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My girlfriend in high school thought I would look better with longer hair, so I started growing it out during my senior year and basically never stopped. By my senior year of college my hair was mid-back length and, amazingly, wavy as fuck— I was a Jewish Studies major among a couple other things and there was a running joke that I could easily pass for an orthodox Jew if I just tucked a couple of ringlets in front of my ears and put on a properly conservative hat.
I spent a good chunk of the summer after graduation on an archaeological dig in Israel, and decided just before leaving for the trip that heading out to dig in the desert with an extra fifteen pounds of hair on my head was not what I wanted to do. So I went to a barber and had him trim me down to a “normal” haircut, which lasted about another year until I shaved my head for the first time and I’ve basically been doing that ever since.
But yeah. That first haircut. The first thing I had him do was pull my hair into a ponytail and then cut the ponytail off in one fell swoop. I then, for no good reason other than that I thought it would be funny, mailed the ponytail to my mother, who had spent years occasionally politely hinting that perhaps my hair was a bit too long.
This backfired when my mother received a bundle of my hair in the mail and, despite the handwriting on the envelope being mine, immediately concluded that I had been kidnapped, and, this being pre-cellphone by a few years, wasn’t able to quickly get ahold of me to confirm that I was actually still alive and putting up with Samson joke after Samson joke after Samson joke from all of my fucking Religious Studies-ass friends.
She still has the ponytail. This happened in 1998.
When I got home from work last night, there was a large envelope in the mail addressed to me. I thought the handwriting on the envelope was my mom’s, but it was dark outside– we are well into the part of the year where I’m working from cain’t see in the morning to cain’t see at night– and the envelope didn’t appear to have anything in it, and I had just seen my mother the night before and she hadn’t mentioned mailing me anything, so what the fuck is going on here?
I generally open my mail in the garage going into the house, since the recycling bin is right there and I can trash all the junk mail before going inside. Ten seconds later I was laughing so loud that my wife heard me from inside the house.
This may be a good time to point out that Mom’s going through a course of chemotherapy at the moment. Don’t panic; she’s gonna be fine. But this is what was in the envelope:
That, my friends, is the final punchline to a twenty-year-old joke.
Could every man who is about to be driven from his job because of his history as a rapist and/or sexual harasser– and you fuckers know who you are— just do us all a favor and resign from your jobs and disappear off of the face of the earth now, without further ado and/or drama? You fuckers are over, and the world’s about to be better for it. Go join the fucking dinosaurs in the tar pits.
The news hit earlier this week: that Brian Michael Bendis had signed an exclusivity contract with DC Comics. This news probably means precisely nothing to you unless you’re a fairly hardcore comics person; if you aren’t such a person feel free to skip this post entirely as it will hold little relevance to you.
For me, it was really Goddamned bad news. Now, to be perfectly clear: I don’t begrudge Bendis a single dime of the no-doubt enormous check DC has written him for this; the man has the unquestioned right to do whatever he wants with his career. He doesn’t have to ask me shit, and he doesn’t owe me anything. But as Bendis has become, for me, the definitive Spider-Man writer over the seventeen years he’s been writing the character, and as he invented Miles Morales, who for me is now a better Spider-Man than Peter Parker ever was, and as he’s also currently writing both Jessica Jones, which I love, and Iron Man, who is my favorite comic book character of all time… well, the news that he wasn’t going to be writing any of those books anymore is insanely Goddamned depressing. I’ve been reading Iron Man since I was nine. He’s had a lot of writers during that time. Jessica Jones is great but I can live without it. But the idea that I won’t be able to read any more of Bendis writing Miles is deeply upsetting.
I mean, I’ll get over it. I’m sure whatever he ends up doing at DC is going to be pretty awesome. But… shit.
