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Posts from the ‘Funny’ Category
This post might be all over the place, but I’ve tried to keep it cohesive. I’ll edit and strengthen the argument over time.
A lot of my girlfriends are dating to disastrous results. I actually feel sorry for them. The pool of men is wide and varied, but finding a diamond in this bevy of choices is excruciatingly painful.
As a gay man, you would be surprised to learn that I don’t have many gay friends. In the past I tried to make friendly connections with the people in the gay community, but I always exited politely, mildly disappointed.
A couple of years ago I participated in the Friends for Bike Rally in support of the Toronto People With AIDS Foundation. For six days 300 of us cycled from Toronto to Montreal while raising much-needed funds for an important cause.
It was the first time I had been in the company of so many gay men, and while training in lead up to the big event, I had this vision of a welcoming, accepting community, which helped ease some of the misgiving and reservations I was having.
Everyone on the ride was put into team groups. I belonged to a small team that was selected for me based on a set of criteria that the organizers had asked from me, and they were kind enough to invite me to many social gatherings during the months before departure day, but I always declined in favour of going to the cottage.
Well on the day that we all left for Montreal I was discouraged at how mean some of my team members were. Admittedly I was intimidated to be included in such a group of accomplished cyclists, and they all seemed to have the appropriate equipment, and here I was with a dinky hybrid bike, and almost no clue of how to change a tire. But they sort of held a grudge against me for cancelling so many of their barbecues. I couldn’t help but notice that one of the men in our group, who was older, and who had attended a couple of the soirees the team had organized, wanted little to do with them.
The younger guys were members of a clique and they spent a lot of time criticizing people outside of their group and making judgments about other people’s appearances. One of the individuals I was riding with kept forgetting my name, only he was pretending to forget it, and while at rest stops he would ask where I was, when I was standing right next to him. I think he was trying to make me feel small, to make me “know my place in the hierarchy” but to me, he was just embarrassing himself.
Then there were a lot of sex jokes. Endless amount of sex jokes. Usually when riding on busy streets the cyclists above would indicate for those behind them when the pavement became too uneven, or if there was a pot hole that could prove dangerous. This was a friendly gesture, to ensure no injuries occurred on the trip. The men were fond of yelling out “manhole” to which the reply was always, “I’ll show you a manhole.” Funny, but gross.
Now I don’t meant to elevate myself above this type of humour, I definitely enjoy a dirty joke from time to time, but after a while it got old. I kept trying to turn the conversation into something more meaningful, or serious, like politics, but the topic would always return to sex.
After about six days I was fed up by these people. Especially with the endless amount of cruising and sex noises that came from the tents each night. I was with Keith at the time, as he was volunteering by driving one of the vans around, and people kept coming up to me to ask if we were together. But that still didn’t stop many of them from flirting or shamelessly putting the moves on one or both of us.
On the third day of our trip I was getting a deep massage in one of the tents, as this was provided for free by the organizers. The massage therapists, all men, would cruise at the other men passing the tent and make their usual comments about what they thought, or felt, about their bodies. I learned that they were ass men. At this point I was irritated by this thoughtless, automatic routine, and would roll my eyes as my only means of protest. I mean I was lying there trying to enjoy a deep massage.
But then I got more irritated, and I’ll tell you why. My therapist started to simulate sex with me as he was massaging me!!! Like dry humping me in mid-air.
Clearly irritated, I got up and said, “If I were a woman, this would be completely inappropriate.” I thought he would apologize but instead he insulted me, saying that I was narrow-minded, and needed to relax. I believe he uttered something about me being uncomfortable about my own sexuality.
Well, I’ve never been single, and I’ve had a lot of sex in my life, more than most people, I can say confidently, so maybe that’s why I’m not so obsessed with it. Maybe it is true that the people who talk the most about sex are the people who don’t get enough of it. Anyway, I corrected him, told him that I was travelling with my boyfriend, and that I would prefer a massage without any sexual advances, feigned or otherwise.
After that confrontation I was the source of a lot of stares and gossip from people I didn’t even know. Because of this incident, and because I defended myself, they behaved as though I was the problem.
I started to remember why I preferred the company of women.
This is not to say that I think ALL GAY MEN are like this. I’m not, and I know of others who are not also. But I believe that most men, gay and straight are sex obsessed. I know, news flash! It’s not a gay thing, it’s a MAN thing.
