Strawberry Yogurt: A Peek Into the Dark Minds of Women


The Strawberry Yogurt Incident, as I like to think of it, occurred on a lazy Sunday night, not unlike last night. Not unlike it at all, actually, as it, in fact, was last night. But let’s not get bogged down in details. My girlfriend was studying for her upcoming IT exam and I was busy trying to write a short story for a fantasy-and-myth based website. My story was not coming along well at all – it amounted to some gibberish about a rogue knight, narrated by a talking fox – and I was feeling frustrated. The sun was down and, unlike the fox in my crappy story, neither of us were saying much of anything. Until 8:00 struck, and then my girlfriend had a sudden craving.

“Do you want ice cream?” she asked.

“Yeah,” I said, looking up from my Word document. “Sure.”

“Ok. Let’s go out and get some.”

“Oh, in that case, no, I’m fine. I thought you had ice cream here.”

I should point out that I’m currently staying rent free at my girlfriend’s apartment, as I have no place of my own. I should also point out that I hadn’t left the apartment all weekend and, to emphasize my laziness, I hadn’t even put on pants.

“I’m craving something sweet,” she said, still reading her downloaded IT handbook. “I want strawberry yogurt.”

“Ok,” I said, knowing what she was getting at and avoiding it. “Why don’t you go down to the corner store and get some?”

“No, that’s okay,” she said. About a minute later she was repeating, “I would really like some strawberry yogurt” for the third or fourth time.

“Are you saying you want me to get it for you?”


Sometimes, a man has to ask himself, “Do I really want to put on pants?” As much as I wanted a happy girlfriend, I just couldn’t bring myself to get up.

“Honey,” I said, “I’m really busy with this talking fox story. You don’t need the yogurt. Besides, you’ve been talking about trying to lose weight all week.”

This, I felt, was a smart tactic. No, baby, it’s not that I don’t want to go to the store and get your yogurt…it’s just that eating strawberry yogurt at 8:30 at night might not be good for your metabolism and I want what’s BEST for you!

Of course, my girlfriend is a tiny Asian woman, so both of us knew a little yogurt was not going to blow her up to non-Asian-girl proportions.

“If you cared about me,” she said, “you would go down and get me the yogurt.” While this sounds demanding, I should point out that she’d bought and cooked me meals all weekend, aiding in my ability to live a freewheeling boxers-and-t-shirt lifestyle. So perhaps I owed her a bit.

“Sweetheart, I’m sorry…I’m working on something right now,” I said, trying to decide if the fox should speak in modern slang or not. Ten minutes later, the girlfriend started talking to her friend on Instant Messenger. “Who are you talking to?” I asked.

“My friend,” she said. “She says you suck.”

I could see what was happening. My refusal to go get the strawberry yogurt was turning me into a terrible boyfriend, the kind of guy girls bitch about on IM. In addition, I was struck by the fact that she was so angry about the yogurt, she had to find a friend to hate on me with RIGHT THEN. It couldn’t wait. This wasn’t like What’s Love Got To Do With It, where Tina Turner endured Ike for years before putting her foot down. No, my girlfriend didn’t get her yogurt, and she was ready to seek action now.

And her course of action was making me look bad in front of her friend which, truth be told, was a very effective strategy.

On went the pants, the hair was combed, the jacket went on, the IPod was picked up (blasted Beatles For Sale, repeating track number two, I’m a Loser), and the talking fox was put on hold. I went down and bought the yogurt, and five minutes later I was back. I placed the yogurt and a spoon in front of her and waited.

The yogurt just sat there while she kept talking to her friend. A little while later, she took the yogurt and put it in the fridge.

“What the hell?” I stammered. “Aren’t you going to eat the yogurt?”

“No,” she said, shaking her head. “I’ll eat it tomorrow.”

This was insanity. It would be like me asking her to cook me a cheeseburger and then choosing not to eat it. Or having her pour me a beer, only to ignore it like it was a cup of V8.

