Booze Hat

Four months ago, exploring the little shops in our new neighborhood, Joel came across a sombrero-shaped wine bottle stopper called “The Booze Hat”. Despite the passion of his sales pitch, I refused to buy it for him. Joel put his hands on my shoulders and, facing me, announced “Courtney, I respect you as a person, but I do not respect your decisions and you have killed my dreams.”

Yesterday, I gave Joel one of his Christmas presents to open early. Now this is a thing that is happening in our house. 

whiskey

Veterans Day

During World War II, Harold Jellicoe “Coe” Percival served his country in the Royal Air Force Bomber Command. Last month, he died at the age of 99 in a nursing home, a single man and, as his obituary said, no close family to attend his funeral. His obituary was picked up by Twitter, as well as his town’s local paper, and efforts to gather people together to celebrate his legacy quickly went viral. On Veterans Day, November 11, 2013, at Lytham Park Crematorium, over 300 people–mostly service men and women–showed up to pay their respects to Harold.

Veterans Day was always an interesting day in my family, given my father was a war veteran but never talked about it. For that reason, I’d say we weren’t a military family despite my father, his brother, my maternal grandfather and maternal grandmother each having served their respective countries. But it was never expected of anyone in my family to join the forces after that. In fact, with mention of a draft during the first Iraq war, my father was terrified that my teenage brother would suffer my father’s fate, and get selected. This fear — this powerful desire to avoid war — didn’t come from a place of cowardice or a lack of patriotism; it came from a place of having been there, having experienced it, and having known what going to war truly meant.

courtney and betty in cairo
My grandparents, stationed in Cairo, on their wedding day

My grandfather was famous for throwing parties. He made sure there were never enough chairs so people had no choice but to mingle, he made sure no one’s glass ever emptied, and by the end of the evening, he was often found playing the piano while everyone sang along. He needed no reason to throw one, or rather, he always found one: he once had friends gather to celebrate an odometer milestone in his Rolls Royce (for which he’d saved up to buy since he was a young boy). He drove up and down the driveway of my grandparent’s bungalow until 99,999 rolled over to 100,000. Champagne corks popped, celebratory drinks were poured, and numbers were celebrated as they’d never been before.

During World War II, my grandfather was required to witness the execution of British soldiers who had gone AWOL, having been caught trying to escape the ravages of war. As a medical doctor, he was needed to confirm their deaths. My mother once mentioned that her father never spoke of war either, only to briefly reveal once that it was hard enough to watch anyone die, let alone your own countrymen. I always admired that with a history like that, my grandfather chose to make everything in his life from then on a party–that life itself was good enough reason to celebrate.

my mom and her soldier
My mother before leaving San Francisco to return to England. She is holding a photo of my father, her fiance, and a teddy bear he gave her.

I don’t really know my father’s story. He joined the seminary after high school to become a priest but left three days later (sorry Jesus). My mom jokes that it’s because they didn’t have cable so he couldn’t watch baseball, but she might only be half (or not at all?) joking. He was drafted out of university and sent to Korea, his brother having already been sent to Vietnam. I know he fell in love with my mother, who was visiting from England, during his leave in San Francisco. I know he took a picture of her back to Korea with him and commissioned an artist there to paint it. Not understanding her round, violet blue eyes, I know the artist ended up painting what looked like a Korean version of my mother. I know that my father still hates the smell of kimchi due to the association, and I know that he used to tell my mother that what was reported back in the States about Korea was downplayed because, in the late 1960s, Korea wasn’t supposed to be a “war” (it was just a “conflict”). I know that war changed my father, and it would you too if you saw your friends die. I know enough to know that I probably wouldn’t talk about it much either.

This Veterans Day, my father said as much as he’s ever said about his time in the army. The transition from humor to poignancy is a hallmark of my father’s writing and I found it perfectly captured the conflict often felt on Veterans Day, when you want to express debt and gratitude for those who have served, but also pray that we as humans can someday find a better way to resolve our conflicts. 

dad's army

“With Veterans Day just having passed I have to recount a few funny tales from my tour.

