Friday, March 29, 2013

I Have a Bachelor’s Degree and I Can Count Higher than 6, You Stupid Bitch

Here at Minds Melding, we like to think that we’re a reasonably intelligent pair. At the very least, it’s a safe assumption on your part that we’re literate, and don’t have some poor scribe taking dictation as we “write” these entries, an assumption made safer based on the fact that we could never afford to pay someone to do that, nor pay for software that does it (I’m looking at you, Dragon Dictation!). We’re able to check the vast majority of the boxes on this pretty offensive compilation of signs of intelligence, we graduated from high school and college with ease, we have avoided ruining our lives thus far. We’re (well, Anya is) also sticklers for honesty. Call me old fashioned, but I hate almost nothing more than being lied to for any reason (things I hate more: people being shitty to animals and the thought of bearing children. Well, that one might be a tie. Do I have to keep the baby?)

Lying is NOT the most fun a girl can have without taking her clothes off. Poor Nat.

Lying can be permissible when you’re lying to yourself or to your parents (Or terrifying strangers that want to use your cell phone/car/organs). Let’s get real, everyone lies to themselves. They may think they’re taking gold in the Honesty Olympics, but being a sassy brat to the public doesn’t mean that you’re not holding pretty tightly onto some inner delusions. And your parents? They may say they want to know what you’re doing/about your relationship/how the job search is going but they don’t, at least not the unvarnished truth you’re forced to live with every day. These conditions aside, lying to other people is fucking rude and annoying. At best, it’s an inconvenience, at worst, it’s soul shattering betrayal.

Roll all of that baggage together, and you’ll understand why there are few things more insulting to us than people trying to get away with something right in front of us. We are not charmed or amused by toddlers and their “I didn’t do it” after you SAW them do it, we are most certainly not amused when an adult tries the same shit.

Free pass for adorable guilty dogs though!

As anyone who has interacted with other humans in any way, shape, or form can tell you, people. are. liars. Whether it’s “I just bought this last week and I need to return it because it broke already” as they bring in a bedraggled item you haven’t carried for the last year, or “I have mono so I can’t help with that group project” and you see them at the bar later, or “I swear, we’re just friends!”, in every setting, in every type of relationship, people lie. So we’re at a disadvantage going into this, we get it.

At our job, we deal with the public a lot. And we have policies. And we want people to follow them. So simple! see how we broke that down into three very short, simple sentences that any person should be able to understand? THEN WHY DON’T THEY?! We have limits on the number of people we can allow in at any given time, we don’t allow food or drink, we don’t allow people to just go running around unsupervised touching every goddamn thing in the office. Some people (decent people) would recognize that we shouldn’t even have to explain these policies.

That grinding your Cool Ranch fucking Doritos into the carpet is actually super rude and disgusting, no matter where you are, but ESPECIALLY in someone else’s space. That just because you apparently have *never, ever* spilled *anything*, that you should be the special snowflake that gets to bring your giant Starbucks cup around our organization’s valuable objects. That everyone in this goddamn building can count to six, and if you are over the limit, we will notice immediately and we will ask you to leave. And yet. Upon hearing the rules, people will honest to god start stuffing bags of Cheetos into their coat pockets and bottles of Coke Zero into their purses. Now the official policy has become “No food or drink, that includes gum and water, as well as things that are put away in your coats, backpacks, or purses.”

For some reason, it’s not even the fact that they’re breaking the rules that makes us really upset. Or the fact that they’re being inconsiderate, or bad listeners, or bad citizens, or disrespectful of our space. It’s that they apparently think we’re so *incredibly* stupid, that when they bring in ten people, and we ask them how many are in their party, they tell us six. And we say “are all of these people with you?” and they say “Yes, well sort of, but we really only have six” and, stretching the limits of credulity, don’t stop there. They often continue to insist that somehow, some of these people that we clearly see before us aren’t there. It’s like they’re trying to convince us that four of their group members are a mirage conjured up by our work addled brains, people we wish were there, like an oasis in the desert. As if that’s the thing we would dream of, under ANY circumstances.

Not a mirage unless they look like this.

We’ve wasted untold minutes of our lives trying to understand the thought process behind this, and can’t really see beyond the rage inducing “You really think I’m THAT stupid? Because you’re saying either that I can’t count to six by myself, or I’m literally blind. And you know I’m not blind.” (Also you would be a huge dick for lying to a blind person about that).

You might think that since all of our coworkers experience and understand this phenomenon, they would avoid imitating it, at least in the workplace. You would be wrong. In a situation anyone who has worked anywhere has experienced, we had a love triangle between coworkers on our hands. Somewhat stickier than usual, an ex was now a boss, and directly supervising her failed relationship and the new girl he was chasing. He had a bad habit of “fishing in the office pool”, as he put it, so everyone knew the signs when the new relationship started. Strangely timed breaks, furtive whispering, actually completing the tasks he was assigned, all very suspicious.

