Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Pointe of Contention

I am not coordinated -- not by a long shot -- which is weird because I played all kinds of sports growing up, and I was even moderately good at them (I even played field hockey in college for a year).  But try to teach me the Macarena and you'll be wondering how it is that I'm able to walk and chew gum.  When I was in high school, my friend Katie decided that she was going to start taking ballet . . . so I decided to join her.  That's what I did in high school -- I joined things.  I was a prominent member of the student government (that's right, prominent), and on the yearbook staff, field hockey, swimming, and soccer teams, SADD, and even the Spanish club for a year, I think. 

Our ballet teacher was a humorless woman named Madame Bailey (which she pronounced like Ballet--barf).  She never smiled and she took herself -- and ballet -- very seriously. Everyone in our class was an adult, so we weren't alone in our lateness to the game.  At 5'6" and 95 pounds, you'd think I would be perfect for ballet, lithe and graceful. Wrong! Despite my high arches ("Lovely feet for daaaahncing" as Mme. Bailey would say), I gallumped around the studio like an overweight rhinocerous.  But I was undeterred (one time, Katie and I even got off school early to go meet Mikhail Baryshnikov at the old Woodward & Lothrup, but that's another ridiculous story for another time).  I stuck with the classes for nearly a year.  As Katie got better, I got . . . dirty looks from Mme. Bailey.  She got promoted to "toe shoes" and I got asked to quit.  So much for nurturing a budding talent and sparing a young person their feelings. This was, sadly, not the first time I had been asked to quit something.  I had an unfortunate run-in the previous summer, when at the urging of my friend Shana, I took up tennis lessons (see, a joiner).  After whiffing one too many tennis balls, the instructor told me, "Do yourself a favor, find another hobby." It was no big deal, though I had developed thick rhinocerous skin to go along with my not-so-graceful moves.

Columbus Zoo Jul 06005
Photo by whiteshark29 via Flickr

Flash forward nearly 20 years.  I had watched Turning Pointe one too many times and grew myself a few delusions.  I don't know why I wiped the torture of having to do all those -- I don't even remember what they were called, I was so dedicated to my craft -- passes across the studio while everyone looked on (judging me, I'm sure) from my memory, but I did.  I decided that I needed exercise and that I could certainly stand to work on the strength in my legs and core and the best way to do that was through the art of the dance.  Not content to simply go to one of the myriad local studios that offer adult ballet classes (for beginners, of course -- I wasn't that delusional), I decided that The Washington Ballet would be the best place for me to go.  I called to find out if, in fact, the class was truly for beginners and they assured me that it was.  I merely needed comfortable, close-fitting clothing and ballet slippers, so I ordered myself a pair and packed my bag.  I was going to ballet after work that day!

I got to the school and was met with a gaggle of adolescent girls (ah, just like me and my friend Katie all those years ago . . .) in tutus and makeup.  I could here the lilting notes of the piano and the sound of dancers en pointe.  My heart lept! Maybe that would be me in a few short months.  After all, it looked so easy!  (See, I told you, delusions.)  Instead of opting for the $15 one-off class, I opted to purchase a 10-class package, because I was going to do this at least once a week!  Then I got into the studio where we were to wait for the class to start.  About 25 other adults, mostly women, in full-on ballet gear (we're talking leotards, tights, buns, and those flowy little skirt thingees--even a few legwarmers) were stretching on the floor and at the barre.  I looked like a complete bonehead in my yoga pants and tank top.  But I didn't care.  I had "lovely feet for daaaahncing," and I was going to do this!  Plus, I totally wanted to spin around in a tutu. 

