Joel Stein, Free Wine, and Why I’m Exactly Like Dorothy Parker


smallconversation1I didn’t plan on being in a drunken stupor when I met Time columnist and author of Man Made: A Stupid Quest for Masculinity, Joel Stein, but that’s what happened. For the record, I think hiring twenty-two-year-old male models to serve free wine at your event can be considered nothing short of entrapment. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I’m not Joel Stein’s “biggest fan.” I mean, if his car ran off the road and he was trapped in a snow bank, I would rescue him, sure. But I would immediately take him to the hospital for the proper medical treatment. I would not strap him to my bed and hobble his ankles with a sledgehammer. I just want to make it clear that this is not a Misery situation.

That being said, I’ve been following Joel’s writing for several years. The first time I contacted him wasn’t just to tell him that I thought he was awesome, but also to send him a copy of my first post from this blog. Most people probably don’t attempt to impress another writer with a detailed account of their colon cleanse escapades, but that’s how I roll. He responded with a perfectly proportionate response – something along the lines of, “Wow. That was detailed. And honest. Good job.”

As the years rolled by, I got my weekly Time magazine in the mail and occasionally sent Joel a message commenting on articles he’d written, and he would reply.  Not only is Joel Stein a writer who wins over his audience by projecting this seemingly impossible dichotomy of simultaneous superiority and self-deprecation, but he’s friendly and accessible as well. Is it any wonder I’m a big fan? (But not in a creepy way. We covered that already, remember?)

When Joel forwarded me the invite for his book signing in Tampa, I was delighted to attend. (I’m pretty sure I’ve never used the word “delighted” in real life, but it seems appropriate.) I had never been to a book signing before. I did line up to get Detroit Piston John Salley’s autograph when I was a freshman in high school. I was fourteen years old, there was no wine, and everything pretty much transpired the way I expected.

That was not the case this time around.

When I got to the book signing/free wine/food truck extravaganza, it wasn’t quite what I had anticipated. I mean, I knew it wasn’t your typical book signing based on the invitation, which mentioned free wine and food trucks, but it was still a bit strange. First of all, the entire thing was outdoors. I figured that the book signing portion, at the very least, would be confined to an indoor area where people would line up in an orderly fashion to meet Joel. After all, that’s how John Salley did it.

This was a festival atmosphere. There was music playing and people were milling about. I had already had a cocktail across the street with my friend Laura, who was with me for the evening, but I stopped at the wine table anyway for my first glass of the night. I was admittedly a bit nervous at the prospect of meeting someone I admired. In retrospect, being dorky and nervous would have been a better choice.

Laura and I hung around, drank more wine, hung around some more, and wondered why things weren’t getting started. (Everything made more sense the next morning when I described the event to my husband. He said he read the promotions for the event in the Tampa Bay Times, and it was definitely marketed as a Hyde Park food and wine festival with this and that and by the way, Joel Stein will be there too.)

I should say at this point that I had seen Joel in the crowd, talking to people. Laura and I bought our books, hung out, and I drank more wine. I was trying to play it cool, which is code for “drink enough wine to not care about embarrassing myself.” When I decided that maybe nothing more than what was happening was ever going to happen, and that since Joel was talking to random people already and I had nothing to lose by approaching him, that’s what I did. At least I had the good sense to put down one of the two glasses of wine I was carrying and approach him with only one in my hand. I’m sure that helped me make a better impression.

I had planned on introducing myself with all three names, Hillary Rodham Clinton style, since I use my maiden name and married name interchangeably online, shaking his hand, and seeing if he knew who I was without further explanation. To my surprise, he saw me standing nearby, said, “Hi, Tina!” and gave me a quick hug. That was nice. (It wasn’t as nice as if he had hugged me long enough for me to thrust my face into his neck and see if he smelled like that guy I used to work with whose cologne always made me think distracting thoughts during our supervisor meetings, but I think that might have veered into creepy fan territory, so it’s probably for the best.)

