Friday, April 21, 2006

Who Do You Want to Play You in the Movie?

George ClooneyWe have a couple of good friends, lesbians, who are about 10 years older than we are. So, they’re boomers, we’re x-ers, they’re dog people, we’re cat people, they’re lesbians, we’re dykes...we still get along pretty well. (oh, fine, I’m well aware that I’m not nearly butch enough to be a dyke, don’t rub it in.)

We’ve known each other for about 10 years now; Boo and, well, let’s call her "Brigid" for reasons soon to be made clear, both sing in OVMC. Her partner, whom we’ll call "Maya", is a bit more like me – introverted, but living with a big ol’ extrovert. "Maya" has recently turned 50, and the last few years have been times of upheaval in a life that's had quite a lot of it, all told. She's had two children by two different fathers, only one of whom she married. "Brigid" is her first (and I believe only) long term female partner. Several years ago she attained and began maintaining her sobriety; she has worked for many, many years as a chemical treatment counselor. We’ve watched her daughter finish high school and move on to college; we’ve seen her son grow from towheaded ten-year old little-leaguer to a gigantic, strapping, six-two high school junior and baseball player.

In the past three years, Maya's been pursuing a Master's degree in therapeutic uses of art, which has given her reason and cause to explore her own artistic impulses in new ways. She’s taken up painting and writing, while also taking on a new career as a chemical treatment instructor at the technical college, all while continuing her Master's coursework. So, big changes, big challenges. Part of her schooling led her into a playwriting class with Kim Hines, and, for her first script ever, she took on the enormously difficult task of trying to write an autobiographically-inspired play combining the themes of hers and Brigid’s struggles to become parents again, and the death of her spiritual mentor from breast cancer. I’m very supportive of her efforts, but didn’t think it likely she would be storming Broadway soon.

I had been warned before she sent me a draft to review that Boo and I are characters in this play, and I knew immediately which of the two themes we would figure in. Some years back, when the gals had exhausted significant financial resources trying to get Brigid pregnant with donor sperm, they decided to pursue other sources of sperm closer to home. From people they knew. With an abundant, and largely unnecessary, supply. Where one of the people had even been a donor previously in college and sort of knew the drill. And who only lived about 12 minutes away. I think you know where this is going.

I’m often nervous when asked to review friend’s artistic works. I mean, what if I don’t like it? What do I say? Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised and impressed. For a first work, I’m frankly amazed that she managed to compress all this personal history into a three-act play at all – hell, I’ve been rambling weekly on for almost a year now, and haven’t crammed in as much content. In reviewing, I suggested some minor thematic challenges to resolve, corrected a few grammar and spelling errors, and worked on her horrifyingly inconsistent formatting – Microsoft Word really isn’t intuitive to use, is it? Well, more job security for me, I guess. I set up five styles and she was good to go.

She managed to work it all up into three intertwining themes and stories, backlit by the notion of the triple-goddess (maiden, mother, crone). Which is nicely artistic, but what impresses me most is her ability to honestly and truthfully put forth her own maternal rage as Brigid (the eternal, yet impure, maiden) fails again and again to become pregnant no matter how desperate their efforts; and to touch again her pain and impotence when her best friend Rhea (the wise, yet foolish, crone) dies from cancer and is not reborn. Sounds incredibly dire, doesn’t it? It’s surprisingly witty and amusing. Oh, sure, there’s some devastating moments, but overall, it’s hopeful, and really very cheering about the human condition.

So, Boo and I have now been commemorated in stage characters. We are two of five significant characters in the play, and the only men – the three principal roles are Maya, Brigid, and Rhea (for this post, I’ve decided to just stick with her character names). Our characters are named Ed (that’d be me) and Tony (that’d be Boo). We’re also part of the comic relief...the scene where they ask us if we will be sperm donors turned out very cute, but honest - it more or less jibes with the way I remember the events. A bit later on our characters show up in some scenes in which we were not present, but that’s to keep the actors in the play to a reasonable number – our characters basically take the place of some folks who were there at those events in real life, but didn’t get written into the play. So fair enough. (And, because it somehow seems appropriate: neener, neener!)

Well, I read the draft about a month ago, and right about when I sent it back, she sent me an invitation to, get this! A staged reading of it! By professional actors! Directed by Kim Hines! Awesome!

That was this past Monday, which is when theaters are usually dark, and actors are available. Oh, it was cool! Reading a play is one thing, but seeing it performed? Oh, yeah. The brilliant Beth Gilleland played Maya, well-supported by Angie Haigh as Brigid and Mary Keepers as Rhea.