Story of the army doctor when a new recruit was being given the physical upon induction he asked him to read the letters on the wall. Wondering if poor eyesight might make a difference the recruit said ‘what letters?’ to which the doctor replied – ‘good, you passed the hearing test’. In my case, not sure my family would agree that I could pass a hearing test now. Unfortunately the army contributed to that.

We had a guy in our battalion in Korea who had won a purple heart on a tour of duty in Vietnam and when discussing it said it proved he was ‘smart enough to think of a plan, dumb enough to try it and lucky enough to survive it’.

We had a drill sergeant at Ft Polk who trained us well and did a pretty good job with a group of drafted college kids who knew everything. The old adage of no atheists in foxholes was his favorite but we quickly learned our own – ‘Don’t ever be first, don’t ever be last and never volunteer for anything’. He taught us Friendly fire – isn’t! If the enemy is in range so are you. His true motto was the more you sweat in peace the less you bleed in war. Boy did he make us sweat. Most of us got home safe but sadly not all. I hate war, I hated firing a weapon at people I didn’t know and to make matters worse it was in their own country.

Politicians need to stop teaching us geography through war zones. I salute all veterans; but my greatest hope is that we drastically reduce the number who join our ranks. The writer of ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’ never encountered an automatic weapon.”

What Words Do You Live By?

here is good

Two weeks into a new job the head of my department took me out for lunch and said “the best advice I can give you is the best advice I’ve ever gotten: for the first six months, shut up.” What had served him well at the beginning of every new journey rang in my ears as I made my way through the next 180 days. I didn’t speak out, I fought every impulse to change things to how I had done them before, or do things differently than they were being done. I shut up. I observed. I learned. Only then was I informed enough to figure out where changes were needed (being able to separate necessary improvements from my desire to conform things to old habits), and had the clarity to accept that my way of doing things wasn’t always the best. The advice was work-related, but life-applicable.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about advice. How sometimes something sticks with us even when the person saying it never considered it would leave such a lasting impression. How we tend to give the best advice we’ve ever gotten, or maybe we realize the best advice we’ve ever been given when we find ourselves giving it to someone else. I think of my friend Cameron interrupting me during a phone conversation to tell me that I was getting so upset about something someone had done when I had failed to remember that “people should be judged by their intentions”. How much of an impact those words had on me and how, even seven years later, I still remember them in times of conflict (the [exceptionally difficult but necessary] practice of not taking things so personally is truly liberating). I think of my friend Eric listening to me go on and on about trying to make sense of an irrational person or situation before sharing a Jonathan Swift quote he’d always found valuable: “it is useless to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into.” (I’m still working on accepting that one). When you have so many smart, inspiring and wise people in your life, as I do, it is important to listen to the things that they share. It’s like currency you must deposit into the bank of becoming a better person.

I recently asked my friends if I could crowd source them every month for input and inspiration*. This month, I asked them to share with me the best advice they’ve ever received, or words that they live by and I am in love with every reply. Enjoy them, and please feel free to share your own.

