The Domestic Dumbass (Or, Reason Zach Should Stay Out of Kitchen #364,281)

This is a wild and woolly world we live in, folks, and times (as some old geezer once sang in a pot-induced haze) they are a’changin. There’s the good: we can elect a kinda-black president and gays are kinda allowed to almost marry. There’s the bad: Republicans are still allowed to vote, religious fundies are allowed to reproduce, and rabidly conservative transgendered pitpulls (and ps – please go away, Anne Coulter) are allowed to speak in public. There’s the cool: hybrid and electric autos are puttering Jetson-style down the road, Apple continues to litter the techscape with pretty but sometimes useless new gadgets like the iPad, and, thanks to ever-better wireless internet technology, I can download important web documents (P-O-R-N) in the time it takes to think a dirty thought.

All in all, this change thing? It’s good. I’m all for it. Well, except for the voting Republicans, reproducing fundies, and idea-spouting gender-indeterminate proto-hominid conservative mouthpieces.

I consider myself a pretty modern and with-it guy, readily embracing the systematic dismantling of traditional gendered roles of this modern society. Like my forefathers, I can change a flat tire and fix leaky plumbing (though we’ll conveniently forget that my idea of ‘fixing’ plumbing is copious amounts of crazy glue, which leaves the cabinet beneath my old kitchen sink with more stalactites and stalagmites than Lechuguilla cave). I can grunt and sweat and lift heavy things, take out the trash, and do manly things. I swear so often my damned parrot has a filthy mouth, and I believe MMF fighting, boxing, and hockey are like the greatest sports ever (nevermind the fact they all include sweaty and sometimes mostly naked men viciously bashing each other).

But on the flip-side, I can turn around and vacuum the house, hem my own pants, and make the perfect foo-foo coffee beverage. I’m an excellent decorator. When and if a kid come into the picture, I’ll coddle that precious little gayby with all the sweetness and cutesy-pukey affection in the world. When Lee is finally done with school and heading off to a real job in the mornings, I’ll make his coffee and iron his clothes.

And, as if all that’s not enough to convince you I’ve no qualms with shaking up those traditional gendered roles, I’ll even watch goopy chick-flicks, so long as (a) somebody dies, (b) something is destroyed, or (c), there are hot guys in the film (the latter of these is my excuse for watching an entire Amanda Bynes movie the other day).

All that said, I do believe there are some fundamental boundaries that should not be crossed. Maybe not for everyone, but for me.

Namely, I do not not NOT belong in the kitchen, unless I’m stumbling into aforementioned kitchen in the middle of the night, grumbling in a manly tone while kicking a cat and scratching my nether regions as I forage for beer and late-night snacks, the crumbs of which I will scatter in my bed in the best of Cro-Magnon male tradition.

At the risk of sounding sexist (or something), I firmly believe the kitchen is strictly the domain of women and/or men who are not me. Why? Because I’m a mess in there. Really. It’s tragic, pretty much.

Want proof? Ask the cats, who were laughing in that desultory feline we’re-better-than-you way earlier this afternoon while watching me cursing the new Kuhn Rikon paring knife that wouldn’t properly dice veggies for my instant noodles (I’m a ramen gourmet, doncha know?).

And ask the bird, who surely learned a couple new fun swear words when I realized I was using the knife upside-down.

As one of my favorite traditional male archetypes would say, d’oh.

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Calling Mr. Indecisive, Party of One. Wait…Nevermind.

Well, I did it.

Bright and early this morning, I had the Big Talk with the management of the Gym Chain of Despair. Yep, amid much wailing, pulling at hair, and gnashing of teeth (all on my part, of course), I told Goofy-Face Kyle and Pudgy-Asian Rob that I was leaving for greener pastures. As in any break-up, it wasn’t them, I said, but me…as in it was all about me, me, me and what I wanted.

And now, not even ten hours later, I’m sitting here at home sipping the last of Roommate’s overpriced port (shhhh! Don’t tell her!), listening to the rain fall (Noah didn’t see nothin’ like the rain we’ve had here this past week) and wondering if I really want to go.

Seriously, folks, I’m one flip-flop and a bad set of extensions from being Lindsay Lohan or one trip to India short of being Alanis Morissette post-Jagged Little Pill.

I’m still leaving, of course, setting sail for the fatty foreign shores of McHeartAttack’s (and the irony of departing the Land of the Fit for the Land of the Fat is not lost on me). But now that all is said and done, I find myself feeling unexpectedly sad about parting ways with the House of Artificially-Pumped Muscles.

