Latest Posts

I Watch Porn

(Excuse me as I barf while I think about the people who read this click bait title.)

This might be a slight deviation from my regularly-themed blog posts. But I recently received an email from a Mr. Warner Fitts telling me that he (or she? or they? Who am I kidding? It’s always a man) knew my password (Colorado1) and had caught me on a website, hacked into my computer’s camera, had recorded me taking part in nefarious activities, and unless I paid him $2,000 in Bitcoins, he’d email video of me participating in said nefarious activies to you. Yes, you.

Well.

Let’s break some of these things down:

  1. Colorado1 was a password I used about a decade ago.
  2. Visiting porn sites? Can I blame that on my 6-yo? Or on visitors crashing on my couch at the time? Neighbors hacking into my WiFi signal? I won’t belabor this. In my life, I’ve seen porn. On my own computer. Anyway.
  3. Pay in Bitcoins? Lolz.
  4. Mailing a video to all my contacts. Welp. That would be pretty funny. I mean, embarrassing, yes. But have I ever done anything that would, say, ruin my chances of being President? (Oh, wait. The standard for that couldn’t be lower. Never mind.) Is there anything I’ve ever done, in my life, that would make me blush, but I could shrug off and we’d still be friends? Nope. Nothin’ illegal, just…ok. I’ll stop there.

Rather than freak out, I calmly asked a computer whiz friend of mine some quick advice.

And no, I had no intention of paying.

He quickly Googled the exact message I’d received on Reddit and it’s been sent to tens of thousands of people.

So…lemme backtrack, now.

My stainless eyes have never seen porn. Ever. Never in my life. I’m a victim! Colorado1 was never my password. I don’t know what this Mr. Warner Fitts was talking about.

Also, I have a million dollars in Bitcoins.

My sextortion nightmare felt like life-imitating-art since this exact scenario was dramatized in the “Shut Up and Dance” episode of Black Mirror and ended with a teenager committing a murder to protect himself from the public humiliation of his peers seeing him masturbate on screen.

(BTW, if you’ve not absorbed every Black Mirror episode, I beg you to turn off your computer immediately and start binging every one of them. Because OMG so good. And terrifying. And predictive of our immediate futures. You’re welcome.)

While watching that episode of Black Mirror so many months/years ago, I posed myself the question: if that happened to me, could I be bribed to desperately keep just such a video private?

Luckily, I don’t have unconventional “private” proclivities. But no judgment for anyone who does. I mean, let consenting adults live out their fantasies. (I bet that last sentence will never come back to haunt me.) The dark, legal corners of the internet are like a pressure release valve for our society. Let private stuff remain private and stop judging other people for their privates. (Tee-hee.) Also, let people form their communities and make the world a more inclusive place. Kumbayah.

Anyway. Back to me.

I highlight this email and publish this post to serve as a sort of PSA.

  1. Buy one of these things to cover your computer camera. I have a friend at Google who theorizes that Facebook is actively listening to our conversations (as are Google and Amazon. Duh. Permission be damned.) That’s bad enough. The least we can do, these days, is cover our cameras to have a tiny protection against Black Mirror. It’s also some protection against facial recognition hacking. (I hate my new Apple phone because facial recognition isn’t as quick as thumbprint and also – how many terrible ways will Apple’s recording of my face come back to ruin my life?)
  2. Change your passwords. Use 1password or Last Pass. They both cost some money, but it’s the greatest cyber insurance that $2/month can buy. Both sites generate and remember all your passwords for you. (Don’t ask me what happens when bad guys hack those sites. I dunno. This is a rabbit hole of endless worries.)
  3. Don’t fall victim to sextortion. Unless you’re watching pedophilic porn (which…just don’t. You should seek a therapist immediately), just own it. We’re all sexual beings. And that’s a good thing. Embrace it.

Also, for what it’s worth, if you think you *might* have an unhealthy relationship with porn, seek help.

