[Listen to an audio version of this blog HERE.]
That title grabbed your attention, huh?
One huge perk of living in California is the weather. And that, is the most obvious sentence I’ve ever written. The coldest it has been since the great migration (ie, my move to California from Chicago) has been a cool 50 degrees. Obviously, when the weather is so monstrously cold, the only reasonable late-night activity is taking a dip in my apartment complex’s exceedingly hot, hot tub.
One evening, I poured a generous dose of pinot noir into an insulated tumbler and headed to the hot tub with the intention of turning my skin into a prune. Except, there was someone else in the hot tub. Someone I had ever seen before: an old gentleman with a long face and sunglasses resting on top of his brow, even though it was 8 p.m. and therefore quite dark. He nodded his shiny bald head as I stepped into the bubbling-chlorine-piss water. He was reading a book so I didn't say anything, and neither did he. We sat for a while, not saying anything, and I let myself halfway relax.
I quickly became all-the-way-not-relaxed though, as soon as old-man-wearing-sunglasses stood up, revealing a soggy ball sack and a droopy penis. I hope you, dear reader, never have to face the horror that is an old man’s boiled genitalia. My eyes will never be the same.
Because I was somewhat shocked, I didn't say anything or do anything. I couldn't find the motivation to do anything after the fact, either. It is an exhausting thing to have to say, "Could you please not show me your dick?" In a world of online dating, social media, and low low standards, I find myself saying that sentence quite often, "Could you please not show me your dick?"
When I tell other men about men who send unsolicited dick pics, they either seem shocked, disgusted, or resigned. Shocked, perhaps because they have never sent one. Disgusted perhaps because they can empathize with my frustration. Resigned perhaps, because they know men who would (or do) send unsolicited dick pics, and they've lost some hope in humanity.
If 2020 has taught me anything, it is to give up a tiny bit of hope in humanity. I give people too much credit. Too much benefit of the doubt. I would like to believe people are mostly good, most of the time. I would like to believe that we can all be sane and rational. I would like to believe that whatever is dividing us isn't actually that divisive. But then, a worldwide pandemic brought out the worst in people. From hoarding to online vitriol to violence and blaming everyone for problems that are not everyone's problems, 2020 has sort of been a shit show. The old man dick in the hot tub was the icing on the cake, as it were.
When I took a step back to assess the situation from an objective point of view, I realized that 2020 has hardened me to the point of not being upset about a random, floppy dick. Dick pics warrant a block of the number and that's it. Anyone who brings negativity into my life, especially now, also receives stone cold silence. I have no time or energy for anything that is not outrageously positive or good, which is not to say that I ignore or condemn the pain that is inherent in life. There will be hard times, always, as I think this year has taught us. But there is a sane and reasonable way to handle hard times, and throwing a metaphorical temper tantrum is not one of them.
2020 has also been an incredible lesson (for me) in listening. As we come upon the next election (an important and divisive election, I might add), I've found value in talking to people I disagree with. It can be done, respectfully and openly. I've spoken to people on the far left and far right. I usually agree with them about some things, and disagree about others. That's totally fucking normal. But on the heels of witnessing an old man's baggage, I need to say this.
A vote for Trump is a vote for a man who openly and unapologetically harasses and mistreats women. If you're a man, you probably know and love a lot of women and wouldn't want them to get hurt by people like Trump. If you're a woman, you know with intimacy the disrespect, fear, and uncomfortability incited by some men.
A vote for Trump is a vote for a man who openly supports racists.
A vote for Trump is a vote for a man who incites division. He doesn't want us to agree or find common ground.
A vote for Trump is a vote for a man who dismisses foreign interference in elections.
A vote for Trump is a vote for a man who doesn't pay taxes.
A vote for Trump is a vote for a man who called John McCain, a decorated war hero, a "loser."
A vote for Trump is a vote for a man who withdrew from the Paris Climate Agreement, and who doesn't seem to believe the science behind global climate change.
Maybe you know all these things and will vote for him anyway, because your life hasn't been impacted or harmed. Maybe you think words don't matter. Maybe you can brush off the actions and words of a man like Trump under some guise of supporting his policies. You're fooling yourself. If Trump were simply a Conservative president who acted sanely and respectfully there would be no real problem with him. But, he's a Conservative president who lies, bullies, and steals. He doesn't care about you, or me, or anyone. He simply doesn't.
The old man dick sighting brought me full circle. It is an exhausting thing to battle inequality. To insist that things aren't equal yet, even when people like Trump insist they are. To constantly have to tell men not to touch me, not to send me inappropriate messages. To constantly ask for, and not always receive, respect. There are hundreds of thousands of people who know this struggle more intimately than I do. I almost envy the man in the hot tub, who lives with so much privilege that he can sit naked in a public place and not fear repercussion. Not fear someone taking his naked body as an invitation. There are certain people who can get away with that behavior and certain people who can't.
This election is your chance to make a small difference. To be part of a solution. To make an impact on your local community. To choose what kind of community you want to live in. Choose wisely.
P.S. Please do not send a dick pick to me or anyone else. Read Jessi Kneeland's letter to her dad about voting for Trump here, visit Vote411 for voter resources like registering, finding a polling place, and learning what's on your ballot. Finally, go follow fuckjerry on Instagram for a hefty dose of levity. Thank me later.