It Was Loopholes I Wanted, Now I’m Living Without

Me watching the first episode of The Order: “This is pretty schlocky, but there’s nothing else holding my interest right now.”

Me halfway through Season 1: “None of these alleged college students have gone to class in weeks.”

Me watching the second-to-last episode: “I like how nobody has figured out that they’d have fewer problems if they’d stop giving Very Important Responsibilities to that freshman with the personality disorder.”

Me watching the last five minutes of the season finale: “Oh, good. It’s almost over. Now I can… wait. What is she… Don’t do… NO NO NO DON’T DO THAT… OH MY GOD, HOW COULD YOU DO THAT?! WHY IS THIS HAPPENING?!?!”

Me the rest of the evening: [curled up in the fetal position, softly singing “It Must Have Been Love” while a single tear runs down my cheek]

Party Flavors

[A group of five preppies bustle into the store and crowd around the counter.]

Preppy 1: “Do you sell gum?”

Me: “I’m sorry, but we don’t.”

Preppy 1: [clearly disillusioned] “Oh. Okay.”

Me: “I do have some mints, though. Would you like a mint?”

Preppy 1: “Ooh, I would!”

[I hand him my tin of mini Altoids, taking one for myself first.]

Preppy 1: “Thank you!”

Preppy 2: “May I have a mint too?”

Me: “Sure.”

Customer 2: “Thanks!”

[The other three preppies ask if they can also have mints. I nod affirmatively, and they pass the tin around until everyone has imbibed of the winter-fresh goodness. And then…]

Preppy 1: “Wait. Are these just mints?”

[Preppies 2-5 glance over at him, then turn and look at me with mild concern.]

Me: “WELL, I GUESS WE’RE ALL GOING TO FIND OUT IN FIFTEEN MINUTES, AREN’T WE?”

[They freeze.]

Me: “Kidding! I kid. They’re just mints.”

Preppies 1-5: “…”

Me: “Sláinte?”

I feel like this might be one of those times when I think I’m funnier than I actually am. But hey, at least they learned an important lesson about accepting candy from strangers. And also about the social necessity of disposable toothbrushes.

Cat Hair Triggers

[So Ben sent me this meme a few days ago...ForgeXM… and the following conversation ensued.]

Ben: “WHO IS THIS AND WHY IS IT NOT YOUR HALLOWEEN COSTUME?!”

Me: “That’s Forge. He was Storm’s first love interest in the X-Men comics. He’s a Native-American sorcerer with the mutant power to invent anything. He built a mutant neutralizer for the government that took away Storm’s powers for most of the 80s, but they reconciled while they were trapped in another dimension, and she got her powers back. They were an item for awhile after that, but they eventually broke up, and she married Black Panther. I think he ended up with Mystique, maybe?”

Ben: “Um… okay, that was a lot.”

Me: “I kind of wish I didn’t know all that.”

Ben: “Nah, it’s cool. I love it when you do nerd-to-Ben translation.”

Me: “Well, I promise I will never force you to listen to my diatribe on everything wrong with the first three X-Men movies. This is my solemn vow.”

Ben: “Nope. Now I want to hear it.”

Me: “You really don’t…”

[twenty minutes later]

Me: “… AND RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF X2, HALLE BERRY SAYS, “OH, MY GOD.” BUT STORM IS A GODDESS WORSHIPER WHO ONCE BELIEVED HERSELF TO BE A GODDESS. STORM WOULD NEVER SAY “OH, MY GOD.” THEY THREW AWAY DECADES OF CANON AND CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT WITH ONE FUCKING LINE.”

Ben: “…”

Me: “And then, of course, Halle Berry got cast as Catwoman. Don’t even get me started on Catwoman.”

Ben: “Yeah, I heard it wasn’t ver-”

Me: “CATWOMAN IS A FEMINIST MASTERPIECE.”

Ben: “Welp, didn’t see that one coming.”

[twenty minutes later]

Me: “… And so she takes down the patriarchal cosmetics corporation, all while kicking ass in open-toed, chunky-heeled shoes…”

Ben: “Whoa, wait a minute. Stop right there.”

Me: “…?”