Our immediate future (nay, present) is exposing us to all sorts of Black Mirror personal catastrophes. Never has it been more important for us to embrace our humanity, realize we all have “things” that could be embarrassing, but keep our feet on the ground and cultivate in-the-flesh relationships with real people and real experiences. I applaud the fact that the internet can bring lonely people together for a whole host of reasons from their fetishes (both sexual and non) to their need for community. And that can help de-stigmatize a plethora of human activity…again: both sexual and non. (Although I am by no means endorsing hate groups or violence of any kind. Obviously.)

But the more we dive into our online communities, the more we need compassion and connection with the actual people around us.

Now. Stop reading your screens and go have some ice cream. It’s still summer.

After you watch some porn. (No judgment. You do you.)

Being a Gender Hypocrite

I’m sitting, watching both my kids play soccer in summer camp, right now.

I can’t believe my gender-fluid kid is playing soccer. I mean, last week, when my younger one took his lesson, the older was impressed there was a girl in his class. So this week? Older was mildly curious.

And the next week? Suddenly he’s playing.

This is amazing. And stupefying. He insists he doesn’t want to play soccer, but he jumped in with only mild prodding by me just five minutes ago.

I want to expose my kids to everything. Being well-rounded makes life so much richer. I loved being a college athlete and artist and academic, simultaneously.

I’ve often been conflicted about sports because our culture is already so ridiculously Type-A, competition-obsessed, but I think playing a game and exercise are interests to cultivate.

Plus, if you at least know the rules and have basic skills in a sport, life’s just easier and more fun.

And less frustrating when you’re stuck at a high school retreat for the student council and everyone wants to play soccer and you don’t even know what “off-sides” means so you’re embarrassed that, in addition to having no skill, you don’t even know the basic rules.

Did I digress?

It’s good to get to know how to work with a team and sweat to achieve collective goals, as a team.

Before becoming a dad, I unequivocally stated that my kids will each play a sport, an instrument, and focus on some sort of art.

Don’t I have that all planned neatly?

But what’s the point? I mean, why should I be pushing my kid to be well-rounded? I hated competitive sports until college.

I hatedsports as a kid. Baseball was boring. I did cartwheels during soccer. And I resented everyone saying to me, “You’re tall. You should be good at basketball.”

Well, I’m NOT! And I HATE it, okaaaaaay?

In high school I was a good competitive swimmer, probably just because of my size. Same for crew team in college. But college was different. I wanted to be fit and I loved the rowing lunatics. (They might as well be actors. So.) I found my way, eventually.

But as a kid, I hated sports. It was assumed that, as a boy, I should like them.

And now, as a father, I’m fully putting the same expectations on my own kids.

I’m a monster.

Seriously. Why am I so excited for my older kid to show a modicum of interest in soccer (mind you, for the day. It’s clear he’s reticent.)

Well-rounded appreciation. Check.

But wait, am I going to be insist the younger kid (he of more sports-interest) take ballet class? Or tap class?

Will I grit my teeth behind his back when he refuses to be artsy? Or when he actually tries his artistic hand and is mortifyingly maladroit?

Why am I so relieved that my gender-fluid kid will at least trysome soccer? Is this a latent attempt by me to save his masculinity?

Why does that matter? Gavin: aren’t you trying to teach your kids that masculinity is bullshit and gender is a social construct?

PRACTICE WHAT YOU PREACH, MAN.

Am I being a hypocrite?

Absolutely. I AMexercising a double-standard. A conventional, society-based, archaic double-standard.

Also, I’m being ridiculous in thinking I need to prep my kids for college-application-well-roundedness, now.

But also? – ain’t that the way of our hetero-normative, college-bound society?

Gavin, chill the f out.

Oh, look. The older kid just scored a point. Good for him.

I’m signing up the little guy up for ballet, now.

I need to be consistent in my paternal insanity.

One-Track 6yo Mind

Since my kids saw my show, Head Over Heels, (as shown in the above picture…which is terrible because it’s a screen shot from a boomerang we made at the theatre and we’re all in motion…but oh, well) our meals often follow an obsessive trajectory…

Daddy?

Yeah?

