Screaming Jackalope (of the North Zulch Jackalopes), Part the First

I’d originally settled on Flying Jackalope (which is technically a wolpertinger), but then Black Dog decided to change his name to Flying Black Dog, and I was like, “Well, shit. We’re not even related.” However, I’d also lost my voice after the mass Ululate Your Feelings assembly, and I’d already had like three or four nervous breakdowns by that point, so Screaming was ultimately the more appropriate descriptor for my Jackalopiness.

Long story short, I survived my New Warrior weekend.

Participants signed confidentiality agreements before the weekend began, and even though something happened early on that, as far as I’m concerned, rendered the contract null and void (more on this in a second), I’m going to (mostly) adhere to it, for a couple of reasons:

  • The weekend itself was initiatory, and as such, I don’t want to create expectations or provide spoilers for anyone reading this who might be interested in attending a New Warrior event in the future.
  • The other guys with whom I went through the process need to be able to tell their own stories. I don’t get to do that for them.

With those bullet points out of the way, I’m going to break with workshopping tradition and start with the negatives.

My biggest concern was what we were and were not allowed to bring to the retreat, since the introductory material I’d received via email was vague on the issue. I’ve got a few possessions — a watch Ben gave me; my prayer beads; a couple of other doodads — that act as touchstones when my panic disorder flares up, and as irrational as it might be, I didn’t want to be deprived of them. A friend of mine had gone through the training and was going to be on staff while I was there, so I called him for clarification, and he told me I wouldn’t be forced to turn over anything I wanted to keep with me. Relief washed over and stayed with me, right up until intake, when one of those items was declared contraband and requisitioned. I freaked out so badly that I basically got sent to the principal’s office, where two very nice staff members tried very gently to convince me to leave said item in their care.

Alas, my hands were neither cold nor dead, and panic was quickly being replaced with rage. Once they realized I’d been lied to, and in the interest of preventing me from kicking over a table and jackaloping off into the night, they told me to hang onto it but keep it out of sight, which I was more than happy to do. Thing is, a big part of New Warrior training is learning to trust other men, and my training started with a betrayal of trust. It took most of the weekend to recover from that, and I missed out on some stuff that could’ve been beneficial, because I kept my walls way the fuck up while everyone else was letting theirs down. Additionally, since one staffer had already been dishonest with me, I saw no reason to trust the rest of them, and I stubbornly refused anything I perceived as attempted indoctrination (all of which turned out to be innocuous).

New Warrior Training draws inspiration from the works of Joseph Campbell, the poetry of Robert Bly (particularly Iron John), Jungian archetypes, and what was consistently referred to as “traditional tribal culture,” the last of which was problematic for me. The Warriors themselves put quite a bit of effort into explaining why what they do is not cultural appropriation, but I’d be curious to know if they know where the imagery and practices they incorporate actually come from. The word aho, for example, used among the New Warriors as a general affirmative, means “hello” in Lakota, “thank you” in Kiowa, and “fishing line” in Hawaiian. The closest to New Warrior usage would come from the Cherokee language, in which aho roughly translates as “amen,” but I kind of wish the Warriors would just make up their own tribal-esque word and run with that, versus romanticizing and repurposing an existing word without documenting where they found it.

Male privilege ran unchecked as well throughout the weekend. The New Warriors (and their parent organization, the ManKind Project) are big on “real” men being able to identify and express their emotions, which is awesome. At the same time, they could’ve thrown in a “Real Men Work Proactively to Dismantle Institutionalized Sexism” Q&A without drifting from their mission statement or taking time away from the guided meditations and group hugs.

I did enjoy the group hugs, though.

Anyway, enough with the bad stuff. Positives and unexpected friendships with ex-cons coming soon.

Passing on the Left Pocket

Customer: “OMYGOD, HANKIES! IT’S THE HANKY CODE!

Me: “… Yes. It is.”

Customer: [waving a navy blue hanky at me] “WHAT DOES THIS ONE MEAN?”

Me: “Navy blue stands for anal sex.”

Customer: “SO WHAT DO I DO WITH IT? WHERE DO I WEAR IT?”

Me: “Well, do you want to fuck or get fucked?”

Customer: “WHAT?![to the other customers in the shop] “DID YOU HEAR WHAT HE JUST SAID TO ME?!”

Me: “…”

Customer: “I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU FUCKING SAID THAT! [squaring his shoulders and dropping his voice two octaves]Do YoU wAnT tO FuCk Or GeT fUcKeD?”

[He switches back to his normal speech and mannerisms.]

Customer: “WHY WOULD YOU ASK ME THAT?! DON’T FUCKING ASK IT LIKE THAT.”

Me: “Okay… are you a top or a bottom?”

Customer: “THANK YOU.”

[Exeunt, with Divers Alarums and Excursions]

There were a couple of thoughts running through my head as he flounced away, but more than anything, I just really appreciated his impersonation of me. He made me so butch, you guys! Shade really is the sincerest form of flattery.

And speaking of Things Manly, I’m heading out to that men’s retreat this afternoon. My sponsor (who’s attended several of these things) has assured me that it’ll be a rewarding experience, but my love of horror movies is working against me, and choice scenes from Sleepaway Camp and Borderland keep flashing before my eyes.