Ed was portrayed by Charlie Bethel. Well, I don’t think I can describe the feeling of seeing yourself portrayed by someone else whom you’ve never met. It’s kind of cool, but kind of eerie too. I could recognize what "I" had just said, but didn’t really know what "I" would say next. Or why I would be saying it "that way." Fortunately, I had every reason to be pleased: Mr. Bethel gave a restrained, gentle performance.

Which would not be the case for the actor portraying "Tony." Boo, unfortunately for him, had chorus rehearsal and has missed too many rehearsals already this season to miss anymore and still get to perform in June. So he couldn’t go. I’m thinking that may have been fortuitous for the actor who portrayed Tony.

Shall we think for a minute about what the actor had to work with as a description?

Tony: Gay male in his 30’s. Partner of Ed, flamboyant, storyteller. Originally from the south.

Gay, flamboyant, from the south...oh, surely there’s no way an actor could go wrong there, is there?

Oh. My.

Worst southern accent since, well, just about anybody in the second act of Auntie Mame. I won’t even go into his other "choices."

Laughed! My! Ass! Off!

I’m a very bad boyfriend.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

You said you want Too Much Information?

Blah blah, mature content, blah blah. Click elsewhere if you are not mature.

Got this off of Scotty’s The Other Side of Straight. He got it from Bent Collective who got it off of Sam's Live Journal site. This is the all powerful and hard hitting BIG GAY MEME! Well, what's life without a bit of hyperbole...

  1. How old were you when you knew you were gay?
    I remember being interested in boys as early as 6 years old but wasn't aware that it was being gay. In seventh grade, I was aware of being attracted to other boys, but it didn’t really seem sexual yet. By ninth grade I was definitely aware of the physical attributes of guys, and was very emotionally attracted to "one particular guy". At 16, I had gay sex, lots of it. By 18, I was pretty sure I was gay. And that that "one particular guy" wasn’t.

  2. Have you ever had sex with the opposite sex?
    No. Some heavy drunken grappling on the lawn by the observatory after a kegger my freshman year in college was as close as I got. And we kept our clothes on for the most part.

  3. Who was the first person you came out to?

  4. Are you out to your family?

  5. Do you want children?
    We thought about it for a few years. I’ve pretty much decided to devote my creative and nurturing energies in other directions, however.

  6. Do you have more gay friends or straight friends?
    Far more gay friends, at least in real life. Online, it’s probably the opposite. It took me years before I met straight people I felt I could trust. Even now I can count the number of straight male friends I know "in the flesh" on one hand.

  7. Were you out in school?
    High school, hell no. College, yes. I was active in the gay-lesbian community group, and served in a couple of leadership positions.

  8. Is your best friend the same sex as you?
    Yes. He’s my partner, my spouse, my best friend. My Boo.

  9. If your best friend is the same sex, have you ever had sex with them?
    Well, yeah.

  10. Have you ever done crystal meth?
    Fuck no. I’m not a prude about mood altering substances, but I’m not an idiot, either.

  11. Have you ever been in a sling?
    No. I’ve done some other “special menu” items, but I find sex games aren’t for me so much. They detract from the emotions of the experience for me, and those are far more interesting to me. One of the hottest things I ever did was with this guy I’d just met who wanted to “pretend we’re in love.”

  12. Have you ever done a 3-way?
    Yup. And 4. And 5, and 7. And 22. And some where I didn’t keep count. I'm not proud of it, but...oh, hell yes I am.

  13. Have you ever dressed in drag?
    In the privacy of my own home. I have a very masculine body and face and it doesn’t work well, though I look good in eye makeup.

  14. Would you date a drag queen?
    I have. It was a fling, and I don’t know if I could have a long term relationship with someone who was truly transgendered female. I’m very attracted to masculine energy. Therefore it stand to reason that I find some FtM dudes are pretty hot. Of course, this is all theoretical, since I’m not looking for anyone to date.

  15. Are you a top/bottom or truly versatile?
    Versatile. Although I tend to find this kind of conversation kind of limited. There are lots of kinds of sex that make those kinds of terms pointless and boring. It’s almost the worst question to raise with me if you really want to have sex with me. My stock answer is “you’ll know when you need to know.” Which will probably be never.

  16. Have you seen an uncircumcised penis?

  17. Have you had sex with someone of a different ethnicity?

  18. Have you ever barebacked?
    Yes. But to be fair, I was out and active before AIDS was a known threat. I’ve been much more circumspect since then, and slips have been seldom and I’ve been very lucky (and horrified) when I slipped.

