Friday, October 28, 2016
Well that time came for me. My progressiveness was recently tested. Swedie and I have discussed this topic at length. We agreed that if we're out toy shopping and Bash likes a "girl toy", Bash gets that toy. So I was surprised when Swedie called me one day asking if it's okay to buy this chair Bash wants. I rolled my eyes. Here we go again.
- How much is the chair?
- It's not expensive. But the one Bash wants is pink.
Easy answer, right? Get it! What are we, neanderthals? Just say yes and go back to playing Madden. But it wasn't that easy. I felt a twinge in my body. MY SON?! A PINK chair?! What does this mean? What would people think? Why did he have to pick pink? But pink is just a color. A girl color?... I stopped my mind from racing.
- What do you think?
- It's the one he wants. Sooo...
She was right. I heard in her voice that she was hesitant, but she was right. A little part of me was glad that it wasn't just me in this parent team that was scarred by societal gender norms. This was the ultimate test. We could have easily made a decision to get another color. Swedie could have talked Bash into blue (grunt! grunt!) or yellow. Or even say we can't get it now and then Bash would get over it. But who would that decision be for? That would be for us. I audibly rationalized the whole decision. I told Swedie that she's right. It's the one he wants, so let's get it!
- You sure?
- (short pause) Yeah! Fuck it!
Ha! Oh, the internal struggle. It's funny how much I learn about myself as a parent. Bash won't remember this moment at all, but I'll never forget it. That small step opened a large door for me. I was able to confront some internal stuff I didn't know was in me. Gender norms had done a number on me. I was setting myself free. It's just a color. And a nice color at that! I have pink shirts (yes, more than one). Do those shirts say anything about me? Am I any less of a man? Are any colors off limits for girls? It's all so ridiculous. My mind was open.
Then I came home to Bash with fresh nail polish on. I felt a lump in my throat as I put on a smile. He only had the patience to get a few nails polished (and his big toes), but still. Nail polish?! And when it dries, hes going to skip (okay maybe not skip, but you get it) over to his recently purchased pink chair and sit there in his progressiveness. All of this stuff is happening so fast. I must say, I didn't like it. It had nothing to do with Bash at all. This was about me. I didn't like how I reacted. I thought I would be more accepting when my son came over excited about something. I used to think it was cool when I saw young boys come in to my job with nail polish on (I worked in a hipster neighborhood). Even cooler when the father and child had on matching polish. A big "fuck you" to gender norms!
So why was I in this place? I never thought to remove the polish. I'm glad about that. I told Bash it was nice. I never even mentioned my internal struggle with Swedie. Frankly, I was embarrassed about it. I'm glad I had to go through this. It will only make me a better father. Bash will be exploring the world forever. He's going to need all the love and support he can get. I'm going to keep my focus on raising a respectful and productive member of society. I'll nurture his talents and build his confidence. Pink or polish has nothing to do with any of that. This kid is making me a better person. What more could a father ask for? Until next time...
Saturday, August 27, 2016
Recently Bash and I went to the park. I like spending time together just Bash and me. Father and son. It's like a storybook or a movie. I saw it all the time as a kid and I even remember it from those times when my father chose to be engaged with us. Back then he was my hero. I want to be Bash's hero. If he has half the adoration for me that I had for my father, I'll be a happy guy. I was insanely "Daddy's Boy". Actually, if he has more adoration for me than I had for my father, I'll be a bit worried. I don't think that would be healthy.
We have fun at the park. Bash likes it when I go on all of the stations with him. He doesn't quite understand size yet.
- Daddy's too fat for that, son. Everything at this park would collapse if Daddy got on that.
He takes it in stride. Maybe he thinks I'm lazy. I just don't want to break something. That would be embarrassing and likely expensive. Bash is good at park playing. My completely unbiased opinion is that he's very smart and very strong for his age. I guess he's my hero now since it didn't pan out with my first hero (Dad).
On this day Bash was excited about the park. He went through his annoying routine of "I'll do it myself" faster than usual. Independence is cute and all, but not when we have somewhere to be. Kids have ZERO concept of time. Plus... you're not even really using the shoehorn properly! We weren't in a hurry anyway, so it was all good. Bash did it all himself and wasn't the absolute stubborn perfectionist that he tends to be. He REALLY wanted to get his park on.
