Like Hanswurst, Only Marjorie

Greetings, all both of my readers! Please enjoy the latest reinvention of my online persona (which, in the interest of transparency, includes a few posts from this blog):

Marjorie’s Forgeries

I’m honestly not sure what’s going to happen with the ol’ Second Bacchus at this point, but Montrose Forge stories are going over like gangbusters on other social media platforms, so I’m rolling with it. Hope you guys do too.

OH, also: Hanswurst. He was a big deal back in the day. We should bring him back.

Pop Goes the Polish Remover

A friend of mine recently asked if I’d like to work a few hours a week at his fetishwear shop. I’ve still got my property management job and pick up the occasional mobile notary gig, but to be honest, I’ve always missed working in retail. Evil customers and low wages aside, I like being behind a counter, especially in mom-and-pop (or in this case, daddy) establishments. It makes me feel like I’m in a sit-com.

The shop itself has two locations: The first is a freestanding building next to Ripcord, Ye Olde Townne Leather & Levis Bar, and the other takes up a large corner inside the bar itself. I’ve been patronizing Ripcord since I was a wee little baby gay, and when I got sober, I mourned all the misadventures I’d had there. However, a little over a year into my recovery, I agreed to meet a date there and found myself surprisingly comfortable in the environment. I was neither triggered nor overcome with the urge to drink, which threw me off a little, until I realized that for as raging an alcoholic as I was, I never actually drank very much at Ripcord — I just showed up there drunk.

That epiphany, coupled with Ripcord being the Misfits‘ home bar, resulted in me spending an inordinate amount of time there, much to the withering judgment concern of a number of sober acquaintances. “If you hang out at the barbershop, you’re going to get a shave,” they chanted while placing bets on how long it would take me to slink into a meeting and collect a new desire chip. But despite their hopes the odds, I’ve done remarkably well at the Rip. Everyone from the owner to the barback knows I’m sober, and it’s become an unexpected safe space for me, where I can sip club soda and get merrily groped by strangers without incident.

With all that in mind, I agreed to come aboard as a sales clerk, although I changed my work status on Facebook to read, “Notary Public at the Montrose Forge,” because I think I’m hilarious. And of course, within 30 minutes of me clocking in for my first shift, one of the Misfits texted me all, “Where are you?! I need something notarized yesterday,” so I took that as a favorable career omen and added a notary rate chart and that repellent sign to the shop’s décor, which amused the owner to no end. Especially after I told him he could charge $30 to have me schlep in from across town and notarize shit for walk-in clients.

The Forge
Best. Office. Ever.

Caught up as I was in the joy of getting back into retail and becoming the official notary for drunk leatherdudes everywhere, I managed to overlook one little glitch in the system: The store sells what are commonly referred to as “solvents,” or “polish removers,” or, back in the heyday of adult arcades, “video head cleaners.” And I say “commonly referred to,” because it is illegal in the great state of Texas to sell amyl nitrate or any of its derivatives for recreational purposes.

In other words, we don’t carry poppers. Poppers are bad. We would never promote nor encourage the purchase or use of poppers.

Which is good, because Drunk Me was a right proper fool for poppers.

For my 2.5 straight readers, poppers are an inhalant, which cause a brief but intense sense of euphoria. Along with the enjoyable head rush, poppers also lower blood pressure and relax muscles, which means they allow you to fit pretty much anything in your butt, hence their popularity in the gay community. I personally have not used poppers for any reason since before I quit drinking, but their acrid odor brings back fond semi-memories of drunken shenanigans, and in early sobriety, I found myself craving them more than cheap whiskey. I held firm and eventually lost all attraction to them, but I’ve also just put myself in a situation where I spend 12 hours a week with a display case of NOT POPPERS/POLISH REMOVERS a foot from my face. And that doesn’t strike me as 100% brilliant.

The original purpose of this blog was to document my recovery from alcoholism, but as I went from hiding in the rooms of 12-step meetings to functioning successfully in the Real World, writing about recovery seemed less and less relevant. Now, though, I’m starting to see The Second Coming of Bacchus as a tool for accountability. As I once told a roomful of recovering alcoholics who were not at all thrilled with my life choices (see barbershop above), I don’t care what anyone thinks about what I’m doing, so long as they know I’m doing it. It’s when I start keeping secrets that I get myself into trouble.

So. No secrets. I’m coming up on five years sober, and I’m working in a bar, selling video head cleaner to horny men who have never owned VCRs. And I am okay.

Thank you guys in advance for helping me stay that way.