“If you’re not going to eat the yogurt, why did you want me to buy it so badly?”

“Because I want you to show me that you love me.”

So, there you have it. Sometimes a strawberry yogurt isn’t just a strawberry yogurt. Perhaps, I got to thinking, this is a difference between how men and women see things. I am a man, and I see nothing but a small container of yogurt (which sits in the fridge as we speak, daring me to eat it myself). She, on the other hand, sees a symbol. That yogurt, to her, represents everything that makes a relationship work – selflessness, willingness to put work in, care, wanting to please the person you’re with – and for her, eating it is far less important than having it.

Everything said and done, I’m happy with how things turned out. I mean, in the grand scheme of things, there are other symbols of love that women sometimes ask for that are much, much more frightening than yogurt.


What Happens On the Plane Monitor, Stays on the Plane Monitor


Boarding my seven hour flight from Madrid to Qatar, with another seven hours from Qatar to Korea to follow, I was faced with a major dilemma: Should I watch a decent movie while flying, or should I stick to my purest beliefs and purposely watch something inferior instead. Growing up a film lover, it’s hard for me to believe that Martin Scorsese or Francis Ford Coppola would want me to view their latest works of art on a tiny screen located inside the back of a headrest, the airplane jiggling with turbulence and stewardesses giving me warm towels and peanuts as the film reaches its emotional apex. I remember reading an interview with David Lynch where he scoffed at the idea of watching a film on a computer screen. No, film purists, like whatever I’m supposed to be, believe that a film is to be watched on a BIG screen. And, believe it or not, eating popcorn during it, unless the film involves superheroes or Jason Statham, is not encouraged.

Of course, I veer from this all the time. Really, I can’t remember the last movie I didn’t watch on my computer screen. Still, the airplane headrest-monitor seemed wrong to me, kind of like listening to opera in a Convertible with the stereo cranked up and the top down. Flipping through the movie selection, I settled on Woody Allen’s To Rome with Love.

Penelope Cruz in a red dress brought the in-flight entertainment system to life!

This was middle-ground snobbery. I fully admit that I’m a total snob when it comes to entertainment; I can ramble on for hours about black and white films, bands that’ve sold less albums than Lady Gaga sells Halloween costumes, and books that most people use summaries to avoid reading. Then again, there can be cracks in the armor. I was, as tough as it is to admit, seriously addicted to the new 90210 at one point, and was called out once at a bar for knowing all the words to “Hit Me Baby One More Time.”

Sorry Chevy…I still loved you in Funny Farm.

After To Rome with Love (which I liked, if you’re curious), I slept. Then I read a little bit. Then, after that, I was bored. I scanned the selection of television shows. It’s been years since I had a television, so the names of the shows, while vaguely familiar, meant little to me. I watched one episode of a show called Parks and Recreation, and decided not to view another. Trying to kill time, I put on a show called Community. It lasted about ten minutes before I turned it off, despite it having Chevy Chase in it. Chevy or no Chevy, it was putrid.

And then, like a miracle, I found it, the show that I would go on to watch a whopping ten episodes of, counting both flights. What fine, erudite program was this, you ask. The Office? 30 Rock? Louie?

No, no, no. It wasn’t any of those.

I hereby confess, on my two plane rides, I watched almost an entire season of The Big Bang Theory…and I fucking loved it.


Yes, at first I rolled my eyes. After the second episode, I took a long break, not expecting to return. But return I did. To the glories of Sheldon being neurotic, Howard having problems with his mother, Raj experiencing sexual frustration, and Leonard, strangely, getting laid a lot. Around episode 4, I was hooked; at episode 6 or 7 I had lost all shame and was laughing audibly, slapping my knee with a huge grin spread across my face. When the plane finally landed, I almost begged the pilot to circle the airport for a bit so I could finish off the last remaining episodes. I had been sucked in.

