Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Dirty Pictures, Unrelated Words

That should really be the title of my blog, shouldn't it? Not that I think the pictures I post are "dirty" per se. Well, maybe the two pictures where one of the guys is pretending to be an auto mechanic, but even there, he looks remarkably clean for someone who's naked and has been under a car. I wouldn't want a naked man fixing my car, though I wouldn't be averse to removing the coveralls from a hot mechanic and taking him in the shower. The idea that sex is somehow unclean is something that I oppose on principle. On the other hand, I understand that part of what makes sex so much fun for so many people (including, sometimes, me) is its unseen, forbidden nature. Talking about sex is, on balance, a very good thing, but I also remember this guy I knew, seven or eight years ago, who invited me over to watch porn with him, on the pretense that we were only going to watch porn together. The moments when we were sitting on the bed together, fully clothed, just before I reached over and grabbed his crotch were almost as delicious as those moments when you're right on the verge of ejaculation. And all because it appeared to be unplanned, though we both surely knew what was coming.

I still don't much care for sex that's literally dirty. Sweaty is good, but only if we're sweaty because we've been going at it long and hard. I don't want to start out sweaty. I will start out sweaty if it's a particular interest of the other guy, but I'll insist that he start out clean. And I won't even start out sweaty very often: I tend to avoid guys who are into "man smells" or whatever the kids are calling it these days. The only man smell I like is the smell that a clean man leaves behind after spending the night in my bed. And I haven't experienced that in a while. I guess I'm so used to b&c's scent that I just don't notice it. Or maybe it's all the allergies.

Last week I was in a client meeting, and when we were wrapping up, one of the clients turned to me and began to speak to me in what I assume was Hebrew. She was wishing me (early) a good new year. Or at least I'm pretty sure that's what she was doing. I thanked her and let her know, politely, that it wasn't really my holiday. She was very surprised to find that I wasn't Jewish. This morning, I was riding the elevator up, and one of my co-workers asked me why I was coming to work on a Jewish holiday. And then the receptionist said that she'd assumed I wouldn't be in. I'm pretty used to this particular misunderstanding. Over the years, it's happened more when I've worked in firms where the senior partners are Jewish, but it's also true that the Jewish women at church all tell me that I sing like a cantor. Everyone always apologizes for assuming the wrong ethnicity for me, but I've never taken it as an insult. Sometimes, though, I wonder how it is that all my coworkers know that I'm circumcised.

I will be hanging out with the Republicans again on Friday (which, by the way, is not my sabbath). My stockbroker buddy was hosting a cocktail party for one of his old college friends and that friend's new boyfriend, but the friend and his boyfriend parted ways, so the friend canceled. Also, the stockbroker's new sofa hasn't arrived yet, so there will now be a dinner followed by a bowling party. B&c and I are showing up for the bowling party. There is, unsurprisingly, a much larger backstory and a great deal more intrigue involved in the whole affair, but you would find the details even more tedious than the tedious explanation I've just given you. Suffice to say that there has been a great deal of one upmanship that I am not a party to. I will merely bowl, and drink. But since the majority of the celebrants at the party are likely to be Republican, I have to come up with a way to apologize to them for the way that Nancy Pelosi hurt their feelings and ruined the economy. There's one thing that's always true with the Republicans: nothing is ever their fault.

Because most of the owners of my firm are Jewish, today and tomorrow are jeans days for those of us who are at the office. I, however, am not wearing jeans. I am wearing one of my nicest shirts, black slacks, and standard black accountant shoes. B&c will be dropping by this evening, and we'll be headed down to the Kennedy Center to see a production of La Traviata. I have seen La Traviata once before, and I was not particularly anxious to see it again, but this particular production stars Elizabeth Futral (who, apparently, is also not an observant Jew), so at least I can expect that it will be very well sung.

Next Tuesday, we will again be headed down to the Kennedy Center, this time to see a production of The Pearl Fishers. I've heard that it's a good production and, more importantly, that it comes in at under 2.5 hours, the way every sensible opera should. Nonetheless, I am a bit put out about having to see two operas in two weeks. This high concentration of opera is due to rescheduling, which, in turn, is due to b&c's frequent travel abroad. I really need to find him an opera queen to have an affair with. I'm not trained for endurance operagoing: it just doesn't take that much to throw me into a severe case of opera fatigue, and I know that there are still an Aida and a Carmen to go in this season. I worry about my ability to make it across the finish line with my sanity intact. Of course, some people would say that train has already left the station.