Why? Didn’t I get exactly what I wanted? Didn’t I come to loathe going into the gym so much every day that in the month I worked there, I actually only went back in my spare time to work out once?

If moving on is what my little heart has yearned so ardently for, why – to quote the weird and great Moby – does my heart feel so bad?

It isn’t because I’ll miss the smell of sweaty feet and sight of hairy middle-aged backs in the locker room (memo to Boyfriend: we’re waxing you if all that hair on your curly little head ever migrates, bison-like, south across the isthmus of your neck and takes up residence on the broad plains of your back in old age). It isn’t because I’ll pine away for the sight of tube-top-clad grannies bopping and flailing around in step aerobics and stretching both their bodies and spandex shorts to the breaking point in yoga (though watching jock boys attempt Downward Dog in clingy nylon basketball shorts, on the other hand, is another story entirely). And it isn’t because I can’t do without the ritual fist-bumps, ass slaps, and bro-tastic homoerotic antics and innuendo of the testosterone-fueled muscle-y young jocks I spend all day chatting with, or spotting aforementioned testosterone-fueled musle-y young jocks and critiquing their form as they sweat out bench presses and squats (well…maybe a little…).

No, I think the second thoughts stem from a far deeper source: somewhere, buried beneath layer upon layer of tough bravado and bluster and sheer cussedness…I don’t like to disappoint people. See, I’m a nice, sensitive, caring guy. I care about how other people feel, dammit. I’m like Mother Theresa and Jesus Christ and the Care Bears all rolled into one.

I feel badly leaving poor Anthony, my Little-Bro-in-Sales with the tight MMA bod and killer tats, to face the wrath of Goofy-Face Kyle and Pudgy-Asian Rob alone when our sales numbers are down. I feel badly leaving Goofy-Face Kyle and Pudgy-Asian Rob to explain to Uber-Boss Dean why another sales guy left so quickly. I feel badly leaving I’m-So-Straight-Bro Trainer Kyle (not to be confused with Dorky-Face Weekend Manager Kyle) without a positive example in embracing his latent homosexicality. And I feel really bad for leaving Shereatha, my large, loud black woman and by far most favoritest client, to sweat diligently on the treadmill every day without someone to tease her and threaten good-naturedly to push the ‘faster’ button on her machine.

The old axiom is true: breaking up is hard to do. I’ve always been bad at it. Hell, I once continued dating a guy five or six months past the expiration date on our relationship just because I started to feel guilty every time I thought about breaking it off with him. But as I learned from that singularly, er, distasteful experience, sometimes you just have to do it and move on. If there’s one thing I’ve learned working in a testosterone-soaked environment like the gym, it’s that sometimes a man’s gotta be a dick and do stuff for himself.

Which is exactly what I’m doing, and before enough time passes that both parties became bitter, resentful, and never want to speak to one another again. Whodathunk being such a good guy would be such an onerous task?

Now, somebody pass me the goddamned port. I need to reward myself for being such a damned saint and breaking up like a may-un.

That’s MISTER Z to You, Bitch: In which, surprising exactly nobody, Zach proves too big for his britches. Again.

Newsflash, folks: Zach has a bit of a boss-man complex and doesn’t suffer fools easily.

*crickets*

What? Can’t you at least pretend to be a little surprised?

Well, fine. Neither can I.

I had a suspicion, when I started this job at the gym, that it might not be exactly my cup of tea. Clue number one was the fact that there’s no funky, trendy coffee joint in the building. No matter what anyone says, low-carb energy drinks do NOT adequately fill the void left by soy raspberry mochas and vanilla lattes served by cute guys in green aprons.

Clue number two was the sheer amount of footwork required in this so-called career. These fancy, shiny leather shoes that I paid way too much for? They are for looking impressively like a fashion store mannequin with chalkstriped modern-fit pants and snazzy ties, not for pounding the pavement for hours a day looking for hapless vict…er…prospective clients. And really…since when did UnderArmour polos – no matter how well they flatter muscley arms and upper bodies – become business attire??

And finally, clue number three was the fact that…well…I’m not the boss. And the guys who are the bosses are testosterone-fueled mental midgets with all the charm and subtlety of used car salesmen who I might or might not have once confided to a coworker of mine (who has long since gone on to more…er…professional…pastures) should, in an ideal world, be fetching me aforementioned raspberry soy mochas instead of trying to tell me what to do.