The instructor came in and greeted everyone in the class by name. Everyone but me.  Clearly I had found my way into a class of not-so-beginning beginners.  "Let's pick up where we left off last week, with blah, blah, blah something French," the instructor said. And with that we all spread out across the studio floor to get our ballet on.  I stood as close to the back as I could, trying to blend in as we went through the five positions (hey! I remembered something!).  Then it was time for barre work, which was great.  I found my space at the barre and we went through more of the motions.  The woman standing next to me even told me that I had great turn-out (she was wearing a near-tutu, so I was pretty sure she was an expert).  About 20 minutes later, it was time for the hell I had forgotten. The part of the class where everyone runs across the room doing various ballet things (that's the technical French term for it, I'm sure) while everyone else watches. 

I hung back and watched the others do their graceful moves, studying their feet so I'd be ready to join in eventually.  Then there was nobody left in my corner of the room and the teacher finally noticed me.  "Are you new?  I'm so sorry!  I didn't know we had a new student today!  What's your name?" Grrrreat . . . now the whole class of beautifully appointed dancers was starting at me.  I wanted to hang  myself from the barre.  After I told my name, the instructor insisted that he and I do the moves across the room together. While everyone watched.  I'm pretty sure the shade of red that I turned doesn't actually occur in nature.  And I was so bad, he made me do it three more times back and forth, back and forth, while everyone else stood there, probably wishing I had hung myself from the barre.  This kind of awful dancing was cute when you are three, but in your 30s, it's just tragic.  The instructor was patient and easygoing, but the pressure was too much for me.  I didn't care how much I wanted a tutu, I wasn't going through this kind of humiliation every week. 

I boarded the bus to head home, feeling sorry for myself.  Then I realized that maybe I'm not good at ballet, but I am good at a lot of other things.  I'm good at writing, and cooking, and being willing to try new things.  And that's what it was really all about, wasn't it -- being willing to step outside of my comfort zone?  I mean, I had auditioned for a play at the Kennedy Center, eaten bear meat, wandered around London and Prague by myself, and a whole lot of other fun and different things.  And even though I wasn't good at it, I had danced ballet.  So the next time I get an urge to do something a little different, I'll do it, because what do I have to lose?  And the next time I decide I want a tutu, I'll just go ahead and buy one.  I can totally wear that around the house. 

Ballerina Ada
Photo by paessels via Flickr

Friday, January 21, 2011

Bittersweet Stink-phony

Today my bus smelled like feet.  This is not unusual -- my bus often smells like feet.  In fact, I'd hazard a guess that feet is the most popular--albeit not the most offensive--aroma on the bus.  Granted, I haven't conducted a scientific study, but based on personal olfactory experiences, I've reached this conclusion.  There's a smorgasbord of other odors that frequently present themselves on transit.  Please, allow me to elaborate--there are a few distinct categories of stink (in ascending order--least to most offensive): food; mechanical; excretions; body; and miscellaneous.

Food Stink -- Everyone knows that food and beverage aren't allowed on Metrobus or Metrorail, but the threat of arrest doesn't stop some people. There are a couple of subsets of this variety.  First, is the "delicious" food.  Its perfume taunts you and teases you (pizza, burgers--or my personal favorite--fried chicken) as you slog home from work, starving, but going home to leftover boiled chicken.  You start to drool as you silently curse the person with the offending carry out container--but you realize you should sit back and enjoy it, as it may be the one and only time the Metro has ever smelled good.  The second subset is the "offensive" food.  This smell has often been confused with one of the other categories, but can almost always be traced back to food.  Perhaps it's the nearly foot-like vinegary smell of some sort of pickled vegetable that's been sitting under your seat for too long, or the slightly barfy scent of old lunch meat from a sandwich that's been their since Metro began operating in the 70s, or the punjent, almost fruity stench of a nondescript slime that's been oozing on the already-gross Metro carpet and eking it's way down the aisle (see also Miscellaneous Stink). 

Mechanical Stink -- Have you ever smelled that slightly dead-body-ish stink?  You know, it's sort of like decay, along with lightly singed rubber, with a dribble of burnt hair thrown in for good measure?  Yeah, that's what happens when the railcars get new brakes and then the operator stops on a dime in the station.  It's super awesome -- and it lingers.  It lingers so badly that it's all you can do not to stick your head inside the neck of your shirt and sniff your own cologne just to rid yourself of the funk of 40,000 years (or maybe you do). 

