Monday, December 24, 2012

What the NRA Should Have Said

I am an idealist. I believe that people typically have the best of intentions. Moreover, I usually fail to follow Oprah’s oft quoted advice that has almost become cliché: “When people show you who they are, believe them the first time.” I'm a second chancer.

So when the NRA announced that they were delivering a press conference, breaking their weeklong silence, I saw a glass half full. I expected that twenty six coffins, particularly, the  twenty smaller ones, had inspired an epiphany. 

I should have listened to Oprah. 

The NRA’s call for armed officials in every school is simply shoddy arithmetic. Guns plus more guns doesn’t equal peace; furthermore, several teachers’ associations have expressed their opposition to the NRA's proposition. (You can read the entire transcript here.)

Regardless of how you feel about gun control, it’s important to acknowledge that the NRA's EVP, Wayne Lapierre, spoke words that can be described as nothing short of an insensitive train wreck, as PR experts everywhere have agreed. So while they alluded to some of the  points below, they should have driven them home and tossed the rest. 

What they should have said:

  • Our prayers and thoughts are with those affected by individuals who used weapons for evil versus good.
  • We realize that the violence in America is a serious problem that while complex, must be grappled with. This means that we have to work harder to ensure that the weapons we so love, are used exclusively for sport, leisure, and protection.
  • Based on our organization’s breadth of knowledge in relation to gun policy, we humbly offer our voice to be included among the task force led by Vice President Joe Biden to help create solutions that protect American citizens. 
  • This is not a time for stubbornness, anger, thoughtless action, or worse, inaction. It’s a time for reflection, serious thought, and a keen plan of action. We are prepared to step up to the plate. God bless Newtown, Aurora, Chicago, Oak Creek, Tucson, Portland, and the countless other cities who have been shaken by senseless gun violence. We’re on your side. 

But they didn’t.

Now I know better. I’m still optimistic. I just know that I should have believed the NRA when they first revealed who they were.

There is at least one thing I’m grateful for. The NRA is comfortable with being upfront about their ideas, no matter how ill received and horrendous those ideas may be. 

More Reading: 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Becoming Olivia Pope is Easy | A True Story about Infidelity

Though I prefer premium channel dramas like The Wire and Newsroom, it seemed everyone I knew was enraptured by the ABC series, Scandal, so I finally gave in and watched. Not bad. Possibly the most fascinating plot thread is the on again/off again salacious affair between the President of the United States (Fitz) and Olivia, the principal of the Pope and Associates PR firm.

I recently discussed the fictional affair with my cousin -who is happily married- and to my surprise, she declared that she was “Team Olivia and Fitz” because they were made for each other. When it comes to morality and ethics, most people think they have clear-cut lines. They will quickly attest that murder is wrong, but cheer for a gun-wielding Will Smith in his latest summer flick.  Some will say gay marriage is despicable, but “awwww” when Mitchell and Cameron of Modern Family make up after a silly fight. I’m sure if I conducted a poll, I’d learn that people believed cheaters were wicked, yucky individuals.

Until it was you.

A few days ago, I was catching up with a friend -let’s call her Melanie- and she casually asked me if I knew anything about a guy named Austin. I did. He’s smart, funny, handsome, charming, and genuinely someone most people would consider a “good guy.” Several months back, while in DC on business, Austin ran into Melanie and they really hit it off. They weren’t physically intimate; but they were up to the wee hours of the morning discussing the election, religion, Katt Williams, and everything else. Neither wanted the night to end, but he had an early flight back to Boston, so they reluctantly agreed to keep in touch. They developed a friendship in the way that twenty and thirty somethings do… via gchat, text and funny forwarded emails. There was always an underlying “What if” but neither pursued it. So imagine Melanie’s excitement when Austin called to tell her he’d be in town again for a conference and was hoping they could grab dinner. They met up. Again… the connection was there, and it was as if no time had passed since their last meeting. Half joking, half curious, Melanie said, “I don’t know how you manage to stay single Austin.” And that’s when he dropped the bomb, “Actually, as of two days ago, I’m not…” Allow me to take creative license here; I presume this is where Melanie calmly set down her wine glass and did her best to appear happy as she congratulated him.