It’s not that I have a problem with authority figures, people. Okay, I do, but that totally has nothing to do with this. I’ve had really lovely professional relationships with most of my former bosses, and great personal relationships outside the office with the rest of them. And really, I’ve respected every one of them, even if I butted heads constantly with one or two of them when it came to day-to-day job issues and secretly believed they should have been working for me (and no, Scott and Savona, that’s not you. The thought of doing something wrong and earning your disapproval still makes me pee a little bit).

No, what chafes me is the fact that I’m the low guy on the totem pole below glandularly-enhanced meatheads who I would have most likely have dismissed as utterly incompetent in those heady days when I had my own damned office and my own damned projects to oversee.

Yeah, I’ll admit it…I’m not good at playing dutiful sidekick when all my instincts shout that I should be the king of the playground. And really, I don’t do well being told how to do my damned job fifty times a day by pimply fresh college grads to whom the fist-bump is the ultimate tool in their arsenals of team morale management. And also? I’m not all that impressed with those big nice salaries they earn, telling us that maybe someday, if we sell our souls, work eighty bajillion hours a week, and give up any pretense of a social life, we too can achieve. Because honestly? I’ve made a lot more doing a lot less. And while having coffee breaks and wearing pretty trendy ties, to boot.

So yeah…it’s been an…interesting…month or so with the good folks at the Gym Megachain of Death, but I think I’m ready to move on. As much as I love bullying and guilting poor unhealthy folks into overpriced memberships, dispensing fitness advice to naked men with shriveled manbits and bloated bellies and nary a towel to be seen in the lockerroom, and fist-bumping steroidy muscleboys in the weight pit, I think it’s time to take my modest talents and considerable ego elsewhere.

Where? The wonderful world of fast food. Yeah, you heard right. After over a month of hearing ‘well, we still haven’t decided if we’re going to fill the position,’ McFutureCoronaries has finally admitted they need me. And, with the promise of management fast-tracking (at Mickey D’s, at least the manager had the wisdom to actually be impressed by my resumé…), at least I’ll have plenty of people to send across the kitchen to the coffee dispenser. And also, since it’s not commissioned work, I’ll actually have precious time to apply for real jobs back in the lovely world of university administration and to more regularly report back my shenanigans to this blog again.

Now, may I take your order, bitch?

The New Face of 2010 (?)

Hey boys and girls, tis a new year! As you know, the second most awesome and talented and gorgeous member of my immediate family (the first being, well…ummm…do you really have to ask? I mean, she’s good, but come on…) has designed a new header graphic for pro(zach)nation. In honor of the nifty new artwork, the new year, and a return to snarky form after a period of admittedly bleak and non-fun posts (and because I like to change outfits more than Lady Gaga at an awards show), I’ve decided maybe it’s time to play around with the general look of pro(zach)nation.

Since I’m not a computer geek and CSS code is more a mystery to me than that rumored female happy spot, we’re stuck with using standard WordPress templates for now, and they might just keep changing until I find one I actually really like. And since I’m physically incapable of making a decision all by my lonesome, that means YOU get to help out. Like what you see? Tell me. Don’t like it? Tell me.

That’s all.

Time and Punishment: In which Zach contemplates milestones and cutlery. And also the importance of bullet-proof vests.

As my good buddy Dallen – aka Lothar, King of the Hill People – would say: Well, shoot. And dang.

It’s mid-January, folks, so that means it’s that time of the year: another anniversary for me and the ol’ ball and chain. And since (as people constantly remind me whenever I write out the date on anything lately) it’s 2010, that means it’s anniversary number two.

To those of you residing in Straightsville (population: most of the world…ostensibly), two years might not seem like that much. Heck, isn’t two years about how long it takes you gals to get your men to take out the trash and rake the yard? And don’t you wait about that long for your wimmenfolk to put on their faces to go out for the evening, gents? Yes…in your world, two years might seem like nothing.

In Homotown (not to be confused with Lezville, where happy little gay girls are betrothed before birth, move in at first meeting, and are married before the flannel hits the floor), two years is considerably longer.

