Day 37: Franny’s Pizza in Brooklyn is not quite BTS

Posted in Dining with tags , , on July 31, 2008 by Vince

I would’ve loved to love Franny’s. On paper, it had everything going for it. This mecca for pizza on Flatbush Avenue had grander ambitions than being just your friendly neighborhood pizzza parlor. The vegetables, fruits, eggs, dairy, and fish are largely sourced from local or organic producers and served in the seasons during which they are grown; all the meats at Franny’s are from sustainable sources, containing no hormones or antibiotics. The space is smallish and the décor on the stylish side of scrappy, with its exposed brick and large mirror. Its debut a few years ago prompted comparisons to Grimaldi’s and Lombardi’s from pizzaphiles and critics alike. What’s not to love?

So, as I do with dates that I would looking forward to, I pictured my Franny’s experience leading up to the climax, timing my “Oohs” and “Aahs” to the exact moment of my gastronomical conversion. It was going to be this: : The crust is a delight — the killer combo of thin, chewy, and wood-flavored . The wood-fired oven is really the clincher. The pizza has a delicious smoky aroma that no coal-fired oven can match. The pizza would be on the gourmet-side, but they are all delicious.

Well, the divide between fantasy and reality just became wider. A.H. and I trekked to Flatbush Avenue and got a table in 20 minutes. For the appetizer, I ordered a crostino of house-cured pancetta with herb butter. While the appetizer fared better, getting my palate ready for the piece de resistance, the pizza that we ordered (A.H. had their Tomato, Buffalo Mozzarella and Basil and I had Clams, Chilies and Parsley) was, I feel upset to report, not all that. The complexity of flavors and its tempting aromas were upstaged by just how salty each slice was. While Franny’s has a 1,000-degree oven, I don’t think it’s an excuse for their pizza not to be lightly charred, but burned, muffling the flavors of the clams and the basil even more. A.H. and I exchanged worried glances on our faces as we nibbled our way through the pan (we had to slice the pizza ourselves on the plate), eliciting a classic zinger from Mae West, “An ounce of performance is worth pounds of promises.” While I’ve learned over the years to manage my expectations about dates, getting over the debacle of a well-loved pizza place would take me at least a few days.

Two BTS fiascos in a row…should I just throw in the towel now?

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The Year of Trapezing Dangerously

Posted in People, Recreation, Research with tags , , , on July 29, 2008 by Vince

Taking a Flying Trapeze lesson. Answering a Strictly Platonic Ad on Craigslist. Taking a helicopter tour of Manhattan. These are just three of the 20 fantastic BTS suggestions of dating gurus Em & Lo for me in New York City. Check them out and let me know what you think I should explore as I (attempt to) scale the heights of asexual ecstasy: Em & Lo’s Better Than Sex picks! 

Day 36: The BODIES Exhibit is Hardly BTS

Posted in Research, Science with tags , , , on July 28, 2008 by Vince

Amygdalae Galore! Hymen Extravaganza! Medulla Oblongata Mania! Welcome to Bodies, a breathtaking display of the human anatomy that fits right in with P.T. Barnum’s carnivalesque spectacles (though its agenda is considerably more sober.) A couple of friends have raved about this exhibit at the South Street Seaport so I was pretty excited about going with A.H. – whose idea it was to check out Bodies – and deciding whether the scientific feast of the flesh was worth giving up sex for.

The exhibit is set up so that one starts at skeletal system, and more layers  (muscular, nervous, circulatory, digestive, respiratory, urinary and reproductive systems; as well as fetal development and the treated body) are added in successive rooms. Containing about twenty bodies in total, each exhibition uses real human bodies that have been preserved permanently by a process called “polymer preservation” so that they will not decay. From what A.H. and I could tell, the exhibitor did more than a decent job of preserving the specimens, who are sure to land more modeling gigs if cosmetic labels wanted to get real with their “Beauty is only skin deep” campaigns. A.H. and I noticed that the bodies were posed in Olympian-athletic stances and had facial features that looked rather Asian. (I would find out later the horrifying backstory to this.)

This might seem a bit naïve, but A.H. and I have always thought that a man’s two balls were physically connnected to each other. But there it was, each testicle hangingly forlornly from a cord, one on each side of a javelin-throwing model’s member. Alas, a man’s testicle is not his brother’s keeper. I have since found out that the cord-like structure is called the spermatic cord and is formed by the vas deferens and surrounding tissue that run from the abdomen down to each testicle. You learn something new every day, what can I say.

