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Posts from the ‘guys’ Category

the puffy shirt

When I first started dating Tom, I immediately began trying to expand his fashion horizons, but I shot out too fast from the gate. My first gift was an oxford shirt. It was a normal oxford shirt, in blue cotton, unremarkable in all aspects except that it had a ruffly tuxedo panel on the front. It sounds bad but take my word for it that it was cool—a casual tuxedo shirt, meant to be worn with sleeves rolled up and khakis or whatever guys were wearing on their legs back in 1999.

Our relationship was nascent, and Tom was eager to please. So he feigned awe/delight at the shirt, and then shoved it deep into the back of his closet where it rested against his pile of bootleg Phish cassette tapes.

I think what really stuck in my craw about the tuxedo shirt is that I could have returned it. I have written before about my talent—nay, GIFT—for returning things. I would have returned the tuxedo shirt, albeit pissily. But he said he’d wear it, and never did. Eventually, the shirt became more than a shirt. It became a sign of my generous willingness to help guide Tom’s fashion choices, and his ungrateful rejection of my benevolence. To this day, any time I try to get Tom to try wearing anything different, he drags out the dead carcass that is the Memory of the Tuxedo Shirt. “Yoona, I can’t wear this! It’s like that tuxedo shirt.” Or, “Yoona, remember the tuxedo shirt. I never wore the tuxedo shirt. And I’m sure as hell not wearing THIS.”

You’d think I was trying to convince him to wear, like, a cape. Or ass chaps. But it’s usually something completely innocuous, like a t-shirt in a smaller size, a size that fits. I just want him to try something outside of his normal casual wardrobe, which is either jeans and button down, or shorts and a too-large v-neck t-shirt. He always looks good. But he could look GREAT if he’d just push the envelope a bit.

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linds. and tom, in standard tom dress

Last week I saw a blue and white striped boatneck shirt at H&M. You know, the type sailors wear. I’d been trying to get Tom to try one, for years. The last time, we’d been at American Apparel and I knew it was pointless to even ask, because it was hanging between some men’s v-necks cut to the navel and a rack of neon banana hammocks.

But this time, I felt like I had a shot. After an initial struggle, Tom had recently worn a t-shirt with a wide scoopneck that showed off a mantastic amount of chest hair. With that victory in my mind’s eye, I paid for the sailor top and drove home, considering my approach. I couldn’t make a huge production of it. Best to go lo-fi. Under the radar. To present the shirt as if he had twelve other striped boatnecks sitting in his closet.

“Hey babe,” I said, passing him in the doorway. “Oh,” I said, tossing him the yellow bag. “I picked this up for you today.” And then I went to the kitchen to start making dinner. But he followed me, agitated. He held the shirt away from his body as if it was a lace thong. “What’s this? I can’t wear this. It’s a girl shirt.” I began talking, fast. “Tom. It’s not a girl’s shirt. It’s a sailor shirt. Male sailors have worn them for years!!” Tom looked unconvinced, but confused. Confusion is always the first sign that Tom’s resistance is weakening. So I went for the jugular. “I mean, Tom, do you want to look like everyone else?”

Tom, like most men, has a streak of vanity, and I could tell by the set of his jaw that by God, Tom didn’t want to look like everyone else. When victory is imminent, you have to just leave it alone. Press too hard, and they can turn on you, like some feral animal. I walked out of the kitchen and went to water the plants at the front of the house.

Next thing I knew, Tom was on the front lawn, looking mouth-wateringly good in his striped sailor top. He looked like a Kennedy. A hot Kennedy, not a puffy one. Even better, he had a sheepish, tentative smile, as if he was getting comfortable with the notion of looking that fine.

And then my damn six-year old ruined everything. Finn ran over from a lawn two neighbors down as if his hair was on fire. He screeched to a halt right under Tom’s chin. “DADDY.” Finn’s expression was alarmed. “Why are you wearing Mommy’s shirt??”

Tom swore under his breath and turned back for the house, already pulling the shirt off his torso. I resisted the urge to kick my own son in the shins and ran after Tom. “TOM!! Don’t listen to him!! He’s SIX for godsake. Look how HE dresses!!” I heard Tom run up the stairs, likely in search of one of his boring too-big t-shirts. And then I heard another voice, hammering the nail into the coffin. My three-year old, Tate, stopping as he passed Daddy on his way down the stairs. “Daddy! Why you wear Mommy’s shirt?”

Tom stormed the rest of the way up to our closet. When Tate got to the bottom of the stairs clutching his Pokemon binder, I observed that his penis was dangling out the bottom of his Gangnam Style t-shirt. I couldn’t believe Tom was listening to this pantless freak, instead of me.

I eventually got Tom to wear the sailor shirt out of the house, but I had to use some serious emotional blackmail. In all, the process was very exhausting, for a shirt that cost $24.95. He says that he’s never wearing the shirt again, now that I’ve written about it here. He wouldn’t wear his calculator watch for months after I wrote about it. But time heals all.

