Skip to Content

Time for your weekly edition of the Defector Funbag. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag. And buy Drew’s book, The Night The Lights Went Out, while you’re at it. Today, we're talking about brisket toothpaste, Marshalls, the ideal age to die, and more.

Last week I pledged to do a Funbag featuring nothing but questions from our female readership. So let’s get to it, and let’s not make this an outlier of a Funbag, either. Keep on emailing and I’ll keep on answering, as I’m about to right now. Your letters:

Kari:

My darling husband still has all the wrestling dolls…sorry, action figures… from his childhood. They sit in a box in the basement. We are 45 with no children. When can I get rid of these things? They’re not like Star Wars figures still in the box. These things have scribbles on them, missing pieces (the snake that Jake needs), and are generally dirty. I hate clutter. Do I toss them in the dark of the night?

Holy shit, I think I had one of those dolls. Possibly Greg “The Hammer” Valentine, who is shockingly still alive. I used to stick paper clips into it. It was crazy fun.

But I digress. I’ve been married for 20 years, over which time my wife has thrown out roughly 75 percent of my shit. She used to do this without asking me. I’d be wandering around the house for an hour being like, “Honey, where’s my 1996 CBB championship t-shirt?” and she’d be like, “Oh, I threw that out because it was old and pitted out,” and then I’d be like, “YOU DON’T FUCKING GET IT, WOMAN. I BUSTED MY ASS TO WATCH MY TEAMMATES WIN THAT TITLE.” It was a fun little ritual. 

At some point though, she took the hint and started asking permission to throw my shit out, which is all I really wanted. Let me have some power over that decision and I’ll likely go along with whatever you’re asking me to get rid of. I’ve also acquired a bit of that Marie Kondo spirit myself, which means my wife doesn’t have to throw out my crap anymore because I’ve already done it.* Like Kari, I too now despise clutter. I am a simple man who requires only his chair, his bed, two cars, a fully appointed TV room, and his Nespresso machine. [Navin Johnson voice] And that’s ALL I need!

So no Kari, I wouldn’t pull a Bob Irsay and chuck your husband’s wrestling dolls in the middle of the night. Even if he never plays with them anymore, they’re still an indelible part of his childhood: a tangible artifact of memories he still holds close to him. It’s never easy to cut those ties, no matter how silly they may appear. Also, your husband would probably still like the OPTION to play with those dolls if he’s ever bored and drunk. He’ll never take himself up on that offer, but sometimes guys just want to know the choice is there. I know that’s how I roll.

You can still rid yourself of these things though, so long as you handle it with like five percent more delicacy. Pull your man aside one day and tell him, “Maybe it’s time to get rid of those action figures.” He’ll get all pissy about it at first, but at least you’ve planted the seed. Then you can nudge him a few times until, one day, he finally says to you, “Holy shit do you know what these things go for on Marketplace? We can make an easy $60! We don’t even have to pay for shipping!” And then both of you will live happily ever after. When you’re married, you have to make decisions together, even when that’s more of a process than it ought to be. You get used to it. Takes 20 years or so, but you get used to it.

For real though, wrestling fans are all insane. I bet they’d pay a mint for that garbage.

*Food is the exception here. My wife will still throw out any food she deems suspect, especially fruit. When I bring home a carton of blueberries, she inspects them INDIVIDUALLY and ends up throwing out like half of them. I do not accept this. For one thing, there are kids starving in Florida who’d be more than happy to eat those berries. Second, I would eat those berries. Third, the daughter now throws food out willy-nilly, too! She learned it by watching YOU, Mom! I’ve had enough of your tyranny, Berry Sheriff!

(She doesn’t like it when I call her the Berry Sheriff.)

Molly:

I consider myself close with both of my parents, but my mom tends to naturally get more attention and quality time from myself and my siblings. I’ve tried to be more mindful in recent years to do individual, special things with him, but any thoughts for making sure Dear Ol’ Dad is feeling equally loved? 

I have two ideas. One: give your dad a random hug from time to time and tell him you love him. That’s it. The youngest still does this for me, and it’s all I require. I don’t need a surprise party or any of that shit. Just one small moment of earnest love and that keeps me going for days, if not weeks. I don’t need equal time. In fact, I’m quite content for the kids to hassle mom with all of their bullshit. But I do want to feel appreciated for all of the shit that I do, because I do a lot. I don’t want all of that working/cooking/cleaning going unmentioned forever. It’s not a given, you know. You kids could have had a SHITTY father, and then where would you be, huh? I need my competence acknowledged from time to time, even if just for a second. Last night I made dinner for the family. Everyone liked it and thanked me for making it. Made my whole week.

The second idea is to ask your dad for help with shit on occasion. The easiest way to make any dad feel loved is to be like, “Hey dad, I can’t figure out what’s wrong with the sink. Can you help?” You just hit the Dad Mode button. I love to be productive, but what I love even more is people seeing me be productive. My day job consists of me standing in front of a computer all day. I could be looking at donkey porn for all anyone in my family knows (this is likely what they suspect). So anytime I can assemble a chair, cook a meal, or even replace a light bulb in front of them, I feel both useful and loved. Do you know what my fondest memory of the pandemic was? It was when I swapped out a ceiling fan in the 14-year-old’s bedroom. I had to turn off the circuit and rewire the electrical box and everything. When I turned the new fan on and it worked, I felt like the King Of All Dads. To this day, I still look up at that fan spinning around and it brings me tremendous satisfaction. I could be a professional fan installer, you know.