Then when we were walking over, Bash pointed towards the big park area. He was really excited.
- RUTSCHKANA, RUTSCHKANA!!!
Now I was lost. He was very excited, but I didn't know what the hell he was talking about. I assumed it was something from Masha and the Bear or one of those shows he watches on Netflix. Dammit Netflix show! Why would you have a character named Rutschkana? I decided to do some parental investigating. This was a chance to talk to Bash and teach him a bit about the real world and make-believe world that exists in fantasy and Netflix series.
- Rutschkana? What's Rutschkana? I don't know what that is.
He pointed more aggressively now.
I tried to follow his point. I've never been big on imaginary friends and the like.
- I'm sorry, man. I don't know what you're talking about.
I kept walking. Sometimes you have to disappoint with the truth. This was like tough love. Daddy was showing Bashie that Rutschkana is some TV shit. But we're living life right now. Life is real shit! Bash stopped walking. Probably pondering this life lesson that I dropped on him so delicately, yet ingeniously. He cocked his head to the side. The kid was in deep thought. I stopped a step or two ahead of him and waited to bless him with more worldly insight. He pointed again.
- SLIDE! I want SLIDE!
He was pointing at the big slide! How didn't I know the word for a freaking slide? That's some elementary stuff there, Dad! And that's when the sadness hit me... Oh no... He already knows that Daddy's an idiot. I guess it doesn't matter what language I speak. Until next time...
Tuesday, July 26, 2016
Saturday, July 16, 2016
That vacation was real! I had no idea it would be so awesome. Swedie and I make a great team. We (by we, I mean she) planned it all out well in advance and we (now I mean we, but still mostly she) executed it well. We began in Florida at the Holm Home as my previous blog detailed. We love them and miss them already. The rest of the Florida leg of the trip was awesome.
|Bash and Ava|
We went shopping and ate at some of our favorite spots. I was proud of myself for not forcing the list I had made beforehand. We didn't go to Red Lobster or any breakfast chains (IHOP/Denny's) like we thought we would. My pancakes are better anyway and who has time for finding a Red Lobster? As for sushi, I regret missing out on that. The mall was more tempting, so we never made it downtown. We did however go to The Grill on the Alley in Aventura Mall! Great food and an awesome manager. We ate like Lannisters!
I was sad to leave Miami. It never seems like long enough. It was great seeing Latonya, Tiffany and Marlon from high school. It's like we never missed a step, except now we all have kids. I got to visit my second family (the Burleys) and that was a treat. We even went to a club! The entire time we worried that Bash was going to wake up and freak out (of course he didn't). I feel bad that Eliza had to keep assuring us that everything was okay in the middle of the party. Then we left early as a group on account of Swedie and me, well Bash. Blame Bash. That night out summed up the Miami leg of the trip. Short, but action packed.
Now it was off to Virginia Beach. It was time to visit a military brother of mine. He and I have been tighter than a frog's ass since our first military assignment in Alaska. We've got STORIES together from those days. We have a specific brand of humor and once we get together it multiplies and becomes magically awesome. Obviously, since getting out and moving here it's been hard to see each other frequently, but brotherhood is brotherhood. It would be the first time Bobby got to meet Bash, so I was really excited. By the way, a woman in the airport stopped us to tell us that Bash is the sweetest child she's ever seen on a flight. Duh, lady! That's my son. Our flight was early because of a change that Bobby didn't notice in the final message to him, so they were late. No biggie. I'd just charge my phone... oh snap! Justin rolled up out of nowhere! Justin is Bobby's old friend that became my friend years and years ago. He fit right in with us and that's been great over the years. Bobby and his family (Kim and Isaac) walked up holding signs. Just like old times!
Bobby and Kim have a beautiful house. He grew up in VA Beach and is stationed in Virginia. He's got it good. Family and friends close while he serves in the Air Force. Isaac won't have as turbulent of a childhood as many children in military families have. I'm glad for them. It was Bobby's birthday weekend, so the turn up was real. Well we're in our thirties now, so it was a grown up turn up. We walked in to a pool party preparation. There was good barbecue and side dishes under a tent. The food was covered in foil and neatly presented on a table with a TABLE CLOTH. Music was playing (not blasting). I can see Bobby and me ten years ago preparing for a birthday by taking shots and talking shit until we created an impromptu octagon. Then we'd get up, get dressed, take shots and go to a club. I'd probably get black-out drunk and piss Bobby off at a McDonald's drive thru because I keep ordering a "SANDWICH MEAL". My how things have changed. I got unpacked and put on some trunks so I could sit poolside and swap jokes with Bobby and Justin while our kids played in the pool.
