My dad has been talking about taking a mahjong class at his church (Episcopalians being ambitious when it comes to tabletop entertainments), so for Christmas, I surprised him with a set of his own. He was delighted, and we both got very excited about it. And then we started reading the directions.

Me: “Okay, so the dragons correspond to the suits.”

Dad: “Dragons correspond to suits. Got it.”

Me: “There’s a red dragon, a green dragon, and… soap.”


Dad: “I’m sorry, what was that last one?”

Me: “Soap.”

Dad: “A soap dragon.”

Me: “Yup.”

Dad: “Huh.”

Me: “Oh, and there are flowers and seasons, but they’re, like, interchangeable. I think.”

Dad: [flipping through the rule book] “And at some point, there’s something called a Charleston. Are… are we supposed to Charleston?”

Me: “Apparently. But we should probably figure out what these dice are for first. And all these coins. And this little spinner thing.”

[contemplative silence]

Dad: “Let’s play backgammon.”

Me: “Yes, please.”

He won.

Happy Boxing Day!

Join the Leather ‘Neath the Mistletoe

Customer: “So…”

Me: “Yes?”

Customer: “What do you recommend?”

Me: “…”

Customer: “…?”

Me: “Is there… something in particular that interests you?”

Customer: “Yes.”

Me: “Okay. What is it?”

Customer: [gestures vaguely at everything]

Me: “Of course.”

His crippling inability to clarify aside, wanna know why he can see all the things in the ambiguous direction toward which he’s flapping his hand?

Because the sun came back.

Happy Yule, my loyal Marjorettes. Go ring some bells for me.

Topspin on the Backhand Lob

Customer 1: [eyeing the solvents display] “How does Amsterdam compare to Pig Sweat?”

Me: “They’re similar in strength, although some people feel that the Pig Sweat is a little stronger.”

Customer 2: “Mmm. My bootyhole just went ‘Oooh!'”

Customer 1: “We know. We heard it. Four ping-pong balls just shot out of you.”

It’s a good thing I’ve got all these paddles, I guess. Just need to figure out what the point value would be if I manage to hit one back in.

It could also be the title of a comedy album, but I want to be taken seriously as an artist first.

Customer: “I don’t like these socks.”

Me: “I’m sorry to hear that. What don’t you like about them?”

Customer: “They don’t make socks for guys like me. My calves are too big. It’s like trying to slip a sausage into… um…”

Me: “…”

Customer: “…”

Me: “Into something smaller than a sausage?”

Customer: “… skinny jeans.”

Me: “Like slipping a sausage into skinny jeans.”

Customer: “Yes. Definitely.”

I am not a musician by any means, but if I’m ever in a situation where I have to produce a hit Gay Country Crossover single, I’m going to call it A Sausage in Skinny Jeans. The Grammy nod will totally be worth the Parental Advisory warning.

I, Too, Forgot Cranberries. Because Leather.

Topics discussed in depth on this month’s Facets of Leather that have everything in the world to do with leather:

… and topics discussed in depth that have not a damn thing to do with leather:

It was an even split. I’m calling it apropos.

Most of this episode’s music came from the Go-Go Boys’ Gay Apparel Xmas Songs, but personally, it’s not the Yuletide until I hear “Christmas Wrapping” by the Waitresses. Not only is it the greatest holiday song to be birthed in the 80s, but it’s also a consolation for those of us who got sent to Whamhalla, because our boss lives around the corner from our place of employment and can control the Ripcord jukebox from the safety and comfort of his living room.

May the buoyant saxophone be a balm to your soul, my fallen warriors.

Nothing but a Pound Dog

Customer: “Do the colors of these pup hoods mean the same things as the colors in the Hanky Code?”

Me: “Not really. I mean, a pup could wear a certain color hood to display interest in a particular kink or fetish, but a lot of people are just partial to one color or another. Whether or not someone’s flagging a hanky is the only sure way to tell what they’re into.”

Customer: “Oh. So a pup wearing a red hood wouldn’t necessarily be into fisting.”

Me: “Correct.”

Customer: “But if a pup were into fisting, would that make him a puppet?”

Me: “…”

Customer: “…”

Me: “Get out of my shop.”

Mazed and Confused

[A customer wanders into the store, picks up a bundle of bondage rope, drifts over to me and places the rope on the counter.]

Me: “Are you… wanting to purchase this?”

Customer: “No. I just want to be here.”

[He turns and wanders back into the bar.]

Short story shorter, if any minotaurs are reading this, I think I may have found the dude you’re looking for.

I always kind of expect Greek heroes to be taller, though.