  • E+R=O. Event + Reaction = Outcome. I am in control of my reaction. That is the only way to change the outcome when I have no control of the event.
  • The Golden Rule. Luke 6:31: do unto others as you would have them do unto you. If you want to receive you have to keep giving. Even if it takes ages to reap the rewards.
  • Either accept a person for who they are — be willing to tolerate those aspects of their personality which drive you bonkers — or walk away. Do not waste precious time, energy, and emotion trying to change someone into the person you want them to be. Invariably and inevitably you will be both aggravated and disappointed.
  • Life is short…Do not waste time complaining about this or that, do not wait until tomorrow to do something important, or for a better time, or another day. Don’t forget to say “i love you” and don’t spend these precious moments regretting the past. Be present, embrace now.
  • There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. … No artist is pleased. [There is] no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only a queer divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us marching and makes us more alive than the others.  I photocopied this [Martha Graham] quotation and taped it to the back of my front door so it’s the last thing I see when I leave home every day. I like to think of myself as an artist, even though I’m not particularly prolific or successful [Ed. Note: He is an exceedingly talented photographer]. I am highly critical in general, so when I look at my own work, I have a tendency to just write it off completely as pointless. When I start to feel like maybe I should just pack up that part of my life, I remember what Martha Graham said and realize that there is in fact something that compels me to make things, whether or not other people like or care about them.
  • Don’t be afraid to start over…I find that I say it all the time to friends, to my loved ones, and to myself. I think about it in terms of relationships, jobs, cooking fiascos, and parallel parking. We all have an amazing capacity to get it right. To re-grow from the ashes.
  • Smile….People respond better to someone who is smiling. It doesn’t mean be a sucker or a doormat, but it’s sort of like this idea of being patient, and I guess breathing through it and understanding that it’s not all about me. I don’t know if I’m making sense here. What I know is I like it.
  • I live my life based on the Golden Rule: whenever I encounter a situation or go to speak, I ALWAYS think about the reaction I might get and how I would feel if the other person said that to me or if the situation was reversed, how I would feel. I try my best to treat everyone the way I would want to be treated. And I try to project a certain positivity because I would want to be met that way.
  • Be mindful/be thankful. Just being aware of all of the good. In 2012 I had a goal for myself to have a minimum of 5 entries per day in my gratitude journal. Some days I had way over 5, other days I had to struggle to find 5. It was one of the best things I ever did. I am a lucky son of a gun, even on the shittiest of days.
  • Don’t be so hard on yourself.
  • I’ll fall back on the word I probably value most (at least, that I can think of at the moment): Honesty. Other words like “truth”, “reality”, or “fact” are too subjective. The best we can do is to be honest. It is difficult, and often hurtful, but it is the only way I can approach life and be satisfied with my actions and my words. 
  • Be like water. Try to remember to remain flexible in all situations and to stay whole but transform to the ever-changing shape of the world.
  • I was listening to a talk by Ram Dass and he was relating something a Tibetan Llama said to him: “The best place to stand is between hope and hopelessness.” Basically, be accepting of what is, but not too pessimistic either. I’ve been working with the idea a lot lately. I like it because I get tired of the “stay positive!” fanaticism of a lot of New Age philosophy, but I don’t resonate with the so-called “realists” either.
  • The most memorable advice that i’ve received was given to me about a year ago by a professor of mine. I was obsessing about jobs, careers, moving, etc. My approach was to make the “right” decision, or the “best one”. He told me “Don’t worry about the right decision. Just decide, and make it work.”
  • Everyone makes mistakes. What’s important is that you fix it.
  • My favorite quote is still “Always laugh when you can. It is cheap medicine.” ~Lord Byron. I try to invite joy in as much as possible. Being able to really cherish the good around me is an important coping mechanism.
  • Self-care. Recognizing that I can’t care for others if I’m not taking care of myself first.
  • Something I try to do is always enjoy good things while they’re happening — it can be anything: a sunny day, a good laugh, a great glass of wine — then I try to remember them when things are tough. When I’m mad a someone or arguing, or even if a relationship has ended, I try to remember what was good about that person and what I had one time been so content with. The idea of all these things is to not carry anger and hurt around because that makes me a person I don’t like to be around. If I can like myself I have a much easier time seeing all the good things I like in everyone and everything around me.
  • How someone treats you is their Karma. How you react is yours.

*If you would like to be a part of the inspiration crowd, please email me at trickybritblog [at] gmail [dot] com to get on the list. You will be loved and adored forever with gratitude.

The 10 Best Things I Ever Heard My Gran Say

1. “If someone asks you what time it is, pretend you can’t hear them or before you know it they’ve cut off your hand and stolen your watch.”

When I was 17, I spent the summer with my grandmother after my grandfather passed away. Still adjusting to life on her own (which involved watching a lot of news programs and murder mysteries), my grandmother spent the entire three months of my visit reluctant to let me out of the house. Even an announcement that I was going to walk to the end of the block to post a letter back to America was met with her locking all the doors, turning on the house alarm, and escorting me to the postbox. She was 85.

Upon hearing of my predicament / imprisonment, my cousin Matthew came over to take me into downtown Twickenham, where the biggest threat to our safety might have been a roving squirrel or a falling acorn. Though also 17, as a boy, it was safe to go outside with Matthew.

