Monday, August 29, 2016


Greetings, WYMOP readers!

It all started with me cleaning off the dining room table. It had been covered over time with the detritus of life—magazines, mail, etc.—and I was gathering stuff together into a small “keep” and a large “throw away” piles. I suddenly heard this whap . . . whap . . . whap! I looked up, and to my great surprise saw a fat black bug about the size of my thumb flying laps around the dining room ceiling.
“Holy crap! I shouted (or something similar, it may not have been exactly “crap”), and started ducking, because the thing wasn’t just flying laps around the light fixture, like it’s smaller cousins; it was putting on a bizarre aerial performance, looping low to build up speed, then curving back up to whap into the ceiling, as if trying to smash right through it. As I watched it did this again and again, seemingly uncaring of any damage it may have been doing to itself.
Staying low and hopefully out of its strange kamikaze flight path, I scuttled (but it was a manly scuttle, accompanied by manly high-pitched squealing) for the kitchen to fetch the fly swatter. And by fly swatter, I mean a towel rolled to a tight point and prime for rat-tailing. Rat-tailing (or towel-snapping, as it is sometimes called) is mostly known as a juvenile stunt pulled in boys’ locker rooms. Okay, it is a juvenile stunt pulled in boys’ locker rooms, but for me it’s a bit more of a weapon: I have been known—on much more than one occasion—to use a towel to snap a fly out of the air. This was what I had in mind for this bad boy.
I grabbed the dish towel from the front of the oven, rolled it, gave it a couple of practice snaps . . . and then, remembering the size of the flying behemoth in the dining room, went to fetch a full-sized bath towel. Yard-long weapon in hand I skulked back to the table, crouching low, head cocked and in full hunting mode.
The damn thing was gone.
I looked on the ceiling. I looked on the walls. I poked about in my half-finished piles, prepared the entire time to shriek and flail with the towel like a spastic five-year-old beating out a sudden fire. I may not have mentioned it, though perhaps you can tell: I don’t like bugs. Insects of all kinds—as well as their cousins, the spiders—skeeve me right the hell out—especially when they take me unawares and are larger than I think they have any right to be. And if insects and spiders could team up and go to war with snakes, causing all three to kill each other off, I understand it would be bad for the environment and all, but I think I could learn to live with it.
Oh, and centipedes are evil creepy demon things from the skin-crawlingest pit of Hell, and I’d like them all to go back. But I digress.
I laid the towel over a chair-back—still rolled and ready to snap at a moment’s notice, like the knell of mutant bug doom—and went back to work on the table, eyes roving nonstop in case the big bastard tried to sneak up on me. I finished in the dining room and, exhibiting the attention span and retention of a cocker spaniel puppy on methamphetamines, promptly forgot about Bugzilla as I moved on to other things about the house. I forgot about Bugzilla until about an hour later.
I was looking for a Sharpie marker. Not a pen (there were tons of those) or pencil (tens of tons), but an indelible, black Sharpie. I looked in the pen cup: not there. I looked on the bookcase: not there. I looked in the junk drawer: not there. I looked amidst the papers beside the sink: Bug-freakin’-zilla.
The skin on the back of my neck rippled like a stone-skipped pond; distracted by my search, I’d nearly put my hand on him. Instinctively I started for the towel, but stopped. He was sitting there atop the bills like the world’s oogiest paperweight, and if I snapped him there, with all the explosive results I was currently requesting via curse-filled prayer, it would make a mess all over them.
I rummaged, in a frantically manly way, through the tupperware drawer.
I clapped the 2-quart plastic bowl down over him. He didn’t seem to care. I slipped the bowl’s lid in beneath it, working it under him to get him off the bills. That he didn’t much care for. When I lifted the bowl and lid, Bugzilla trapped within, he went berserk, flying around and around and back and forth, smashing against the inside of his plastic prison with impacts that jolted the bowl.
I elbowed open the slider out to the back deck and flipped on the light.
“No offense,” I said, raising the bowl as I strode across the deck, “but you are one big ugly #$%^er, and you’re not welcome here!” With that, I yanked the cover aside and whipped the bowl up and forward, using it like the bucket of a catapult to fling Bugzilla out into the yard. His heavy, armored body flew straight over the low fence and out of range of the deck lights, disappearing into the night. “And good riddance!” I said, turning to march back into the house.
I had just stepped through the door—hadn’t even had time to stretch out a hand to pull the slider closed behind me—when I heard a quick fluttering brrrrrrrp, and something hit me in the back of the head like a ping pong ball fired at me from just a few feet away. A ping pong ball with feathery little wings and scratchy, sticklike legs.
I staggered forward, shouting “What the @#$%!” and looked down to see Bugzilla, inside the house once more and lying on the top step down into the basement. Though his repeated hard impacts with the dining room ceiling hadn’t fazed him in the least, indignant at being imprisoned and incensed at being ejected into the yard he had charged back out of the night to hit me in the back of the skull hard enough to stun himself!
With a cry, 210 pounds of of sneaker-clad weight came down on him. I lifted my foot. He was still moving. The sneaker came down again, and then again, and then I went in search of a hammer to really do the job right. I returned with a 20 ounce framing hammer, fully prepared to bash my assailant right down to the bedrock . . . but he wasn’t moving any more, and there was a little bit of goo leaking out of him.
There was great rejoicing.
I fetched my son to show him the beast, telling him Yes, you see? Monsters are real! He looked at me oddly until I told him about the thing zooming out of the dark to attack me, and the size of the whap it made against the back of my head. Then he laughed, uproariously, and went back to his computer. I went to huddle under the hottest shower I could stand, abrading the back of my head with the pot-scrubber side of the sink sponge and wishing I could get the skin there to stop crawling . . . right after putting a loaded towel in every room in the house. For home protection, you understand.