In the days that followed, I had some trouble looking at myself in the mirror. I felt so dirty. I’d crouch down in the shower, shaking with shame while the water ran down my face. What had happened on that plane? I tried to block it out by reciting the standout films of the French New Wave and their directors. Still, there was a tiny voice inside me, the same voice a drug addict or a habitual wife beater must have, trying to direct me into further guilt.

“Go online,” it whispered. “It’s okay, just a couple episodes. See what’s happening with Sheldon and Blossom. Come on…you know you want to.”

“Shut up!” I screamed. “Stop it!” And I took my hands and pulled at the hair on my head.

Currently, it’s been about a week since my shameful Big Bang Theory digression. I would prefer to pretend it never happened, the same way Republicans refuse to believe George W. Bush ever existed. I’m doing okay, getting along well in my normal routine. Taking things one day at a time.

However, as nice as hiding the sad facts are, I chose to write this, in order to tell the world what horrible things happened up in the sky that day. As they say in AA, “You’re only as sick as your secrets.”


An Awkward Conversation with Leo


All day long I’d been hearing about Dicey’s – not directly as I would have liked, but instead from a distance, from the next room or from someone who would assume that I’d (of course) heard about Dicey’s already, as seemingly everyone else on the planet had.

“Going to Dicey’s tonight?” a big German guy asked me when we found ourselves brushing our teeth next to each other. “Two Euro beers, I heard.”

“Yeah,” I said, bitter that this was the second or third time I’d been sort-of-invited by someone who was invited by someone else. Never by the organizer, whoever that mystery man was, that cool-ass mofo, emphasis on ‘fo’ as opposed to ‘friend.’ “I’ll probably go. Sounds fun.”

“What time are you going to head down?”

I had no idea. I brushed my gums so hard I spit out blood, angrily. I didn’t even know where Dicey’s was located. It was the place to be, decided by someone who knew where the hell it was and what time to go. Who did the tall German guy think he was talking to? He had mistaken me for being someone in the loop, a member of the in group, someone who gets the secret notes from the President that the inconsequential masses aren’t privy to. In other words, his level of judgment was completely off.

What was I supposed to do? Confess? Say, “Actually, nobody has directly invited me yet, and thus I have no idea what’s going on. Although I’d desperately like to be invited, so if you could pass that along, it would be appreciated.”

Of course not. I said I wasn’t sure what time everyone was going, spit out more blood, and changed topics by asking the guy lots and lots of questions about Germany, nodding to indicate that I was pretending to listen to the answers.


On the way down to Dicey’s, I met Leo and Rachel. Leo was from Germany (it’s a coincidence; don’t think everyone backpacking in Dublin is from Germany) (they’re actually all from Brazil and cook delicious pork dinners out on the hostel balcony) and Rachel was American. There was a whole group of people from our hostel walking down the dark streets in a quest for two-Euro-beers; I still hadn’t technically been invited, but due to the enormous number of people I was able to latch on without looking too suspicious. During this long march, I learned that Leo and Rachel were close friends and were traveling together. At this point, I should probably mention something about their looks. I’m sure that’s what you’ve been wondering (if you’re male, at least). Let’s start with Leo…it isn’t that she was bad looking – she wasn’t – she was just, well, very clearly inferior to her friend Rachel, who was ridiculously good looking. And that is what would lead to the trouble later on.

Poor Leo. I could relate. I’m the type of person that knows where he stands; that won’t talk to someone of the opposite sex if she’s too good looking; that has to believe in the notion of ‘types,’ as in maybe, by the luck of the Gods, some girl will be more interested in my messy ass than a guy who is traditionally attractive and has things like muscles and a strong jaw-line and more than two pairs of jeans (we sure rely on this notion of types heavily, don’t we?; “Well, I know I’m not Pet Sounds or Revolver or Songs in the Key of Life…but maybe this person is more into Floored by Sugar Ray”) (I can be Floored by Sugar Ray); when I make a male friend, I ask myself if, should the situation occur where we’re going for the same girl, there would be any chance that she would choose me (and, if I feel she would go with my friend, I secretly start looking at him with jealous animosity). So, although it didn’t dawn on me yet, I felt for Leo. It’s never much fun to be the lesser of two friends, the buddy in the cop movie, the Supreme that isn’t Diana Ross, the Golden Girl that isn’t Blanche (y’all know what I’m saying).

