Tuesday, March 31, 2009


WARNING!!!! Do not read this blog if you are averse to unbridled manliness.

I received the best compliment of my life recently when a six year old noticed my new facial hair. Finally, my two months of work growing out my goatee has come to fruition! There was a time to plant, but now is the time to reap. Reap benefits, that is. All the benefits that come from having facial hair.

Now, the only question: What to do with this new look? Join ZZ Top? Stalk women? Wear plaid and deforest the Pacific Northwest? Be mistaken for Hugh Jackman when the summer Wolverine mania hits its peak? Really, the opportunities are limitless when you are bearded, such as myself. See below if you can stand to face ruggedness eye to eye. Careful, though. Not unlike a solar eclipse, such a natural phenomena can devastate your weak, hairless retina.

I shaved the mustache so you could all see the disparity between the desert of an upper lip versus the jungles of the bottom lip and chin. My soul patch has oft been referred to as the Heart of Darkness* by those daring enough to explore it.

*My soul patch has only been referred to as the Heart of Darkness in this blog post alone.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

mama, i'm coming home

After a six year, self-imposed exile, I'll be returning to my native, if not highly contaminated, soil of New Jersey to attend grad school at Rutgers Newark. The choice was easy... I haven't gotten into any other schools. But, sometimes you know it's time to go back. I called my mom this morning to tell her the news, but she was out buying a blender, she says because her bridgework is broken and she's too afraid to drive on highways to see a specialist to get it fixed, so she has to blend all of her food now. That's as good a reason as any to go back. Oh, and getting to watch every single Knicks loss on TV, instead of just the couple of times a season they lose to Blazers. So open up those dirty gates, Garden State, your boy is back. I'll see you all at the Pompton Queen diner at 2am for a gyro.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

strip clubs

I don't like strip clubs. I'm not a feminist. I'm not religious. I don't have any moral objection with women taking off their clothes for money. Call me strange, but it doesn't turn me on to pay a woman to pretend to like me. Also, I don't like the fact that most of these strippers look pissed off because they are working at a strip club. Maybe I don't have a problem with strip clubs so much as I have a problem with poor customer service. Same thing at Denny's. I don't want my waitress looking pissed off when she brings me a Grand Slam. I mean, why are you so pissed off? You are an integral member of the company that makes the best hash browns in the universe. What could be better than that?

If I'm that upset that the woman serving me a Grand Slam looks unhappy--even though she gets to bath in the delicious aroma of hash browns every day--you can understand why I'm even more upset when I'm surrounded by women who look unhappy even though they get to be surrounded by the delicious aroma of sweat and dirty, old man every day.

Somehow, despite my aversion to strip clubs, I have been to more than one and will probably see more than one more before I die. Here's a history of my strip club experience.

1. Feb 2000

I'm a freshman in college and it's my friend's birthday. It's also the first time I see a girl naked. I'm not a smoker, but I end up smoking an entire pack of cigarettes on my own because in a strip club, you really need to do something with your hands.

2. April 2003

It's senior year of college and my birthday. However, it's Easter, so no one is on campus except my friend Cal who is an atheist and hates his family anyway, my jewish friend Scott who doesn't believe, or is ungrateful, that Jesus rose from the dead for our sins, and Scott's roommate who is the only student from our college who comes from another state and therefore, can not go home for the holiday. Cal asks me what I want to do, and then, without waiting for my answers, tells me, "Nudie bar!" We're in South JerZ and we're poor college kids, so we search the phone book for cheap topless bars. We find one in rural Pennsylvania with no cover. Those two things, 1) Rural Pennsylvania and 2) No cover should be a clear warning that you are better off playing Pictionary in your dorm room.

3. May 2003

I've just graduated college and am in the Philippines for a two week vacation with my dad and my buddy, Cal, the aforementioned friend who loves strip clubs. Our entire trip has been planned out by my aunts and uncles and is filled with exotic foods and once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Then, we come to the day marked on the calendar "Boys' Night Out." I had been secretly dreading this day all vacation. My aversion to going to strip clubs with friends is quite mild compared to the nausea I feel going to a strip club with my dad. And in the Philippines, you really don't know how old these girls are. So we are at a table watching possibly underage girls looking pissed off that they have to survive by being ogled by old men, while other girls their age are on MTV bitching that their Super Sweet Sixteen isn't quite super enough.