At this point in our conversation, Melanie hesitated and I knew she had more to say. Something in me told me that I had to tell her a story, one I hadn’t told anyone else. So I did. And now, I’ll tell you.

Several years ago, while in college, I met a guy at a house party. The day after we met, we spent the next two weeks together, ordering take out, watching bad movies, taking in DC’s landmarks like tourists, and even a Wizards game. But the timing was horrible. He was graduating that spring and moving home to Atlanta. I still had more school to go. So we let it go. Over the years, we kept in contact, but it was minimal. We were in different cities, and one of us was always in a relationship. And then… I moved back to DC as a single woman, and he was there too, after recently being reassigned by his job. We were so excited to be in the same city and hang out again. But he didn’t come back to DC alone; he had a girlfriend. (Notice a recurring theme here).

I gushed that I really wanted to meet the woman who was making him happy. I thought it would help me to see him as a completely unavailable man. But every time the 3 of us planned to get together,  something would come up last minute in her schedule, and it was just us. So we’d go to dinner and talk like old friends or take in a movie. Eventually, I started to think that he was purposefully setting up times for the two of us to hang out, and to my mortified surprise… I was pleased. I liked him.  He was thoughtful, playful, affectionate, and a critical thinker. He consistently mused that he didn’t see how someone like myself was single. (Don’t they all say that?) We told each other corny jokes and created inside jokes so funny to us that our sides hurt. He grabbed my hand when we crossed the street. Our “hangout sessions” were starting to feel less and less platonic. I knew this was bad news. I knew that although we weren’t crossing any double lines, what we were doing was dangerous. One day as we weaved our way through Silver Spring to an indy theatre, an older woman stopped us on the street to tell us we were a “couple fit for Hollywood.” He gave me a once-over, turned back to the woman and said, “Ma’am I think I agree with you.” And my stomach flip-flopped. 

That night, as he walked me to my door and I fished out my keys, I looked up to offer the obligatory “Good seeing you, I hope to see [your girlfriend] soon.” But the words caught in my throat. He was looking at me intently and before I knew it, we’d kissed. I’d like to say I pushed him away. I’d like to say I was disgusted. I’d like to say I told him off and never spoke to him again. But none of those things are true. I kissed him back and it was one of the most beautiful/ugliest moments of my life. I loved it and I hated it. He apologized. And I did too. And then we kissed again. I managed to snap out of it and bustle inside, alone with my thoughts. For the next few hours, I vacillated between youthful glee, intense guilt, and everything in between. I even found myself thinking, “What we have is special... it’s unique… It’s impossible that he could feel as good with someone else as he does with me… right? Wonder if he’s thinking that right now. Could this work? I’m single, so… technically I’m not wrong right?”

It was this #anncoulterlogic that led me to decide that it was best for us to not be friends at all, because I didn’t trust either one of us to be responsible. After I shared my story with Melanie, she broke down and confessed that towards the end of Austin’s trip, under a haze of alcohol that they'd kissed and it was magical. When they were laughing, talking, and sharing, it was easy to forget the truth. It was easy to believe that what they had was real, genuine and right. But when the club lights come on and sobriety comes in, the truth is a bright glaring light to your hangover, reminding you that you’re a wicked and yucky person, as indicated by the hypothetical poll I took earlier.

So what did I tell Melanie? The same thing I told myself a few years ago. “Create a space between you two. Accept that while what you two may have is special, it’s not enough for him to leave his girlfriend; if it was, he would. When you find yourself reliving those special moments,  look up his Facebook profile and let the reality hurt you. Don’t send that text. Don’t make that call.”

