I don’t feel the need to breed

(Click here for original Key West the Newspaper column with reader comments .)

So I don’t want to have kids. What’s it to ya? Seriously.

When asked when I’ll have a kid, or why I don’t already have, to quote Scarlett O’Hara, “a passle of mealy-mouthed brats.” I can’t believe the reaction I get to my response that I just don’t want ‘em. People who barely know me tell me I’m selfish (which is so totally beside the point), or ask what’s wrong with me.

I love my life just the way it is. Procreating will not make me complete. And the choice not to procreate does not make me less of a woman.

Or a monster, as some men (surprise!) imply when I tell them I choose not to breed. I do not exaggerate when I say this reaction comes complete with facial expressions of shock and horror. I mean really, what do you care?

Wait! Perhaps I can have YOUR baby???

And what if something was “wrong” with me? There was a time I considered making up a gynecologic condition to explain away my childlessness, but in the end, I’m not afraid to own up to my decision. My choice. And thank god I’ve got the right to choose.

“But who’s going to take care of you when you get old?”

Um, if you’re having kids to ensure you don’t spend your twilight years alone, walk into a nursing home or assisted living facility and see what kind of guarantee awaits you.

Let me say, before I alienate all the mommies, that I have many friends who are great mothers. Because they choose to be. They’re doing the job they want to do, and they’re awesome at it. I give them tons of credit, because sometimes it’s all the energy I can muster just to shake some dry food into the cat bowl, let alone shake a much-anticipated dirty martini into ice-cold submission.

“But you’d be such a good mother!” Thanks, but no, I probably wouldn’t. I have a low tolerance for a lot of things. However, I can have fun with your well-behaved children and enjoy my time with them precisely because I get to leave them behind and head to the solitude of my home, and drink that martini in peace.

See? I’m not totally against children. Unless they are whining, or kicking the back of my seat on a flight, or throwing tantrums in a restaurant or store. Or kids who walk and text and run into you and instead of saying sorry, give you a dirty look.

I am totally against parents who reward bad behavior or ignore the child completely, falsely believing that the world is their babysitter. I’m wholeheartedly against people who have children just because they have the baby makin’ equipment to do so.

And what’s up with greedy breeders? Do you really need more than two children? The planet is overpopulated as it is. Why do the Duggars, at like 150 children and counting, get a television show celebrating the fact that they don’t use birth control, and instill that “value” in their spawn? We live in a day and age where you don’t actually have to give birth to your farmhands.

Would it surprise you that, compared to Democrats, Republicans are super breeders?

According to a recent article on thedailybeast.com, six Republican presidential candidates have 34 children among them. Part of my theory to overbreeding is that the husband wants to keep his wife busy and distracted and out of his personal “affairs,” but that’s a whole other column.

“You’ll never know what true love is until you have a baby.” Hmmm . . . if you define true love by someone’s complete and total dependence on you, well, I think there’s a whole host of issues there that should be explored with the help of a professional. Define true love for me when your kid can talk back.

Don’t judge me for making the responsible choice for myself. I’m doing it for you, too, because surely I’d end up with some kid who would murder me in my bed and then go shoot up a high school. Despite my best efforts.

So breeders, let’s call a truce. You keep your poopy diapers. I’ll always have Paris.

Delta Sucks!

(An edited version of this column originally ran in Key West the Newspaper April 1,  2011)

Me and four guys I didn’t know 24 hours ago, heading to Key West in an ancient sedan. Thank god I’ve got shotgun, because the Bulgarian sure does like his cigs.

This could have been the intro to what would eventually be a screwball comedy, but it was actually the final leg of the horror story I’d been living for the last 15 hours. I should have been home from Paris, waking up in my own bed for the first morning in almost two weeks. Instead, there I was on the road with the men I call Alpha Male (Aggressive Type-A), Fish (heading to Key West to, you guessed it, go fishing), Bulgaria (the Bulgarian), and our driver, Ricky Ricardo, on account of his laugh. And he liked me because his daughter and I share the same name. That’s why I got shotgun.

The day before, I was at Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris at roughly 8:30 a.m. (2:30 a.m. ET), being politely whisked through security as an Air France Premium passenger, and then sitting in the peaceful terminal (yes, peaceful!) wondering why American airports couldn’t be half as civilized.

I even had a lovely nine hour flight with good food, champagne, wine, and three French films. Once in Atlanta I’d have a three and a half hour layover until I boarded my Delta flight home to Key West, and by 10:00 pm tops I’d be home sweet home.

