July 29, 2009

the leg hair problem

I've been struggling with an identity problem for the last few years. The problem is about women's leg hair.

I've been a feminist ever since I bothered thinking about it. I believe women should enjoy the same rights and opportunities that men do. Accordingly, I don't think it's fair to ask women to do things that we wouldn't ask of a man. For example, if I ever have a kid, I won't expect my partner to quit her job and stay home. Or if I ever get married, I won't expect my wife to change her name. (Now if she wants to be a stay-at-home mom or take my last name, I'm open to it. But the point is I wouldn't want someone to demand those things of me, so I'm not demanding them of my future wife.)

Which is where leg hair comes in. For whatever reason, women with leg hair have been incredibly marginalized in this country. I don't think I'm any different from the overwhelming majority of men when I say I'm not sure I could be attracted to a woman who doesn't shave. Sure, there are hairy women living in communes in New Mexico or whatever, but for the most part, you just don't see any women with leg hair. I don't know a single woman who doesn't shave her legs regularly.

Of course it's also true that many women like their hairless legs. Maybe shaving is a minor pain in the ass, but they like the way it makes their legs look and feel. It's become such a normal part of their grooming routine that it doesn't bother them.

Which is fortunate, because I think their lives would be a lot different if it did bother them. Either they would continue to shave in spite of the bother, in which case every morning (or every 3 days or whatever) would be a reminder of this stupid, sexist thing they feel compelled to do. Or they would quit shaving their legs. But if they did this, it seems pretty clear--and please tell me if I'm wrong in believing this--that their romantic and professional lives would be very, very different from what they are now. Imagine a college girl, single and soon to be looking for a job. How many potential employers would immediately write her off? What percentage of single guys would do the same?

I did know a girl in high school who didn't shave her legs, although no one knew about it because she wore jeans everyday. But wearing jeans to hide the hair is every bit the acknowledgment that it's not okay for women to have leg hair that shaving is. So the college girl could just wear a pantsuit or dark pantyhose to her job interviews, but she'd be doing so precisely because she's aware of the taboo and fears the consequences of breaking it.

Anyway, the social requirement that women shave their legs is inherently sexist. There's no such requirement, or even anything analogous, that men have to deal with. And the fact that I consider myself a feminist is where the identity crisis comes in. As I mentioned earlier, if I'm honest with myself, I'm not sure I could be attracted to a woman with leg hair. So if having leg hair is a deal-breaker for me, then I'm asking something of my date that I wouldn't want her to ask of me.

Fortunately, this is a pretty minor identity crisis. The rule against women's leg hair is so powerfully followed that it hasn't cost me anything. None of my girlfriends has ever approached the leg hair issue with me, and I've been happy to let them keep right on shaving. I even told one of them about my qualms; she understood my point, but she still chooses to shave.


All these things were bothering me, in a very low intensity sort of way, until last weekend. I was walking down St. Mark's Place with my sister one afternoon and we passed a very pretty girl tying her shoe. And she had leg hair. As we kept walking, I kept thinking about her legs. The hair was immediately noticeable, but it didn't look gross at all. It wasn't very long and it wasn't as thick as men's leg hair usually is. It looked kind of silky. I was surprised by how little it bothered me. The hair didn't make me more attracted to her, but it didn't make me less attracted either.

So maybe I don't have an identity crisis after all. Maybe I just assumed I wasn't attracted to women with leg hair because I'd never seen one before. Or because everyone talks so casually about how gross it is. The closest I'd ever come to seeing a woman with leg hair was when a girlfriend hadn't shaved for a few days. And yeah, that early growth part where the hair is stiff and prickly: that is kind of gross.

But anyway, crisis averted. Now that the leg hair problem isn't weighing on me anymore, I can go back to focusing all my energies on being a jobless schmuck.

July 28, 2009

Daaaaaaaaavid Lettermaaaaan

My sister took me to a taping of the Late Show with David Letterman this afternoon. It was a lot of fun, but also really bizarre. Why?

--The whole experience seems a lot more real on TV than it does live. Maybe this isn't such a profound observation; after all, it's obviously made for a TV audience, and the final show is carefully edited. But for some reason I thought seeing something live would seem more real than seeing it on TV. Not so.

