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Sunday, March 29, 2009

33: A grave miscalculation

As I thought about this being the 33rd entry in the crockpot, and my initial impression that I would be composing 40 of these little missives to the masses until the masses of Easter, I was excited to see I only had seven more entries after today. However, as I did some math and thought, "Do I only have a week left to go? That can't be right," I decided to consult a calendar and found that indeed, I could not be right.

Palm Sunday is a week away. Palm Sunday is exactly one week before Easter. I thought Lent was 40 days on the dot, but I, apparently, have miscalculated. Does this reveal my lackluster application of the Biblically significant number 40 to a writing challenge for myself? Perhaps. Does this tip my hand to the fact that I am an errant church-goer by admitting I've only discovered this number difference now? Probably. I will have to consult with a religious authority about the Catholic numbering here, and where Holy Week fits into the overall Lent schematic in day counting, because Holy Week is the granddaddy of them all in terms of Lenten events. The religious authority in question will probably be my mom or dad, who both have recollections of Catholic minutiae from before Vatican II (when Latin went away [causing me to have to look up the spelling of "minutiae" whereas both parents would know that Latin plural rules without consulting a reference guide thanks to Catholicism]), and after. Hopefully they'll continue to be thrilled with my renewed interest in Lent, even though I'm using it more or less as a moral guide for secular tasks.

This realization, along with a number of recent events, and conversations, and happenstances, and email forwards about urban legends, and Madonna in Africa shopping for kids, and the return of spandex leggings as an acceptable form of "pants" have made me give more consideration to the idea of "wrong" and "being wrong," and communication and understanding in general.

While I realize that counting and numbers are generally considered more absolute than say, accurate interpretations of the word "spot" in Shakespeare's Macbeth, being wrong about counting is still fine inspiration for today's topic: being wrong. It made me think about the things I love that I probably should not, and why. And this list does not include things for practical reasons - for example, bacon - because although bacon is probably not nutritionally good for me to love, I believe its goodness as a foodstuff is nearly universally accepted. Bacon is delicious. So yes, bacon, is on a love list, but unapologetically so. The list I am about to share will involve things I love but maybe should not as much as I do. I will include as many items as I mistakenly thought there were days left to write, since this list really could go on for the next 40 days if we did not set limits.

Things I love but maybe shouldn't as much as I do:

1. Matronly clothing for the middle-aged or elderly - speaking of Catholicism, I think I took a bit more away from my years of Catholic education than a skewed ability to count and a healthy disdain for those who add "for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory" to the end of the "Our Father" when praying. I am terrible at shopping for clothes and fairly terrible at selecting fashionable clothing in the unlikely event that I do shop. A friend once described my fashion sense as "matronly." I was 20 at the time. I was momentarily offended, but then I realized she was helping convince me that it was ok to buy myself an oversized cable knit sweater with giant wooden buttons popular among the elderly. To this day it is known as my old man sweater. I kind of think my early exposure to nuns and their many blouses with simple patterns and practical, completely unflattering skirts and accompanying lace-up-yet-non-orthopaedic shoes may have had profound effects on my sense of style. Even in middle-school, I was gravitating toward racks for retirees in Sears, and the entire St. John's Bay collection in J.C. Penneys. Now at least I'm more aware of things, and like to tell myself "age-appropriate! come on! that's for people going on cruises!" when I meander through racks of blazers and slacks with elastic waistbands. But still, my love of a strongly colored floral print in a non-flattering, non-revealing, long-sleeved blouse remains a little stronger than it should be.

2. From the total absence of sexuality in appearance to preserve intact virginity to the total appearance of virginity to present the ultimate in sexuality, number two on the list: the USC Song Girls. The "world-famous USC Song Girls," to use their more accurate title, are a group of college students who are not cheerleaders, so don't even think about calling them that. They are a group of young women who assemble to lead throngs of USC fans in supportive cheers at sporting events. Big difference. They will never be seen hoisted above ground. They may flip their hair over their shoulder, but they certainly won't do any flips. You, my dear fan, will not be catching a view of their bloomers on their descent back to earth, because they do not leave the ground. Their hair is always down - long and flowing and lovely. Usually landing just above the letters U-S-C spelled across the tight-fitting white sweaters hugging their pert young bosoms, or what some might call USC's greatest endowments. All of the feminist in me should rail against this group in some ways. While this dance troupe is essentially devoid of the athleticism and acrobatic ability that makes cheerleading squads in colleges across America compete to see how many yards they can cover with forward flips before falling over, they are certainly, in my opinion, America's greatest collegiate eye candy. And their gleaming white uniforms that will not be sullied by grass or grime of any kind surely reflect the perfection of all things necessary to be ladylike that they so embody. They are a moving horde of a male fantasy, high-kicking on the sidelines with feminine wiles, but certainly nothing crude. That is beneath them. I have come to the defense of the honor of the Song Girls on many occasions. For one thing, they are fantastic tradition, and the pure white so-tight sweaters are a part of that. For two things, they are, even from a distance, visually stunning. Much like the Rockettes, it is their visual sameness and the synchronization of their motions that makes them so appealing. They are organized to move as one unit, which has great visual appeal. Sure, they are very cosmetic in the overall world of sport, but they are a classic symbol, recognizable to many sports fans. And many men with wagging tongues.

