Wednesday, December 31, 2008


I tend to think of New Year's Day as a holiday that's even more arbitrary than all the other arbitrary holidays. It's nice to have a day off and, I suppose, an excuse to get so drunk that your friends would all disown you if they gotten been similarly plastered celebrate, but I'm not much of a drinker to start with, and I have even more reason for moderation this year, as indicated by a conversation that I had with b&c last night.
TED: So our flight Thursday morning is early?
B&c: Five-forty.
TED: Umm.... You mean am?
B&c: Yeah.
TED: Is this some sort of sick joke?
B&c: I told you the time before!
TED: How many times?
B&c: Numerous times.
TED: Right. You'd think after I'd forgotten the third or fourth time, you'd have figured out that it was pointless to remind me. Seriously, 5:40 am?
B&c: Seriously.
TED: Is the airport even open at 5:40? Are we flying out of Dulles?
B&c: I don't know, and yes.
TED: Damn. We're going to have to leave here at ...
B&c: Some time that won't make it worth bothering to go to sleep. But we can sleep on the plane.
TED: Right. Because that always works out so well.

I probably will try to get at least a few hours of sleep, perhaps by celebrating the new year on Greenwich Mean Time. But of course there's packing and all that, so I'm not overly optimistic. On the plus side, though, I'll likely be tired enough to sleep on at least one leg of the flight, especially since I was up before 6 this morning so that EFU could practice parallel parking before her road test (which, hooray, she passed). And being exhausted when we arrive in San Diego bodes well for my plan to get to sleep early so that we can make the most of the available daylight when we go hiking in the desert. Which, I reckon, is about as good a way to start a new year as any.

I don't generally bother much with new year's resolutions. I mean, I'm all in favor of resolving, but I prefer to emphasize the achievable over that which stretches me. Normally, I'd get around to making my resolutions for the year later in the year, like maybe in December. Just today, for example, I resolved not to eat any brussels sprouts in 2008. Most people would have considered that an achievable goal, especially for me, if I'd resolved it on January 1, 2008, but why take chances?

Still, life is all about change, so for 2009, I thought I'd go out on a limb and make some resolutions now. This is not an easy step for me as it involves some of that introspection thing I'm always hearing about, and not spending too much time analyzing myself is one of the few resolutions I've managed to keep every year since 2001 or so. But, what the fuck, I'll give it a go. You'll notice that most of my resolutions come in pairs. If you're going to do more of one thing, you have to do less of something else. I'm pretty sure that's one of Newton's laws.

1. Eat less, drink more. Through exhaustive analysis (i.e., I just pulled it out of my ass), I've determined that my physical and mental well being would be better served if I replaced about 500 calories of my daily food intake with about 250 calories worth of alcoholic beverages. Most likely wine. I hope to get off to a good start on this one when we're in California, where one can buy wine in the supermarket. I realize this is true in much of the country, but it's not true in Maryland. I reckon the legislature keeps things this way because Maryland is otherwise such a nice place to live that if you could get wine in the supermarkets, everyone would want to live here.

2. Cruise less, fuck more. I'm already doing pretty well in this area, but I want to continue to cultivate my pool of fuckbuddies and FWPs so that I don't have to waste time searching. I know some people say it's the thrill of the chase, but my (admittedly limited) experience with hunting indicates that there's not all that much chase: there's a lot of getting up way too early in the morning so you can sit around in a tree or a duck blind waiting for something to come near enough for you to kill it. Hunting is a terrible metaphor for the pursuit of sex, and, really, unless you're into something involving fluids, sex is not nearly as messy. The guy who shoots even the largest load is easier to clean up than the guy who shoots even the smallest squirrel.

3. Observe less, interact more. I've lately come to believe that my normal policy of emotional detachment has begun to work against me. It was necessary some years back when I was going through hard times, but I figure that things are now going well enough that I need not be overly concerned about people letting me down. The practical implication is that I should expend somewhat more effort staying involved with people I like. I haven't been very good at that for the past eight or ten years.

4. Fuck my partner more, fuck other guys more. (There are certain areas where balance is overrated. Sorry, Sir Isaac.) It looks like b&c will be traveling less this year, so the first part of that should be easy. Which, obviously, makes the second part correspondingly harder, but maybe I just need more fuckbuddies who can host. They're out there somewhere. As a corollary, I also want to jerk off more.