And he WILL wear the shirt again. You can help by not commenting on this blog post if he does.

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clothes in my house that refuse to die

1. Finn’s Detroit Lions t-shirt

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I have a small to medium-sized phobia of black cotton t-shirts. Even the best black cotton shirts are bound to fade, and once your black t-shirt fades, you might as well cut the sleeves off that bitch and pull on some jorts. Needless to say, Finn loves this shirt. He likes to pair it with his too-short sweatpants and a pair of striped knee socks from H&M, and the whole ensemble cuts me like a knife, every time. If this shirt had cost money, I would have burned it long ago. But unfortunately, it was free, as Tom likes to remind me. It came with Finn’s Sports Illustrated Kids subscription, and Tom carefully checked the box for the Detroit Lions, and the rest is history.

I’ve actually tried to throw this shirt away. Finn found it in his trash can and lovingly folded it back into his drawer.

2. Tate’s Gangnam Style t-shirt

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I’ll take any opportunity to inject a little Korean flavor into my kids’ lives, which basically means that we eat a lot of Korean bbq and that I get mad when my kids ask to take Karate lessons and say they want to be goddamn ninjas. Gangnam Style is Finn’s favorite song and has been for a good six months. Finn learned the Korean word “yuh-ja” from that song, which means “woman.” He has taken to greeting me with “What up, yuh-ja,” which is technically not incorrect, as I am a woman, but sounds very rude. Whatever. Even I have to admit that the song is catchy.

But there is a big difference between the song and this shirt, which, let’s be frank, is racist. I can’t even really point to what’s racist about it, but it feels racist. Does Psy look that pig-like in real life?? I can’t be sure. I understand that Koreans designed and manufactured this shirt, because it was procured in Seoul, which makes it worse. Also, my mom bought it, which confuses me further. I mean, she’s more Korean than I am. Am I not getting the joke? I want to get the joke.

3. This shirt

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Tom and I turned on the TV the other day and caught ten minutes of the Walking Dead. I know everyone loves that show but if you’ve never watched it before and then you watch ten minutes of it, you might be forgiven for having the reaction that Tom and I did, which was to look at each other and laugh hysterically. I only mention that show because this t-shirt looks like something a zombie would wear. But it’s not. It’s actually something that my husband wears.

Whenever I complain about it, he leers at me, lifts up his arm, and asks if I find the direct access to his armpit sexy. He doesn’t use those words, but that’s the gist. I like his armpit, as much as I like the rest of him, but I don’t want direct access to his armpit. I just don’t.

4. Tate’s AC Milan shorts

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These shorts are fresh out of the wash. I have no idea what those stains are, but they aren’t coming out. I’ve tried. These look like they were worn by a guy manning the deep fryer at KFC. But when would my three-year old have been around a deep fryer?

Every morning, Tate wakes up and wants to put on a “soccer shirt” and these “sport shorts.” Tate’s actual interest in soccer or sports is arguably less extant than even mine, but his brother wears sports clothes, and he wants to be like his brother in a very bad way. Speaking of brothers, these were part of a complete kit bought for Tate by my brother Mike, a huge AC Milan fan. And I guess that’s why I can’t bear to throw them away.

5. Go Blue

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There’s a whole lot of maize and blue in my house. I don’t buy it, but still, it arrives, via Tom and his relatives.

Here’s the thing about the color maize. No one looks good in it. Especially not Asians (me, my kids) and extremely fair people (Tom). Sometimes the designers like to keep things fresh by replacing the maize with a lighter shade of yellow that you might call “cornflower” but which I call “pancake batter.” No one looks good in that either.

Anyway, we get a fresh influx of Michigan clothes anytime Michigan wins something or, in this case, gets close to winning something. Michigan made it to the NCAA finals this year, and it was a great run. I would never destroy this shirt even though it is intensely ugly. Because I love Michigan. And because it would only replicate itself if I tried to destroy it.

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**Tom said I could only use the photos of his t-shirts if I also provided this link. Enjoy.

6. Tom’s pick

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Tom got annoyed when he saw me taking pictures of his ugly clothes. So I told him to pick the thing he hated most from my wardrobe. So here it is. This offensive J.Crew cardigan, which I’ve had for eight years. Tom says it’s “Talbotty.” Meow.

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bike racks and other marital traps

There are things in life that I try to avoid because of how much tension they cause between me and Tom. For instance, H&M t-shirts. Tom insists on hang-drying his so they don’t shrink, but sometimes I forget and put them in the dryer along with every other piece of clothing I wash, and then he gets really mad. I’m sorry that I ruined your shirt, Tom. Luckily, it cost $4.99 and there are another 3,000 of them at the Lloyd Center H&M.

