior to the poor creature.

Which is to say that I find it extremely amusing. It, in this case, being Yahoo! Answers, Gender and Women’s Studies, or Y!A GWS. This is what’s been taking up all my time lately, frankly. It’s an odd day indeed when Rich and I aren’t on the couch all morning nursing our own private obsessions—him with his electronic AV Club pals, and me with my imaginary Y!A morons. I’ve even started addressing actual people and events in the breathless, blindered tone of a Y!A querier:

“Why do men always wanna see movies like The Man in the White Suit, and women wanna watch The Godfather II?”

“Why do men always cook squash soup when women wanna go out for breakfast?”

Or, with all respect to The Simpsons, “Why are men named Rich Bachelor, and women are named Aunty Christ?”

It’s actually a really wonderful way to view the world. Let’s take a look, shall we? A question:

Why do most women act like the terms "sexist" and "true" are mutually exclusive?

I have repeatedly seen on here and heard otherwise the objection that a comment is sexist against women, as that is somehow supposed to nullify what was said before it. Why do most women feel that just b/c something is said that truthfully paints the majority of them in a negative light or otherwise makes them feel bad, that it is untrue?

Congratulations! You’ve just proved yourself to be unworthy of further discussion. Next!

If women are so afraid of men as they claim, why do they so voluntarily act in such antagonistic ways?

towards them? THis cold range from picking arguments to actually initiating violent physical contact (such as slapping).

You often hear women on here chiding guys for acting in anyway that could even remotely be construed as creepy (such as approaching a woman to initiate conversation) and there are constant posts about how men should and must respect a woman's comfort level.

Ok, fine. Women are in constant fear of men overpowering, raping or otherwise hurting them. We get that......but then, why do women antagonize these "potential rapists" so often, without provocation? An example I saw just last night at a bar was a woman striking a guy in the back of the head who walked away from an argument with her.

I mean if you are afraid of a pit bull, you don't go slapping him on the snout to p*ss him off right? Why do women not apply this same common sense with men?

(****And please: no arguments on the morality of hitting anyone...let's just look at this practically)

Okay, fine—let’s look at this practically. So either women must admit to you that they are in no harm at all from any man ever, or they must cower at home with their doors barred against the big, mean men who might hurt them? Or maybe a woman can be around men, but must at all time have a smile on her face and not react in any way that might provoke a man into raping or otherwise abusing her?

You make a good point, sir. My gender thanks you.

IS single-motherhood is a cancer in our society?

Do you agree?

Single motherhood trains girls from a much younger age than boys to be multi functional through the role models of women. Girls see their mothers going to work, college and rearing children. The boy is more lost as he does not understand his role. I know his role is exactly the same but you need a father to "Show" him this.

Women bemoan men and boys acting like sissys but we forget who is raising boys and young men and it's women. LOL

Now the reason for single motherhood is an immaturity problem like the man running off or the mother blocking access. Then the girls grow up and are promiscuous only keeping the cycle going because the boy is too young to be ready to be a father and he doesn't know what to be as a role.

Something like that.

Additional Details

Yes I titled it like that to drag you in! LOL

U fail. LOL!!!!!!!!!!!11!!

Why are women (in general) worse at basically everything when compared to their male colleagues ?

etc etc etc

Here is an answer to this provocative, well-considered question, from a “Top Contributor” no less:

Because of hormones distracting us. (pms) It makes us not think with the same logic as man. It causes psychological troubles.
Because we loose blood once a month and it is very tiring
Biological clock and we have to take maternal breaks
We still do most of the children raising at home.
Sports? Because we have smaller muscle and we have hips that makes us run awkwardly.

I am anti-feminist because equality between the sexes is impossible and against nature but you should still respect woman.

Ow, my awkward hips! And another excellent point:

This is an unfair fail to list the thing women are better at then men:

- taking advantage,abusing, and showing no appreciation for men's natural desire to please women
- the tenacity to act so selfish and whine for what they want without being embarrassed
- avoiding blame or accountability while showing zero remorse or conscience
- convincing people they are more caring, nurturing, and sweet hearted when their behaviors - looked at objectively- tell quite a different story

I’m sorry, sir. Why are you even talking about not-me right now? Do you not care that I would like my feet rubbed?