3. My wagging tongue - Ryan from the show "The OC." It's actually been so long since "The OC" that I had to reintroduce myself to this actor's actual name - Benjamin McKenzie. I recently saw ads for the new NBC show "Southland" and thought "Ryan's a cop now!" when they showed a shot of him bending over a body, telling his partner something dramatic like, "I don't take taking a life lightly, ok?"
Maybe I was only able to identify him as his old character because it really seemed like that old character had maybe, I dunno, graduated from the police academy and moved a bit north of Orange County given the fact that he was making the exact same face that his old character made all the time on "The OC" when something was troubling enough to brood about (and it always was). In any event, I don't care how they got that troubled teen off the streets, and if they made him change his name to now be a cop - I'll call him whatever his new name may be (I checked the NBC website, and his character's name is "Ben" - quite a stretch here), I'm just thrilled he's back to brood on my television with all of that muted-yet-fiery intensity that makes me certain only I could possibly understand his pain. Much like the Song Girls rely on the male fantasy that "only I could deflower the Song Girls" for their mystique, so too does that actor rely on the female fantasy that "only I could really understand what has him so completely, intensely, and hotly troubled and help him understand how to deal." I should not love an actor with what seems to be, based on the preview, 3-look range, but I do. Turns out his range is right in my range called "doin' it for me." Hope he likes matronly sweaters!

4. Speaking of dirty, I also will admit to eventually liking when I've allowed myself to decay to the point of absolute filth - like, sweat drying on old sweat - days of stink on top of days of stink (writing IS a solitary profession!). This happens very very rarely due to constraints of "civil society" and my "job," but when a weekend happens in which I end up really not getting around to a shower until a Sunday night, I kind of like the grime a little. It's disgusting. My adult-onset acne is, of course, worse for an entire week following such periods of decay, but if the ocean or a camping situation allows me to stink it up, I like it. How I have this disgusting property but never did Outward Bound? Got me.

5. Another thing that I love that would make me think less of me if I were reading this about myself and not writing this about myself - I am a giant sucker for live music in dive bars. I really really tend to want to befriend the performers as quickly as possible. I can't even explain why. But this has happened often enough that I realize this qualifies as a trend. Taking requests? All the better. Enjoy audience interactions? Great! How about I become a groupie? Fabulous. I guess it may be part of my respect for live performance being tough to do, and my enjoyment of having a chance to become engaged in that performance, but it's also probably got a good bit to do with my love of those who will sing classic rock ballads in small spaces with bad acoustics for drunk people. Yep. Got a band? Invite me to your show! I'm already your biggest fan! Try to get the cop named Ben to do your security though...

6. From one cop to another bit of undercover work - Undercover Brother. I love that movie!!! I think it's hilarious, pretty much from start to finish, and am often unable to stop watching it if I happen to catch it airing on t.v. I love it. And I have a crush on Eddie Griffin. And even though it's making fun of blacksploitation movies with jokes that I should see coming a mile away, they still work on me every time. Oh your bellbottoms are so huge that they work as a parachute? Yes! I will laugh out loud! Every time! This entry is very close to not qualifying for the list, as I do believe the movie is a worthwhile and funny movie on the whole, I just love it more than probably makes sense. Ok, to me it makes perfect sense. But then again, so does relishing not having showered. (Again odd, because I also love showers!)

7. And finally, the closing ceremonies bring us to the Winter Olympics. I love them! I know that many people are easily able to pick the Summer Olympics as their favorite Olympic games, but I really can't choose between the two. Both different. Both good. I love the ice skating. Mens. Womens. Pairs. Short program, long program. Even some of the dancing. It works on me! The anticipation of every jump, and the gasps before landing. Butts frosted with ice from a fall. The eyeliner. The Russian accents. It all works on me. Speed skating and its crazy unitard motion also has my number. And more than that, the last Winter Olympiad I fell in love with the biathlon and curling. Incredible sports. And really, don't know that that's a commonly held belief, but the biathlon involves endurance skiing, speed skiing, and SHOOTING GUNS ACCURATELY REPEATEDLY. Maniacs! Total maniacs! I stumbled onto coverage of the biathlon while hoping to catch figure skating, and once I realized how it worked, I was hooked. You have to race to a set of multiple targets. For every target you miss, you ski a penalty lap before being allowed to get back on the long ski race course to the next group of targets. The skills needed to be good at all portions of that event - WOW! I love it.
And curling- WOW again!!! Team team team sport. What other sport employs a human zamboni competitively smoothing ice?!?! None that I know of. I could watch a LOT of curling very happily. The Winter Olympics keep me frozen to my t.v. What can I say?

Greater "wrongs" have been committed in the name of love and negligent hygiene I'm sure, but I'm pretty happily loving those things I hold dear for all the wrong reasons. Or right reasons, but just with more forceful a hold dear than is advisable.

Really though, who's counting?

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