Birthday Boy


Let’s all wish Lance a happy seventh anniversary of his twenty-fifth birthday! Huzzah!

Unfortunately, friends, even though Lance loves birthdays, he does not like his birthday being acknowledged by restaurant waitstaff (this is part of a larger issue with public attention being directed toward Lance at all.  Must’ve been due to his legendary turn as Motel in his high school production of Fiddler on the Roof.)

Every year when we go out for his birthday dinner, I joke about how I’m gonna get the waiters to sing whatever copyright-abiding “Happy Birthday” ditty they’ve written for the restaurant.

…And every year, Lance’s death-stare and verbal responses get more and more extreme:

2008: “If they sing, I will immediately walk out of this restaurant.”

2009: “If you make them sing, I will slit your throat.”

2010: “If they sing to me, I will rip out your intestines and churn them up in a blender.”

2011: “If they sing, I’m going to stab out your eyeballs and pour a cauldron of boiling oil on you.”

Who knows what 2012 will bring…!!!!

Jeff and the Case of the Missing Keys

As you may have heard, I celebrated my twenty-::coughcoughmumblemumblecough:: birthday last week; belated electronic giftcards will still be graciously accepted at  Admittedly, I was not making a big to-do about this birthday: between upgrading our phones and our big trip in just about a month, both Lance and I figured that we’d stay low-key for our birthdays to save some cash.  I even deferred my birthday dinner—our one significant recognition—to when we’re in Tokyo Disney (if any of my Disney pals knows how to get reservations at Magellan’s, please let me know!).

Now, even though I was having a self-imposed un-birthday, I still wanted it to be as stress-free as possible.  Unfortunately, pretty much right off the bat, this was not the case.

I had also scheduled to work-from-home on my birthday, originally intending to save myself the hassle of a 45-minute commute each way.  That was birthday gift enough, yessir.  Unfortunately, through a series of events where I was being a pretty awesome and considerate husband, I had to take our car in for service.  On my birthday.  Even though Lance had the day off just the day before and could have gone himself, but did not tell me this until it was too late to change my appointment time…on my birthday.  {You hear that cha-ching sound? Those are brownie points, my friends, with no expiration date and redeemable at any time.)

As we were leaving the house, I grabbed my house keys and my car keys, which is, you know, completely normal.  Lance, who does the most of the driving and was going to drive us to his work, also took his car keys with him.   We then switched drivers and I continued on to the dealership, with Lance’s keys still in the ignition, so now I had two sets of car keys.

Keep in mind that I did drive like 40 minutes from home to Springfield, where the dealership we bought the car from is located, if only because I’m a creature of habit and know what I’m getting to there as opposed to a service center closer to our house.

Well, fine, I could go to the dealer and piggyback off of the free wi-fi from Dunkin Donuts right next door. No biggie.   Which is what I did from about 8:30AM until around noon.  Yep, a good three-plus hours.  On my birthday.   I collected all of my keys (my house keys, my car keys, and Lance’s car keys.)

Now, I’ve got an hour break for “lunch” before I have to be back, plugging away on work stuff, so I had an ambitious plan to stop at Target and pick up the latest season of everybody fave TV show, “Supernatural” (Lance later nicely summed up our thoughts on the show as we watched the first episode in this set: “I forgot how dumb this show was.”).  I would then grab some lunch and then head to a Starbucks near Lance’s work and work there until it was time for me to pick him up around 4:00.

Once it’s time for me to leave, I gather up my belongings, only to then notice: waitaminute.  I only have one set—not two—of car keys with me. Lance’s car keys, sufficiently bedazzled with a Dollywood key chain, are missing.

I scour around my table, crawl under the seat, jam my fingers between the cushions (and pick up any number of communicable diseases) to no avail.  I go out to the car to search, upending my backpack, sifting through old receipts, Canadian currency and out-of-date train schedules…and still nothing.

I start to panic.  I’ve already travelled about 50 miles today, and have made at least half-a-dozen stops.  Jeebus only knows when or where I misplaced them.  Were they left unknowingly abandoned in some parking lot like a baby nobody really loved?

I go back into Starbucks, hoping I’d just left the keys at the fixins station and that somebody had passed them along to the baristas.  Nope.  I leave my number and a description of the keys if they turn up.

“A Dollywood key chain, you say…?” notes the barista, with a little too much enthusiasm for the role.

I go back to the car.  Not only am I now going to be late to pick up Lance, but I also have to tell him that I lost his keys.  I try to rationalize with myself to keep calm.  “Okay, okay, well, we have a second set of car keys, so we can get by for awhile.  Not the end of the world. Everything’ll work out.”