So anyway, I went to the comic shop on Wednesday, as I do. And I (no doubt as 90% of his customers for the day had done) asked the owner (who, by the way, is the cover artist for Skylights) what he thought of the news, and we got into a brief conversation about it. Now, Casey pulls my books for me every week, and it’s literally his job to know the tastes of the various people who frequent his store, so he knows good and well I’m a fan. And I’m reasonably sure he is as well.
This dude comes up behind me while we’re talking. This isn’t unusual, mind you; I’m at the counter, so “behind me” is the place where other people who want comics will naturally end up. And I hear him mumble under his breath:
“Yeah, maybe Marvel will finally start getting good again.”
I glance at him and don’t respond, opting to continue my conversation with Casey, who gets a very brief pained expression on his face and then also moves on. I’ve seen this guy in the store plenty of times before, and as much as my physical appearance screams Comic Book Guy to most normals this guy has me beat by at least a few levels. Anyway, we conclude– I’m not enough of a dick, and Casey is too much of a professional, for either of us to monopolize the counter when there are people waiting.
“See you next week,” I say, as I damn near always do, and I head for the door. And then this guy starts in on Casey.
“Yeah, he’ll probably end up getting Justice League, and then he’ll make Batman gay, and Superman black, and who knows what else he’s going to ruin…”
…and it hits me. Bendis is married to a black woman, right? His kids are biracial. He was pretty explicit that he created Miles Morales because he thinks (correctly) his kids need superheroes to look up to. And not for nothing, the person running around in red and gold armor in the Marvel universe right now is a black teenage girl named Riri Williams:
Holy shit. This guy is one of those fuckers who thinks Marvel screwed up comic books by getting too much brown in them. One of those stupid, stupid bastards. Right here! Right in front of me! Trying to argue with me, in fact! Or at least inflict his stupid opinion on the guy who owns the comic shop, somebody who by definition really can’t argue back, after making at least a halfassed attempt to insert himself into our conversation and being rebuffed.
Most of this is unfolding in my head as I’m walking to my car. And I resist the urge to go back into the store and start some shit, because part of me thinks that this type of racist asshole needs to be made unwelcome everywhere he goes all the time forever and ever, but the rest of me really doesn’t want to start a row inside this guy’s comic shop.
That said? Next time I see Casey, I’m asking him for permission.
So this is a thing that I just did. And I’d like to pretend that it’s a thing that I just did for the first time, but the fact is it’s a thing that I do all the time, and it’s a sign that there’s something wrong with me in my brain-parts and I probably ought to be put somewhere where either I can’t get at society or society can’t get at me. Your choice which.
It was a long day at work today. Not a bad day, necessarily, but a long one, and I’ll trust you know the difference. For two days in a row now the pattern has been thus: a morning full of self-directed cleaning/organizing/repricing sorts of tasks, with few customers, then my lunch arrives, then three hours of screaming madness, during which I am unable to find even the couple of minutes necessary to eat my lunch– and as someone who doesn’t take lunch breaks and before being at this job was a teacher I can assure you I eat my lunch at lightning speed, and then several hours of wondering where the fuck everyone went. Today had the added bonus of there only being two of us in a store that has, oh, I dunno, sixty thousand square feet of floor space.
On the way home from work, listening to music, the chewing gum analogy frequently used by abstinence advocates just happened to float through my head for some reason. I’m not a teacher anymore, I never once taught sex ed when I was teaching, and I’ve never actually had anyone attempt to instruct kids in this way when I was in a classroom. And yet one minute after this idea floated in my head I found myself, still alone in the car, in a very loud argument with no one at all as if there was someone in my car who was attempting to convince schoolchildren that fucking before marriage was the same thing as chewing used gum.
Very very loud.
And there was no one there with me at all.
I mean, I won the argument, but at one point I let loose a primal howl of suppressed rage and stress that was at sufficient volume that the people in the car next to me at the stoplight heard it.
This happens more often than I’d care to admit. I mean, it’s not always about abstinence education, right? But I get into arguments with imaginary assholes in the car on the way home from work. Loud. Arguments.