The difference is that straight men have to work harder to get sex, while gay men know exactly what they want and just cut through all the bullshit and hit the sack.
Most of my girlfriends go on dates with men who appear to be wonderful, only to witness their personalities turn ugly when they realize they’re not going to get any sex after.
It’s almost like their penises take control of their brains, and they start to blame women for turning them on. This is quite similar to men who think that a woman is asking to be raped if she dresses provocatively.
Ummm… no, women can dress however they please, it’s up to men to control their primitive impulses that incline them to rape and pillage.
But in my experiences with men, I do notice that they make a lot of excuses for themselves, especially when it comes to sex.
The prevailing notion is that they are genetically predisposed to procreate. They HAVE to spread their seed, sort of speak. I guess I could understand that excuse if we didn’t also have this thing called a brain that helps us reason and form logical responses to illogical and irrational stimuli.
Sex isn’t just about procreation, it also feels good, and men are hedonists, that’s the point. A man loves to stimulate his penis, even if he’s not a good performer, or bothers to consider his partner’s pleasure.
And because we live in a society that places value on how sexy a person is, the world has been tailor-made to not have them think. People are filled with so much insecurity that any male cipher can become a hero in some part of the world.
In the gay community there are a plethora of “hookup” sites. From Manhunt, to Grindr, to… well there are many. I had a Manhunt account for a while and tried a trial version of Grindr for seven days, because I was curious. Plus I’ve never been single so I wanted to know what all of the fuss was about, and perhaps gain a more thorough understanding of why so many gays swear by these sites.
Also when you’re in a relationship you sometimes miss out on the adventures of being single.
You see when I was in Argentina, a lot of people told me that the only way I could meet other gay men was to go on Manhunt. Though Argentina is a progressive nation, they hold tight to rigid arbitrary gender stereotypes and rules, and gay men pride themselves on their masculinity. They don’t have a lot of tolerance for effeminite gay guys.
I was assured by more than one person that Manhunt was the ONLY way to meet gay friends. So I tried. My Manhunt profile had a picture of my face, and a description informing people that I was in a relationship and only looking for friends, not sex. I was put-off by the blatant pornographic advertisements, but as this is the norm of almost all reputable gay publications, including the Advocate, I just felt it was par for the course.
Clearly I was a delusional, naive idiot, because no one wanted to speak with me, and many others ignored my profile description and still tried to hookup with me for sex. So I deleted my account, secure in the knowledge that a site called Manhunt is aptly named.
I was able to meet some gay people though typical means, but oddly even they reiterated that the only way to meet other gay men was on Manhunt, and that was in fact the way they had all met each other. After a while, I learned that most of them had slept with each other, and were intimately aware of one another’s sexual history, present and future.
Does anyone blame me for not wanting to be involved in this type of culture? Does this make me a prude, really? I want to have gay friends, but I don’t want to have that close of a relationship; I would prefer having some level of privacy!
Another thing that surprised me about these sites was how mean-spirited the profiles were. A lot of gay men spend much of their time at the gym. They like to espouse the benefits of a “healthy” lifestyle and to them being healthy means six-pack abs and pectoral muscles. It’s obvious to me that health is not the most important factor here, but rather vanity is. If they were interested in health they wouldn’t smoke, drink and take as many drugs as they do.
This emphasis on appearance permitted many of these men to ask that those who reach out for a connection adhere to their lofty standards, but I also noticed a distaste for “queens”, “fatties”, and “Asians”. That’s right, there’s a huge prejudice towards Asian people on these sites and though it’s a personal choice to be a bigot, I was surprised with how this bias was tolerated.
I’m assuming that the dislike for Asians is routed in the stereotype that they have small penises, and believe me penis size is openly discussed, and important to gay men, especially on these sites. Everyone has an extra-large penis, if their profiles are to be believed.
So gay men provide a forum to find sex easily, while straight men have to settle for Plenty of Fish and LavaLife? I don’t know if these sites still operate, I only hear about them from my girlfriends.
It’s odd to me that so many men choose to accept this type of behaviour as a rule of thumb, rather than attempting to enhance their minds, past the possibility for sex.
I’m not saying that sex isn’t an important part of life, I’m not a prude when it comes to sex, trust me. But if the stories my girlfriends tell me are to be believed, along with my experiences on gay hookup sites, then it’s obvious that men have an unhealthy obsession with sex that the Internet is only making worse.