How many times did Peppermint change her wig in your show? (*Peppermint is one of the principals in our show, originally made famous by her appearance, last year, in RuPaul’s Drag Race.)

Um, three. No, four. Please chew with your mouth shut.

But Daddy? Did she change the wig herself, or did she have help?

She had help. Please stop kicking the table leg.

But how many people help her with her wigs?

I dunno. Um…two?

She has two people helping her with her wigs?

Sometimes. Please chew with your mouth shut.

(Chews for a little bit. Younger brother stares at both of us wondering how he ended up in this insane family of a drag queen-obsessed 6 ½ year old and an illogically-annoyed father.)

Daddy?

Hm?

What if both of your characters are sick? (* I am a “standby” in the show, meaning I cover two of the principals. My stage presence is contingent upon laryngitis and twisted ankles. AND I’m the only cover for two actors…which is slightly worrisome, especially for my own kid.)

Honestly? I’m not sure, buddy.

Well, what if just you’re sick?

It’s alright, buddy. As long as the principals I cover aren’t sick. In that case, well, don’t worry about it. But please don’t shovel your food into your mouth.

But what if Peppermint and the people you cover and all the standbys are sick?

Then we would have a big problem and probably cancel the show.

CANCEL THE SHOW?!?

Yes, buddy, they might. Please chew with your mouth closed.

Daddy? You remember Peppermint’s finger nails?

How on earth do you remember her nails in the show?

Because they were amazing.

You’ve seen the show once.

And Daddy?

Please chew with your mouth closed. What?

If I wore a wig and you and Tatty helped me put it on, then I would have two people helping me with my wig just like Peppermint!

Yes, you would. Please stop kicking the table. And buddy?

What? (His mouth full of meatball.)

If you had seven people helping with your wig, how many would you have, all together?

Stops and looks at ceiling while I take a moment to check in with the little peanut.

You OK, buddy? (To my younger son.)

He gives a single, affirmative nod.

Eleven!

No. But thank you for finally stopping kicking the table.

Ten!

No.

Eight!

Buddy, the food in your mouth.

Seven?

Now, you’re just guessing.

Five!

Let’s stop and think about it. If you had two and then another seven?

Six!

Hold two in your head…

Daddy! Stop! Just tell me.

Gosh, I don’t know it. Please stop kicking the table.

Nine!

Good. Do you know how you got that number?

Yes.

Really?

Uh-huh.

I’m not buying it,but…Buddy! Please. Stop chewing with your mouth open.

Daddy?

Yeah?

I know what my birthday party should be!

Oh?

A Peppermint party!

Wow. That’s…um…different from your African Savannah theme.

Yeah. We can all wear wigs and make-up.

Buddy? Please stop chewing with your mouth open.

And that is how a simple dinner focused on badgering my son to chew with his mouth closed turned into the inspiration for him to have a drag queen themed 7th birthday party.

Screwing Social Obligations

It’s easily assumed I’m outgoing. I’ve a reputation for wanting to be the life of the party. For a significant portion of my youth, I thought I neededto be the life of the party so much so that if I wasn’t in full form, people would say, “are you ok?”

With that assumption came my own self-expectation: I need to be the outgoing one helping parties thrive.

And then I got older.

During an end-of-year party in my kid’s 1stgrade class, a friend muttered to me, “I loathe these things. The frenzied energy of the parents, the temperature in the room, the kids are over-whelmed, our own expectations for throwing a party for the kids and yet we have to get in and out in forty minutes. It’s awful.”

And this guy, whom I consider perfectly at-ease in public, made me realize: “Oh my God. I hate these things, too.”

At my 40thbirthday, my partner asked what I wanted to do and how many dozens of people I wanted to invite, and I realized, “You know? I just want to have a dinner party with my closest friends. And no more than that. Just like…a few super close friends.”

Most of the birthday parties my kid has been invited to, this year, have been met with protestations. “I don’t wantto go to that party!”

“But buddy, it’s your friends and there’ll be pizza and cupcakes!”

“I don’t care.”

“What do you want to do?”

“Stay home.”

