On second thought, I had a sushirrito. How could I be the loser?

The other day while foraging for vittles on the mean streets of Chinatown (I ended up finally trying a sushirrito. Expensive but solid. I can roll with that) I bore witness to an amazing scene. More accurately, I heard it first. The squeal of a car horn, uninterrupted. A steady stream both attention grabbing and arrogant. I figure the point at which you become the asshole for honking your horn is about five seconds in. I didn’t see precisely what the conflict was, but I saw a sleek sports car pulling up next to a chunky SUV. The SUV driver began to turn into a side street as the other driver hounded him. The dude behind the wheel of the sports car yelled out “HEY! YOU WANNA GO THEN?” The SUV driver nodded emphatically. The sports car dude replied “ALRIGHT, LET’S DO THIS!” I stood transfixed on the opposite corner, all ready for action. Who was in the wrong? As far as I was concerned, anyone willing to come to fisticuffs over a road scuffle was a prime asshole. I was raring to see the punishment dolled out.

College Street is a busy street and the Bathurst intersection is busier still. The SUV driver parked up on the side street, but the other guy had already shot the mark. There was no way he could U-turn on a busy street, so he had no choice but to aggressively pull back into traffic and wait at the lights for some way to turn back around. I figured his best call was to turn left onto Bathurst, find a side street on the left to turn onto another side street, then get lucky and shoot across College (one way streets being the bane of this guy’s existence). He waited for the light to go green for maybe a minute, then made a speedy left turn onto Bathurst. My body was ready.

That was the last I saw of him.

I figure it’s pretty tough to retain anger. It’s very much an in-the-moment emotion. You’ve gotta be present to truly seethe with fury. Logic and reason have no place in that kind of spontaneous rage. How do you keep that up when you’re waiting for a green light. Say the radio comes on and you like the song? Or you realise that your partner is already at the brunch spot? How do you self-righteously go off and spend several minutes finding parking in a busy spot filled to the brim with bluster, without contemplating whether or not you really want to pump money into a meter just to potentially get your ass kicked? How do you quash common sense from creeping into your bloodlusted mindframe when a Cars for Kids ad comes on the radio? On a sunny Sunday afternoon? That takes commitment to the cause (the cause being most likely a broken nose or at least a bruised ego).

In all honesty though, it was all an act, right? Neither dude really foresaw anything resulting from the altercation. They huffed and puffed out their chests, beat their fists loudly and maybe threw one or two faeces. Then they left, having proclaimed themselves the victor in their own hearts and minds. Some elaborate ruse to convince themselves that they were worthy of their place in the food chain. At least wrestlers require a certain level of skill and fitness for their charlatanry. These two? Well at least they’d sleep at night, having told themselves that they put their best feet forward.

If anything, I was the only one who truly lost in this situation. I was hoping to see a free show.

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Putting the trade into trading places.

I don’t truly know how it is to live as a woman. Chances are I never will. I’ve had a life laden with privilege, wearing the assumed status and ease of being a white male at all times. I don’t know what it is to be constantly belittled and undermined on the basis of my gender. I don’t deal with a stream of microaggressions on a daily basis. While I’m sympathetic to the struggles inherent to being female in a patriarchal society, it’d be a stretch of arrogance to claim empathy with any veracity. I can listen android recognise, but implicit understanding will likely remain beyond my reach.

The other day in improv class we were working on character. To come to terms with what it was to quickly assume a new personally, we tried a monologue exercise intended to push us beyond our comfort levels and into the mindset of someone so foreign to our own. At the offset it sounded simple. We’d stand before the rest of the class. Collectively they’d build out our character: What we did, our age, gender, the status we gave ourselves, the status others gave to us and lastly, the environment in which we were. We’d answer questions from the crowd in front of us in character. Sounded challenging, but fun. The classmates who went first did a great job of fully realising their characters. Two guys, one inhabited the persona of a 60 year old naturopath presenting at a conference. He responded to questions so quickly an self-assuredly you would’ve assumed he did it for a living. Another guy played a gender-queer substitute French teacher with total aplomb. Incorporating accurate French and non-binary terms with his explanations to the class. They both made it look effortless, a wonder with such a challenging assignment.