Excretion Stink -- Sweat, urine, feces, vomit . . . you get the idea.  I have smelled each of these (and sometimes two or more) during my many years of travel on the Metro and bus.  In fact, this brings to mind one time when I was a kid and my family and I went down to the museums one weekend.  On our return Metro voyage, there was a baby that I can only describe as having exploded.  His dirty diaper smelled so bad that my family and I gagged and closed our eyes as they burned from the stink.  When we could finally take it no more, we all got up and ran to the next car faster than you can say "baby poop."  Of course, at that point we were met with the smell of grape gum (see also, Food Stink) that smelled shockingly similar to dirty diaper.  Go figure.  Another time there was a sick kid who literally barfed the most stinky fruit-cocktail-cheese-and-ground-beef upchuck you've ever smelled (see also, Food Stink) right in the middle of the aisle near the door.  After one heroic leap over the puke, I changed cars.  Interestingly enough, though, this was back in the days before the infamous "Sick Passenger," so the train just continued on its merry way.  The passengers, on the other hand, not so merry.

Body Stink -- While this category could easily be a subset of excrement, but I think it deserves a category all its own.  Body stink encapsulates myriad odors emanating from the human body, the worst of which, I think is a little something we in the business like to call "Death Breath."  It might occur in the morning before the offending passenger has brushed his teeth (but interestingly, still had time to have his coffee and morning cigarette), or it could confront you in the evening after the culprit has had a head of garlic and an old shoe for lunch.  The aforementioned feet also belong in this category.  Body odor -- the kind that would make Jerry Seinfeld sell his car -- frequently makes an appearance on the bus.  It usually happens when there's that one last seat . . . the seat that nobody's sitting in and you don't know why.  Then you sit down and immediately you are slapped in the face by what can only be described as "air needles."  This flavor is so malodorous it causes your eyes to cross, but your commitment to social norms (and also possibly to not being pointed at and derrided by your fellow bus riders who knew exactly why the seat was vacant) is so strong that you remain in your seat, looking out of the corner of your eye at the guilty party and smiling awkwardly. 

Miscellaneous -- Perhaps there's that smell hanging in the air that you can't quite identify.  It's hard to tell if it's coming from another person, something stuck under the seat, or a lingering something that just can't escape the poor ventilation.  Several times a month, I get a smack of old lady . . . you know it's a misting of Jean Nate mixed with mothballs and that strange musk of 80-year-old skin.  Not to be confused with the oily je ne sais quoi of an unwashed old man.  Some days there's the cloyingly sweet smell of too much J.Lo. "Glow" hovering in the car -- it gives you a headache and reminds you of a stripper you once met in New Orleans.  You might run into the old ashtray smell of a four-pack-a-day smoker that causes you to feel like you might get emphysema from the secondhand smoke emanating from the fabric of the once-white-but-now-greyish overcoat. 

Each of these, in their own unique way, makes you grateful to see that your stop is the next one and that you're mere steps away from fresh air.  Perhaps I've missed something obvious?  Please, tell me . . . because I don't want to be unprepared the next time I get on board. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Yes, and . . .

Sometimes I can be a little . . . pessimistic.  I'm not generally a sourpuss, but I can certainly see the glass half empty from time to time.  I like to call it realism, but I get that sometimes my "realism" isn't appreciated.  I'm not sure what got me me thinking about this, but I'd like to try to turn over a new leaf.  This reminded me of an improv concept (yes, I have improv training) called "Yes, and . . ."  The idea is that when doing a scene, rather than shutting down your fellow improv-er, you want to agree and add to what's being said.  So, for instance, if your scene partner says, "Oh my gosh, my grass hut is on fire!" your response might be something like, "Yes, and so is your grass skirt!" thus building the tension and the heightening the action.  I've been toying with adding this technique to my daily life.  Let's think about it, shall we . . .