Or how about grilling, at parties. I don’t enjoy throwing parties at which meats must be grilled, because Tom gets really tense if anyone even approaches the grill while he’s at work. When that happens, he gets a weird performance anxiety, and then we usually end up with under/overcooked meats. Our grill (a “Charbroiler”) is a true POS so it’s not really Tom’s fault—one side of the grill has never worked, and the starter is broken so you have to light the whole thing by turning on the gas and throwing a flaming paper towel into it from a safe distance and hoping for the best, and it’s just…not a good scene.

But listen, I have a vested interest in the outcome of the grilling. I’ve planned the menu and cooked the sides, and I’ve procured and marinated the very expensive cut of meat. So I can never help reminding Tom not to overcook the meat, which sounds to my ears like a friendly “Tom please don’t overcook the meat” but apparently sounds to Tom’s ears like a mocking “Tom, your penis is so very tiny.” Now that I think of it, it’s not just Tom. Most men I know are extraordinarily sensitive about grilling. My friend Ethan has an outdoor turkey fryer and when we do Practice Thanksgiving we all just watch him from inside the house, nursing our beers, because he’s super sensitive about being second-guessed on his frying time.

Grilling, however, is nothing compared to the marital stress bomb that is our bike rack. If you’ve read this blog for a while, you have witnessed my evolution from bike-hater to bike-rider. While we’ve had our bike rack for a while, this is the first year that all four of us have bikes. In advance of our first summer trip to Central Oregon, I took our bike rack, which has a 1.25″ fitter, to get it fitted to our new 2″ hitch. “Are you sure that’s going to stay on?,” I asked, as the employee affixed the rack to the hitch with a single, puny screw. He had his face turned toward the car so I can’t be sure, but I’m pretty sure I heard him roll his eyes. “Yep,” he said, grabbing the rack and pressing down on it for good measure. It seemed steady, but then again, he was a small guy. “Ok. But I have four bikes,” I said, nervously, leaving out the fact that Tate’s bike didn’t have pedals and weighed about 4 pounds. “Well, good thing about this here rack is that it’s made for four bikes,” he said. I narrowed my eyes, sensing sarcasm. “Anyway, it can hold up to 200 pounds,” he said. I perked up. 200 pounds! That was a lot. And this guy knew bike racks. He worked at a bike rack store, after all. I left feeling reasonably assured.

But then Tom loaded the bikes on the rack. And while I trust my husband, I didn’t feel good about how the whole rig looked. Worse, I had no experience with bike racks, so I didn’t know if all loaded bike racks looked so terrifying. But wait a second, this is why Facebook was invented, right? I snapped the photo below and posted it to my wall, asking whether the rack looked normal. I sat back, and awaited the reassuring commentary.
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The first comment came in, from my friend Tim. “NO WAY THAT’S STAYING ON.” Well. Alarming, certainly. But if I had to name one person I knew who seemed less outdoorsy than me, I would have chosen Tim, maybe after my Mom. It’s not like I’d ever seen a bike rack on his Boxer. So I ignored Tim and waited for other comments. More comments came in. Becky asked if that was a basket on one of the bikes. What did that matter?? Patrick commented that his bike rack had once fallen off on I-405. By this time we were on I-405, and I could see the bikes bouncing up and down through my rearview mirror. I looked on FB again. Ethan had commented. “DUDE.”

Fuck. Ethan is pretty outdoorsy, and grew up in Denver. More importantly, Ethan spends a lot of his free time on the Internet and has a lot of useless knowledge about random things. So I dialed Ethan from the car’s Bluetooth. “Does it really look bad?,” I asked. Tom sat next to me, fuming. The boys sat behind us, sensing drama. As for Ethan, he had no idea that he was on speaker, or that Tom could hear the conversation. “Well, I mean, why are the bikes sitting so far away from the car?,” Ethan asked. What did he mean? I hadn’t even thought about THAT. I had only worried that the bikes would fall off. Now I pictured them tipping my car over. I started to ask Ethan follow-up questions but then noticed Tom’s arm, gripping the console in rage. “Ha ha, it’s all good, Ethan,” I said. “I mean…” Ethan continued. Then I hung up on him.

“I’m sure it’s fine,” I muttered to myself. And it was fine. The bikes bounced a lot but made it all the way to Sisters. And back. And hopefully they will make it all the way to Bend next week, and back from Bend. I assume they will. Because Tom says they will. And like a ringer, Tom tends to be right when it matters.

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smells like a dad

Every day is father’s day in my house. That’s my line and I’m sticking to it.

Unfortunately, there is an actual Father’s Day on the calendar, and it’s Sunday, June 16, and if your husband is like mine, he’s been dropping hints about his gift for a solid month.

To be fair, Tom stopped dropping hints when we got our last Amex bill. Now he drags a huge imaginary cross across the floor saying things like “I don’t need presents,” or alternatively, “We can’t afford presents.” The latter is particularly cutting because the implication is that we can’t afford presents because I spent all our money on fripperies. Wait, where was I going with this post?