My character was to be a 30 year old female welder. She came from a family of means, but didn’t feel comfortable with that lifestyle. She was constantly struggling to be taken seriously in a male dominated workplace/profession. The rest of the class assumed the role of my male co-workers and the scene began. I walked into the scene looking for an assist on a welding job. There was a pipe that’d been damaged in an accident and needed to be welded before it could resume use. I it was covered in debris and I needed a hand getting access. The response was an immediate flood of misogyny. “I’ve got a pipe you can weld, darling.” Yelled a co-worker. “Good luck finding anyone who wants to go near that rusty old thing Carl” I responded. A chorus of “woooOOOOoooo”s greeted me. A co-worker called out “what’s the matter? Little girl can’t do her job?” I felt my face redden. “I can do my job, I just need a hand to get it done quicker for our customers. Do any of you work?” Someone else chimed in with a dopey voice “what’s actually wrong with it?”

Flustered from the lack of help, I started inwardly panicking. Oh shit, I actually don’t know anything about welding. What the fuck do I say? I stammered out something about there being a hole in the pipe that needed mending. “Yeah” the dopey dude responded “but what’s there problem.” Everyone laughed. At me. I was in this character, but also felt very real opposition. I just wanted to do my job and nobody would take me seriously. “I can fucking weld!” My voice rose “the boss wouldn’t have hired me if I couldn’t.” I heard a voice chime in from the back of the room “I didn’t care if you could weld. I just liked the way your ass looked.” I was fuming. I tightened my first intentionally as a character moment, but with very real tension behind it. “Are we gonna get this fixed for the customer? Or am I gonna have to explain that the rest of the office was too lazy to get off their asses?” One dude spoke up. “Fine, I’ll give you a hand. Since you can’t seem to do it yourself.” Laughter greeted the comment and I stood there fuming as the scene ended.

The frustration of not being considered or taken seriously was such a new, visceral sensation. Of being defined and limited in the basis of my gender. Feeling so intensely the burning rage at this systematic undermining of my personhood. I went back to my seat inwardly trembling, shaken. “Welcome to the sisterhood Leon” called the teacher.

Is this regular behaviour? I’m starting a movement here.

Is anyone remotely surprised by Trump’s “grab ’em by the pussy” comment? The guy has proven repeatedly to be racist, aggressive, dishonest and misogynist. Is the idea that he treats women like they’re coffee mugs really out of left field? We’ve seen Trump’s type again and again. They’re the same entitled shitbags who’d flout the law and get bailed out by rich parents. They’re the kids who never learn from their mistakes because real consequences don’t exist in their lives. They’re the ones who are taught that the world is theirs for the grabbing, and they go on to treat everyone like shit, because they feel like the world owes them something. They’re also the first to get outraged by infringements on their worldview, because they don’t believe in boundaries.

I live in a bubble, so I don’t know what the other side sees when they go on Facebook. I’m sure there’s a large contingent of men loudly proclaiming “men don’t talk like this”. Bullshit. I went to high school. I know what it sounds like when immature men are deep in the throes of raging testosterone. I know the kinds of things they say. Yes, women are objectified (in the purest sense of the word- treated like non-sentient objects) by high school kids, for sure. In truth, I haven’t heard this kind of locker room talk in years. Most male locker rooms I’ve been in are usually full of silent, hurried men trying desperately not to look at one another. Because toxic masculinity and gay panic. That being said, I’m certain that there are 25+ year old high schoolers who never really grew up and still act the same way they did in the midst of puberty. Men like Donald Trump.