Talk to you later!

Since the shiny thing's a quarter, I figure the
damn bug's about the size of a 50 cent piece.
 A flying, buzzing, kamikaze 50 cent piece.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Do I Fat?

Greetings, WYMOP readers!

I’ve posted before about where some of my story ideas come from. I’ve also occasionally written of my customers, and how fun and funny they can sometimes be.
This is one of those fun times when those two concepts collide.
I recently sold a short story to an titled “Moving House.” It’s a witch story, and in it I have a character, an old woman, who has a thick Russian accent. I believe in the story I compare her to Mr. Chekov, the helmsman in the original Star Trek series, who said things like “Keptin! I cannot awoid the alien wessels!”
That’s, Captain! I cannot avoid the alien vessels! for those of you who never saw the show. Anyhow, I was concerned I may have gone a little overboard with the portrayal of her accent. Luckily, I have several Russian folks on my route, and for several of them English is definitely a second language—and don’t think I’m knocking them: I speak six words of Russian that have nothing to do with food, so they have it all over me in the language department. This brings us to Mrs. F.
Mrs. F. is the matriarch of a family who apparently runs an antique shop, and she occasionally receives things registered or insured in the mail—stuff requiring a signature, in other words. She doesn’t speak much at the door—she’s polite, but no chatterbox—and she always thanks me by handing me a little box or canister of cookies. I do my job: I get cookies. It’s a great deal for a guy with a sweet tooth, and they’re usually gone in less than an hour. Fifteen minutes, if I walk into it feeling peckish.
Lately, though, she’s begun receiving more registered mail. Like two to three times a week, compared with her usual once a month or so. I don’t know if that’s a good sign or bad for her business, but I do know one thing: she’s been giving me a lot of cookies. So many that the other day, when she handed me a packet of sugared butter cookies, I actually felt guilty, and decided to say something.
“Mrs. F, thank you, but you know you don’t have to do this.”
“No,” she said. “Don’t be silly. You take.”
“Well, okay,” I said, thinking hey, I tried. “But you’re going to make me fat.”
The door opened a little wider, and she looked up at me. “No. No. You swit. Yes? Walk all day. Hot day. You walk, you swit.” She stepped back and spread her arms slightly. “I swit all time. Do I fet?”
It was the most she’d ever spoken to me at one time, and she was asking me “Do I fat?” in a perfect Mr. Chekov accent!
I looked her right in the eye and said, “No, Mrs. F. You do not fat.”
She made a satisfied sound, pressed the cookies into my hand, and closed the door. I walked out to my mail truck, chuckling, satisfied that I’d done the accent in my witch story justice. And eating cookies. Then, just as I was climbing into the driver’s seat, it hit me, and I sat for a minute staring at my sweet snack.
What if she’s the witch from Hansel and Gretel, I thought, and she just brought some of her old kid-fattening stock with her when she retired?
I vowed right then to fly like the wind if Mrs. F. ever asks me in to help her with the oven.
I’m also almost done with a short story titled “Do I Fat?”