5. Porn: buy less, make more. Well, I did get a video camera for Christmas after all. But I also think that I want to start writing more porn. It's significantly more work than writing erotic non-fiction, but it's fun. I didn't really buy very much porn in 2008, but it shouldn't be any effort to buy still less in the coming year.

Whoa, five resolutions? Ambitious! Though not, I suppose, nearly as ambitious as they would be if I felt any obligation to actually keep any of them. Still, they all seem like worthy goals. I'm sure that if I were to ask b&c or the kids, they'd come up with goals that might generally be considered even more worthy, but then I reckon that I could come up with some pretty good resolutions for them, and since I'm keeping my mouth shut, they can return the favor.

I hope to continue posting over the next week or so, but -- if I can manage to do so -- it'll probably be a lot of pictures of the desert and such, so most of you probably won't want to bother reading. So let me take this opportunity to wish all of you the happiest of all possible New Year's Days. It is my sincere hope that 2009 brings you health, prosperity, and (at least) half again as many ejaculations as you enjoyed in 2008.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008


"Grueling" is not a word that I use often, readers. I had cause to look it up this morning because Oliver Twist famously wanted more gruel, and I wondered why you'd want more of something that's considered disgusting. Extreme hunger, one supposes, is the most obvious reason, but I'm pretty sure that in Emma, Miss Woodhouse's father (aka Mr. Woodhouse) was very fond of his gruel and was apt to offer a bowl to those people he was most fond of. As it happens, "grueling" is the present participle of "gruel," an obsolete verb meaning to punish. And punishment is also a secondary meaning of the noun "gruel," though, apparently, that usage is mainly British.

In any case, I'm just back from a weekend trip to see the extended family in Florida, and on the one hand, I would have liked to stay longer, but on the other hand, I couldn't get away soon enough. Grueling.

I'm very fond of Florida in the winter, and I especially enjoyed the outdoor activities, which included a short trip to the beach, a short trip to a local nature preserve, and a short trip to the home of a cousin whom I had not seen in perhaps thirty years. We spent half an hour walking around his property and picking his citrus. It's always the ready abundance of fresh lemons (and other citrus fruit, but mostly the lemons) that makes me think I ought to be living in a more nearly tropical climate. (The heat convinces me otherwise.)

EFU and I stayed with my parents, as did my sister, her husband, and their three sons aged twelve, nine, and four. They are very active, where "active" means "entirely out of control," and it was mostly the unrelenting whinging of the four-year-old that made much of the trip unpleasant. I suppose that anyone who has three sons has to develop a thick skin and highly selective hearing, so it's not surprising that all the chaos and crying go unnoticed by my sister and brother-in-law, but as I have been cursed (apparently) for the last few years with inordinately well-behaved and drama-free children (for whom I am exceedingly grateful), I have not had the opportunity to develop sufficient apathy tolerance to noise and bad behavior. On our last morning in Florida, the four-year-old was whinging because EFU would not sit next to him. ("I sat next to you yesterday morning, and all you did was whine. Why would I sit next to you again?" EFU is not one to mince words.) It struck me (for the fourth time) that sitting three brothers next to each other at a table with six other people was guaranteed to cause trouble, so I sat between the four- and nine-year olds, saying, "I'm going to sit here, and if you give me any trouble, I will eat you." The four-year-old then got sullen and sat under the table and pouted, making my sister remark, "You get up there and sit down. You'll hurt Uncle TED's feelings." To which I replied, "Are you kidding? He's not going to hurt my feelings. I'll finally get to have a meal without having to listen to him cry." This statement, apparently, was impolitic, and my sister glared at me for a bit before saying, "He's only four years old. And he's tired." I thought it wise at that point to refrain from pointing out that he was likely tired because he was allowed to stay up until midnight the night before. Instead I ate my grits. Grits are a corn product and are conceptually similar to gruel, but they are much, much tastier.

Anyway, despite the chaos, EFU and I mostly enjoyed the visit, especially the beach, where she collected many shells, and the nature preserve, where we saw two herons. And a kayaker with perfect abs. EFU forgot to bring her camera on the trip, and she had commandeered mine at the preserve, so I didn't get a picture of the abs, or of the extremely fit young man riding a bicycle while wearing a wife beater (multitasking!). The nephews were also a lot more fun when they had open space to run around in and no walls for their noise to bounce off.