The truth is, Melanie deserves better. She doesn’t deserve a piece of someone. Austin and his girlfriend deserve better. They deserve an honest commitment. And while Olivia and Fitz seem caught up in a whirlwind of passion, they deserve better than stolen time, whispered words, and weighty secrets.

It’s easy to become Olivia Pope. But it’s not easy to live as Olivia Pope without making exorbitant sacrifices.

The floor is yours. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

4 Things Women Pretend to Love for Guys' Sake

I’m 100% sure that someone who doesn’t take the time to read all the qualifiers I’ve made to the following generalizations will accuse me of being sexist or something else uncomely.  The Internet has given everyone, even the misinformed, a voice. Actually… especially the misinformed. But I’ll take my chances anyway.

A few weeks ago, Fox News trotted out an article so laughable that there was a waiting line of pundits, comedians, and bloggers ready to skewer it. Suzanne Venker, the author of soon to be published How to Choose A Husband, posited that “women aren’t women anymore” and that if women would just “surrender to their nature – their femininity – and let men surrender to theirs”, then “marriageable men will come out of the woodwork.”

Let the record reflect; I think that article is part hogwash, part nonsense, part self-hate, and part desperation for attention. It’s all foolishness. I do however think that some women adopt certain hobbies that they may not otherwise take part in, just for the sake of attracting men (sometimes failing horribly). Again, I said SOME women, but enough women do it for me to take notice and find it amusing.  

Here’s my top 4:

1. Sports. Obviously some women really do like sports. They play fantasy football and can spit all kinds of stats on their favorite players/teams. (Personally, I find it mind boggling that people will watch SportsCenter 723 times in one day when it’s a loop of the same thing OVER and OVER again. Plus… it’s usually a highlight reel of a game that you probably already watched. But I digress…)

But I’ve seen some women who could care less become raving, foaming-at-the-mouth Cowboys fans, all because a potential boo was in the room with a star on his chest. The Clark Kent to Super(Sports)Woman is the new hotness. Sadly, it’s usually transparent how fake their fanhood is when a woman yells “And he’s safe!! That touchdown means we’re going to the World Seeeerrriiiieeeeess!!! Woo hoo! I love you Kobe!”

2. Video Games. When I was in college, one of my roommates learned how to play Madden. She made it exceedingly clear that she was learning solely so she could flirtatiously trash talk someone into playing in our small dorm room. Then again, she’s happily married with a kid so maybe she was onto something. 

3. Strip Clubs. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems like all of a sudden, the strip club is no longer a place exclusively for gentlemen to pick up the occasional venereal disease. One of my girlfriends seemed surprised recently when I told her I’d never been to a strip club.  She very generously offered to take me to a strip club to right this wrong. I politely declined. I’m pretty sure that although they make an astounding amount of money at a faster rate than I ever have, I’d feel compelled to talk the ladies off the pole. 

4. Misogynistic Hip-Hop. Years ago, Chris Rock infamously yelled (when is he NOT yelling??), “If the beat is right, she will dance all night!” As stated in previous posts, I have been known to dance to troubling lyrics that I’d rather not repeat. But even I have to draw a line in the sand somewhere and it’s probably around 2Chainz. Sure fellas, I get that “all you want for your birthday is a big booty hoe” but …. Why are the ladies singing along with you? Is a universal love for big booty hoes attractive?

I don’t know. I’m not a guy. But I think at some point, we should acknowledge that it’s ok to prefer Scandal over Sportcenter, Cranium over Call of Duty, and Timberlake over Two Chainz. (Seriously, when is JT gonna drop an album... we need it!)

What have I missed from this list? Ladies, are you willing to admit doing these things to earn cool points with the fellas? Or do you genuinely like skrip clubs? Yes, I meant to say skrip. Fellas, do you like it when a girl likes this stuff?

DC Readers: Tomorrow night is Karaoke 4 A Cause, my FAVORITE holiday party! Bring a toy valued at $20 (or $20) and join the party! Celebrate, sing, give. :) 

All proceeds benefit the Southeast White House. More info at