I once inadvertently annoyed Barney Frank. I was seeing, on a regular but very casual basis, this very hot Uruguayan guy who worked at the World Bank (or maybe at the IMF; who can remember?) and lived in a very highly appreciated condominium near Dupont Circle. We were out having a post-coital dinner at Dupont Italian Kitchen, and Barney Frank and his young man were sitting at the table behind ours, so that the Congressman and I were back to back. I was trying to fish something out of my pocket without breaking eye contact with the hot Uruguayan, and I accidentally grabbed Congressman Frank's jacket instead of my own. He pulled it away without saying anything, but he was almost certainly annoyed. That was six or seven years ago, but you know how that sort of incident can fester. It was probably bothering him yesterday when he couldn't convince those twelve Republicans to change their votes. I feel just awful about that. On the other hand, the Uruguayan turned out to be something of a dick, so if the ensuing market collapse halves the value of his condo, I'll have mixed feelings.

B&c and I will be attending the wedding of the daughter of some friends of his on Saturday. I have purchased a suit for the occasion, and last night I went to pick the suit up, only to find that the trouser legs had been hemmed to different lengths. How hard is it to make the legs of the pants the same length? I thought that perhaps I was imagining the difference, but another customer looked at me and said, "Those legs aren't the same," and when the tailor was summoned, she said, "That one's too short." She made the adjustment while I waited, and then I was on my way home, but I was so rattled by the whole thing that I forgot to stop by the supermarket and buy diet soda to bring to the office today. So now I'm sleepy, and I'm wishing that I'd called in Jewish.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Somehow, I Always Thought Armageddon Would Be More Entertaining

This weekend, my Republican host, who also happens to be a stock broker, spent a lot of time nervously running over his clients' portfolios and checking the news and stock futures. He kept saying that if Congress didn't do something, we'd all be in big trouble. B&c replied that he didn't think it was that big a deal if there was some sort of crash, causing me to retort, "Well, sure. You've got a defined benefit retirement plan. The rest of us poor schmucks have to work for a living."

I have to say that I find 700777-point drops in the Dow rather troubling, but my sense of anxiety could just as easily be attributable to my job and/or the upset stomach that likely stems from some antibiotics I'm taking. (For something, alas, that I did not catch from someone else, let alone in the sort of entertainingly scandalous way that I know you all thought of immediately you read "antibiotics." I would tell you all to get your minds out of the gutter, but an afternoon when the Dow is off by sixseven percent is no time to abandon the simple and inexpensive pleasure of a guttered mind.)

I'm not sure how one prepares for a financial collapse. I suppose I should be memorizing the lyrics to "Brother Can You Spare a Dime" before the Internet disappears, and possibly laying in canned goods. Or at least either of those activities would be more productive than watching my retirement accounts dwindle, but sometimes it's easier to wallow than to act. That appears to be what the Congressional Republicans think, anyway.

Speaking of anyway, at times like this, it's helpful to remember all the things we have to be thankful for. Right now, I'm especially thankful that I'm so adept at cooking with lentils. Cheap vegetable sources of protein will soon be the new black. My current stockpile of cuminseed should prove a valuable asset, as well.

I'm also grateful for free Internet pornography. When the Internet disappears, I'll be sad to see that go, but at least if the coming period of hyperinflation reduces the value of my 401(k) to approximately the cost of admission to the video booths at an adult bookstore, I'll have my extensive DVD collection to fall back on. Provided that we still have electricity, of course.

Anyway, while even pictures of attractive men kissing may not be enough to silence the current anxiety, I have to figure that any minute you spend looking at male-to-male osculation is better than a minute you don't. So enjoy while you still can.

And learn to embrace the lentil.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Rebellion Against the Tyranny of Content 2

B&c and I have returned from a very pleasant weekend in Rehoboth. What was expected to be a uniformly dreary weekend turned out to be warm but not hot, and periods of rain and full sun interrupted the mostly pleasantly cloudy weather. My Republican friends were not even especially troublesome: they seem to have accepted that their chances in the November election are not very good, and much of the fight had gone out of them even before we arrived. So there were good times and good food and, above all, there was remarkable light.