I didn't so much enjoy the flights, even though they were both on time. I cannot decide whether it's more stupid for airlines to put reclining seats on cramped airplanes or cruel for people to actually use the reclining feature. I also didn't much like looking at my credit card activity this morning and finding that Hertz had charged me $200 more than agreed on for my rental car, but I suspect that I'll be able to fix that with forty-five minutes or so of increasingly annoyed calls to customer service.

But mostly I didn't enjoy having my mother and then my sister and then -- finally -- my father tell me that his PSA level was recently tested (twice) at over 13 and that the doctors tell him the only explanation is cancer. He survived prostate cancer over fifteen years ago, and I would guess that it's entirely possible that the current iteration is one of those slow moving varieties that are too lazy to kill their hosts before some other age-related ailment gets them. My father is almost eighty, but I still don't think of him as old, really. Over the last six or seven years, he's had a variety of ailments and has rather faded before my eyes, but I still don't think of him as mortal, exactly. I think I'm a lot more accepting of my own mortality (I became aware of it during the divorce, I think) than I am of his, but that's probably because -- as I thought during one of the long drives along Interstate 275 -- I conceptualize my own death as something that I'm heading towards but that's a long, indeterminable way off in the distance. It stands out on the landscape, but I'm not going to get there any time soon, probably, and between here and there are all sorts of other things that I can't see just now but that will be wonderfully or horribly vivid when I get closer to them. Hearing that Dad almost certainly has cancer (and that the nature and extent will not become clear until after some tests taking place next week) is much more immediate and frightening. 2009 could be a difficult year.

I have to surmise that the health news is what really made me so susceptible to the chaotic nephews. I'm usually very unconcerned by noise and mayhem, but I tend to deal with emotional trauma by emotionally distancing myself until I've had time to process it, and that's harder to do in the midst of so much volume. I also deal with emotional trauma by distracting myself with easy busywork, which would probably explain all the food (candied lemon peel, lemon curd, fresh-squeezed lemonade, and two kinds of biscotti) that I left in my wake. They tried to get me to take much of it home with me, but I hadn't checked any luggage, and I could reasonably claim that the biscotti wouldn't fit in my carry-on bag and that lemon curd is both perishable and a liquid.

Anyway, I noticed while I was picking lemons that two fit guys in their fifties drove by in an SUV and chatted with my cousin (who is of a similar age) for a bit. Then I noticed that he seemed to live alone, and my mother mentioned that he'd never been married. Hmmmm. I probably should have asked EFU to turn her gaydar on him, but I don't think hers works on blue collar types over thirty. We were driving home from the airport, and we stopped at a drive-through window to get some sodas, and as we were pulling away, we had a brief conversation:
EFU: Well, he's gay.
TED: Who?
EFU: The guy at the drive through window.
TED (who had only noticed that the guy at the drive-through window was tall, Asian, and cute, and possessed of a nice bass voice): How could you tell?
EFU: The way he carried himself. Also the ring and the watch, but mostly how he carried himself. A straight emo guy might have worn the ring and the watch.
TED: How is your gaydar so much better than mine?
EFU: Lots of practice. Besides, you're with somebody, so you really don't need to know. It's more important for me to be able to tell. I can't make the same mistake that Mom made. No offense.
TED: None taken.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Boxing Day

I don't really have anything special to say about Boxing Day, readers. I do think that it's a great day to have a party. Christmas taken as a whole can be a bit overwhelming, but Christmas Day itself is not the sort of day that tends to leave people exhausted and hungover the next morning, so the 26th is an excellent day for casual entertainment. Sort of a soft landing to help avoid the post-holiday crash.

With all that in mind, probably the best sort of Boxing Day event is a combination open house/languid sex party. One doesn't normally think of sex parties as languid affairs, but slow and easy sex can be as fun as fast and hard sex. What you want are some overstuffed sofas and some movies that everyone knows and likes, so that in between watching his favorite scenes, your cocksucker of the moment can lean over and work in a relaxed manner on your cock. Perhaps while another guy is working on the cock of one of your friends, that same one of your friends who is offering you his full lips for soft, lingering kisses.