"Yes, and . . ." At Work: think of all those times when you want to say something just to shut down an awkward work situation.  But what if you go totally opposite--agree and heighten!  Your boss says, "I'm sorry, you'll have to work late tonight to finish this report." What you really want to say is, "I'm sorry, I have to go to the proctologist tonight, so I won't be able to get that done."  But instead you reply, "Yes, and while I'm at it, why don't I paint your office--what about a nice rosy taupe?"  Imagine the surprise on your boss' face.  You just might be employee of the week and secure that pay raise you've been waiting for.  Or what about if your work nemesis were to say, "WashingTina was the one who heated up fish in the microwave," the reply might be, "Yes, and that's my three-week-old meatloaf in the fridge growing fur!"  You'll be the most popular person in the office in no time!

"Yes, and . . ." At Home:  If your husband/boyfriend/paramour asks, "Do you want to order Chinese for dinner?" and you employ the improv strategy, "Yes, and I'd also like a backrub and foot massage" things could really work out in your favor.  Suppose your mother calls wanting to discuss family politics, "Uncle Waldo left Aunt Sue, can you believe that?" You might want to say to her, "Duh! Everyone knows she's a nasty shrew," but rather than insult your mother's sister, you say, "Yes, and he took all of her high heels with him!" you win friends and influence people (not to mention start a nasty little family rumor that will go down in history and be the toast of Thanksgivings yet to come).

"Yes, and . . ." At Parties: Just think about all those awkward dinner parties and other situations where you get stuck talking to the biggest wet blanket because your sadistic friend stuck you sitting next to him because you're the fun one who can talk to anyone (can you tell this has happened to me before?).  How much more fun would it be if you stirred things up a little? When the wet blanket says, "So I was working on some projections for tax season, when I realized I forgot to include the 1099-G and ruined my day. Do you have any idea what that's like?" you could say, "Yes, and I also know what it's like to ride through the desert on a horse with no name. Do you like horseback riding?"  Or when some drunk weirdo tries to sidle up to you at a cocktail party, "Hey there, shweetie, wanna do a shot?" you might come back with, "Yes, and let's ask your wife to join us!"  The possibilities are endless.

"Yes and . . ." In Public:  Maybe you're waiting in the "15-Items-or-Less" line at the grocery store and someone in front of you has 37 items and is paying with a check.  As you sigh huffily, the person says, "Is there some sort of problem?" You might normally say, "Oh no, go ahead, no problem," but if you go improv, instead you might say, "Yes, and everyone else in this line agrees with me, asshole," you just might start a revolution.  That person will think twice about breeching social norms, that's for sure.  Perhaps you're riding the bus and someone offers you a seat.  Normally you'd decline just to be polite.  Not this time.  "Would you like this seat?" to which you respond, "Yes, and I'd also like you to do a better job of bathing."  Just imagine the cheers of your fellow bus riders!  Suddenly, you've got the world on a string (and a seat on the bus!).

I guarantee, if you start using the "Yes, and . . ." strategy in your daily life, things will be much more interesting.  I mean really, that kind of honesty is simply hard to argue with.  Crowds will part as you approach, seats will open for you on Metro, the "15-Items-or-Less" line will always be just that, you won't get stuck working late or cleaning the office fridge--it will be a thing of beauty!  Life will go your way.  Really, isn't that much easier than being a pessimist?  Yes, and it's also a good way to keep people guessing. Trust me on this one.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A Blogiversary

One year.  It's hard for me to believe that one year ago today, after a particularly ridiculous bus ride, I started this grand endeavor.  I thought about doing this for a very long time, and sitting here today, I'm not sure why I waited so long to start.  But I did, so let's not dwell on that.  Instead, let's think for a moment about what's transpired here in the last year.  I've bared my soul (or my ass, as it were) and shared my husband with you.  You've gotten to know my vivid imagination and my quirks. Together we've survived a blizzard, putting my house on the market, and the Metro.  It's been quite a ride.  And maybe it didn't change the world, but it did change my world.