Right, Father’s Day. It’s in the works. Tom requested a ratchet set, so I’m working on that, even though every time I buy tools for Tom I feel the money would be better spent as kindling for a bonfire. When we first got married Tom bought a bunch of tools at Home Depot. I remember an orbit sander, in particular. He sanded a lot of stuff for a while, down to the nub. Today, despite the fact that he never uses his own tools, he continues to light up when he hears about the tools of others. “Wait,” he asked our neighbor Bill last night, while taking out the trash and discussing (theoretical) shelf-building, “You have a chainsaw?”

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Tom’s not getting a damn chainsaw for Father’s Day. He’s getting a ratchet set, as soon as I figure out exactly what that is, and assuming Amazon Prime sells it. And then he’s getting some cologne.

Tom has come a long way in his personal grooming. When I first met him I would watch in horror as he would wash his face with soap and then strip it with cotton balls soaked with Kiehl’s astringent. That was it. No moisturizer, no after shave, no nothing. The cotton balls would leave little puffs of cotton residue on his dry, thirsty face. I have no idea where he learned to do that, but it was less a skincare regimen than an exercise in self-flagellation.

He’s come a long ways, my Tom. But he’s always dismissed cologne as an unnecessary step in his grooming. And you might agree. But scent is a dangerously powerful thing. My first boyfriend wore Obsession, an ambitious choice for an 18-year old, but the scent of it on his skin has left an imprint on my brain and I can’t shake it no matter how hard I try. And don’t get me started on Drakkar Noir. My love of Drakkar Noir and the songs of Nickelback are the two things that most negatively impact my self-regard, but the heart wants what it wants.

Anyway, Tom seems to want some cologne. A few weeks ago, while we were getting ready to go out, he grabbed a scent out of my hand and spritzed it on himself. It was amusing the first time, but then he kept doing it. I love Tom but there’s a chance that the cologne could smell better on him than me, and I can’t have that. So I’m on the hunt. To find Tom’s signature scent. Something that makes him smell like this:

More or less, anyway. I’ve admired this ad for years but I fear that M7 may not be the cologne for Tom. The ad copy promises that M7 embodies “male sensuality,” but I don’t know if anyone at Tom’s office needs to experience that. I’ll probably go with something cleaner, more bracing. I’m soliciting recommendations. Please help.

hiding in my car

I ought to go in there. I really ought to.

I mean, it’s my house. And 9 times out of 10, I bound up the steps. That tenth time, though. Boy. That tenth time, I’ve had a bad day, and dealing with my kids just might put me over the edge. Times like that, I just can’t go inside.

In the house, Tom’s likely wrestling both boys towards bedtime. He’s prying lips back from two sets of clenched up teeth, and trying to touch toothbrushes to tooth surfaces. He’s suggesting to Finn that the wiping of the ass might be more effective if the paper goes between the butt cheeks. He’s trying to convince Tate to crap in the toilet now, instead of later in his pull-up, when it will be unspeakably disgusting for all involved.

In the bath, there will be water, sloshing all over. Tate will want to take Thomas the Train and his friend Percy swimming. It will sound like this, to Tom and any neighbor in a five house radius: “PUSSY WANTS TO GO SWIMMING!!” There will be the ten millionth explanation of why you can’t put wooden toys into the tub. There will be whining that the water is too cold (Finn), and simultaneously, too hot (Tate). Inevitably, there will be “DON’T GET WATER ON MY SCRATCH/FAKE TATTOO/CHUCK-E-CHEESE STAMP/BAND-AID!!” There will be screaming. There will be tears, most of them Tom’s.

But out here in my car, all is serene. I can listen to the radio and check my texts. The wireless in the house works just as well out here in front of the parking strip. If the light is good, I might do my nails. Base coat, color, second coat of color, topcoat. It all takes time, but you can’t rush perfection.

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From out here, I can quietly enjoy the view of my denuded lawn, which has no plants in it because Tom had them all pulled out last week in a fit of gardening rage. Instead of shrubs, I can now enjoy the hole in the boards below my porch, perfectly sized for rodent entrances and exits. Tom says he will cut and paint a new board to replace the missing one. But that would seem to require woodworking skills of which I’ve seen zero evidence during our 12 years of marriage.

Sometimes if I run out of stuff to do in the car, I’ll run to my mailbox on the porch and then run back to my car with my mail. US Weekly is the best for car reading, but if it’s not Friday, catalogs will do. Frontgate is my favorite. Frontgate is like the Skymall catalog, without the plane. Tom and I play a game on the plane called “Death is Not an Option.” Every page of the Skymall catalog, you have to pick something that you must display in your home. Sometimes the kids play, but they actually want the items. Who says married people are lame? Not me. Married people can squeeze fun from the most sullen, whiny, and ungrateful rocks, not that I ever think of parenting or my kids that way.

I flip some pages in the Frontgate catalog. A Sopranos Craps Shadowbox! Tom would totally pick that. I wish he was out here in the car with me. But it’s impossible, because someone has to be inside the house with my kids.

