And now, from the country that ended the slave trade, a little article unafraid to put ignorant youngsters with great personalities in their place.
My brother Sam’s wedding was Saturday. Despite knowing me fairly well, he let me be his best man. More shocking, he let me deliver a toast-turned-speech in front of his and his bride’s guests which numbered 230+. Here’s what I said. I hope you enjoy.
Before I begin, let’s thank everyone who set all of this up one more time (outdoor wedding/tent dinner). And keep in mind that it was raining during a lot of the time, which means we got wet. And I know I don’t like getting wet. I’d also like to personally thank Tom and Jake. You two went above and beyond in many areas and are now unforgettable.
Next, I’d like all the old people to raise their hand. Okay. If anyone is sitting next to an old person whose hand is not raised, please advise them to move closer to the speakers.
(Reaching into my pocket to pull out a few pages of paper,) I should also warn you that this isn’t going to be brief. Maybe if I had several brothers, I’d keep each one short, but I only have one brother. So take a look at your drinks and pace yourself for about fifteen minutes.
Where to begin? Oh. The title. So, this speech is called, “Relief. The end to living in sin.” It is written from the perspective of Sam and Hannah’s parents, by me. Wait a minute. (shuffling papers) I’m sorry. That was a working title. Oh boy.
The real title is “Who is my brother?”
You see, as I began to prepare for this speech, I realized I haven’t lived with Sam for fifteen years. And so it became clear early on that I might not actually have the most accurate picture of the man. So I contacted some of you who know him best to help me learn about him.
Here’s the thing. As I see it, we could take one of two routes. We could stick with the chronology of Sam, or I see a possibility to use a more abstract approach of determining if there are any themes about him. And since I think themes will be more fun, that’s how we’re going to do this.
To get started, then, I think the most important thing to mention is that Sam is, of course, an H-er man. Many of you in this room know a H-er. And a very select few of you are unfortunate enough to be married to one. The thing about H-er men is that they struggle with the obvious. Our dad, Larry, for instance, thinks the obvious needs to be stated. As a result, I find stating the obvious deplorable. And then there’s Sam, who misses the obvious.
The following anecdote is not funny, so please don’t laugh, you’ll only feel embarrassed. Sam’s first memorable miss was when our grandpa died when Sam was a toddler. After the funeral we all went back to the house and as we sat around the adults noticed Sam was not to be found. When he appeared, someone asked Sam where he was. Sam answered, “Looking for grandpa.”
Lightening the mood gradually here, there’s another time with his other grandparents when Sam did his thing. He was still very young as he sat in the back of the car while they got lost in the new-to-them Kansas City. Finally, exasperatedly, Sam said, “Pull over, Grandpa. Let me drive!”
It seems there was a least one kid who didn’t know that you had to be licensed by the state of Kansas to drive a car.
But the biggest instance of missing the obvious that I’d like to share now is what happened when Sam first called me to tell me about Hannah. He was so excited. So excited. One of the reasons he was so excited was that Hannah had graduated from an Ivy League university and yet had chosen him, he shared. What I didn’t have the heart to tell him then, but do now, is that taking the Ivy Leaguers in the highest seats of political power as an example, I think it’s rather clear that Ivy League graduates aren’t exactly known for their decision making skills. Hopefully Hannah will be an exception.
Okay. So in speeches like this, there comes a time when the bride is required to blush. Hannah, here’s your moment. It’s time to shine.
Hannah, here, unlike many of us who have only heard of yoga, actually practices yoga. And so, Hannah, I just want to say “thank you.” From what Sam has told me I just want to thank you for confirming what I’ve suspected all along. That yoga was invented by a man. For sex.
Seriously, though, Hannah. You have it pretty easy with Sam. Consider what our nephew Harry once wrote about Sam in a book. Chapter one. “My favorite relative is Uncle Sam.” Chapter two. “Uncle Sam’s favorite food is pizza. I like pizza.” Chapter three. “Uncle Sam’s favorite hobby is watching movies. I like watching movies.”
So Hannah, two things. Pizza. And Movies.
Again, as I was talking to some of you, I began to get a different picture from the one I knew. The Sam I knew had a mouthful of gum as our sister Kate stood over him accusing him of stealing her gum. Adamant denial was all she could get out of him. The Sam I knew was the one who once when I was back from college skipped school at my behest. The school called that day and I vouched for him, because I was an adult. Only years later did it come out that Kate was the one who had randomly driven by the house that day and seen his car and phoned the school herself.