It was so good to catch up with everyone. I had a mixture of pointless and introspective conversations with members of Bobby's family. I was even surprised with visits by "Yosys Fire" and "Chuck". Two other friends from back in Alaska. Everybody is all grown up now. It was fun to have drinks and reminisce. In classic fashion, the guys would ask if I wanted to help move a counter.
- Move a counter?
- Yeah man. Come inside and help us move this counter.
- Okay... I guess.
We went inside and a few minutes later all the other guys came in. Next thing you know Bobby was pouring shots. I wasn't going to turn that down. We toasted and drank our shots. Then everyone dispersed. I turned to Justin as I walked outside.
- What's up with that counter?
- Counter? What counter?
- They said something about moving a counter.
- Oh yeah. Hey Bobby, we gotta move that counter.
- Alright, I'll be in there.
We walked back in. I shook my head. How did they forget so fast? Bobby came back in and started preparing shots for us. The light bulb over my head went on.
- Oh! The shots!
Bobby explained how the running joke began. I love these guys. Needless to say, we moved a lot of counters that weekend. Some of the most fun was watching the trio of Isaac, Bryce and Bash. They were having a blast the whole weekend. One morning they even had their teddy bears join them for poolside breakfast. So sweet. I also found out that Bash has my back big time. Justin threw me in the pool (we're not THAT grown up) and Bash had a fit. He stomped his feet and yelled at Justin at the top of his little lungs.
- NO! NO! NO! DADDY! DADDY! DON'T DO THAT!
I had to assure him that we were just playing. He was so upset. Note to self: Never get beat up in front of Bash. He will be devastated.
The trip was full of reminiscing, shit talking and witty wordplay. It's what we do. We had a heated political argument (they're wrong) and the return of a years-long prank that Yosys and I used to pull on each other. It was great. An updated version of the old days. We extended our stay an extra day and it still felt like not enough time. It never is.
|Westley and Bash|
The drive up wasn't so bad. We went directly to probably the shittiest little rental car center I've ever seen to drop off the car. I hadn't peed on the trip, so I was able to get a good look at the shittyness on my way to the back. It looked like they tried to turn an old mechanic shop into a rental office, but said "Fuck it" halfway through it. At least they didn't try to throw any sneaky charges on me. It was literally rented for four hours.
My brother-in-law Curtis picked us up. It was great to see him. He's been committed to working out which really means he's been committed to making me look fatter when I stand next to him. Thanks Curtis! We loaded up the SUV and headed to their lovely home. It still shocks me every time I walk into their mini-mansion. I fight off the urge to rub my hands along the wall and talk with a southern belle's voice.
- My, my, my look at that chandelier. I wish grandma was here to see this here bannister! Is that marble tile?
We got settled in and almost immediately started laughing and reminiscing. That's basically all my family does. Bash LOVED playing with Zoë in the basement. He felt like he was in heaven down there. Toys and activities. So many activities. I wanted badly for Bash and his Nana to get along well. I could tell she was hesitant due to the perceived language barrier. I told her don't worry. Just speak in English to him. He understands. I left them down in the basement for a few minutes and then I heard panic in her voice.
- Jon, what is he saying?!
I ran down and heard Bash asking about "jordgubbar". Apparently he saw some toy strawberries upstairs that he wanted to play with now. How does he remember that? I told Nana that he wants strawberries. Bash looked straight ahead. The wheels in his little head turning.
|Mom threw down!|
Besides that pain we took the kids to the park a few times. They loved it. Swedie had a little bit of shopping left to do, so we went to the mall. Curtis and I chilled while Bash and his new best friend Zoë burned energy in the play land. They rode a carousel and then wanted to ride it again and again. We found a futuristic car ride that they should like [read: we would like], but they didn't and that was a waste of a dollar. The part of the visit that brought tears to my eyes was when Mom made a cake with Bash. I know it's simple, but it was beautiful. He was so into it, just like I knew he'd be. She showed him how to sift flour. Then he sifted flour and slapped the side of the sifter just like Nana did. It's the small things.
