Typically narcissistic blogging.

Relationships

On Being Switzerland

“I’m staying neutral.”

This phrase, or some version of it, gets used all the time when adults within a community or friend circle have drama, fight, or have some sort of awful friend breakup. It needs to end.

First of all, people use it to mean any number of the following things:

  1. I have too much on my plate to think clearly about what is happening.
  2. I just don’t want to deal with it.
  3. I don’t care, figure it out.
  4. I’m a complete fucking coward who doesn’t want to do the work it would take to help all parties get the help and validation they need.

This is valid when one of your friends is not causing harm to another. Be adults. Figure your shit out and don’t track it in my home. Same with utter lack of spoons—if you can’t deal, and others can? That’s just how it goes.

neutral

However, I see this constantly when somebody has harmed or is in some way doing something really fucked up to somebody else. And when poor treatment, abuse, cruelty, resentment, shit-talking, lying, and other behaviors are involved, and people stay “neutral” I kinda want to vomit all over their shoes.

Because the thing is, you don’t have to stay neutral to remain friends with the person causing harm. It is okay to recognize that your friend is being an asshole and still be friends with them. But when you do decide that neutrality is your best option, here are some things that can happen:

For the person being wronged:

  1. They are likely not getting the level of emotional support and validation from you that they deserve, if you are calling them your friend. You might even be gaslighting them a little, making them doubt their own experience.
  2. It’s likely you aren’t actually talking to them about what’s going on, and thus any assumptions you make about what’s happening is coming second- or third-hand and is likely not terribly accurate. This can cause extra harm.
  3. They get to see you continue your friendship with the person hurting them through all of this. Although nobody has the right to tell anybody who they can be friends with, that can also be traumatic, and talking to them about it is useful.

For the person who is doing the harm:

  1. They often don’t get the real help they need because mutual friends are too busy being Switzerland to address the issues at hand and try to get through to them.
  2. Again, not talking + assumptions = bad.
  3. They get constant reassurance and validation from your continued friendship-without-challenges and you never really help them learn how fucked up they are being and therefore never help them grow. We become better humans when we can learn from our shitty behavior, not when people help us sweep it under the rug.

This has been something I have been fielding a little bit lately, but it’s also something that has come up repeatedly in stories friends have told about people allowing others to treat their friends atrociously under the guise of being “neutral”. Come the fuck on, y’all. This shouldn’t be how we operate, not as true friends to each other. It’s just another path to the missing stair (which, while specifically used to describe the issue of sexual harassment, can be broadened significantly).

PeteFallsDownVulture

To the various individuals who regularly name themselves “Switzerland”, instead of telling people you are “neutral” try thinking about what you really mean by it, deep down. And say that out loud instead. Because “neutral” is nowhere near the entirety of what you mean by it.

The fact is, being “neutral” helps nobody but yourself. And that’s cool. We have to indulge in self-care. But let’s call it what it is.


Lost Stories

For me, books are basically the best thing ever, immediately followed by pibble puppies and whiskey. I read and re-read them, I discuss them, I occasionally greet them when I walk into a room. They rescued me from a miserable childhood, helped me navigate a difficult young adulthood, and have provided me, in their own way, with the most stability I have ever experienced in my life. If somebody told me I had to choose between books and food for a week, I’d need at least a day to consider.

lost sotries 1 This wouldn’t be a difficult choice for you?

So when I say I tend to think of the new (or new again), super-exciting people in my life as books, I hope you realize that this is a rather extraordinary compliment. It’s a similar form of twitterpation for me—I can’t wait to pick a good book up again, hang out with it, learn more about it, read every story. I don’t know how many of you have seen what I am like with a book I can’t stop reading, but it’s like the briefest of beautiful romances, the sweetest of crushes (with a guaranteed bittersweet ending, of course). New friend crushes work the same way for me (well, mostly—endings are a little less clear). Most people seem to recognize it for what it is; a select few will always decide I have fallen in love with them out of the blue and they must cut ties. That is often startling for me, and then disappointing, although I do admire their egos.
 
But if people are books, and if the ones I truly want to…read…are also incredibly rare and impossibly valuable (and they are, they really really are), then when, for whatever reason, I lose one, I can’t help but mourn every story lost. Everything I could have learned about their world, their perspective, gone. Every story we might have written together, gone. If I have lost this friend to tragedy, I mourn on every level;  occasionally instead I lose friends to terrible miscommunication. Regardless, when it happens it feels like this new, amazing, one-of-a-kind book, which I can never find anywhere else again, has been torn from my hands mid-chapter—just when the action was really getting good.

lost stories2Hey look: a gif that says what I just said! Thanks, Internet!

This is heartbreaking. I hate to be that book nerd who harps on the library at Alexandria. But I’m an historian, a geek, a reader, a lover of detail and stories and information. I don’t bitch about Alexandria because there are so many other people still wailing about it for me. But as far as I am concerned it’s one of the most tragic losses in history and I occasionally mourn it as I might mourn an amazing relative I never got to meet. Oh, shit. I am that nerd. If you relate, just go ahead and scale it down to just one of those books, and you’ll be in the ballpark for what I’m trying to get across, here.

