samedi, mars 10, 2007

The Invisible Men

Courageously (or brazenly) putting aside my annoyance about the way I saw customers treating the men who washed their luxury cars, I walked back to the table where two women were chatting. "Did you mention Thermage?" I asked them.

Thermage, in case you don't know, is a new wrinkle (or unwrinkle) in middle class and upper class America's desire to shave ten or 20 years off their faces. Unlike lasers, it doesn't need a lot of recovery time-you can go right back the office to chair a meeting or to the home gym to work out with your trainer. Unlike a face lift, it doesn't make you look like you have been scalped.

So much better than Botox, I said to one of the women, a pretty blonde I guessed was probably in her early to mid forties. Touching her smooth forehead with a manicured fingernail, she said she was a Botox veteran. Joined by a fourth woman, there ensued a exquisitely female chat about the benefits and disadvantages of Botox, why would we would probably not have plastic surgery, and our generally negative feelings about tanning salons.

Four middle-aged but well preserved women yakking about beauty in the late afternoon at a car wash. Laughing, commenting, assessing one another... we could have been teen age girls gathered around a lunch table. The only flaw in the charming scene were the men behind us, vacuuming the fast food and dirt out of our cars. Incurious, we tossed them a tip and drove off. I'm guessing not one of us wondered where they lived, what they ate, whether they had children at home or in another land. Somehow I suspect that the men who waxed our cars judged us less harshly than I do. Their work at the WG is probably a chance for them to go for the American dream-a vision of affluence that seems, at the White Glove, both so concrete and so ephemeral if one looks into the eyes of the employees...doing time for us so that their kids will not have to.

Botox babes at the cah wash

I don't drive an SUV (surprise). In fact, my Volvo S70 is eight years old.

I can't sell it yet.

Yah see, I'm waiting for it to become old enough so that I'm not mortified by what I've done to it already. I don't see too many cars in my suburban utopia with dents on the sides from having backed up against the walls of a body shop (where I had gone to get it fixed). Who else has a fender bruise from having run over a huge souvenir tennis ball from the US open?

The outside isn't worth the huge investment of money it would take to make it look all Volvo pretty at this point. But I couldn't stand the inside anymore. So I took it to get car wash to get the car's interior shampooed.

I guess almost everyone else in the general area had the same idea. The place was hopping. The clientele seemed mostly made up of women and families. Chatting on their cell phones, they walked around the workers (I had a feeling if the immigration authorities raided the place we'd be waxing our own cars) who were vacuuming, washing and shampooing their BMW's and Excursions. As I watched, I couldn't help but observe that those of us who had the extra bucks to have somebody else wash the salt off of our cars were, by and large, behaving like real jerks around the Hispanic employees.

Already not at all well disposed towards my fellow status car owners (though after eight years I don't think my car qualifies), I paced in the chilly afternoon air. Then I overheard a woman on a cell phone behind me utter the magic word: "Thermage " That was it. I had to join the conversation.

You don't know what Thermage is? Shame on you.


jeudi, mars 08, 2007

Giving Hags a bad name

Have you ever wondered whether Rosie O'Donnell and Ann Coulter were separated at birth?

"Commentator"Ann is a tall Storm-trooper blonde most happy when she is mucking around with fascism or spewing anti-gay rhetoric. Who cares whether she is really a bigot, trying to get the troops all excited, or crazed about publicity? The effect is the same, Fuhrette.

The only mystery is why she went off on Presidential candidate John Edwards as opposed to slamming Senator Barack Obama for being a press darling. Why not score even larger headlines with racist verbiage directed at America's current sweetheart?

Could it be because Edwards is more of a man than Ann will ever be?

In the opposite corner, there is the charming Ms. O'Donnell. Built like a soapbox, Rosie is shorter than Ann. A woman with a huge mouth and a real mean streak, she is an instinctive supporter of all causes left-wing.

Unlike John Edwards, Rosie really is gay. But you don't see Ann taking her on-she knows Rosie could stomp all over her.

I have no idea what Ann's sexual preferences are. But she would be great as the dominatrix of a medieval torture chamber.