Or I guess you can just have a bunch of people over to eat leftovers and dismantle your gingerbread house(s). Boxing Day isn't celebrated much in America, so -- here at least -- you can make of the holiday pretty much what you like. Heck, you can go all literal and ask people to bring a boxed lunch. Or you can just take all your leftover boxes to the recycling center and ogle all the hot married men who are there trying to get away from their in-laws.

I'm not doing any entertaining today. B&c's mom is still around, and she's pleasant enough, but she and I don't really have a lot in common, and I still had some shopping to do, so I went to Pier 1 and Target in the morning, came home, woke EFU up, drove her to work, did some more shopping in Silver Spring (I got boots. On sale. I detest shopping for clothes, but I make an exception for boots.), and went to see Rachel Getting Married before heading home. It was a terrific movie, but not, alas, the sort of movie to produce an audience full of eye candy.

There is definitely a much more relaxed vibe in the shopping areas this year. I find it very pleasant, but since it's a creature of necessity rather than reasoned choice, I expect that most people will not remember 2008 as the year when they didn't have to battle crowds and traffic and paid more attention to their families. Rather, I'm pretty sure they'll remember it as the Christmas of economic uncertainty. I would complain more loudly about this phenomenon, but there's no doubt that buying that pair of boots (on sale!) for myself put me in a better mood. Maybe not in as good a mood as, say, singing, or a session with a hot submissive, but one takes whatever comfort's available, I suppose.

Tomorrow morning, very early, EFU and I will be on our way to the airport and thence to Florida to spend a few days with some of the extended family. AirTran wanted $15 per bag, each way, to check baggage, so I am left to hope that fruitcake is not a prohibited item. I checked the TSA guidelines, and I didn't see it listed, but it's possible that they just thought it was too obviously objectionable to have to list.

By the way, I got a camcorder for Christmas. I'll have to see whether I can get up to any trouble with it when I return.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Bad Choices

A Christian monk, resting in the desert outside 4th century Alexandria, has a wet dream and so sets out to possess the subject of his dream for himself God. She, alas, is a courtesan and a priestess of Venus, and she determines to convert him to the ways of the flesh. They both succeed, but the fruits of their success are that she finds joy in death while he finds misery in living.

No, readers, it's not straight porn (eww), it's the basic plot of Thaïs. Add in some of the most gorgeous music and singing imaginable, and you have the recent production by the Metropolitan Opera.

I have no idea whether Massenet meant to write a paean to piety or a condemnation of fundamentalist fervor, but I reckon you can take your pick. I have to admit that within five minutes of the curtain rising, I was rolling my eyes at Athenaël: oh, sure, you're interested in her soul. And Thaïs, sweetie, boredom is not a sufficient reason to give up an obscenely lucrative career as a sex worker to go live (and die) in solitude in the desert. With what Nicias was paying you, you could easily have retired. Or at least taken a nice vacation.

Will had warned me that there would be nothing in the way of eye candy in this production. I thought he was joking because, well, monks in the desert: what's not to love? But he was right: the monks were in heavy brown robes and dreadlocks. In the desert. I don't know who made that brilliant decision, but it was a bad one. (Renée Fleming said that in some productions, Thaïs might actually fall for Athenaël but then she quipped that if that were going to happen in this production, Thomas Hampson would have had to change his hair.) Most of the singers playing the monks could easily have pulled off the gauzy white robes and short cropped hair that would have been more appropriate to the setting. The production designer must be a breeder. Certainly, there was no shortage of cleavage on display from the female singers.

Despite my utter inability to understand why someone would choose religion over sex, I don't want to give the impression that I didn't like Thaïs. There's a lot to like about it: it has beautiful music, the male lead is a baritone, and the plot -- by opera standards, at least -- hangs together and is easy to follow. I was going to add that it's relatively short, but that's not so much the case after you've added in the seventy or so minutes of intermissions that stretch the overall running time to 3:20.

The performance itself was stellar. I reckon that if there were more sopranos who could sing as well as Renée Fleming sings, Thaïs would become a part of the standard repertory. Thomas Hampson was also terrific, and the two of them were terrific together.