After collecting our things, making sure we had a spare set of keys, and opening the front door, my gran offered us this small piece of advice: “If someone asks you what time it is, pretend you can’t hear them or before you know it they’ve cut off your hand and stolen your watch.” When she said it, Matt looked at me as if to ask if she was joking, though we both knew she wasn’t. As we stepped out of her bungalow and into the cold and cruel world, I pictured myself standing on a cobbled street in downtown Twickenham, holding out my bloody stump in shock while Matt looked on, head shaking.

“To be fair, Courtney,” I imagined him saying, “she did warn you.”

2. “I will not allow it. You will be eaten in the street by a lion.”

Though Matthew was allowed to leave the house on his own, or at least escort his female cousin into town, he was not allowed to take a gap year in Africa.

betty in africa
Betty in Africa (where she was not eaten by a lion).

3. “You should never spend more than £3 on wine.”

My grandmother’s commitment to cheap wine was impressive. Whenever my mother and father went to the shop to buy food and drink to make dinner, they’d avoid lectures from my grandmother by removing all price tags and hiding all receipts before they got home. One time, as my sister distracted our gran, our mum told the owner of the off-license about her mother’s position on price-point. He pulled out his pricing gun, made up a couple of £3 stickers, and — with a wink — popped them on the bottles we were buying.

The most surprising thing about my grandmother’s wine budget was that she actually had plenty of money to spend. One of my favorite stories that I like to tell people, which I think perfectly captures her “complexities”, is the time she prepared for her daily evening glass of wine. The news had just started and, as I made my way into the living room to join her in watching it, I caught sight of her in the kitchen squeezing the aluminium bag from a box of wine into her beautiful, irreplaceable crystal decanters.

4. “I’m so excited for your visit, someone will have to hit me over the head with a lead pipe to get me to go to sleep.”

Another visit, she would threaten to take up heroin.

5. “Do you have to take your feet off before you go to bed?”

My friend Cameron is 6’4. My grandmother, barely over five feet tall, loved asking him this question whenever he’d come over to visit and I always found it so weird and hilarious.

Our Betty loved Cameron. Once, having picked me up from the airport, Cameron drove my sister, my mum and my gran over to my cousin’s house for dinner. With gran in the front seat next to him, Cameron joked “Betty, will you please stop putting your hand on my knee?” She roared with laughter all night over this; so much so that she continuously joke-whispered to Cameron to meet her under the tree outside after midnight.

The next time she saw Cameron, he joked that he waited all night for her, and she laughed and replied “you were waiting under the wrong tree!”

Our Betty and Cameron (with his feet still on)
Our Betty and Cameron (with his feet still on)

6. “The Scots are known for not being funny.”

To be fair, this isn’t the worst thing she said about the Scots; and to be fairer, she said far worse things about basically anyone who wasn’t Irish.

7. “Chinese food is pure monkey.”

My gran once saw an exposé on the news about a random case in the UK where monkey meat was discovered as a contaminant in Chinese food. As a result, she refused to ever eat takeaway from the Chinese place down the street from her house again. Any time someone suggested it as a food option, she would recount in gruesome detail what they were getting themselves into.

“They ship the monkey straight from China,” she would tell us, “with blood seeping through the boxes.”

8. “I can’t understand a single word you’re all saying!”

For my grandmother’s 90th birthday, my entire family flew over to England to join in celebrating. One night early in our visit, my gran broke her Chinese takeaway fast and we ordered it in, packed into my aunt and uncle’s living room and told jokes for hours and hours.

My gran drank glass after glass of wine (the >£3 kind), laughing her head off as the rest of us, led by my brother, descended into a stream of joke telling we no longer bothered to clean up. Hours into the night, through tears of laughter, my grandmother confessed: “do you know, I can’t understand a single word you’re all saying!” It was the best punchline of the night.

9. Svetlana

At a funeral in which we were asked to please show up in bright colors wearing hats, my gran appeared at the door wearing this. No one had any idea where it came from, or how long she’d had it; but for the rest of the night we called her Svetlana.

Svetlana

10. “It’s too late though, right? It’s too late?”

My father once tried to top up Betty’s wine glass but she quickly put her hand over her glass and began to panic.

