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skot AT izzlepfaff DOT com

Tuesday, 27 October
Chicago Loop

I stopped by a neighborhood bar on my way home from work today. An old burnout guy was sitting there a few stools down--I think his name is Tom--and he's of the horrible sort who likes to talk to strangers (like me) by way of chuckling to himself and trying to invite conversation. Today, he managed to engage the indefatigable Josh, the bartender, thusly: "I mean, don't you think the moon landing was a scam? They wanted to embarrass the Russians, after all." I glared fixedly into my newspaper; Josh was all like, "Yeah, uh . . . that shit was crazy."

Tom chuckled some more after Josh scampered away; he was trying to get me to ask him what was so funny. I declined his chuckly advances. Meanwhile, the hellish radio station that Josh had on blared away with songs like "I'm Too Sexy," "I Am Your Venus," "The Heat Is On" and "Your Love." The latter song, by the Outfield, by the way, has been shown, upon prolonged exposure, to drive spiders absolutely insane, causing them to spin webs that look like line drawings of Marlonn Wayans' face. Nobody knows why, but that's the God's truth. White Chicks 2 will, I'm sure, explain this bit of Wayans ephemera.

This is all, of course, meaningless, except to sort of outline how shitty my lousy afternoon was, what with the Wayans-related-arachnoid-chuckling-burnout case and all that, other than to alert me to the fact that this afternoon was in every way superior to last week.

See, last week, I had to fly to Chicago for work for our semiannual conference. It's a combo buffet of a training seminar along with dreary meetings where everyone gets together to discuss the various ways in which we have been utterly unsuccessful in finding ways to cure cancer. "So here's how you fill out these web forms. Now, in a few minutes, we'll talk about the relative uselessness of bisphosphonates."

Tuesday--all day--was a travel day for me, so no heavy lifting there. Just the usual rectal invasion by the TSA. ("You have a muppet up your asshole." "Oh, that's where Grover likes to nap.") I checked into my hotel room without incident and was improbably ensconced in a weird suite at the Hyatt on the 34th floor, where I immediately bounced on the king-sized bed for sixteen minutes and marveled that I had two different phones. Then I came to the dispiriting realization that every time I wanted a cigarette, I'd have to travel down 34 floors. I let my bed-bouncing gloomily subside, and decided to get a beer and a bite.

In a not-rare moment of terrible judgment, I opted for an in-house hotel bar of a weak--very weak--Irish theme called, ominously, "Daddy-Os." I ask you. "Daddy-Os?" That's like going to an allegedly Scottish place called "Paul Haggis" or a lesbian joint titled "Furburgers." I'm a moron.

Anyway, I got this pulled pork sandwich (oh, shut up). It was fire-engine red and tasted like a fire engine. I got about four bites in before my dead-tired brain finally realized, "Hey! This tastes like death." I pushed the thing away from me to the perplexed bartender, who asked if everything was all right. "I'm in the most inexplicably named Irish bar ever," I explained. The Daddy-Os bartender shrugged and dumped my sandwich into the garbage, and I raised a tired mental cheer over its demise.

My duties the next morning were easy: I was to preside over the "drop-in" desk, where I registered people to our conference who where too distracted or simple to register online via a rather simple set of checkboxes. It's a lot like, I would imagine, screening contestants for "The Price is Right." There were four of them who registered; I resisted the urge to ask them how much a can of Del Monte green beans retailed for, but only barely. I also grabbed a cheap latte.

By 11:00, my stomach was in turmoil, and not just because of crippling ennui. I went out with a co-worker for a smoke, and began shaking uncontrollably (though not so uncontrollably that I couldn't raise my cigarette to my mouth).

"You're getting that from one cup of coffee?" exclaimed my friend. "Wow"

"Fucking hell," I replied. Then I dropped my cigarette.

"Whoa!" cried a bum passing by. Then he apologetically cadged a cigarette, which I gave him after a complicated bit of negotiation with my coat pocket.. "I just got out of prison," he explained.