I’m thankful that I don’t seem to know guys like this any more. It’s a wonderful existence to not be constantly reminded first hand of the shittiness inherent to a patriarchal society. This is not something to get complacent about. This kind of rhetoric is obviously still floating around and it should be guys like me, those who are lucky enough to have grown up, to help inform these kind of Cro-Magnons that they should have evolved by now. It’s not enough to desire change without stepping in and helping where we can. Do you think men who treat women like things are gonna listen to their opinions? Or are they more likely to open their ears to someone they can’t push around?

Are you someone who can stand in and say a few words the next time you hear talk like this? If you are, the next time you hear the words of a teenager coming from the mouth of a grown man, let him know why that’s not okay, why that language is damaging on a personal and societal level. And if he doesn’t listen, wait till he leaves the locker room and shit on his spare clothes.

Because that’s what moral fibre is for.

The tropestest with the mopestest.

For a change I feel creatively bankrupt. I don’t have any pressing social issues to talk about (like my ill fitting shoes or Pokémon Go adventures), so I’m gonna go on a guided tour of a TV Tropes rabbit hole. I’ll go page by page and follow whatever piques my interest, bringing you along for the ride. My only hope is that the 30 minute time limit will help me jump out of said rabbit hole instead of going deeper for the rest of the night. First up…

Chain Letter

I figure you all know what a chain letter is. The only reason I started here is that (spoiler) my other idea was do fill out one of those dumb chain letter things for today’s entry. I quote: “Chain letters in real life have nowhere near the credibility that they do in media, and are annoyingly common in e-mail spam and on comment pages and message boards.” Too true, TV Tropes. Anyway let’s see what Glurge means:

Glurge

A word derived from the sound of someone throwing up, “Glurge is a catch-all term for any “inspirational” tale which conceals a much darker meaning than the uplifting moral lessons it purports to offer.” It also notes that consequences are often simplified in a manner that leaves the only option as accepting the positive message. No shades of grey, kind of thing. Which leads us to our next hole, Tastes Like Diabetes:

Tastes Like Diabetes

An audience reaction best simply defined as “saccharine”. When things are revoltingly cutesy, idealistic and have no dimensions or nuance. Primarily because the focus is so much on making things sweet to the point of the body’s physical limits. So basically the entire Air Bud Cinematic Universe. Okay, there is no reason I wouldn’t click American Kirby is Hardcore:

American Kirby is Hardcore

Oh, this one is interesting. Apparently with video game ports from Japan to the United States, there’s a habit of altering box art from cutesy to determined. Kirby being the example. The article implies that there’s a concern from the largely male, testosterone fuelled American audience that overly cutesy things imply childishness and immaturity and will actively be harmful to their cultivated masculine identity. In Japan, alternatively, pink is a neutral colour and historians have linked the Japanese tendency to move towards softer, cuter imagery as a 180° turn from their warrior culture after World War 2. Now let’s see what Heart of Blackened Steel leads to:

Surprise Difficulty

Heart of Blackened Steel redirects to Suprise Difficulty. This video game trope revolves around an assumed correlation between cuteness and ease of play. There are references to licensed games based on children’s series, which sends my mind reeling back to all those fast food themed video games of the early 90s like Cool Spot or M.C. Kids. Okay, what’s the Animation Age Ghetto got in store for us?

Animation Age Ghetto

Oh, it’s a page about how animation is still widely believed to be a childish medium. It credits the proliferation of profitable merchandising within child targeting animation as one of the big pushes towards animation’s assumed demographic. It does mention Futurama, Rick and Morty, South Park and so on as shifting away from this notion, though it’s not like they don’t all lend themselves to merchandising of their own. Running out of time here, let’s look at 30-Minute Commercials.

