Erogenous Ozone

Two days ago at a busy intersection a few miles from my home I found myself in the presence of greatness: street corner anti-Obama enthusiasts. I’d seen them in town before, along with anti-choice protesters holding signs of aborted fetuses. These are my kind of people: conscientious objectors to reality fighting against an immoral government that may or may not be led by a black Nazi president.

“Putin is right. Obama is wrong,” one sign declared without further explanation. Another one urged drivers simply to “Dump Obama.” It was enough nonsense to make even Ted Cruz roll his beady eyes.

It was easy to pick my favorite. “Global Warming—As Real As Your Girlfriend’s Orgasm.”

That’s a low blow to the clitoris. I suppose they didn’t refer to wives since married couples only make love.

Mother Nature. She’s hot and bothered. Wet and wild. And faking global warming so we’ll finish up already and go back to sleep.

Safe Words

Last month I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and I’ve been on medication to treat symptoms that include fatigue, weight gain, depression and general shitty-ness. My mood has improved and there’s a spark in my soul. It’s got me thinking about beauty again.

I spend a great deal of my life maintaining an illusion of control. My room must be in order; my to-do lists must be up-to-date; my schedule for the next three days must be fully spelled out, etc.


A life immersed in beauty is the only life worth living. There’s no greater power than submitting to a beautiful song, a beautiful poem, a beautiful play on the baseball field, a beautiful woman shopping in the grocery store. I’m overcome with joy at the thought of what terrible things a gorgeous woman could do to me in private if I just said hello.

So here’s to a break from bleakness and despair. Here’s a YES, an unequivocal HELLO to all that might be, if I gave up control.

Sharp Left Turn

Last week I risked bodily harm to prove a point. It was not my finest moment.

I was in the left turn lane at an intersection not far from home. Four or five cars ahead of me turned left on the green arrow, but as I approached, the arrow changed to a solid green light. I inched into the intersection, waiting for oncoming cars to pass. After maybe ten seconds, there was an apparent break in traffic, but I hesitated and lost my chance to turn.

That’s when the guy behind me drove around my car, on my left side, into the nearest oncoming lane, from which he made a sharp left turn. I gave him the finger but he made his maneuver so quickly I doubt he noticed. Luckily nobody got hurt. I made a left on the yellow light, fuming at the sight of his tailpipe.

In full macho mode, I felt compelled by an unconscious, Darwinian force to chase after the guy. Of course, he was the first car at the next red light. I pulled beside him and rolled down my window.

Shit was about to get real.

“Why did you go around me?”


“Why the fuck did you go around me?”

He laughed. Words poured from his mouth, but I can’t for the life of me remember what he said. He kept lifting and lowering his arms like a giant battery-powered action figure. Before the light changed, he summoned the strength of just enough brain cells to string together a heartfelt piece of advice.

“Why don’t you learn how to drive, you little bitch!”

I was shot back in time, twenty years erased in the blink of an eye. I wasn’t 35, but 15—an awkward collection of bones and hormones trapped in a high school locker room. I’m a mama’s boy. A pussy. A dumb jock’s little bitch. To top things off, this all took place in front of my old high school, a place I was forced to leave during junior year because of a bully who threatened my physical and emotional safety.

As adults we bear the scars of adolescent wounds. I struggle with the thought that I’m not manly enough and therefore don’t deserve respect. Although I’ve learned there are many ways to be a man, I still see the buff, hyper-aggressive alpha male as the prime model.

But I was extremely aggressive in confronting this reckless driver. He triggered memories of the anger I’ve tried to conceal, my latent capacity to lash out and hurt others. He had insulted me as a driver and a man—two roles intimately linked in American culture—and I felt the need to defend myself. I could’ve been shot. He might have been on drugs, unaware of his actions. What if he had followed me home instead of driving on without looking back?

Anyone at any moment has the potential to be a perpetrator or victim. Often we are both at once. Either way we suffer the same. As we battle inner demons, it helps to consider what monsters the other guy might be fighting.