Olympic Tangents

Me: “… So then Hera was like, ‘Yeah, this one’s a might too unfortunate-looking,’ and threw the newborn Hephaistos off of Mount Olympus into the sea, where he was found by the nymph Thetis, who raised him as her own and introduced him to blacksmithing, and he started making her all kinds of amazing jewelry, which she wore when she visited Olympus, and Hera was all, ‘Damn, hon! Where did you get all this awesome shit?’ And Thetis was like, ‘Funny story. This random baby fell from the sky and turned out to be talented AF, so now he bangs out accessories for me.’ So Hera was all, ‘Oops! He’s actually mine. I’d like him back, please, now that I know he’s useful.’ But of course, the whole myth is really just an allegory for plunging heated iron into cold water to temper it.”

John: “…”

The rest of the Misfits: “…”

Everyone else in the leather bar: “…”

Me: “Anyway, to answer your question, yes. I definitely think you should get a new tattoo.”

It’s moments like this when I can tell how my brothers neither regret electing me president nor ever having met me. Makes a guy feel powerful and wise, that does.

Keats and Yates Are on Your Side

Recently, in a private Facebook group geared toward such topics, an acquaintance of mine asked, “What are some of the strange, unusual, funny, interesting, weird things you’ve done for witchcraft?”

I am currently not the most observant of Witches. That extended depression I went through earlier this year is partially the cause, but I also just kind of lost interest in the occult (other than the occasional geomantic reading), and I really don’t know what to blame for that. The question, though, got me thinking about how much more content I was when I was actively practicing religious witchcraft, not to mention all the strange, unusual, funny, interesting, weird experiences I used to enjoy on a regular basis as a result of it.

My goal at the moment is to start having those experiences again. I’m not sure how I’m going to go about making that happen, whether I’m going to plug back into old Traditions or branch out into new ones, but either way, I feel like my life is about to get a lot more entertaining than it already is.

In the meantime, please find below a phone call between myself and my co-Witch Trothwy. The call itself occurred ages ago, but in the spirit of Repaganing, and since we have a big holiday coming up, I figured it was worth a retelling.

Trothwy: “Hey! It’s me.”

Me: [quietly] “Hey.”

Trothwy: “Did I call at a bad time?”

Me: [a little louder] “No, no, not at all. What’s up?”

Trothwy: “Well, you know how we were talking about re-reading Paul Huson’s Mastering Witchcraft together?”

Me: “Yeah, I’m enthused about that.”

Trothwy: “And you know how we’ve also been talking about building up more of a visible profile in Houston? I was thinking, what if we combined the two and offered a monthly book study?”

Me: “This is a great idea.”

Trothwy: “Because it’s such an iconic book, you know? And I really feel like the serious practitioners in this area could get some good information out of it.”

Me: “I agree.”

Trothwy: “But here’s my one reservation. Huson covers a lot of fascinating, useful stuff, but he also doesn’t pull punches with his writing. I’m not sure that everyone who might agree to participate will want to hear what he has to say.”

Me: “That is a conundrum.”

Trothwy: “And… okay, do you mind if I just vent?”

Me: “Sure, go ahead.”

Trothwy: “I’m tired of hearing people talk about what amazing Witches they are, when they’re not doing anything. Do you know what I mean? It’s like, fine, you’re a big ol’ Witch, but what actual Witchcraft are you practicing?”

Me: “I understand.”

Trothwy: “And I know there’s this trend right now to separate Wicca from Witchcraft, and to make Wicca all mainstream or whatever, but still, I can’t be the only damned one in this city who feels like…”

Me: “Oh, shit.

Trothwy: “[Thumper]? Are you alright?”

Me: “I think a security guard just spotted me.”

Trothwy: “Um… pardon?”

Me: “Crap, he’s definitely coming this way. I need to get back to my car.”

Trothwy: “If you don’t mind my asking, where are you right now?”

Me: “I’m in a cemetery.”

Trothwy: “And you are in a cemetery, running from security guards at 4 o’clock on a weekday afternoon, because…?”

Me: “I needed graveyard dirt, and they lock the gates at 5.”


Me: “Everything’s fine, though. I paid the guardian spirits with old coins, and I wiped down my offerings for fingerprints before I left them. But I’m sorry, I interrupted you. What were you saying?”

[another beat]

Trothwy: “I fucking love you.”

[Ed. note: The title of this post is a bit obscure, so for more info, click here and bop along to what we used to identify with before Emo was officially a thing.]

Glass Beholders (or, Must Be Friday)

[Carlisle and I are playing a word game on my phone when a customer strides in and surveys the store. They are wearing pink camouflage sweatpants, a ribbed, skintight, see-through shirt, and a shoulder-length wig the color of cotton candy, if cotton candy were radioactive.]

Me: “Hi! Let me know if I can help you find anything.”

Customer: “Ew. This is the place with all that freaky shit.”

And I was like, “THE ONLY FREAKY THING IN HERE IS THAT WIG, YOU DAMN FRAGGLE.” But, y’know, quietly. To myself. Days later.

I have really got to work on both the timeliness of my snappy comebacks and the wherewithal to defend my modest freakdom against the freak judgement of freaks who think my freakiness is freakier than their freakiness.

I might also need a thesaurus. Maybe I’ll start with that.