But then I heard a story about Sam really enjoying going to Kate’s apartment to watch a movie with her. That didn’t seem like the Sam I knew. And then I was floored to hear that Sam mowed Kate and Mike’s lawn to help out after Harry was born. That also seemed out of character. And many more stories could be told to illustrate that Sam has proven himself to be sensitive. Observant. Intuitive. Instinctive.
Some even know him as an amazing gift giver. I’d like to stop right here though and declare that anyone who receives a white Christmas tree for their big birthday present one year while in high school will forever after give amazing gifts.
Sam is also thoughtful, they say.
And so it became very clear to me that while I initially thought these examples of behavior were out of character, it turns out that he’d been doing them so much that they were his character. Sam is a family man.
Here’s the thing. Each of us has a fire burning inside. Some people have fires that burn so bright they act as a light which draws people to them.
That’s not Sam.
Sam’s fire is the type that burns so hot that it keeps those around him warm.
Okay. Everyone stand up. Audience participation time.
I need your help. (This was the phrase I had previously arranged with Sam’s dj to press play on a certain well-known Stevie Wonder hit.)
I mentioned that I haven’t lived with Sam for fifteen years. This means a lot of phone calls. And we all know that no matter how good a phone call goes, there are some things that will never happen over the phone. Things like knuckles. Or a handshake. An elbow squeeze. Giving a shoulder a squeeze. Certainly you can’t hug over the phone. And these are the common ways men use to say “I love you.” And even now, if I turn to Sam and say, “I love you, Sam,” I’ve been talking for too long for him to get my meaning. Even if I sing it alone, I don’t think he’ll hear me.
But if everyone sings it, I think that should do the trick. We have one opportunity here. Join me in singing to Sam, or you can sing to Hannah if you like. But help me tell him I love him.
(Wait for it)
“I just called…to say…I love you. I just called…to say how much I care. I just called…to say…I love you. And I mean it from the bottom of my heart.”
To Sam and Hannah, everyone!
For a long time I worried that I hated women. As I’ve re-read many of my posts on the subject, I’ve concluded that I never actually hated women, I just fear them. Why do I fear women? Because they have a power over me that I don’t give to men. However, this power that they have isn’t merit based, unless being born is difficult, hence the fear. Allow me to explain.
Except for maybe TC, I have never looked at a man, no matter how attractive he was, and on the basis of his looks alone, thought, “I would like to be his friend.” With men, I size them up. What have they accomplished? What is their personality like? What obstacles have they overcome? What are their goals? And on and on.
But with women there is this very difficult to describe feeling that comes over me based simply on their appearance. You might call it an erection. If a woman appears a certain way, all the criteria I normally apply–all my choosiness–goes right out the window. And for what? The possibility of breeding?
How does my refusal to compliment women fit in? Yesterday’s examples of my icebreaker line stylings evoked several responses that suggested or made mention of the use of compliments as a means to advance my endeavor to meet women. Well, ladies, I won’t use them. And here’s why.
First, Groucho Marx said, “I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member.” Likewise, I don’t care to be with a woman whose heart flutters at a stranger’s compliment. I can’t think of anything more difficult than discerning the truth of a compliment. As a rule, then, if a stranger pays me one, I fight off every instinct to ask for another, politely accept it, and then immediately discard it. You should too.
Second, one commentor in particular (my mom) offered that my style of “line” signals that I’m only after one thing [punany] and that’s why they are falling flat. Is that a joke? We’re saying that clever attempts to make a woman laugh indicate that I only want sex more so than telling a woman she’s beautiful? Than making an assertion that I can’t possibly know to be accurate? Please. It’s more like I expect women who find themselves among big people to acknowledge that men don’t approach women whom they can’t imagine sleeping with in some scenario or other–and then get over that fact.
Third, while the historical record may lead you to believe that I’ll sleep with any woman who wants to sleep with me, I don’t really care to sleep with a woman that is not first my friend. And I have high standards for friends, especially regarding their ability to laugh at life. So I test women, not compliment them. If I say something so ridiculous that I think they should fall over laughing at the entirety of the scene, and instead they think I’m serious, then there is no way in hell we’re going to get along in this lifetime.