Well, a girl can dream.

Thoughts of home, and seeing my cats, even got me through the painful dinner at a Mexican restaurant where I sat next to three girls who each asked the server every single time he came to their table, “the chip refills are free, right?” He finally brought them their own individual giant bowls, overflowing with chips. I couldn’t take it anymore and went to my gate early.

I thought the worst of it was the grandparents with an excitable child who practically sat on top of me. Yeah, I wish. It was when the gate agent asked for volunteers to take a $400 voucher and the next flight out that it started to drizzle on my parade.

Of course there were no takers and soon the agent listed off the names of 18 passengers who needed to see him immediately. Yours truly made the list.

He explained that due to the wind in Key West (a quick Facebook query confirmed that there was nary a breeze) and a “weights and measures” issue, none of us would be boarding that plane. We would be put up at a hotel in Atlanta until the next flight out. Which was in two days. They could not guarantee that we wouldn’t once again get bumped, what with the wind and weights and measures. There were flights scheduled to leave the next day, but you know, there was no room for us since those flights were sold out and they would inevitably be bumping passengers off those lists too.

How am I so sure? Because the Delta Red Coat agent told us that this happens every single day on their flights between Atlanta and Key West. Every day on almost every fully booked flight.

I pushed my way to the front and explained that I was not one of these fancy vacationers. I am a Key West resident who has a job, and responsibilities, and cats that needed attention, and I’ve been travelling since 2:30 a.m and I’m tired and desperately need a shower and thus I MUST BE ON THIS FLIGHT.

You’d be surprised, but the only ones moved by my story were the ones who wanted to punch me in the face because I live in Key West. Redcoat stared at me blankly. I thought about spending the next two nights in Atlanta with no guarantee of ever getting out and I started to cry. Except I was so dehydrated that I had no tears in me. Not a one.

I wanted to fling myself down on that nasty airport carpet and start pounding my heels and fists into the ground and scream until I got my way, but instead I just slumped over the desk. Then someone tried to make me feel like a jerk by interjecting, “well this guy’s from Bulgaria and he’s on his way home from his dad’s funeral and he’s already been travelling for 37 hours.” Fine, he wins. But I claim second place prize at the pity party.

Remember the airport tantrum lady? I mean, I wouldn't actually let any part of my exposed flesh come in contact with nasty airport carpet.

Then Red Coat tried to tell us we were only going to get $200 vouchers and I lost it. Two hundred for this clusterfuck? Sorry sweetie, but gate guy already announced $400 and that’s what you have to give us. And we got it (and I’ve already misplaced it).

Alpha Male is about to incite a riot by announcing that in the Crown Room he overheard Delta employees mention there was a lot of cargo on our flight, and that was really why we were being bumped. I believe him. We implored them to take us and leave the luggage behind. They wouldn’t even give us our own bags back.

Red Coat is trying to get us out of her hair by booking those of us who are interested on an 11:00pm flight to Fort Lauderdale. And if we have enough takers she might be able to arrange a shuttle to Key West for the next morning.  No, not an airplane.  A bus.

Some people complain that they’re only on a three day vacation and have paid hefty non-refundable deposits to Key West resorts and so getting in on Saturday will do them no good. Even getting in on Friday sucks. And they were pretty much told, well, that sucks for you, doesn’t it?

So after literally two hours at the desk we’ve all been given meal vouchers, booked back home or on different flights, and for those of us going to Fort Lauderdale, we’ve also been given hotel vouchers. We are assured that a Delta agent will greet us at our gate and lead us directly to the airport shuttle that will drop us off at a Hyatt five minutes from the airport, and pick us up at 6:30 a.m. for our 7:00 a.m. shuttle. Awesome.

But then we arrive in FTL at 1:30 a.m. and the gate agents couldn’t really care less about our plight. They had no advance knowledge of us. They said our hotel vouchers weren’t valid and so we had to hang out another half hour and have them rebooked.

We were assured by the smiling (or was it smirking?) Redcoat that the shuttle attendants were waiting for us curbside and if we had any problems, just call. Problem is, none of us thought to get a phone number (and when you call Delta customer service after midnight, helpful is the last word I’d use to describe them).