Merchandise-Driven

There’s a picture of Optimus Prime on the page, so I’m rolling with their pun, intentional or not. Big mentions for Transformers and Pokémon (I mean, it’s imperative to catch them all) An interesting quote goes: “the key difference between this and normal licensed merchandising is that here, it is the toy manufacturer who dictates the show’s canon. They may be able to demand addition or removal of characters from the series based on the actual toys in their production line, or that new characters must be something that they can design a toy version for on demand.” Transformers: The Movie was a total joy to watch as a kid (and kind of still is), but I always loved this quote from Orson Wells on his final film role: “I play a big toy who attacks a bunch of smaller toys.”

So if you were wondering what half an hour on TV Tropes looks like, that’s it. I’ve intentionally not included the links because I value your spare time. Then again, I’m not saying there’s anything stopping you for taking a look yourself. Do you really need to go to that party?

Truancy and unseemly behaviour.

Did you know that dabbing a little clear nail polish onto runs in pantyhose can stop those runs from spreading further?

How do I know this? Because developed a run in my pantyhose last night. Why was I wearing pantyhose last night? Because it was part of my costume. What costume was this? Why a sexy schoolgirl costume of course. Why was I dressed as a sexy schoolgirl? Because the party had a school theme, obviously. What else was I supposed to wear?

Real talk though, dressing in female clothing is fun as fuck. Failing anything it’s a chance to experience how another gender dresses. Before last night I knew that runs in hose were a thing that happened. I’d heard female friends complain about them before, but never paid them any mind. Oh, they happen alright and it’s alarming how quickly one little hole expands. Before I’d even left the house, nay, before I’d even left the room where I put them on I already had a run. The tightly woven fabric snagged a little splinter off my wooden floor and the process had begun. Given that I was walking around without shoes the whole night, I could see this virulent gap growing next to the pad of my foot. I was worried that by the end of the evening my toes would be exposed to the harsh air, unprotected by this thin mesh. That’s something quite nice actually. The feeling of the wind on hosed legs is pretty pleasant, something I’d never know if I hadn’t garbed them in sexy thigh-highs.

I mean, there was more to the costume than just pantyhose. On the event page I inquired if anyone had a skirt big enough to fit me. A friend chimed in with not only a skirt, but a whole costume: Thigh-highs, a garter belt, two choices of skirt and a tie. All I needed was a white shirt. I couldn’t remember if I owned a white shirt other than my good white shirt and I certainly didn’t want that one getting ruined. Especially after the whole debacle with that fucking shirt in the first place. I went to the local derelict mall that’s on loan from the 80s and bought one. Now, the only cheap (sub $5) shirt I could find was a women’s M. On my frame it was impossible to close the top three buttons. Suitable, I thought, given I was looking to up the sexiness quotient anyway. I purchased the shirt assuming that at worst I could always flex, hulk out and tear the shirt for kicks.

My friend and girlfriend helped me dress as we cycled through options. The shirt was certainly tight, but also restrictive enough that reaching above my head was not really an option. Like, what if I had to catch a high flying frisbee or something? We used another shirt I owned that I’d never much liked and tied a neat little bow for some scandalous midriff. I was showed how to bunch up pantyhose before stepping into them. They fit smoothly and the mini rubber tops stopped them from slipping. The first skirt was perhaps the length of my middle finger, so I got the smallest undies I could find in hopes that they’d be short enough not to show. Just, as it turns out. My friend clipped the garter in and I had a peek. My bum was framed pretty nicely, which had my girlfriend drooling a little. Perv. We ended up swapping the skirt for one with a little more length. You know, since the slightest provocation would have me poking out the front. I was the only one who didn’t know how to properly tie a tie, so the gals sorted that out. Looking pretty sassy, I grabbed my school bag and we headed out the door.

The party was a blast and it was fantastic dressing up. The big lesson I learned came as we were walking up the road to the party. I had something in my shoe, so I lifted up my foot, pulled off the shoe and shook it out, only to hear the gals cracking up. I’d just unintentionally flashed the whole neighbourhood. How unbecoming.

Grand maternal instincts led me there.