Ben: “THERE IS NOTHING OKAY ABOUT DOING ANYTHING IN OPEN-TOED, CHUNKY-HEELED SHOES.”

And then he went off on this long rant about current trends in fashionable footwear. Man. if I’d known he was going to get so testy, I wouldn’t have even brought it up.

That’ll do, Louis Braille. That’ll do.

Customer 1: “Oh, hey! They’ve got Nasty Pig hats.”

Customer 2: “That is not Nasty Pig.”

Customer 1: “Um… yes, it is. See the pig snout on the front of the cap? Nasty Pig.”

Customer 2: “Nope. Not Nasty Pig.”

Customer 1: “This is literally the Nasty Pig logo. And it says Nasty Pig on the brim.”

Customer 2: “Nasty Pig is only sold in gay stores.”

Customer 1: “But… but this is a gay store. We’re in a gay bar.”

Customer 2: “THIS ISN’T NASTY PIG. This is…” [he grabs a hat and looks at the elastic band inside] “Flexfit. This is Flexfit. They don’t sell Nasty Pig here.”

Okay. Flexfit is a custom headwear wholesaler — they make hats, and then companies like Nasty Pig add their logos and sell them as their own. I do, however, appreciate the image of a factory full of adorable sweatshop orphans, working their dainty little fingers to the bone to handcraft artisan Nasty Pig textiles. And they say the gays can’t parent.

Anyway, Customer 2 got distracted by a shelf of Burlyshirts, and, recognizing the brand this time, immediately bought a couple of tees. I look forward to him angrily returning them next week, after he finally looks at the tags and realizes he was swindled into purchasing Next Level Apparel.

Not So Fresh

[Carlisle and I are getting ready to order some Mexican food and debating the merits of soft versus crunchy tacos, when a customer shuffles in and starts pawing through a display of leather baubles.]

Me: “Hello! What can I help you with this evening?”

Customer: [holding up a collar] “I’m looking for something like this, except… solid. With a buckle. Y’know, to go around my arm? Like an arm… belt?”

Me: “An armband? Sure, let me show you some options.”

Customer: “I’m going to LUEY, so I want to get a bunch of leather.”

Me: “And I’d be happy to help you with that.”

Customer: “So let me ask you something. Since you’re, like, an expert.”

Me: “Okay.”

Customer: “How does douching work?”

Me: “…”

Customer: [waiting patiently]

Me: “Um… well… if… if you’re going to invite guests through the back door, you’re going to want to sweep the porch, right?”

Customer: “I guess?”

Me: “So right over here we have a bidet system that you can install in your shower, which is going to give you the most… uh… thorough… clean.”

Customer: “Huh.”

Me: “But we’ve also got these reusable, handheld irrigators that will get the job done.”

Customer: “How do they get the job done?”

Me: “Oy. Okay. So… you remove the nozzle, and fill the bulb up with warm water. And then you screw the nozzle back in, and after it’s… um, inserted, you squeeze the bulb and then… uh… release.”

Customer: “Oh. But what about the ones you can get at the grocery store?”

Me: “The… grocery store?”

Customer: “I’ve been using Summer’s Eve.”

[Somewhere out in the bar, a turntable needle scratches across vinyl.]

Me: “…”

Carlisle: “…”

Customer: “…”

Me: “…”

Carlisle: “…”

Customer: “…?”

Me: “Oh. Oh, dude. No.”

Customer: “I shouldn’t use Summer’s Eve?”

Me: “Please, please don’t. Summer’s Eve is not formulated for… um, where you’re putting it.”

Customer: “What should I use instead?”

Me: “Look for a product called Fleet.”

Customer: “What’s a Fleet?”

Me: “Fleet makes disposable enemas.”

Customer: “Disposable… enemas?”

Me: [crying a little] “They have lubricated tips.”

Customer: “Oh! Okay, great! Thank you!”

And then he left, and I spent the rest of my shift wondering why the phrase “lubricated tips” turned out to be the key to enlightenment. And also if he was more of a Lavender Chamomile or Cucumber Lily man.

In other news, I will never eat a crunchy taco again.

Where in the World is Caber Sandiego?

Customer: “Do you carry metal paddles?”