When we finally got to the bar, I found myself drinking with an Irish musician named Kiernan. As I believe I mentioned earlier, a beer cost two Euro, and a deal like that can only end in chain smoking and liver damage. The night wore on and, at some point after midnight, we looked over to see a very sad scene. There was Rachel in the midst of what appeared to be a brilliant conversation with some big muscle guy, and while this happened, poor Leo stood there by herself, her back turned towards them, watching the band, swaying oddly to the music as though she wanted to dance but had forgotten how to.

“Esh,” Kiernan said, “look at that, will ya?”

“That’s really uncomfortable, isn’t it?” I said. “When you go out with your friend and he hooks up, and you have to stand there alone and pretend that you’re having a good time.”

“It’s the worst. You’re searching around the bar desperately for somebody to talk to, and you can’t get in on the conversation with your mate and the girl, because then you’d be cock blocking.”

“Exactly,” I said, shaking my head, watching Leo purposely-not-watch Rachel getting macked on. “I’m gonna go over there and talk to her. We can’t let her suffer like that.”

I suppose I did all that I could. I went over to Leo and did my best to help. Problem was, I had absolutely nothing to say to her. I racked my brain fruitlessly, searching for some possible topic of discussion. It had gone blank; I had cracked under the pressure. All I came up with was, “So, you’re from Germany…”


“That’s cool…been in Dublin long…have you seen The Book of Kells?”

It was hopeless. I went back over to Kiernan and drank more. When the time came to go back to the hostel, Rachel was missing.

“Where’s Rachel?” Leo asked frantically. “Has anyone seen Rachel?”

“I think she left with some bloke,” Kiernan (unhelpfully) chimed in.

“WHAT??? Who? Where are they? We have to find her!!!”

I scratched my head and checked my gums for bleeding. “Anyone want another beer while we look for her?”

Then Rachel, the elusive one, reappeared. Not two seconds later, some new guy came walking over, offering her a drink. Kiernan shook his head.

“It must be hell being a girl,” he said to me. “They never, ever, get left alone.”

Or, when they did, like Leo, it was even worse. I nodded in agreement. We were lucky, really, that no girls came up to talk to us, and the beer was cheap.


The Experience of a Lifetime (Said in a Really Sarcastic Way)


For two days, I’d been slithering around Dublin like one of those snakes good old St. Patrick famously chased away with a stick (which would be the one thing about Ireland I learned in school, circa third grade). On the first day I ate a pizza on the street and lit cigarettes for the drunk people that walked by (want to be popular with drunks?, sure you do!, always have a lighter handy, you’ll make great friends). On day two I had a lunch of Guinness in a pub and then went to an old prison where revolutionaries were executed nearly one hundred years ago, when my grandfather was just a dread my great-grandfather likely had, and open-top tour buses were called ‘carriages.’ I was a little drunk and tried to focus on all the historical content, trying to make up for what I didn’t learn in school (besides the snakes). History and beer don’t often mix, as was the case that day, when I would miss the entire 1910s due to an unavoidable bathroom break.

In those first few days that I had used up, drained, I kept hearing the same thing over and over again, repeated as though someone had somehow bought advertising time in the middle of every conversation I was having. At the different tourist locations I visited, I seemed to end up talking to some random person, a fellow tourist looking to talk tourism, and the conversation typically went like this:

Them: What have you done in Dublin?

Me: (answers question) (doesn’t mention part about drinking beer for lunch)

Them: Oh…have you seen The Book of Kells?

