Monday, November 15, 2010

Sex, Fear, Boxing, Tequila, Polish Food

A couple of things coming up this week:

This Tuesday, my sister is hosting a book discussion at Visible Voices. Even if you haven't read Sex At Dawn: The Prehistoric Origin of Modern Sexuality, the title alone should tell you that the conversation will be more interesting than staying home and watching NCIS reruns. It starts at 6:30pm, any and all welcome. I can't make it cause I work till 10, but Carrie is way prettier and more engaging than me, so you'll like her. Which is the opposite of a perfect segue to this....

This Friday, the 19th, come out to see me present Excerpt from the Compendium of Cleveland Monsters at PechaKucha Volume 10. The event is free, starts at 7pm, and there will be a cash bar, so you can use me as an excuse to get drunk in the Old Arcade in a more civil way than just walking around on a Tuesday afternoon with a brown paper bag. I am, frankly, terrified about doing this, so while I know some of you will be singing opera or on your way to Spain (how do I know you people again?), everyone else should show up. I don't know what my place is in the schedule, but the other presenters will probably be tops as well. As in they will all be better than me and I will look like a babbling fool. Ugh. I'm so nervous about this, I've actually crossed the line into "fuck it", then back into "oh my god", then back into "no one will miss me if I run away to Michigan and never come back." So you know, it will be what it will be and I can only do my best, and at the very least I already know what I'm going to wear so at least I won't be freaking out about that the day of.

Saturday night Colleen and I went to Halycon Lodge to see a boxing match. The fighters were all teenage boys, the highest weight was 154, and all over the auditorium were their nervous mothers, desperately chewing gum, or groups of young people in matching hoodies with the names of their gyms on them cheering for their fighters. We sat up in the balcony with some friends, and talked about the ethics of watching boys beat each other up. My point is that it's just like a karate demonstration. The New York Time's point is that repeat concussions are bad for you. Amy's point is that roller coasters shake your head around a lot too, so are those bad as well? Colleen knows more about fighting than I do, but I like to look at the guy before he gets in the ring, when he's just standing there on the sidelines waiting and thinking about it. It's like looking at the horses walk by before a race, and you're looking for the one with the sleekest lines and the calmest face.

After the fight, we went to a tequila tasting, which was equal parts education, dance party, dog chasing, scarf eating, keg hoisting, and sweet. The sweet parts came from sitting on steps by myself. Every time you get drunk in such a way that people are going to fall down around you like dominoes, it's best to reapply your lip gloss, find a quiet place, and just sit for a moment feeling innocent. Of course, I don't know what it says about me that I have to actively find my moments of innocence, but at least I know how to.

The next morning, the survivors (there were only 4 of us, it was carnage, there were bodies everywhere, and then they kept getting up and walking around, and finally we had to just tie them up in sleeping bags and run) went to the Polish American Cultural Center for lunch, where 10 dollars buys you mashed potatoes and sauerkraut soup and chicken thighs in gravy, also old Polish men who want to kiss you just because you are half Polish, and later you hear their life's story from their wives, which involves secret train trips and starvation camps and scrimped trips to America, and you think to yourself that men like that have earned every right to kiss young girls for no real reason.

After eating, and filling in some memory gaps from the night before, we got a tour around the museum, which is in process of being coagulated from donations and inheritances and antique finds. My favorite sections were the Solidarnosc posters and pins and flyers. It made me think of that t-shirt Carrie had for a while in high school, and the pin I used to keep in my jewelry drawer. Stylistically exactly what little liberal raised blue blooded girls with birthing hips and political aspirations like.

Also, all the little painted wooden eggs Mom used to have, and the little dolls. And I wonder why the color scheme of Polish Americans is the same in every church and bingo hall, the pale pale pink, burgundy, white flowers, occasionally a burst of the bright flag red, and white draping things. That's how St. Boniface used to look too, before it became more of a Korean church, when the 3rd generation stockyard workers moved out of the neighborhood, out to Westlake and Brecksville. And that church in Manayunk that Grandma Bert used to take us to, where they still said the mass in Polish, same thing, all sparse and light colored. It's a very different look from the Irish Catholic churches, more reserved. But meeting halls are always meeting halls, no matter what color scheme they have, church, immigrants, or otherwise. Giant metal vats of coffee, and old women with brooches talking, and little bundles of flowers on the table. They have a Wigilia dinner at the Center the weekend before Christmas, so I'll probably try to go with Mom, and then she can tell me stories about Babka, and we can both feel a little guilty for not knowing more, but still pretty grateful we don't have to. Cause the history of Poland is one of a lot of people dying and a lot of people starving and a lot of people leaving.

Did you know almost half the girls in Cleveland are half Irish, half Polish? That is a fact I made up just now.


  1. Great post. Very accurate description of events.

  2. half Polish half Irish represent!

    My last name gives away the more obvious side.

  3. "Cause the history of Poland is one of a lot of people dying and a lot of people starving and a lot of people leaving."

    Minus the starving part, the same could be said of Cleveland. Which is probably as good a reason to love it as any. Like those old Polish men, Cleveland has earned the right to kiss a pretty girl for no good reason.

  4. Amy - but not half as accurate as I could have been :)

    TG - I mean, it's totally a thing.

    Tom - I think probably the starving part should stay and the dying part should be the subtract. That seems more accurate.

  5. I look forward to listening to you. Glad things changed and we can make it. May show up wasted already depending on how the writing goes during the day.

  6. I mean, PLEASE show up wasted. And then talk back to me. Loudly. I want that.

  7. Did I mention that I listen to the Editors? Do you like The National??

    Another excellent read and I think you nailed it when you spoke about the boxers... having been one of those fighters myself, I was an ultra calm fighter before my match. Would detail my mental prep, but then what would my blog be for?

    Gonna link up that one entry that had the Belle & Sebastian song... man, that was wonderful reading.


Who wants to fuck the Editors?