So give your dad jobs to do, even if he’s finicky about doing them and takes too long. Just chill out on your phone while he disassembles your bed frame and then puts it back together all wrong. And then give him a hug and a beer.

Courtney:

I know I’m in the minority on this site, but I am a proud stand up wiper. If you don’t stand up to wipe, how do you admire your work? When you wipe and drop the toilet paper, you can’t get an unobstructed view of the length and girth of your deposit. That’s half the satisfaction of taking a dump right there. I feel sorry for you sit down shitters. You don’t know what you are missing.

All due respect Courtney, I know what I’m missing. It’s my shit. I’ve seen it many, many times before. It’s not like I’ve spent my entire life not knowing what my own feces look like. I possess object permanence and have indeed gotten the occasional, unobstructed view of my own handiwork. You know what it looks like? Shit. It looks like shit. I have seen SO many turds in my lifetime (I have three kids, remember): big ones, small ones, loose ones, green ones, etc. Seeing one more turd isn’t gonna make a difference either way. I don’t need to admire them. No one else is gonna be impressed. I’m a process over results guy when it comes to using the loo, and I’m too busy playing Yahtzee on my phone anyway to look down.

HOWEVER, if you want to show your dad you love him, you really ought to act like you’ve never seen a turd that large before if he leaves a floater. You should be like OMG DAD THAT ONE MIGHT BE A RECORD! YOUR RECTUM IS SO POWERFUL.

Selena:

If you were to look into my makeup bag, how successful do you think you’d be in identifying the items with their intended purposes?

Hang on, lemme go sift through my wife and daughter’s respective bags to see how I do.

[goes upstairs]

OK, I correctly identified most of that crap. I know what lip stick, lip gloss, concealer, foundation, bronzer, mascara, and compacts all look like. Also, the majority of products in that bag are, you know, labeled. The bronzer said BRONZER on it, which aided me in my powers of deduction. The only time I got stuck was trying to figure out what every application brush was used for. You ladies use a lot of brushes, and they’re all so soft! Like nuzzling against a pony! Very nice. When I tested out guy makeup for GQ, nothing came with a fancy brush. I feel cheated.

Colleen:

Shopping at a Marshall’s is becoming weirder by the day. It’s still a great place to snag quality exercise clothing at very reasonable prices (screw you, Lululemon) and neat-o snacks from the food aisle. What I can’t figure out is the weird stuff in the checkout line. How does Jack Skellington get onto a three-pack of spatulas? Why do you need a three-pack of spatulas anyway? Whoever buys more than one or two at a time? I get “Frozen” gummy snacks, that makes sense, but how did someone get a license for Nautica branded reusable cups? This makes no sense. Can you help us out with this, Drew?

Those are last-second gifts. Every year, there are a number of occasions—housewarming parties, Teacher Appreciation Day, your father’s 75th birthday, etc.—where you have to buy a thoughtless gift for someone expecting just that. HEY PRESTO! The Marshalls checkout line is there for you, sister. The overlords at Big Thrift know that checkout line is always 30 people deep, which is why they’ve constructed an elaborate hedge maze of impulse buys for you to peruse, as you wait for the lady ahead of you to return a dozen pairs of 2(x)ist boxer-briefs and four already-stained Van Heusen shirts. That’s as good a time as any to stock up on novelty-sized jars of pickled banana peppers to give to your neighbor. What else are you gonna do, drive to a whole other store? No one’s got the time for that shit.

If you wanna go deeper on this topic, all of the random crap they sell at Marshalls is also a likely symptom of the Dollar Store-ification of American retail. I go to Marshalls when I wanna find an easy bargain on workout shorts. But there are millions upon millions of people who need to go there not just for basic clothing necessities, but also for home goods (Home Goods, by the way, is also owned by Marshalls' parent company, as is TJ Maxx), pet supplies, and even certain foodstuffs. So I can goof on that three-pack of Nightmare Before Christmas spatulas and be like Lol who needs this shit, but I’d be missing that people genuinely might. That’s what THE GREAT SATAN THAT IS CAPITALISM has wrought upon us. That is the end of this bleakform pivot. Let’s return to Stupidland.

Amanda:

Why has Weird Al never done the Super Bowl halftime show? Everyone loves him and there’s no way it wouldn’t be fucking great, right?

Oh yeah it’d be a shitload of fun, but the NFL is a Very Serious League and couldn’t abide a halftime show that—given Weird Al’s sensibilities—would likely be a send-up of all the other Super Bowl halftime shows. Weird Al would get up there with his accordion, have a backup singer tear his shirt off to reveal his hairy nipple, and Roger Goodell would demand he be sent to prison.