Me: (shakes head ‘no’) (doesn’t speak to avoid cigarette/beer breath)

Them: What?!? You must see The Book of Kells!

Me: (nods) (see earlier response to get rationale for not speaking)

Them: Oh, The Book of Kells is…it’s just such an experience…it’s Ireland’s greatest national treasure you know!

Me: (vows to see The Book of Kells) (looks around for bathroom) (weak bladder)

Lonely Planet had listed The Book of Kells, located at TrinityCollege, as the #1 thing to do in Dublin. Every website I visited mentioned it. I hadn’t heard so much enthusiasm about a manuscript since one of my students, back when I taught 9th grade English, wrote me a glowing book report about Captain Underpants. Eventually, by my last day, I had been programmed like a  computer, information downloaded into my memory, so that when I woke up, my inner voice was shouting, “For the love of Patrick! Go see The Book of Kells today or I will never, ever forgive you!!”

In all honesty, I’d never even heard of The Book of Kells before going to Dublin. I didn’t know what it was about, who wrote it, why it was so popular, if a movie had been made of it, or anything along those lines; it would be like my aforementioned grandfather, who refuses to believe that time has progressed past 1943, going to a museum dedicated to 50 Shades of Grey. I was clueless. Still, every source of expertise I consulted was so adamant about me going, how I couldn’t miss it, that I decided I would be a fucking fool to fuck this up and treat The Book of Kells as if it was an email sent by a coworker (which means I would totally ignore it).

So, on my final day in Ireland I rushed over to TrinityCollege, amped up, bought my ticket to see The Book of Kells, and hastily made my way into the exhibit. There were big pictures and lots of words on the wall; I read some and determined The Book of Kells was written by monks and had something to do with Jesus. Everyone else in the exhibit with me had to be at least 300 years old. There were so many damn words everywhere – on the walls, on plaques, on pieces of paper kept under thick glass in case one of the 300-year-olds got any funny ideas – and I continuously tried to force myself to read them. I’d start, get about a line in, and then my brain would turn off.

“Oh man,” I thought, “I can’t concentrate on this at all.” I reread the same things over and over again and still didn’t have any idea what they said. While others stopped with intense consideration at every new piece of information presented, I burned through that place with the speed of my old pet cat eating a can of Whiskas after I forgot to feed it for two days (it’s a joke, loved that cat).

Seconds – minutes maybe – had gone by, and I was almost to the end of the museum. I still had virtually no idea what The Book of Kells was. I shook my head in confusion. “Wow,” I said to myself, “I really don’t care about this one bit. I’m so uninterested.”

An angel appeared on my shoulder – “It’s The Book of Kells! Focus you ignorant bastard!”

Finally, near the back of the place, sat two of the actual books, opened up and on display. The old folks fought to get a look, elbowing each other and shoving to try and get closer. It was as if they’d all dropped their dentures and were baffled and trying to grab any set they could out of the desperate want of teeth. The scene was vicious. I nudged my way in and looked down at the real-deal-Holyfield Book of Kells; I should’ve felt something, had a light bulb go off, a exclamation point form over my head, had my heart skip a beat or two, anything, something, should’ve felt the urge to get a better look, should’ve

all those things, but instead I just wanted to leave. There is a Book of Kells for everyone, I think. For some it may be a church sermon, for others it’s a football game, or a popular movie, or the new Iphone, or your daughter’s sixth grade graduation ceremony. It’s that thing that everyone, including yourself, tells you to be interested in, involved with, but, even so, you just can’t seem to make yourself care about. Your husband loves it, your friends all have it, people on the television talk about it, there are essays written about its importance, and yet you can render no meaning in it or fascination for it. Whatever that thing is, that is your Book of Kells. You can’t be faulted – sometimes there is no sense in one’s tastes.

Afterwards, I went to a pub with a friendly Irish bartender. When he asked me what I’d done with my day, I told him I’d seen The Book. He smiled widely, and we cheered to it.