Another person asks:

Is this place just full of male whiners, or is it that women's issues have been mostly solved...(more)?

leaving men with the problems that need to be addressed?

Clearly: both.

And then (by the same guy):

Men: Have you ever considered that women view men as chumps who exist to support women and buy them things?

Have you ever looked at women as being people who frolic through life, giggling all the way because they view men as fools whose only reasons to exist are to provide sperm and dollars?

Thank you! Finally, someone with the balls to say what we’ve all been thinking! Am I right, guys?

Do you think psychological abuse should be made a crime to even out the playing field?

It seems that women have the upper hand when it comes to nagging and being control freaks.. thats basically them using their strengths.. the problem is when men use their strengths on women theyre protected from physical abuse by the justice system.

Psychological abuse does not always heal with time... some are scarred for life mentally and it affects their lives.

Exactly! That’s what I’ve been saying all along! Women are scarring men for life mentally by, um, nagging them! It’s exactly the same as rape, beatings, and murder, which as anyone knows, only men are ever punished for!

Why do feminists like to think they are the ones who can really understand what oppression means?

Did they finally make a claim on that word that they had it copyrighted and made sure that the word oppression only applies to women and feminists?

Yes. We’ve made a claim on it and had it copyrighted because we totally forgot about the blacks and Muslims and transgendered people. Whoops! Our bad. We promise to stop nagging those guys, though. If we can remember to not do that, what with all our giggling and frolicking and whatnot.

As a woman, do you feel insulted that feminists are portraying you as a victim because you're a woman?

Making sure everything is blamed on others except women portray women as weak; incapable of making rational thinking; and incapable of making good decisions. We are not victims all the time, feminists! Sometimes we make bad decisions! When will you preach the concept of responsibility instead of blame?

Again: Thank god someone finally said it! Feminism is all about making women seem weak and incapable of rational thinking, right? Whereas dudes apparently, if Y!A GWS is any indication, have the utmost respect for us!

Arent the declining marriage rates womens fault ? Why should a man marry, if marriage means to?

share his wealth 50 50 when he can not find a woman that makes the same ammount of money as he does and also takes care of the home and kids, because feminism and the modern divorce laws are not his fault ?

Yes! Men should not be forced to marry women, who don’t earn as much and are expected to take care of the house and the kids and such. Men should be allowed, finally, to marry men!

Thank you, sir, for your support of gay marriage. We appreciate it.

So, as you see, it’s all enough to drive a person completely insane. After several hours of looking at this, one expects to go outside of the house and see a world turned upside-down, everyone sitting in a toilet-armchair, watching Ow My Balls! and making preverbal utterances.

Given what I’ve seen in GWS, I expected other sections of Y!A to engage in same kind of illogical commentary. Say, in Economics, a question posing “I had a $20 in my pocket and now it’s gone?” or “Do you agree that we just feasted for five dollars?” But no. There, people are asking questions about the economic effects of a significant fall in the value of the pound against the euro and the effect that increased reserve requirements might have on the GDP.

Leaving me to wonder if it’s about talking about gender that makes people stupid, or if the subject merely attracts 12-year-old boys and morons. Discuss.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Someday men will walk on Mars, but Aunty Christ will still be a monkey

Hey, I don’t know if you’ve heard this yet, but I guess the job market is really unrealistically competitive right now. Here’s one for the God You Suck Files.

As I may or may not have already pointed out, I’ve been applying for jobs for about a year now, at a rate of maybe one or two resumes a week. Sometimes the jobs I apply to are a little too big for me and my skills; sometimes they’re a bit too small, both in wages and responsibilities. Every once in a while, I happen upon something that’s just right—something I actually want to do, and can do, and have done.