Lastly, in defense of myself, I am shocked at the comments which seemed to imply I was earnestly giving advice to the ladies I approached. Seriously? After everything I shared you thought I was concerned with helping the women? Sorry, but no. I care about making people laugh, not about how people exercise. That’s my favorite part about gyms. All of us can be the disasters we are and it has no effect on any of our results. By way of example, compare the folks in a gym, even the staff, to, say, an aircraft and its flight crew. People in a gym can be utterly wrong and misaligned and it doesn’t affect me in the least. More reps. Less reps. Half reps. Forearm exercises. Tweaked shoulders. Recent surgeries. Shirt-matching shoes. Butt-hiding shirts. Headbands. Wristbands. Earbuds. Dr. Dre’s headphones. Cardio then Costco. None of that has anything to do with whether I get results. Whatever your preference, just do it.
Let it be known, women. I am afraid of you. I am a lot of thrust just waiting for a vector. Yet, I’m certain that with the wrong one of you at my side, I might not recognize the fast rising earth soon enough to avoid disaster. So I’m not going to make this easy on you. Want a compliment? Impress me. To begin, I’d lighten up.
One of the reasons I joined the mega-gym in town was to be more social and hopefully meet some new people. It has not gone well. I can’t quite put my finger on why not, but I think I am beginning to see a bit of a pattern.
First, and foremost, I am often motivated to talk to female members because I watch them talk to other men and everyone looks like they’re having fun. And especially of late, I’ve been more bold in striking up conversations with people that I’ve wanted to, regardless of my estimation at success. For your enjoyment today, I’d like to share three examples with you.
Before we get going though, I wonder how many of you have ever read Ben Franklin’s letter to a young man about a mistress? I doubt many of you have, so I’ll post the meat of it here for easy access. It’s well worth a read. I promise.
…then I repeat my former advice, that in all your amours you should prefer old women to young ones. You call this a paradox, and demand my reasons. They are these:
1. Because as they have more knowledge of the world and their minds are better stored with observations, their conversation is more improving and more lastingly agreeable.
2. Because when women cease to be handsome, they study to be good. To maintain their influence over men, they supply the diminution of beauty by an augmentation of utility. They learn to do a 1000 services small and great, and are the most tender and useful of all friends when you are sick. Thus they continue amiable. And hence there is hardly such a thing to be found as an old woman who is not a good woman.
3. Because there is no hazard of children, which irregularly produced may be attended with much inconvenience.
4. Because through more experience, they are more prudent and discreet in conducting an intrigue to prevent suspicion. The commerce with them is therefore safer with regard to your reputation. And with regard to theirs, if the affair should happen to be known, considerate people might be rather inclined to excuse an old woman who would kindly take care of a young man, form his manners by her good counsels, and prevent his ruining his health and fortune among mercenary prostitutes.
5. Because in every animal that walks upright, the deficiency of the fluids that fill the muscles appears first in the highest part: The face first grows lank and wrinkled; then the neck; then the breast and arms; the lower parts continuing to the last as plump as ever: So that covering all above with a basket, and regarding only what is below the girdle, it is impossible of two women to know an old from a young one. And as in the dark all cats are grey, the pleasure of corporal enjoyment with an old woman is at least equal, and frequently superior, every knack being by practice capable of improvement.
6. Because the sin is less. The debauching a virgin may be her ruin, and make her for life unhappy.
7. Because the compunction is less. The having made a young girl miserable may give you frequent bitter reflections; none of which can attend the making an old woman happy.
8thly and Lastly: They are so grateful!!
It’s difficult to write after reading something as great as that. Anyhow.