Is it how we raise men that leads them to believe that this behaviour is appropriate? Are they truly incapable of respecting anyone outside their physical traits? Are they so devoid of any emotional substance?
Certainly something with how men are nurtured is at play here. To only see people as a means to an end is disheartening and even disturbing.
We often hear that if two people want to use each other for sex than that’s okay. I guess. I mean, sure if that’s what they want to do then fine, but what does that say about their character?
Anonymous sex seems boring, scary and essentially disappointing as you’re always left alone with the possibility that you’ve each acquired an STI. Is that one moment when a man orgasms, worth all the effort, and subterfuge he’s put into acquiring it?
So my girlfriends keep searching for Mr. Right. I keep thinking that they’re going to have to settle for someone eventually, especially since many of them are reaching the age where they may want to have children. But I’ll stay positive, and hopeful.
I’ll tell you what I mean by settling. I have a few girlfriends who are in relationships with men who are uncomfortable around gay people. They’re always trying to display their alpha superiority and can’t accept that they may know less about something than a gay person. Why do my girlfriends choose to spend their lives with these men, considering that most of their best friends are gay? Because they’ve run out of time, that’s why!
The others, the ones who are still dating, well they can’t even get their dates to call them back after they’ve simmered their burgeoning sexual advances. Even the apparent good ones seem like their priorities are mixed up.
Men are pigs.
As I was pet-sitting Maude and Beenie ALL ALONE in this big huge apartment I looked towards my right to see that the sky had turned pink. Luckily my camera was close by and I ran to the balcony to document the scene as it was happening!
Weather report! The temperature in Toronto has been super high for over a week with endless, nourishing sun. This all started on my birthday, April 30, and I took it as a sign that I am the messiah.
Unfortunately, the rain moved in yesterday and it brought a drop in heat, but it’s welcome relief, for now. The next five days are supposed to be cooler with a return to above seasonal temperatures by Wednesday, or something like that.
For those who think that Canada is besieged in snow most of the year I would like to set the record straight. In Toronto, at least, the first snowfall usually occurs in November or December, and with it below zero degree temperatures. Usually February and March are the hardest months because the days are shorter, and of course colder with a snowstorm thrown in here and there for good measure. But we tend to offset this by drinking a lot of alcohol and throwing house parties. April brings Spring showers and by May we’re experiencing summer warmth that lasts well into October.
And then comes Autumn, which is usually the most beautiful time of the year because the leaves change colour and the city is… well… the city is stunning. Not to mention cottage country, which has to be experienced first-hand to be believed.
Nothing better than sitting by the fireplace, getting drunk on cheap beer and passing out naked.
Ahhhh.. Canada. I salute you!
I love this woman, and she made The View relevant. I always get a laugh from this blunt, and accurate observation. I know in our society we think that an overweight lesbian shouldn’t have an opinion, but this is who I take seriously, not some stupid straight man who thinks he’s an authority on EVERYTHING!
Donald’s rebuttal was the most misogynist piece of crap, and no one cared to take him to task over it.
Hey everyone, this is an argument that I’m working with, so this is a rough draft. I’m hoping to improve it as time goes by, but right now I wanted to put my thoughts down and share it with others for their opinions, criticisms and experiences. So keep in mind that it’s a little disjointed and all over the place at the moment. There’s a lot of recurring themes in my essays, including the lack of human compassion I’m unfortunate enough to witness daily. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how unhappy so many of my peers are, and how they’ve kind of accepted this as a rule. A lot of their misery is influenced by their occupations, and toxic work environments. I want to explore this a little more to understand our motivations, and inability to recognize our own faults. I’m currently working on a book that tackles a lot of this subject matter, so I’m just trying to work shop it and get it out there for people to read. I’m trying to expand on a lot of the sentences, and delve deeper into the psychology of the experiences I’ve written about here. Thanks.
You know I grew up in a family that didn’t have a lot of expectations for me. My parents didn’t want me to go to university and would have been pleased if I worked as a produce clerk at Fortino’s. I applied to the universities of Guelph, York, McMaster and Nipissing as a means to escape my dysfunctional home. At the time my older brother was a maniac, heavily into drugs and my parents coped with this by becoming hysterical at any mild infraction me or my brothers committed. I just wanted out, to be on my own, away from them.