  19. How many Cher CDs do you own?
    None. I think my sister has our childhood LP of Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves from about 1971. Thank you Columbia House, and "12 LP's for a penny!".

  20. Name of your first love?
    Redacted. See question 1. Though he shares the same name as a famous billionaire.

  21. Do you still talk to him/her?

  22. Does size matter?
    Not particularly. It’s not owning the equipment; it’s knowing how to use it.

  23. Biggest turn on?
    I’m a mild voyeur and an exhibitionist. See question 12.

  24. Biggest turn off?

  25. Ever been harassed due to you orientation?
    Sure. Been called “faggot” at Southdale by suburban wannabe-thugs. I don’t find that threatening – it’s just insecurity, and it makes me chuckle. Plus I was walking arm in arm with a guy. I mean, did they think I didn’t realize?

    One Halloween downtown, some suburban dude in his lacrosse outfit (so imaginative) stuck his stick in my groin as we passed each other, barely missing the jewels. Our respective friends dragged us off in opposite directions before I started swinging at him. Don’t remember what I was wearing. It may have been my “sassy devil” outfit.

  26. Worst gay stereotype that applies to you?
    That I’m over emotional and slightly effeminate. Tends to make me overcompensate in the macho asshole department on occasion (see question 25).

  27. Ever been to a pride rally?
    Yes, several. And I used to have a good time before they became all about target marketing.

  28. Would you marry if you could?
    Yes. We already had a community ceremony with our friends and family. It would be nice if the government would stop discriminating against us and giving straights special rights.

  29. Would you rather be rich and smart or young and beautiful?
    Hell, I don’t know. I liked being younger, but I wasn’t as smart as I am now. I’ve never been classically beautiful, but I’ve been sexy, and I’ve been with lots of beautiful guys. I’ve never been rich. It might make a nice change.

  30. Do you sculpt your eyebrows?
    No, just trim the long ones.

  31. Do you trim your body hair?
    I periodically run the trimmer over my front, cutting everything down to about ¼ inch. Just looks and feels more groomed. If you’re not classically beautiful, grooming counts.

  32. Ever had sex with more than one person in a day?
    Ha, ha, ha. See item 12 above. My personal daily orgasm record is 12, but that involved only one other strangely beautiful and wonderful person. We talked and had sex, and talked, and had more sex for about 7 hours straight.

  33. Ever been to an orgy?

  34. Have you dated your best friend's ex?
    Again, and again. Funny how that works out sometimes.

  35. Would you vote for Hillary Clinton if she ran for president?
    Dunno. At this point I’d vote for anyone who wants to end the war and restore civil liberties in this country, and isn’t in the pocket of the religiously bigoted. I don’t think Ms. Clinton would be the best the Democrats could do, however. But they’re a scattered mess right now.

  36. Do you want monogamy in your relationships?
    For the most part yes. My earlier relationships were more open, but I’m a bit too insecure for regular polyamory, and it takes too much mental effort. But I don’t think the occasional sexual fling means things are over. Both Boo and I have had our slips, but it’s not the end of the world. I think I’d prefer not knowing as long as it’s meaningless.

  37. Do you believe in true love?
    I believe in love. Do y’all play The Sims 2? The Romance sims are fascinating to me – they strike other players as being giant horndogs, thinking about nothing but sex. But the reality is that they can’t sleep with anyone unless they’ve fallen in love first, and there’s reciprocation by the other party. And jealousy rears its head whenever two or more of their beloveds are in the same room. To me they’re the most complex, and most human of the sim types to play. And the hardest.

    I fall in love easily. I love people generally. I’ve loved many men, in many ways. But I don’t believe that being in love is the same as wanting to live with someone, or share my life’s experiences with a partner. That’s a different, related, and much more complicated emotion. I’m starting to wonder if you can even have that life-sharing feeling without necessarily being in love.

  38. Do you have any tattoos?
    Nope. Interferes with reinventing yourself every few years, I would think.

  39. Do you have any piercings?
    Nope. I pierced my own left nipple several years ago, but got tired of it within a few months.

  40. Would you date a smoker?
    Not seriously.

  41. Do you get HIV tests every 6 months?
    Not that often. You have to be having sex to make it worthwhile, and after all, I’m married and over 40...