He introduced me to a woman whose name I’m still unsure of. I could have sworn he said it was “Pip” as in “Gladys Knight and the…” and Laura and I spent most of the night debating this. I’m guessing she was some kind of assistant, publicist, bodyguard, or navy seal. She was nice when I first met her, but I felt her assessing my threat level. Laura later told me that Pip asked her, “So, what does she do?“ in a way that suggested she wanted to check my back pockets for copies of Catcher in the Rye.

Joel stepped aside for a moment to talk with me, and although it was the least drunk I would be from that moment on, I was still nowhere near capable of the smart, witty repartee one imagines oneself having in these situations. At one point, I compared myself to Dorothy Parker, which I would have preferred to demonstrate by engaging in clever banter rather than stumbling around drunk. Either way, I suppose it was an apt comparison. After a minute, Pip came by and rescued Joel by telling him he needed to “circulate.” I needed to circulate too. I circulated back over to the wine table.

I accosted Joel several more times that evening, or what seems like several more times. I don’t really remember. At one point, I harassed him with something along the lines of, “When is the fucking show going to get started?” Yikes. That sounds terrible. I really wasn’t looking for dancing monkey entertainment, so let me try to explain.

I wasn’t frustrated with Joel. I need to make that clear in case any of this comes across that way. Throughout the entire evening, Joel treated me with the patience typically reserved for toddlers and drunken women, who, in all fairness, do seem to have similar temperaments and motor skills. (This explains why I have no desire to be a parent.) It all goes back to my initial interpretation of this event being Joel!Stein!Tampa! I talked to a lot of people there while I was drinking my wine, and the first thing I asked all of them was, “Did you read the book?” Nobody had. Nobody. Actually, I think one woman might have, but then she quickly segued into the Aerosmith concert she had just gone to and how great it was and how Steven Tyler was snorting coke the whole time and…I’m almost positive she didn’t read the book either. Everybody told me they were there for the free wine. So, I made it my business to do free drunken PR for Joel and tell everyone about the book and why they should read it. See? It was really in the best interest of someone else to take control of things so Joel could talk about his book and get on with the signing of the books and the uncapping and capping of the pens.

If it sounds like I was just following Joel around the entire night, I assure you I found time to do other things. I tried to hook Laura up with a guy who worked at a movie theatre while we were standing in line at a sandwich truck. I thought free movies sounded great, but she wasn’t into it. When that went bust, I talked to a very handsome EMT who told me I was beautiful but wasn’t particularly interested in discussing the fundamental philosophical differences between civil rights leaders W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington. On my way to the restroom, I stopped to talk to two Tampa police officers. They were a bit older than me, but I love men in uniform and told them so. Then I did something that I never would have gotten away with if I wasn’t small, female, and white. I said, “So, are you guys carrying?” Of course they were – they’re cops. So I asked them, “What do you carry? Glocks? Or Sig Sauers?” They paused a beat and apparently decided that I was harmless. One of them said, “I carry a Glock.” The other said, “I have a Sig.” If I had drunk one more glass of wine, I probably would have asked to see them. My audacity (stupidity) is not limited to interaction with journalists.

Time slipped away and at some point Joel signed books, standing on a stage in the center of the pavilion. I was pretty unsteady on my high heels by that point so it’s lucky I didn’t break a leg getting up there. His message to me references some guy named Jose who started following me around at some point in the evening and wouldn’t go away and who I will now remember forever because his name is preserved in Sharpie in Joel Stein’s book. When Joel asked me for something about Laura to write in her book, I blurted out the first personal, embarrassing thing I could think of, which I won’t mention here, rather than the more appropriate, “She’s a brilliant aspiring author.” I’m sorry, Laura. I hope you didn’t want to show your autographed book to anyone. Ever. At least you didn’t have to explain to your husband who the hell Jose was.