This was his typical work style, literally doing his nails at the desk.

His boss, while somewhat oblivious in general, could not miss the goings on, especially having once been half of that dynamic duo herself. We cannot even count the number of times she said “I don’t even care what he’s doing! It’s just so insulting that they think I’m so stupid that I don’t have any idea what’s going on, like it’s some big secret!” If I had a nickel for every time I said “It’s not even so much what you did, it’s that you LIED ABOUT IT”, I would have like $67, which is a LOT of nickels.  Of course, we were also forced to sit through their weekend editing and the daily game of leaving for lunch at the same time, but walking to the parking lot 10 feet apart from each other to avoid suspicion.

We know it’s infuriating when it happens to us, and we know that we’re not really getting away with it when we do it to other people. So why do people in general persist in lying about or trying to hide things that everyone around them knows to be true?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Phony Facebooking and Bullshit Weddings

I have a contemptuous relationship with the public sphere (despite have an online blog thinly veiled with anonymity), which causes me to look rather disdainfully on those who update their Facebooks, Twitters, and Tumblrs with pictures of every meal and notes on every trip to the bathroom.  What’s even more offensive to me than these transgressions are when people use social media to share things that I find extremely personal and private (e.g. mourning the death of a loved one, the start or end of a serious relationship, professional failures).  It always comes across as extremely disingenuous and causes a series of negative reactions in me, from disdainful scoffs to livid phone calls (“Anya, what the fuck is this!?  Why is Failed Freshman Math posting ‘it sux that ur mom died, bro’ on Elementary Companion’s Facebook!?  Can I send a nasty message?  Can we take a golf club to FFM’s car!?  JESUS FUCKING CHRIST.”).

So perhaps you can understand why I had a strong reaction when I logged onto Facebook and discovered that my Conservative Cousin (conservative in political views only; girl dresses like cheap call girl) had a secret wedding.  Towards the end of last week, Conservative Cousin posted a blurry picture of a tacky diamond-looking ring, which caused me to pause and wonder, “Is that an engagement ring?  No way, Movie 43 was in theaters longer than she’s been dating this one, it’s probably just her standard mobile update of whatever jewelry/hooker heel/too-tight dress she’s currently sporting,” and went about judging the other posts on my newsfeed.  Fast forward to Saturday, when I pulled up my web browser to see pictures of her in a white veil and mini dress posted from “Paradise,” Nevada, which I quickly learned is someplace within Las Vegas (the wedding district? A skeezy motel?).  And it’s obviously not actually a secret wedding if she’s posting all over Facebook about it, but none of her family members (including her parents, of whom she is the only child) were present at the wedding or invited (I can only assume), so I guess it’s more like the actual definition of eloping, which always strikes me as completely bizarre to actually do for anyone who isn’t a pair of star-crossed teen lovers.

Ah, to be 14 and have absolutely no concept of reality.

My thoughts in approximate order:
“Of course.”
“Thank god I didn’t have to go (to this one).”

“I have to have call my brother.”
“Here’s my trump card for whenever Mom tries to make me see her/be nice to her or defends her in any way.”
“Can you have a bachelorette party by yourself?”
“Wait, is she actually  wearing- Yep.”
“The ‘sanctity of marriage’ at its finest...”

After getting over the initial glee and subsequent critiquing, I called my brother and announced, “Drop whatever you’re doing and get on Facebook.  Go to Conservative Cousin’s page and enjoy.  I’ll wait.”  He did so and we had a nice group chuckle.  After a brief debate over whether the dudebros from the “reception” were random douchebags or friends of her husband’s (siding with randos), we discussed how to break the news to our mother.  While we were both having quite the time over this revelation, we doubted that our mother would find it quite as humorous as we had.  In lieu of making a belated Save the Date with one of their classy Vegas hotel pics, it was decided that I should just call her and relate the story in a serious-sounding manner.

“Mom, I have some bad news for you.”

So I attempt to call my mother to inform about the wedding in the least-mocking way I can manage.  Her response is that of disbelief, in a literal sense.

MOM: Paul, you know how goofy Conservative Cousin is, I’m sure she’s just kidding around.
PAUL: Mom, there are like pictures and everything.  It’s not like a fake Facebook marriage with your clearly platonic friend.
MOM: See?  You just said that it’s a thing that people do, I’m sure it’s that.
PAUL: Ugh, not the same thing at all.  Those are done to hide the end of a real relationship and then it’s with somebody who’s your best friend, and possibly in a relationship with somebody else, and everybody who looks at it instantly knows that it’s a joke.  You don’t do it with somebody you’re actually in a relationship with!
MOM: Paul, you know I’m not on Facebook, I have no idea how it works, I’m just sure that she’s pulling some kind of prank.
PAUL: Whatever, Mom.  I’m coming over tomorrow and showing you pictures.