But I haven’t gotten any of them, and at this point, hundreds of rejections later, I feel like I am not so much a person as a flaw. If I talk about this, I’m subjected to my friends’ advice on the various way in which my flaw manifests itself. I am applying for the wrong jobs. I cannot communicate with the people who interview me, or am communicating in a wrong way. I do not look professional, perhaps. Have I considered that my resume is bad? Or perhaps it is rather that my experience is not valuable. Or I don’t sell myself well because I don’t have faith in myself. I probably think too highly of myself. Whatever it is, surely I can see that I am generally not a very good person. And above all, I must believe in myself.

Last week I got an interview with an office I would have loved to work for. It’s a small non-profit that gives free legal advice to crime victims, run by a woman who used to work for the D.A.’s office. In terms of fit, it landed somewhere between Just Right and Too Big—I don’t have experience in some specific areas the job would have covered, but I do have advocate experience, and that would have been a small part of the job, and the rest of it was just general office work, which I’ve done and like well enough. And I thought the interview went well. Or in any case I liked the lady who ran the office, and I was able to answer most of her questions adequately—yes, I’ve done that before; no, we don’t use that application, but I am familiar with this similar platform. That kind of thing.

Upon returning home, I found that she had sent me an email ten minutes after I had left her office. It said:

Ms. Chrit (sic),

Thank you for applying with the Dream Job Firm, and I'm glad I got the opportunity to interview you. We are going to fill the position w/ another applicant. Good luck w/ your job search, and please don't be discouraged: out of approximately 150 applications we received, yours clearly stood out!

Like I said, rejection and I go way back. I understand that I’m not going to get every job. I even understood that I was probably not going to get this job. And yet.

Ms. Employer,

I apologize for contacting you again, especially since you must be very busy with your interviews on top of your ordinary responsibilities. However, I must say that I am very disappointed and wonder if I might encourage you to share with me what your reasons are for not feeling that you would want to work with me; I intuit that you must have had a fairly strong negative reaction, based on the fact that you've cut me from the running before completing the interview process.

Normally I wouldn't bother you with this question. I honestly just wanted very badly to work for you, and felt like I had the background and skills to do a good job for you. I guess I'm a little surprised.

Good luck to you. I enjoyed meeting you.

I was thinking that I would get silence in response. A big nothing. A secret, or a mystery. Instead, the next morning, I received a phone call, from Ms. Employer, saying Oh my god, I did not mean to send that to you.

Looking good, right? No. She continues. She says, I was getting emails ready to go out at the end of the week, but I slipped up and sent yours early. We’ve found the perfect person who can fill the job and—really, she could do my job! I should probably just cancel all the interviews I’ve scheduled. But thank you for coming in. It was great meeting you.

Which, despite giving me something of an answer, which was what I professed to be looking for, made me feel better not at all. And then, a few days later, an email.

Aunty, now is when I'm REALLY contacting the applicants we interviewed. Again, I'm so sorry I screwed yours up. The job market is just really unrealistically competitive now; it's very, very tight. Your application looked great - we only interviewed about 20 of some 150 applicants, and you were one of them - and your interview went really well, also. It's just a hard time to be looking for a job, and someone happened to apply whose bio matched the job description perfectly. I AM glad I got to meet you and talk w/ you!

So I sent (just to be nice):


Thank you for contacting me. I really appreciate it. Take care.

Immediately I receive:

I still feel so badly. I'm really sorry.

At this point—argh. Just drop it, lady. I’m really, really, really sorry I asked.

At least it’s not as bad as one interview I had this summer. Rich and I drove to a tiny town about 45 minutes away from our house, to an office where I spent about three minutes telling the attorney that I didn’t mind the drive, it wasn’t really that far to go for a job that I really wanted, that I’m from Chicago, fergadsakes, where I always had at least a two-hour daily commute, and two minutes listening to him say that he liked my resume but didn’t think that I’d want to drive so far, really, and then the interview was over and I never heard from them again.

Now that was weird.