“Is everything okay, Betty?”

“When did Lent start? Did it start already?”

She was 90 at the time.

“Lent?”

“I was going to give up wine for Lent!”

“I think it just started.”

“But it’s too late now, right?”

“It started five days ago, Betty.”

“Yes, you’re right” she said, waving my father on to continue his pour. “It’s too late. Shame.”

Baby Valium

Chest pain and shortness of breath. These are never good symptoms to exhibit. I think I might have pulled a chest muscle, but the truth is, I can’t walk too far without feeling like I’m going to pass out. WebMD has already diagnosed me with certain death. My primary care doctor shrugged with uncertainty and apologized before sending me off to the Emergency Department.

It’s there that they take nearly 45 minutes testing me for the death the internet warned me about: x-rays for pneumonia, an EKG to check for heart attack, they’ve even drawn blood to test for a blood clot. All tests come back negative, which is great news, but means the ED doctor feels a little like his time has been wasted.

My cousin is an ED doc, so I get it. She’ll tell me stories of people coming in repeatedly with chapped lips convinced it means they’re going to die. My favorite story of hers is about a couple that came in because, as the man put it, his wife had a “bump” on her “down there” (also known as a “vagina” for those of us that are adults). After careful examination of the woman’s aforementioned “down there”, my cousin made her diagnosis and broke the news to the husband (and, apparently, the wife) that she, the wife, had a clitoris.

I think of my cousin as this ED doctor tells me that I’m “probably just stressed” and “need to relax”. Because I’m not dying, I might as well have come in with chapped lips. I want to tell him I’m not an idiot–that I didn’t want to come here. That I was the one that came in thinking I’d just pulled a chest muscle, that he was the one that said “blood clot” and “heart attack”. I want to tell him that I KNOW ABOUT THE CLITORIS.

But I don’t. I thank him. Who cares.

The nurse squeezes my hand as the doctor leaves. “So we’re going to test you for all these terrifying things that will kill you but YOU NEED TO RELAX.” It makes me laugh, which I need more than anything. I am a total chicken shit in hospitals. He brings me a couple of People magazines, tells me to make myself comfortable on the hospital bed, and plugs me into a saline drip.

“I’m also going to give you a dose of Ativan,” he says.

“I’m really sensitive to drugs.”

“Ok I’m going to give you half a dose of Ativan.”

“What is Ativan?”

“It’s like baby Valium.”

“They make Valium for babies?”

I leave the hospital with the chest pain and shortness of breath I came in with but also a bottle of anti-anxiety medication. I have never felt more American.

I am a terrible drug taker. I did shrooms one time in college with two friends and I spent the entire experiment convinced devils were following me as we walked to the beach and arguing with a plant once we finally got there. We eventually went back to one girl’s mom’s house to get away from other people. Her mom brought us tea and two green leaf-shaped glass plates decorated with slices of glowing green kiwi and vibrant orange apricot. Our dramatic and awestruck reaction to her presentation terrified her; but to be fair, she had just handed us rainbows. As she left the room and closed the door behind her, she said something in Cantonese to my friend, her daughter, who would later translate it as “what the hell is wrong with your friends?” It seemed a good time to end what had only just started.

The Ativan will sit idly and take up space in my medicine cabinet for almost a year. Around that time, my relationship with my best friend will fall apart. She will feel I don’t want to be her friend anymore, which, were it true, would make what will happen next (losing her) so much easier to accept. Our once beautiful and close relationship will be pushed to the point of becoming so stressful, irrational and emotionally exhausting that the simple act of picking up the phone to call each other will bring on a panic attack. It will get so bad that one night, after pacing the varnish off of the wooden floors of my apartment trying to gather the courage to call her, I will be revisited by the chest pain and shortness of breath and be reminded of that bottle of Ativan. I will take one tiny little pill with one tall glass of water and later, Joel will find me passed out on my couch with the phone in my hand, my friend’s number one digit shy of being dialed.

“What is going on here?” he will ask.

“I took an Ativan.”

“What’s Ativan?”

“It’s like baby Valium.”

I will walk into my bathroom, open the bottle of Ativan and flush the remaining nine pills down my toilet.

