I know what I’m eating today. I love this Polish deli.
I quite like political correctness. It just seems like good manners. Being conscientious of other people’s feelings or preferences isn’t a burden, it’s a gift. It builds trust and comfort. And like all good manners, a dash of debonair respect helps a good time swing. But critics of political correctness have one decent point. If we get obsessed with it, heightened language-awareness becomes stuffy and dull. Like the table manners expected at Buckingham Palace. Yes, we’re all correctly using the precisely appropriate salad fork. But are we having fun? Hell no.
I don’t like that I eat chicken. I feel awful for the chicken. But chickens eat bugs when they can, and don’t seem to feel bad about it at all. So show me a chicken that doesn’t eat bugs and I will pledge to never eat him. The only way vegetarianism will ever suit me is with some sort of unilateral cross-species pact, with an inspection regime, like the US and Russia did with nukes. Trust, but verify.
A week ago, Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin announced they were splitting up. The UK’s Daily Telegraph (their biggest broadsheet newspaper) emailed me out of the blue. I’d written for them in the past, but not for a few months. They asked if I could turn something around in an hour: they already had an American woman’s perspective on marrying a British man? Could I give them the opposite viewpoint? I bashed it out, happy with most of the jokes. I sent it, and promptly forgot about it. They ran it.
And it blew up. It hit their front page. Last time I checked, it had been shared over 19,000 times on Facebook. It didn’t change the world or anything, but it put me on the map with a few important people. That’s a big win for me.
There’s a weird lesson in here. Opportunity visits in strange ways, and at odd times. You may not recognize it when it arrives. But if you are always working hard, always honing your craft (pitching, thinking, meeting, performing, challenging, writing, and RE-writing), you will get your chance to shine in front of a large audience. If you are in a creative profession, it can seem like most of the time, you’re just WASTING your time: writing stuff no one reads, telling jokes no one hears. You are not. You are constantly improving. And when opportunity knocks, it will be the anonymous failures that prepared you to succeed.
…then Bassem Youssef and Jon Stewart are two of them. Right?
The first ever ROAD STORIES show at The Creek and the Cave was unbelievable. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the showroom that packed (except for Bill Burr, but I’ll happily take second-place to him). That’s me with my two new pals – Andrew WK and the Wu-Tang Clan’s Masta Killa. Here’s the audio of my and Brian McManus‘ interview with two of the nicest guys in music.
Here’s a slideshow of pictures from the show. We’re already planning the next ROAD STORIES, so if you want to hear about it first, follow me @mrtomcowell or sign up for email alerts here. And as always, we have to thank Rebecca Trent of the Creek and the Cave for all her support of the show. Let’s keep on trucking, baby.
C. writes: I’m 24 and I’ve been with my boyfriend for a year and a half. This is my longest relationship so far. He is very kind and he loves me to pieces. And I love him. But what bothers me is that I see him checking out other girls. The other day at a coffee shop, I noticed the barista’s very cute butt. Well, so did he and he kept glancing at it while we waited in line. Another time, I’ve seen him make eye contact with a very hot girl and do the whole “quickly look away, look back, look away” thing with her. I call it eye fucking. It has happened other times too but only if the girl is quite attractive. I’m not sure how I am supposed to feel. I know that people in relationships sometimes flirt with others, but it makes me feel very uncomfortable and squirmy. I just don’t seem to have an interest in checking out other dudes anymore because I’m with my boyfriend. I honestly don’t think he would ever cheat on me. I understand maybe he wants validation from other girls to show he’s still wanted. Anyways, I hate the feeling I get and sometimes want to end the relationship over it. But do all guys do this? Will my next boyfriend do this too?
Yes, he will. All guys will do this forever. And you’re not going to like this, but… you are forbidden to have any problem with it.
First, let’s correct some of your misconceptions. You call this “eye-fucking”. I’d call it “eye-fondling”. A few glances here and there do not add up to a “fuck”. But I’m splitting hairs. You also call this behavior “flirting”. You’re wrong: it is NOT flirting. To flirt you actually have to talk to someone. Eye-glances are raw biology. It has zero to do with personality, and everything to do with physicality. We are animal beings with animal impulses. And checking people out is instinctual. It’s a reflex, like your leg twitching when a doctor hits it with that little hammer.
And allow me to politely call out some bullshit. You’re 24 years old. You’re hot. I bet men admire your looks dozens of times a day. Statistically, many of those men are in committed relationships. When a man with a wedding ring involuntarily checks out your ass, do you wheel around, raise your index finger and scream “FOR SHAME!” in his dumb, married face? No. You smile to yourself, happy that your butt DOES INDEED look great in those jeans. Then you keep on walking. A cat-call is always horrible, but an involuntary head-turn from a man who finds you attractive? Everyone loves that. Am I wrong?
So until you start REJECTING those physical, instant compliments (never going to happen), you can’t reject the random glances that your BF is throwing out to random ladies accidentally, simply by virtue of him being a red-blooded male. And if you need a compliment, take this one: I guarantee that he is trying to keep his “other lady butt admiration” in check when he’s around you, because dudes are aware that it can upset their girlfriends. He is doing the bare minimum ass-glancing that he can control right now.
And are you seriously thinking of breaking up with this guy over this stuff? You say he’s so wonderful, and kind, and loving… but a few butt-glances make you want to end the whole thing? That’s an insane choice. Are you aware that your ass is not the greatest in history? Neither is your chest. Neither are your legs. Your boyfriend loves the whole package of you. No one was ever as good as the whole parcel of you (mind, body, spirit) is to him, right now. But he never traded in his right to appreciate other stuff he sees. Could this be more about your insecurity than his insensitivity?
This is my new commitment strategy. On the top right of the photograph is a calendar that cost me $2.50. Every red cross is an open mic where I performed stand-up comedy. Every circled red cross is a stand-up comedy show I performed on. Below that is another cheap calendar (this one was just $2). Each blue cross is a piece of writing I put on the internet. The last two crosses should actually have circles around them. The circle says I actually got paid to write on the internet. The last two things that paid me were my Village Voice weekly independent comedy show roundup “Cheap Laughs”, and my advice column I write for The Frisky.com called “Ask a Married Guy”. The photograph on the left is a framed black and white headshot of Oscar-winning actor Jimmy Stewart I once found in a thrift store. That’s not important to this post, but I thought you might enjoy it. Every day, I have to put my writing online. Every day, I have to perform stand-up comedy. It can be just 100 words of original thoughts. It can be just one three minute spot with just two other comics in the crowd. They all count. The only thing that matters is that I did it. It is part of my new mantra: THE ONLY WAY IS EVERY DAY. I don’t want to say too much about my experience yet. I want to check back in after a month. But this feels important. It’s something I’m proud of doing, and proud of sticking to (with the exception of not writing on goddamned Valentine’s Day). I’ll keep you updated along the way, with ultra-honest check-ins.
I sling a few harsh truths in this week’s Frisky column. Hope you enjoy it.