Also, the Bodies exhibit pulls no punches with its pro-health, anti-smoking agenda. One part of the exhibit is a display of smoking and its health risks, such as blackened lungs and emphysema. Smokers are encouraged to kick the habit right there, by dropping their cigarettes, lighters and other tobacco products into a large clear locked box. There were probably 400 packs of cigarettes, dozens of lighters and packs of matches in that box.

While I can say that the Bodies exhibit is very interesting and fascinating – particularly the intricate networks of blood vessels in the circulatory system as well as the awe-inspiring display of the human embryo and fetus in various stages of development – I’m not sure about Bodies being BTS. I wasn’t too savvy about the technical terms to fully appreciate what it was about. More than that, getting this “intimate” with the workings of the human body actually makes me want not to have sex for a few days, and I’m sure Derek Shepard’s with me on this.

If the display itself is intriguing, wait till you hear the story of how they got the bodies for the exhibit – a backstory that plays like a sick, all-too-true remake of “Invasion of the (Oriental) Body Snatchers”. In 2006, reporting from Dalian, China for the New York Times, David Barboza described “a ghastly new underground mini-industry” with “little government oversight, an abundance of cheap medical school labor and easy access to cadavers and organs.” Two months ago, the exhibition company behind Bodies posted this bone-chilling disclaimer on its website: “This exhibit displays human remains of Chinese citizens or residents which were originally received by the Chinese Bureau of Police. The Chinese Bureau of Police may receive bodies from Chinese prisons. Premier cannot independently verify that the human remains you are viewing are not those of persons who were incarcerated in Chinese prisons.” And just so you don’t miss the irony, the “History of the Human Anatomy” timeline on the same website nonchalantly announces, “1832: As the interest in anatomy grows, England passes the Anatomy Act to offer an adequate and legitimate supply of bodies and prevent body-snatching, grave-robbing, and murdering as means of providing anatomists with cadavers.” It’s the kind of remorseless coup de grace that would make even Hannibal Lecter squirm. 

When you think about it, it’s the same wisdom – or lack thereof – informing exhibits on human anatomy like Bodies and gay hookup sites. Nobody is what they appear to be if you bother reading the fine print. 

Day 35: Perfecting the “Surprise Kiss” from the 1930s is BTS

Posted in Humor, Research, Sex with tags , , , , on July 26, 2008 by Vince

It turns out that my first New England visit a few days ago has been such a hit with A.T. that I’ve been invited for an encore. In roughly three weeks, I will be sampling lobsters in Maine and driving around in Newport, Rhode Island. I’ve mentioned in an earlier post that A.T. is a hottie, so I’ll pretty much be a moth fluttering again to the fire with this second trip. The fact that A.T. is an oenophile and that I am rather easily persuaded when intoxicated might make it hard to stick to the sacrosanct “neck-up” rule the next time, especially when I’ve been forewarned by Dorothy Parker:

I like to have a martini,


Two at the very most.


After three I’m under the table,


after four I’m under my host.

Hmmm…What to do.

At a novelty shop in Provincetown, I picked up a smallish, quaint book called “The Art of Kissing: Tips & Techniques from the 1930s” by a Pietro Ramirez, Sr. knowing that I might have some use for it some day. What I didn’t anticipate was that I would end up having use for it sooner than I thought. The plan is, to distract A.T. from pursuing more advanced modes of sexual behavior, I will have to expand my kissing repertoire and inject as much variety and novelty to it as to be sufficiently entertaining to my host. I will therefore devote the next few weeks to becoming a connosieur of the smooch the old-fashioned way. If Nancy Sinatra’s boots were made for walking, A.T. will be reminded that these lips of mine were made for smooching. Below are the more interesting kissing techniques from the booklet:

The “Vacuum” Kiss

Here you start off by first opening your mouth a trifle just after you have been resting peacefully with closed lips. Indicate to your partner, by brushing his teeth with the tip of your tongue, that you wish for him to do likewise. The moment he responds, instead of caressing his mouth, suck inward as though you were trying to draw out the innards of an orange. If he knows of this kiss variation, your  boy will act in the same way and withdraw the air from your mouth. In this fashion, in a very short while, the air will have been entirely drawn out of your mouths. Your lips will adhere so tightly that there will almost be pain instead of pleasure. But it will be the sort of pain that is highly pleasurable.