|Zoë and Bash headed to the cereal aisle|
I had missed American television (there's like unlimited channels) so much. I would wake up each morning and watch a documentary (On Demand is the shit!), then watch a standup comedy special before I went to sleep (I repeat... On Demand is the shit). I met a guy from Boston a couple years ago that told me how he watches his sports teams through a thing called Sling Box. I had read up on it, but never considered pulling the trigger on buying it. I finally relented while on this trip. I ordered the Sling Box. It came a few days before we left and I set it up on Zoë's TV. Now I have access to my sister's cable from anywhere in the world! I recommend Sling Box to any American living abroad. It's a nice slice of home. Election season is important for me, so it's great to get good coverage of one of the most important elections in my lifetime. I still can't believe that Donald Trump is a nominee for president. Even more disappointing is that I know smart people that will vote for him. I won't get into it now (just wait), but that was a main reason I got the Sling Box. Which in turn is the main reason I haven't made time to write a blog entry. TV is so good in America!
One highlight of the trip was me actually doing standup in the US. I was able to get on at an open mic in DC. It was interesting to see comedians on the grind. The club runner gave me five minutes and I made the best of my time. My cousins came out to the show and I'm glad they got to see me perform. Especially Andre. He's been supporting me since I started. Now he could actually see my progress. It went pretty well. I was nervous at first, but then got really comfortable at the first unexpected laugh. I was flowed right into it. I'll never forget that experience. Here's the set:
|One last hug...|
Mom sent us away with a box of 15 homemade cookies. Just what I needed after hiding from Curtis' workouts for eight days. A final addition to my love handles. Bash and Zoë hugged one last time before we drove off in the HUGE Expedition that I got upgraded to (rental tip: book online to increase the chance of upgrades on site). Now it was off to New York...
... But before New York we made a stop in New Jersey to see our friend Natasha. Natasha is a fun, beautiful and talented young lady that Swedie used to train. We met at Bahama Breeze (also on the list) and had some delicious Caribbean food. Natasha had brought some makeup for Swedie and a toy for Bash (nothing for me, but I'm not bitter). It was nice to catch up with her over some good food and drinks. It was oddly reminiscent of our last hangout before moving to Sweden. She was the one to take us to the airport then. It's great that she's doing well now. The last time she saw Bash was when she did his 3D ultrasound. Now he was alive and out of the womb flirting with her! It was a great, but unfortunately short visit. Now to drop off the rental bus and hit up "the city"...
We decided to splurge on a nice hotel in Manhattan. I thought I was going to be doing some standup there as well, but it didn't work out. It was cool though. The first morning was odd to see Manhattan in such a quiet state. 5 Ave wasn't really 5th Ave without all of the brisk-paced New Yorkers flocking across intersections. We found a charming French restaurant (Le Pain Quotidien) with an amazing breakfast. It was so nice we ate there twice! Fresh croissants (read that with a thick French accent), orange juice and salads. So good. We took Bash on a nice stroll around Central Park. Buying that stroller turned out to be an awesome idea.
I reached out to our good friend Gary. It was short notice, but he made time for us. It was so good to see him. Of course he was late as shit, but we managed. Bash was quite the trooper as we trekked around Manhattan. We met Gary and got pretty tipsy off of $6 mimosas and glasses of wine. This was in preparation for the main event. Gary joined us for what would be an amazing dinner. Swedie was personal trainer for a pastry chef (Hi Stephen!) and he was nice enough to get us a reservation at Colicchio and Sons where he is in charge of desserts. First off, I'm a huge fan of Tom Colicchio, so that was enough, but Stephen's dessert... OH MY GOD! This was our second time eating there, and he does not disappoint. He put together an amazing assortment of desserts that topped off just how sweet this trip was. Gary Ubered us back to the hotel and bid us farewell. It was great laughing with his crazy ass. I can't wait to see him again (come to Sweden man!).
The final day was a winding down of sorts. We checked out of the hotel and met some friends from Jersey. The Pride Parade was going on, so that was cool to see. Music blasted and people danced as they expressed excitement in being proud of who you are. It was beautiful and I was glad to be in there at that moment. The shootings in Orlando hadn't happened so long ago and I'm especially glad the parade went on with no tragedy attached to it.