Talk to you later!

Monday, August 15, 2016

PB&J - Take 2

Greetings, WYMOP readers!

Last week you may remember I shared a video with you of comedian/magician Justin Willman that had been posted to Facebook under the heading “Magician perfectly destroys anti-transgender bathroom argument in 2 know, for the kids,” and gave my response.  It was a long blog post (if you haven’t seen it yet, you can find it HERE), and I put it up and sort of waited for a response.
Thankfully I didn’t have long to wait, because what I posted was apparently quite a poorly-written blog entry, to the point that people I talked to had received a very different message than the one I thought I was putting out.
My immediate temptation was to pull the post down: I call myself a writer, I should be able to communicate my ideas clearly, and that I did not is more than a little embarrassing. Rather than do that, however, I’ve chosen to leave the post in place to remind myself that I can make this kind of error. Instead I received permission from a couple of people to reproduce our conversations here. Hopefully sharing these Q&As will clarify my position a little better than I did last week.
First, I had my “clear as mud” writing style inadvertently pointed out to me by my friend, T.T.:

T.T.: As a parent, I understand your concerns. As you said, it's a small percentage of the overall population that is the problem, these are the ones that have us in fear, not the subset of a subset.
I will also add that I have never heard of a transgendered person assaulting a child in a bathroom. Maybe it's happened, but it's not on my radar. It could be me, but unless it's acutely obvious, I'm usually oblivious to the fact that someone is transgender. It doesn't matter to me if they are jelly or peanut butter so maybe that is the basis of my opinion that they should use the bathroom they identify with.
I truly believe that transgendered people are born into the wrong sex and they are attempting to make peace with themselves. I don't believe they are sex fiends looking for an excuse to assault young children. I don't believe they have turbo charged sex drives or sex fueled fantasies that target children. To be honest, if my young son was in a bathroom alone with either a transgendered man or a older man who spouts gospel or dispenses hate at those he considers unnatural, I'd be more concerned about the older man.
But, again, that's just me, and I understand that others feel differently.
· August 9 at 8:59am
Rob:  I've never heard of a transgender person assaulting a child in the bathroom either, and that was really my point. Are there sickos out there? Yes. Do they have anything to do with the transgender community? Not to my knowledge, no. But by failing to make that distinction and merely saying "that's not what it's about," I think that to people who are focused solely on the fear, people who aren't making that distinction for themselves, he's going to come off as saying "you people are idiots, you're afraid of nothing" rather than showing them that in this situation they're actually afraid of the wrong people.
· August 9 at 9:20am · Edited
Rob:  What's really bothering me, here, is that you, T. T., seem to have received a message opposite to what I intended. And I'm not saying *you* are bothering me, but I'm concerned that I may have communicated poorly.
· August 9 at 9:36am
T.T.: I admit I was confused by your answer to my post. For some reason, I had the opposite impression. It might just be me, that I didn't comprehend your message, and not that you communicated it poorly.
· August 9 at 10:00am
Rob  No, I don't think you're the only one responding that way. Just for the record, you got from my actual blog post last night that I'm anti-transgender?
August 9 at 10:09am
T.T.: No. What I took from it was that there was a concern about transgender people using bathrooms that were not intended for their birth sex. That the concern, unfounded or not, was valid.
August 9 at 10:34am
Rob:  Hmm. I need to stick to fiction. I got it halfway there and dropped the ball. For the record, no, I don't think that concern is valid.
· August 9 at 10:39am
Rob:  And thank you, T.T., for even inadvertently letting me know I was actually *that* unclear.
August 9 at 10:49am
T.T.: I'm sorry, Rob. I hope it was just me.
August 9 at 11:17am
Rob:  No, it wasn't. But hopefully I can fix this.
· August 9 at 11:43am
So I did sit down and try to think of a way to fix this. What should I do, post a clarification? Take another stab at explaining my position? Then, while I was pondering, another friend, D.N. started asking just the questions I felt I needed to answer:

D.N.: A couple of things come to my mind after reading this.... first, as a coach/instructor, you were in a "better" position to abuse your charges than you are as a stranger. Kids have stranger danger drilled into them, as you said, but are actually more at risk with adults they know and trust. Nothing against you specifically, of course; this is just fact.