Still with me? Good. The point of including that advice is to say that there is this older woman at the gym. I noticed her straight away one morning and couldn’t help but think to myself that she had a very natural beauty to her, the kind that is possessed by women who don’t know they have it. One day I introduced myself and we had a brief chat. The following week, her daughter was with her. Besides receiving all the important genes from her mom, the daughter appeared to be equal parts college student and cross-fit games champion. As such, I couldn’t keep my eyes off the pair. Suddenly, however, I was struck by something funny. On this day, unlike all others, the mom was going balls-to-the-wall as they say. Her daughter was spotting her every set and it seemed like some real results were nearby. This was rather silly to me. Nonetheless, my brain filled with what I thought was a good enough line to use to open the door to conversation. So I went with it. I finished watching them double team a machine from the close by station I was at and then walked over and said, as if delivering a useful secret, “I don’t know if you two know this or not, but the gym kinda frowns on two people using one machine at the same time. Something about liability.” Only half way through the delivery did I notice the daughter had in her ears the smallest, most invisible of ear-buds, which left the mom to be the lone recipient of my charm. And despite outstanding delivery on my part, which concluded with my beautiful smile, she responded with, “What?” And like a fool, I repeated myself. It was hell. No laughs either time. I walked away tail tucked between my legs and later apologized. Oh well.
Next, I have seen the same employee lady nearly every day I go and sometimes she even smiles at me. I figure to myself that gym employees, like all employees, would always prefer a fun day to a boring day. Boy was I wrong. This particular day I see that she’s helping a lady who talks like the Champion of Everything but appears to struggle daily with at least one thing. In any case, I happen to notice my girl enter a one-handed battle with a weight rack for possession of a 45lb plate. Again, leading with a tip-giving countenance, I offer, “You’ll find it takes less than half the time if you use two hands next time.” Crickets. I might have broken the no running policy to escape that real-life example of awkward.
Lastly, I see a lady with whom I’ve nearly successfully delivered one of these singular conversation starters in the past. She’s on the lying down leg curl machine. It’s the only one in the building. I would like to use it. Trouble is, she’s doing some other fandangled exercise on it. However, the exercise she’s doing on it is so wrong, that it must be right. Or, put another way, she must be intending to do whatever she’s doing. As an ice breaker after which I’ll ask to work in with her, of course resetting the machine for her after every set of mine as gentlemen do, I say, “So when I’m not sure how to use a machine, I usually look at the diagrams posted on it. For instance, you’ll see pictures right here. And if I’m still not sure what to do, I-” She cuts me off, asking, “Are you serious?” I continue unphased, saying, “-I then move to the written description of the movement. And, like everything, read left-to-right, top-to-bottom.” Another “Are you serious?” later and I smile. Minor conversation starts and I determine that the only reason she was a willing participant is because she has very, very low self-esteem and figured such a demonstrably wise man as myself might add himself to the list of men who award her daily validation from here on out and that’s just not my game. Conversation over.
And there you have it. I know I’d be friends with a guy or girl bold enough to deliver these lines.
No thanks to your comments I decided to go ahead and bite the bullet. I hate it because I have quit two times before and I usually stick to my guns on things. But I’m back at it. Online dating, here we go again.
I have no idea what the uninitiated know about online dating, but I love to share how it goes down as if they know nothing. Today’s post is about a difference between the sites and also Christ.
Besides your suggestions, the reason I’m back is because I recently learned that eHarmony doesn’t let you browse profiles. Other sites (OkCupid, Plenty of Fish, Match, Christian Mingle) allow a user to view anyone’s profile (even same-sex profiles that are not searching for same-sex relationships–which I mention here because it makes me laugh every time I picture the straight dudes’ faces when they saw some other straight dude had visited their page. What can I say? I am not afraid to scope out the competition and adjust accordingly.) Anyhow, this free-browsing, for a person like me, means a lot–I mean a lot–of profile viewing. Probably not a bad thing in and of itself, but the amount of time it takes is ridiculous. Especially, if, like me, you aren’t getting any dates. That’s why I quit last time. Too much time spent not dating. But this–this no browsing thing–is quite nice. What isn’t nice, and moreover is awfully humorous, is that while I thought I was signing up for eHarmony, it appears I may be on Christian Mingle.
You see, however I answered the questions about myself, the only women the site is feeding me as potential matches are those with Christ at the center of their lives, those whose faith is their number one priority, those who are looking for a man to be the spiritual leader of their family, and those who want a man for whom God is as important to him as he is to them. Wow. I felt kind of dirty after reading the twentieth or so version of that. No pressure, right?
Don’t get me wrong ladies. Seek what you want. Want what you want. I just don’t even know what any of those sentences mean. More than that, I have to admit that the mental image I get after reading those sentences is one of ignorance, weakness, and fear. What does that say? Oh well. Different strokes for different folks.