Our friends fought through the crowd and walked us back to our hotel. We talked and caught up. I was excited for them and the prospects of their future. It was good to see them and wish them well. It's great to see that friendships last over time. That's what this trip was all about. Now it was time to leave home and head home. On to the airport. Until next time...
Wednesday, June 8, 2016
|Eliza and Bash|
Of course with our luck, Bash came down with a fever the night before the flight. He was in good spirits (as always) so we just gave him some medicine to get the fever down. Everything would be fine. We got to the airport and almost missed the flight because for some reason the airport officials thought boarding early was a good idea. Don't they understand the concept of CPT? We had to get some food. If the flight leaves at 2:55pm, why would they board at 1:55? Who does that? The lady came out all mad at us and rushing us onto the plane at 2:30. I refuse to run if I'm not being chased. It's not that serious lady. We got to the plane only to be told that the departure would be delayed.
Bash had his favorite stuffed animal Björn with him. He buckled Björn in for the flight and we were off.
Bash has recently been enamored with airplanes and helicopters. He gets excited to see them and was extra excited to know that we were on one. I don't think he fully understands the concept that we were going to leave the ground and travel across the Atlantic ocean to the hot and humid place where Daddy comes from. He looked out the window at the clouds and said his WOWs. That worked for me.
Bash had a cough that sounded pretty bad, but now it was sounding worse. It was weird because he wasn't acting sick at all. To the contrary, he was in a great mood. He played his games and watched his videos. He charmed people around us all throughout a fever. We have the best kid. Side note: it was funny as hell watching Swedie try to "comfort" Bash as the plane took off knowing damn well that she was scared. Loosen the grip on his jeans, Swedie! You're gonna cut off the boy's circulation.
It was great to see our hosts. Every time we walk into the Holm Home it's like we never left. We can't ask for better members of our extended family. Bash warmed up quickly to everyone. This trip is going to be fun! Bash's cough sounded worse and worse. I don't think the flight helped. He woke up crying from the cough. After some medicine he would slowly calm down and then doze off again. It really breaks a parent's heart to feel so helpless as your child cries in pain. Swedie is the best mom. She rocked and comforted him throughout the night. The combination of the time change and the apparent sickness was quite a load for little Bash. He was powering through it.
The next morning Bash was up and at it before 5am. Great. We distracted him a bit and he eventually fell back asleep. Thank goodness. We ended up waking up again just before 9am. When you're up and on vacay... make pancakes! I feel guilty about how much I missed Walmart. Seriously, what don't they have? Breakfast/brunch would turn out amazing.
We went to my aunt's later for a barbecue. I forget how much louder my family is than Swedie's (and probably every other family for that matter). I heard the music from the street. I walked in and poor Bash was terrified. Music blasting, Spades trash talk and unfamiliar people in his face.
- HEY BASH!
Bash got scared and started to cry. I was afraid of this. He was also sick and extremely tired. This wasn't going as planned. Finally someone turned off the music so we could watch the NBA Finals game (ass whoopin' if you want to get technical). Side note: it amazes me how many people are all of a sudden Golden State "fans" now that they're the best team in the league. NOBODY cared about them three years ago. Especially people in Miami that were still Heat "fanatics". I was so annoyed by all of these people screaming at the TV with passion. So fake. We decided we'd leave at halftime. Bash was knocked out. It was fun joking around with family and friends. I got a kick out of my Uncle Willie annoying people. He's very good at that.
We were saying our goodbyes when Bash began a terrible-sounding coughing attack. Everyone became concerned.
- He sounds bad. He needs to go to the hospital.
Swedie had suggested that earlier. I had resisted. He had been in such good spirits. My instincts were to not go to the hospital. That would be expensive and a hassle. Swedie contacted the insurance folks in Sweden. They'd find the nearest authorized hospital and text her when we were good to go. A few minutes later they texted a nearby hospital name and address. The insurance company sent them verification and all we had to do is show up. What?! Another win for Sweden. Woop! Woop!