The light is dimming. Tom’s probably settling in for the 200th reading of the haunting children’s masterpiece known as “Superman v. Mongul.” Or perhaps tonight the boys have chosen the compelling narrative arc of the Lego Star Wars Character Encyclopedia. In particular I really enjoy reading which Lego sets each character can be found in and then hearing “We don’t have that set. Can we buy that set?” Sweet dreams, boys.

I ought to go inside. But I put them to bed last night when Tom was outside in his car checking scores and poring over the Eastbay catalog. Of course, when Tom hides in the car, I run outside with no shoes on and stand menacingly at his window until he gives up and comes inside. I shouldn’t do that. Because I get it. Sometimes, you just need to hide in the car.

a chest so full

I don’t know a single woman who is fully content with her looks. But I know a lot of men who are. It’s an odd truth, but one I never really thought about until my six-year old son began going around shirtless.

In the universe of cute things, I find little-boy torsos to be right at the top. The big head, teetering on gawky, narrow shoulders. Skin so pale it’s translucent in spots. A mountain range of ribs. Tiny baby moles, some in the same spots as my own. Nothing makes me happier than sticking my nose into Finn’s neck and feeling his laugh vibrate. I can feel his life blood beating there, the humid warmth mixing with the almost powdery freshness of youth.

I love Finn’s bare torso, but that doesn’t mean I’m not alarmed when I see it out in public. First to go were the pajama tops. “Where’s your shirt?,” I’d ask, when he’d come down for breakfast in the chill. He’d shrug as Cheerios fell from his mouth to rest on his bony chest. Spring came, and the temps got into the high 50’s. And then Finn started taking his shirt off at every opportunity. He takes off his shirt to play outside. He takes off his shirt to eat dinner. He takes off his shirt to watch Jake and the Neverland Pirates. He’s always fully dressed for winter on the bottom, which makes it even weirder.

I don’t fuss. If I’ve learned anything from my six years as a parent, it’s that odd behavior explodes exponentially the more you remark on it. A lesson I learned the hard way, with booger eating. Some things are better ignored.

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As with all things, Tate has started taking his big brother’s lead with the semi-nudity. But at least Finn has some meat on his bones. Tate’s 3-year old torso looks exactly like E.T.’s. That’s what you end up with when your favorite food is watermelon.

I don’t know if Finn associates bare torsos with athletes, which is a possibility. Or if he is taking a cue from Tom, who will start walking around shirtless after any two consecutive days of gym visits. “Do I look bigger??,” Tom will ask, while flexing his chest. Or, stretching luxuriously after a shower: “Do you want to touch my muscles?” I always try to nod yes. Because these are the kindnesses that life partners owe to one another.

I laugh at my guys, but I wish I had more of their confidence, their ease, their comfort with self. That extra five pounds? I’m fooling myself if I think anyone cares but me. Sometimes the constant struggle to be stronger, thinner, better—it just leaves me feeling hungry. And I want to feel full. Sated. Not by food, but by the knowledge that all the big and small pleasures in my life make me whole.

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downers: sweaty pits

Finn is on the cusp of something. I don’t know if it’s the beginning of manhood, or the end of babyhood, but I’ll tell you this: it doesn’t smell right.

As usual, Cuz voiced it first. “Finn smells,” she said. I had noticed it myself, usually after one of his soccer games, but had been in denial, for months. Normally, Finn smells like warm, active boy—a very good smell. Possibly, the best smell. More and more often, however, that boy smell comes with a dash of Gouda.

I can’t even tell where the smell is coming from. At bathtime, I stuck my nose under his armpit as he grumbled about privacy. It didn’t smell good, but neither did it smell like cheese. I think it’s his feet. I almost keeled over this week when he sat down next to me and pulled his feet, sockless, from a pair of Nikes.

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How did this happen? Finn is half Asian, and Asians don’t have B.O. I know, because I know a lot of Asians. And in general, none of them smell as bad as white people. It’s not a scientific sample, but take the Asian and white guys I know. The Asians might smell like a shit ton of Polo Sport, but they aren’t going to smell like rotting vegetable matter, like Tom does after a summer day in a suit. I’m just saying. Sidle up to an Asian after your gym class. Maybe not exactly roses. But not so bad, either. I can’t explain it. Might be the lack of body hair.

It sure as hell isn’t the lack of sweat. I am 100% Asian and I sweat profusely in situations requiring even the most minimal amount of physical exertion. Once, after a Zumba class, I passed by a nice old lady in the locker room. “I hope you enjoyed your swim!,” she chirped. Listen, friendly people: sometimes, it’s better not to make assumptions. Sometimes, in fact, it’s best not to say anything at all.

At least my sweat doesn’t smell. I know, because, duh, I’ve touched my sweat and smelled it.

Sweating really creates issues when it comes to clothes. I remember when I wore a pair of tight pants to go dancing, way back in college. They call it vegan leather now, but back then it was called plastic. Imagine dancing in a hot room in skintight plastic pants. I’d dance for a few minutes and then go to the restroom to roll down my pants and sop up the sweat with toilet paper. For the record, it’s really hard to look sexy in your tight plastic pants if people think you have a weak bladder or uncontrolled diarrhea.