At the end of the night, after Pip had forcibly shoved a bottle of water in my hand and asked me repeatedly how I was going to get home, I called my husband for a ride and waited with Laura and Jose in the empty courtyard. (Seriously, who WAS that guy?) My saint of a husband drove 45 minutes to pick me up, late on a work night, and then drove with his left hand on the steering wheel of his pickup and his right hand rubbing my back while I barfed wine into my shopping bag. (Don’t worry – I had removed my autographed book moments before in anticipation of this occurrence.) Of course, I apologized to my better half the next morning, and thanked him for picking me up and being so cool about it, but he just shrugged his shoulders and said, “That’s what we do for each other.”

So, Joel, if you’re reading this, I apologize for acting like what I hope was only kind of an asshole. I know I joked that after reading your book I realized that my husband, who I used to think wasn’t masculine enough, was indeed a man. Unlike you, he likes to camp and hunt, watches action movies and owns his own steel toes. But the truth is, the real thing that makes my husband a man is that he has put up with my obnoxious antics for the last thirteen years, and after doing the same for even one evening, I can definitely confirm that you are, without a doubt, all man. It was a pleasure to meet you, and I’ll treasure my autographed copy of Man Made: A Stupid Quest for Masculinity. But I’m whiting out the part about Jose.


It’s Not Cheating If You Pay For It


spa_massage_mastheadYesterday, I had my naked body rubbed by a strange man.

I’ve had several massages before, but the massage therapists were always female.  I didn’t specifically request females, they just always were.  I guess I fell into the assumption that the profession is largely dominated by women.  Women don’t mind being touched by other women, and men certainly don’t mind, so it just kind of works.

Yesterday, I had a massage scheduled at my salon, after my hair appointment.  I was waiting, perusing the shampoos, when a young man came up to me and asked me if I was ready.  I was a bit confused.  I had never seen this man at the salon before.  Was his only job to take me back to the massage area and introduce me to my massage therapist?  It wasn’t until we got back to the massage area that I realized he WAS the massage therapist.  Huh.  I did not see that coming.

I’m not shy.  I don’t get embarrassed easily.  The idea of a male massage therapist threw me off my game briefly, but I could deal with it.  It occurred to me, that a lot of people would not be able to take it in stride.  My husband, for one.  He’s gotten his fair share of professional massages and I know he would not be cool with another dude rubbing him down.  I wouldn’t call him homophobic, but I think physical contact, outside of a friendly hug, with another dude is pushing it for him.

I also thought of all the women who would be freaked out by this.  I have to admit that when I met Wesley (Mr. Massage Therapist) that a million thoughts ran through my head that I normally wouldn’t consider.  Did I shave my legs?  What will he think of my cellulite?  Should I leave my underwear on?  (I did.  I normally do not.  I wish I had been cool enough to go totally naked, but I just wasn’t.)  Damn.  Why didn’t I wear cuter underwear?

Of course, this wasn’t a date.  It was an appointment.  Wesley and I weren’t going to bed.  He wasn’t even buying me dinner, for crying out loud.  But still, as I stood alone in the massage room, removing my clothes, I felt a bit nervous.  I wanted to be brave.  I hung my bra from the clothing hook, in plain view.  I didn’t attempt to hide it behind the dress hanging there.  I’m a liberated woman.  Damn.  Why did I wear such a plain, generic bra?

Wesley, of course, was the consummate professional.  We chatted a bit at first and I found out he started out in sports medicine.  I stifled the urge to make any off-color comments about the situation, although that would generally be my preferred method of relieving my self-consciousness.  It only took about five minutes to forget he was a guy and just enjoy my massage.  Although, every time his hairy arm brushed my back, my mind screamed, “This man is touching you!  He’s not your husband!”  True, this is the only man in the last ten years, besides my husband, who has touched me so intimately.  But like I said, it was professional.  Again, I resisted the urge to jokingly ask him if I was getting a happy ending.  I’m actually pretty proud of my self-control here.

All in all, it was a good massage.  Not the best I’ve had, but it was decent.  I don’t have any immediate plans to go back.  I have to say, like most married women (I think), I’ve had thoughts over the years of what it would be like to be touched by a man other than my husband.  It was fine, clinical, a little scandalous, but nothing compared to cuddling up with my real man at night.

