Olympians — inside and out

A friend told me that the Olympic Committee ordered 70,000 (yes seventy thousand) condoms for the Olympic village this time around.  Why? Because 50,000 weren’t enough the last time.

It is a two week event.   That is 5,000 condoms per day.  Don’t the athletes need to rest before and after their events?  Or is this another (untelevised) event?

Beats curling, I guess.

Look away

I have been pretty good about a new gym regimen since I started my new job.  (My 2010 horoscope said that I should keep up an exercise schedule, and that is as good a reason as any.)

Since the global economic melt-down, I have taken to drinking wine.  One glass goes straight to my inner thighs.  No joke.  I feel it the next day.  So, I need to work out just to maintain the usual mid-40s spread.

Since going to the gym, I have been feeling much better about myself and my degeneration into older age (in our family we call it “decrepitude” because we are — er — so gentle).  And I have noticed that, in the afternoons on the weekends, men have been looking twice at me at the gym (and not because I have stains on my t-shirts or my outfits are disastrous).  Most people would feel good about that.  But I have to tell you who is looking.

Imagine we are in the early 1980s when the Olivia Newton-John exercise outfits were popular.  Imagine your relatives who were moving down to Florida around that time.  Remember how they couldn’t pronounce “condominium” and kept saying “condominian” (which now sounds like a group of ten prophylactic devices)?  Remember the men who wore short-shorts with dark shoes and dark socks, dyed their hair and uber-cool sunglasses?  You know, the ones who drove Cadillac El Dorados.

Imagine now it is 2010, and these men have aged 30 years and wear white free spirits and white socks and they dye their hair an odd shade of red.  Apparently, mid-afternoon on the weekends, the older set comes to the gym.  The upside is that they wipe down the machines and don’t do many reps.  The bad news is that the men think I am old enough to be interested in them.

I wear bi-focals, but generally my eye sight is good.  I am graying, but I have few wrinkles.  I have a little extra thickness around the middle but I still have muscle tone in my arms and my breasts still hang comfortable above my waist.  Also, I am a lesbian for Goodness sake.  Ok, they don’t know that last fact.

I just wish I weren’t so attractive to the 85+ crowd.  Maybe once, just once, a young, beautiful woman would give me a second glance that doesn’t telegraph, “oh, you really should have taken better care of yourself when you were young. . . .”  Oh, well, that isn’t what I need.  I need the old men to look at me and think, “she is way too young for me.”

So, my cousin just called and I told him about this blog entry.  He lamented that only really older women check him out on the street.  We were laughing/crying to each other and he mentioned that this could be a schtick for http://oldjewstellingjokes.com/.  I checked out this site and there are videos of old Jews telling jokes.

The internet is worthwhile if only for bringing us this website and keeping the tradition available for the younger generations.  Also, if there could be a registry for “I’m too young for octagenarians”, that would be awesome.

Tiger

Does anyone care if Tiger apologizes?  Why is it news?  Other than his family, whom did he let down?  Certainly not the women who wanted their 15 minutes of fame by having sex with him.  His fans?  Didn’t people root for him because of his athletic ability and his personal story?  Did anyone root for him because he was a faithful, family man?

The unfortunate truth is that if you know something sordid or unappealing about a person, it affects you more than if you knew something positive or simply neutral.  I didn’t listen to Tiger’s apology, but if it took this long to come up with one, then it is a public relations apology to regain sponsorships and not a soul-searching mea culpa.

A dear, wise friend once said, “you do it, you live with it.”  She also said, “the strong eat the weak,” although she has mellowed from that position.  But she is right, life is about taking responsibility and standing up for what is right or taking your lumps when you blow it.  We lived across the hall during senior year at college and I was having an — how shall we say — indiscretion and she cleared the hallway of people for me to avoid embarrassment.  (I am not giving details, so you need to read between the lines and draw your own conclusions.)  The next morning, she was knocking at my door, booming, “if you want to dance, you need to pay the fiddler,” which means if you can’t do something in the light of day (as it were), then don’t do it.

This friend probably doesn’t know that she caused me to look deep inside and start the process of coming out of the closet.  She continues to have high standards, tempered by compassion from life experiences.  She is the standard bearer and I adore her.  She and I have had professional upheavals these past few years and I admire her willingness to take on new challenges in new places.  She is my measuring stick for success and hard work.  If she reads this, she may be surprised that she had such a profound effect on me so many years ago and through to today.  I hope that she puts me in her “win” column.

She could have taught Tiger a lesson or two.  And she would have shaped him up faster than an army drill sergeant.  And, she has perfectly puffy hair.  So, Tiger (if you know what is good for you), be afraid, Tiger, be very afraid.

