Monthly Archives: July 2018

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough

I’m still haunted by the 52% of white women who voted for Trump. I’m being lumped in with them, and I don’t like it, but guess what, buttercup? The Black folks are saying, “Welcome to my world of being held responsible for your race.” So, this buttercup is sucking it up.

I wrote the piece about it in the spring of 2017, and at that time, I couldn’t get the actual numbers of white women voters. The few websites that had data said the final numbers were still being calculated. So here it is, well over a year later, and you still cannot Google “How many white women voted for Trump” and get an actual number. News outlets give only repeat that depressing percentage.

This could be white guilt, or perimenopause anger talking, but I need to know the actual number.

Would you rather inherit 75% of someone’s bank account or $50,000? You’d need to know the number in the bank account, right? 75% sounds good until you learn there is $1,000 in the account. That’s why I’m obsessed with this white woman number. Yes, 52% blows me away, makes me angry, depresses the living heck out of me. How many whackadoodles are we dealing with? 1 million? 10 million? 100 million? How big is my problem?

Because no one seems to have the straight up number, Word Girl here had to do math, and that is never a good thing. And I needed the high school math I hated the most– an algebraic word problem.

If 138.8 million people voted in the election, and according to exit polls 37% of those were white women, and (according to every maddening news source) 52% of those women voted for Trump, how many white women pissed me off in 2016? According to my calculations…

trumpvotersblog

26.7 million women are not my friends. OK, so the numbers didn’t make me feel any better (and actually made me feel slightly worse) but defining how deep the hole we’re in is important.

If 22 million white women voted for Hillary, and 94% of Black women voted for her, how many Black women do I have more in common with than the Trump white whackadoodles?

9.1 million.

So, you 22 million white women, I invite you along as I try to educate myself about Black culture. If you went to France, you wouldn’t go knowing no French and asking (in English) for hot dogs and pizza, would you? Well, if you did, you would be known as the really bad stereotypical American tourist and ruin it for the rest of us. Black culture is the same. Black people have enough on their plate without having to teach whites about their culture. We need to do it ourselves. Showing up knowing a little is a sign of respect. Knowing a lot gives you more access. I’m not an expert, just going where my interest and curiosity takes me. Oh, and white men, you are welcome to come along, too, I just used all my math skills on the women, so I couldn’t quantify you. But by all means, hop on board.

Because it’s summer, and I am a big believer in the power of music to connect people, let’s talk about “Motown the Musical.” I saw it in Boston in June, at the end of its North American tour. You can now only see it in London, but it will be at the Shaftesbury Theatre through November 2019, and other parts of the UK, so you’d better get on that. That’s plenty of time to find bargain fares, and I know you want to see Princess Meghan or one of those royal babies anyway, so now you have more reasons to go.

It was on Broadway from March 2013 to January 2015 came back in July 2016, so shame on me for not knowing about it all this time. If you already know the story of Motown, then good for you — you can skip this lesson and post your favorite fact.

Motown gives you the back story to all the music you love/grew up with/heard in a meme/were embarrassed to hear your mother/child singing to. Young Berry Gordy  makes and produces music, but can’t get the white radio stations to play it. They say they don’t play Black music, but he argues that his music belongs to everyone. They won’t budge, so he borrows money to start his own label.

But the story starts before then. As a child, Berry experienced an amazing moment when his childhood hero boxer Joe Louis defeated the German boxing great Max Schmeling in 1938. It’s one of the most famous matches of all time. This occurred at a time when Black boxers were often denied championships, and the Nazi party issued statements that a Black man could not defeat Schmeling. After the fight, Berry recalled, “I saw my mother crying. I saw my father crying. Everyone was so crazy, just going mad.” Berry decided then that he wanted to do something that made people that happy.

And so he did. For the rest of the musical you get to see both the musical genius and just creative people doing their thing — arguing over creative differences, falling in love, falling out of love, working together towards a goal, feeling artistic jealousy, and making incredible music. Through it all is, for many of us, the soundtrack of our lives that wouldn’t exist without Black people. Where would you be without Diana Ross and the Supremes, Michael Jackson, the Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, and Smokey Robinson?

Don’t take that soundtrack for granted. That music emerged from people constantly having to prove themselves. Dive a little deeper and learn more about where it came from. You love this music, you’ve danced to it, made out to it, laughed and cried to it.

Read some books about Motown, watch some movies.