When I was finally accepted to all four of my choices a lot of my classmates teased me because I was seriously considering attending Nipissing University in North Bay, Ontario. Those who were going to McGill and Queen’s looked down on me, like I was less a person because of where I was leaning to spend my future. I have to sheepishly admit, that they had an effect on my decision and I eventually chose to go to Guelph, but even that was met with snide comments.
When I made my choice my father warned me, “Don’t go to university and think that you’re better than any of us.” That was it. He didn’t tell me that he was proud of me, didn’t offer to help pay for my tuition, he just warned me not to get too big for my britches.
Now keep in mind that my brother was in and out of rehab my whole life. Still is in fact. He just can’t get his life together, and during my last two years of high school, when I was trying to achieve good grades to get into university I had to wake up each morning at 5 a.m. to take him to work, which was 30 minutes away (an hour to and back), because he had a suspended driver’s licence from a drinking and driving charge. It was not his first offence, and I was responsible for driving him around; wherever he wanted to go, I had to be of service. After school I had to drive all the way to Milton to pick him up from work and drive him home, so the entire journey cost me two hours of my day. After I would go to work where I was investing almost 40 hours a week at the IGA in the Shopper’s World mall, in addition to attending school. My dad made it clear to me that he was not going to pay for my university, or my rent while living away from home, so I had to pay my own way. This kind of confused me because my parents always bragged to dinner guests that they were upper middle class.
My whole life, my parents took very little interest in my schooling, they didn’t really care what grades I got, and didn’t appear to notice how emotionally exhausted I was from trekking my sociopathic brother all over the place. They didn’t cultivate my creativity, or take any notice that I was a skilled writer. In fact, neither did my teachers. Many of them thought I was pretty dumb, and they treated me like I was clueless all the time. In fact, one teacher told me that I had this perpetual look on my face, like I had no idea what anyone was talking about. I thought I was being observational, but I guess I just looked stupid!
My home life simply sucked. I was bullied at school for being gay and one day I made the mistake of telling my mother about my ordeal who screamed and hollered that they were making fun of me because I walked and talked like a gay person. Clearly I wasn’t getting any sympathy from her. My misery was my own fault for being too gay! Now I don’t blame her, she was simply doing the best that she could, and I’m sure she meant well, it just came across as terribly prejudiced. So as you can see, there was little salvation. I turned inward, nose in a book, pen to paper and just tried to get my muddled thoughts down as a means of therapy. When you’re in hell you kind of just keep going, and it became so normal to me that I didn’t recognize how truly horrible my life was.
To this day my parents have no idea what the difference is between an undergraduate and graduate degree. They still have no idea what I majored in, and they don’t really care. In a way I respect that, at least they don’t pretend to care, which to me, is so much worse.
For whatever reason I always annoyed my family. They were angry over my vocabulary, mocking my education, like it wasn’t supposed to be taken seriously at all. They would yell, “Why do you have to use so many big words?” I wasn’t speaking in a way that was any different from the way I normally spoke. I have always had a very good command of the English language. As a child I read a lot, but even that was grounds for ridicule by my family, who would complain that I was “off in my fantasy land.”
Because of these early experiences, even before I started my first year in university, I had to come to terms with other people’s opinions about how I was choosing to live my life. I just seemed to be disappointing everyone, and impressing no one. It didn’t matter that I was the FIRST person in my family to attend higher education, or that I was smart, and somewhat ambitious. That was seen as a flaw to my family. To my friends, I was seen as a simpleton, not reaching high enough by choosing more prestigious universities.
I remember that near the end of my first year of university I took the steps to transfer to McGill. But after a while I thought differently, and learned to accept my choices, and that the only way to live my life, was to be happy with the decisions I made. After all, it was my life, and I shouldn’t be living it for anyone else but myself. It didn’t matter how much I tried to make people be proud of me, they just didn’t seem to care. So I learned to be proud of myself. That was enough.
But I didn’t always remember this piece of self-advice. During university I started to date Keith and met his family who were nice, and have always been super kind to me. But I could tell that they didn’t approve of me right away.
I got it, I was most definitely a strange character. I was confused, and my childhood was looming over me, and I was embarrassed by it. I have two older siblings who are a mess, my parents are hysterical, and my two younger brothers don’t really care very much for me. Here I was, trying to be accepted by another family, a more sane, emotionally mature family.