Me: “We don’t normally keep them in stock, but one of our suppliers manufactures a really cool one. Here, let me show you.”

[I call up the supplier’s website and click on the link to their impact play items. The first picture to appear is a tableau of two well-developed, scantily-clad men of the homosexual persuasion — one is bent over and grinning seductively back at at the other, who is poised with the paddle in question as if caught mid-swing.]

Me: “…”

Customer: “Everything okay?”

Me: “Hmm? Oh. Yes.” [I point to the man about to get spanked.] “It’s just that I know that guy.”

Customer: “…”

Me: “Yeah.”

Ben and I were at a Barnes and Noble one time, and he saw a mention of The Orville on a magazine cover and was like, “Oh! Funny story about working with Seth MacFarlane…” It’s a testament to my own career trajectory that I’m able to share similar amusing anecdotes, but only about porn stars and the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Tastes Like Burning

[A text conversation with Seth, which occurred as I was on my way to meet him for brunch.]

Seth: “Why is the sun painful?”

Me: “The fact that it’s overcast is indicative of just how hungover you are.”

[long, aggrieved pause]

Seth: “I didn’t ask for my wig to be snatched like that.”

Me: “I mean, the wig was just lying there…”

Seth: “I didn’t even have time to pin it in place.”

I thought about bringing him some of the patented hangover cure that always worked for me during my own drinking days, but it’s really just whiskey, so it probably wouldn’t have helped much. He was pretty salty the rest of the morning, though, so at least his sodium levels weren’t too badly affected.

Gag Me with a Lead Balloon

[A straight girl and her gay male friend enter the store. He goes to look at the cock rings, and she strides purposefully to the counter.]

Straight Girl: “Do you have any gags?”

Me: “No.”

Straight Girl: “No?”

Me: “No.”

Straight Girl: [eye roll]

[She leaves the counter and hastens over to her friend to give him a full report.]

Straight Girl: “Did you hear what I asked? I asked him if they had any gags, and he said no.”

[She giggles at her naughtiness. He seems unmoved.]

Straight Girl: “I should work here.”

Gay Friend: [to me] “Excuse me, but what is this?”

Me: “That’s a parachute ball-stretcher. The leather strap snaps around the top of the scrotum…”

[They both flinch.]

Me: “… and once it’s secured around the scrotum, you can hang weights off of the ring at the end of the chains under the scrotum, which will pull on the scrotum, creating a stretching sensation.”

Them: “…”

Me: “In the scrotum.”

Gay Friend: “Do you sell the weights?”

Me: “We do not.”

Straight Girl: “Why not?!

Me: “There aren’t weights made specifically for an accessory like this. You can really just hang anything you want off of it.”

Straight Girl: “Like a cat.”

Me: “…”

Gay Friend: “…”

Straight Girl: “Okay, yeah, that was fucked up.”

And that right there is why she should never, ever work here. I do not need any more dead cats in my life.

Satansplainer

I try to take Ben to places away from the usual tourist attractions whenever he shows up in Houston, and so this past weekend, we went to the Wilde Collection — a curiosity shop in the Heights — because a) it’s my favorite independent business, and b) I figured it was time for him to have a visual representation of what it’s like inside my head.

We pulled up to the shop, and Ben looked at the vehicle parked by the front door and asked, “Is that… is that a PT Cruiser hearse?” And I was like, “Yeah. It really sums up everything you’re about to see.” I was a little concerned he’d start proactively rethinking his life choices the second we entered the building, but instead, his eyes darted to the contents of a glass cabinet tucked amidst various antique medical specimens, and he was like, “Ooh, raccoon penis bones! These will make great souvenirs for the people back home!” And that’s when I relaxed a lot.

So Ben approached the guy behind the counter (who turned out to be one of the owners), and was all, “Hello! I want to purchase some raccoon penis bones.” And the owner smiled warmly and replied, “Let’s go pick out the ones you’d like,” as if they were baby turtles or hermit crabs or something.

Baculum
Jesus approved of his selections and canonized him as the patron saint of bacula. Official feast day TBD.