New and Improved Nose


I have known for several years that I needed to get some work done on my jacked-up nose, but it wasn’t until Jennifer Aniston and Cameron Diaz announced that they were having their deviated septums repaired that I could be bothered to do so.  The desire to end my continuous sinus pain and be able to give my husband a blow job without having to wear a Breathe Right nasal strip may also have played a part in my reasoning as well.

I feel the need to mention that I did not get any cosmetic work done.  Although, that’s not because I’m not vain enough; I just figure that if I’m laying down several grand to make the world a more beautiful place, my nose would probably be pretty far down on the list after my thighs, ass and boobs.  (Actually, I like my boobs.  But I digress.)  No, this surgery was purely for functional reasons, and thus, was covered by my health insurance.  I did try to get my ENT (Ear, Nose, and Throat) specialist, who is also a certified plastic surgeon, to slip in a little cosmetic tweaking “while she was in there” but apparently it doesn’t work that way.


A few days before surgery, I went in for all of my pre-operative paperwork and blood work.  Nothing really bothered me until they asked me my religious preference.  I told them the truth – that I’m a generic Christian – but part of me wanted to make up some elaborate post death religious rite that might be so inconvenient as to force them to try harder to resuscitate me should the unthinkable happen.  Anyway, a few needle sticks later, I was out of there.

Surgery Day

The morning of my operation, my husband brought me to the hospital at 7am so I could hang out, hungry and thirsty, and wait for them to cut me.  I got my sexy hospital gown, and Bryan and I watched “Saved by the Bell” reruns from my groovy adjustable bed.  Around 9:30am, I was wheeled down the hall to the holding room.  Let me mention that it was in this room that I should have gotten the “I don’t give a shit what you cut off” drugs but they never materialized.  I’m still a little bitter about this.  Big talk from anesthesia guy, but he never delivered.  Bastard.

Soon an orderly came in, made some chit chat and started wheeling me down to the operating room.  He asked me if this was my first surgery.  I affirmed that it was.  Then he said, and I am not making this up, “So, we’re popping your cherry today!”  Uh, excuse me?  At that point, I kind of wanted to look at the chart to see exactly what sort of procedure they had me signed up for.  Really, I’m pretty hard to offend, so I laughed it off, but I still made a mental note to check my body over for hickeys when I woke up.

The surgery itself was pretty uneventful, for me anyway.  Then again, I was dead to the world, so Dr. Lee could have had one foot on my chest and a crowbar up my nose for all I knew.  When I woke up in the recovery room, I felt like a million bucks.  Of course, I couldn’t breathe through my nose, as I was wearing a gauze mustache taped to my face and had 3 inch plastic splints up each nostril.  But still, I thought to myself, “This surgery stuff is a piece of cake.”  I would later realize that those were the drugs talking – drugs that would soon wear off.

At home, I settled into bed, propped up physically with a half dozen pillows, and propped up mentally with a healthy dose of Percocet.  I watched talk shows, I ate doughnuts.  (Nobody ever accused me of having a weak appetite, post-surgery or not.)  I spent the rest of the day dozing, mouth breathing, and having my wonderful husband waiting on me hand and foot.  Life was good.

The Aftermath

The next morning, when I woke up, I felt like I had been run over by a Mack truck and dragged for ten blocks.  Every muscle in my body screamed in agony with the least little movement.  My nose hurt, my head pounded, and I could almost hear the pain laughing at my 5 mg Percocet.  Life was not good.  I expected some nasal pain.  What I did not expect was to feel like the doctors had taken a baseball bat to my unconscious body.  I didn’t sign up for this.

The second day was better.  I was able to roll over in bed without screaming obscenities.  My nose still hurt, but it wasn’t as bad as I would have expected.  I was able to remove my gauze mustache since I was no longer leaking bloody mucus onto my 800 thread count sheets.

After a week of mouth breathing and sleeping in unnatural post-surgery positions, I was able to get my nasal splints removed!  This was a huge step because the nasal splints and accompanying overgrowth of bloody crust and boogage is what was keeping me from breathing.  (By the way, if you ever wondered if there is an official medical term for “booger”, my ENT doctor sadly informed me that there is not.)