I admit it. I’m kind of hating the job market right now. And my back-up plan of going to law school that so excited me just a few weeks ago? I had a meeting with the head of my paralegal department last week to talk to him about law school, and he seemed dead-set against it. In fact, he seemed dead-set against me, in general. To everything I said, he had two responses:

1. I don’t think that’s the right thing for you to be doing.

2. Now see, that’s your problem!

Me: I’m really interested in water law, and I think it’s going to be a growing area of concern in the near future. Although I like the paralegal program, I think I can be more effective in making public policy as an attorney, so that’s why I’m thinking about law school

Him: I don’t think that’s the right thing for you to be doing. Now, have you done an internship yet with a water law attorney?

Me: No, I was looking into it, but I’m having trouble finding someone local who is interested in taking a student on.

Him: Where have you been looking?

Me: The internet.

Him: Now see, that’s your problem!

Like so. Except with me not being very articulate, since I had only gotten one and a half hours of sleep the night before. Maybe that really was my problem. Anyway, I am supposed to talk with him again next week, but at this point, I worry that he’s actually talked me out of law school, what with his not very good reasoning and total lack of understanding of who I am and what drives me. Which, at this point in my planning process, makes sense. I found this quote from David Byrne the other day, in my wanderings. He’s talking about not wanting to read a bad review from a critic who’s long dogged him, but it rang true to me as well.

While taking criticism on board can be constructive, it can also be detrimental to the creative process if it’s considered while that process is still under way. It undermines one’s enthusiasm and will — which is OK, beneficial even, but only after a tour (for example) is over. This review, by all reports, wasn’t helpful criticism anyway — it seemed to be one of those reviews that comes from some psychological issues the writer has — and therefore even a belated reading is not going to help us refine what we do.

That said, I’m not really sure what to do now. Do I want to go to law school? Is it even possible for me to find a job? I think in times like these it’s best to retreat to lick one’s wounds, and ruminate upon the restorative properties of several bottles of wine.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Aunty Christ lost her shaved ape and forgot what she was looking for

The Brits, of course, are famous for their humor—or, as they say, “humour” (snobs)—so perhaps it’s no surprise that this fucking cracked me up. I saw that one Freakonomics dude on The Daily Show a few weeks ago, and I was actually considering checking out his work, seeing how Aunty Christ loves a book wherein a technical subject usually inaccessible to laymen is dumbed down enough for her stupid head to understand. See also: Brian Greene’s books on string theory, Robert Glennon’s scary works on aquifers, anything by Stephen Jay Gould. But the Guardian’s Sady Doyle causes me to reconsider.

Freakonomics, of course, is the science of choosing an appropriately wacky or controversial subject (sumo wrestlers, abortion), applying a little economic analysis to it and coming up with a shocking conclusion that will make people blog about you. In that respect, the how-to-charge-for-sex piece was a no-brainer. Expressing any opinion about prostitution will bring on outrage (and attention) from one corner or another, no matter what your opinion turns out to be. Of course, if you are aiming for maximum impact, it helps to be—as [Steven] Levitt and [Stephen] Dubner are—really, stunningly, remarkably wrong.

Apparently, what the two authors are nice enough to do in their new book (titled, of all things, Superfreakonomics) is compare and contrast two prostitutes: one who is, by all markings, a success, and one who is not. One makes between $350 and $500 an hour, and one makes that much per week. One loves men and the general work of prostitutin’, and the other hates them, and it. Doyle says, of the lesser prostitute:

Hey, here's an interesting thought: Maybe LaSheena doesn't like men because she's trapped in a cycle of poverty, and one of the only ways for her to stay alive is to have sex with men, whether or not she really wants to. Maybe that's enough to make LaSheena dislike men. We'll never know, however, because Dubner and Levitt don't ask. They don't care to humanise her.

Better to be a prostitute like Allie, the book’s authors conclude, who is not only rich and white (we assume, since the book, again, doesn’t actually treat its characters like actual people, you know, with actual backgrounds and traits and stuff), but, if she doesn’t actually like her chosen path, at least knows how to play the game:

Boy, oh, boy, does Allie ever love being a prostitute! Why, do you know that she just went ahead and did it on a whim, as a sexy adventure, and not because of any nasty old compelling factors like poverty or addiction or a man literally arranging for her to be raped over and over again and taking money from her rapists or anything like that? Well, it's true. The Freakonomics gentlemen said so!

