A Wastrel’s Wednesday: Saunas, Survivors, Empires, and Horror Stories

Gentle Readers; I am trying to blog daily. After all, I manage to gym almost every day, I maintain a healthy diet, I have sort-of programmed myself out of reflexive snark and judgment, surely I can return to daily writing? Alas, since gymming, dieting, reading, and non-reflexive, carefully considered snarking do not generate income enough that I might acquire the swarthy, toned, sneering twenty-something young man whose job it would be to keep me in line – or, writing lines – I shall have to discipline myself. So, here I am, going. And hoping, with daily entries (let’s be honest, I’ll likely stop tomorrow) I might keep things under 1000 words. (HA!)

Parker, Dorothy

Mrs. Parker

When it comes to culture, well, with apologies to Mrs. Parker; You can lead a horticulture, but you can’t make her think. I spend a lot of my time in ways a lot of you might consider wasting it. (In fact, I considered the syntax of the preceding sentence for ten minutes; the composition, the rhythm of the repeated “a lot of” and the echo of “way” in “wasting”.) My ambition, it turns out, has always been to achieve wastrel status, a goal of those with (credit to Mrs. Parker again) “congenital lowness of brow.”

Goal: met.

And with further apologies to Mrs. Parker, I say;


If I didn’t care for fun and such / I’d probably amount to much./ But I shall stay the way I am,/ Because I do not give a damn. (First printed in New York World, 16 August 1925)

When it comes to damns, I give quite a few, but not many for things about which those who dismiss me as wastrel think I ought. I weary of closets, the toeing of lines, subterfuge of any variety, and cultural conformity. So, while I have long cultivated the image of autodidact-literature-lover and Anglophiliac-culture-snob and with complete awareness that I would likely lose even more Twitter-followers were they to read this (but also completely aware that most of them won’t) I am fully embracing my *patholobsession with low-class, trashy, bottom-feeding, back-alley, Zeitgeistian fads and pop-culture.

I’m just that whimsical.

Thus, full disclosure: My Wednesday night was spent planted in front of a television, indulging my jones for the juicy junk pile of rubbishy dregs, dross and excess of Survivor, Empire, and American Horror Story: Hotel. Such indulgence demands the sort of snacking which requires a gym-pre-gaming, cardio-cum-lifting workout. So, I spent my late afternoon in a frenzied rotation between elliptical and chest/leg/ab machines, sweating off the chips, dip, and cupcakes I planned to gobble while trash-TV-ing. After earning a few thousand calories, I headed for the sauna.

Steam land was already occupied by three fellows, arranged in that heterosexual-macho-male distancing arrangement they do, forcing me to calculate which remaining bench real-estate would best indicate I, too, knew those dude-I-don’t-want-your-dick rules. In fact, I did want one of the dicks; a white-shorted, red-shirted young fellow who frequently locates himself on machines across from me on the exercise floor and who has, twice, followed me into the sauna and removed his white-shorts and red-shirt with seductive, strip-teasy languor, piece by piece, until he is just in a jock, half-chubbed, waiting for me to make a move.

Darling, a man of my breeding and age doesn’t make moves.

I’m a devotee of Her Grace, Duchess Goldblatt. I only respond to moves.

Anyway, I sat in the corner nearest my future ex-mistake and farthest from the forty-something gentleman wearing only a purple towel, casually draped – or, actually, un-draped – to offer semi-exposure of his nether-nasties. Under other circumstances, it would have appeared he was looking to trick-it in the sauna. It was a bit confusing.

But it became more so. Nether-Nasty and Future-Ex were talking to the third fellow, a fully shiny-sweat-suited-sneakered fellow who was shoved into another corner, not my own. Long/short (I’m on a word limit here) he turned out to be the son of a perfectly dreadful man from Libertytown who was the reason my aunt, Sissie, retired from the bank where she’d worked for decades. I knew Shiny-Sweats when he was an infant. My recently deceased sister babysat him! He still lives in Libertytown.

I NEVER talk to people in the sauna. Unless – well, that’s for another day – I never converse with people in the sauna. But, I erupted involuntarily (which, in fact, I also try never to do in the sauna) and we started sharing history, connections, in commons. Turns out he is also friends with the boy (well, he’s a man now) who was my redacted-name-of-younger-sister’s very first serious boyfriend. In fourth grade. Freakishly small world, this. That. A sauna.