Secondly, if you're worried about your 6 year old daughter in the ladies' room at the park, go in there with her. I'll bet most women would react fine, or wait, if you said you were in there with her. Or take her to the men's room. But don't send her in alone unless it's a single stall.

We can't let the fear of predators allow us to force people to live in ways that are damaging to them. 41% of transgender people attempt suicide. You know what brings that number down in line with the cis population? Acceptance. Acceptance by their families, friends, and neighbors. Being allowed to pee in peace. Being allowed to present the way they want to without being policed for not passing as cis.

I know you're on their side. I just don't understand how the magician is part of the problem now.
· August 8 at 10:57pm

Rob:  Okay, D.N., I waited a while to respond to you, and I'm glad I did. From another comment I received, and then some questions I asked of people who I knew read my blog without commenting, I've come to the conclusion that I wasn't nearly as clear as I thought I was―and that's on me as a writer, I'm not trying to push it off and say "you all just don't understand me." It's fairly embarrassing, really.

You finished your comment with a question, and your question was actually the entire point of what I was trying to say, so if I was muddy there then the whole thing just kind of falls apart. How is the magician part of the problem?

Basically, I think he has a great message―I love his message―but I think his delivery method is flawed.
· August 9 at 12:51pm

Rob:  I'm really talking about his target audience. His message isn't aimed at you, or even me, for that matter: it's aimed at people who "don't get it," as he puts it. If he's really talking to kids, then his obvious anger and reference to "fucking idiots" are a little out of place; he's really aimed this message at the people dead set against transgender folks being able to use the restroom designated for their sexual orientation rather than their physical sexuality because they are afraid. One of the things they are afraid of, and it's a biggie, is sexual predators.

Now you know, and I know, that has *nothing* to do with the transgender community. But there are still people out there―a *lot* of people, though just one would be too many―who equate anything different as deviant, and anything not like them as bad. Lots of people still have "transgender" locked up in the same mental storage space as "pervert," and "predator," and they don't see a whole lot of difference between them. It's shitty, and I pity people as close-minded as that, but it's sadly true.

Dammit, my lunch is over. I'm not done, but I'll be back here later.
· August 9 at 5:40pm ·Edited

Rob:  Okay, it's been over four hours; let me see if I can pick up my train of thought.

So he does a detailed job of explaining what transgender *is*, but when he comes to the part of the video where he might point out that those close-minded people's fear is misplaced, he calls them fucking idiots and dismisses their concern in a single sentence, spoken with anger and sarcasm. I don't care what the argument is, if someone tells you you're a fucking idiot and bushes your concerns aside you're a lot less likely to listen to what they're trying to tell you. You're going to be insulted at the name-calling and angered at the apparent dismissal of your concern. He started out making a wonderful, easily understood point, but then sabotaged himself with his target audience.

I'm stopping here for now, in case I'm muddling myself again.
· August 9 at 6:33pm ·Edited

D.N.: Nope, no muddling this time! He becomes part of the problem by not actually addressing fears with facts. And in fact, actually insulting the "dear reader." I hear you. The insult was way off base if he wanted to get people not already on board to listen. I agree.

