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Monday, 03 April
Through The Looking Glasses

A week ago, I went to my optometrist and got a new set of glasses. It'd been about three years or so. As usual, I went to his office, tricked out in daunting ads featuring models lounging around in impossibly chic spectacles. Some of these pneumatic ad-gals seemed to be fingering their glasses provacatively, others were wrapping their glossy lips around the temples in erotic contemplation, and one ad seemed to rather unimaginatively show a woman staring at the viewer in her shiny glasses while she fingered her snatch with a frank expression. The message seemed to be: "These glasses will make attractive women masturbate for you." At least that's what I got from it.

I bitched about this three years ago, but it bears repeating: eye doctors are not real doctors. They are incredibly expensive designer frame delivery mechanisms. For a hundred and twenty-five bucks, my "exam" bought me a perfunctory bit of nonsense with the alleged doctor, who idly fumbled with electronic lens displays that blurrified the letter chart for me. "Which one is clearer, A or B?" he asked, spinning knobs at random. "They both look like letters made of hair," I replied. "Hmmm. Your vision really is horrible. How about now?" He clicked a couple buttons. "Now I see a dancing cow," I said flatly. "Oh, my," he said, not bothering to conceal his indifference. "That means you have, uh, oculopathy. With attendant . . . retinnitus. But don't worry. We have designer frames for that."

After more of that shit, and some other nonsense where he gave me some nameless burning eyedrops "just to fuck with ya!" I was sent out to the purgatory that is the optometrist's front office to be "helped" by his service lackeys. Eyeball lackeys primarily "help" by steering you to the shiny, osmium- beryllium alloy frames that were designed by obnoxious Frenchmen and modeled by the aforementioned vagina-diddlers. Or there are the "budget" options described in low tones by the lackeys as "shoddy," or more simply, "hideous." "You could get these," said Willard, distastefully holding a pair of plastic frames in his fingers, as if it were a petrified turd, "but nobody would talk to you. Me, I wouldn't piss on these." Then he dropped the frames to the floor, unzipped his pants, and brought forth his dismayingly grayish penis. He stood there for a moment, staring intently at the befallen frames as if in grave concentration, while I found myself becoming tachycardic. He finally looked at me. "See? I can't piss on these frames." He crushed the awful frames under his heel as he tucked his granite-colored member back into his pants. "Plus, they're made by blind children in Byelorussia. Or Tahinistan. One of those dead-ass countries. You wear those, you might as well tattoo I HATE PUSSY on your head. Come on, let's stop fucking around and go look at some real frames."

Naturally, I ended up spending, all told, over six hundred dollars for the whole experience, including these smart new frames, made of gunmetal-colored titanium. I picked "gunmetal" because I naturally assumed that once I put them on, I'd be able to shoot people just by looking at them, BUT NO, FUCKED AGAIN. Willard also managed to tack on a number of things that I'm sure I did not need--some sort of coating, for example, that I'm sure is the "undercarriage rustcoat" of eyeglasses, that supposedly reduces glare, but really just reduces my bank account as well as my ability to function in capitalistic society. Willard also told me with apparent jollity that there was no way on God's earth that my insurance plan would cover this crap, as my insurance plan was, in his words, "really the shits." (On this, I am not kidding.)

Well, at any rate . . . after all that, I have a new set of glasses. And they're really spiffy! They're smaller and lighter than my last pair, and certainly more stylish, since they have an actual color. "Gunmetal"! Which is way cooler than my last drab pair, which were the color of . . . regular metal. I am assured by everyone--well, everyone at my optometrist's--that their slimmer profile highlights my Nordic cheekbones and downplays my otherwise utterly simian facial features. "Plus they cover up that huge-ass zit you have right in between your eyebrows," crowed Willard.

I love my new glasses, if I have to tell the truth. They were fucking expensive as hell, but I really like them a lot. Wearing them has given me a new swagger and, yes, I feel a little more stylish as well. It's a good feeling. And, pretty soon, I'm sure, someone else will notice too, and will speak up. Which will also be a good feeling. I can't wait.

But I guess I'll have to wait a little longer. Because in a little over a week of wearing them, not one single person has noticed that I have new glasses. But as soon as someone does? Man . . . it's going to make it all worth it.

Thursday, 12 January
Sometimes It Grows Back

Today I got a haircut.

Oh my God, Skot! Tell us more! Yeah, this is all I've got any more.