We signed in at the urgent care center and a few minutes later we were holding a hose in front of Bash while gas crept into his lungs. I couldn't help but roll my eyes at the financial side of things. It was like first things first, are we gonna get paid? Then once that was squared away they put focus on Bash. The care was fast and great. We felt the x-ray was unnecessary, but whatever. Get your money. Bash got his antibiotics and we were out of there in no time.
Bash felt a little better the next day. He still got up at about 4:30. We had to get out of the house before the Homls hated us. We went to the park, Walmart and Dunkin Donuts (home sweet home!). Bash was loving it all. We saw some ducks at the park and decided next time we'd bring bread. A HUGE iguana ran towards us and that's when I found out that in an emergency I would probably forget that I have a family to protect. I screamed and was GONE! Swedie didn't know what happened. In my defense, the way that iguana's arms were rotating as it ran was completely unnatural and terrifying. Swedie should have picked up on my social cue and run with me. I am certain that that poor iguana was left at that man-made lake by a student at the nearby college. It probably saw humans and thought we were there to rescue it, only for me to run from it. Poor iguana.
This morning Bash was back in action. We started the day with some duck feeding. Turtles came out and the iguana did his creepy wind walk as well. I wasn't freaked out this time. Then it was off to breakfast at Grandmother's. Fish and grits hit the spot! I had two plates. Bash destroyed a serving of eggs. My aunt Renee came over and it warmed my heart when Bash decided to go on a walk with her WITHOUT us. He actually told us not to go.
- Mamma stanna här! Daddy stanna här!
We obliged and watched them go look for ducks by the lake. It was beautiful. Bash was getting to know Daddy's side of the family. He laughed and played with Daddy's grandmother, aunt and great aunt. Yesterday he played around with Daddy's favorite uncle. There's more family to meet over the next two and a half weeks. Seems like Bash is just getting warmed up. I can't wait to watch with pride. Until next time...
Wednesday, May 11, 2016
One Swedish guy told me that I was funny. It's always flattering. I gave my normal "Thanks a lot, man!" It really means a lot to me when someone tells me I'm funny. You should try it. Go up to a comedian and tell them they're funny. I promise you you'll make their day. However, this guy followed it up with a "but".
- The only thing I would say...
Here goes. Another person that doesn't get on stage telling me what I should do the next time I get up there. Let me guess, "Talk more about things Swedish people do." I've heard that before. But I don't want to jump to conclusions. He might tell me something that I could use. I prepared myself to give a polite smile and say, "Thanks. I'll consider that." Don't get me wrong, I appreciate feedback. Comics love feedback. But we GET it INSTANTLY when the crowd reacts to the jokes. If you wanted them to laugh and they groaned, then maybe you should work on that joke a bit. If you wanted a groan and they groaned, keep doing that shit. It's the terrifyingly gratifying thing that makes standup so awesome. Real feedback. That wasn't enough though. I had to hear from this guy.
- That word. You shouldn't use that word.
I didn't see this coming. This dude is white and Swedish. I was perplexed. I had to entertain him.
- What word?
- You know. The one you used at the end.
- The "N-word"? Why shouldn't I use that word? The story I tell is a true story and that's the word my uncle used in it.
- But you're in Sweden now. We don't have the same history as America. You could lose the crowd.
This is when my "bullshit radar" started buzzing like crazy. First of all, this guy's problem with me using the word wasn't due to any concern over my comedic success. As I said, I got laughs all night. Obviously I didn't lose the crowd. His problem was probably that the word reminded him that a situation existed/exists in my country where people that look like him oppress people that look like me. He felt the associated "white guilt" from that and it made HIM feel uncomfortable. How dare I?
I kept my cool and went on about the way the word has been altered by black Americans in an effort to remove the sting from it. He frowned and told me that I could maybe use this as a teaching moment. You know, because Swedes are so non-racist that they won't understand what this "nigger/nigga" word means. Please miss me with the bullshit, sir. I was getting heated. Another comic overheard the conversation and looked shocked and uncomfortable. This guy's ignorance had his girlfriend sitting in awkward silence. I decided to shut this dude down in as polite a way as possible. I put on my "obviously sarcastic, dumbass" voice.
- Oh I get it! So I shouldn't use a word that was used to oppress my people in order to make you feel more comfortable. I'll keep that in mind.