--For example, Letterman sits right on top of his guests. On TV, it doesn't seem that weird, but in person, it's jarring. I tried to imagine having a normal conversation that way, but I think it's impossible. While the stage itself is deceptively small (Paul and the Orchestra are way closer to the desk than I had imagined), there's plenty of space around Dave's desk and the two guest chairs. But the first chair is right next to the desk, and Dave sits at that end of the desk, and then he leans forward pretty much the entire time. The two conversants are often no more than 12 inches apart. Try having a conversation like that sometime. Find an empty room, then sit a foot away from someone. Then lean forward and try to talk like normal people. Tonight's guest, Katie Couric, is obviously used to this kind of thing and handled it all with aplomb. But it's easy to imagine a minor celebrity, like a burgeoning stand-up comedian or one of those dads who saved 11 kids from drowning or whatever, being really really freaked out by how close Dave sits.

--We were told to laugh at every joke like it's the funniest thing we've ever heard. The Late Show employee in charge of telling us this acknowledged that this is a weird and awkward thing to do, but hearing him acknowledge it didn't take away from the weirdness and awkwardness of actually having to do it for an entire hour. Hearing the quick banter between Dave and Paul is really funny, but it's not rolling in the aisles with tears pouring down your cheeks funny. You have to remind yourself, every time something amusing happened, to laugh like hell. It's hard. It was actually hard to appreciate the jokes because we were so busy trying to remember to laugh like hell.

--Harder still: the same staffer told us that we're not allowed to make the ubiquitous "WOOOO!" noise when we're cheering for something. Apparently the microphones pick up the frequency (am I using that word correctly?) too easily and it damages the sound quality. "WOOOO!", of course, along with its cousin, the similarly disallowed "WOO-HOO!" is the default cheering noise for everyone in the world. We were actually told that anyone caught saying "WOOO!" would be ejected.

So you're excited as hell about seeing Letterman, then you start seeing Biff, Allen Coulter, and Paul Fucking Shaffer walk on stage, and all of a sudden you realize you have to invent a brand new cheering noise. This is really, really hard to do. I just laughed and clapped through the monologue, trying to buy myself some time. Finally I settled on "YEEEEEEAH!" as my cheer noise. But holy christ does it start to sound stupid after the 5th time or so. My sister kept looking at me like I was an idiot, but she must have sympathized with me. I think she settled on "HEYYYYYY!".

--The sound for the musical act is pretty awful. I don't blame them for this, since it's a weird theater with low-hanging balconies and, again, it's obviously being performed for the TV cameras. But it was still weird.

I've got one more story about the show, but I want to watch the TV version before I write it because I'm not sure how the scene will be edited. I guess I'll post this story in the comments section or something.

July 27, 2009

Froot Loops

A friend of mine was in town this weekend. One night, intoxicated and exasperated with Alphabet City's 4:00am vegan snacking options, he impulsively bought a box of Froot Loops at the bodega around the corner.

What's curious about Froot Loops these days is the inclusion of a new unit called the "Fruity Golden Bar". I'll admit I've been out of the loop on kids' cereals for some time, so maybe there's a reasonable explanation for this. But I just can't imagine what Kellogg's's rationale could have been when they decided to add "Fruity Golden Bars" to their time-tested formula.

I like to imagine the focus groups that huge companies like Kellogg's presumably use before launching a new product like this.

CONTROL, 0930 hrs 3/13/06, Bttl Crk MI, grp 14-038-A. Synopsis ERM(3/15):

Grp continues to love FL taste/texture. Egs, "Fruity", "Stays crunchy", "Loopy", etc. 14/15 sbjs fnsh bowl; 8/14 rqst more. All within expected range. Complaints center around quantity of serving, also in keeping w forcast (sic). 1 excptn: 9/15 sbjs lament absence of "fruity golden bars". Egs, "You know what this cereal needs, Ernest? Some bars. Loops are great and all, and golly I'm sure not asking you to get rid of them, but maybe mix it up a little, you know? I've always loved a good bar, myself. Maybe color it something a little less exciting. A little contrast could make all those insane neon loops really pop", "If you could just throw in some fruity golden bars, I'd eat this cereal every day", "I like the loopiness of the loops, but I can't help but think there's something missing. I can't really put it into words, but the idea is right on the tip of my tongue. I don't know what to call it;

Recommend farther (sic) inqry asap. ERM/DRH


FRTY GOLD BAR, 1400 hrs, 4/29/06, Btl Crk MI, grp 08-395-C. Synopsis PCA(4/29)

#s off charts. Perfect grp scores. Rants, raves, etc. 4 bx consumed in 13 min. Unprecedented. Sbj 4 begs to see chart; insists quote be taken verbatem (sic): "This shit is the best fucking shit I've ever fucking tasted! I had no idea Fruity Golden Bars could be so good!!! All my life I thought I was happy but I wasn't! Until today!!!! Thank you Froot Loops. Thank you Kellogg's. Thank you thank you thank you!!!!!!!"