Naturally the shuttle people had no knowledge of us and said we’d have to get in line behind the other 20 people also waiting for a shuttle. And we do, because there is not one Delta employee left in the whole terminal to help us. When we finally get to the hotel at 2:15 a.m.  for a couple hours of rest, we are informed there are no reservations in our names and that the hotel has been sold out for days. As have all the hotels in the area. Like, haven’t we ever heard of spring break?

I’m pretty much willing to just sleep in the lobby at this point but Alpha Male yells at the front desk clerk until he calls around and finds us a hotel. He came up with one in a scary Hollywood neighborhood for $175/night which would naturally not be covered by our vouchers but we called a cab and went anyway.

I didn't look this good.

At this point our group has whittled down to four: me (gorgeous after a shower with no makeup remover, moisturizer, makeup, or hair product to primp with, feeling fabulous in my dirty clothes, now sans-underwear), Alpha Male, Fish, and Bulgaria. I’m a little disappointed in Alpha Male because once I honed in on a Red Coat when we were back at the airport, he stood back and let me be the bad guy. Although when I gave Red Coat some slack Alpha jumped in and took over, and in the end we got refund checks for our hotel, and the shuttle to get us home. And Red Coat admitted that nothing that was supposed to have been done for us had been done. It was a matter of just getting us out of their faces.

Will I fly Delta again? Not if I can help it. And not through Atlanta. We pay good money for our flights and the least they can do is fulfill the service we’ve paid them to provide. But bumping passengers off this same route every single day says to me that once I’ve paid, they could care less where I end up (by the way, I was forced to pay for a first class seat out of Key West as there were only two seats left on the plane. As anyone who’s flown this route knows, there is no first class. Two days later I received a notice I’d been downgraded to coach, but of course I was not refunded any money).

Delta is sending its customer service reps to “charm school,” but if anyone I came across is a graduate, it basically means smile until you make the customer someone else’s problem.

Yeah, VD still sucks

This column originally ran in KWTN 2/2010

I refer to Valentine’s Day as VD because it is the gift that keeps on giving. It’s just not necessarily the gift you want.

Surely I cannot be the only one whose first memories of Valentine’s Day equal Major Suckfest. Is middle school, the most awkward time of a girl’s life, the right time to submit them to the humiliation ritual of Valentine’s Day flower deliveries? In my school, a secret or not-so-secret admirer bought you a rose, which was delivered with a note during one of the seven excruciatingly long periods of your Valentine’s school day.

Surprisingly, I was delivered said rose, by someone I considered geeky and who is probably Bill Gates-esque today. Naturally I had a crush on a cuter, older boy. On VD my best frienemy told him I liked him, and she seemed to take great pleasure relaying that he thought I was a bit underdeveloped. I’m not sure what he expected, since I was all of 12 years old, but that’s kind of what has set the tone for my Valentine expectations ever since. It really hasn’t gotten any better.

At that young age, I was sure that having a boyfriend would make a world of difference. So my first VD with a boyfriend fell a bit short of my expectations. What was supposed to be a romantic dinner turned into a trip to the dyke to drink wine coolers and go muddin’ with his friends. But wait, I did receive my first real VD gift! Remember those “imposter” perfumes? I got something to the effect of, If you like Poison, you’ll Love Agent Orange. That, and an unsigned card. Can’t it only get better from here?

Flash forward to my first real adult boyfriend. By that I mean the first serious boyfriend I had after college, not that he was a real adult. Sure, I got my first dozen roses delivered to my office. But unlike every other girl, mine arrived a day late. I’m not sure, but I think he was a little resentful of the whole VD ritual.

Now I knew that there was something way worse than being single on VD: when you have a boyfriend, you finally get the roses and you realize that you’re dating a dick and those flowers mean less than dick.

I take comfort in knowing I’m not alone. One friend of mine was on the throne, when her husband walked in and handed her a dozen roses. Who said romance isn’t’ dead? Oh wait, I should probably have mentioned that he’s her ex-husband now. Or the friend whose thoughtful boyfriend gave her a four hour Jenna Jamison DVD. Yeah, they’re not together either.

One year, VD fell shortly after the breakup of a long-term relationship. I was getting a cut and color with my favorite stylist on Las Olas. Of course I had a few glasses of wine during our appointment, and decided to take advantage of my prime parking space and walk over to a nice restaurant for their renowned cheese plate.

As I strolled over and became cognizant of all the couples I remembered that in fact it was VD. But by god I wanted more wine and some good cheese. I summoned my Dutch courage and boldly told the hostess there was just one and I was happy to sit at the bar.