Parents just don’t understand.

The next day upon arriving for dinner, I kept my promise and asked her to meet me in the computer room to settle her skepticism.  I pulled up my cousin’s Facebook page, where my mother was greeted by her new last name, and proceeded to walk her through the three-day engagement, lowest points being the her self-application of the wedding make-up in a public restroom with feet visible under stalls and reading her vows from an iPad.  As we neared the end of the rueful reception, before my mother tried to unpack what she had just seen.

MOM: Huh...  I really thought she was just kidding around, but it sure doesn’t look like that, huh?
PAUL: Nope.
MOM: Can you go back to the picture of them where they’re holding hands at the front of the... wherever they are?  Hmm...  Last time we visited, I met two of Conservative Cousin’s boyfriends.  I think he was one of them, at least.
PAUL: ‘Cuz that makes everything okay.
MOM: I’m not saying it’s okay, Paul.  Her mother is not going to be happy about this.
PAUL: How could anyone be happy about it!?  She’s insane!
MOM: Now Paul, you know that she has that ADHD.
PAUL: Mom, you CANNOT blame her secret Vegas wedding on her ADHD!
MOM: Part of it is making impulsive decisions!
PAUL: There’s the need for instant gratification and then there’s eloping. IN. VEGAS.  That’s nuts, no matter how you slice it!  And by the way, you’re welcome for not being the kind of child who would ever do that.
MOM: Never say never.
PAUL: What?
You may find his inability to pay attention in class annoying, but just wait until he grows up and gets a tattoo on his face!

Am I being a little harsh on a family member who deserves my love and support?  Maybe you think I should be a little less scornful, but our being related doesn’t change the fact that she has essentially zero redeeming qualities (she’s made jokes about the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, so... there’s that).  You could also argue that I’m a complete hypocrite for criticizing anyone’s hollow-hearted online presence when the forum I’m using is a public blog, but as Anya is wont to say, “When did I ever say I was fair?”  Am I alone here in perceiving rampant insincerity in our online interactions?


Monday, March 25, 2013

Don't Put Your Pets in the Freezer and Other Advice You Shouldn't Need

Have you ever had one of those awkward moments where you’re having a fairly casual conversation with someone, and it suddenly takes a turn? Not the kind where you’re catching up with an old friend and you ask if their grandpa is still being a racist asshole to his neighbors like he was when you were kids and there’s that awful pause before they tell you he died. Or the kind where you think you’re having a pretty casual conversation about people watching in the bar and suddenly your companion has an outburst about what a slut you look like for wearing a tanktop. Those are fucking weird too, but what we MEANT was the kind where you’re talking to someone you think you know decently well, and they suddenly say something like “and we’ve always just kept our pets in the freezer after they die for long enough that my mom has time to paint their likeness, and sometimes they got a little freezer burned or moldy, so that’s why I don’t like ice cream.”

Screeching. Halt.

Best case scenario: you take a minute to compose yourself in silence before you either pretend like it never happened, or you try to address it thoughtfully. Or at least get your response down to an appropriate indoor volume. Over here it’s more likely that we’d throw out an immediate stream of “WHAT?! Your mother WHAT? WHAT. What? Just why. God, why, what? I love ice cream! What the fuck? How big is your freezer? Did you just have hamsters? Why? Paintings? Like oil paintings? Didn’t you have pictures of them?” and so on.

So many questions here! Is the ermine frozen?
Would you put your kids in the freezer too?

We don’t think we do anything that weird. But that’s the thing! You never think it’s *that* weird until you’re on the wrong end of that horrible silence, waiting for the other person’s judgment to either come pouring out of their mouth or their eyeballs. We freely admit that we spend a freakish amount of time together, so very rarely do we have a moment like that between the two of us. We would be lying if we said we had never been on the wrong end of an awkward silence together, but when the normal person is outnumbered, they just have to shut the fuck up and tell the story later, when they find a group of like minded people. We have both DEFINITELY been both the outnumbered normal one, and the entire group of like minded people. Ha. Not a great sign.

Today we’re going to talk about the subjects of some of those painful conversations, and put it to you, internet, to arbitrate. Not that we’ll ever change.

Subject 1: The Seven Hour Bath

Not too terribly long ago, Paul and Anya were spending some time in the kitchen, talking about their day. While Anya was hard at work for eight hours, Paul revealed that he had somehow managed to take a seven hour bath. Yes, he was in the bath almost the entire time you were at work, and most certainly for more time than you were actually working at work (Unless you’re not as underemployed as we are).