  42. Do you know anyone who has died from H.I.V.?
    HIV? No. AIDS? Yes. Jesus. So many.

  43. Do you know what Stonewall was?
    You're kidding, junior.

  44. Strangest place you have had sex?
    Cemetery? Church basement? Public beach?

  45. Strangest place you've woken up?
    Probably the apartment of the North Central Bible College student with whom I had a post-disco hot fling. The giant Jesus posters and Christian pop music were a bit disconcerting.

  46. Are your best years behind or in front of you?
    Don’t know. I’m always uncertain about the future, and unnerved by the past.

  47. Favorite porn movie?
    Hmm. While there are lots that are hotter, it’s hard to beat Stryker Force for being a campy laugh as well.

  48. Are you in love now?

  49. Ever been in love with a straight guy/girl?

  50. Did you ever have sex with him/her?

  51. Have you ever been to a nude beach?

  52. Have you ever been to a bath house?

  53. Ever had sex in public?

  54. Have you ever gotten into a relationship for Money or Security, instead of Love and Friendship?
    No. It’s all about love for me in this lifetime.

  55. Have you ever stayed in a relationship for Money or Security, instead of Love and Friendship?

  56. Have you ever keyed someone’s car?
    No. But I’m tempted when I see Hummers.

  57. Have you ever fantasized killing someone not famous?
    Dunno. Are local politicians famous?

  58. Have you ever witnessed someone dying?
    Aren’t we all in the process of dying? Alright, I know what you mean. I’ve been around the sick, the elderly, and the terminal. But I’ve never been there for the final ending.

  59. Have you ever contemplated suicide?

  60. Are you glad you're still here?

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Should I Stay, or Should I Go Now?

A week or so ago, some ugliness erupted in a forum on which I’ve participated, between two online friends I’ve had for some years. More disturbing, they’ve been friends themselves for some years. I was right in the middle of the whole conversation. In fact, I posted right in the middle of the whole conversation - a desperate call for some moderation that went pretty much ignored. I saw both before- and after- edited (and deleted) posts. Both sides got extremely ugly with each other. I know which post triggered the barrage (now deleted), and I know all that was said from the start to the finish. I don't hold either person to blame for "starting it" or for "finishing it". What I am concerned about is how the middle went down.

This really troubles me. Maybe this kind of thing happens between meat-friends and I'm just blissfully unaware of it. I've seen friends fight in person, but there are lines that don't get crossed, and there is room for apology afterward, if the friendship is valued. In my admittedly-limited world, it generally is and it survives.

But I see things fly out of all proportion in web fora all the time - there is serious difficulty in navigating the written word and the emotional flatness of the medium. This is a known fact. The thing is, in my perception, these two friends of mine have been very close friends for years. The kind of friendship I envy and crave, to be baldly honest. When I have that kind of friendship, I feel it's really important to me to protect it, and most importantly, to give someone the benefit of the doubt and maybe a “You said what? That hurt me! Care to explain?!” No one ever hurts us as much as those we care about - no one else has the weaponry - but those who care about us make every effort to heal the pain they cause.

In the emotionally flat world of the written word, I feel it’s extremely important not to get out the heaviest artillery you can muster and hurt, and hurt, and hurt someone every way you can. When someone does this in writing, there is no emotional temperance, no “this hurts me as much as it does you”, no visible tears, no shocked lip, no seeing the face of your victim at all. I understand the damage done is probably permanent in this case. If I ever really want to annihilate someone emotionally, I think we’ve learned there’s no substitute for doing it in writing.

And I don’t want that to happen to me. I love all of my friends on DwS, Peoplesforum... But I have to face that some people have the goods on me at this point, and some day, I may be the person who misunderstood someone’s post and said something stupid. Or posted something that came across as insensitive. And I could be really in for some big pain if someone gets out the big guns.

It's not the people so much, it’s the medium. I don't think people know when to stop in writing. When to walk away and dial the phone. When to take it off line.

It's got me not trusting what I thought I had very much, and thinking that I’'ve been fooling myself in a lot of ways. That these online communities may be nothing but houses of cards, sustained and built of the quick and sometimes easy intimacy bred of a certain anonymity. Fraught with all the vulnerability that any intimacy can bring. But so delicate, and so endangered from the wrong word, the poorly chosen jest, the angry post. So fragile.

You have no idea if there are tears in my eyes or a smile on my face as I write this. It’s open to interpretation. And that’s a fear I'm finding I must face before I can commit to staying around. I've primarily withdrawn from my main group right now, but that’s just because it’s the community I feel closest to. But I have my doubts about all of it, honestly.