Thank you (p.m.)
Photo by Marcin Wichary via Flickr
And let's face it, anniversaries are pretty important.  They mark the passage of time, and often an accomplishment of some sort.  Of course, I can't hear the word anniversary without being reminded of one time when I was in the fifth grade.  A friend of mine and I were left to our own devices one afternoon at her house and we decided to make prank phone calls (it was either that or practice kissing on the back of our hands, and how long can you really do that for anyway?).  We'd look up in the phonebook (yes, it was that long ago--it was also way before caller ID) the funniest names we could find and then call the person.  And then we'd sing . . . "Happy Anniversary, Happy Anniversary, Happy Anniversary, HAAAAP-PY Anni-ver-sary! Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy Anniversary. . ." and end by saying, "Happy Anniversary, Tony and Barb!"  There was no Tony and Barb.  Not that it mattered.  The caller on the line always got a kick out of the song.  Nobody ever hung up on us.  Most of them thanked us.  A few even apologized for not being Tony or Barb.  Maybe it's because we were a couple of dumb kids singing into the phone for no good reason, or maybe it was because anniversaries really are special. 

So I'm going to spend this anniversary, this bloggiversary, doing the opposite of what I usually do -- instead of going on for a few more paragraphs, I want to hear from you.  What stories were your favorites?  What do you want to see from WashingTina in the coming year?  How can I make this blog even better?  Tell me . . . because I can't wait to see what happens next!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Chosen One

A friend of mine is looking for a job.  In fact, she's applied for a job and has decided that this job is THE ONE.  She sent me an email earlier today lamenting the fact that they haven't called yet.  I know exactly how she feels, and I suspect, so do you.  You see, looking for a job is a lot like dating.  In fact, I'd dare say it's almost exactly the same thing.  Let's review the similarities, shall we?