At first I felt self-conscious, like everyone was staring at me thinking, poor single girl on Valentine’s. But then I took a closer look, and all around me I saw couples having a nice expensive meal, not speaking, looking completely miserable. That had been me! Suddenly I realized some of those people were looking at me with envy! No obligations, just out enjoying the night. That by far was the best Valentine’s Day ever! Also because my hair was looking fierce.

So what I’m asking of my fellow Key Westers is to unite against the commercialization and pressure that Valentine’s puts on even the most romantic of couples. Do not send roses! They die. And fast. How about a flowering plant, or better yet, a membership to GLEE’s community garden? For the love of god, do not take your sweetie out on February 14th. It’s the second biggest amateur night besides New Year’s Eve.

Good relationships are hard to find. So if you have a special someone, do something different. I’m taking my bf to the burlesque show at ArtBaron February 13th. I’m praying to god he doesn’t bring me roses. Do something special for someone who is special in every other way but romantically.

Fuck commercialization, and share the love. After all, if you have someone to snuggle with, sound off to or share a nice bottle of wine with on a regular basis, don’t forget your friends who don’t. At the end of the day, those friends are the ones you’ll be crying about your asshole boyfriend to or celebrating your breakup with, and they deserve a nice thank you. Like a burlesque show ticket, or a gift certificate to Better than Sex.

Screw your significant other! If VD is a day to show your love, then remember everyone who’s special in your life and not just the one you have sex with.

Dirty Girl?

(Published in Konk Life 2/9/12)

I suppose this issue of Konk Life could be considered the Valentine issue, so I’m going to share my tale of lust gone bad. If you read my column in Key West the Newspaper, you know that I’m pretty anti-Valentine’s Day, and I’ve shared my February 14th highs and lows.

But I haven’t shared the lowest of the low. Worst VD (pun intended) ever.

First, I’ll give you some background. When I was younger, on the one hand, I wanted a boyfriend, but on the other, I didn’t want to settle down. I wanted to experience lots of sex with lots of different guys so that when it came time to settle down, I wouldn’t have to feel like I was missing out on anything.

Ironically, I have never settled down, but that’s an issue for a whole other column. Or a shrink. Or just a reason to break out a case of champagne.

But on this particular VD back around 1991, there was no cork popping. I was away at college and really just desperate for a bar that wouldn’t heavily scrutinize my fake ID. I had to drown my shame and embarrassment. I wanted to feel numb and forget the fact that, that very morning, my ex-hometown booty call (well, back in those days we called it “friend with an option”) called to tell me that I had given him an STD.

Being just a booty call, we weren’t exclusive so I don’t know how he had narrowed me down as the culprit. The gist was that he had a new girlfriend. A NICE girl. She had some unfortunate symptoms which were diagnosed as an STD. Honestly I can’t even remember what it was at this point. Maybe the clap. Or the other one that would make you go insane if it went undiagnosed. Syphilis?

But the point was that she was NICE and so he must have given it to her because I gave it to him. It was awesome that this was a Sunday morning so I couldn’t even make an emergency visit to Planned Parenthood. There was no internet to search for symptoms. I had to wait until Monday to call, and even when I described the urgency of the appointment, they still couldn’t see me for a few more days.

So on that Sunday I went to lunch with my best friend, watching all the couples in love, and wondered what kind of poison was roiling through my body. Would the treatment hurt? Would I actually have to call other conquests (as if I even had phone numbers!) to tell them to get checked out?

It was all so humiliating. But when he called I just took it. I didn’t even remind him that he was just a big man-whore and that if I had something it was because he gave it to me. I just said I’d get checked out.

Finally, after the longest four day wait ever, I had my appointment. I got tested for everything. I had nothing. NOTHING!

I called the motherfucker back and on his answering machine, which he shared with three roommates, went on about how my doctor gave me a clean bill of health, and that he was the STD carrier. Oh, wait. Perhaps his NICE new girlfriend wasn’t as innocent as he thought.

A year later I was still really pissed (I don’t forgive OR forget), so when my bestie and I went home on spring break, we got drunk, drove (naturally) to his apartment in the middle of the night, and plastered his car with really really stupid bumper stickers we’d collected at Stuckey’s restaurants and rest stops on our drive back from college.

Although by no means vindication, it felt good.

Still, perhaps I won’t answer my phone this February 14th.