as a society, it seems like the united states is inching ever closer to equal rights for everyone. lots of groups could make a pretty solid case that they are being treated horribly, but the one thing that seems to always qualm those gripes is “it used to be worse.” which is seemingly true in almost all cases. things did used to be worse across the board. you have to break some eggs to make an omelet, and then it turns out – no one’s really that fired up about omelets. one group that can say things used to be quite a bit better would be the effeminate straight man. it’s not like they have a group, or meetings, or any sort of coalition. they may not even know that they are a ‘people’ – but as a group, things have only gotten worse for them. several decades ago they would just be whispered about behind their friends’ backs. “old phillip sure likes ironing his pants, doesn’t he?” “boy, old phillip can sure sing and dance …better than the gals even.” and so on. old phillip may have gotten some weird looks, but when he went home to his wife, they all just shook their heads. “never woulda guessed old phillip likes crammin’ into a lady …god bless him.” but now, because being gay is becoming increasingly more accepted, effeminate straight men are subjected to the “you can tell me” talk. and that can’t be comfortable for anyone. “phillip, listen, i’m your friend. and if you have something you want to tell me …you can. if you’re gay – it’s ok.” and the friend gets to feel like they are enlightened and progressive – but they didn’t take into account that no one who is straight likes regularly being called gay …and vice versa (not many gay fellas like being high-fived, “let’s get some pussy! …it’s the equivalent of that, basically). “i’m your friend. you can just tell me.” “dude! i just like karaoke and bette midler. can we just have one night where you don’t try to pry me out of a closet i was never in?” so, maybe everyone is better off just continuing to whisper behind the phillips of the world’s backs. “he’s a little light in the loafers, isn’t he?” and then just move on.
every now and then you hear a story about a homeless person found dead in the park. and sometimes it turns out they had just been laying there all dead for several hours – if not days. that is a sad thought. people die in their homes, and no one finds them for days or weeks, but they were inside a house. the thought of someone being dead right in front of everyone as they make their way to work – it’s pretty disheartening. well, not on my watch. i was at a park in the middle of the day doing standard park stuff (flying kites non-stop, cartwheels, etc) and i saw a figure over near the fence. it was a lump of black fabric. not a sleeping bag, not a blanket. like a thick sheet. and under the sheet, some long black curly hair stuck out. my hunch, based on the lump, was that this was a male. suddenly, as i watched the clump of fabric and hair, i thought “is this guy dead?” and i was about to waltz over and ask as much …but then i realized how insulting that is if the person is not dead. “oh, sorry. thought your life was so bad that not only were you sleeping in a park – but that you’d become deceased while doing so. carry on.” how do you casually just check on that? if he was asleep, no one likes to be woken up. yes, it’s nice to have people care about you, but a stranger shaking your shoulder to see you arise and then going “oh good. he’s alive! everyone relax!” won’t brighten anyone’s day. so instead of waking up the figure – i waited. i watched with the intensity of a bird enthusiast. was that a rise in the fabric? what about that?? ….yes! or wait …yes, that definitely was. alright! way to live, park guy! the subtlety in breath and movement was almost unnoticeable – but it was there. he was living! as i exited the park feeling pretty good that no stranger had been dead right in front of me on my watch, i saw that laying right next to the figure was a guitar. and that made me hope i was seeing a good old fashioned rags to riches story. “yeah mom, it’s going pretty good. getting some decent gigs. it’s a long road. hmm? oh, at jeff’s house. yeah, he’s got a decent couch. okay, talk to you soon. love you too.” then roll on over and finish a solid park sleep …without some jerk waking you up to see if you’re still living.
research is continuously being conducted in the world. there are studies on animals, on humans, on situations, on inanimate objects, the stars, and pretty much everything in our known universe. there are always studies going on, and no one knows the names of any of them. but that has never stopped anyone from referencing one to lend their argument some much needed credibility. “no, this guy, i can’t remember his name …but they’ve done studies” and everyone in the conversation leans in slightly. “this guy sounds like he knows what he’s talking about. he knows about some study they evidently did once. seems pretty solid.” it would make sense on occasion to either pretend to know the name of the study, or just lock in on one – and actually know it. if you know the kinsey report, just wait for that to come up. people talk about sex a lot, and then bang – there you are “oh, you guys talking about sex. you know, this guy named kinsey did a study and found out…” and then nearly anything you say after that will seem credible. we’re all just passing around the same terrible information because one of our friends, who we trust, referenced a study once. “did you know that if you put tickle a koals bear, they’ll poop out of their nose? yeah, they did a study. the eifrem-haggert experiment” oooh, eifrem-haggert – that’s as good as gospel.
the human race seems to have gotten a lot done in its short time on earth. the great wall in china, the pyramids, all these roads and such. we’re pretty industrious. and we’re also a little incredulous that we are the ones who did all of the building. when we see some of these structures – with giant stones carved to lock into each other with perfect symmetry – our first reaction is usually, “must be aliens.” what does that say about our current work ethic? “people dragged stones that weighed several tons, then hoisted them on top of each other, then carved them to fit in place? no chance. aliens.” we just can’t imagine that people ever had so much time …as a group, to just work all over the place. every generation tends to look down on the one after it for not being as tough as them. the incas built machu pichu – on top of a mountain – in like 50 years. just hoisting rocks and carving them. dragging stones like a bunch of savages …all without iron or any sort of metal tools. there conceivably could have been a guy alive at one time who said, “oh, you guys are building with metal tools? sissies. back in may day, it was stone on stone, brother. like men!” is it necessary to be that tough? isn’t the goal, when things suck that much, to make them better and easier? we’ve succeeded. perhaps watching TV and building paper-thin strip malls is gross. it won’t stand the test of time. but at least it’s easy. it affords us more time to do the things we like to do – like watch documentaries about people who had brutally tough lives. the incas never got have have a hobby like that, unless they enjoyed back-breaking labor all the time. perhaps in the future, people will have ionized carbon-hydrogen luminescent cover-domes that shield them at the click of a button. and they’ll watch documentaries about us and our terrible strip malls, and they’ll say “how on earth did they ever build such things?”