After sitting in traffic for another 45 minutes, ample time for a stress headache to take root and blossom around my left eye, I get to Lance’s work.  I try to put on a good front, which is also an effort on my part to preemptively disarm Lance’s seething anger toward me.

“Well, we have a second set of car keys for awhile,” I start. “And I’ll obviously pay to replace the key fob if we can’t find them.”

“We have to find them,” Lance states firmly.  “My work keys are on there.”

“Okay, but if you had to, you could get a backup copy for awhile, right?” I ask nervously.

“We have to find them.” He’s not playing now.

First, though, we have to head home to walk Ripley. On our way, it starts to pour and doesn’t let up.  Now we’re about 30 miles from Springfield, and I’ve called every other place I visited–Best Buy, Pei Wei, Target, the dealership–when I was down there; nobody’s reported a found set of keys.

The rain is coming down thick, so heavy you can’t see more than 15 feet in front of you and nobody’s going over 30 miles an hour.

I really feel like my only sliver of hope is the fact that there are actually two Targets about a half-mile from one another in Springfield.  Maybe the one I called earlier to check was not the one I actually visited?  I find the phone number for the other location and give them a call.

Nobody picks up.  I try the pharmacy, and they try to route me to the customer service desk, but it rings and rings and eventually the line is dropped.  I try to call Electronics, but the line is busy. Wash, rise, repeat for an hour as we creep along in the sucky weather.

Finally, a good four hours after I originally discovered that the keys were missing, I’m running, soaked with rain, into the Target I was in earlier in the day.  Lance heads down to the men’s department, where I figured that if I lost the keys anywhere, it had to be there…while I was sizing the Mickey Mouse tees against my scrawny-ass body.

I head to the customer service desk, convinced that they must’ve been swamped with returns of unwanted Carly Rae Jepsen CDs on a random Tuesday.  Of course, since why else wouldn’t anybody’ve answered my frantic phone calls?

And, of course, there’s nobody there but one single, solitary employee, standing there by herself, zoned out and gazing into the distance.


“Wha?” says the employee.  She seems half-awake.

My heart is pounding in my chest. I am terrified that the keys won’t be here and I am SCREWED, since there’s no other place they’re likely to be.  “Did anybody bring a lost set of keys here?”

The employee shrugs. Her expression has not changed since our exchange began. “I dunno. Let me see?”

She pulls open some drawers.  “We don’t have any keys, just this.” Then she lifts out the keys, Dollywood keychain and all.

“YES!” I scream. “Yesyesyes, those are them!”

I can’t measure the size of the sigh of my relief here.  I was so thankful to the goodness of mankind, the key gods, whoever.  THANKYOUTHANKYOU!

But then I started to think…why the hell didn’t that Target employee just pick up her damn phone and save me hours of grief?  If I’d known the keys were there, I could’ve saved at least an eight of an inch of lost hairline.

I started spewing expletives about this employee, who was obviously just too lazy to pick up the phone right next to her.  “That miserable fat turd!” I yell when we get back into the car.  “Why didn’t she just pick up the phone?”

Now, as a former fatty, I am sensitive to how society belittles larger people, and there’s no reason why her inaction had anything to do with her girth. Still, it was an easy shot and I was so mad at this woman who extended my grief.  To borrow a phrase from a friend: she seemed miserable. And fat.

So that was my birthday. Not the greatest, but since I’m reserving my actual birthday celebration, I’m not going to count it.  Here’s hoping Take 2 is better!

Through the Queer Window

Our awesome pal Brian recently asked me to further explain my thoughts on gay culture and why I feel so uncomfortable interacting with many other gay men.  Admittedly, I’ve been struggling to come up with a coherent, concise statement that does justice to how I feel.

To sum up: I often feel judged by other gays, and I am not a person to easily tolerate criticism, so I find myself avoiding interacting with other gay men to save myself the grief (this is different from the “hetero judging all us gays, like, all the time” since there’s an added layer of shared “otherness” which should unite us, but usually makes judgment feel like a much bigger betrayal of our commonality).  I’m not psych major, but this seems like a vicious cycle, a recipe for disaster.

I came across the video below on Towleroad today, which I found very illuminating; it also does a much better job of addressing where this sense of judgment comes from than anything I could’ve thrown together. Since it comes from a psychptherapist (who is fabulously dressed/groomed, I must say. #Empowerment!), it actually has some legitimacy, too:

…So, yep, that’s basically my sense of what happens within the gay community, and only rarely do I find some other gay who doesn’t outwardly project that judgment at me, which is why I’m light on gay friends but am a fairly content person.  Of course, we’d love to get to know some more non-judgmental gays…but there isn’t an app for that. 😦

Pooed Awakening

Our current morning routine with me waking up about an hour before Lance. This gives me time aplenty to walk the dog, feed the pets, make myself breakfast and catch up on overnight tweets.  When 6:20 rolls around, I head into the bedroom to begin Lance’s De-Slumber Process:

Me: “Honey, it’s 6:20.”