I know that what I'm about to say would be considered blasphemy by opera queens everywhere, but I think I enjoyed the production more by seeing the HD simulcast in a movie theater than I would have liked seeing it live. The camera work was terrific (Whoa! They're actually acting!), and there were a lot of extra features. Placido Domingo was the MC for the simulcast, and when the curtain fell on the first act, Ms. Fleming (who, I must say, is very charmingly down to earth) walked off the stage and talked with him for a few minutes. After the second act, both she and Mr. Hampton talked with Mr. Domingo. Because of the additional content, the intermissions at the movie theater were cut to twenty minutes: so much more pleasant than the thirty-five-minute intermissions at the Met. It's a much shorter trip to the movie theater than to the Kennedy Center, and parking is easy. Also, you can wear jeans.

And then there's the cost factor. When I go to the Met (which I always enjoy), I typically drop about $250 for a pair of tickets that are decent but not great. On Saturday, I spent $40 for a pair of tickets and not quite $15 for a monster bucket of popcorn and a similarly monster Diet Coke. (Popcorn at the opera: how great is that?) I don't know what the worldwide audience is for the simulcasts, but it seems like a great way to reach a large number of people who would otherwise not be able to attend.

Of course, you can always wait for it to show up on PBS (probably during pledge week, alas) or Netflix, but I recommend getting a group together and occupying a block of seats in the theater. The rest of the season is also very impressive. Unfortunately, a lot of what I'd most like to see falls during tax season, but I'll probably take in at least a couple of the remaining productions.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


I wanted to take a short break from all those tidings of comfort and joy (Not so easy to do at the moment because they're broadcasting a Chanticleer Christmas concert on the radio. Those boys can sing.) to bring you some of my more usual fare. Not this past weekend, but the weekend before, I finally managed to connect with Sebastian, a guy who likes me (or at least my cock, but probably both) a lot but who's almost impossible to pin down. To a particular date, I mean. Pinning him to the bed is relatively easy, once he's here. He has permission from his girlfriend to play with guys, provided he follows the established safety guidelines, but he often finds it difficult to find free time, a problem with which I can easily sympathize. Anyway, he'd been out of town for a while (months, at least), but a few weeks ago I got an email from him saying that he was back and that he'd been seeing my cock in craigslist ads and wondered whether I'd use it on him.

Sebastian is hella fun, both to talk to and to fuck, so I was all over the idea. There were some scheduling miscues, though, and I was starting to lose just a tiny bit of my normally inexhaustible patience (inexhaustible in most situations, that is, but when a cute twenty-four-year-old hits me up on Squirt, where my profile clearly states that I don't like men who don't kiss, and tells me that he's "up for anything" and then shows up at my place and dives for my cock but then tells me, when I pull him up and start to kiss him that he doesn't "really do the kissing thing," then I have no trouble whatsoever showing him the door, because, truly, any young'un who doesn't kiss isn't going to do as much for my cock as my right hand will), and he decided to make amends by offering to come over and bring along some 420. Woot.

Sebastian showed up with his usual sunny disposition, and I started kissing him and fondling his nipples. He smiled, ran up the stairs, and started to undress immediately. I stopped him and tossed him on the bed, and we got into it for a while. He hadn't mentioned the weed, and I was too occupied with his lips and nips to ask. Then one thing led to another, and, in less time than it would take you to recite the Constitution backwards in Lithuanian, I was pounding his ass like there was no tomorrow, and he was begging for more.

It wasn't until I said that I needed a short break that he got out his pipe and his lighter. I should probably feel hopelessly naive for having to be shown how to smoke marijuana, but I don't, and I didn't: I was just happy to be able to smoke it in the middle of a hot session.

Having a conversation with someone when one or the other of you is always holding his breath is very interesting. Sebastian is an expansive thinker and talker under any circumstances, and cannabis seems to enhance that quality. We talked about the relative inaccessibility of pot in the suburbs (he has to buy his from his younger brother, and I pretty much rely on the kindness of strangers), and we talked about alternative delivery methods. Apparently, it's not uncommon in Thailand to cook marijuana into a curry. I was relieved to learn that it's added to, rather than substituted for, the Thai basil.

Then we went back to making out and to my playing with his nipples and to his sucking my cock. It was as if each of our minds was expanding into the other's: was truly a transformative experience. For me, anyway. For him, I think it was just really good sex and a lot of fun. I remember thinking that I wouldn't remember most of the thoughts I had during that time, and I don't, but I have a fairly good sense of just how great the whole evening was. Sebastian spent the better part of an hour just trying to make me cum. I told him that it wouldn't work, and I didn't mean it as a challenge, but he took it that way. I didn't resist his efforts -- and he tried everything he could think of -- but ejaculation is rarely a priority for me when I'm with another guy, and it was even less of a priority than usual with him. He finally gave up, saying, "You're a tough nut to crack," and then we made out for another half hour, before he had to leave for home.