If you don’t hear from me tomorrow or Sunday, I’m probably just out in the woods, communing with nature and having a good time. But if I haven’t posted by Monday night, either here or on Twitter, assume I’m about to be sacrificed to the Old Ones and contact the Texas Rangers immediately.

The Texas Ranger Division of the Department of Public Safety, that is. Not the baseball team.

Actually, send either. The baseball players will have blunt weapons and decent aim.

The Human Chandelier. It’s like the Human Centipede, except classier.

[A customer enters with a conservatively dressed, older woman. I quickly realize that she’s his mother, and that he’s brought her into the shop for the sole purpose of shocking and appalling her.]

Mother: [pointing at a pair of handcuffs] “Are those handcuffs? Real handcuffs?”

Customer: “Yes, they are.”

Mother: *gasp* “Like the police have?!”

Customer: [chuckling]

Mother: “You know, my friend Jeannette’s son is into swinging.”

Customer: [suddenly speechless]

Mother: “He and a friend get together and swing from the ceiling.”

Customer: “You mean… suspension?”

Mother: “Yes! Suspension. They ‘suspend’ from rings. He’s got tattoos all over, too. Including his face. I don’t know how he’ll ever get a job, but I’m not gonna judge him.”

I’m normally not real patient with tourists, but in this case, I hope he brings her back. Primarily because she seems like my kind of people, but also because I need her to tell Jeannette’s son that I’m totally willing to give him my Friday night shifts.

It’s Raining Cognomen (Hallelujah)

Customer: “What’s your name?”

Me: “Thumper.”

Customer: “Thumper?

Me: “Yeah. It’s a nickname.”

Customer: “Ooh, you’re a bunny rabbit! Can I call you Bunny?”

[Inner Me: Tell him you’d really prefer he not.]

Me: “I guess?”

[Inner Me: This is why we can’t have nice things.]

Customer: “I have a nickname, too.”

Me: “Oh? What is it?”

Customer: “Dirty Little Cum Whore.”

Me: “Wow. It… must be really hard for you to find novelty license plates in souvenir shops.”

Customer: “But my other nickname is Zinfindel. Want to know why?”

[Inner Me: Because he’s fermented?]

Me: [giggles uncontrollably]

Customer: “…?”

Me: “Um, why?”

Customer: “I’ve always wanted to be a redhead, so the first time I did drag, I decided to wear a red wig. Except I couldn’t find one, so I bought a cheap blonde wig and tried to dye it red. It came out the color of white zinfindel, so that’s what everyone calls me.”

Me: “Well, my other nickname is Marjorie. But it’s more of a middle nickname.”

Customer: “A… middle nickname?”

Me: “THUMPER MARJORIE BLANTON, GET BACK HERE THIS INSTANT.”

Customer: “Oh. Okay. Yes. That works.”

Coincidence about nicknames: I’m going on a New Warrior Training Adventure this weekend, where, among other things, I’ll be expected to adopt an animal name. I’m sure it’ll be fine and make sense in context, but at the moment, all I can think about is this white guy I met years ago at a Radical Faerie campout, who was like, “Hi! I’m Steve, but my Indian name is Running Tiger!” And I was like, “Hi, Steve! That’s a lot of wrong on a lot of levels!”

Here’s hoping the retreat won’t turn out to be a big gaggle of Steves. And that I don’t choke during the Naming Ceremony and introduce myself as Bunny. Any candles lit for either of the above will be greatly appreciated.

Holy Hand Grenade Not Included

Me: “So, to honor and memorialize the discovery of my thing…”

Everyone: “Please don’t say you bought another T-shirt.”

Me: “… I bought another T-shirt.”

ThumperShirt1
Photo credit: Seth. (Click to embiggen.)

“Everyone: “Why would you do that?! You already own like 10,000 T-shirts.”

Me: “I’m sorry, what was that? I can’t quite hear you over the sound of how awesome this T-shirt is.”

Everyone: “T-SHIRTS DON’T MAKE SOUNDS.”

T-shirt: “I’m feeling very attacked.”

Everyone: “…”

Me: [winning smile]

Everyone: “Why are you like this.”

Carlisle says I need to narrow my scope and only focus on the Killer Rabbit of Caernnabog, but I’m one step ahead of him and already have it covered:

ThumperShirt2
Look at the bones!

Yeah, I don’t know why I’m like this, either. But it’s a lot more fun to be this way instead of any other way, so I’m going to keep hopping rolling with it.

Catch Us on the Rebound (or the Rebroadcast. Whichever.)

Noah and Scrappy joined us on this month’s Facets of Leather, and while topics ran the gamut (fetish vs. kink; safe calls and safe words; the time I thought the wax statue of Betty White at Madame Tussauds really was Betty White), we did hit upon two important theses that must be shared with the world:

From now until the end of eternity, the act of fisting should only be referred to as the Queen’s Wave.

Laura Branigan’s 1982 hit single “Gloria” is the shadiest song in the history of popular music. (Lyric video provided by our trusty Superfan).

We also talked about the upcoming Spirit of Leather Awards, because holy snackpacks, Marjorettes! Facets of Leather got nominated for Entertainer of the Year! Voting will be held at Tony’s Corner Pocket on January 18 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., so if you’re in the Houston area and want to support our show but don’t have the funds to make a donation to KPFT, checking our box on the ballot is a great way to do it.

Oh, and while you’re there, maybe vote for me for the Individual Award as well? If I win, I’ll thank every one of you by name in my acceptance speech.