Eye roll. (My own.)

Part of me thinks this is his anxiety about being in uncomfortable circles where there might be different kids and he’s insecure in a dress. But I’m probably projecting that.

My instinct is to say, “Life’s tough, kid. You gotta be in new circles. You can’t avoid it all.” And every single time he attended one of these birthday parties, he had a great time.

But toward the end of the year, I started to pull my head out of my ass and gave some real consideration to the fact that going to parties is notalways fun. Structured birthday parties aren’t always great, even if the cake rocks. The screaming, the waiting for your turn to hit a piñata, the other kids melting down, etc. It’s not that fun. Even for a six year-old.

And I think I’m taking us all out of contention for “life of the party”. Because that is such a tiresome role to play. Just…be yourself. Don’t fulfill perceived social pressures.

That’s a lot different when you’re 6 rather than 26. But still.

I spent so much energy needing to be the person I felt others expected of me. Now, my extroverted part needs heavybalance from my introversion. The older I get, the more I really just wanna be home alone. And I love it.

I love the occasional raucous night out. Love that, too.

And I looooove binge-watching Orange is the New Black. (Ohmigod, you guys, have you finished the last season? What a powerful final few scenes.)

I’m gonna do a better job letting my kids find their own social comfort station.

If they feel like being outgoing, so be it.

And sometimes there are obligations to fulfill. Life’s easier if you can perform when need be…occasionally.

But knowing limits is important, too.

 

 

.

Just Trust Me

So I’m in a new Broadway show, Head Over Heels, and I’ll be referencing it a lot over coming months. So I figured I might as well write a missive on it. (And have something to which in-depth readers can click.)

I don’t know how better to describe this show other than to say: punk Shakespeare set to the music of the Go-Go’s.

I know: whaaaat?

Just trust me.

And “just trust me” is NOT how to sell a Broadway show.

Even the most naïve of tourists would be smart to avoid a show whose unofficial slogan could be “I don’t know how to describe it. It’s insightful and heart-warming and thought-provoking and very 2018 and touching and surprising and, well…just trust me. You’ll love it.”

But that’s how it goes.

It’s hard to sell a show that requires so many near-disclaimers.

But I’m confident we will make it. Because this show is good. Really good.

Just trust me.

The show incorporates several themes of love, acceptance, gender, sexuality, politics, climate change, patriarchy, standards of beauty, and art.

We have legendary Broadway actors, bombshell newcomers, a famous trans woman playing a non-binary character…I know. Lots to unpack, right? Every single one of these characters and themes are integral to the show, yet the show isn’t really about them, particularly the gender and sexuality themes.

Many naysayers or critics-of-snowflakes might role their eyes about a show incorporating gay themes.

Or other curmudgeonly critics might roll their eyes at the presentation of a character self-identifying as “they”, like when the NYTimes’ Ben Brantley had to issue an apology for being so dismissive of non-binary folks. But why beat that dead horse with more clickbait?

But if you don’t feel like being bludgeoned with a 2018 woke agenda, fear not – these are just circumstantial themes, not what the show is about.

The point of the show is…well…an artistic and escapist romp amidst/among/around all these themes, simultaneously.

Yet, it’s not frivolous.

But also not mortally dirge-like.

Though not at all preachy.

Still, it’s important.

It’s what a Broadway show should be but rarely is: a thought-provoking entertainment experience with kick-ass choreography and fabulous costumes.

Just trust me.

(Oh, and as for me? Glad you asked. I’m a standby for the two, well…old guys. A standby is an actor who jumps on if their “cover” is out of the show. So my stage presence is dependent on laryngitis or twisted ankles. But I sing backstage during every performance as a “booth” singer.)

Love a Good Cross-Post

I was flattered to be posted by my surrogacy agency, Growing Generations, with this missive about maintaining my expectations as a new dad. Growing Generations was one of the first agencies to help shepherd the parenting process in the surrogate realm. We were so lucky to find them and I’m honored to be featured on their blog.

Check it!

https://www.growinggenerations.com/news/parenting-dont-bother-preparing/