Sweat is also really bad with silk. I wear a lot of silk, because it drapes nicely over my A cups and skims over my love handles just so. But for me, even thinking about sweat while wearing silk results in immediate pit stains of man-sized proportions. I’ve spent many a wedding with something wedged under my arm, to hide the evidence. Try hugging someone with a wedding program tucked under one arm, and an evening clutch tucked under the other. Or don’t. Best to wait to be hugged in such scenarios. You can participate in the hug by leaning in. I’m a great leaner.

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linds and me, leaning

Anyway, I’ve spent a lot of time googling stuff like “extreme sweatiness” and “excessive sweatiness” and “does Certain Dry cause cancer.” Linds turned me onto Certain Dry, which she says keeps your armpits sweat free. I’m sure Linds wouldn’t mind me sharing that as a white person, she worries about sweaty pits even more than I do. If there’s someone with B.O. in a room, she immediately assumes it’s her. Even I don’t do that. Anyway, the Certain Dry. It works, Linds says. Of course, she had to stop using it when it started causing her to scratch at her armpits uncontrollably in public. There’s always a catch. Why does there always have to be a catch?

Why can’t they invent a silk that makes sweat invisible? Can you put deodorant on a six-year old’s feet? That Asian you know who smells really bad? I’m all ears.

my game of thrones obsession

I am obsessed with Game of Thrones and it’s only getting worse.

Unlike my friend Kathryn, who has consumed approximately 20 hours of the show in the last two weeks while holding down a job, I started watching the HBO show from day one. That’s because I am a sucker for period dramas. And the commercials led me to believe that the show was a period drama, set in the Middle Ages. I didn’t realize the show had dragons in it until it was too late. Dragons, as everyone knows, are shorthand for nerdsville. And I left nerdsville at least ten years ago.

The reason I got hooked on Game of Thrones early on is this character, whose name is Drogo, but who I referred to throughout 2011 as “my boyfriend.” His pecs, as you can see, are seriously distracting. As is the perfectly applied eyeliner. But it’s really the beard that gets me.

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Before you start being all worried for Tom, consider that the guy who plays Drogo is actually the real-life husband of Lisa Bonet, on whom Tom has had a crush for approximately three decades. Lisa Bonet is a real person so she could THEORETICALLY fall in love with Tom, whereas Drogo can’t fall in love with me because he’s pretend. So really, the person you should feel bad for is me.

Back to Drogo. In case you think I’m weird, most women who watch the show think Drogo is hot. Linds thinks he’s hot and she doesn’t like muscular men, or beards. Cuz says he’s a H2 check on her hotness scale. Cuz’s hotness scale, called BUNAH, is super complicated, but basically an H2 check means, Cuz would tap that.

As for me and Drogo, our romance was shortlived, because (SPOILER ALERT) he dies at the end of Season 1. I got over it quickly, though, because Game of Thrones is literally ground zero for hot bearded men. Witness:

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Robb Stark here starts out as a boy in Season 1 but morphs into a full-grown hottie by Season 3. I attribute it less to any physical transformation and more to the fact that Robb becomes King of the North and therefore becomes very powerful. Power is hot.

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Jon Snow is also a Stark but is illegitimate. So he has a chip on his shoulder and an outsider’s mindset, which means he’s your classic tortured hero. His storyline forces him to be in cold places all the time, so I don’t know what his chest looks like. But he looks good in fur. Sometimes you just have to go on faith.

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Jaime Lannister is a really bad guy for the first two seasons, but (SPOILER ALERT) something really bad happens to him in Season 3, and then he gets all humanized. Personally I found him hotter as a bad guy, but whatever. I had this same issue with Eric the Vampire from True Blood, who went from being a stone cold fox in the first few seasons to turning into a mealy-mouthed nice guy in the latter seasons. What could be less hot than a nice vampire? Nothing. Anyway, back to Jaime here. His character pushes a kid off a castle wall and has sex with his own sister. None of that detracts from his looks, of course, which are exceptional.

It doesn’t even gross me out to think that if any of the characters above actually existed, their beards would have lice and bits of mutton in them. Nor does it bother me to know that in real life, the actors who play these men are very short. I have a feeling that the guy who plays Jon Snow is like, 5’2″. All I know is, I saw him in a fashion spread in GQ and something wasn’t right. Nothing wrong with being 5’2,” of course. But I’m almost 5’9″. It ruins the fantasy of having a hot bearded guy at my disposal when I have to think about kneeling down to make out with him. But whatever, it doesn’t matter. Because it’s a fantasy. Game of Thrones gets that. I get that.

I wish I could say I’m just into the TV show. But I can’t. I’m deep in the throes of the third book, which is very well written, and in which major stuff starts happening. I’m roughly three or four chapters ahead of where the show and Tom are, which results in Tom and I bonding in the following fashion:

Yoona: “Tom. Shit just got REAL in the book.”