It wasn’t long before Shiny-Sweats exited, closely followed by Nether-Nasty. Future-Ex stayed. I remained long enough for him to remove his shirt and stretch, a lot, and I’d have stayed for shorts removal but I had to stop for cupcakes and chips and dip on my way home for my liaison with trash-TV.

Survivor was its usual riveting self. Its appeal – for me – is that I can pretend that I am morally and intellectually superior to the contestants and would never make the stupid social and game mistakes they make; I can pretend it is merely my inability to swim or go to the bathroom out-of-doors that keeps me from winning that million dollar prize. I also like to see well-made men clad only in underwear trekking through jungles and wading in oceans, counting the numbers of times the network blurs their genital-regions and butt-cracks. Yes, I am that lonely. In particular, Jeremy Collins, Woo Hwang, and, most of all, Joe Anglim.

Survivor, Jeremy Collins

Jeremy Collins

Survivor, Woo Hwang

Woo Hwang

Survivor Joe Anglim

Joe Anglim

Truth be told, I am certain that even if I could swim, my compulsion to believe that beneath every villain is a person full of Love and Light would get me used and abused and hurt-feelinged-heart-brokened-voted off the island on Survivor just as head-spinningly fast as it has done in life. Over and over and over and over and over again.

Empire Cookie You Miss MeNext up, Empire. Taraji P. Henson. Yes. And Jussie Smollett. And Bryshere Y. Gray. And Trai Byers. I mean. Creator, Lee Daniels, said he wanted to make a show with the soapy-goodness of Dynasty. Goal: met.

And, finally, finishing out the night (and, by the way, finishing off my cupcakes, crab chips, and onion dip, too) was American Horror Story: Hotel. Say what you will about Ryan Murphy – and I am endlessly amused by the attacks to which he is subjected – his creations almost always make me think, make me angry, make me laugh, make me feel, make me wish I had thought of that. He may cross the lBomer Hotel 1ine into exploitation; he may be sometimes cheap and tabloidy and shock-for-the-sake-of-shock, and have the quality of “I’m going to piss on this because I can – nyah-nyah-nyah” but, you know what, I’d do all those things too. In fact, I’ve spent most of my decades afraid of and ashamed of my body – until just recently – but since I have found that some people enjoy and appreciate it – make moves on it even – sometimes I let my towel slip or shower curtain opBomer Hotel 2en, too. When you’ve spent a life lived in a culture where who and what you are has been closeted, disapproved of, hidden, censored, then sometimes, in reaction, you cross a line. So, keep crossing them Mr. Murphy; I’m with you. (And anyone who regularly blesses the screen with the semi-nudity and gorgeous asses of that many hot men, well, yes, I am just that shallow. And MATT BOMER!)

So, here I am, about 250 words past my promise to keep it to 1000. That’s pretty damn good for me. Now, I started this eight hours ago and missed my deadline, but, in my defense, I had some Mom-time to do – Thursday is hair day and she had to return to Boscov’s those purchase she made on Tuesday; and, too, Justin Bieber’s dick hit the internet today. One had to look. But, as I bemoaned on Twitter; “Hoping for Jonas Nick and we get Just in dick.”

October 2015I thought it was funny.

Final note; whilst Mom and name-redacted-older-sister-who-is-always-on-my-side were hair-do-ing, I was reading Meanwhile There Are Letters: The Correspondence of Eudora Welty and Ross Macdonald; and while they did the Boscov’s thing, I headed to WonderBook – which is right across the street – and picked up four of Ross Macdonald’s novels, Losing Battles by Eudora Welty, and Fortitude by Hugh Walpole. So, see? I balance out my mainlining of sleazy, shabby, seedy, shit-shows and sauna-prowls with erudite, educative reading material.

I will devote myself to it this evening. Except when Project Runway is on, because, Heidi and Nina. And, well, okay, Scandal and How To Get Away With Murder. Maybe I do have a problem. NO I DON’T.

Ta, my dears. Love and Light.

*patholobession: my latest portmanteau; a pathological obsession, a morbid and persistent compulsion, a delusional-level involvement with a thing, person, idea, thought, activity – i.e., what I have always called a hobby.

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