Well you can imagine that the more I tried to be loved, the more it worked against me. Even Keith’s friends were terrible to me. They were an exclusive group, and no matter how hard I tried to be accepted by them, to be included, they were determined to make me feel like an outsider. Well it worked. They were successful.
The fringe is where I have always belonged. At a barbecue one night I thought I was finally making progress with some of them, that they were beginning to embrace me a little more, but then one of them uttered to the other, “Do you think Shawn and Keith are going to fuck tonight?” Shawn was a friend from university and Keith had spent much of the night talking to him. I’m not the jealous type, and didn’t think there was any budding sexual attraction between them.
Now keep in mind that when this friend presented this insensitive question, Keith and I had been an item for three years. It was clear how little they valued our relationship, how little they thought of and valued me. The disappointment on my face was painfully obvious and they immediately understood what they had done, but they didn’t apologize, they just pretended the incident never happened. I had nowhere to escape, so I went to Keith’s car and cried. I just sobbed.
It was a difficult reality to accept. I was alone.
Now I’m focusing on a lot of negative past experiences here, but there is a reason, and I will try to tie them together.
The main message from these stories is that there are a lot of people in this world who can’t get past their own egos, their own smug attitudes, or their own arrogance to be kind to others. They see the world through their own lenses, and they’re intolerant of those who have their own world-view.
That’s what families are like. I’m certain if I accepted my parents limited expectations of me I would have a closer relationship with them. I understand fully that if I didn’t openly talk about my family troubles, and pretended that my life was a kin to the The Cosby Show, we’d all be happy as can be.
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about these moments in my life, wondering if the universe has placed these obstacles in front of me as offerings to learn something about myself.
I’m definitely a humble person, because I’ve never been really embraced by anyone, or any group of people. I’ve had no choice, my life is far from perfect, and I’ve experienced a lot of hardship. But I don’t feel sorry for myself, though it may appear in this post that I do, I am aware how lucky I have been.
Of course, it always helps to have the support of the people you love, but the reality is that in my formative years I didn’t have that. So I had to support myself, and be proud of my own accomplishments.
[Okay so here is how I'm trying to tie this in... Not sure how it's going to go, but I want to transition to toxic work environments and how embracing our flaws can lead to personal growth, fulfillment and relationship building. We'll see. It's possible that these exist as separate ideas all together.]
Here goes. I have a lot of personal flaws and I will relay some of them to you here in this post.
I’m cantankerous, pessimistic, stubborn, moody, cynical, prone to snap judgments and obnoxiously loud. I hold grudges, find it difficult to forgive insensitive people and I am confrontational. I feel angry at things I feel are unjust and can’t shut my mouth when I feel someone has done someone else wrong. I have little problem with conflict, and voice my opinion without thinking about the consequences they might have on the people around me. I’m argumentative, and will sometimes lie to make a point, or to win a debate. I can be manipulative, cold and calculating. Sometimes I dream too big, and I am disappointed when that dream isn’t realized, primarily because I lacked motivation to put in any concrete effort to make it happen in the first place. I can by hypocritical and I contradict myself a lot. Sometimes I will antagonize a friend, or a frenemy just to see them squirm and I know exactly how to annoy people I don’t like, and relish the chance to do so. I ramble, talk too quickly and I am arrogant. Rarely do I find someone who is my intellectual superior, but realize that my ego is much bigger than my capacity. I can be vain, and egotistical. I have disdain for phoniness and can’t tolerate fake people, much like Holden Caulfied.
So why am I revealing all of this to you? Well I’ll tell you.
Too often in my life I have encountered colleagues, peers, or strangers who are unaware of their own faults. They seem to live in this fairy tale land where they are good, and everyone else is bad. They don’t take any accountability or responsibility for their actions and believe that everyone else is out to get them. They’re right. You’re wrong.
I’m willing to admit that maybe they aren’t so clueless, but they certainly don’t attempt to look at their own faults, their own demons, and by doing so, work on fixing them, or at least analyze why they are the way that they are.
Individuals behave badly because they are ultimately afraid. It’s fear that drives their lives, and influences them to commit desperate acts against their family, friends and colleagues.
Because of their inability to look inward and focus on self-improvement, they negatively impact the lives of the people around them, creating hostile, unfriendly environments based on their deep insecurities that compel them to behave so thoughtlessly.
