Musings at Midnight

I woke up around midnight. The ol’ bladder beckoned for release. Ew, what a way to begin a ramble, eh?

Most can tell that I do a fair share of my writing at night. I’m not exactly sure why that is, but the only time I follow up on a textual tug is in the wee hours. When the average citizen is either asleep, working, or drinking themselves to Mordor, I’m clanking away at a keyboard. However, I can’t really call this a tradition, rather a recent phenomenon.

A clear side-effect of this is that the mind never shuts off; day, dusk, doesn’t matter. The last few days are evidence of this. During my work week, I averaged about five hours of sleep. Not for lack of trying or lethargy, but more for an overabundance of pondering. Oh, and dentist appointments.

So, there I sat after a mid-evening nap, right cheek numb with Novocaine, preparing to unleash an unhinged stream of conscience. Apologies in advance if none of the thoughts appear cohesive, connected, or correct. I’m in a off-my-damn-chest sorta mood.

Pronoun Problem

I was having a conversation the other day, and the subject of transgender came up. Often the issue surrounding this is how to address someone who is between procedures. How do you address them? Sir? Ma’am? Uh…hey you? That steamrolled into a topic of discussion about pronouns.

If someone were – say – gender-confused, mid-op, or possessing both sex organs, what is an appropriate way to address them? There’s a fifty-fifty chance feelings could be hurt. Heavy odds for so small a thing as a greeting. Opting out of the issue entirely would also cause trouble. “He/She” sounds stupid, “They” is too obvious and unspecific, “It” is plain wrong on so many levels. A person is not plant.

This got the ol’ English major side of me thinking. I had to dust off the degree a bit, the thing had been mothballed since the first Bush term of office. I started by adhering to universality and specificity. Most Indo-European tongues divide terms according to gender. One can’t think of language without putting forth masculine or feminine attributes to it. I blame the French for this.

The answer was easy; sidestep gender entirely. I came up with “herm”. You guessed it, the nicked version of hermaphrodite, and it acts as a blending of “him” and “her”.

Here’s an example of a gender-specific phrase: “He went to get him some soup.”

Altered to gender-unspecific: “Herm went to get herm some soup.”

Not perfect, but there’s at least a flow, albeit dodgy.

However, we finally settled on nothing. It was a moot issue. If all else fails, you simply address the person by the name they give you. Asking as such would also give a clue as to how that person wishes to be referred. But it was an interesting convo while it lasted.

Werdz ar phun.

Midget or Dwarf

One thing that has always surprised me is how a term so common in our lexicon can be harmful. Of all the words an average joe or jane wouldn’t believe to be offensive, it’s “midget”. I was surprised when I first heard of it. Monikers and labels that have graduated to the level of epithetism usually sound awful once they roll off the tongue. Without citing examples, everyone can agree that even the most benign of all racial slurs has a harsh – almost gutteral – quality when uttered. They don’t sound nice.

Midget, in sharp contrast, doesn’t have the same bite as it’s slurry cousins. When I think on it, I hate to admit it conjures an “Awww”. That’s just it, it sounds cute. Cuddly even. However, I can see how someone with that condition might deem it a slur. Not everyone wants to be called cute. I certainly don’t. Well, unless the bearer of the brand was of the buxom brunette variety.

Uh, moving along.

What I don’t understand are the terms that are deemed acceptable. Other than the commonly-grafted “M-word”, the alternatives sound worse, in my opinion. I will admit I’m not educated on the subject, but when it is addressed, the two accepted labels that stick out are “little person” and “dwarf”.

I’m sorry…dwarf? When I think of a dwarf, I think of this an ill-tempered, bearded, hermitic, gold-horder.

And little people?

When I think of little people, visions of DArby O’Gill come to mind. Or Gulliver.

If ever there were two terms that had negative connotations, it’s those two. Don’t get me started on the acronyms. The community is oft-referred to as the “LP Community”. There’s one problem with the lettering. The average American poo-flinger won’t make the correlation between L.P. and Little People. More likely, they’ll think of a vinyl copy of an Iggy Pop record.

I think some serious brainstorming needs to be done at LP Central for cooler terminology. If I had a vote, I would make a case for “minja”.

C’mon, it sounds badass.

(UPDATE: I later learned from a friend of mine that the term “midget” derived from one P.T. Barnum, used to describe the Little People he used in circus acts. Now I know, and now I eat crow. Whoo…that rhymed.)

Mexico, I’m Unimpressed

In January, I took a cruise to Mexico with the family. We made port in Ensenada by about the third day. And…oh…what to say about Mexico. The city of Ensenada was beautiful, bustling and lively. The architecture, stunning. The food was exactly what you’d expecting authentic Mexican to be, a gorgeous gut bomb. On the roads between towns, though, yeesh.

My aunt informed me that Baja and most everything north of South America didn’t have sanitation services. The evidence was as clear as the smog-filled sky.Trash littered the road like a trail of tuberculosis. During one excursion, I noticed a pile of garbage as tall as a neighboring building. Seagulls swarmed the bonfire of debris in a King Kong-Vs.-biplane manner. I wasn’t impressed.

The other feeling I got was an impending sense of dread when I was exposed outdoors for too long. Mexico feels like a surprise attack waiting to happen. This could’ve been media-induced paranoia, but the same aunt chimed in again with, “Oh no! Mexico is perfectly safe..as long as you know what you’re doing. And if you have someone who knows the lay of the land to show you the ropes.”

Wait, what?

I’m not a Layman when it comes to tourism, having left the country on three occasions – twice to Europe. Not once did I feel I needed to latch onto a local for subsistence. The only precautions afforded me on those treks were to keep my passport with me at all times and my wallet in my front pocket. The rest was self-explanatory. Mexico felt unsafe.

After observing the grime and grit, I can safely say Latin America is not high on my traveling to-do list. I’d sooner hit Siberia. Next on the docket is definitely Asia Major.

In a point of irony regarding Mexico’s sanitation deficit, does anyone else find it odd that a hefty percentage of the U.S.’s sanitation employees…are Mexican?

[Blank] and the Boys

I shall close this long-winded loquaciousness with one last observation.

Karaoke-ing is my proudest guilty pleasure. Maybe it’s the faux-fame, the peacocking element, or the challenge of testing one’s vocal chords, but nothing beats rocking the mic at a dive bar. Nothing. The dingier the atmosphere, the better, as long as I get my four songs in. However, there is one nitpick that I’d like to make.

There is one phrase that I dread from the KJ, though, “Ladies and gentlemen give it up for Chet and the boys!

And the boys. I fucking hate that. Once I hear that addition, I can expect one of three groups of people:

(1) Frat fucks.

(2) Aged frat fucks.

(3) Frat fuck bachelor party.

And not a singer among ’em. A yeller or two, maybe, but not a one to act as a tuning fork for the rest of the posse o’ pain. Worse is the song selection. It never deviates, two options only; “Pour Some Sugar on Me” by Def Leppard or “You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feeling” by The Righteous Brothers. Like they’re in fucking Top Gun or something.

No beverage is strong enough to withstand the mournful howls of four or five drunken douches waxing un-melodic. Jameson came close once, but my ears still caught it. And they wept wax.

If one of you readers happens to belong to an And the Boys group, I have one request. Trade up a little! Go for some Neil Diamond, maybe. Last I checked, “Sweet Caroline” is nigh on un-butcherable. You can’t be any worse than an aged Neil.

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Friday, December 5th, 2008 Musings 1 Comment

I work for tea money.


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