I couldn't hide my annoyance. My sarcasm was received. He flashed a slightly embarrassed smile.
- I get what you're trying to do.
The conversation ended. I began talking to the other comedian as I cooled down. I'm not even that radical about the word. I personally don't care who uses it. Yes, even white people using it doesn't bother me. It's just one of those things that bothers some (probably most) black people and not me. Imagine that. We're not all alike. I won't force myself to be angry, however that associated anger is a right that I have as a black man that has dealt with the systemic discrimination that resulted in the sensitivity around that word. The usage of the word is a luxury afforded to me as a member of a people that tried to change the tone of it. One thing that I will not tolerate is someone without that history telling me not to use the word in order to relieve them of their white guilt.
What that guy should do is ask himself why was he so uncomfortable if in fact Sweden doesn't have that history. Why would such a foreign word matter? Does he really care to know about the history of that word or the context in which it was used? I mean, I told a story about my great-great uncle speaking inappropriately to my brother. One of the words he uses in the story is "nigga" (he also uses motherfucker, but I guess that didn't affect this guy so much). Did that word really take this person sitting at a comedy show out of the story? I don't think it did. I think this man looked at me and only saw black and happy. The layers underneath weren't as comforting though. But they were real. So he and future audiences are just going to have to deal with it. As long as they keep laughing. Until next time...
Saturday, April 30, 2016
|At Big Ben|
This fall I'll be performing as a part of that same Team Amerika group from my first performance. It's me and some of my funny American friends Ryan Bussell, David Weaver and Yemi Afolabi. I'm on a freaking poster! We'll be at the Lund Comedy Festival the first weekend of September. Check us out. It's been going great so far. I can confidently say that I have 30 minutes of material now on my quest to an hour. The grind will continue. I will meet my goal. I want to get so funny that I'm embarrassed about the ten minutes I did at Super Weekend in the video above. Watch out for this comedian. Who knows, maybe you'll see me live one day. Until next time...
Wednesday, April 20, 2016
Friday, February 19, 2016
Friday, January 22, 2016
I always considered myself one of the good guys when it comes to women. I am a proud feminist that actively tries to grow in my feminism. Back in the day I was honest with women when I didn't want to get serious. I thought I was doing my part. Then I read this article about rape culture. It was basically a letter to men explaining how we subconsciously contribute to the fucked up situation that is rape culture. I took mental notes and vowed to do better. As I read through it I thought to myself that I was already doing some of the things the author suggested. I was still a good guy. I just needed to get better. It wasn't like I raped anyone.
I'm sold on the fact that rape culture is real. I'm sure that we men all contribute to it in some way. But I had somehow excused myself from much of the responsibility. The real problem was the rapists out there. The predators were making it bad for all of us. They are sick people. Us good guys can do our part to show that we're not one of them, but then what? We're the good ones.
Then I read an article by my good friend Cassandra Klatzkow. I've mentioned her in this blog before. She's a big part of my life. She's one of Swedie's best friends and Bash's godmother. She's smart, funny, talented and beautiful. Please read her article. If you don't understand Swedish, please translate it in an app or something. It's stories that nearly every woman I know can share. Times when a guy crossed the line because he was horny or thought that he had a right to a woman's body because he's a man. That's putting it mildly in her case. She has been through some terrible shit that some terrible men have put her through. It hurt to read it because she is my friend. It also hurt to read it because in some of those stories I was that guy.
I pride myself on being a problem solver. People complain all the time, but where are the solutions? I don't think the solution to eradicating rape culture is doing my best to make women feel comfortable and know that I'm not a threat. It helps, but only to a certain degree. I feel that the solution is to expose the "good guys" for the true threat that we are. Cassandra says at the end of her article that every woman she knows has a story like that, but men don't have a story where they victimize women. The guys and I had recently talked about this very thing on a recent podcast episode. You never hear a guy talking about that time he went too far or did something fucked up towards a woman just because he was horny. In the podcast I nod and agree and say how messed up it is that you never hear those stories from men. It didn't even dawn on me that I had those stories myself. I was in good guy denial. We all are.
So this good guy will now expose himself. I'm going to tell stories that I am very ashamed of. Men reading this can reflect on their similar stories and realize that our contribution to rape culture is deeper than we think.