Tom: (wide eyed, sits down). “OK. You have to tell me. Immediately.”

Yoona: “Do you really want to know? Because it’s crazy.”

Tom: “I WANT TO KNOW I WANT TO KNOW I WANT TO KNOW!!!”

Yoona: (disclosure of major plot points).

Tom: “Hoo boy.” (Pause). “Who’s Arya, again?” Then: “Why did you tell me all that?”

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Short bearded guys on TV come and go. But there’s only one real-life Tom. He’s 6’4″ and all mine.

Happy Birthday my love.

potato of love

Ah, romance. We all want more of it. Even if you’re married, like me. ESPECIALLY if you’re married, like me. Sometimes I tell Tom that he could be more romantic. Flowers. A handwritten note. A surprise gift. After twelve years of marriage, the surprises can feel few and far between.

I’m equally to blame. Last Friday, Tom grabbed me in an impromptu embrace and tried to wrestle me onto the bed. In full daylight, with the kids only a floor away! What could be hotter? But the housekeepers had just visited. And our bed had just been made, to perfection. “TOM!! NOOOOOO!!,” I screamed, as he pushed me backwards onto the mattress. Tom sighed, his mood deflated, and then walked off to check scores. I smoothed out the duvet, assuring myself that all was pristine.

Or a couple weeks before that, when Tom tried to corner me in my closet. That time it was the overhead lights. All I could think about was how much my face looks like Alice Cooper’s under those lights. I don’t feel sexy when I feel ugly. I shoved Tom off of me and ran to pat some retinol on my face.

The more I thought about the romance thing, the worse I felt. If I wanted more romance, I shouldn’t just sit around waiting for it to be visited upon me. I would try a spontaneous gesture on Tom, in hopes of receiving spontaneous and expensive gestures in return.

At the mall, I moseyed into a See’s Candies to eat some samples, and saw a potato made out of chocolate.

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It was boxed in green and dusted with cocoa powder and it had little things stuck in it that made the potato look like it had eyes. All in all, I was charmed by the verisimilitude of the thing. It was so funny. A chocolate potato. For St. Patrick’s Day! SO spontaneous. Tom would love it. I bought one and rushed home, eager to begin the romance.

At home, I changed into my pajamas and placed the box on his pillow. And then I waited for him to come to bed. But then, I fell asleep. The next morning, Tom didn’t say a thing about the potato. I tried to be gracious about it, but I was annoyed.

“Did you see the thing I left you on your pillow?” Tom looked up from brushing his teeth. He rinsed, and then smiled. “Oh yeah! The potato. Super funny. Thanks babe.”

Thanks babe? That was it? Couldn’t he see that I was trying to be romantic? Getting dressed, I saw that he had left the potato on a shelf in the closet. I moved it to the bathroom, and placed it between our sinks.

And there it sat, for two weeks. After the first few days, I was mystified. Tom can eat a pound of Sour Patch Kids in one sitting. I’ve seen him cram an entire chocolate bar into his mouth. I know my man. He likes candy. So why wasn’t he eating the potato? I opened the box and took a small nibble. It was totally delicious. I closed the box back up and pushed the potato closer to his sink, right next to his shaving cream.

Every day the potato sat there, I felt rejected. And then one day, the potato was gone. Where was the GD potato? I sent Tom an email, and waited impatiently for his response.

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A wholly inadequate response, I felt. I’d given Tom a bouquet of flowers and he’d hit me in the face with them. He made it ten times worse when I confronted him by phone. “Babe. I’m sorry,” he stammered. “I had no idea it was that important to you. It just looked…gross. I mean, why would anyone want to eat a chocolate potato?” I sat there, speechless. I mean, he ate bags full of gummy candies that looked like little children. But Tom wasn’t done. He had some salt he wanted to rub into my wounds. “I mean, a part of it was already eaten and that made it even more gross, like a…like a RAT ate part of it or something.”

Anyway. Even though he rejected me and my romantic gift, it felt good to think about Tom, and to think about doing something nice for him. I feel like I’m flexing a muscle that’s rusty from disuse.

I’m already plotting my next act of romance.

drowning in legos

Growing up, my brother had a blue plastic box that was filled with Legos. It was the size of a small shoebox, and it had stickers on the outside and a handle, and he carried it around everywhere.

My kids have approximately eighty times the amount of Legos my brother had. I don’t know how it happened. Insidiously, over time. You buy a set or two, you have a birthday party and you receive ten sets, Grandma sends some through the mail. I don’t know. I just don’t know. I think about it a lot. How did we get here?

My older kid covets Legos, but then, once procured and built, could care less about them. Tate, however, really digs on Legos, most especially the people figures, which he calls “my guys.” He wants to take his guys everywhere, at really inopportune times.