Me: “I’ll come back in 10 minutes?”


Inexplicably, we both think that if we start pulling Lance out of Dreamland 10 minutes before his wake-up time (I should also mention at this juncture that alarm clocks don’t work on Lance), that somehow it will be easier for him to roll out of bed on time at 6:30.  Five years in, we have little evidence to support this claim.  Usually I have to pester Lance repeatedly, often accompanied by the mother of all stink-eyes, until he stumbles, half-awake, into the bathroom.

Thankfully, the dog has been a godsend to me in this regard, since he loves bounding onto the bed and bestowing Lance with lots and lots of kisses.  He’s a good, trained pup, though, and will wait patiently outside the bedroom door until he’s beckoned.

The other day, it’s right around 6:30 and Lance is showing no signs of life. My routine anxiety that we’re not going to get out of the house on time to catch the train starts to simmer.

Me: “Honey, it’s 6:30. Time to wakey wakey, eggs and bacey.”


Ripley then jumps onto the bed, but stays at its foot instead of attacking Lance’s face with kisses.  Since he’s not bothering Lance, I leave the room to go put away the ironing board, giving Lance a few more minutes of rest—heck, its Friday, after all.

Me, upon my return: “Alright, honey, it’s about 6:35 now, we really need—Ripley, what are you eating?”

Ripley’s busy munching on something as he’s lying on the bed, and whatever-it-is is getting all over the duvet cover.  At first, I think it’s charcoal—for whatever reason, in my mind, it looks like the smudging you get when using charcoal in art class.  That couldn’t be it, though, since I haven’t had charcoal in the house in years.  Did he grab a clump of dirt from outside and I just didn’t notice until now….?

As all pet parents grow accustomed to, I pry open his furry mouth and plunge right in with my fingers.

Me: “Ugh, Ripley, what is in your mouth?”

I extract the substance, at first a bit mystified as it rests in my hand.  This is some squishy dirt—


Me:  “It’s poop.  It’s poopit’spoopit’spoop.”

Yep, it’s a soggy log of cat poop sprinkled with litter, just sitting there in my hand.  Initially, my mind is blank.  What the hell am I supposed to do with thing?  I hot-potato it for a few seconds as my conscious mind comes back to me, all the while Lance is half-asleep in a poop-covered bed, accompanied by a dog whose snout is crusted with cat litter and feces.

Ripley looks up at me, tongue lolling out of his mouth.

Once it dawns on Lance what’s going on, he snaps awake like that poop was a shot of espresso into his veins.  He’s had his own fair share of puppy poop stories, and while sure, poop is universal humor, it’s not quite so funny at 6:30 in the morning.

While it was no fun, and I freaked out about Ripley being okay (kitty poop is not good for pups), it did occur to me later that at least now, if I’m worried about getting to the train on time, I have a deuce up my sleeve if I need to get Lance out of bed in the morning.

Shut Up, Baby

Continuing our theme for this week, “Lance and Jeff are terrible human beings,” I am going to admit something part-embarrassing, part-justifiably hilarious:

Whenever we’re out in public, like at the grocery store or at the mall, I have developed an involuntary respons when I hear an infant innocently coo or squeal in delight. Under my breath, I say, with a dash of dramatic venom, “Shut up, baby!”

This is probably my mind’s way of reacting to Lance’s Baby Clock (it’s a-tickin’).  Not that I don’t want to have kids, but…I’m also terribly selfish and want to spend my money on DVD season sets of “Supernatural” instead of diapers…at least for right now. Priorities, people!

I’m just waiting for the day when some dad (or mom; we’re progressive!) overhears me when I accidentally scold their wee child a little too loudly. I imagine it will unfold kinda like this scene from “The Simpsons.”


Queer Window

I was at the kitchen table, working on the final paper for my Philosophy of Sex & Love course (oooh!…no, actually, not nearly as interesting as it sounds), when Lance muttered, “Ugh. It’s those two gays again.”

Lance peered through the blinds of the window in our dining area, which overlooks the parking lot of our apartment complex.  I quickly joined him; these gays are new-ish in the area and have been fairly elusive.  The most I’ve gotten out of them is a knowing, “Hello” as I was walking Ripley.

“Wait a minute,” I whispered, my voice quivering. “Is that one wearing a graphic tee?…That’s…my thing…” I was forlorn.

The two of them walked toward their Acura, which gave us ammunition enough to hate them, though we don’t even know them or their names. (Aside from what we can infer from the Acura’s vanity plate…I mean, seriously: an Acura with a vanity plate? Do you wipe your butt with monogrammed goldleaf?)