I gave Ben a little space to critically inspect the penises (I mean, if I had a nickel…) and scooted through the next room (which is basically the Department of Dead Animals and Demonological Studies) to the lavatory in the back. I passed two young women admiring a vampire baby doll nestled in a Victorian bassinet, and I’m normally not one to eavesdrop, but one of them said, “They sued Netflix over it, but how can you trademark an ancient image?” And then I heard a voice that sounded remarkably like mine jump into the conversation. And then I realized I was talking.

“The thing is, Baphomet is usually depicted as having male genitalia and female breasts, but the statue commissioned by the Church of Satan has a male chest.”

An awkward silence ensued, which I decided to fill by apologizing profusely.

“Oh, please don’t apologize,” one of the women said, waving off the interruption and gesturing for me to continue. “This is fascinating!”

“Okay… well, the statue used on the set of The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina also had a male chest. But see?” I pointed to a conveniently located mannequin dressed up as the ubiquitous Goat God. “Breasts. So whoever created the prop for the show assumed that the Church of Satan’s version was a traditional image and thus free of royalty, when in fact it really was protected by copyright. Which is why the Church sued.”

The women nodded thoughtfully and thanked me for my insight, and I quit while I was ahead and fled to the restroom. I glanced at my reflection in the mirror as I was locking the door, and maybe it was just the mood lighting or whatever, but I stopped for a second and was like, “Wow. I… totally look like someone who would accost a stranger to correct their misconceptions about the Devil.” And so I took a selfie.

satansplainer
The Prince of Darkness, you say? Well, actually…

I finished my business and went to catch up with Ben, but my attention got snagged on a plastic display box, inside of which was a foam cupcake, with a preserved longhorn beetle (Diastocera wallichi tonkinensis, a.k.a. Thysia wallichii) balanced delicately upon it. And suddenly, all I could think about was the last scene in Secretary, when Maggie Gyllenhaal carefully makes the bed and then drops a dead cockroach on the comforter. And I was consumed by the emerald flames of covetousness.

Ben wandered over, penis bones in hand, to stare at the oddity along with me. And then he was like, “FOUR PEAS. You need this.” And he snatched it off the shelf and ran to the register.

B. Edward Grey
Presenting B. Edward Grey. The “B” stands for “Ben Gave Me a Taxidermied Beetle for Valentine’s Day, and I Named It After a James Spader Character. Hail Paimon.”

I have spent a disconcertingly large chunk of my life feeling like some kind of tragic, retarded Martian; like I just bumble around saying inappropriate things at unfortunate moments, in a language no one is capable of understanding. Lately, though, whenever self-deprication sets in, the Universe drops someone in front of me who forces me to accept that I’m nowhere near as weird and alone as I think I am. Sometimes it’s one of my co-workers at the Forge, or one of my brothers in the Misfits. Or sometimes it’s a random window shopper who thinks that what I have to say is relevant and interesting.

And sometimes a beautiful man and I both look at a freeze-dried bug and immediately quote the same movie.

I can’t wait to introduce him to Baphomet.

Guest-starring Trixie Mattel as the Coworker Who Doesn’t Get Paid to Judge Me

Me: [poking around in the main store’s supply closet] “Hey, do we have any toothpaste or mouthwash or anything?”

Seth: “We do not, unfortunately,”

Me: “Darn. I’ve got a weird taste in my mouth.”

Seth: “What did you eat that caused it?”

Me: “A cheeseburger from a gas station.”

[beat]

Seth: “Honey.”

Me: “What? It probably won’t kill me.”

Seth: “Honey.”

Me: “I mean, I didn’t look at the nutritional information, but I’m pretty sure there wasn’t any actual meat in it.”

Seth:

TrixieHoney

Rok: [overhearing] “Gas station cheeseburger? Is that the new polari way of saying, ‘I sucked some unsavory dick’?”

Me: “IT IS NOW.”

Seth suggested that I clock in and then run to a convenience store for oral hygiene products, but I was like, “No. Every time I do something I’m not supposed to, Tank magically appears and catches me.” And right on cue, Tank texted to say that he’d changed the lock on the bar store, and that he would come up and let me in if my key didn’t work.

Is there a polari expression for, “My boss is psychic but only uses his powers to terrorize me”? Because there totally should be. Or at the very least a quaint German term.