“Honestly Joel,” I’ll say, wiping drool from my face, “I don’t know how those babies do it.”

where the cable ends

Joel and I recently moved into a house together. With the big move came big changes like free laundry, the stress of limited closet space for so many beautiful shoes, and seeing each other’s stupid faces every single day. We put our trash bins outside every Sunday and water the plants in the backyard. This morning over breakfast Joel told me what butt-chugging is and I said “boys are dumb“. There’s always beer in the fridge now and football’s on our television all the time. Oh yeah, our television. The 50 inch, thin, beautiful, Netflix-streaming monstrosity is the first big purchase Joel and I made together, and we celebrated it joining our little family by overpaying on football packages and HBO.

I haven’t owned a television in years. While this may sound like the beginnings of a condescending “Oh, I don’t own a television [pushes up glasses]” rant, please rest assured that I faced my non-television owning adversity with great courage, mainlining True Blood in its entirety in two months via HBO’s online HBOGo and the latest season of Arrested Development via Netflix in three days when I lived in my old studio. (I have a vibrant and fervant social life.)

For my three and a half year stint without television or cable, I had forgotten how awful television is. You can have 900 channels with there being absolutely nothing on. The commercials are even worse. Recently, Love Connection host and conservative blowhard Chuck Woolery tried to sell Joel and I quick and painless home catheters, leaving us wondering if we had just seen a new Saturday Night Live sketch for robot insurance. And still, you will soldier your way through the loop of channel after channel, refusing to believe you spend that money on cable only to have to open a book or talk to another human person.

Joel and I made a rule to not become channel flipping zombies, cut ourselves off early and figure out other ways to spend our evenings together. Last night, I told Joel about how much I want to write more, and how I sent a call out to all my friends on Facebook asking if I could use them to crowdsource inspiration for new blog posts. I was so blown away by the response I got and so excited and inspired, that I was disappointed Joel couldn’t take over my body for even a second, just to feel what I was feeling. During the discussion, Joel shared with me something that I didn’t know about him despite our being together for 4 1/2 years. Joel loves to draw.

“You do?” I asked.

“I’m not great at it or anything and I never do it, but yeah.”

He suggested that it might be fun for us to draw together. After some discussion, we thought we might try something that combines things we each love. For Joel, drawing and story telling. For me, writing and improv.

So we made up a game of sorts. Each of us took a notecard and a pen and drew a scene. Then we passed that card to the other person who would pick up the story by drawing the next scene (or “frame”) on a new card, and so on and so forth. We did this back and forth until we had two stories and each story had five cards.

Story 1: Black Cat

(a tribute to 1994 David Duchovny because he shouldn’t be, but totally is, dreamy.)

We open at a comedy club, and I hope that you will note that my first frame is a comedy club/bar and Joel’s first frame is the great outdoors.

A comedian is on stage performing. It is 11 p.m. Someone is in the bathroom while people line up in wait.

A woman is crying at the bar. What a hot mess. Maybe the bartender is her friend, maybe he’s just a good listener, or maybe he made her cry.

bar scene 1

Or maybe she’s just a stupid, dumb idiot because someone blasted her in the face and left her to die. Escándalo! Here she is, lying in a pool of her own blood, after everybody else apparently left and someone cleaned up the joint. That escalated quickly.

There’s also a cat now. He looks a little shifty.

bar scene 2

Finally, someone has called the police, and they’ve got forensics on the scene. The woman’s body appears to have grown three sizes post-mortem and the policemen appear to be diminished in size. They are roughly the size of a big black cat, sitting on a bar, staring down at the dead with judgment.

bar scene 3

That dead woman must have been a real bitch because nobody bothered to come to her funeral. Except one guy, and he doesn’t look happy to be there at all. Is it because she cried all the time? Even in the picture of her big stupid face she’s crying. She was probably a total killjoy.

Why is that guy wearing sunglasses? Is he an oddly attractive, Fox Mulder-type FBI agent? Could he have been called in because her body grew after she died and that cat showed up out of nowhere? Or maybe he’s just some dude who had a rough night the night before because he was butt chugging with his fraternity brothers.