Thank you for taking so much extra time to talk through this with me. You know i worry about my lemon-marmalade in a peanut butter jar. 😉
· August 9 at 8:45pm

D.N.: Oh, my confusion was around thinking your issue was with the fact that we can't look inside the jars in real life. That we have no better way of handling it than taking someone's word on their gender identity, as we do with sexual identity, or religious affiliation.
· August 9 at 8:48pm

Rob:  Yes, that too. We can't. And in this situation there will be people who lie about their gender identity as a way to hide the fact that they have a head full of bad wiring. These are the same people the public has *always* been afraid of, the Stranger Danger people, that the "fucking idiots," to use his phrase, are lumping the transgender together with through laziness, ignorance, or a combination of the two. That's terrible, and sad, and makes people angry, I know, but solving that won't be as simple as opening a jar. That's the part of the problem that I think becomes the most complicated.
· August 9 at 9:11pm

Rob:  The whole Stranger Danger mentality (and I'm not going to lie, I have it as well) is about looking for the untrustworthy hiding in the midst of the trustworthy. Transgender people have become a very visible group of Strangers in the simplest sense of the word: they are different. Don't get me wrong, we're all different―I, the cis male, have more in common, I think, with several gay people I know and at least one transgender person I know, than my own cis male cousins from down south. But in the minds of the "different from me is bad" thinking people, the emerging transgender culture (is that a thing, or do I just sound old?) is giving them a very visible group of "different" to focus on.
· August 9 at 9:20pm

D.N.: Yeah. It is complicated. I wish it weren't, but that did seem to be how goes, doesn't it? Pithy comments just can't capture reality.
· August 9 at 9:22pm

Rob:  Yeah. I hate complicated. And that's the part that he (Justin) seemed to be saying was *so* simple. It's simple to him, but not to the people he needs to convince.
· August 9 at 9:24pm

Rob:  Sorry: not to the people *we* need to convince.
· August 9 at 9:24pm

D.N.: Hrm... did you see that map that says there are 11 cultural Americas (US)? It makes sense that you have more in common with other people in the Northeast (I'm assuming) than with Southerners.

And, yes, trans people have replaced gay and lesbian people in the pariah column. Not that I think LGB are really fully accepted yet, but it's still legal to persecute the T in many places.
· August 9 at 9:26pm

Rob:  Would I be out of line suggesting unisex bathrooms? They're not a new concept―I mean, come on, am I the *only* one left who ever watched an episode of Ally McBeal? ;)
· August 9 at 9:27pm

D.N.: Nope, not out of line at all. And that helps people who fall outside the binary too!
· August 9 at 9:28pm

Rob:  Okay, I have to pack up this Chromebook and head for home. Thank you for asking your questions. This is why I write fiction: that I can keep straight in my head, apparently, but when I try to write about anything important I have floating around in here I do a damn poor job. I appreciate your showing me where I was muddled, and letting me clarify what I was trying to say, rather than just assuming I was an asshole.
· August 9 at 9:32pm

Rob:  I may still be an asshole, but at least I'm being clear about it. :D
· August 9 at 9:33pm

D.N. Have a great night!
· August 9 at 9:33pm

There. Much clearer! Still, if anyone has any questions from last week’s post, please don’t hesitate to ask, either here or on Facebook.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go back and look at last week’s post. Maybe I can figure out where I went wrong.
Next week we should return to our regular, somewhat goofy programming.

Talk to you later!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Peanut Butter-Jelly Time.

Greetings, WYMOP readers!
Sorry folks, but this is a long one. I actually felt that I had something to say.
I saw a video on Facebook recently, where the listed description was “Magician perfectly destroys anti-transgender bathroom argument in 2 know, for the kids!” I saw it on a few different walls, and everywhere it went this video was collecting likes and the usual Facebook chest beating: “AWESOME!” “Like X 1000!” “THIS! THIS guy GETS it!”
To set my personal stage here, I’m cis male on the gender spectrum (and remember that: it is a spectrum), meaning that I identify sexually with the gender I was physically assigned. I am straight and male, and have always felt that way. I do know some transgender folks, though, and I am aware of the anti-transgender bathroom argument, and roughly aware of how much the situation sucks. Also, I’m a really just a big kid when it comes to magic shows. I watched the video.