Both obnoxiously pander to their cliques on the right and the left. Both are narcissistic products of the DC/Hollywood publicity machine. Both are famous for little more than having mouths like sewers and the impulse control of a viper.

The only mystery is why we watchers and readers, particularly the female ones, continue to support women who continually drag down the quality of our communal life and bring out the worst in us (me included, obviously).

When you figure it out, let us know. I'm clueless.

One solution: lock them in a room with American Idol's Simon Cowell for a week. It's more than likely that after a few days someone venturing in would find nothing but a few locks of dyed blond hair...and three large sets of teeth.

mercredi, mars 07, 2007

Sex addiction-judgement and grace

I was thinking about writing about the cultural implications of sex addiction tonight. But my musings went in a more personal direction.

I've chatted online with a few guys that I suspect fall into the realm of the sex addict. I say this without judgment. We all have our cracked places. I'm broken in many places, and in need of human and divine healing. The problem is that often we feel ashamed to confess our flaws to each other-or we try mightly to justify them.

And when addiction hurts family members, when the addict refuses responsibility for her or his deeds, then judgment is essential.

Apparently sex addiction is a fairly widespread phenomenon. According to an article on the MSNBC website, As many (or more) than 16 million men and women in America may struggle with this behavior. Why do they seek sexual experiences ( often with strangers) with ritual repetitiveness? Why do they need to keep ramping up the thrill factor? Is this about feeling manly or womanly? Is it about self-esteem? Do some have personality disorders? Are some cross-addicted?

There are as many reasons, I guess, as there are people who suffer.

Every addict is precious in God's eyes. With grace, we can look into the eyes of the alcoholic, or the smoker, or the sugarholic (like me) or even the compulsive bragger or procrastinator and say to them that we know them, and love them, because we share their essence. We can't carry them, but we can walk alongside of them. And if we look with compassion, without judgement, we can see in their haunted eyes the shadow of God's image, and the possibility that they will finally be free to choose...if they choose to be free.

mardi, mars 06, 2007

No sex tonight-just politics

Well, I was going to grapple with the puzzle of sex addiction tonight, but it's been an incredible day of political drama in D.C., so the sex thing is just going to have to wait (by the way, if you want to read a well-written and charming book replete with a male Muse and hot middle-aged sex, try Mary Gordon's novel Spending- women, wouldn't you love to have a personal Muse on call for inspiration, money and sex?).

Meanwhile, the Bush administration continues to implode. While this should surprise almost no one, it is horrific how much damage they have managed to do.

Right after the Libby verdict came down around noon, NPR anchor Robin Young interviewed George Washington University professor Jonathan Turley. He must have spent a lot of time being interviewed about the Libby trial (and perhaps on other matters) because he was amazingly well prepared. He said that trial made it crystal clear that a. responsibility for Libby's behavior could be laid directly at VP Dick Cheney's door and b. it is obvious that Dick Cheney is, in fact, the person the public thinks he is: powerful and vengeful.

As a journalist, another comment he made stuck with me-that the Libby affaire showed no one in a good light-including members of the media. Judith Miller of the New York Times resigned, probably under pressure. Robert Novak of Fox News and Bob Woodward of the Washington Post probably should have been fired, too-if Woodward hadn't been such an icon, he would have been, argued Turley.

Depending on how ticked off the Hon. Reggie Walton is, we may have seen the last of "Scooter" Libby for quite a while. The fact that the jury took ten days to reach a verdict of perjury, lying and obstruction worried me, but it turned out that they were just being amazingly conscientious about the meaning of the words "reasonable doubt." This White House, incapable of taking responsibility for anything, pretended that the whole scandal had nothing to do with them-but it has everything to do with their modus operandi- one that makes the Roman Emperors look like metrosexual pacifists.

Meanwhile, the Senate was hearing testimony in the firing of eight US attorneys (all Republicans) by the Bush administrations' thugs at DOJ. As a Slate writer pointed out today, the question is-who slipped a paragraph into the Patriot Act that allowed Justice to fire attorneys and replace them with political appointees-with no real supervision by anyone? Judiciary Committee head and Pa Senator Arlen Specter was either asleep at the wheel...or his fingerprints are all over this sleazy sleight-of-hand.