I’m a firm believer of trying new things. It’s a value that was instilled in me from a young age. When I was a kid my mother would constantly remind me of the maxim my grandmother relentlessly drilled into her. I’d stare at Brussels sprouts and my face would be doing its best impression of a prune. “How do you know you don’t like it if you haven’t tried it?” She’d ask. I’d often lie and say I had, just for a bit of wiggle room. Mum was persistent though. I’d try Brussels sprouts, anchovies (which I disliked the notion of purely because of the Ninja Turtles’ disdain for them), avocado and almost everything else under the sun. It helped, truly. It meant that whenever I left home I’d be game to push my comfort zones and explore new experiences. This exploration led to a whole host of discoveries, some of which I cradle close to my heart. As long as it doesn’t terrify me on a deep or emotionally triggering level, I’m pretty game to give it a whirl.

Which is a roundabout way of saying that my grandma indirectly made me go to a CFNM event last night.

While I’ve got the Oasis monthly membership, I’ve been making an effort to stop in regularly and see if anything piques my interest. How do I know that something I stumble upon isn’t gonna spark this insatiable passion in me? For all I know getting kicked in the balls could cuddle up next to hearing old TV theme songs in the alcove close to my heart. After last night I’m quite sure it won’t, but how would I have known otherwise?

So the basic run down of the CFNM event I attended went like this: The men were all naked while the women dressed to the nines. Lingerie, dresses, corsets or swimwear, whatever made them feel fancy. Immediately this created an unconventional power dynamic, which was hella interesting. The expectation was that the men would be subby and different coloured ribbons were available to indicate their interests. Green signified an interest in interactive play, pink was verbal humiliation and white indicated acts of service. We were brought into the dungeon for some ice breakers. There was the aptly named “Wheel of Misfortune” that had all manner of punishments for the men. Spankings, ball flogging, foot worship, back/foot massage, trampling (the woman walks on the man’s back until she’s had her fill). The women in turn were invited up to spin the wheel, but generally got to switch up to their choice and canvassed for volunteers. The wheel stopped on spankings and I gingerly put up my arm. I’d tried light spanking play before and I’d never felt much in the way of gratification. Perhaps this would be the spark to fuel the fire of passions in my loins. It wasn’t. It’s not like it was terrible, but it really didn’t do anything for me. Like if someone offered you a saltine cracker. They’re not offensively bad, but chances are it’s not gonna light up your day. Not shitting on anyone who enjoys it (especially since it’s a pretty fucking common kink). Maybe all the foam rolling has dulled my senses, but pain doesn’t really phase me sexually.

Other guys though? They were loving it and that was awesome to see. There’s something about witnessing a person getting just what they want that’s kind of heart-warming. It was sort of inspiring seeing this friendly black dude built like Terry Crews profusely enjoying a bit of CBT and some severe spankings. He was owning it, entirely unashamed. I wish I had that kind of confidence in all the things I know I’m into. Being able to ask openly for what you want without fear of judgement is a hell of a thing to see. Particularly the social defiance of this hyper masculine looking guy relishing the chance to be put into a position of vulnerability. I’m such a fan of you do you and this guy was living it. I could tell by my involuntary winces that the CBT stuff wasn’t for me. Ball flogging held no excitement beyond trepidation. I couldn’t identify with the appeal of trampling (I’m assuming it’s a status play tool?) and the near lashing of the guys spread out on the cross shaped restraint pushed over my limits for the pain/pleasure threshold. Outstanding that these guys were getting their needs met, though. I’ll leave the fun to them. I came back later to find the gals playing ring toss with the dudes spread out, backs on the floor. I’m sure you don’t need an active imagination to guess what the pegs were.