Lights, Camera, Don’t Drink Until Saturday

Remember back in September, when I mentioned a cryptic writing/directing project? Well, if you’re trapped in Houston tomorrow, you officially have a legitimate reason to escape from your family, because all of us are sick, but some of us are…

STO_Poster

Tickets are $5 at the door. You’re welcome to attend even if you’re not in recovery: I’ll just explain all of the jokes during the Q&A session.

That Power Most Rare

Many moons ago, on (what I thought was) an obscure Pagan listserv, someone brought up a recently published book on Wicca and asked if anyone was familiar with it. I replied that the book in question was a revised edition of an earlier manuscript, that it contained a number of inaccuracies, and that the author had a dubious reputation. Thus was my legacy as the Libel Monster from Hades apparently born.

Months later, I received an email from the author. The subject line was simply the title of his book, so I figured it was a mass-mailed press release or something. I opened the email and read the first couple of paragraphs, and then I thought, “Wow, this press release contains a lot of profanity and spelling errors. That’s an unusual public relations strategy.” it was at this point I realized the email was addressed to me personally.

Unamused by my assessment of his work, the author raged against my “incompetent” opinions and condemned me (I am not making this up) for being part of the vast, shadowy Wiccan cabal that was out to destroy him. Upon reflection, I decided a response was unnecessary, but I was extremely curious as to how he tracked me down. We didn’t know each other in real life, and we weren’t members of any of the same online forums, so the fact that I’d even made it onto his radar was, at the very least, unsettling.

Initially, I suspected that someone had reprinted my comments in a different venue, so I Googled my name, along with the book title and a couple of other keywords, and… bam: The top result was the listserv itself — specifically, my original message. It turned out that the owner of the list had never adjusted the privacy settings, so any and everything posted to the group was visible to anyone who thought to look for it. Mystery solved (huzzah), but I learned an important lesson about online anonymity, in that there really isn’t any. So now, regardless of how “private” or “hidden” or “secret” a given discussion group claims to be, I ask myself, “Do I care if this traces back to me?” before jumping into the fray. If the answer is “no,” then I post whatever I want; if it’s “yes,” then I keep my damn yapper shut.

I tell this story, because last night, my blog stats spiked. This on its own is not newsworthy — the majority of the hits I receive come from all both of my readers, but occasionally there’s some kind of weird, virtual solar flare, and my stats suddenly skyrocket before settling back down to normal, Z-List levels. So a random blip now and again is no biggie, except in this case, all the new visits were coming from social media platforms on which I do not have a presence.

Before we go any further, I should explain that I have Internet Search Engine Superpowers. Seriously, I’m like Find-Things Girl, except the Internet. I don’t know why I’m as good at it as I am, and it’s about as marketable a skill as having the aisles of a grocery store memorized, but regardless, I can find the hell out of shit, as demonstrated by the following conversation that actually happened a few years back:

Friend – “This guy @PublicPaganName on Twitter is pissing me off.”

Me – “Just ignore him, dude.”

Friend – “I want to, but I can’t stop looking at his feed. I wish I could just call him up and make him understand how wrong he is.”

Me – “Hang on a second.” [tap tap tap, click click] “He works at an Ann Taylor about an hour or so from Joliet. Do you want the phone number?”

Friend – “…”

Me – “Or maybe just the PO box?”

He didn’t want either, but you get the idea. So yeah, once all these hits came flying in from out of nowhere, I summoned my amazing mutant abilities, ran a couple of queries and discovered a covey of Bright Young Things discussing my blog.

Not fans, as it turns out. Which? Kind of awesome.

As a writer, it’s actually pretty hard to find quality, unbiased feedback, and while this wasn’t the motherload, it was certainly a mineable vein. Plus one of the comments (less constructive criticism, more zinger) was hilarious enough that I honestly want to send the author a muffin basket. But I’m also thinking about that “anonymous” book review I wrote however many years ago, and I’m wondering: Do these people know I can see what they’re saying?

Maybe so and maybe no, and neither really matters (to me, at least). But overall, I do hope they’re being careful with what they say and where they say it, since disgruntled Netizens don’t always give up after one late-night, semi-coherent email. Or, failing that, I hope they are open to approaching these situations in terms of humor — that is, if you’ feel compelled to look both ways before telling a joke, it is probably best left untold. Likewise, if your last thought before posting a comment is, “It’s not like he/she/they will ever see this,” then maybe, y’know, take a breath and reconsider before hitting “send.”

So with all that said and done, there’s only one question left to address. Nicole, @Gardnerians and I are not the same person, but you’re right: I really do tend to ramble.

Thanks for reading!