B&c is more of a beach person than I am, but I did go for two lengthy walks on the beach: one on Saturday late afternoon, near sundown, and one midday Sunday. I was, on both occasions, borne away by the light, the sand, and the loud surf. It is amazing how much more pleasant Rehoboth is when the crowds have deserted it. And when the heat has largely dissipated.

The Republicans didn't join us on either walk. For them it seems that there is no currency associated with the beach when the crowds aren't there. It saddens me that places like Rehoboth have become reflections of currency. They are popular because there is so much to do there, particularly in the summer. My friends there are overrun with guests during the summer because everyone wants to sit on Poodle Beach and frequent the gay bars, and the constant question is "What are we doing?" People who don't understand that the value of being at the ocean is the ability not to have to do anything don't deserve the ocean. After all, you can do things more easily in the city: better to leave the ocean to those of us who can be alone with our thoughts without feeling lonely.

In any case, the irregular backdrop of the crashing surf and the sometimes regular rhythm of walking along the beach combine to create the opportunity for wordless profundity. I reckon that some people can create wordless profundity wherever they are, but I find it very helpful to have something like an uncrowded beach suffused by remarkable light. And very helpful to have a place where there is so much detail to notice when I feel like it, and an inchoate roar and a great expanse of water to disappear into when the tyranny of content threatens to overwhelm.

B&c thinks that it would be nice to rent a place at Rehoboth for a week in late September, and I'm sure that would be pleasant. I think, though, that I'd prefer to find a place that's somewhat more remote and rent it for a week in late June or early July, so that I could take the kids along. Maybe I'll do that next year. I'm sure I'd be out for long walks every morning and then again from just before to long after sundown. It pays to take and create opportunities for wordless profundity wherever and whenever possible.

Anyway, enjoy the pictures. They should all get bigger, sometimes much, when you click on them.

Also, I should report that Milan Kundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being may very well be the perfect book to read on a trip to the beach.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A Rebellion Against the Tyranny of Content

AKA I have nothing to say. B&c and I have taken advantage of the dreary weather to spend a damp weekend in Rehoboth with some Republicans. Don't bother saying it: I can feel your jealousy from here. Take heart: someday, you may have annoying Republican friends and bad weather of your own! Anyway, I may have no sunshine this weekend, but I'm leaving you with something bright. Enjoy the pictures and the lack of prose. A bientot!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Brothers of Perpetual Extasis

Whenever I visit the mountains of rural Southwestern Pennsylvania, I feel like I should live there. Part of that feeling doubtless comes from being on vacation, but there's more to it than that. The small town where my folks have their summer home is only a few miles from the not-quite-as-small-but-still-very-small town where my grandfather grew up, so maybe there's something in the soil that speaks to something in my blood. I don't know, but I do know that it's awfully pretty there.I understand the seductions of the city, but:
Greeeeeeen acres is the place to be
Farm living is the life for me
Land spreading out so far and wide
Keep the DC metro suburbs with their traffic and their damnable August humidity, just give me that countryside

I always feel most at home when I'm driving on some hilly country back road that I don't know very well. That happens a lot because we'll often set off for a known destination without my having bothered to think through the route very carefully. As a result, I end up driving through peaceful, largely uninhabited areas until I come to a road I recognize and find a service station that sells maps. Whereupon I make a correction, and we drive on another road I haven't taken before and arrive at our destination somewhat later than intended. I find the entire process somewhat revelatory. I abhor driving in the city and suburbs, but out in the country, it's very nice indeed. The kids take it pretty well in stride, and I get to scout out a lot of locations for my notional monastic order, the Brothers of Perpetual Extasis.

I figure that most of what I like about the city can be recreated in an appropriate rural monastic environment. As long as there are plenty of men, greenhouses, plenty of men, high speed Internet, plenty of men, occasional vacations, plenty of men, mail order houses, and plenty of men, I'm going to be happier starting my day with a cup of coffee and a trip to the henhouse than with a forty-minute commute.

Starting a monastery is a practical impossibility for me, of course. The sad thing about capitalism is that to escape it, you can't just flee it, you have to beat it on its own terms: large spreads of land, greenhouses and herds of goats aren't free for the taking. I'd either have to make a ton of money in business or find a very good spiritual sugar daddy, and I have no real talent for either undertaking. It's a shame, though. I'd be a pretty good wise man/abbot. Plus, I know how to keep books. I'd make a lousy preacher, though, so finding converts would be as hard for me as finding a revenue stream: I'm very good at advising like-minded individuals, but I generally have no interest in persuading people to believe what I believe. But the impossibility of creating such an institution doesn't make thinking about how it would operate any less fun.