When you decide that you have had enough of it, don’t suddenly tear your mouth away. Any vacuum when suddenly opened to air gives off a loud popping noise. The procedure is simply to open first a corner of your mouth. You will hear a faint hissing sound when this is done. Immediately, you will find the pressure in your mouth lessen. The muscles will relax. And a delicious sense of torpor will creep your entire body, giving it a lassitude that is almost beatific.

The “Nip” Kiss

In the “nip-kiss”, the kisser is not supposed to open his mouth like the maw of a lion and then sink his fangs into the delicate flesh of the kissee. The procedure is the same as the ordinary kiss except that, instead of closing your lips with the kiss, you leave them slightly open and, as though you were going to nibble on a delicious tidbit, take a playful nip into either the nape of the neck, the cheek or the lips. Just a nip is enough.

The “Kiss-Tease”

The old story of the fox and the grapes which were tantalizingly dangled over his head is the foundation for the method. Simply, the procedure is this: just before lowering your lips for the kiss, instead of planting the kiss, draw your head back again. Then, hold your lips in readiness but do not kiss. Hold this position for as long as possible, all the while you smile tantalizingly into the eyes of the boy. Finally, when both you and he can stand the suspense no longer, lower your lips, slowly, as slowly as you possibly can, and imprint the seal of love onto the avid mouth of your loved one. After that, the technique calls for no specific action. Kissing, like loving, is instinctive.

The “Surprise” Kiss

A most charming manner of kissing is called the “surprise” kiss. This is performed when one of the parties has fallen asleep, on the sofa, let us say. On entering the room, when the other sees his lover asleep, he should tip-toe softly over to him. Then, lowering his head slowly, he should implant a soft, downy, feathery kiss squarely on his lips. This first kiss should be a very light one. But, thereafer, the intensity of the kisses should increase until the sleeping one has awakened and, of course, even beyond that.

The effect of such an awakening to a sleeper is almost heavenly. For, while in the midst of a dream, a pleasant one, most likely, for it will concern the other half of the couple, he feels vaguely, faintly, as though it were the touch of a butterly’s wing, a subtle kiss on his lips. Naturally, in the depths of his sleep, he imagines that it is part of his dream and the result is a pleasant sensation, indeed. Then, gradually, although still asleep, he feels the kisses continue. And the pleasantness continues. Then, as he starts to come out of his sleep, he realizes that the kisses are too real for a dream. But he is sure that he is dreaming. And so, immediately, a relapse from the happiness sets in and a twinge of sadness comes over him because he knows that, instead of being with his lover, he is only dreaming of him.

Imagine, then, his extreme gratification, when, while thinking these drab thoughts, he feels the actuality of an intense, ardent kiss on his lips. His heart flutters wildly. His pulse runs riot. Perhaps he is not asleep, he argues to himself. Then he opens his eyes. And he sees the darling face of his beloved bending over him. And he feels the sensuous touch of his lips on his. Truly, no awakening can be more pleasurable!

 

It’s time to pucker up.

The Good, The Bad and The Cuddly

Posted in Recreation, Research, Sex with tags , , , on July 21, 2008 by Vince

Prepping for my first-ever Cuddle Party (in New Jersey!)

Like chocolate truffles after a full course meal, nothing beats cuddling after some good ol’ fashioned fudge-packing. But with sex being a no-no for me for the next 65 days, I’m gonna have to start paying more attention to the dessert menu. The only problem is, while nearly every sexual position imaginable – from the trusty missionary to more pretzel-like bodily contortions – has been documented in, say, the Kama Sutra, it’s mostly slim pickings for cuddling connoiseurs. Case in point: Between two girls and one cup, spooning was ironically the farthest thing from their, er, buffet.