I was reminded this past weekend of some of the many reasons why I never studied architecture. I finally settled on this year's gingerbread building: a Greek-inspired gingerbread temple. In the first attempt to erect the structure, the columns were two inches taller than they are in the final (second) iteration, and while the temple stood for a while, when I went to adjust one of the columns, the whole thing collapsed, leaving EFU to say, "I told you so," which did not sit so well with me. But the second attempt has now been stable for about forty-eight hours.

For gingerbread temples, a day is about the equivalent of a century for a temple built of stone. For the first twelve hours, I expected the thing to fall at any moment, but it seems like it might last through Christmas Eve, if I can find a less heavily trafficked spot for it than the dining room table. I made, rolled, cut, and baked the gingerbread, and I assembled the pieces, but the girls did most of the decorating.

The temple is taller than most gingerbread structures, but it has less surface area, and that's a good thing because the kids soon tire of gluing on candy with icing and want to concentrate on eating the candy. EFU is somewhat more dedicated and persistent than YFU, but really, they're only good for a couple of hours. Anyway, everyone had fun, and I'm very happy with the way it turned out, though I can't help thinking that my engineering friends in college would have laughed at the structure.

Late Sunday afternoon, I'd dropped EFU off at church and then had gone to Costco to do some shopping. I had about half an hour before I had to pick her up again when my phone stalker called me. I'd been ignoring his calls fairly persistently, and he sounded very down when I answered. He perked up rapidly, though, and we had almost ten minutes of dirty talk before he brought up, yet again, his tedious leather jacket fascination. I knew exactly where he was headed, so I hung up.

I spent a few minutes in a Borders that's being shut down, but I didn't find the particular edition of the particular book I wanted, so I returned to the car, and I answered his next call. When I asked him why he sounded so down, he said, "Because you hung up on me before I got off." When I told him that he liked being treated that way, he agreed and got all excited when I listed a few of the ways I might abuse him. Then he asked whether I was annoyed about all the leather talk, and when I said I found it tiresome sometimes, he told me about how when he was twelve, he was staying over a friend's house, and he got naked and put on his friend's father's leather trench coat. He got caught.

Then when he was eighteen, he had his first real man-to-man sexual contact when a hot cowboy in a leather jacket went down on him in a men's room. And now he says that at this time of year, it's torture to go to the mall because there are so many hot men walking around in leather jackets. I asked him to tell me about the last time he'd gotten fucked, and then when he was halfway through, I hung up on him and didn't answer the phone again. That boy has just got to learn to cum quickly if he wants to get off. My patience for phone sex isn't what it used to be, especially when I'm driving. Even with a younger guy who continually tells me what a sexy voice I have.

Speaking of voices, I wanted to put an mp3 here of the choir singing a madrigal yesterday, but I'm too lazy to figure out how just now. It sounds decent, though. Often when I have a solo, someone from the church (whoever's in charge of the audio system that day) tells me that he'll send me an mp3 of my performance, but no one ever follows through. I would bug someone about it, but then I'd have to listen to myself sing, and I don't like doing that, except while I'm actually singing. I'm always very excited to sing, but listening to recordings of myself is torturous, no matter how good a job I did.

This past Sunday, after the service, I had a brief rehearsal with the accompanist and the music director for my solo pieces. I'm singing one of them ("On This Day, Everywhere") a cappella, and I'll probably walk around the sanctuary while I'm singing. The accompanist told me that she wasn't thrilled with the arrangement of "Rise Up Shepherd and Follow" that I'd found, and when she played it for me, I could see why. So the music director volunteered to try something and improvised a minimal accompaniment that worked really well, and she'll play for me on Christmas Eve.

I love to sing, and I especially love to sing at Christmas. What with all the music and the food and the family, I am positively suffused with Christmas cheer, and I haven't even made eggnog yet. We all have two basic options when faced with the long nights and stark days of the solstice. You either wallow in the bleak midwinter or you look ahead to spring that always erupts out of it. For me, it really is the most wonderful time of the year.