I'm not sure yet what I'm going to do. What would you do? I’ve been in kind of a holding pattern for a week or so – I’ve really been too busy this week to make a decision. One of the participants has not been seen online since the argument, the other is a forum host, and has been acting pretty much like nothing has happened. This weekend was my self-imposed deadline to get on with things – either as a full participant again, or walking away for a few weeks, months…maybe ever…

Along for the Ride

I had the best intentions of posting earlier this week, but it’s been kind of crazy-busy - it's one of those weeks where Boo and I hardly saw each other during waking hours from Monday through Friday. And nothing large is going on, so that makes it more of a struggle as well. So, here’s the lowdown – It’s Spring!

Every year in Minnesota, there’s a day in April that you are outside, perhaps driving to work, and you realize something is different than yesterday. What could it be…. OMG, all the lawns are green! It literally happens overnight, without warning. Ka-GREEN! That day was yesterday. Which usually means we’re about two or three weeks from the day we’ll wake up and all of the trees and bushes will have gone Ker-LEAF! and the streets will be shaded, and the ugly houses that you can’t help but notice all winter long will vanish again, and the temps will just be reaching the high end of the balmy stage. And, frankly, I’m so ready.

I’ve been scootering all week, even though I really need to get an oil change done before I put too many more miles on. It’s still viciously cool in the morning – generally between 30 and 35 Fahrenheit, but I can’t resist knowing it’s going to be between 50 and 60 by afternoon. Riding my scooter always puts a smile on my face, even if the bitter wind is making my eyes stream like the ending of Greg Araki’s Totally F***ed Up. Since I work downtown, and since my motorcycle tag means I can’t legally park on sidewalks, I needed to find a place to park reasonably close to my office.

So I went and got a parking permit for the big lot on the Capitol Complex, which always seems to be more effort than it needs to be. Yes, I know that it’s absolutely shocking, unheard of, that I don’t have a car. That I haven’t been on some waiting list for 8 months to get a precious parking spot. That I go everywhere either on scooter, the bus, or the largesse of my vehicle-owning friends. That I do not now, nor will I ever need to park a car in your precious and limited-space lots – I just need to park my tiny 300 lb bike in that unusable space next to the bike lockers. Yes, I know that it’s a pain in your ass to have to find out the special contract rate that applies, apparently, to me alone in all of the state. On the other hand, that’s your job. Deal with it.

I never really set out to a member of the car-less set. But it’s worked out that way, and the longer I do it, the more I appreciate not having to deal with a car and all that it entails. When Dave and I first moved in together back in our junior year of college, we lived in Northfield and could pretty much walk or bicycle anywhere in town. When I became a senior and a move to the cities looked pretty imminent, he started car shopping. He settled on a wholly impractical but rapturously cute Opel GT with a fresh red paint job. He kept it for a couple of years, and I drove it very occasionally for the rare longer commute to a temp job or employment interview, until a bit of metallic grit started showing up in the oil, and we feared the end was near and likely to be most unattractive. Since we were living near the U where he was attending and working, and we were on a busline right into downtown, and I was already taking the bus to get to the VA and most everywhere else, we did not replace it.

When we broke up, he bought a small pickup truck; I simply moved closer to downtown and bought a bicycle. When I moved in with Michael, we stayed in the neighborhood, and he too was carless, but soon decided he needed a vehicle. So he got the first of a series of small “economy” coupes, which periodically conspired to eat huge chunks of our already thinly-stretched finances. Whether it was replacing a window broken out by luckless, but nevertheless annoying thieves, repairing a heating system that suddenly decided to start spewing steamy coolant-scented air into the passenger compartment (not a good way to defrost the windshield), reserving a winter parking spot in our crowded urban neighborhood, or simply paying the 6-month premium for an under-25 year old male, money was constantly flying out of the joint account to accommodate the endless hungers of vehicle maintenance. I grew to hate the evil things with an abiding loathing. Mind you, I love driving – it’s relaxing, it’s fun, it’s nice to get out of the cities once in a while, but everything else about it purely and simply sucks like a giant sucking thing that sucks.

Just as I finished my schooling for my education license, Michael and I bid each other a fond adieu, and unfortunately, I found that I needed to own a car of my own if I really intended to substitute teach until I found a permanent teaching job. After struggling with the math of the situation, I found myself in the position that most every late 20-something hates – on the receiving end of the largesse of my parents. They gave me their five year old Subaru, and Dad purchased his first motorcycle. Boo and I had one of our first bonding experiences as we drove the Subaru back from Oregon to Minnesota in March about 12 years ago.