Stuck in the limbo of post-coital pleasures for the longest time– down there with having a smoke and playing video games – cuddling is finally getting some well-earned props. Sometime next week, I will be joining an army of devout cuddlers in New Jersey for a cuddle party. A cuddle party is described as “an event designed with the intention of allowing people to experience non-sexual group physical intimacy through cuddling. It’s a social event that gives adults an opportunity to “give and receive welcomed affectionate touch in a no-expectation, friendly setting, according to your needs, desires, interests, and boundaries.” Is that code for “hugging orgy where you keep your PJ’s on”? I can’t wait to find out. I’m a bit worried, though: It’s a slippery slope having warm bodies rub up against you; one strange arm wrapping around the wrong body part and it can all go downhill from there (no pun intended). If it actually goes well, it just might send me into throes of tantric ecstasy. 

Cuddling is definitely an art and the cuddle party in Jersey my experiment to nail down the perfect cuddle position. Questions pop in my head: Where do I stick my other arm while spooning? What makes a good cuddling position better than a bad one – is it larger amount of skin contact, or ability to hold the position for a very long time? How do I keep a cuddling session from devolving into simply “feeling each other up”? I’ll have more than a week to think about these things. Meanwhile, here are the cuddle party rules:

WHAT TO WEAR: Pajamas – nothing too risqué. Think more comfy than sexy. (More drawstrings, less lace. No shorts.)

WHAT TO BRING: A pillow or stuffed animal if you like. Juice or sparkling cider is always welcome. Sorry, no liquor folks. Otherwise, just bring your smiling self.

STICK TO THE RULES:

Rule # 1 – Pajamas stay on the whole time.

Rule # 2 – You don’t have to cuddle anyone at a Cuddle Party, ever.

Rule # 3 – You must ask permission and receive a verbal YES before you touch anyone. (Be as specific in your request as you can.)

Rule # 4 – If you’re a Yes to a request, say YES. If you’re a No, say NO.

Rule # 5 – If you’re a Maybe, say NO.

Rule # 6 – You are encouraged to change your mind.

Rule # 7 – Respect your relationship boundaries and communicate with your partner.

Rule # 8 – Come get the Cuddle Caddy or ME if there’s a concern, problem, or should you feel unsafe or need assistance with anything today.

Rule # 9 – Tears and laughter are both welcome.

Rule # 10 – Respect people’s privacy when sharing about Cuddle Parties and do not gossip.

Rule #11 – Keep the Cuddle Space Tidy

Rule #12 – Thank you for arriving on time.

But what if something comes “up”?

Here’s what they said:

Erections. Erections. ERECTIONS. There, we said it.

Since Cuddle Parties are safe spaces for adults to explore and practice affectionate touch without sexualizing it, and since the state of arousal is natural for us human beings, it’s no surprise that erections sometimes do occur. Our goal is not to teach men how not to get erections. Instead, we want to make normal functions and needs of human beings seem, well, “normal.”

We strive not only to free people of the awkwardness surrounding arousal, but to allow them to develop some real coordination around it. At a Cuddle Party, erections become Mother Nature’s way of giving us the thumbs-up sign. Nothing’s wrong. Nothing’s dirty. Nothing’s suspect. And as long as you’re not dry humping anyone (Rule #7), it’s completely okay. Really.

Wow, guilt-free boners. If I don’t watch it, I might just end up becoming a cuddle whore. I’ll start by rehearsing these six spooning positions (the Post Modern being my favorite). 

Day 34: Going on a Silent Date at the Cloisters is BTS

Posted in Art, Dating, People with tags , , , , on July 20, 2008 by Vince

When it comes down to it, silent dates are a love-it-or-hate-it affair; there can be no middle ground.

If my date and I hit it off, it will be the meet-cute of meet-cutes – Two gay guys in New York City! The Cloisters! Blind date! No talking or touching at all!– easily beating runaway heiress Claudette Colbert and world-weary ex-reporter Clark Gable fighting over the last seat on a bus in “It Happened One Night” or bookshop owner Hugh Grant spilling orange juice all over megastar Julia Roberts’ white crop top in “Notting Hill”. And 38 years and 3 grandchildren later, this: “Grandpa, tell us again the story of how you and Popo [the nickname I’ve picked for my future husband, whoever he will be] first met!” Besides, the story of how the silent date got set up in the first place is destined to be a Craigslist-era classic in itself. (You can read it all over again here.)

If it flops…well, it will just be one long awkward subway ride downtown with someone I’ll probably hate to my last breath. 