I brought my husband along for the splint removal.  Partially for moral support and partially because I know he’s squeamish and I wanted to see if he could handle watching the procedure.  (If he passed out, I figured I might want to rethink having him in the delivery room should we ever decide to procreate.)  In Dr. Lee’s office, I settled into the patient chair while Bryan tried to disappear into the corner.  Dr. Lee came at me with 12 inch tweezers and a spelunking helmet and assured me this was not going to hurt.  I did not believe her.

As she jammed the tweezers up my nose, I felt some discomfort, but it really wasn’t that bad.  But when she pulled them out…I experienced the biggest wave of relief I’ve ever had in my life.  It did not hurt, and with the splints came a tidal wave of sinus secretions and gore.  It was AWESOME!  It was like giving birth through my nose.  Removing the second split was just as satisfying.  All of a sudden, all that pressure from having junk in a place I generally try to keep junk-free was gone.  Then Dr. Lee stuck a little vacuum up my nose and sucked out the rest of the gunk.  I can’t stress enough how fulfilling that whole experience was.  I would get the surgery again just to experience that sense of relief again.  Ok, not really, but it was almost that good.


So, now I can breathe through my nose, and that is good.  I highly recommend this surgery to all you mouth-breathers out there.  Besides the obvious medical benefits, being able to blow grape-sized clots of blood and mucus out of your nose post-surgery is pretty fucking cool.  At least, that was my favorite part.  Cheers!

How to Do a Colon Cleanse: The Shit Chronicles


Ok, so here’s the deal. Based on an episode of Oprah and the fact that we are all, undoubtedly, full of shit, I’ve decided to cleanse my colon. Why not? I don’t like the idea of walking around with 40 pounds of fecal matter embedded in my bowels and then dying on the crapper like Elvis. That being said, I’m going to post my experience in detail, so the squeamish might as well leave now.

My chosen product is called OxyPowder. It promises to liquefy (!) all the old shit in my colon and send it on its way. This seemed like a good idea to me. Although the idea of pissing out of my ass is not appealing, liquefying the old crusty crap seemed safer than trying to poop is all out in its current form.

DAY ONE (5/18/05)
So I took my beginning dose of 4 capsules last night before bed. I’m supposed to have between 3 and 5 monster shits (my words, not theirs) today. If not, I up the dosage.

I woke up with no urge to poo and was pretty disappointed. I expected to be running for the potty first thing. Then again, my inner workings are a little slow due to the pain pills I take for migraines, so I’m not totally surprised that it’s not hitting me hard.

I had a protein shake for breakfast – trying to eat light this week for the experiment. Shortly thereafter, I had my first poo!

No “butt pee” just a good old regular poop. I will say though, with a sick bit of pride, that one good push and I expelled enough to nearly clog the toilet. So there I am hovering over the potty, flushing the toilet 3 times before it would go down. I almost wish I had a scale so I could weigh myself before and after each poo. I think I put down at least a pound with that one. Score!

Ok, so it’s a couple of hours later and I just had poo number two. (Number two, get it? Anyway.) This was a rather uninspired movement. It was much lower in viscosity and lacked the commode-clogging substance of its predecessor. I was left feeling like I had more to give. We shall see.

Well, it’s almost 4 pm and no more poo. I had practically planned my whole day around expelling massive quantities of God-knows-what so I’m a little disappointed. I was promised 3 to 5 big loads and so far only 1 awesome dump and 1 tiny poo. Harumph. Looks like I will be upping my dosage of OxyPowder tonight.

DAY TWO (5/19/05)
Alright, now THIS is what I’m talking about. I’m a poop machine! Increasing my dosage from 4 capsules to 6 capsules seems to have been the answer.

I started my day off with a great big monster shit that would make anybody proud. In the two hours since waking (yeah, that’s right, it’s 1:00 pm – welcome to the world of the unemployed), I’ve had 3 more liqui-poos. Not as impressive as their voluminous counterparts, but still satisfying nonetheless.