“Well, that one is ugly,” stated Lance matter-of-factly, as the gays hopped into their luxury sedan.

We’re both at an impasse here.  While we wouldn’t turn down the opportunity to make new friends, we are both a tad…something around other gays. Uncomfortable? Jealous? Suspicious?

I was going to go into a whole treatise about the psychology of young, urbanite gay culture, but I couldn’t figure out a way to write it that didn’t come across as generalizing and just petty. (This Gawker article does a good job at addressing one or two of my thoughts on the issue.)  Ultimately, though, however alienated we feel by other gays, our kneejerk discomfort/catty bitchiness is as much our fault and “theirs.”

There are a whole slew of reasons for this, many of which I’m sure are rooted in our own individual neuroses and self-doubts, which we then project onto others in order to make ourselves feel better about our Ford Fiesta, or some unsightly pudge, etc. etc. We feel judged when we’re doing just as much, if not more, judging. Maybe we do this with other gays in particular since there’s a weird, added element of familiarity due to our common marginalization, which allows for a more direct comparison.  I think this is particularly true with other young 20-something gays (well, “30-something” for Lance).  Still, on the flipside, I know I often feel condescended towards by other gays, so it’s not just a one-way street.  It’s a lose-lose situation.

In trying to identify just what it is about other gays that oftentimes makes us uncomfortable, I asked Lance for his input.

“I just don’t know how to pinpoint what it is without coming across as shallow and bitchy,” I admitted, a resigned tone in my voice.  How could I demonstrate in words this seemingly legitimate sense of “cold shoulder”?

“Honey,” Lance said, turning toward me, “we are shallow and bitchy.”

Ah. So maybe it’s just us.

Legends of the Fall


Friends, it’s fall! Fall is here! Hip hip!  So long, summer, you horrible, humid beast! (Keep in mind that it’s currently, like 110% humidity in Philly and 85 degrees. It’s all psychosomatic.)

There isn’t a time of year Lance and I love more than this increasingly crisp stretch of reds and oranges and yellows, of sweaters and fingerless gloves, hot cider and college football (okay, maybe that’s just me) leading up to Christmas, than fall.  It’s our element.  Maybe it’s because our birthdays are both soon approaching (hint hint) and we’re therefore just biologically predisposed to this time of year.

Even eclipsing our birthdays (wink wink nudge nudge) is our anticipation of fall products, the very items that evoke a sense memory every time you sip or sniff (because, I mean, what’s tradition without buying consumer goods? Yay capitalism!):

  • Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte. Duh, this one is pretty obvious, and although they released them toward the tail-end of August this year, we both had to wait until today, the first unofficial day of fall, to get one.  Much like the Gingerbread Latte around Christmastime, the PSL is an amazingly rich fall explosion in your mouth.  I’m a cheapsake, though, so I’ll spend the $6 once to get one, then resort to the spice-less pumpkin latte at Dunkin’ Donuts for half the price for the remainder of the season.
  • Cider and donuts from the orchard. Getting them from the grocery store is not the same!  That’s why you must spend the extra $5 in gas to get to the orchard and then pay whatever upcharge applied by the orchard.
  • Sweetzels Spiced Wafers.  Though these are available year-round in the Northeast (at least), they become omnipresent starting in August. I love chucking one or two of these into my mouth at once and sucking the ginger flavoring out of them until the wafer dissolves from a rock-hard cookie to a mushy mess. Evocative!
  • Pumpkin Pecan Cheesecake at the Cheesecake Factory.  The Cheesecake Factory is kind of a gigantic mess, a cacophony of menu items served in a weird, pastel Egyptian/stencil-paint theme.  Nevertheless, the food is solid and this cheesecake is bangin’.  It’s only offered from mid-October on (and I missed it last year since we were in Hawaii and Hawaiian Cheesecake Factory doesn’t believe in pumpkins!!!) and I will move mountains to gorge myself with it this year.
  • Bath and Body Works’ bajillion fall candles.  Don’t ask me to justify the difference between the Autumn and Autumn Day scents, but I do admit there is a difference.   One probably has notes of “cider” and “cool breeze through the orchard,” while the other is mixed with “the sound of leaves crunching underfoot.”
  • Little Debbie Fall Party Cakes.  Actually, not only the Party Cakes, but anything fall-themed, regardless of how loose the theming or how awful the actual product, is something I will probably enjoy.

This is understandably the time of the year when Lance and I both gain about 10 pounds each through pie/dessert coffee consumption. But that’s okay, since it’s also the time of year when you move away from shorts and tees and into more forgiving sweaters and hoodies.