So it wasn’t my thing, big deal. Spending the night observing something new was a low risk investment into great potential. I still had an excellent night. A couple of my friends happened to be there, so we hung out (no pun intended) in the outdoor pool. I got to chat to a Pro-Domme in the hot tub for about an hour (fortunately off duty. If she was charging I’d be broke) and learn a ton about the profession. We talked about the kids of requests her clients make, how she advertises and the legal loopholes that make it possible for her to practise. I came to appreciate what it means to her and how she got involved in the first place. We chatted about our preferences, kinks and how this compared/contrasted with our non-sexual selves. I 100% discovered a new kink that I’m too gunshy to admit here, but it’s a doozy. It was a new perspective I’d never had access to and it was fascinating. Fun chat, cool gal.

So thanks grandma. You always were looking out for my best interests.

Got my milk, got my cookies, got my positive male role models.

I mentioned the other day my lack of one on one time with other guys. It feels peculiar to note, because it’s such a stark departure compared with most of my childhood. As a boy I hung out with other boys. I didn’t have a problem with girls, didn’t buy into notions of cooties or Girl Germs, but also didn’t spend a whole heap of time with those of the double x. I had friends who were girls, but that rarely transpired in shared interests. Aside from Care Bears, of course. Something about the fusion of huggability and laser beams (albeit of friendship instead of flesh melting efficiency) made me perk up enough to chat avidly. My other interests were centred around violence. Transformers and dinosaurs, Ninja Turtles, video games and superheroes. Fellow boys shared my passions so I shared my time with them.

Whether doling out punishment in side-scrolling platform games or using our imaginations to craft adventure style narratives with toys, I loved hanging out with friends and letting that enthusiasm run wild. Loud and animated, I tried to maximise time with others. Yes, I could play by myself, but that didn’t mean I always wanted to play by myself. I’d find any excuse to sleep over at a friend’s place or be somewhere that wasn’t home. My friend group swelled, but remained dude dominated.

High school changed that. Wider friend circles meant more time was spent around girls. Puberty hit and we all felt it. As friends coupled up, a larger female influence came into my life. Most of my solo time was with other guys, but group hang outs became a more regular occurrence. The conversations widened beyond our default topics and the dynamics shifted. I became embroiled in the drama department and spent the next few years confusing friendship for affection. I got a crush on most any girl who’d speak to me and acted out on none of them. Concurrently, assuming that they wouldn’t be interested helped my socialising leap and bound into legitimate friendships.

As the years passed and I welcomed more female influence into my life, it changed the way I socialised. I learned to communicate my feelings more honestly and got intellectually engaged by the channels that allowed for such openness. The friendships I began to value were those that encourage heart to heart connections. Hanging out with women began to feel natural. I still loved playing video games with friends, but communicating became my central mode of socialising. It just so happens that women are socialised to communicate effectively from a young age, so this fit like a glove. I got into relationships and saw other women not for their potential in mating, but as actual mates.

I skipped the country and arrived in Toronto. I began to date avidly as a way of getting out and about in the city. I became accustomed to the male/female dynamic and soon enough I looked around to realise all of my good friends were women. Even if I wasn’t trying to date them I just enjoyed their company. I loved sharing feelings, hearing a view that was often different from my own. I swam in circles that were often female dominated and as such, I mostly met women. I met other guys, but primarily ended up hanging out in group situations. We’d chat at parties and gatherings. Double dating became a thing. Was there another layer to this? As non-monogamy came into my life, was I still subconsciously putting out my feelers for dates? Was there an edge of sexual interest inherent to my friendships? Is that why I was prioritising ladies over guys?

Whatever it was, it was only recently that I became conscious of not only this imbalance, but what I was missing out on. The number of amazing men I have around me is staggering. Guys who communicate with emotional intimacy. Guys who aren’t afraid to reveal vulnerabilities and consider my own. There are shared interests galore and a real chance for positive male influences in my life. There is nothing lacking in my female friendships whatsoever, but I’d be doing my own development a disservice by not honing my male friendships. They’re quality people who offer examples of masculinity beyond the mainstream tropes I so often witness. It’s about accessing a variety of views, to widen my perspective.

To become a View-Master, so to speak.