Classic book from Anya’s childhood, obviously one that Paul needs to read.

Anya didn’t bat an eye upon hearing the news, accustomed as she is to Paul’s borderline obsession with taking a bath at LEAST once a day. However, when Anya’s mother got wind of this, we knew it would be trouble. The woman is not shy about sharing her very strong feelings about other people's’ doings, no matter how little they impact her. Even worse, she has what she calls “eagle ears”, which we assume means ears as powerful as an eagle’s eyes? Basically she’s an eavesdropper of epic proportions. True to form, she spent the next fifteen minutes loudly expressing her outright disbelief that someone could spend so much time in the bath. You’d be a prune, how do you keep the water hot, I’d get bored, I’d get cold, you shouldn’t have electronics near the bathtub, what are you doing with your life, etc. etc. Days later she was still bringing it up. Who is the crazy one here? If you had the time would you take a seven hour bath or does Paul need to seek treatment for his addiction? Is the weirdest thing of all the fact that Anya’s mother in chiming in on Paul’s bathing habits?

Subject 2: Selling Your Eggs To Strangers

Not talking about the organic, hormone free, free range, delicious “like you can totally tell the difference, I can’t eat the store bought kind anymore” eggs your chickens lay in their cozy little nests every morning that you gather fresh at the first light of dawn and want to sell at the Farmer’s Market. We’re talking about the ones coming out of your ovaries and endangering your independence every month.

Let’s back up. Anya is a frequent peruser of Craigslist, unfortunately. She is always on the lookout for a ferret that needs rescuing or lost dog that she should be looking out for, finding, and returning to its caring owner as the patron saint of lost canines. Somehow in the mystical vortex that is Craigslist, she stumbled upon an ad offering $8,000 for Jewish eggs. As in, the ovum of a Jewish girl (in good health, young, to help out all of those poor, sad infertile Jewish parents who can’t conceive, but won’t settle for gentile), and suddenly her world turned upside down.
“Why!”, she exclaimed, “Just think of what I could do with that money! I could pay for less than twenty percent of graduate school! Or buy a whole car! Or invest in my future! I would totally sell my eggs to someone for that kind of money!” (Unfortunately not *these* someones, for she is gentile through and through.)

Yes, I’d like to keep the box please.

Swooping in again with her “eagle ears”, Anya’s mother shouts her disapproval from the rooftops. “That’s insane!”, says she, “Why would you ever do such a thing? Other people raising *my* grandchildren! It’s unthinkable! Wouldn’t you always think about your kids running around out there?!” gesticulating wildly at the great wide world.


It’s not as if you’re selling an actual child, which we hear is against the law these days. Anya foresees only ignominious death for each of the little gametes currently mooching off of her. Is it completely crazy to get something out of them? Especially when their brethren cause so much trouble! Don’t even ask Anya’s mom about paid surrogacy! Is it crazy that we’re even talking about this? Should Anya quit Craigslist (or at least the selling body parts section?)? Is it all completely unreasonable?

Subject 3: Talking about Blowjobs at the Dinner Table

And now we come to the last topic, the one we know is DEFINITELY totally weird. The one that would bring conversations with others to a halt as they stared at us incredulously, the one we really don’t think twice about until we do, and then it gets real/weird.

Dinner with Anya’s family can be a trying experience for a new guest. Lots of strong opinions (shocking!), plenty of griping, tough to get a word in edgewise. For those choosing to run this gauntlet, the reward is the occasional conversations that go in a direction that causes Anya’s mother to throw her hands up and say “where did I go wrong?!”, participating all the while. In an attempt to prove that her family can be hard to handle for a newcomer, not too long ago, Anya brought up “that time we were at Olive Garden and you told us that blowjobs can cure colds and we talked about it for like fifteen minutes in public”, and her mother developed sudden amnesia. “I would NEVER say such a thing! You must have dreamt it”.

Not really trying too hard to remember.

Apparently that one specific topic was beyond the pale for her, despite that fact that other dinner table topics worth noting include the sex life of a newly married fifty year old, the suspicious circumstances of a threesome between some local athletes, the trial of a teacher who allegedly slept with two(?) students and the evidence presented therein, etc. Even with corroboration from another witness, Anya’s mother insisted on persisting in her fantasy that her family would NEVER, EVER discuss third base or its palliative properties at the dinner table, or ANYWHERE ELSE FOR THAT MATTER.

Then last night, over some homemade Mexican food, the whole family discussed those dick pics you see in health class of various venereal diseases.

Throw your weird at us! What things do you not think twice about until someone points out that you’re batshit crazy for doing them?
[Illustration from King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub by Audrey Wood]