Taking a deeper dive into the music of Motown is not going to solve racism. But if you are familiar with how the music flourished in spite of racism, how promoting the music in segregated towns was risky and even dangerous, maybe it provides an opportunity to connect or have a conversation. Just remember, no mansplaining, please. Black people still know way more than you do, but it’s a place to start.

I heard that through the grapevine.

Dear Tomato Plants: You’re a Heartbreaker, Dream Maker, Love Taker

If you have been following this blog for a few years, you know my travails with my tomato plants. And by plants I mean 3. My dear friends Becky and Susan raise tomato plants (and many others) lovingly from seed, carefully place a few in my hands, and before you can say “fresh tomato and basil,” I’m usually sending them frantic pictures of their hapless babies, crawling with bugs or curling up and withering away. Usually accompanied by a text in all caps, “WHAT DO I DO????

But I thought I had turned a gardening corner. Last year, after a brief scare of white bugs I was able to soap blast into non-existence, I got a decent crop of juicy grape tomatoes. Then I moved to a second floor with a sunny deck and started with a clean slate. I even planted marigolds to help fend off bugs. And it was glorious for nearly 2 months. The plants were growing like crazy and a spell of hot, humid days made the baby tomatoes appear faster than if Harry Potter had waved a wand.

bogtomato2

Then last week, I spotted it. One of the marigolds looked a little limp. Maybe it just needs more water, I thought. When the leaves start wrinkling and drying up, I searched for bugs. There were none, so I turned a blind eye. It’s a defective marigold. Stores sell you bad plants all the time, right? It’s just that one, I’m sure. Then I saw another one in the pot next to it looking grim.

blogtomato3

Not even the river denial can argue with that. I forced myself to look at the leaves of the tomato plant. It ain’t looking good, my friends.

blogtomato1

Crap. It is now a race against time. Can the tomatoes high above ripen before this scourge works its way from the bottom to rob me of my beautiful tomatoes, and break my heart once again? Only time will tell, my friends. Meanwhile, I’ll be singing with Pat Benatar. Don’t mess around with me.

It’s a Loo* Thing

*British slang for bathroom (at least it was in the 80s).

I have an odd hobby. Well, truth be told I have several, but I’m only willing to expose them one at a time. In today’s episode, I offer my interest in comparing restaurant bathrooms in Boston. A number of years ago, my friend Lora and I were going out frequently, and we found ourselves being able to remember the bathrooms from the previous night out to compare and contrast. Some bathrooms try really hard to be high-class with that little antique wooden stand holding real flowers clearly flown in from wherever shi-shi flowers are flown in from out of season. And big, thick paper hand towels that actually dry your hands and not leave them half wet as you head out the door, having to choose between flapping them like a dork or patting/wiping them discretely on your outfit and risk hand prints. Oh, and the fixtures that take you a minute to figure out how to work them because they look more like an art exhibit at the ICA or from page 57 of the Italian fine fixtures catalog, Bene Infissi. And it’s not just high-end places that have fancy bathrooms, let me tell you. Sometimes it’s decent enough, yet average restaurants that have these bathrooms. As if they are reaching for the water closet stars.

Mostly though, the average independent casual restaurant has the utilitarian bathroom: white sink, wall dispenser of brown towels, and 50% of the time, a bottle of hand soap from CVS. Alternately there is the ear-splitting hand drier that self-importantly claims to have saved a 1,000 trees and untold numbers of forests. Perhaps, but what about my hearing loss from the high-pitched screaming of the driers in very small space? At least the newer fast flow ones actually do dry your hands. The slower driers do the exact same job as the cheap brown paper towels.

Of course, then there are the dive bars and their matching bathrooms — cramped little affairs that have names, advice, insults, and phone numbers carved into the walls, aging them to the point of putting the pyramids to shame. They also have questionable cleanliness that actually encourages you to get more drunk, so you don’t really notice of the state of the bathroom.

I was in one of my favorite watering holes recently, an Irish bar, and noticed something different: the bathroom doors were standing ajar, with the open door pointing away from the stall at a 45 degree angle. I wrestled with it for several seconds, but it wouldn’t open any wider. I tried another door. Same deal. I finally moved to a door that was flush, and realized the doors push in.

So, if you’re a woman with a bathroom hobby, that begs the question: What the heck happens in a Irish bar filled with millennials who work in the financial skyscraper next door that creates bent doors? Is there some sort of trivia night or karaoke dark underbelly that leads to bathroom rumbles? Or was it some kind of X-File, and next time I’m there, I’ll find Scully and Mulder examining the hinges and having an argument about supernatural forces vs. vexed trivia night women?