The waiter is giving Cal a shoulder rub, we assume because Cal is white and American, which to a Filipino, ostensibly means he has money. I spend the evening drinking soda (I don't even like drinking with my dad, let alone drinking and comparing stripper tits with him) and talking with some guy about the future of VCRs and whether they will be able to survive the evolution of DVD players.

4. March 2004

It's Mardi Gras weekend and I'm in New Orleans with my AmeriCorps friends and my girlfriend. All the girls have called it a night, but the boys are still staggering along bourbon street. One guy in our group suggests a strip club. "Look! There's no cover." Instead there's a three drink minimum, with each drink being about 7 bucks. Even drunk I don't find it particularly fun. And how stupid is that, to pay a three drink minimum in a club when we could be drinking on the streets watching college freshman (whose bodies are still supple and have not yet been devastated by hard living and c-sections) getting naked for free? We were young and stupid.

5. February 2009

I'm back in the Philippines. I've somehow survived the last five years without going to another strip club. Again, I'm with my dad and another friend, Dice. My cousin, Ronell, and his wife take us to dinner. She drives in a separate car. That's a bad sign. After dinner, his wife goes home and it's just the boys cruising Subic Bay, a one time U.S. Naval base. And you know what sailors love? Strip clubs. Ronell likes one called Chichiquita. "It's classier than the rest of the clubs on the strip," he says. Inside, there is a guy passed out at his chair. Three bouncers pick him up and drag him out the door.

We sit at a table right by the stage and I have to physically grab Dice to make him sit in between me and my father. No soda for me, this time. I want to get drunk and make this night disappear. Another San Miguel, salamat.

The strippers line up on stage like lobsters in a fish tank at a fancy seafood restaurant and you pick the one that looks tastiest. "Go ahead, pick a girl," says my cousin. "No thank you. I'm fine with my beer."

Maybe Ronell interprets my refusal to pick a girl as American shyness or just plain indecisiveness. So he picks a girl for me. Her name is Andrea, she's 20, or so she claims, and is not particularly attractive. I shake her hand. Ronell, on the other hand, has his nose buried in his stripper's cleavage. Perhaps she has a scratch and sniff sticker placed there. I don't know if my dad or Dice picked girls, but our table now has one for each of us.

If you've read my blog before, you probably know that I don't like small talk. I like it even less when it's with a stripper who is paid to engage in small talk with me. I don't pay the stripper directly. Instead, i buy her beer. A beer for me costs 50 pesos, about one dollar, US. A beer for her costs 250 pesos, about five dollars. Her beer is not of a better quality than mine. And I can't get a beer for myself and give it to her. The bartender comes to us, asks me "Do you want to get her a beer?" I ask her, "Do you want a beer?" And, surprise, surprise, she always nods, "Yes!" even though I don't think she actually wants a beer. I know this because she drinks her beer with ice to water it down and after the first three beers, she switches to pineapple juice which also costs 250 pesos even though pineapples grow there like poison ivy.

The night is long. There's a language barrier between me and Andrea and it's too loud to hear anyway. I guess most patrons of Chichiquita are not concerned about hearing their strippers' answers to question like, "So, are all of you strippers friends? Do you guys get together for coffee after work?"

I keep drinking and trying to come up with conversation topics like, "Who's the biggest bitch you have to work with here?" She asks me questions like, "Can I hold you?"


"Do you want to go to the VIP room?"


At some point, she brings it to my attention that my dad and his stripper are gone. "Your dad is in the VIP room," she says. "Another San Miguel, please," I say. My parents are divorced, so I don't feel like my dad is doing anything wrong. At the same time, you don't want to picture your dad in the VIP room. And he's in there for a long time. I don't have a watch on so I don't know exactly how long, but I'm pretty sure four or five girls danced on stage during the time he was gone. At two crappy pop songs per girl, plus one crappy pop song in between girls, that's probably a solid half hour at least.

Towards the end of the night, my stripper asks me if I would get her three red wines to cover the rest of her quota. Quota? You mean you weren't sitting with me this whole time because you were regaled by my fascinating dinosaur trivia? My heart is broken. But she should be happy she had such an easy night's work with me. She got paid and didn't have to get tested in the morning.

Mercifully, the night comes to an end. We leave. I give Andrea a firm handshake goodbye. My dad probably thinks I'm a queer and wishes Dice was his son instead. I ask no questions and in the car, try to let the buzz wash away all my memories as my dad tells them about his stripper and the VIP room.