Having said that, I’m sure that you, dear reader, would know by now that, as far as I’m concerned, the second outcome is not a possibility, not even remotely. True, it takes a lot of imagination for two gay men meeting for the first time without talking and NOT for a hookup to actually have a good time. But, with my sleeves rolled up and my radiant, pearly-white smile on autopilot, I’m determined to charm the pants off S.D. – in a manner of speaking – without uttering a single word.

The Train Rides They Are A-Changing

Back in the Big Apple after a grand time in New England with A.T., I was up at 7:30 AM for the silent date at 10:30. I’ve never been to the Cloisters, the Met branch located way uptown that was devoted to the art and architecture of medieval Europe. While my mental Hopstop told me that in a perfect MTA world – but who are we kidding, especially since it’s the weekend – I could make it to the 190th St. stop of the A train (which runs express) in 45 minutes, I padded my estimate by half an hour more.  When I got to the subway station, I found out that “due to repairs on the tracks, the A Train will be running local for the weekend.” But of course! I resorted to Plan B: Take the express D train to the 145 st. station and transfer to the A line from there. However, I wasn’t prepared for the Twilight Zone episode that followed. On my three subway transfers, the right train would arrive less than a minute after I’d get to the platform, which meant that I was making very good time. Creepy. It was too good to be true and, like the few times I came close to thinking that I’ve found Mr. Right, I decided to wait for the other shoe to drop with this MTA-of-your-dreams business. Minutes later, it did, to the sheer delight of my schadenfreude: passengers were told that they would have to get off at 168 St. and take the shuttle to 190 St. With that, I breathed a sigh of relief and concluded that everything –its seductive fiction of the perfect man and the perfect train ride included – was all right with New York City.

The Meet-Mute

After a pleasant 10-minute walk through Fort Tryon Park, overlooking the Hudson River and New Jersey, I made it to the upper driveway to the Cloisters a few minutes after 10:30 AM. I wasn’t surprised that S.D. wasn’t there yet since I pretty much lucked out with three-quarters of my subway trip. S.D. finally got there at 10:50 AM, walking up the driveway and all smiles. He didn’t look much different than he did in the photo he-emailed, better-groomed in fact, which is good, though he was a bit shorter than I imagined he would be (not any fault of his). With his build, he looked like a cousin of Robert Downey, Jr. in the sequel to “Gladiator”. He was wearing a purple T-shirt, military shorts and rubber shoes and carrying a pretty big backpack. I flashed him my best “where-are-we-going-camping-and-did-you-bring-the-frisbee” smile before gesturing as if zipping my lips shut. He returned the gesture which, as touching wasn’t allowed, had to do as a handshake.

When we got inside and S.D. started gesturing to the girl at the ticket counter, I looked away, barely able to stifle a smile. I almost wanted to tap him, though, “We didn’t have a rule about not talking to other people, did we?” There were less than a dozen visitors at the entrance hall and, two short turns later, we were in the first of the museum’s five reconstructed cloisters, the Cuxa. A cloister, for those who don’t know, is the heart of a monastery, a covered walkway surrounding a large open courtyard, with access to all other monastic buildings. The Cuxa was partly reconstructed from a monastery in the French Pyrenees in the mid-12th century.

S.D. and I moved around the cloister separately, surveying the different pieces like the column capitals, doorways and a 12th-century French chapter house (or meeting hall for monks) on our own. We would look up every minute or so to see if the date was still around and ackowledge him with a nod or smile. Unbeknownst to S.D., I would snap pictures of him literally behind his back whenever he was close enough. S.D. then walked into the courtyard garden, abloom with flowers, and started smelling three or four different kinds. With a tonsure and a monk’s robe, S.D. could pass off as a Medieval-age saint in the wilderness, a friend of the animals but one who had a secret life where he knew about the birds and the bees a little too well. (Further proof that my lack of sex can induce bizarre, WTF fantasies.) 

Baby, Talk is Cheap

It was becoming increasingly clear to me that the Cloisters was the best possible place to have a silent date at – and also the worst. There’s a solemn, soothing vibe to the whole place; it feels like being on a spiritual retreat. But if you’re into medieval art – and the Cloisters has five thousand works of art from from architectural sculptures and stained glass to metalwork, illustrated manuscripts and tapestries – I doubt that you’d want to keep your orgasmic ecstasy to yourself. More than a few times, S.D. and I would signal to each other to come over and check out a sculpture or a painting. We have somehow coded a spectrum of facial expessions with enthusiastic approval at the extreme left and violent objection at the opposite end.