And, to my friend who is always in my court, long ago you re-directed my life on a bumpy but, ultimately, very happy course.  You make a difference just by your presence among us.  I love you.

I’m here, I’m queer and everyone is used to it

I neither hide nor trumpet that my partner is a woman.  I refer to POB (partner of blogger) and our son when appropriate in a professional setting, just as a straight person should only refer to family as appropriate. 

I assume that, in my background checks and google searches, my sexual orientation comes up.  But it is not — nor should it be — something that anyone would raise as a question in interviews.  As you all know, I recently changed jobs. 

Today, POB and our son came to see my new office and met some of my new colleagues and support staff.  I introduced them as, “this is my partner [POB] and our son [SOPOBAB].”

Everything went smoothly — as it should — but I am old enough to remember coming out in the workplace and being afraid of losing my job or my standing as a promising young associate.  Those days are not so long ago.  I decided to step out of the closet for good when I switched law firms 13 years ago. It has probably been in the last five years that my sexual orientation hasn’t been a source of intrigue for my colleagues.

Times are a-changing. And, I am grateful.

I know why Cheney never uses his given name, “Richard”

“Former Vice President Dick Cheney has told conservative political activists he thinks Barack Obama is a ‘one-term president’.”

Gee, Dick, you were a two-term VP but you were only popularly elected once.  Ok, you were not popularly elected because everyone hates you.

You harangue President Obama over his handling of terrorist trials and yet it is exactly how you handled.

A best friend

I think many people have more than one best friend, which is an oxymoron.  But let me explain.

POB (partner of blogger) is my BFFL (best friend for life).  SOB (sister of blogger) is also my BFSB (best friend since birth).  My college friends are EDFs (enduring dearest friends). 

I also have a BFWINS (best friend whom I never see).

BFWINS and I were colleagues for many years and sometimes lose touch for a year or more.  And we get mad at each other and give each other the silent treatment for months at a time (and, since many months pass between our communications, we might not know if we are in trouble with the other).  BFWINS and I know many of each other’s secrets (although I never shared pictures of my fat years) and we keep those secrets.  We are also there if something bad happens.

So, BFWINS had to cancel our dinner plans again.  That’s ok because BFWINS is just that — the best friend whom I never see.

Family Weekend

This weekend was family weekend.

Last night, POB made a huge tenderloin which didn’t seem so aggressively carnivore-centric, until her vegetarian sister (SOPOB) called to say she and her son were coming.  POB’s father (FOPOB) also came over, in part, because he liked the menu.  (Not only can you not fool all the people all of the time, but you can’t please them either.)

And to round out the alphabet of “OB”-centric initials, sister of blogger (SOB), husband of SOB (HOSOB) and father of blogger (FOB) also came.  HOSOB got a really short haircut and looked so adorable in that way that little boys do when they get their hair cut (except he is 54 or so, but still sooooooo adorable).  And not the way an older man looks cute and helpless when he puts on a hat with ear flaps (you know, the “look” that cuts one’s IQ in half).

Since having a child, it makes me happy when those whom I love have home-cooked meals. Of course, POB has to do the actual cooking — I just plate everything and set the table, except when I don’t, and then POB is overworked and I don’t deserve her.  But last night I wasn’t a slouch or sloth.  (Of course, I think I deserve a merit badge for good behavior, but I digress.)

My nephew didn’t like dinner and was honest about in that way that kids can be.  Everyone else was polite and HOSOB seemed to enjoy the carnivorous portion of the meal especially.  FOB seemed to enjoy the wine.   SOB seemed to enjoy leaving (she later reported having a really sound sleep — must have been vicarious dose of triptophan from all of the food HOSOB ate).  FOPOB was non-committal.  Our son and nephew enjoyed being together.

Today, another generation descended.  A cousin from the Catskills who studied and lived in China for 5 years came for brunch, along with her half-Dutch, half-Israeli boyfriend who went to school in Switzerland and whom she met in Shang-hai. He is now in the States, in New England. It is too confusing to figure out which of the many pairings of culture shock he is currently experiencing.  He is sweet and gentle notwithstanding his inherent Dutch directness and Israeli hubris.

Also along was a brother of this cousin who traveled the far distance from the Catskills to a suburban hamlet in Massachusetts.  He introduced us to his girlfriend.  This was big. His girlfriend was polite, sweet and quiet — i.e., not Jewish.  Hey, non-Jews have tamed our family, to wit: my sister-in-law and brother-in-law.  So, really, we are scared the non-Jews we love won’t marry into our family because we are so loud, and — hmmm, how shall we say — undiscriminating about our dinner/brunch table discussion topics.