The trip was a beauty, through deeply-foggy Idaho, where we could seldom see more than 20 feet of the roadside. Breathtaking Utah, where Boo’s friend Kerri dragged us up into the Wasatch above Salt Lake City for brunch and sunlit, snow-covered views to stop your heart. On into Colorado where Boo conveniently neglected to mention the avalanche that had closed portions of the road the previous week and through eastern Colorado where the flatness begins, and the one stop we made for gas made us quickly realize why so many horror movies are set in the vacant American reaches of desert and emptiness populated by racists, isolationists, Bible-beating crazies, and redneck truck drivers. We paid for the gas, ran for the car, locked the doors, rolled the windows, and drove as quickly as we could on into Nebraska. Which looks pretty much like eastern Colorado – featureless flat for miles and miles and miles. Yet unlike Colorado, Nebraska has sculpture gardens at its roadside rest stops. No, really, it does. We stopped at one without realizing this, at about dusk, and after obviating the necessaries, suddenly realized there was an odd, lurching, shape jutting up out of the field next to the building. Closer by, was another strange, uh, thing. “Huh.” We remarked. Naturally, we had to check the next rest stop to see if this was an isolated thing. This is where we found the plaque describing the phenomenon, and, of course, this greatly slowed our progress through Nebraska as we then had to stop at almost every rest stop to view the art. We spent the night in Omaha (well, technically Council Bluffs, but we’ll pretend it was Omaha, okay?), and had the largest and cheapest breakfast we’ve ever attempted to eat, at some diner in Old Town that I can’t remember the name of anymore. We were amazed at the low prices of antiques, art, and collectibles in the nearby galleries, but had no money to spend. So back on the road. Iowa passed without incident, and, of course, as soon as we got within Minnesota proper it started snowing. By Albert Lea, it was a virtual blizzard, and remained heavy and slow going for the remainder of the four hours it took to drive this normally 90 minute route.

We got back into Minneapolis, and Boo promptly had a little fender bender with a street sign. Fuck.

That poor Subaru. We tried, really we did. But we had to park it on the street by our apartment building. It got hit and run twice that first winter alone. Also, as it aged, the maintenance costs became more expensive as well as more capricious. Further, there was Boo’s “car curse” to contend with. This is a long story that he should probably tell, but he is cursed. The stories involving him behind the wheel are both terrifying and numerous. Grouchbutt can back this up. Ask him about the "flying wheelbarrow" incident. The previous paragraph should have come as no surprise had I already known Boo's history. Of course, if I had, he’d have never been allowed to drive.

We got a lot of use out of the Subaru, and even drove it to Atlanta and back for Boo’s sister’s wedding one August, but it always felt like we were on borrowed time. The final straw involved Boo running late to pick me up at work, an entrance ramp, the Subaru’s hood flying up suddenly and inexplicably and wrapping itself over the top of the windshield, and the simultaneous perforation of the exhaust system. I continued to drive it for a few more months, but it was never the same with its hood tied down with rope, the exhaust blatting out at an ear-splitting decibel range, and most of the body threatening to rust off at any moment.

Since then I have been without a car, aside from the occasional rental. Boo let his license lapse, which is probably safer for everyone. We bus to work, and to run errands, and to our various hobbies and entertainments. Friends drive us from time to time, though we prefer to not rely on this. Initially, I thought I might get another car, but the longer I didn’t the happier I became not owning one. Aside from the avoidance of fuel price increases, rush-hour snarls and road rage, we have avoided the expenses of car payment, insurance payment, maintenance. Ah, maintenance. The out-of-the-blue $600 charges. That I do not miss.

Scooter arrived out of necessity. Two years ago, the drivers at MetroTransit went on strike, and the problem with having the bus as sole means of transportation became readily apparent. After renting a series of vehicles for five weeks, I decided my credit card could stand no more. So I did some quick research and bought my Metropolitan the week before Easter 2004. It’s been love ever since. My insurance is $80 a year. I get 90 miles to the gallon. I go all over town at 35 miles an hour. The first year I put 3200 miles on it between April and December, when it finally snowed enough to make me stop.

I mailed my final payment this past week. She’s mine, all mine. Come on, warm weather. I’m ready.

PS: In other news of good things happening for Grouchbutt's birthday, this made me very happy. I hope that useless ignorant bitch and I aren't parking in the same lot.