I’ve included the video here so you can check it out—and I urge you to, it’s a good trick and he’s using it to make an impassioned argument about a very important topic—but I’ll give a brief description for anyone who just doesn’t have the time.
Comedian/Magician Justin Willman uses a jar of peanut butter (representing one physical sex), a jar of jelly (representing the other physical sex—remember, physically there are only two sexes), and two fully-concealing slipcovers (representing public bathrooms, one dedicated to each of those two physical sexes). He opens the jars to show that yes, indeed, there is peanut butter in the peanut butter jar, and jelly in the jelly jar, and he begins his demonstration. The peanut butter is in the PB slipcover, the jelly is in the J cover, and everything is square and well labeled. But then, almost magically (remember, Justin is a magician), they switch, and the peanut butter is in the J cover while the jelly is in the PB.
Whoa, says Justin, and I’m paraphrasing here—the man has much better patter than I do. You guys don’t belong there! What’s up with this? Then he opens the jars again to show us that, magically—and yes, I told you I love magicians—there is jelly in the peanut butter jar and peanut butter in the jelly jar. You see, the jelly and peanut butter really are where they belong, it doesn’t matter what their outer jars look like. In my opinion (yes, heterosexual cis male, but I still have a brain) it’s an excellent, easily understood, visual representation of what it is to be transgender: what you see on the outside doesn’t necessarily represent what’s inside, and it’s what’s inside that counts.
To bring this demonstration back to the bathroom issue, Justin winds down with the following:
“Kids, I know this seems so simple, but there are some fucking idiots out there who just can’t comprehend this. They think that the peanut butter is going to pretend to be jelly just so it can sneak over here and listen to the jelly pee and just jerk off—that’s not what this is about, Dad! If it’s peanut butter, let it pee with peanut butter, and if it’s jelly, let it pee with jelly. Got it?”
Yes, I got it. I actually got it before watching this entertaining video—I believe I mentioned somewhere above that I do have a brain. However, along with being cis male, I’m also a dad, and right there at the end he seemed to be addressing me personally. “That’s not what this is about, Dad.” One of the comments on that Facebook posting (remember Facebook? Where I saw the video that started this?) was even “‘That's not what this is about, Dad!’ Love it.”
So on that posting, right beneath the “Love it” comment, I posted my own comment:
“Question: is it impossible for a . . . I guess I'll use the inclusive term of ‘pervert,’ to get into a public bathroom in order to get their jollies/harm someone?”
Now, this is Facebook, the Internet, the place where if you even hint at the thought of planning to express an opposing viewpoint on the popular post of the minute, you better be prepared for an avalanche of people calling you an idiot, or worse. The greatest kindness you can hope for, usually, is that someone will take the time to explain why you’re an idiot. Sometimes this activity spawns a discussion, if people like-minded to you come to your defense, and these can become either (depending on the topic, whose wall it’s happening on, and the people involved) intelligent, thoughtful back-and-forths, or energetic bouts of name-calling and bile.
I hunkered down and waited for the shitstorm.
. . . And I’m still waiting. Yup, two full days later and my question is still sitting there like dogshit on a hardwood floor that no one wants to clean up; everyone’s aware of it, but no one’s looking directly at it, instead maintaining plausible deniability. That? Oh, well I didn’t even see that. I would have picked it up, but, well I was looking at this thing over here . . .
So I’m picking it up myself. Rather than slap my big, long response on someone’s Facebook wall (it wouldn’t be fair, this isn’t really what he was looking for), I decided to put it in my own blog.
Hi, Justin. I’m a dad. Now, in case you’re not a parent (I honestly don’t know) and for people out there who may not be parents themselves, I’m going to describe a little of what it’s like to be a parent. Ready? Okay.
Fear. You’re afraid a lot.
And I’m not talking about living in terror, or anything so dramatic; I mean there are all levels of anxiety involved in having a child that can come at you every day: from small stuff (boy, I hope no one picks on him his first day of school), to mid-level (I know he’s just going to the store, but it’s the first time he’s driven the car solo, and—hey, is that a siren?), to what may be referred to as mind numbing (It’s three o’clock in the morning, she was supposed to be home by eleven, and she’s not answering her cell phone—fuck this, I’m calling the cops!). And odds are that no one picked on him on his first day, he got back from the store in one piece, and she made it home before the call could go through to the police, safe and sound and with a funny story about why she was so late.