So we were loud, especially my cousin (her boyfriend), and she didn’t seem unnerved by it, even when those cousins started talking about importance of sloping leaching fields in the separation of solid waste from non-solid waste.   Septic tanks and the related issues of sanitation are not approved topics of conversation at my table (even though these were favorite topics of their father z”l who was a wonderful, if controlling, human).  As I was trying to stop the story (we WERE eating), his sister piped in about the variations of “spicy stomach” she and her friends had in China. Ok, ok, ok. All of this after I lectured them (again) about the inappropriateness of pictures they put on Facebook.

My dear cousin (DCOB) — an elder of my generation — also joined us.  He is such a gentle soul.  He is very involved in eastern traditions, medicine and meditation.  He also has a tremendous collection of American folk music.  I know that you are thinking Asian monk living in the splendor of secluded monastery that has access to folk music and occasional WiFi.  Think again.  Think yin-yang.  How yang?  He is a criminal defense attorney living in a large apartment complex.  DCOB’s wide ranging interests and openness to new and different things was evolutionary in our family.  The next generations is more free to focus on their inner muses.

Still, after 3 hours, I called SOB, who prescribed M&M — meditation and medication.

Gay Marriage

Someone very dear to me mentioned that something was glaringly missing on my blog — my views of gay marriage and my response to all the current strides and defeats.  My response was that I couldn’t be funny or amusing about something that core to me.  But, I guess I need to vent.  So here goes.

I have had the many privileges of being raised white and upper middle class in this country.  Even in my lifetime being Jewish was only an issue at “elite” social levels (and I didn’t like those people anyway).

But I am gay and I have less civil rights than others because of it.  If I didn’t live in New York City, being gay could be dangerous.  We are well-educated, well-to-do and resourceful so we have created a legal web of “equivalents” so that the inability to marry does not affect our day-to-day lives.  Still, it does make me feel like a stranger in my own land.

Those against gay marriage hide behind the sanctity of the institution of marriage and the social fabric arguments.

First, if marriage were so sacred, the self-proclaimed family values politicians wouldn’t be crashing and burning in adultery and gay sex scandals every month or so.  Frankly, heterosexuals are destroying the sanctity of marriage.  Gays in long-term committed relationships would probably lower the divorce rates.

But all this obscures a central truth:  Marriage is not a religious law.  Civil law decides the rights of married people in the course of the marriage and its dissolution by divorce or death.  Therefore, all married people have civil unions.  Some of these are “consecrated” in religious ritual and clergy have the power to officiate pursuant to civil law.   Sometimes, a couple gets married in a judge’s chambers.  Sometimes, you read about a non-clergy, non-civil servant getting authorization to marry a couple.

Why is this important?  Because clergy are not necessary to create a “marriage” under civil law.  So, let’s fix the nomenclature and call everything a civil union — whether it is a heterosexual or gay couple.  Let religions call their rituals “marriage”.

The social fabric argument really riles me: my life with my partner and our son is destroying the social fabric of our country.  We pay more in taxes in any year than the average American family earns in a lifetime, we give to charity, we support universal health care, we help the elderly and the needy and we host all family holidays — civil and religious.  Nevertheless, the fact of our lives is why Bubba and Jolene  — who live in a rented trailer in some trailer park in Mississippi, who don’t have health care, whose children work at WalMart, run a meth lab or fight on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan — can’t get ahead.  It isn’t because we have a broken public education system, non-existent health care, faltering manufacturing industries and young men and women who come back from (at least one unnecessary) war broken inside and out.  Clearly, Bubba and Jolene and their children won’t have a future if the states recognize our lives as a family.

Ok, I vented.

Synagogue

Religion is like opera — it loses something in translation.

Today, we went to the Liberal minyan at our synagogue while our son was in a kid’s session.  One of the verses of the Torah portion provided that if a man “seduces” a virgin, he must still pay the bride price to her father as if they were married.   Ok, in ancient times, a “virgin” — likely, a young girl — would not be in the company of a man unless coerced, because girls were not free to come and go unattended.

So, the girl gets hurt and the father is made whole.  Grrrreat.  There is one Hasidic interpretation that says this passage means that ideas are like virgins and must be put into action or something like that.  Ok, I suppose the rabbi who wrote that interpretation meant that only good ideas should be put into action and not bad ideas like men seducing virgins.

Like I said, it sounded fine when it was being chanted in Hebrew.  The translation, however, made my head hurt.