Oh ho ho, that makes me laugh. LaSheena, if sucking cock for $20 a pop doesn’t make you recognize your clients as the generous, lovable people they clearly are (not to mention: strong, handsome), perhaps you are in the wrong business! Please stop being so not-rich and not-white and with-few-options and bitter.

Sady Doyle, thank you for saving me a couple bucks. Also: I love you.

This story is a few years old, but for some reason never hit my radar at the time, despite its obvious universal appeal. Pony is an orangutan in Borneo who was completely shaved and kept in a “prostitute village.” The best/worst part of the interview?

Did the clients realize that they were in fact getting an orangutan?

Oh yeah, they would come in especially for it. You could choose a human if you preferred, but it was a novelty for many of the men to have sex with an orangutan. They shaved her every other day, which meant that her skin had all these pimples and was very irritated. The mosquitoes would get to her very badly and the bites would become septic and be very infected, as she would scratch them constantly. They would put rings and necklaces on her. She was absolutely hideous to look at.

I want to say that this falls under the category of “Those brown people and they kinky perversions*,” along with, say, Tijuana donkey shows, any number of popular myths surrounding African Americans (or, for that matter, Africans), and the entire country of Thailand. But since this wasn’t a huge news story in the States, maybe not. Maybe it’s just one of those examples of people being totally fucked up. And I guess that’s perhaps what one should expect when one googles “shaved orangutan.” Total fuckedupedness.

Moving away from prostitution for a sec, what else do we have here? Well, apparently, Rachael Ray doesn’t think unemployed Ohioans have it hard enough: She is going to cook them dinner. I suppose as long as they don’t have to talk to her, or serve her a meal in a restaurant, it can’t be that bad. Right? Right?

At least that gives me something for my gratitude journal today. At least I don’t live in Wilmington, Ohio. Thank goodness.

*By which I mean white Americans’ fascination with the idea that those of other races are more prone to nonstandard sexual practice, and not an actual something that is based in any kind of reality outside of someone’s mind.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

What I was going to say

I’m not supposed to talk about me, because this isn’t about me, but I’m not sure how else to explain what it is I want to tell you. Seventeen years ago, I was raped, and every single day since, I regret not reporting it. There were a lot of reasons I didn’t want to report it: I wasn’t one-hundred-percent sure what had happened, I was confused, I didn’t really think people would believe me, I could see that it was, at least partially, my fault. But most of all, as soon as I walked into the hospital, I just wanted to get out. I wanted to take a shower, and go to bed, in my own pajamas. I didn’t want to have someone poking me and asking me embarrassing questions. It all seemed really unbearable at that moment. I didn’t want to feel like a victim.

So I went home. Like you want to go home now. Listen: No one can make you do this if you can’t do this right now. Walking out of here is a perfectly reasonable reaction. But I want to tell you that five years from now, 17 years from now, if you run into him again, you’ll realize that you’ve been walking around with this huge sack of shit in your chest because of what he did to you. And then you’ll realize that nothing’s ever happened to him. He’s this awful, hateful person, who nearly destroyed your life and made you crazy and stole from you—and he’s walking around with kids and a job and friends. He’s happy, he’s carefree. Nothing’s ever happened to him. He hasn’t even been inconvenienced by his unconscionable actions. No one—but you—will even know what he’s done.

But no. If someone had asked me to think about this when I was standing in the hospital 17 years ago, I still would have gone home. Between “You’ll regret leaving” and “I cannot stay,” cannot wins. But know this too: Right now? These next few minutes and hours and days? They’re going to be really hard, regardless of whether you stay or leave. By staying, at least you’ll be able to calm a few of your fears. You can get a checkup, to make sure you’re in good health. You can get prophylaxis against STDs, to make sure you stay in good health. You can get the morning-after pill, to make sure you’re not pregnant. I think you might feel better knowing that you’ve made an effort to take care of yourself, even while you’re going through something that most people couldn’t even handle.