Since seeing this trend, I have looked back through my modifiable settings and I can’t find anything that indicates I only want a woman like this, most notably, I don’t have a religion requirement. The only thing I can think is that it must have been my answers to the personality questions, which unfortunately I cannot change without first, creating a new profile and second, lying.
Come to think of it, I did answer “strongly agree” that a woman’s place is the kitchen and that the ideal woman is one who recognizes the futility of “thinking for herself”. Maybe that’s what did it?
Like I tried to express before, I’m pretty sure some personalities just don’t fit into the boxes that are online dating profiles. Only time will tell. I am actually excited to discover if these women are telling the truth. We’ll see.
And if I didn’t say it before, thank you. This is fun.
“Does anyone know who this man is?” asked the teacher with a playful smile. The question proved her worth on many levels. One of the two women in charge of the small class of four and five year old pre-kindergartners, she was about the only diversity these white youngsters ever experienced. And on this occasion her husband, also black, came to the classroom on some errand still wearing his business attire. He towered a healthy six foot two over the seated suburbanites-in-training.
The children shook their heads, revealing that they did not have a clue who the man was.
“M-? Is this your dad?” she joked again at poor M-‘s expense.
M- opened her eyes wide, shook her head in the horizontal plane and verbalized, “No.”
“So no one knows who this man is?” the teacher egged on one last time.
Finally, a beacon of light. Of all children, it was the daughter of Pete Deakon himself–writer of should-be-world-renowned blog post Black People Does Not Exist and self-proclaimed leader of the twenty-first century Renewed Effort to Stop Self-Segregation Movement in America (Denver its origins)–it was his little girl, the beloved H-, that fearlessly raised her hand and said, “I know who he is.”
Naturally, other children began to follow their new leader and place their hands in the air, indicating that they too had come to recognize the man.
Quieting down the kids, the teacher asked, “H-, you know who this man is?”
“He’s Martin Luther King!”
There are instances, as rare as double rainbows and three wolf moons, where the lines between our concept of pure joy and the reality of it blur. This is one of them. Take a moment, then, and join me in both picturing and experiencing the delight of the adults present in that classroom last week.
The man did not disappoint, by the way. He looked down at H- and declared, “I do have a dream.”
Lazily leaning against the kitchen counter, George routinely placed some kind of large green leaves into the pan on the stove as Pete unknowingly wrinkled his face in disgust.
“I think I told you that I finally joined that gym.”
“How is it?” George answered.
“It is quite the place. And it’s ridiculously cheap for what they have. They have a lap pool open twenty-four hours a day,” Pete said. “And a towel service! The last club I belonged to that had a towel service cost one hundred thirty dollars a month. This place is just forty.”
“That’s not too bad.”
“And, I might add, even at ten in the morning there were a lot of young fit women,” said Pete.
“Those places are meat lockers for sure.”
“On principal I have never picked up a woman at a gym, but I’ve also never seen such a high ratio before,” Pete continued. “It’s crazy. I’ve always hated the feeling I get that I might meet a women there. Luckily, I have my sights already set on this Cammie.”
“You’re wasting your time, Pete,” said George.
“I mean, this one blonde, there was no reason for her to walk right past my machine. No reason at all. But she did.”
“I’ve been trying to tell you, Pete, that women are more forward than you ever let yourself believe,” said George.
“No. No way. This one was gorgeous. She wasn’t checking me out. She came by because she was pissed I wasn’t ogling her,” said Pete.
“That’s beautiful women for you. And that’s why they hate the mustache.”
“What?” asked Pete.
George then elaborated, saying, “My mustache. Beautiful women can’t stand not getting the attention. And a mustache, different than a beard, demands so much attention, that women can’t stand them. I was with M- at the mall the other day. She was actually getting upset. She thought it was a fluke the first time, but a total of three random strangers complimented me. Nearly everyone else stared at me, not her, as we walked around. It was eating her alive. It was so funny.”
Click here if you haven’t seen the preview (it’s worth it–trust me). The subject line I chose when sharing the preview with my brother was “worse each second.” His response included, “Offensive to anyone with a brain.” Another friend said “ridiculous” and meant the word’s literal definition. Running only two and half minutes in length, the damage it causes is immeasurable.