I was in the third grade. I liked a cute girl in my class. We played outside and I chased her around as kids do. Energy and curiosity ran through me and I grabbed at her as I ran. I got a hold of her shirt and she pulled away laughing. I had a good grip and tried to pull her closer. Her shirt ripped almost all the way down the front. I saw the strap of her training bra. I let go of the shirt. She ran off to the teacher covering herself. The teacher later called me out of my class to talk to me. I remember her asking the girl to show me what I had done. I also remember the excitement of possibly seeing what was under her jacket. In hindsight, why would the teacher do that? Anyway, the girl shook her head in embarrassment. I was scolded for ripping her shirt. That girl never played with me again.
In high school a good friend of mine wore a short skirt to school one day. I teased her that I would lift it up and expose her rear end to everyone. She laughed it off. I was a good guy after all. I wouldn't do that. I had a bit of a crush on her. We were walking up the stairs and I grabbed the skirt and lifted it. The skirt flipped all the way up, exposing her rear and panties to all of us below her on the stairs. She was completely embarrassed and told me not to say another word to her or she would slap me. She kept her word. I remember thinking, "It was just panties."
I was 16. There was this young, kind of dumb and very impressionable girl that used to hang out at my job. She made no secret about the fact that she really liked me. I didn't really like her. I told her that she could have me if she had my friend as well. She agreed. My friend and I went over to her house one day and took turns having sex with her. She asked me to be her boyfriend. I told her I didn't want a girlfriend. She stopped hanging out at my job.
In high school a girl came over to my house. She and I had been flirting with each other since middle school. Now she was here. We messed around in my room. She would stop me at each step when I tried to take things further. Then I would "charm" her and "talk her into" going to the next step. I eventually "talked her into" having sex. I was Jon Juan. My "charm" had worked again. She called me that night and said she didn't like how things had gone. She felt like I had pressured her into doing something she wasn't ready to do. I thought she was just having regret. Maybe religious guilt. I hadn't "forced" her into it. I brushed it off. She didn't come over again.
I was around 19. "Jon Juan" was in full effect now. I thought I was the ladies man of the year. A new girl was at the base. I figured I would go to her room to "keep her company". I guess that was "Netflix and chill" back then. I was over there for a bit when we started kissing. She didn't want to do more. I tried to sweet talk her. I began removing my clothes. She didn't. It was almost like I blacked out or something because next thing I know I was lying there almost naked and she was almost fully clothed. I felt embarrassed. Not that I had made her so uncomfortable, but at how ridiculous it was for "Jon Juan" to be almost fully naked and to still be resisted. I never went over there again.
I'm married now. There are countless times that I've whined and complained and tried using guilt trips to "talk my wife into" having sex with me. Then later complain that she "wasn't into it". The worst thing is when the last thing your wife says before you do it is:
- Well alright then, damn! We'll do it. Hurry up.
It's embarrassing. More embarrassing is that I shut up and do it. Continuing this stupid cycle of mine where I am childish and selfish and inconsiderate.
I shared these stories for the other "good guys" that thought they were just "boys being boys" all their life. Guys like me have been letting our hormones guide us while leaving damaged women in our wake. A few minor detail changes and these stories could be turned into proof of my sexual prowess when they really only prove that I'm not a good guy. Guys, look yourselves in the mirror. Think back on your interactions with women. Have you really been a good guy? Have all of your sexual partners been as "into it" as you told your friends over beers?
I haven't drugged anyone. I have never had sex with someone while they were unconscious. I have never threatened anyone before or after sex. That doesn't mean that I'm a good guy. It pains me to say it, but I have contributed more than I thought to this fucked up rape culture. If you're a man, then you probably have too. I'm not asking that you blog about it. I'm asking that you stop acting like it didn't happen like that. Share the REAL stories with your sons, nephews, younger male cousins and mentees. That's the solution. Teach the next generation that it's not okay to grab at a girl at recess. Tell them to keep their hands to themselves. Tell them that taking advantage of her interest in them for a "cool story" later makes them a fucking asshole. Tell them that once she says no and shuts down, them taking more clothes off is creepy and disturbing. Tell them that once they are in a relationship - no matter how long - she/he isn't theirs. They can always be told "No" and they must always respect that "No". That's how we'll improve rape culture. We'll make real good guys. Until next time...