  1. The Resume -- During the job search, you submit a written resume with a brief professional history.  Dating is the same, especially if you're doing it online.  You outline your strengths and try to present yourself in the best possible light. When you meet someone for the first time, you give them an overview (who wants to let all the demons out of the closet right away?).  But it's fairly superficial.  Someone is going to judge you for your typos (or your metaphorical typos, like if you say "supposably" or "anyways"). 
  2. Waiting For the Call -- After you've found a desirable choice (job or mate) and you've given your resume, then comes the waiting.  This is when you start wondering . . . maybe I'm not good enough; maybe I said too much; maybe my phone isn't working.  So you check your phone, making sure the ringer is turned on.  And you wait some more.
  3. The Call (and What Follows) -- The day finally comes when your phone actually does ring.  Your palms start to sweat.  Should you pick up or let them leave a message?  You decide to answer, but not on the first ring.  "Hello . . ." you say, not too eager, not too breathy (you hope).  The conversation is short.  You're merely setting up that first appointment.  Maybe one fake laugh, a question or two, directions to where you will meet.  It's over before you know it. Then you really start to sweat . . . what did you say? Did you go on too long?  Was the laugh too fake?  And what on earth are you going to wear?  You spend the time in between the phone call and the upcoming meeting analyzing your wardrobe. What's the best way to make a good impression . . . you don't want to dress up or appear too fussy, but at the same time, you don't want to be a slob.  Is the red suit too much?  Maybe the blue blouse?  Are the heels too high?  It's just too much pressure!  After you've settled on something to wear, you may as well plot your route.  You talk to friends, you look online.  Metro, driving, taxi, walking.  You run through it over and over in your head, but you'll make a snap decision at the last minute based on traffic and weather conditions (it's really the only reasonable way to go). 
  4. The Interview/Date -- This could go one of two ways: awkward and confusing, with stilted conversation; or like a reunion with your long lost someone.  The former is a sign that it's not worth trying and you should relax and enjoy it.  The only trouble with this philosophy is that the more you try to relax, the worse things end up going.  A simple question like "Where are you from?" sends you into fits.  "Uh, well, I was born in Columbus, but I grew up in Denver, but my dad was in the military so we moved around a lot . . . what was the question?"  From there, you know it's going straight downhill.  The second option is much more favorable.  You spend your time together happily chatting away, and even though it's a fact-finding mission for you both, it feels more like easy conversation.  That same simple question, "Where are you from?" becomes the springboard for all other things.  "I was born in Columbus (go Bucks!), spent my early years in Denver, but since my dad was in the military, we really lived all over the place.  Have you ever been to Germany?"
  5. Waiting (Again) -- If the meeting went well, you wait.  Should you call?  Send an email?  Follow up and express interest?  And if you decide to do one of those, how long should you wait?  It's not good to seem over-eager, but nor do you want to seem disinterested and wait too long.  Whatever you do, though, there's more waiting.  The overanalysis continues: will I be chosen; am I right for this; will they think I'm right for this; did I talk to much; not enough; maybe my shoes were too much . . . and on and on.  This is the point where you start to become slightly unhinged.  Every time the phone rings, you think, "This could be it!" and when it isn't, you feel the need to either a) eat, b) cry, or c) eat while you cry.  Every time you check your email and see that you have a new message, the sweating starts again.  When you realize it's just an ad for Frrree_meddss_frommm_Cannadiaan_pharrmaaacy!!!, you die a little inside.  More analysis . . . the shoes were definitely too much; I talked about my college internship for too long; they really didn't like my writing samples after all.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  And then you wait some more.  It might be a day, it might be a week, or in some rare instances, it takes a month or more. 
  6. The Commitment -- Perhaps scenarios 3, 4, and 5 will repeat themselves several times, but eventually a decision must be made and you are chosen.  It's an unbelievable feeling!  It's validation.  You are worth commiting to!  You are about to enter into a permanent relationship (of sorts).  Maybe a little more self-doubt (am I really making the best decision?), but at least you have made a decision.  Now that you have been chosen, now that the call has come in, you can call the shots (or at least some of them).  And that feels good!
I didn't tell my friend this, but I think she already knows.  Besides, you can't really talk sense to someone who is deep in the throes of job search madness (or dating madness, for that matter).  The best you can do is sit back, relax and revel in the fact that you're not currently looking for a job and think to yourself, the next time, I won't let that happen to me.  I'll learn from my friend's experience.  Cooler heads will prevail.  But maybe I better update my resume anyway. 

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Champagne Wishes and Caviar Dreams

The Mega Millions jackpot is $355 million.  I'm pretty sure I'm going to win.  Wonderful Husband and I have periodically played the lottery for years.  Not often, not regularly, but off and on. Whenever we buy a ticket, we start planning what to do with the spoils of our victory. These plans have changed little over the years, and always include travel and property. It would do you good to make friends with us now, because once we have all that cash, we might find your motives dubious. 

here's hoping
Image courtesy of Robert S. Donovan via Flickr
You always hear about these poor fools who win the lottery and then two years hence are penniless and working resetting the pins in a local bowling alley.  In fact, this "curse" is so real that E! did a True Hollywood Story on it (twice! so you know it's newsworthy).  What I can never figure out is how someone goes from being a multi-millionaire to broke (this also often happens to professional athletes, but that's for another day) in the blink of an eye.  And the toll it takes on marriages? I don't get it.  From what I understand, the trouble most marriages have is money . . . which I always took to mean debt, not having too much money. 