The CFO at my last job was a tyrannical bully. He used intimidation methods to get his way, and could be heard yelling at staff and concerning him with matters that were not his business. At one point he complained about me to HR because I forgot my key to get into work.
It didn’t take long before he began to target me. I usually arrive early to work, before most of my colleagues, and he noticed this, knocking on my office door to berate me about something that was a figment of his imagination. Now, I know from my childhood that the only way to deal with a bully is to confront them head on, so I challenged him immediately. And because I recognized that he was attempting to manipulate me when there were no witnesses I lodged an official complaint with HR.
This didn’t do much to assuage my concerns, as many people had complained about this person and his behaviour was accepted by the executives. But I wanted to send the message that even though he was desperately trying to bully me, I wasn’t afraid of him.
After my complaint, he refused to speak to me, and I took a lot of joy in smiling at him while we passed each other in the corridor. His childlike mentality, his clear lack of self-awareness, told me all I needed to know about his character. Instead of apologizing, or trying to rectify the situation, he chose to ignore me completely. What a wonderful environment he was fostering. He was an example of a sad person. He enjoyed treating people terribly, and I thought what a pitiful little man he was, to find happiness in making other people miserable.
But here’s the thing: Most of my friends have similar experiences at work and it leaves me wondering why bad behaviour is often ignored, and those who fight against it are treated like they are the ones who are the problem.
What does it say about our fear? We’re so clearly afraid of losing our jobs that we refuse to speak up against injustices committed by our superiors. I for one don’t have a problem speaking up, because I am not tied to my job. It doesn’t determine my value, or my worth. What makes me enjoy my life is ensuring that I surround myself with people who are kind, decent and determined to make the world a better place for everyone in it. I will not accept anything less.
One just has to look at organized religion to see how such behaviour can effect the world.
I quote Julia Sweeney: “Stephen Hawking came out and said that his theory that Black Holes obliterate anything that falls into them, probably his biggest contribution to science, the theory that his fame and reputation is based on, may not be right. Wouldn’t it be great if the Pope could do the same thing? If he came out and said, “Oh my, I’ve just discovered what science shows us about our humble but spectacular place in the universe, and I have to say: it is thrilling and mind-boggling beyond all imaginings! It makes the Bible so puny and uninspired, and certainly less poetic, by comparison. I’m terribly sorry. I sincerely misunderstood so much. I almost wish there were a God so I could be punished for all the suffering I have obliviously caused in the world. But since there will be no cosmic punishment for me, I will spend what time I have left working in a family planning clinic in Latin America. Good day.”
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our society focused on self-improvement with the goal of actually benefiting others? If we could admit that perhaps the way we conduct ourselves isn’t as enlightened as it could be? That perhaps we’re shit heads most of the time, and apologize for it. But not just apologize, work to ensure that we behave more benevolently?
Instead, we spend so much of our time thinking about our own pleasures; our motivations are to benefit our own lives. To get something, to attain some material object, or to satisfy our salivating egos.
In my life I have had some pretty terrible bosses. Bullies in heels, thoughtless individuals who care only about their life, and to hell with anyone else. To these people, everyone else exists as a means to an end. It’s almost too much to ask them where they get their motivation to behave the way that they do.
I list my faults at the beginning of this post because I acknowledge that I’m not perfect. Recognizing my flaws is an important step in addressing them, so that I can help build relationships, rather than allowing my insecurities to dismantle them. If I behave in a way that is unfair, I can identify that error, and work on correcting it.
I never want to be that kind of person who walks around thinking that everyone else is the problem. Usually when there is conflict the truth lies somewhere in between and both parties need to take a look at themselves and heal the fractured relationship.
Egos create a lot of unhappiness.
When I was a little boy my mother and father would go out for dinner every Saturday night. It was their way of keeping the romance alive, and the four of us would be left at home, under the tutelage of my maniacally insane older brother.
I loved to watch The Golden Girls, which starred four elderly women in the prime of their lives, and because my brothers disliked the show they left me alone in my parents’ bedroom where I watched it on their tiny black and white television.
It’s no surprise that as a closeted gay boy, I was never interested in male centric shows, except for wrestling, but that’s another story all together. For some reason, I’ve always been drawn to the stories about women, and it remains that way today.
