Ready, Willing, and Unable

Misanthropy is a wonderful thing.  When you stop caring about others, and by extension what they think about you, your morning routine steadily slims down to nothing.  I used to shave my face.  Now, I have a beard.  I used to comb my hair.  Now, I buzz it short.  I persist in bathing, but only because it dissuades the chiggers from taking up residence in the aforementioned facial mass. I am completely unable to fasten a necktie, and contrary to what I have been routinely told, this has yet to have any substantial negative impact on my life’s trajectory.  Then again, I majored in English, a field where the code of professional dress oscillates back and forth between this:

beat poet with beret

And this:

mcdonald's employee

(The moment of oscillation generally occurs upon realizing the beret isn’t edible.)

Be that as it may, all of the above I offer not to prove that I am lazy and/or unpleasant, which I undoubtedly am.  Rather, it is my feeble attempt to solicit pity on behalf of the individual who, in a staggering underestimation of my incompetence, invited me to stand up in his wedding – conditional on my willingness to wear a bowtie.

Or, as turned out to be the case, conditional on my ability to wear a bowtie.  Now, my neck is not abnormal in any way, shape, or form – it is soft, supple, and fits comfortably into the palms of most serial killers.  On its annual performance review, it receives generally high marks and consistently exceeds expectations in terms of keeping my head aloft.  My hands, however…  I swear to god, I do not know what is wrong with that department.  To date, they’ve proven to be useful for exactly two things – opening beer and inputting the thirty lives code for Contra.

the code

So when it came time to turn this:

untied bowtie

Into this:

bowtie tied

I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised when I ended up with something closer to this:

The Mummy

So, it was time for plan B – swearing and alcohol.  Neither fundamentally altered the state of the bowtie, but I felt a lot !@#$in’ better.

Plan C then – YouTube.

The first video I encountered was titled, and I quote, “If you watch only one video on how to tie a bowtie, watch this one,” which I foolishly selected.  In truth, I wanted to watch zero videos on how to tie a bowtie but was propelled onward by some perverse combination of obligation and inebriation.  Suffice it to say, the video did not take because, at the three-minute mark, they had not made it around to even starting to tie the bowtie, and I had lost interest.

Lost interest, in this context, is code for “passed out.”

When I came to, wiped the drool off my keyboard, and remembered what the hell this mass of paisley was half-assedly wrapped around my neck, I realized it was time to get serious.  So, returning to YouTube, I pulled this bad boy up and resolved to watch it.

However, I quickly determined that ten solid minutes of video instruction from a gentleman with an English accent was above my pay grade, which, as we established earlier in this piece, is approximately minimum wage.  Two minutes in, and it rapidly became apparent I might die of old age before we concoct some form of knot, let alone anything that resembled a properly fastened tie.  That and I was bothered because the entirety of the video appeared to be of his neck.  After a couple minutes, one starts to wonder whether you are watching his Adam’s apple or if his Adam’s apple is watching you.  That and Rule 34 of the internet dictates neck fetishism is a thing, and somewhere there are websites featuring content we won’t speculate about linking back to this video.  Returning to the point, the only thing the video managed to prove was that this old guy who pointed a camera at his neck could tie a bowtie, whereas I – still – could not.

This pretty much takes us to plan D – text groom until he marvels at what a loser he asked to stand up in his wedding and delivers the bowtie pre-tied.

It wasn’t exactly a glorious victory for misanthropy.  Then again, they seldom are.


Playing Rugby with Morgan Freeman

Note to self: There is such a thing as truth in advertising.  For example, if the box art for a movie is made up of approximately 75% Matt Damon’s gaping maw and 25% Morgan Freeman’s profile, you’re going to get more Damon than Freeman.


You’re also going to learn a whole lot of things about rugby you did not know previously.  Things like:

  1. It exists.
  2. People play it.
  3. And “Roller Derby Queen” would make a strangely appropriate soundtrack.

Now, in honesty, I knew of rugby prior to this.  It is the surprise staple of collegiate intramural sports the world over, including those hosted by my dear alma mater.  Unlike many intramural athletes, rugby participants were always easy to recognize on account of being built like Maytag products and struggling to manifest in class with four functional limbs and a minimum of facial scarring.

Yes, we’re talking coed intramurals, mind you.