Hit Them Back First

undergroundAs might be inferred from the picture above, I’ve only ever bitten one person. I was five years old, at a birthday party or something, and my mouth was open. I do not remember why my mouth was open — maybe I was yawning, or maybe I was just having a moment of slackjaw — but regardless, my mouth was open, and for whatever reason, the kid next to me reached over and stuck his hand in it.

So I bit him.

At the time, I remember feeling very logical and justified about the whole thing. The other kid, however, freaked the fuck out and ran to the adult chaperones (one of them being my mother), wailing like a banshee and pointing (what was left of) his finger at me.

“You bit him?” my mother asked, more concerned than angry.

“He put his hand in my mouth,” I replied, matter-of-factly.

“And why did he put his hand in your mouth?” she asked, now just confused. I shrugged and raised my eyebrows as if to say, “Your guess is as good as mine, lady; I just work here.”

I don’t remember exactly what happened next, but I assume she made me apologize, to cover her bases and assure the other moms that she wasn’t raising feral children. Anyway, the point here is that I bit someone, because he put his hand in my mouth. And I’m thinking about this now, 35 years later, because I just saw something similar happen on Twitter.

The whole affair kickstarted with some snarky tweets directed at the author of Gardnerians. The author of this blog is actually a good friend of mine, and…

[Okay, I need to stop here for a sec. The author in question writes anonymously, and while I am not about to out him, I also can’t just call him Anonymous Author, because he’d hate that. Trust me. Instead, I’m just going to start that last sentence over and give him a pseudonym I guarantee he’ll appreciate.]

Destruct-o the Baconator is actually a good friend of mine, and knowing his sense of humor, I was not surprised to find him vaguely baffled but clearly amused by the unwarranted attention. He remained aloof but polite as his newest detractor (let’s call him Frothy) barked furiously, and he gamely tossed out loaded talking points for Frothy to pounce on and gnaw. You’d think Frothy would eventually catch on to the fact that he wasn’t being taken seriously, but nope, not so much: By the time I went to bed, he was still frothing away, and using the word “bullshit” a lot, which, y’know, doesn’t lend itself well to one’s academic credibility.

The last tweets I saw from him were addressed to Twitter at large, denouncing Destruct-o and slathered with passive aggression, which (in my mind, at least) confirmed his motivations. Just as that other five-year-old put his hand in my mouth and then feigned shock when I left teeth marks, Frothy — displaying roughly the same level of maturity — attacks specifically to provoke negative reactions. When he receives those reactions (and I assume this has gotten him results in the past), he can then wheel around and scream about the mean, ignorant jerks who are trying to suppress him. Cue the sympathetic music for our maligned anti-hero.

This tactic actually works well for toddlers and adolescents (or at least, it worked for the kid I bit, because really, who are you going to believe: The kid who’s bleeding, or the kid licking the blood from his lips?), but it’s a little harder to pull off via social media. It is as nothing to click around and determine who lobbed the first grenade in any given online skirmish, so if Frothy (or someone like him) picks a fight and then loudly proclaims innocence and/or persecution, all he’s really done is make himself look like… well, a mean, ignorant jerk.

 Thing is (and I’ve gone through this before), I get it. I get that need to denigrate others, and I get the jealousy that runs underneath it. Years ago, I developed a mad-on against this one particular Pagan blogger. She mainly blogged about the New Age dance class she was taking and her favorite vegan recipies, but oh, how I desperately wanted to strangle her, because one time she made disparaging remarks about Wicca and intimated that forged metal was rapey, and that pushed me right over the edge.

But you know why I really hated her? Because she’d published two books. Which I could’ve done too, if I’d put as much effort into writing as I did trying to convince everyone that I already was a successful writer. (Hint: I wasn’t.) Granted, I never went after her on Twitter or anything, but I did tell anyone who would listen how much I loathed her, and why I had extremely sound and valid reasons for doing so. (Hint: I didn’t.)

So yeah, I understand. And I always get in trouble when I say I understand effed-up behaviors, so let me clarify: Understanding is not the same as excusing. I mean, I fully understand why Kim Davis is the way she is, but I still cheered when she went to jail. And I fully understand why Frothy & Co. try to bully the people they perceive as somehow better than they are, but I still giggle when the objects of their antipathy ignore and dismiss them.

Of course, there’s always the chance that Frothy is a standard-issue sociopath, in which case any other attemtps at profiling are moot. But I like to think the kid I bit no longer puts his hands where they don’t belong, and I like to think that one day, Frothy will accept that his opinions are ultimately irrelevant.

As is anyone’s opinion of him.

Including mine.