The Golden Girls premiered in 1985, I was 6-years-old. It ended its successful run in 1992 when I was 13. To be honest, I never watched it again after the finale, until about five years ago when I saw the DVDs on sale at HMV. I figured, why not? It’ll be fun to re-visit these characters.
And that’s what I did, from season one to season seven, I sat and watched each episode like it was the first time. I was amazed at how adult, and even risqué, the humour was, and I was embarrassed to learn that I had clearly misunderstood several of the saucy jokes when I was younger and had less life experience. Their brand of comedy was salacious, and I love it still.
These four women got away with saying and doing things that would be easily censored today, at least on network television. Perhaps they were permitted to push the boundaries a little more because of their age, when few people feel women of that age have anything relevant to say at all.
My favourite character was also the centre of the show, Dorothy Zbornak, who was played by the stoic Bea Arthur. Her second successful television show after Maude, Arthur had impeccable timing, and the way she was able to hold a scene with just a look, was comic genius. She was effortless, and it almost seemed like she wasn’t acting at all.
It’s shocking to learn that in real life Bea Arthur was the antithesis of strong Dorothy. She was intensely shy, and disliked giving interviews. Her exchange with David Letterman in a late 1980s interview is painfully awkward to watch, especially when she reprimanded him for interrupting her!
One of the reasons that I like Bea Arthur is that she had a strong sense of work-life balance, and when she decided to leave the show, they ended it completely. She sort of retired, though she produced and starred in a successful one-woman show on Broadway a few years before her death from cancer at 86.
The other three went to star in The Golden Palace, but it was cancelled after one season and sullied the reputation of its predecessor for some time. Arthur always maintained that she left The Golden Girls because they had topped themselves, and it was best to quit while ahead.
Anyway, I watch an episode of The Golden Girls every day and no matter how terrible my mood is, the show has that ability to lift me from despair. No one can ever knock me down because the show provides that perspective I feel most of the world is missing. Just keep it classy, and be kind.
It’s hard to fathom that Betty White is the only actress still alive from the series. The passage of time can be cruel, but I take comfort that the memories remain in these little DVD packages.
For those of you who have never given the show a chance, perhaps because you think it’s dated — and make no mistake, the fashion certainly is — I urge you to give it a go, with the knowledge that the comedy is top-notch.
In fact, it’s a sad state of affairs that a show like this would never survive in our youth obsessed culture of today. The fact that four older women starred in a hit television show is not likely to happen ever again. A sad statement of the poor state of our contemporary culture.
So, here I am with my Stay Golden t-shirt, which I plan to wear often, and I hope to be buried wearing it.
Thanks for indulging this little post.
I forgot about my new movie of the week series so to make up for it I’m recommending two for you today.
Julia Sweeney is best remembered as the androgynous Pat from Saturday Night Live but she is also memorable for her one-woman shows that detail her battle with cancer and her journey from Catholicism to atheism.
After leaving the cast of SNL, Sweeney returned to Los Angeles where her marriage ended amicably and her brother was diagnosed with terminal cancer. During this time her parents move in to help care for her dying brother, but Sweeney’s own mortality is tested when she is diagnosed with cervical cancer. These events inspired her to write God Said Ha!, a life affirming film of subtle wit and grace. Sweeney’s delivery and razor-sharp intelligence is on full display throughout the 90 minute movie, which was produced by Quentin Tarantino.
After her brother dies, and she’s left with her own cancer, and her grieving parents, Sweeney does what she can to rebuild her life. But trust me, this is not a sad, gloomy one-woman show, in fact, the humour that Sweeney enlists to cope with these extraordinary circumstances brings much-needed relief to such heavy subject matter.
The second film is Letting Go of God. In it she discusses her Catholic upbringing, her own internal struggle with scripture and her eventual shift to atheism. Richard Dawkins references this movie many times in his book The God Delusion and for good reason: Sweeney is able to explain the reasons for her spiritual crisis in a manner that is never insulting to Catholics, though she does have reason, as she studied and read the Bible from front to back, when most Catholics can only recite certain versus. Her horror upon discovering how mean-spirited Jesus was, and how violent the stories in the Bible are, led to her knowledge quest.
So there you go. I recommend that you spend some cash and a little time and watch these two movies. I’m not exaggerating when I say they will open your mind to a world you probably never knew existed.
Kristen Wiig and Annette Bening! What a dream.