"He looks better than you do," said my co-worker. "You're fucking swell," I chattered.

I was sent to bed for the afternoon.

And the next.

In other words, I went to Chicago for three days, and I spent one of them in a horrible hotel bar eating chromium pork sandwich and the next two shivering and puking in my hotel room. The kicker is, the last time I had to travel for work, I got food poisoning. The lesson is clear: I should never leave home.

I went through a few thoughts about this ordeal. At first I thought it was (yet again) food poisoning. Then I got to fretting about H1N1 and moved swiftly on to dark ideas about a pneumonia reoccurence. But when I got home to my wife--who has the immune system of a Borg drone--she offhandedly mentioned that a 24-hour stomach flu bug had been roaring through her preschool popluation, and I moaned out load.

Tomorrow night, we celebrate her birthday. I love her, so I will resist the urge to fart into her eggs or whatever. I'm not sure I'll be able to resist playing the Outfield, though.

Tuesday, 06 October
This Isn't Funny

Say! Elections are coming up again! Granted, it seems like we just did this--and we did--but these are off-year elections. Who fucking cares, right?

Well, I do. And listen, my tens of readers, you should too, particularly those of you fellow Washington Staters. Because of Referendum 71. (Jesus fucking Christ, give me strength to tolerate the referendum process.)

Here's the (very abbreviated) deal. Last spring, the legislature voted to expand domestic partnership protections. In response to this, a bunch of lying fucking assholes whipped up a frenzy of "OMG the fags want to get hitched!!!!!" nonsense and managed to get any number of mouth-breathers to sign up for a referendum that's tantamount to asking us, "Are you suuuuuure? Because if this becomes law, you might be, you know, a faggot." Voting "no" on R-71 would repeal rights for same-sex domestic partnerships. Never mind that it says nothing about gay marriage. Never mind that the liars are spreading all kinds of toxic horseshit about teaching about gay sex in schools. Never mind that the issue is (once again) being flogged by a bunch of motherfucking ignorant goblins.

Okay, that may be a little over the top. Let me clarify: those who are against same-sex domestic partnership rights are motherfucking ignorant goblins who should be thrown under a glacier. There! Didn't mean to sound cruel.

Look, I'm appealing to you as a friend. Maybe that's overreaching. How about just as someone who would have my back, even if you don't know me? I like to think that, say, if I were hanging out in a bar and some fucking douchebag punched me in the face for no reason, and you were also hanging out, maybe you'd come give me a hand and pull that fucker off of me. I like to think that I'd do that for some poor guy minding his own business in the same situation. I'm not even gay, and this goddamn bullshit feels like getting sucker-punched for sure. After eight stinking motherfucking years of feeling punched in the face every goddamn day during the Bush years, it's getting old. So can a dude ask you--my imaginary friends--to please stand up and give me a hand? Give my friends a hand? Can you help pull these wretched ass-goats out of the fucking bar and help me kick them to the curb?

I mean, for Christ's fucking holy choad, it costs you a stamp if you've signed up for voting by mail. You don't have to go anywhere! You don't have to smell kindly old ladies in vests! You don't have to endure faceless municipal buildings or desiccated church lobbies! And even if you still want to physically travel to your local polling place at the Denny's conference room . . . WELL, COULD YOU, PLEASE? I'm begging you.

I guess I lost my "be nice and ask nicely" tone somewhere. I'm fucking tired of being nice (not something I suppose I'm regularly accused of). But I'll try again. Please, guys, get out the vote. Approve R-71. Stand the fuck up for that nice guy over in cubicle 2043 and his live-in boyfriend. Leslie in HR can use your fucking help. You know these people, right?

Are you tired of getting fucking punched in the face? Are you tired of your friends getting knuckled out? I swear to God I've got your back. Just step up, and there's a whole lot of us who've got your back. Step up.

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