Gay years, when it comes to relationships, are a lot like dog years, in fact: for every one year you have, we have seven. Just as you’re celebrating your six-month anniversaries, we’ve met, courted, wrung the life out of each other, bitterly parted, had a wild string of post-relationship flings, met another guy, and done the whole thing over again three or four dozen times. By the time we hit our mid-twenties, our abs aren’t so tight and we’re pushing middle age and missing our ill-spent youths; at twenty-nine we’re lining up for our social security benefits and playing bingo at the old folks’ home. Precisely at the stroke of midnight on our thirtieth birthdays, we fall down dead and go poof, disappearing in a cloud of glitter and leaving behind only a pair of designer undies on the ground to mark our passing.

Or so conventional thought runs.

But really, all kidding and blatant stereotyping aside, two years feels like an accomplishment. In some ways it seems impossible to believe it’s been that long already; in others, it’s amazing that it’s gone on so long. I mean, I’ve never exactly been the relationship kind of guy. One poor schmuck made it to ten whole months, once, but aside from that anomaly I was perfectly content to play and play and play the field. Actual loving relationships were just so…boring.

And then Boyfriend came waltzing along.

The Lovely Willow and I were talking about this the other night, as she was getting ready to go out on yet another sleepover…er…date…with yet another guy (btw – Stella? She ain’t got NO groove on compared to my little Miss Thang…). How did she know if she liked a guy or if she really liked a guy? As in, liked enough not to sleep with…er…date…other men anymore? And what, she asked, was the secret to our relative longevity?

Well, I’ve thought about it long and hard, and I’ve realized it’s all about the challenge. See, not to put too fine a point on it, but my boyfriend can be an asshat. I mean, he really, really can be. He can be sweet and amazing, but when he really wants to be, he’s a loud-mouthed, snotty little shitstain. He can be rude, obnoxious, mean, and downright ornery. As for me…well, yeah. We all know my penchant for running my mouth, my flash temper, and my general condescending misanthropy. I’m not an easy person to be around all the time. In fact, I’d say I’m about a thousand times harder to live with than he is.

And somehow, that works. Lee and I keep each other on our toes. He challenges me. He intrigues me. Yeah, he drives me right up to the brink of Lorena Bobbitt-esque insanity every now and then, and he can irritate the living hell out of me. He can make me quake with heretofore-unknown things I always equated to lesser men: jealousy, vulnerability, infatuation…emotion. He can bring out the very worst in me, like making me unfairly want to hate a person with every fiber of my being merely by spending time with that person instead of with me (and yes, that’s as close to a real apology this jerk makes to Lee’s much-maligned roommate, who really isn’t so bad and I do actually like deep down and who may or may not have accidentally found and read my blog the other day, for which I feel profoundly sorry but am too much of an asshat to say anything to about). And on the other hand, he can make me want to challenge myself to be a better person…and I think it’s all 100% reciprocal.

That, I think, is the key to it all – it’s the challenge that makes it all go ’round. See, I’ve been in loving, nurturing relationships with genuinely nice guys. I’ve had boyfriends who have simply put up with me, who’ve never crossed me, who’ve put me on a pretty little pedestal and who’ve never ever fought with me. And those relationships? They’ve never lasted. They’ve always bored me to the point of ennui. Oh, yes…Lee and I have more than our share of those sappy settled-old-couple moments, and I cherish them dearly. Maybe, though, a little emotional carnage now and then is necessary.

So…here’s to Boyfriend, who, for the past two amazing, blissful, sometimes infuriating, but always passionate years, has managed to be the center of my world.

Now…where’d I put those damned kitchen knives and handcuffs?

Hello! Good-bye! See ya real soon!

Hiya peeps. Whew…it’s been a whirlwind around here lately. New year, new job, new job stresses, new job triumphs, an impending big anniversary, an amazing early anniversary present, an all-too-short visit with an amazing and special friend…and no friggin’ time to post about any of it right now. I’ll catch you all up soon – I solemnly swear this on my firstborn baby snow monkey’s tail (and that’s another story for another time…stay tuned, huh?).

In the meantime, I wanted to preview what will soon (as in, once I have time to fiddle around with the blog a bit) be the new face of pro(zach)nation. Thanks to dear baby sister and budding artist Petunia Rose for this piece of photoshopped goodness.

And also, I wanted to say thanks to all of you – despite my recent blogging unprolicifity (yes, that’s a word, as of…oh…two seconds ago), viewership of this little ol’ blog hit a new all-time record following my last entry. Yep…we’ve hit *gasp* triple-digits, folks. Thankee kindly.

See y’all real soon!