I do not really know how anyone else decides when to go to the damn barber. All I know is that I do not go nearly enough. Usually around a month and a half after a typical haircut, I notice my hair in the mirror and think, "Whoop! Time for a trim!" And then I wait another month and a half before actually making the appointment, so by that time, it just looks like there's a dead okapi stapled to my head. Look, it's just not one of those things that I think about on a daily basis--I have to wait until I've achieved deceased mammal status. Part of this is, I don't really like to look in the mirror that much, because I'm kind of funny looking without being cool funny looking. I mean, I don't even have any interesting scars. Which is actually also all right with me, because scars mean physical damage, and in addition to being kind of funny looking, I'm also sort of a pussy. You see my dilemma.

Anyway. I showed up at the salon--yeah, I know--a good fifteen minutes early. But H. was ready for me. He showed me to the chair. I like H. He doesn't fuck up my hair--then again, how much damage could he do to a guy with middling self-esteem?--and best of all, he's not a talker. I have been known in the past, when making hair appointments, to request the least chattiest employee. Call me a misanthrope, but making small talk while a guy whips razor-sharp blades around my ears just isn't in my repertoire. H. is a brutally efficient hair assassin. I like that.

(The guy to the left of me was getting his hair done by a drag queen. The drag queen was discoursing loudly about, I shit you not, "the Di-vine Miss M." It may have been my imagination, but more than once I felt a certain urgency creep into H.'s snipping, as if he were suppressing a deep desire to murder the drag queen.)

I mused happily as I sat in the chair and explained to H. what I wanted. "Uh . . . make it shorter!" And it really is always a relief to get my hair cut, as I like to have my skull as aerodynamic as possible. Anything that reduces the drag on my hair as I run to the store for cigarettes is appreciated. H. got to work.

Unexpectedly, he did not immediately escort me to the sink to wash my nasty hair. Hey, what the fuck? Do I not merit a shampoo? H. coldly appraised my okapi and then grabbed the clippers. I sat glumly during the damning assessment, and then H. deployed the comb, and started shaving giant hunks of hair off of my noggin. He said nothing during the procedure, which I usually like. Then I started to feel awful. Oh my God, I thought. I'm such an asshole that the chatty queeny hairdressers won't talk to me. They won't even wash my hair! I sat in existential hair despair as H. deftly disposed of months of ratty growth. Then he bonked me on the ears and neck a few times with some sort of secret barber brush.

"Let's go give you a wash," he said. Purest relief flooded through me. He didn't hate me! He just realized that there wasn't any point in tackling my hidelicious mop without some advance demolition. It just made sense. I bet Brazilian waxers do some brute push-mowing before getting down to the detail work.

In due course, H. was all done. He then squeeze-bottled my head with some crap and professionally ruffled my hair. I never know what to do at this stage; the hair people always seem to try something funky with my uniquely uncooperative follicles, and it usually ends up looking like some sort of spectacularly ruined noodle dish. H. put a bunch of hair crap on his hands finally, and smoothed it into my skull, creating a lustrous blond helmet that sat uneasily on my bean, like a vervet monkey nervously perched on a pale basketball.

"How's that?" H. asked.

"Perfect!" I screamed, desperate to leave. Why do even good hairdressers inevitably fail horribly right at the end? It's like a wedding cake designer who tops every gorgeous confection with a tiny dollop of his own feces. "I really love it!"

I do have to say that my hair was extremely skull-fitting. Aerodynamic. He must have known I needed to buy some cigarettes.

Wednesday, 12 January
A Visit To Queens

The wife and I tonight went out for some local Chinese food, and I overheard this from another patron: "I just saw 'Ginger Beef' on the menu. That would be a good name for a drag queen." This was spoken in, from what I could tell, total sincerity.

I put down my fork and immediately ordered another drink.

That this is, of course, a monumentally horrible name for a drag queen is kind of the point. I wasn't sure if it was the stupidest thing I'd heard in a while or the most brilliant. I started to build a mental picture of what Ginger Beef would look like, and stopped when I got to Tina Louise wearing steaks around her tits and crotch. (I would like to say that it took me a long time to get there. It did not.)

Here's some other nominees for horrible drag queen names that I either do or emphatically do not ever want to encounter.

Snatch Adams

Who doesn't want a terrifyingly hairy clown as their OB/GYN? This sexy man-gal is all yours for bachelor parties and live births! Thrill with laughter, ladies, as you convulsively shoot out your newborn into the painfully unfunny arms of what might be a John Wayne Gacy painting! Ho ho ho!