All this is not to say, however, that you can’t leave, or you shouldn’t leave—we trust you to know what’s best for yourself. If you need to go, believe me, it’s understandable.

But I really hope you stay.


Your Aunty Christ

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Just another Aunty Christ rape post. No big deal.

It’s a little alarming to realize I’m telling myself that the call I went on with the homeless woman who got hit on the head and sexually assaulted with a bottle because she wouldn’t give her heroin to the guy who camps next to her wasn’t “that bad.” It wasn’t that bad because I wasn’t there very long, and because the long, frustrating process of trying to find her a place to stay and a way to get there had only begun when she announced that she had to leave the hospital, like, now and start her long, frustrating day of gathering enough change from passersby to secure more heroin. What would have been five hours of sitting and chatting to the patient and making phone calls on her behalf in order to secure the somewhat-satisfactory result of a place for her to stay, given grudgingly by the one resource I have access to, was truncated, ending too quickly for me to fully realize how even-less-satisfactory this result was.

There’s a kind of crocodile-wildebeest attitude that those who are part of the System have toward those who are outside of it, I notice, and I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but I feel instinctively that it’s a heartless thing. We are here to witness and document your defeat, but we cannot help you. That would be enabling your mistakes, which are numerous and which have put you in danger in the first place. So the weak, enfeebled wildebeests fall prey to the crocs, every time. Because, that’s life. Or that’s how you learn, or something. If you saved them once, you’d have to save them every time. Hakuna matata, dude.

Of course, treating someone like a grown up person who can make her own decisions isn’t at all a bad thing, whereas treating someone like a dumb infant sometimes is. American culture is all about the tough love (á là Intervention: “You wanna go get high? Fine, but don’t expect us to be here for you when you get back.”). But it’s also, I want to say, about infantilizing adults as much as possible: TV, religion, Snuggies. Goddamn it, fucking Snuggies. What is the Snuggie if not our warm, fleecy route back to the womb?

What American culture is sadly not about is treating people sympathetically when they most need it. I get it. We don’t want to encourage drug addicts. We don’t want to waste precious resources on the homeless. But why does this manner of dealing with people always feel to me like we’ve decided that some people are fine to deal with and some people are beneath our notice? I guess what I’m really asking is what’s wrong with saying, “We understand that you have two competing needs right now. Go take care of the one, and come back. We want to help you. You are worth helping.”

Probably once I’ve been doing this a little longer, I’ll realize that everyone’s a schemer, and then I’ll wonder what the point is, even—why I’m even bothering to go to the hospital at 3 a.m. to help some damn person who doesn’t really want the help I am allowed to give her.

At one point tonight, I realized that what this all comes down to, what we’re really talking about, is privilege. Before I started doing this work, I couldn’t have comprehended someone not wanting to report a rape because she was afraid her only clothes would be taken away. But it happens all the time. It breaks my heart. Oh, all the things that happen that break my heart—little dignities that we take for granted, withheld.

So while I was appalled to hear Rihanna’s interview about her attack, I have to say, I’m even more appalled at things that happen every day, in my town, to people who we’ve decided don’t really matter, and can leave without a good plan about how they will stay safe, and if they show up on our door later on, we have already told them that we will not help them.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Thing One and Thing Two, Now with Bonus Thing

Thing One

Lately I’ve been rethinking my choice of fake internet names. I used to go by a different name, when I had my last blog, which was also the name of a goddess of suicide victims. But then I got sick of crazy people getting all crazy on me, and me not being able to say what I wanted to say in my blog in my blog. Fucking crazies. So now, I am Aunty Christ, and the thug dawgs are Goofus and Gallant, and I live in Saskatoon.

So sorry, blog verité this ain’t. But I no longer have the problem of anonymous creepy people googling my name and the company I work for and then reading my blog for years without so much as emailing me to say, “Hello, this is your cousin Barbara, and I found your stupid blog.”

But I do have the following problems.