Whoever he is, I hope he doesn’t break the second rule of funerals by opening the casket.

bar scene 4

Holy shit! He did it! He opened the casket and her body is gone but the cat, still alive, is there. TWIST ENDING!

bar scene 5

FIN

Story 2: Viking Funeral

Just a typical, quiet serene day at the lake. The sun is setting, and a boat approaches.

Viking 1

Night has suddenly appeared! And it seems the boat holds the body of a fallen viking. See the body wrapped in linens, his friends looking on from their own ship, another viking preparing to shoot the flaming arrow into the boat to set the body alight.

Viking 2

BUT WAIT! The dead man’s ghost shows up, riding a lightning bolt, and he’s like “you guys. seriously. I was a handsome, muscular and often shirtless man and I led a good life. Do you not see my majestic beard? Or this fucking lightning bolt that I am, no big deal, riding? You should be celebrating my life, not mourning.”

Viking 3

Getting down from his lightning bolt stallion, Thor the sexy Viking then shines a great light into the night sky as a giant mirror ball lowers, music begins playing, and all his sexy viking friends start dancing and making out and celebrating. Because that’s what you do when life is short. It’s what Thor would have wanted.

Viking 4

And now suddenly we’re in a room with an alarmed older gentleman who appears to also be a Viking, but whose sexiness has yet to be determined.

Me: What’s going on in this last frame here?

Joel: Oh, that old viking man just woke up and realized it was all a dream.

Me: Seriously?

Joel: I didn’t know what else to draw!

Me: ….So you decided to just Charles in Charge the ending of the gay viking party?

Joel: …Maybe?

Viking 5

FIN

The Sexy Six

Six Crushes I Can’t Explain (And Have Ruined My Boyfriend’s Self-Esteem)

No. 1: Nikki Sixx

(Bassist for 80s hair metal giant, Motley Crue)

One of my earliest memories is at the age of 4, sitting in Laura Ashley while my sister tried on dresses, crying because he wasn’t my boyfriend. You can blame my older brother and Hit Parader for that one.

No. 2: Martin Luther King, Jr.

(Preacher and activist)

No, I am not just including this one to redeem myself for No. 1 (though it should be noted that Nikki Sixx did write the lyric “Martin Luther brought the truth / the colour of our blood’s the same.” [nevermind that Martin Luther could be misconstrued as the Catholic German guy who once put a pamphlet on a door]). In second grade, I wrote a paper about Martin Luther King Jr. because we were learning about the library and had to research our heroes. Reading about him and his life, I fell in love with him, even at my young age of 7. It didn’t matter that he was older than me, or married with kids older than me, or was – perhaps most importantly – dead at the time. I would revisit his work closely in both high school and college and fall in love with him all over again. We really haven’t had anyone like him again, have we?

No. 3: Michelangelo

(Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle)

From the movies, not the animated tv show…because that would just be weird. Cowabunga, dude!

No. 4: Kevin Spacey

(Actor)

Because he terrified me in Seven, was brilliant in Usual Suspects and then was hilarious on David Letterman. Because of House of Cards, because of his on-stage performance as Richard III, because he photobombed a nice lady tourist in Boston. Oh my god you guys: still. I don’t care which team he bats for.

No. 5: Benito Santiago

(Catcher for the San Francisco Giants, 2001 – 2003)

Speaking of batting for teams…(see what I did there?) ……Yeah, I can’t explain this one either.

No. 6: Marlon Brando*

(Actor)

*But only in Streetcar Named Desire.

I know what you’re thinking: the man was gorgeous. And he was! (Though not so much in his later work). But here’s the thing: he only did anything for me as Stanley Kowalski in Streetcar Named Desire. Nothing else I saw him in moved me to near tears the way his first appearance in Streetcar did. As Kowalski he was always angry and raging, covered in sweat from the New Orleans heat, sucking chicken grease off his fingers, covered in oil from working on his car, screaming I AM NOT A POLLACK! This will make you understand the crush. Knowing Stanley Kowalski is a wife-beating sister-in-law rapist will make it much more confusing.  [Ed. Note: Spoiler Alert?]

Any “celebrity” crushes from your past that you can’t explain but still stand behind?