That was the silent-date dynamic we’ve pretty much established. We would enter a hall together, check out the pieces on display separately (and I’d snap pictures of the pieces I liked), look up to make sure that the other person was still in sight (otherwise, wait for him to get back for a minute or so) and nod off to each other when we feel like moving to the next hall.

When I first checked the time on my cellphone, we were about 50 minutes into the silent date, and we’ve seen a little more than half of the museum. We went downstairs where the Gothic Chapel, Glass Gallery and Treasury were, apart from two other cloisters. For the first time during our tour, there was a painting S.D. seemed totally excited about showing me. It was a portion of “The Mass of St. Gregory” (pictured below) which, I have to say, was about as distracting as the conspiratorial grin on S.D.’s face. Now we all know about the devil working with idle hands, but who knew he could work the same magic with a naughty silent date and an otherwise innocuous religious article?

About twenty minutes later, there was an announcement about a gallery talk starting shortly and that interested visitors should assemble at the entrance hall. I looked expectantly at S.D. and gave him the widest smile I could manage: “Let’s go check that out!”. He smiled back and jokingly threw his arms up in the air: “No, not me please.” I rolled my eyes at him.

When we got to the café (which had its own lovely courtyard), I realized that, in the realm of human communication, if people had to pick two things that they really needed to tell each other, they would have to be:

1)    I’m thirsty – done by patting one’s throat a few times and craning one’s neck and and gesturing as if drinking from a glass (me)

2)   I need to pee – done by pretending to unzip one’s fly (S.D.)

There was a bigger garden adjacent to the café and the flowers were beautiful. More flower-sniffing by S.D. ensued, reinforcing my “birds and the bees” theory about him. He told me to go over to the lavender bed and smell it. Then he asked me to take his picture a certain way. He was gesturing like crazy but I didn’t get what he was trying to say; the other museum visitors were probably wondering why two guys would want to play charades in the Cloisters garden of all places. Then I finally got it. He wanted me to take a picture of him with his hands covering his mouth: “Look, Ma, I’m on a silent date!” Voila!

Word!

At 12:30, we went to the museum shop and I noticed he hung out at one section for 10 minutes. It was the children’s section and S.D. was checking out stained glass coloring book and colored markers. (I remember him emailing about a family get-together the next day so I presume it’s for a niece of nephew.) We left the Cloisters shortly after that; I was actually hurrying to catch a show at Times Square at 2pm. At the bus stop across the entrance to Fort Tryon Park, there was a gay couple waiting with us. They didn’t know I was with S.D. since we weren’t speaking to each other though we were seated together. When S.D. and I started gesturing to each other and showing each other the books we were reading – mine was on Edward Hopper and his were the screenplay of Charlie Kaufman’s “Adaptation” and the new David Sedaris – I looked up and saw the gay couple give me a knowing, ingratiating smile: “Awww, a mute gay couple on a date! How cute!” There we were, the apparent epitome of unconditional love in our (faux) voiceless splendor. 

It took the bus forever to arrive so, when it did, we hopped on it right away. A few blocks later, it occurred to me that it might not actually be the shuttle bus but a regular bus, which goes on a different route. S.D. walked over to the driver and talked to him.  I started panicking and felt bad about breaking the vow of silence but I had to – our date was technically over anyway – and asked S.D., “What did the driver say?” It turned out that S.D. has a sexy, masculine voice. He got off at the next stop since he was spending the weekend in Jersey with family (hence the backpack). The next day, I got an email from him: “I just wanted to say thanks for being my silent date at the Cloisters. I got to fulfill a fantasy of mine – and it didn’t even involve lube! What a treat!”

The Post-Mortem

The fundamental question at the heart of a silent date is really this: Can you possibly establish a connection with another person without using words? As much as I’ve sung the praises of witty repartee as key in creating that spark between two people, my silent date experience made me realize that chemistry does go beyond the trappings of language. When it’s there, it’s there, and the silent date setup magnifies that, a one-of-a-kind experience that only the two of you share. Like an inside joke, but the sensation is much more gratifying. If done with the right partner, a silent date is a fun icebreaker that ratchets up the sexual tension nicely. You can’t wait until the second “speaking” date to debrief and compare notes about the experience.