But having confessed that, four years in an environment that existed parallel to such savagery, in addition to 120 minutes of Matt Damon’s glorious jawline, have not brought me any closer to understanding how the !@#$in’ thing is played.  Furthermore, the more I watch, the more I grow convinced rugby is loosely based on Fizzbin.

Take these, for example:

Rugby Great Grunting Pile

I call this the Great Grunting Pile, which is approximately 9/10ths as disappointing as Linus’s Great Pumpkin from which it takes its name.  For the record, I have no idea what they’re doing here.  I just know there’s a heap of men in tight shorts having a good ol’ fashioned grunt off, and every now and again a ball flies out.  Where the ball comes from, I’m not sure, and I’m not entirely unconvinced that the ball does not start in someone’s rectum, and what I’m witnessing is some sort of communal cavity search.


Rugby Man Tower

I call this the Man Tower, and if the picture is any indication, it is approximately the worst idea since the Scots started throwing whole trees in the air and calling it a sport.  On that note, is this a bad time to have a discussion to the effect of what, precisely, is wrong with the British Islands?  They couldn’t all make it as literary giants, and so everyone that was left met up at the pub, knocked down a few pints, and proceeded to come up with the most bat!@#$ insane sports they could concoct.

Cricket – I’m looking at you.

And where do they get these names anyway?  Even rugby, in a desperate attempt to return to the topic at hand, sounds like something I’d ask for at my local carpet outlet.

Rugby Tackle

Of course, when not confirming that gravity is working more or less as designed, and presuming one can somehow extract the ball from the Great Grunting Pile, I can pretty much promise this is going to happen to you.  Immediately.  Some guy who looks like a Fitch Barrel with legs is going to apply several principles of Newtonian physics to an uncomfortable point in your torso.  Should he, for whatever reason, not be successful at doing so, there are fourteen other men with contempt for your life ready, willing, and eager to take his place.  And unlike in, say, Invictus, you will not get a handshake with Nelson Mandela/Morgan Freeman out of it.

Music to Poop By

As a general rule, I assume no one really wants to know what happens in a public restroom during such auspicious times as when I happen to be in it.  Call it a courtesy, or some sort of introvert survival instinct – if I alienate my few remaining friends with regular (pun not intended) tales from the toilet or stories from the shitter, my life is going to culminate in the same manner as Fortunato from “The Cask of Amontillado,” i.e., with myself entombed in a stall.  And while I am a Poe fan, that particular method of passing seems to lack some of the literary merit found in the original.  (Which doesn’t, I suppose, rule out my being immortalized in a dirty limerick, but I never recited, “There once was a man from Nantucket” and thought, “Man, when I grow up, I wanna be just like him.”)

However – and you all knew the conjunctive adverb was coming, so don’t act so surprised – one does not title a piece “Music to Poop By” and then proceed not to talk about the individual blasting “Drops of Jupiter” in the men’s room.

2001 called.  They want their song back.

Now, let us be clear: this was not a ringtone.  That was my initial assumption, too.  However, I was forced to abandon it when we hit the line that goes, “Tell me, did the wind sweep you off your feet?”, which A) happens to be part of verse three or four and B) happens to take on new and unfortunate connotations when thundering through a public bathroom.  Yet to focus exclusively on point A (in the hopes of forgetting about point B entirely), let it be noted that “Drops of Jupiter” is not a short song.  It clocks in somewhere in the neighborhood of four minutes and twenty seconds, which for an insipid pop song is approximately four minutes and nineteen seconds too long.


What all this would seem to point to is a reality where someone – a man, I hope, given that this was a gender-specific restroom – realized that the native ambiance was not fully conducive to the completion of whatever business to which nature was compelling him to complete.  So, with little regard for his stall mates, our amateur sound engineer whipped out his cell phone and selected a song that put him in the mood to, in the language of the internet, set up us the bomb.

All your stalls are belong to us.

All your stalls are belong to us.

We come to the point where there should be an epic climax, but I really have nothing for you.  He eventually flushed.  Stopped the music.  And then left.

Fast forward, I later regaled my wife with the above tale, because after seven years of marriage, this kind of thing is pretty much all there’s left to talk about.  She suggested I come up with my own restroom theme song.  Something that fully communicated the drama of what was about to occur.  And you know what – I think she’s right, and I think I know just the tune.

The theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey should do nicely.