I still haven't done all my shopping, though. Since I won't be seeing my extended family until the 27th, I can shop on the 26th while b&c is driving his mother back to New Jersey. He's going up tomorrow afternoon to pick her up and driving her back here tomorrow night. Then Wednesday, I have the 4pm Christmas Eve service (solos) and the 8pm service (with the choir). In between, b&c's son, daughter-in-law, ex-wife, and in-laws will arrive for Christmas Eve dinner. I'll serve the soup and the main course, run off to church, sing, retrieve the girls, come back home for dessert and more company, and then stay up late wrapping presents while everyone else sleeps. It'll be a full house, which is just the way I like it.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Gifts for Holiday Giving -- 2008 Edition

I don't like to blow my own horn (I prefer to let a sub get on his knees and do that. Ba-dum-ching! Thank you, I'll be here all week.), but I have to say that last year's "Gifts for Holiday Giving" -- in addition to being one of my favorite posts ever -- remains the definitive guide for the contemporary gay man who wants his holiday host gifts to ooze erudition. And I'd like to think that it's working; certainly, I've seen a marked decrease in the number of people who show up at my door with the unforgivably unimaginative gift of a bottle of wine. But while it's tempting to rest on my laurels, I recognize that time marches ever onward. Last year's gifts remain as exemplars, and you may certainly bestow any of them upon your soon-to-be grateful host and rest assured of your continuing place in his heart and/or backside. I suggest only that you consider whether any updates are needed to comply with current fashion. You'll want to consider, for example, whether the colors of Christmas past are still appropriate: woe betide the gay who shows up with (or, for that matter, on) last year's kneepads.

But you're saying, "Oh, TED, the kneecaps and the portable sex kits were brilliant, but since you thought them up, everyone we know already gave them to everyone else we know at last year's parties. Could you please come up with something new for this year?" As a matter of fact, I can.

1. Sex toy cozies. It's happened to all of us. We show up at a party and we see the sex toys lying out on the table. We know they're not supposed to be visible until after everyone's had a few drinks, but we don't look away quickly enough, the host sees us staring, and he's mortified. Well, no more, readers. Now, with nothing more than a half-circle of fabric, a handful of stitches, and a few minutes, you can turn this:

into this:

The best thing about sex toy cozies is that you can keep a few in your coat pocket, so that when you find that your host has neglected to put away his toys, you can pretend that he thoughtfully left them out so as to better show off your gift.

You can make the cozies in any size, simply by varying the radius of the circle of cloth you cut. And you can make them in any width, from narrow to quite full, simply by using more (up to three-quarters) or less (down to one-quarter) of the circle. The construction is too easy to give directions for here. I will simply offer one small warning: clerks at fabric stores are nosy people, and when you're buying your fabric, they'll ask you what you're making. Think ahead, otherwise, you'll end up like I did, saying, "Oh, I'm making a cover." Which was fine until the follow up, "What are you covering?" At that point, I'm afraid, I was forced to prevaricate.

2. Homemade inebriation. I know that when you see the next picture, you'll think I'm an awful hypocrite. But let me rush to assure you that I'm still adamantly opposed to bringing a bottle of wine as a gift for the host. I do think, however, that bringing a bottle of a homemade potent potable is perfectly acceptable. So if you've made some nice clementine ratafia or vin de noix, go ahead and put some of it in a bottle and give it with my blessing. You can even package it in one of these festive wine bottle bags:

This particular wine bottle bag is one of several that I bought last week from the dollar store, and any homemade liqueur would be thrilled to be wrapped in it. But the particular bag above isn't holding a bottle of anything. In fact, it's holding one of the best party gifts I know. 3. The gift of wood:

Indeed, readers, what could be better than to show up at a party and tell your host that you've found him a man who's fit, always hard, and prepared to assume any position? Even for men whose minds don't reside in the gutter (I haven't met any such men, but I'm assured they exist), wooden manikins are hours and hours of fun.

You can put them in all sorts of fascinating positions. And if you don't feel like putting them in a wine bottle bag or otherwise gift wrapping them, you can go for the double whammy and also give your host a narrow-but-long version of the sex toy cozy to cover the manikin when its not being used. Or to cover its eyes to protect its innocence when the other cozies come off the other sex toys.

Best of all, you can get the manikins for less than $10 at Ikea, so it's easy to stock up the next time you're there.

Not, of course, that I'm implying you're cheap.