But there’s always the chance, slim as it may be, that the situation won’t have a happy ending, and that’s what keeps parents afraid—the thought that bad shit happens, and it’s got to happen to someone, but please, God, don’t let it happen to my kid.
So yes, the world can be a horrible place, and parents are afraid of it. And the more vulnerable a situation makes a child, obviously, the greater the fear. Tell me my son is getting a ride home from a sober, responsible parent, and it’s no big deal. Tell me he’s just gotten in the car for that same ride, but the driver is sixteen, has only had his license for a week, and is already a six-pack into his weekend, and I’m a wreck.
That’s a little bit of what it’s like to be a parent. Are some people more anxious than others? Of course they are: everyone is different. Now, though, I want you to do me a favor: I want you to take whatever you’re reading this on—phone, tablet, whatever—into the bathroom, flip up the lid, and take a seat like nature’s calling and you’ve got extra rollover minutes to use. Plant yourself on that bowl like you had the jalapeños with hot sauce a couple of hours ago, and they want out.
Go ahead, I’ll wait.
There. Comfy? All right.
Feeling a little vulnerable? You are. You’re sitting there with your pants around your ankles, or at least your underwear if you’re skirt- or kilt-clad, and all your stuff, whether you’re an innie or an outie, is hanging in the wind. If something bad were to happen right now—the phone rings in the kitchen, there’s a house fire, Jehovah's Witnesses have knocked and entered and are even now on their way upstairs to personally introduce you to Jesus—how fast could you react?
You are vulnerable, and predators look for vulnerability—all kinds of predators. Raise your hand if you’ve never heard on the news or read in the paper about someone being robbed, raped, or assaulted while in a public restroom. Now, just for shits and giggles, raise your hand if you’ve never seen it on television, in a movie, or read it in a book. It’s common enough that it’s become an entertainment trope. Is this a good thing? No, of course not, it speaks poorly of our society—but it is neither deniable, nor new.
Now, let’s bring the kids back into the equation. From the time they can walk and talk we’re telling them to be careful of strangers. Don’t take candy from strangers. Never take rides from strangers. Christ, even elementary schools teach the concept of Stranger Danger. We tell them all this, really hammer it into them . . . and then, when they reach six or seven years of age, we start sending them in to use the facilities in a place where yes, their innies and outies will be in the wind, a place where even adults feel vulnerable, and a place where strangers might have access to them.
Quick side trip: many years ago I was an assistant instructor in a martial arts school, helping with the children’s classes. One afternoon I was changing from my street clothes into my uniform, and some of the students came into the locker room to change as well. These were boys of probably eight or nine, and they wanted to chat, so I chatted as I finished dressing. I was probably in the locker room with them for four or five minutes—and upon exiting I was promptly pulled aside by the instructor. I was told to never be in the locker room with the children if I could help it, and to get out ASAP if some of them came in. I wasn’t a parent yet, and I didn’t get it. She explained to me that it made the parents nervous to have me in there with their kids—me, someone they had met and spoken with and observed working with their children twice a week for months. I have to admit I was a little insulted, and said so.
“It’s not just you,” she said. “All my instructors get the same talk. It doesn’t matter who you are, parents get nervous. It makes it worse that you’re a man. It sucks, I know. I’m sorry.”
And that was, as I said, in a place where they knew my name, who I was, could check up on me, etc.; I wasn’t exactly a stranger. And here we are as parents, sending our children in to use the facilities in a place where anyone could be in there with them. Absolutely anyone.
So this brings me back to my original question—you remember that question I posted to Facebook that no one wanted to answer? Is it impossible for a . . . I guess I'll use the inclusive term of "pervert," to get into a public bathroom in order to get their jollies/harm someone? It was a trick question. I posted it already knowing the answer: no, of course it’s not impossible; globally speaking it actually happens all the time. And parents are insanely aware of this.
Quick quiz time! Have I been writing about transgender folks here? I mean, have I even mentioned transgender since describing Justin’s video? I’ll look back and check, but I’m pretty sure I haven’t. What I’ve been writing about are predators, though, and that word has been in general public use a lot longer than transgender. My point here is that if I have a problem with people in public restrooms, it’s not with transgender citizens. It’s with the same people parents have always been afraid of with regard to their children: the sick fucks.