See, bathrooms are fascinating.

Anyway, I went with friends recently to see Motown the Musical at the Boston Opera House. It deserves and will get its own blog, and I’ll write about that soon. I encourage you to see it if you can. It’s been going on for a while, and is only playing in London right now. So seriously, you’d better get a move on about that.

At intermission we headed for the bathroom. At the time my bathroom curiosity radar was off because during a show or event, a woman needs to focus. There could be 3 bathrooms or 30, but either way, you have to be at the front or you find yourself at the end of a long-ass line and miss the start of the second act. I was just hoping for more than 3 bathrooms, and when I got inside I saw about 14. Excellent. Suddenly, from above me, I heard numbers being called out. “Number 14 is open. Number 8 is open. Number 3 is open. Number 11 is open.”

Now I’m confused — women are entering and exiting the stalls at a rapid pace, and while the activity seems to be connected to the numbers being called out, I cannot figure out where the sound is coming from. First, I thought it was an automated thing, like announcing the floors on elevators, but the voice coming from on high had too many human inflections. Then I thought someone was looking in at us via a camera and that was just too creepy. The calling continued: “Number 4 is open. Number 7. Number 10 is open.” Amid the confusion of the doors opening and closing, suddenly it was my turn. I refocused on getting in an out in time for the second act. I was still puzzling over the thing on my way back to my seat, when my friend Lora caught up to me.

“So, what did you think about bathroom bingo?”

I burst out laughing, “Yes! That’s exactly what it was! Where was that voice coming from?”

“Didn’t you see the woman standing against the wall at the very back of the bathroom? She had a microphone.”

Clearly, I did not.

So, now, apparently, jobs at the theater include ushers, ticket and merchandise cashiers, and … bathroom bingo callers.

 

Sometimes a Paddy Wagon Is Not an Instrument of Evil

I was recently walking in my neighborhood and spotted a Police paddy wagon up ahead. Given that I’m a liberal snowflake in these times infected by the Cheeto flea, I immediately went into, “Oh my god, I may need to bear witness to a racist arrest or profiling incident.” My heart beat quickened, and I slowed down a bit to gather the few wits I have. I was ready to use my perimenopausal White woman privilege for good. Trust me, you do not want to mess with that shit. I see the wagon parked in front of the bicycle store. The Black cop went into the shop, while the White cop walked to the back of the wagon, opened the doors, and then waited. Veeery suspicious. Maybe keeping his hands clean?

Who are they shaking down? What sort of crime could be happening in a bike shop? Not many, so I’m even more suspicious that it’s one of those stories I keep reading where Black people are just doing normal things, like being in a bike shop, and paranoid White people call the police on them. Of course, you’d send in the Black cop to navigate the situation.

I come up on the store front, and the door is open. I peer in. Who is it? What’s happening? Breathe, stay calm, be a reliable witness to whatever happens. Which turns out to be…

Two cops picking up their bikes. At a bike shop. OK, perimenopause, stand down. This is what normal looks like, and I will remember.

Phone Envy

Phone envy? Not. All I got for you this week is a photo I took a few weeks ago on the train. I guess I’ve accepted that most people are buried in their phones on the train. Except for me, of course. I’m a superior being who looks around or reconstructs the night before in my head, or exploring the notion of a power nap. If I am looking at my phone, it’s to read some very important book or article. It’s rarely, if ever, to read cheesy summer romances. It’s all on the up and up, I swear.

Anywho, as I was looking around in my superior way, I saw this guy.

No, it’s not the manspreading — it was later at  night on the train, so knock yourself out, I say. No, it’s the two phones. He has two phones. What the hell? Then I spent the rest of the trip watching him closely. Was he listening to music on one? Texting with the other? He seemed to be making use of both of them, alternating touching each screen and more frequently than changing a song, unless he was only listening to 5 seconds of each one, which, hey maybe he was. If you need two phones, that’s probably one reason why.

I was flabbergasted. I was gobsmacked. Flummoxed. Thunderstruck. So much so, I was able to use all my favorite words.

Seriously, what the ever living you-know-what??

So, I’m mystified to this day. I was worried it was a trend, but so far he’s the only one I have seen doing double duty. Now when I look around, I’m just grateful people are buried in one phone. And for that intellectually stimulating article on my phone.

Cartoon credit: Raymond’s Brain