Recmnd immediate mass prdction. Halt existing line. Refit mchns for bar production. Explore futures mrkt for gld coloring; invest heavily at any price. Sign-off all overtime as nec. 5/15 launch could rescue Q2. PCA/DRH. CC Corporate, BD, Legal.

That's probably how it went down.


But the more I think about it, the more I wonder if maybe the Fruity Golden Bar is a huge step forward. I think Kellogg's just broke the 4th wall of cereal. A Froot Loop that isn't a loop? Can you imagine a Rice Krispie that isn't krispie? A Corn Pop that doesn't pop?

Every morning, Kellogg's fortifies our children with Vitamin D, Riboflavin, and one of the most vexing ontological problems of our age. I, for one, applaud their noble work.

July 22, 2009

Certain Postcards

Long before there were certain blogs, there were certain sisters' unrelenting demands for postcards. I tried to send her something whenever I traveled, at least back when she lived at home. Recently she found a handful of them in her bedroom and was gracious enough to let me photograph the fronts and reprint the messages here.

Thanks, Amelia.

March 10- Red Sox 4, Cards 3

March 11- Cards 13, Dodgers 8
March 12- Blue Jays 7, Reds 2
March 13- Cardinals vs. Mets

13 March 2004

When I saw this postcard, I was reminded of the time you and I were in Hyde Park and we took all those dumb photographs and sold 4 of them to this guy who said he worked for a postcard company, and at the time we thought he was lying, but at the same time we needed the money to buy something that we've since either used up or lost, and at any rate, well, I guess he wasn't lying after all. What can I say? That was a long time ago; I hope our intuition is better now. But that's not important. What's important is: you have to promise NOT TO TELL MOM (or Lilo--I think they're in cahoots), but I wanted you to know that, a few days ago, Jocelyn told me that [more later] Love, Dave


21 August 2004

Here we are in beautiful downtown Phoenix. The weather here is amazing! Pete, Emily and I are having a great time, but we can't seem to find the Bellagio anywhere.

Love, Dave


13 March 2006


I found the most delightful recipe for Key Lime Pie-- locals call it "Florida's State Pie", but I call it delicious! All you need is: 4 eggs; 1 can sweetened, condensed milk; 1/2 cup lime juice; 6 tbls sugar; and 1/2 tsp cream of tartar. I'm not sure how to cook it, but I'm sure you can find out on the internet or something.

Love, Dave


30 June 2009

Greetings from South Dakota! Did you know the state broadcasts a Wi-Fi signal from the tip of Lincoln's nose? It's so powerful it covers all of SD and parts of Wyoming. Why did I waste a stamp to tell you this when I could be emailing you instead? I'll give you one guess.


July 19, 2009

Baked beans

I feel scatterbrained. Scattershot? I feel scattered. Activities I thought of as one fluid task now feel like multiple tiny ordeals. Like putting on one sock, then having to remember to put on the other one. Or my nighttime bathroom routine, once so easy, now hopelessly fragmented. A shattered bathroom mirror on the tile floor.

Other times I find myself standing still, unable to decide which of countless things to do first. I don't have time to count the number of things on the list. I need to wash the dishes, I need to hide the liquor from my brother, I need to sort the laundry, to make sure I brought everything in off the porch. I can't forget to pull my iPod from the sound dock before I leave and I must remember to pack my running shoes. I'll be thinking of all these things and I won't know what to do first because as soon as I start doing one of them I might forget the other ones.

I think I should do the most important one first. But which one is most important?

And shit, wait: I probably won't forget the most important ones anyway. So I should do one of the other ones. Get the stupid ones out of the way while I'm thinking about them. No way I'd forget the important stuff. Do that later.

This is how you find yourself sorting baseball cards at 1:00am, baked beans congealing in the base of a yellow pot.

July 1, 2009


We were gobbling up miles like ephedrine tablets. When the sun came up we found ourselves in the Badlands, foggy and green. To the north a flock of sheep stood motionless, like a cemetery right there in the middle of nothing.

We stopped for breakfast. I don't remember anything about the waiter except that he would look at me and then he would blink and when his eyes came open again they'd be looking at Eric. Words cannot describe how unsettling it was to watch him do this.

We ate up and drove on.