Choosing a place to begin is proving difficult, so I’m just going to go free association from here on out. Who knew you had to be white to be a Christian? Who knew you had to have a full head of hair? And wear checkered button-down shirts tucked into khakis? Actually, I think we all knew that. I didn’t know Christians kissed outside, but come to think of it I should have. I am happy to see that, like in real life, once you have a black friend, you get to tell them they all look the same.
I for one can tell you no matter how happy my family looked in church, discord was the norm at home, especially during the holidays–even the big one. (What Ma?! I’m just acknowledging they were stressful.) But yes, Christians do certainly seem to be happier in public, don’t they? I think it’s because that’s when they try. Oh, and the fact that they have all the answers. And that’s why we should all marry a Christian. Or date one. Or at least subscribe to Christian Mingle. The good news is you don’t even have to be Christian or single to get a credit card.
In conclusion, I’d like to demonstrate my ability to simplify a movie’s raison d’etre from the trailer.
(Summoning deep slow-paced Movie Preview Man voice) Christian Mingle: Because Lord Knows, A Woman Without A Man Is Worthless. (Speeding up now) Coming to a theater near you.
The recent Lego castle and its associated left-over blocks were lying messily on the bottom shelf of the end table. They walked right past it as they brought in the remaining camping gear. It was 2:30pm.
“I’m sorry we had to come back early H-,” he said.
“It’s okay,” said H-. “You know, if we go hiking,” her eyes widened, “and there’s a thunderstorm,” another pause, “we might die.”
Chuckling at her summation of his endeavor to rationalize the trip’s early termination, he took a moment to clarify the lesson. “It’s not likely we’d die, I just wanted you to know that our safety, yours and mine, is what cancelled the trip. I was having a lot of fun with you, even in the rain.”
“Me too. I love camping.”
“In any case, I have to shower,” he started, “so can you play out here for a minute?”
“Sure,” she answered.
Then he remembered that he told the realtor they’d be gone for a few days, so there was no need to confirm that the house was open for showings. Attempting to prepare H- for any doors opening unexpectedly, he said, “Oh, and remember that people may be coming to the house. If anyone opens the door while I’m still in the shower, just tell them that your daddy’s showering, and he’ll be out in a moment.”
“Okay daddy!” she yelled as he turned on the water. “I’m just looking at the instructions for the castle!”
Like every time before, he left the door to the bathroom cracked just enough to be able to hear if she needed help.
Midway through the shower his heart leapt as he heard her voice. “What’s that H-?” he loudly inquired.
The shower’s noise again obscured her response.
“You’re going to have to talk louder H-!”
She couldn’t have more closely matched her previous volume if she tried.
“Look H-! I can’t hear you. Come to the door if its important,” he said, mad more at himself than her. Finally he cut the water and reaching for a towel, asked again, “What were you saying?”
“I said,” she labored, taking a breath, “TWO horses and ONE dragon!?”
“Lego’s crack marketing team strikes again,” he thought to himself, relieved. “Yes H-, there is another castle for sale that has two horses and a dragon, instead of the one you have, which has just one horse and no dragons,” Pete said dejectedly. “Maybe someday, if you’re lucky.”
I will cry when Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro die. In the past I have thought about celebrity deaths that will be difficult to stomach, but only after watching Grudge Match am I sure that those two will cause a genuine sense of loss.
The movie is easy. The story is straightforward. And as a bonus, a black man and an old man use their societal advantages to provide the audience with guilty laughs.
The movie is almost good enough to be called “good” even if the viewer hasn’t seen Raging Bull or any films in the Rocky Saga–almost. Then again, no movie would be comprehensible if all context could be removed.
It’s humorous the way each fighter is equally the underdog. We have underdog versus underdog. Luckily, the respective underdog attributes are acted well-enough to birth some curiosity. By the time we find ourselves calling the filmmakers names for not having the courage to use Rocky’s theme song one last time to accompany the mandatory training montage, we do wonder how the fight will end. And we nurse a hope that it will end the way we want it to, whichever way that is. Surprisingly, the film’s writers and director are more on point than we ever could’ve imagined.
In the final round of the fight we arrive at two specific moments that explicitly reveal the film’s theme, and whether these moments are taken together or individually, that theme proves to be well worth the, at times perfunctory, 90 minute commute.
In short, if you remain undecided about watching it, watch it.