(1) Creepy guys from around the globe looking at this blog after doing a search for things like:

40 yars anuty photo pucy

aunty free fuck

aunty shit

hot midel age wife and aunty fuck with dog

i want to find wodow aunty for sex

So now I have learned a couple things. “Aunty”—in someone’s world—means something other than what I think it means; i.e., a woman whose sibling has a child. And I am an awful speller. (But a marvelous pirate: 40 yars and a bottle o’ rum!)

(2) First comments are difficult.

“Hello! I am a person you don’t know with an extremely off-putting name, come to say stuff to you.”

Am I a crazy right-wing Christer? Am I a crazy satanic cult leader? No one knows! But one thing’s for sure: I am probably crazy.

(3) Lars Von Trier has a new movie out called Antichrist, that people say puts forth the claim that women are E-vil. Not having seen the film, I can’t say how I myself feel about it. All’s I know is I’d rather not have my good name associated with spur-of-the-moment clitorectomies, you know? Self-induced or otherwise.

Thing Two

Part of my prize for winning that essay contest I was bragging about involved the magnificent treat of being allowed to volunteer at a conference for a particular (satanic? right-wing? I'll never tell) association. I was stationed, with a classmate, in the basement of a hotel and instructed to ask attendees which class they wanted to attend, and then pointing them toward the correct door. We were also given goody bags for our trouble, and told that, although we were not invited to eat with the regular conference-goers, we could have all the candy we wanted, and enter numerous raffles to win extravagant presents such as LexisNexis fleece jackets and such.

The lady who was showing us around the joint told us that we should come back later in the evening, after the dinner (which we were also not allowed to attend), to partake in the festivities. “The theme is How the West Was Fun!” she said. She then repeated it—“How the West Was Fun!”—like that was somehow going to make it better.

I did not attend.

Bonus Thing

I have been plagued lately. Totally wracked with illness. Lately, I have had canker sores, one right after the other, in an unrelentingly painful month. Now, first off, I should point out that canker sores are not cold sores. We’re not talking about herpes simplex 1 here, we’re talking about baffling open sores on my tongue that make me sound like Cindy Brady.

(In a related story, Rich and I took the new car in for a new car stereo yesterday. While we were standing around waiting for the douchey salesman to present our total, he ran up to us and said, “Hey, what year is it?” “2009,” I responded—meaning the car—which was good, as that was his intended meaning as well. Rich and I laughed about that for a second, and the salesdouche ran up again. “Is that an Accent?” he asked. “Um, I think so?” I answered, a little taken aback this time. As he went outside to check our car model, I told Rich, “No, it’s a fucking speech impediment.” “It’s a lisp,” Rich said. “Totally uncalled for.”)

Googling “canker sore” and “canker sore treatments” reveals not much I don’t already know. They are caused by everything, apparently, or perhaps nothing. I already use the special toothpaste for freaks like me, I have the numbing gel, etc.

Actually, no. Google provided one new element I hadn’t considered: Apparently celiac disease causes canker sores too, sometimes. Other things that celiac disease causes include several symptoms that I (along with, perhaps, everyone on earth) have, and are sometimes said to be attributed to everything, or to nothing, depending on who is talking. As I was checking off symptoms in my head, however, on the one hand, I started to feel like everything’s falling into place, just like halfway through an episode of House, where the title character says, “This explains everything.” On the other hand, I started to realize that I am truly disgusting:

Gassy, bloated, farty, cankerous, with herpes-like blisters on my chin, exhausted all the time, cranky, anemic, depressed, mind-fogged, and, lest we forget, forgetful.

Whatever did Rich Bachelor do to deserve such a prize, you ask? Does he rescue babies from burning buildings? Did he start a nonprofit panda-hugging organization in a past life? Ha ha, no. Just incredibly lucky, I guess. If I do have celiac disease, then perhaps all of these wonderful personal qualities are just symptoms. But I am reminded of a friend of mine, who went to the doctor complaining of a lump on his shin. “Is it cancer?” he asked. The doctor poked it and did a few quick tests and gave his professional conclusion. “Some people are just lumpy.”

This has been fun.