The fundamental principle of Extasisism, naturally, is belief in the spiritual power of sexual pleasure. As such, brothers in the order will be expected to participate in communal and/or solitary erotic activity on a regular schedule and on a daily basis. Sacred erotic activity (SEA, for short) would begin just before sunrise so that the brothers could take advantage of the morning light as well as morning wood. Matins would be a communal SEA, as would Vespers, which would begin just before sunset and continue into full darkness. There would be a period of solitary SEA/meditation in the afternoon, and the format for the night/overnight SEA would be up to the individual brothers. Each brother would have a simple cell for solitary sleep, sex, and meditation, and there would be a number of large communal beds, which would see frequent use. After all, when you believe in the spiritual power of sexual pleasure, you want to share and magnify that power. Besides, the motto of the Brothers of Perpetual Extasis is whatever "the more, the merrier" happens to be in Latin.

Latin notwithstanding, the Brothers of Perpetual Extasis will be following patterns more closely aligned with Earth-based religions than with anything as recent as Christianity. Accordingly, special celebrations will occur based on the movements of the Earth and the moon. While ejaculation will not be required (neither will it be discouraged, of course) in any particular daily SEA, the full moon ceremony will be a fertility ritual and will thus involve the simultaneous ejaculations of all brothers. I know that sounds difficult to arrange, but while the Brothers of Perpetual Extasis are by nature a laid-back group of guys, their masturbatory discipline is a beacon unto the world.

Similarly, the winter solstice celebration involves a form of ritualized sacrifice in which the selected brother is bound to the altar just before sunset and is then edged by the other members of the abbey. They allow him to ejaculate only upon the sun's return. The volume of ejaculate he produces and the distance it travels will be indicative of the spiritual energy the brothers have channeled through his body and will help to ensure that the coming year is a good one. The experience of being edged for sixteen or more hours is an exhausting one, to be sure, but the brothers recognize it as the surest path to enlightenment.

Edging is not limited to the solstice, however. After all, while the monastic life lends itself to much looking inwards, the brothers have a very real, outward-looking mission: to provide spiritual light to the world through perpetual extasis. And this mission can only be achieved if, at any given moment, at least one of the brothers, somewhere, is in a state of ecstasy. An experienced monk who has made it his life's work to achieve sexual enlightenment will be able to edge himself for at least four hours every other day. Novices will not be so disciplined and may require a more experienced hand to keep them in the same state for a shorter period of time. But through dedicated practice, loving teaching, and careful scheduling, the brotherhood will ensure that the light of wordless joy is never fully extinguished ("Quinze!"1). Of course, a large number of monks at multiple locations would help a lot, too.

It's not all semen and wordless joy, of course. An abbey has to sustain itself. It needs to provide for the physical needs of its members. I'm still working out the details for how to provide the order with a revenue stream, but I suspect that it involves a tastefully trashy Internet porn site, and perhaps the export of its excellent goat cheese, ale, and sex toys. There will be some manual labor (I mean in addition to all the hand jobs), but this, too, can be a path to enlightenment. And while the brothers will mostly toil within the confines of the abbey and provide a place of refuge and orgasm for visitors, they will also make forays into the outer world to spread the good news of Extasisism, even unto the very gates of Chelsea and the Castro.

Also -- and here again, I haven't worked out all the details -- I'm thinking that any vow of poverty will have to be temporary. I can't understand why anyone would want to leave the Brothers of Perpetual Extasis, but we have to take into account that vocations may be withdrawn as easily as it's given. So if you join the order, you contribute most of your worldly goods, but you get a limited partnership interest in exchange, and if the time ever comes when you decide to move on, you get to cash it out at its (highly appreciated) value. Man, alas, does not live on sexual energy alone.

And speaking of that, if anyone knows of a foundation (or a foreign government, or just some vulnerable older guy who could be convinced to write me into his will) that would be willing to fund a social experiment of such value and nobility, send them my way.

[By the way, if you're interested in becoming a monk, but you're for some reason not ready to embrace Extasisism, you might want to go to this site. Apparently it's easier than you think.]

1A cookie for anyone who gets the reference.