Sean "Vanity" Hannity 6

Let this conservative pundit escort you into the sexy side of unquestioning Republicanism! Mmmmmm. After ten minutes, you're not going to wonder how Prince bedded Alan Greenspan . . . you're going to want the recipe. This is one drag queen who will happily talk about inflation. Whew!

Chike "Cheeky" Okeafor "Okeafor"

Yikes! This Seattle Seahawks defensive end--defensive end!--is cheeky indeed! No seriously, don't bother this guy, because he's crazy strange and might kill you for making fun of his name.

Dame Judi Dentures

For the older set. At the climax of her routine, "Dame Judi" spits out her false teeth into someone's uncovered Manhattan glass. Charming attempts to return the dentures results in Dame Judi's explanation that they really won't be needed for the rest of the night.

United Nations Security Consuela

I really feel that this is the best possible drag queen name ever. In keeping with my recent Khruschev theme, I'd like this drag queen to pound her shoe (politely) on her desk, while shouting, "We will bury you . . . in fabulousness!" And then stylish shoes would drop from the ceiling, raining podiatric havoc for attendees, but ultimately ending in sartorial bliss for all involved.

Wednesday, 14 January
Clothes Unmake The Woman

The wife discovered the dark side of online shopping tonight. See, her folks, bless 'em, were kind of befuddled as to what to get us for Jesusmas, so one of their presents to each of us were gift cards to J.C. Penney's. Poor lowly J.C. Penney's. They are, plainly, The Store Your Parents Shop At. Is there anything less hip than Penney's?

Okay, sit down, TJ Maxx, I see you.

Anyway. The wife sat down a week ago and started poking around the Penney's site, hopelessly looking for clothes. (I haven't used mine yet, but I'm reasonably sure I'm going to just buy a blender or something. Yes, I am all man. I'm fucking Doc Savage with a gift card! Rrrrrrr!) She found some pants she liked, and a couple shirts and a sweater, I think.

They came today, wrapped attractively in a shapeless mass of grey plastic. It's this sort of thing that maybe indicates that Penney's is not so much, ah, upscale. J.C. Penney's: We Eschew Boxes. It looked for all the world like a tiny body bag built for goth pixies. The wife proceeded to open the sad packagelet.

She brought out a pair of brown pants. An enormous pair of brown pants. Titanic. These were Brobdingnagian pants: I hoped they had been autographed by Jonathan Swift. "These are huge!" cried the wife. Happily, she still tried them on: they were ridiculously tremendous on her, and made her walk stiffly and oddly erect. Basically, she looked like Puddleglum the Marsh-Wiggle. And the awful fabric of the pants made terrible shrrrrk-shrrrk sounds whenever she moved--the mating call of wild burlap. "Boy, that looks and sounds really comfortable!" I said helpfully. She laughed and went into the bedroom to get them off, and as she changed, I still heard the malevolent susurrations of the fabric. Chilling.

She tried on a turtleneck sweater, of a rather violently Pepsoesque hue, which also looked on the gigantic side, but actually looked okay. The wife examined her now rare-beefishly-colored torso: "It didn't look this pink on the screen." I wondered briefly if anyone had ever thought the same thing about internet porn, and then decided that I would really have to stop thinking, you know, at all.

The wife tried on another shirt, this one a complicated floral print with a strange sort of textured fabric, and it was, well, funereal in almost every way. The cut was unsuited for the wife, and hung off of her horribly, like a shift fashioned out of dead children. The print was supposed to be, I think, representative of intertwined roses, but in this it failed terribly, and somehow managed to look rather sinister and deranged, as if it had been printed by lonely convicts, long ago driven mad from staring at their own tattoos. Basically, the shirt was a catastrophe: "This is horrible," declared the wife, tugging at it in a hopeless effort to make it look somehow less ghastly.

So that crap is going back (although a sick part of me kind of wants to keep that one shirt, if only for future experiments in black comedy). As for my part, after this experience, fuck man: those were some hilarious clothes. I may have to try this out myself. Maybe get myself some cut-rate Speedo knockoffs. I wonder if they have plaid.

I'm sure they do.

Monday, 11 August
Up Dawson's Creek

Posts have been scanty lately, for which I apologize; work has been kind of crazy, and then I've been trying to plan for tonight's experiment with doing The Match Game. We had a dry run on Saturday with us playing a mock game, and it went pretty well; my friend K. is playing Betty White, and it was pretty startling to hear her respond to a question by perkily answering, "Well, Gene, I said 'snatch'!" When in doubt, go for the blue material.