I haven’t had any run-to-the-potty-clutching-my-ass-in-terror moments, but I’m glad I’m home with nothing to do. When it’s time to go, it’s pretty much like turning on a spigot and letting the poo faucet run. There hasn’t been any pain or cramping or anything like that, just the frustration of realizing that I haven’t bought any new magazines since my flight to Las Vegas last month.

Looks like today it’s just going to be me and an old issue of Glamour (how ironic) camping out in the upstairs powder room until further notice.

Well, it’s 6:00 pm and nothing much more to report. Other than a few mini-poos this afternoon, it has been uneventful. Seems as if, in this colon, all the action happens shortly after getting out of bed. (Which is much better than if it was all happening shortly before getting out of bed. Indeed.)

Six capsules feels like my magic number, so I’ll be dosing again tonight and pooing again tomorrow. Stay tuned.

DAY THREE (5/20/05)
My ass is tired.

I had a few more mini-poos yesterday evening. No big deal, but kind of annoying. It was this constant feeling of having a major transaction on deck, only to sit on the potty and have a few wormy little shits come out. Hardly worth the price of admission.

I took my six capsules at bedtime and settled in for nighty-night.

Fast forward to 3:00 am. I was awakened by the need to tinkle (not that unusual for me), only to sit on the potty and find out my ass had other plans. I had to prop my eyelids open for 10 minutes while my intestinal tract emptied into the bowl. Nice. I wasn’t planning on that. When this shit starts interfering with my sleep, things are getting serious.

Three more hours later, it’s 6:00 am and I’m on the potty again. Three times in ten minutes I make the trek to the shit room to have Niagara Falls empty itself from my colon. I am not pleased. I did not sign up for 24-hour shit alert.

It’s currently 8:00 am and I haven’t shit in over an hour. Hurray! I can’t imagine there’s anything left in there anyway. I think all the good shit is gone and now the scrubbing bubbles are just hosing out my tubes.

I’ve decided to test my hypothesis that all the old shit is gone. If there is one food that goes through your digestive system more or less intact, it has to be corn. (I could go into a lengthy explanation about how the cellulose-based casing of each kernel is actually the part that passes through, giving the appearance that the corn is unchanged, but hey…we’re talking about shit here. This isn’t exactly Mr. Wizard material.) So, I’ve asked the old man to pick up a can of corn on his way home tonight. I’ll have that with dinner and we’ll see what happens. This test may prove inconclusive, as I’m not prepared to poke at my expelled poo with a pair of chopsticks and some tweezers or put it under a microscope. If corn is readily visible, great. If not, so be it.

Now it’s 11:00 am and I’m having full on faucet-poos at least every hour or so. It’s getting tiresome. I’m not in pain, but my stomach is rumbling and gurgling like there’s an ecstasy-fueled shit rave going on in there, complete with pacifiers and glow sticks.

Seven days of this? At the rate I’m going I’ll be seeing visions of The Virgin Mary on my toilet paper by Day Five.

Ok, so it’s 6:00 pm and I nixed the corn idea. I think it was good in theory, but in practice, meh. I’m not ready to examine my poo that closely. Besides, I could shit out the Holy Grail at this point and it wouldn’t matter. I have decided that my colon cleanse has come to an end. Three days devoted to poo is enough. It’s not as if I’m some Siberian Monk with no agenda. I have a life to lead! Well, kinda. I at least need to be able to leave the house without worrying what’s going to peek out of my anus when I least expect it.

Oh, and believe it or not, constant defecation can put a bit of a damper on your sex life. No, really! (I know there are sites on the Internet that would suggest otherwise. Please do not send me links. For the love of God.)

My bowels feel April fresh. I think overall, a few good shits will cure what ails you. If you have no job, go ahead and go on a shit safari. You never know what you might find.


If you are retarded enough to construe the above anecdotal account of my colon as medical advice, then you deserve whatever happens to you, you sorry shit.