Sick fucks: pedophiles, rapists, and anyone else who gets some kind of gratification at the expense of someone else. People who take. Some are sort of sad, weenie-whipping individuals; some of them are real-life monsters living among us. And it may well be that it is a sickness, or it might be that they, like the cis and transgender, were simply born that way, and they can’t help it, and I’m being insensitive here; but wherever they fall on that particular spectrum, from sad to monstrous, I wouldn’t want them in the bathroom with my child.
So yes, Justin, I do believe that peanut butter should pee with peanut butter, even if it’s in a jelly jar, but here’s the real problem: how do we know? How do we, as parents, know what’s in the jar? Oh, sure, the jelly jar might claim to have peanut butter inside, but what if it’s Fluffernutter? What if it’s honey? What if it’s—gasp—nutella? You see, that’s one of the things you kind of gloss over with your video, Justin: what’s on the outside, an individual’s physical sex—the jar, if you will—is fairly cut-and-dried. There’s peanut butter or jelly. Male or female. But what’s inside, an individual’s sexual orientation, that falls on more of a broad spectrum.
And before anyone goes losing their shit, yes, I am aware that, according to the current psychology, rape isn’t about sex, it’s about power. But it involves sex, and there is a huge sexual component, so I’m including it in the spectrum for the purposes of this writing.
I’d also like to point out another thing Justin glossed over: even in his (admittedly excellent) demonstration of what it is to be transgender, he didn’t take their word for it. “What’s that, peanut butter?” he says, smiling and friendly. “You say you’re actually jelly?”
And then he opened the jar.
Probably beating a dead horse here, but I want to say that again: he opened the jar. Even in his wonderful, “That’s not what this is about, Dad” moment, he didn’t take their word for it. Hmm . . .
Okay, so say I’m the father of a six-year-old girl, and I wait outside as she skips on into a public restroom at the park. Now someone—an obviously physically male someone—strolls on in behind her.
“Hey, there!” I say, filled with all those Stranger Danger elementary school thoughts. “Where do you think you’re going?”
“Oh,” this individual says. “Don’t worry, Dad. I’m jelly on the inside.”
How do I know? It’s entirely possible that this person is jelly on the inside—transgender and identifying as female, to put it plainly—but how do I know? This isn’t a jar I can screw the lid off of to check what’s inside, as Justin could so conveniently do in his video. What if this person isn’t jelly on the inside? Are you actually asking me to believe, in this world where every day millions of people point fingers at the two frontrunners for the presidency of this country and scream liar, that a simple sexual predator wouldn’t lie? That some peanut butter who does want to listen to my jelly pee and just jerk off—or worse—couldn’t just claim to be transgender?
Is that what you’re asking me? Because if so I’ll call bullshit.
So you’re right, Justin: if it’s peanut butter let it pee with peanut butter, no matter what jar it’s in. I completely agree with that part of your argument. I’m not one of those asshats saying to simply look at the jar and follow the rules. I am saddened by the whole issue, and that it’s making some already difficult lives even more difficult. I wish there were a simple solution, but there isn’t. This can’t be solved by just overexplaining what transgenderism is, because transgenderism isn’t the real problem here: predators using transgenderism as a sort of camouflage is.
This is a case of a small group of people screwing it up for the rest of us, and it’s as complicated as human sexuality as a whole, and that’s a lot more complex than peanut butter and jelly. It’s a good trick, an excellent demonstration, and you obviously feel strongly about the issue, but, Justin, you’re a little off-target as to what the issue looks like from the other side of the table—and there are two sides to the table. Pointing your finger at people and shouting about something that’s not exactly the issue, claiming that such a complex problem is as simple as A and B and that people who don’t agree are neanderthals and bigots, yeah, you get a lot of attention, and you get people fired up . . . and you’re also clouding the issue. Rather than focusing all this attention on what transgenderism is, shouldn’t we be paying more attention to protecting our children and the transgender community (and if that term is either outdated or somehow insulting, I apologize) from the people out there who want to take advantage of them both?

Congratulations, Justin: I think you just became part of the problem.

Talk to you later.