It takes a certain kind of pair to pull off a silent date, I also realized. Having the same temperament or disposition is key. I could tell that, just like me, S.D. was in touch with his inner kid and had the ideal combo of curiosity, mischief and love of fun to make it work. (The silent date was his idea, after all.) It’s all about attuning to the rhythm of the other person. The silent date could work just as well for two people who are both thoughtful, quiet types. 

Despite my initial misgivings, a silent date is not much different from a conventional date; only it’s done in reverse. The traditional date often starts with dinner or a meal where most of the conversation takes place and is followed by an activity involving the arts, entertainment or a recreational activity, and conversation takes a back seat. Just the same, the shared post-dinner experience is intended to indirectly allow both people to get into each other’s non-verbal rhytym as well as provide fodder for more stimulating conversation afterwards. The silent date creatively upends that sequence, gives it an unpredictable spin and just might be — for romantics with a taste for adventure, like myself — better than sex. 

Day 33: Learning dirty words from George Carlin is BTS

Posted in Humor, People with tags , , , , on July 18, 2008 by Vince

George Carlin – God bless his soul (and he’ll probably hate me for saying so) – is a mouthful. Whenever I feel like expanding my vocabulary, I’ll leave it to Carlin, who lords over in-your-face wordplay as he riffs on civilization as its (most darkly comic) discontent.

I’ve never seen any of Carlin’s standup work – a crime, I know – until A.T. thought of renting one of his recent HBO specials, “Life Is Worth Losing”, for our post-dinner viewing. A.T. had prepped me earlier about Carlin’s stock-in-trade: His angry-man schtick skewered everything from greedy corporations and Vegas to people who send unsolicited pictures of their kids and cereal. The show started with Carlin putting on a master rapper’s show of buzzword-heavy razzmatazz, a fast-talking Derrida exposing how vacuous these catchphrases of the day are.

And then he talked about pussy farts.

That, A.T. said, was vintage Carlin for you, who’s best remembered for his groundbreaking “Seven Dirty Words” routine back in the ‘70s. After pussy farts, who couldn’t buy Carlin as an exceptionally astute observer of human foibles? Now I’ve never heard of such a thing before; I trust that you, dear reader, would know why not for reasons that should be obvious by now. He dished out two more words, which he said we could always hear more of. The first is “dingleberry”, not a cousin of the blueberry or strawberry but an affair that could be avoided with proper toilet training. Then there’s “cornhole”, a term of twisted endearment that may be used as a noun or a verb. Carlin graciously offered to use it as a verb in a sentence: “I love to watch CSI…and I would love to have the chief examiner say…well after they shot him, then they cornholed him about 34 times.” Certainly few men could surpass the brio of Carlin’s metaphorical allusions to the nether regions of the human anatomy and his flourish in delivering them.

Words like these probably won’t end up in your everyday lexicon, but I suspect that the reason why these words – and the ideas behind them – are so hilarious is that laughter dispels the cringes they would otherwise induce. As unsavory and discomfiting these things are, they’re gut-punchingly true. And these three words are just the tip of Carlin’s iceberg; dig deeper and he trains his sharp, unforgiving eye on subjects loftier and more perverted, like political entities and ideological systems.

Carlin is my kind of guy. A man who calls a spade a spade is one thing, but one who refers to the anal orifice as a cornhole is something else entirely – a blue-collar Rushdie who trades in taboos and the fringes of acceptable thought and speech, and one who’s hysterically funny too.

Gay men in New York City could learn a thing or two from Carlin. Forget about the dirty words. Here’s a guy who says what’s on his mind. If he thought something was wrong, he’d come out and say it. If only these basic rules of communication were as popular and highly regarded in gay dating situations, where the parties involved tend to shy away from “unsavory and discomfiting” subjects like, say, where the perpetual cornholing is actually headed. It’s all par for the course for gay men to sleep together for months and not give it a thought – or admit to having it; one of the cardinal rules of “fuck buddy” setups is to avoid letting feelings get in the way. Indeed, some things are easier said than done, but when it involves cornholing and its attendant ramifications? You’d probably hear a pussy fart first before most gay guys said anything.