And then there's me: Richard Dawson. As I have mentioned before, I don't really look anything like him, nor sound like him (not that he's terribly noisy these days). So I worry, but it should be okay: I've got a black turtleneck, a brown sportsjacket, and an awful gold necklace, so all that's left is to affect an artful mixture of somnolence and pussyhound smarm. No problem! But that's not to say I didn't try some sartorial fuckarounds first.

First, I'm blond. Richard had brown hair. So I looked for some of that temporary-color hairspray, but found none at the two drugstores I looked, and therefore concluded that this exhaustive two-stop search was hopeless, and gave up on that. Then I figured if I wet my hair and shoved a ton of gel into it, it would darken my hair right up. So I bought some gel; the brand name was "Consort," which made me feel kind of dirty, but then I remembered that I was supposed to be Richard Dawson, and that the vaguely icky idea of "Consort in my hair" might help my character development, much like the three gin and tonics I plan on having.

Second, I remembered that for a long time, Mr. Dawson sported a creepy, bedgraggled mustache for a long time. Since I hate shaving anyway, I had already a faceful of whiskers last night, so I shaved everything off except the mustache. Perfect: I looked like Robert Redford in The Sting but without the handsomeness. Then I wet down my hair and toweled it. Now I looked like Robert Duvall in Tender Mercies but without the Ellen Barkin. I dumped an unholy wad of Consort in my hair, and massaged it around; it felt like consomme. Then I combed out my hair and arranged it into what I imagined to be a Dawsonesque coif.

It was a spectacularly ghastly failure. (It probably didn't help in that I can barely maneuver my hair into an acceptable shape on any given day anyway.) My hair was indeed darker, but it had a strange evil sheen to it, and it seemed to grip my skull like some terrible, starving mollusk. It also seemed to highlight, rather than de-emphasize, my gruesome mustache, and as I stared at myself, I realized that resembled nothing so much as a child molestor. I had a vague urge to go register with the authorities.

"I need to register as a sex offender."

"Yes, I can see that. Sign here."

Off came the mustache; out came the gel. It hardly matters: I'll be sitting next to a drag queen playing Fannie Flagg who will be wearing a sweater with a fried-egg pattern. Nobody is likely to give me a second glance.

Friday, 21 February
String Theory

Clotho: Here's the next thread.

Lachesis: Ew.

Atropos: Where did that come from?

Clotho: Piggly Wiggly. They had a sale.

Atropos: It's pretty ugly.

Clotho: Thread is thread, sister.

Lachesis: Well, hand it over. Boy. (Pause.) Boy. What do you think, girls?

Clotho: Peanut sheller?

Lachesis: Too ambitious.

Atropos: Crib death.

Clotho: You always say that.

Atropos: We could always make another Baldwin.

Lachesis: No more Baldwins! What is it with you and Baldwins?

Atropos: I just think they look funny.

Clotho: Oh, just throw him in a cubicle somewhere.

Atropos: I thought even "peanut sheller" was too ambitious.

Lachesis: It is.

(General cackling.)

Clotho: Okay, here you are.

Lachesis: Thanks. I'll just feed him in right . . . here, I guess. That's not too bad.

Atropos: Ugh. It sure is funny-looking that way . . .

Clotho: Well . . .

Atropos: I'm cutting him off.

Lachesis: Get out of here! Stop waving those fucking scissors around!

Atropos: Well, he's not helping things!

Clotho: Come on, Atropos, look at the thread right over there. It's that Caftan Person. Don't start pretending to have standards now.

Lachesis: Really. What is that?

Atropos: An experiment. I don't have to tell you.

Clotho: Well, this is all just very Perry Ellis, and I thought we were shooting for Armani here.

Lachesis: You're the one who picked the thread. What is that other one, again?

Clotho (reading label): "Skot."

Lachesis: What a dumb name.

Atropos: I have big plans for this one.

Thursday, 16 January
A Game of Jeopardy in Which the Category is My Unfortunate Life

A: All day.
Q: How long did I wear my sweater backwards at work today?

A: "Hey, I think your sweater is on backwards."
Q: What was not said to me to inform me of this?

A: "Wow, your neck is all chafed!"
Q: What was actually said to me to alert me of this?

A: "Jesus fucking Christ."
Q: What was my response to this realization?

A: My boss.
Q: Who was the person who heard me say this?

A: The head of the company.
Q: Who did my boss immediately tell of this incident to, while laughing loudly?

A: This guy right here.
Q: Who's classier than a solid gold toilet seat?










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