And while I could write a great deal about the potential friendship I lost yesterday, I would instead prefer take a moment to thank those new (and old) friends of mine who have so patiently accepted my genuine (and perhaps occasionally overwhelming) enthusiasm for their company, their friendship, and their stories. Y’all know who you are. Let’s hang out.

2014: A Retrospective

…of sorts.

As promised.


Year of the Whiskeypants

Normally around this time of year, I do a retrospective, but while a retrospective post (of sorts) is coming, right now I am looking forward.

I am so fucking tired of being asked why I am single. Why I don’t date more. Why I don’t have women just crawling all over me. 

I don’t know how I am supposed to have the fucking answer to that question. Is it my failing? Theirs? Did the stars not align that week? Who fucking knows? What I do know, is that I have played and lost at this game so often that I know all the rules, all the side quests (including the one with the firebreathing dragon), and how to navigate many of the annoying puzzles. 

At this point I have a fair idea of when I am being manipulated, managed, gaslighted, and when I should be waiting to be dumped by somebody who maybe thinks I haven’t noticed when they have suddenly disappeared from all forms of communication for a week even though I have had to chase them the fuck down. 

The question is not why I am single. The question is why I put up with this bullshit at all. And I do, way too often. 

Fuck. That.

So, 2015 is going to be the year that I stop. I am going to stop trying to chase down women who won’t be honest or communicative with me. I am going to stop trying to convince the people I date that I’m the one (or one of the people) for them. I am going to stop being the anchor for people who can’t fucking commit. I am going to stop putting up with the gaslighting and the radio silence. Fuck all of that. If people can’t recognize that I am worth chasing, wooing, caring for, and communicating clearly and honestly with, then I’m out. 

2015 is the year of the Whiskeypants. I’m brilliant, hilarious, kind, generous, and loving. I have a short pudgy body that is soft, warm, and extremely cuddly, and you’d be lucky to feel it next to you.

And if it turns out nobody is into that, fuck it. I have a cat, a Roku, and a sexy fucking motorcycle. I’m good.


My Heart is Broken

My heart is broken.

Black children and young Black men can be murdered by cops across the country and their families will never see justice. Black cis and trans women are murdered and get backburnered. The idea that somebody is a “thug” is enough to justify that person’s untimely death.

My heart is broken.

My friends who are parents of Black children are terrified. They live in fear for that this means for them, for their children, for their families. A friend of mine spoke of feeling helpless against the concerns of his teenaged son, who is deeply frightened  by the knowledge that he can be shot any day just for being a young Black male.

My heart is broken.

Yesterday as I walked through Oakland I looked down at the black leather gloves in my hand and wondered if they looked threatening enough to get me shot on my way to drinks and dinner with a friend.

My heart is broken. 

mike brown's father

My heart is broken.

The list of names keeps growing, like the most awful mantra, like a time bomb, ticking away one name at a time.

My heart is broken

Broken.

I can’t breathe.


Whiskeypants, on Dating

I

There’s this woman, with whom I have almost become acquainted. Almost. By that, I mean I have spoken to her, once. Sorta. I don’t actually know how drunk I was when I managed to get those words out, but the fact that enough whiskey had been consumed for me to talk to her suggests…very.

The thing is, I find her so mindbogglingly hot I cannot bring myself to talk to her. I cannot even look her in the eyes. When our eyes do by some accident meet, I feel like I’ve been knocked on my ass, and every last bit of the clever snarkiness you expect from me vanishes. Gone. Poof. So, you know. It totally makes sense that I don’t let myself within five feet of her.tumblr_inline_mzciw327KL1rup8k6

 

II

There’s this woman I’ve known for some time, now. She’s ridiculous; talented; brilliant; strange. I love looking her in the eyes; her eyes are so expressive, they practically have their own vocabulary. I am certain I can never tell her this, or how beautiful I think she is.

cat-loves-dog

III

This is why people get cats.

 


[Guest Post] #notalldrivers

Reading many of the #‎YesAllWomen posts from most of my female friends, one thing comes repeatedly to mind. It’s from a radio interview Marisa did in regard to being a female motorcyclist in the Bay Area.

During the interview a man called in with so much hatred towards motorcyclists, it was terrifying. He even went so far as to promise that any time he sees a rider in his side view mirror he tries to “put them into the guard rail” and that he hoped all motorcyclists died horrible, painful deaths.

Traffic

                               #notalldrivers

This is as close as I can come to understanding that feeling of what it’s like to be female in this society. EVERY TIME I RIDE, I think about that guy on the radio and remind myself that he—and many others like him—are behind the wheel of some of those cars I ride past every day. I will never know who those people are until it’s too late, so I always treat every driver like they’re that one guy I heard on the radio that day, vowing to kill us all.

It doesn’t matter to me at all that most drivers don’t think that way. I only care about the 1 in 100,000 who does.

The kicker to my analogy is this:
I can stop riding my motorcycle any time I want.
Women never get to stop being female. (Not that easily, anyway.)

Thanks to all of you who have been brave enough to share your experiences thus far and those that will in the future. It has been enlightening, even for those of us who are trying to be the good guys.

 

Ben Davis is a SF/Bay Area web developer and 12-year veteran motorcyclist. Ben has appeared on ABC News 20/20, The Wayne Brady Show, and in the National Enquirer—for reasons you can’t possibly imagine. 


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