When we win the lottery tonight, we're going to go to the Carribean (or some other tropical locale) on a private jet with our nearest and dearest for a month.  It's going to be awesome. Upon our return, we'll buy ourselves a nice (but modest) place in the city for us to lay our heads and to hold our stuff while we travel. Then we're going to start some sort of foundation (or become beneficiaries via endowment to some deserving organization--know of any?) because what good is all that money if you can't do some good with it?  I'd really like to be appointed to the board of the foundation so that I'd have something to occupy my days (because, yes, I will be quitting my job once we win -- I'm going to hold off on giving my notice till tomorrow, though, as I really would like to make sure it's a done deal).  You see, we won't be idle rich. We're going to give back.  We'll be generous to our friends and family.  We're going to spend wisely and invest even more wisely.  We will not be working resetting the pins in the bowling alley two years hence. 

Sure, there's a lot of criticism about lotteries (and gambling and the like), but it's easy to criticize when you haven't won $355 million.  Sounds like a case of sour grapes to me.  But let's just say, for argument's sake, that WH and I don't win the lottery tonight.  What have we lost?  Three dollars.  That's the price of a Lean Cuisine (when they're on sale).  But what did we gain?  An evening of fantasy where we can plan what we might do with our winnings.  Idle conversation about fun stuff we might someday be able to afford to do.  Ideas about the happiness of those closest to us when we invite them on lavish vacations and buy them expensive gifts.  I don't know, but that's pretty priceless to me.  And sure, maybe it'll be gone tomorrow . . . but maybe, just maybe, it won't be.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Boob Tube

I have a love-hate relationship with television.  I watch more TV than is really necessary (is any of it actually necessary?), and, yet, at the same time, I constantly feel like my intelligence is being insulted.  Just when you think we can't stoop any further, television takes us to a new low . . . and I'm there every step of the way.  I've mentioned several times my confusion with the content of commercials (see here, here, and here), but this goes beyond that.  This goes to the full-length programs that network executives continue to greenlight.  I do have my standards, of course (no Jersey Shore for me, I swear), but they're quite Lilliputian (I had to throw that word in so at least you wouldn't forget that I'm well-read.  Trust me, after this, your respect for me will wane). 

The people in TV land, I think, are constantly trying to figure out just how low they can set the bar and then continue to limbo beneath it.  There are the histrionics of Jeff Lewis on "Flipping Out."  Have you seen this one?  He's a "house flipper" who does these projects to improve homes and then sells them.  He has a long-suffering staff who must put up with his obsessive-compulsion.  Entertaining, sure. Tragic, absolutely.  And his business is booming . . . he even has his own line of home products on QVC (you know you've arrived when you are hocking stuff on QVC).  But it's not just reality television.  Take for instance "Minute to Win It," hosted by perpetual douchebag and sometimes tv cook, Guy Fieri.  I have not actually watched this show, though from what I can tell, it consists of people doing bar tricks on TV in an attempt to win money.  And it's on for an hour during prime time.  There's also "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader," which pits "ordinary adults" against eleven-year-olds.  For goodness sake, even the host isn't smarter than a fifth grader. If ever there was an argument that the U.S. education system is doing better now than it did years ago, it's this show.  Someone get Arne Duncan on the phone . . .

Besides the game shows, there is the misogynism of "Two and a Half Men" -- which boasts the highest paid actor on television, Charlie Sheen (an habitual frequenter of rehab and prostitutes) -- where two single brothers live together with the one brother's young son.  The women on the show are set dressings, playing one of three parts: the shrew, the bimbo, or the mother (and to tell the truth, the several mother figures on the show may as well be shrews, too). 

What sparked this train of thought was tonight's premiere of The Bachelor.  For the uninitiated, this is a show where some allegedly desirable single gentleman (and I use that word loosely) lives in a suspended reality with 20-some-odd women to choose from.  The women, hell bent on destroying the feminism that our foremothers spent many years trying to achieve, fall all over The Bachelor in bikinis, in a hot air ballon, during safari, rapelling off the side of a volcano, on a jet ski, etc.  And I must watch it.  Every week.  For two hours.

Sure, there's some good stuff on television, but I'm going to have to talk about that another time, because it's time for The Bachelor to start.