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At New Year’s, we were late for a family party in Vancouver and I hustled to get him ready. “My guys! I need my guuuuuuys!,” he screamed. Increasingly with Tate, I understand why governments negotiate with terrorists. At that moment, I gave in, because giving in was less painful than listening to Tate sob for an hour while I munched on a handful of Advil. I ran to the play room, dumped out a box of Legos onto the floor, raked through them with my fingers, and picked out four figures, all missing heads or arms. I threw them into a tin lunchbox and ran back to the door.

As I hurriedly pulled on my shoes, Tate opened the lunchbox, and eyed the contents. And then he put on his angry face, which makes my heart clench up in terror. “I want Kendo Kai!!” Kendo Kai? Sounded like a Ninjago figure, but I couldn’t be sure. The only Lego figures I can consistently tell apart from any of the others are the R2-D2 figure and the Batman figure, who helpfully wears a bat mask. More crucially, I had a better chance of running into Christian Bale right there in my entryway than I did of picking out Kendo Kai from the metric ton of Legos in the playroom. I exhaled an impatient breath. “Tate, we’re late. You have one minute to pick your Legos, and then we have to go.” Tate strolled to the playroom, picked through the Legos, and made a selection for his lunchbox, a process that took approximately three hours. We finally made it back to the entryway, and put on his shoes. When he stood up, his lunchbox opened over the heating register and all the pieces fell through the grate. And that’s when the real screaming began.

Legos cause a lot of drama in my house. For instance, the three panicked hours on Christmas Eve when Tom and I drove around Portland in separate cars trying to find a Ninjago set for Tate. Annoyingly, the only thing I could think in my panic was that, being 3, Tate wasn’t even close to being in the recommended age range for the Ninjago sets. At this rate, he’d be stealing scotch from Tom’s cabinet when he turned 8. What kind of crap parents were we? But all the anxiety faded when Tom texted to say that he’d located a Ninjago set at Barnes & Noble. Anyway, all the drama was worth it, for this moment, on Christmas morning.

The Ninjago incident was nothing compared to the Falcon debacle. When the Millennium Falcon came in the mail from Grandma Johnson, Tom took one look at the box and put it on top of his bookshelf. “WTF, it has 1254 pieces. I’m waiting for Matt,” he told me. Tom’s brother-in-law Matt is the kind of guy who wears shorts year-round and knows how to de-bone a chicken in 12 seconds. He is McGyver. This year he glued on a cabinet door in my kitchen, fixed a broken doorknob, sharpened all my knives, and pounded my misshapen mixing bowl back into round with a wooden spoon. Anyway, when Uncle Matt arrived a week later for the holidays, he and Tom began the process of building the Falcon. It took about six hours, on and off, to complete. The finished product was a beaut.

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Once built, the only thing Tate wanted to do is play with that Millennium Falcon. To open the flaps at the top, to put his guys in it, to take his guys out of it. But having expended considerable energy on its creation, Tom wasn’t about to let Tate touch the Falcon. Instead, he put it up in our bedroom, out of easy reach. Every morning for three days, Tate would come upstairs at the crack of dawn and try to touch the Falcon. And Tom would gently swat his hand away and tell him that the Legos—the Legos were not for playing. It sounds heartless, but if you’ve ever built a large Lego set, maybe you can sympathize. The Falcon was built layer by layer, with hundreds of pieces you can’t even see comprising the framework. It looked to be virtually impossible to reconstruct once taken apart. What drove Tom was not cruelty, but fear.

On the fourth day, I woke up late, to an ominous silence. I blinked my eyes to adjust to the dim light in our bedroom, and made out a fuzzy shape at the foot of our bed. I put on my glasses and realized it was Tate, standing with a gray roof flap from the Falcon in his hand. Oh shit oh shit oh shit. How long had he been in our room while we’d been sleeping?? I jumped out of bed and ran to the sitting room to assess the damage before Tom woke up.

In the next room, Tate and I both stared at the Falcon, now missing half of its top and much of its battle gear. Tate looked freaked out, as if he’d sleepwalked to the kitchen and woken up to find himself eating a package of uncooked bacon. I wanted to repair the damage and protect Tate from Tom’s wrath, but where to begin? To me, even in its finished form, the Falcon had looked unfinished. Now, I had no idea what parts were complete and which had had pieces torn off of them by Tate. “Buddy,” I whispered to Tate as I began sticking random Lego pieces onto the Falcon, “it’s not looking good for you.” Tate whimpered.

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When Tom eventually lurched into the room, he grabbed his hair in two handfuls and gave a silent scream. Then he took the Falcon and hid it, in the closet in his man room, where it sits to this day, giving joy to no boy or girl.

This morning, Tate asked if I wanted to play with his “pod racers.” I looked at the toy in his hand, and did a double take. I recognized those gray pieces: the roof flaps from the Falcon. And as I looked at his charming little creation, I remembered that this—spontaneous creativity—was why we put up with all the Legos. I gave Tate a snug and threw a mental fist bump to the Lego gods in appreciation.

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