Also, the Super Bowl halftime show has become the biggest live music event of the year, every year. No one gives a fuck about the Grammys, or the AMAs, or the Cracker Barrel Country/Western Awards. This lousy 14-minute set is the only game in town, so the NFL isn’t gonna book just anyone for it. They want the big guns. 

HALFTIME!

Kirsten:

Because I subscribe to Defector, and because I live in America, I know way more about sports than I should. Throughout my professional life, I’ve found sports to be a safe, neutral topic with men for chitchat. My question is: How much do dudes talk about sports in homo-social situations? Do y’all ever talk about other stuff outside of meetings?

Sex. We talk about sex. Are we getting enough sex? Are we so old that we’re bad at sex now? Are there other people out there getting laid more than us? Is that fair? Who would we like to have sex with? Oh dude, have you watched Industry yet, because the sex scenes in that are HOT. Those are all vital questions that us men are keen to answer

Otherwise, I don’t think intramale conversation topics are that widely held a secret. We talk about the same shit everyone else talks about: work, our families, our various ailments, shit we just watched (like Industry, which is very sexy!), money, shit in the house that needs fixing, and politics for five minutes before it gets uncomfortable. We’re not so different, you ladies and us. You can talk to us about anything … except ghosts. We’re so scared of ghosts, you wouldn’t believe it. Ghosts can kill.

Nicole:

Turns out I need hearing aids. I am saving up (ugh) but there are so many, it's hard to choose. I wanna get the behind the ear kind, and was going to get the Costco Kirkland one before they pulled it (it was cheap and made by Phonak). Anyhoo, I was wondering what kind you use, and how do you like it?

Ah see? We’re talking various ailments now and I couldn’t be happier. Nicole knows the best way to this deaf man's heart. My hearing aid is a behind-the-ear model from Starkey, which is similar to Phonak’s. I like it a lot, even though the receiver wire blows out every so often (and always when I travel, which is doubly annoying) and I have to get it replaced. That replacement is free if your aids are under warranty, which mine were for three years. After that, it’s $200. But I wear this aid every day and genuinely do not like going without it, so I’ll pay what I have to pay. 

And that’s no small amount. I thought that recent laws making aids over the counter would help lower prices and make these aids more accessible to people who need them, but that certainly hasn’t been the case just yet. Wirecutter just reviewed the best OTC hearing aids, and their picks are all in the four figures. I wish hearing aids were as cheap as eyeglasses, but that little miracle has yet to transpire. Maybe I should look in the checkout aisle at Marshalls for my next one. 

Charlotte:

If you were capable of giving birth, would you want to do it? Let's say that your body would go back to normal after (not guaranteed for other people that give birth, what a deal). I would have happily pushed the "miracle of birth" on to my husband if it had been possible, but he says no deal even if the medical science gets there soon.

I’d do it! None of you ladies will ever believe men, because “men are too cowardly to give birth” remains the ultimate card to play. A negative that cannot be disproven. But don’t tell me that I don’t know pain. I’ve had extreme sciatica for months on end. I’ve had a camera up my dick. I’ve broken my skull. I’ve watched Big Daddy. So yes, I could give birth to a child, provided you gave me an epidural and all of the other kick-ass hospital drugs. I’d genuinely like to know what it’s like to be pregnant. I know it would SUCK, because my wife has told me as much many, many, many times. But plenty of things that suck are worth the payoff, with childbirth being the ultimate example. 

So knock me up. I can take it, and don’t feed me some bullshit about how I couldn’t. Us men don’t fight wars of our own making just to be called pansies!

Sue:

What do you believe is the ideal age to die? Obviously this can vary from person to person, but I spend a lot of time with my 89-year-old dad, and over the past couple of years, he's basically given up all of his activities and just watches sports on TV all day. I'm sure he gets some enjoyment out of it, but he used to be very active, loved to travel, and was always the life of the party guy. As someone who has had a near-death experience, I thought you would be the ideal person to answer this question—do you think there might come a day when you might prefer to end it all rather than be old and ailing?

Unless I’m in genuine pain and suffering due to some shitty old-man ailment, no. I’m like most other human beings where my primal instinct is to survive for as long as I can, regardless of circumstance. That’s unlikely to change as I get older and more infirm. Thanks to my bike and other go-go activities, I’ve regained much of the ambition I lost this time a year ago, but even back then I still wanted to, you know, live. I was just content to do less, that’s all. That’ll also be the case once I’m 80 and can’t drive a car anymore. I’ll be like, “Well driving was fun while it lasted,” and then I’ll hop on my Rascal scooter and mow down some teens on my way to the Five & Dime. I’m still relatively high-strung at 46, but I’m also content to spend an entire airplane ride with my eyes closed but still awake. I don’t listen to music or talk radio anymore when driving. I don’t go out at night much. I’m happy to do fuck-all, and I’ll only get more comfortable doing fuck-all when I’m too old to do anything else. I’ll be in the nursing home, staring out my window at a tree for hours on end, and I’ll be fine with it.

I guess I should be more proactive about my existence since I nearly had it snuffed out back in 2018, but that hasn’t been the case. Instead, I’ve been more than grateful to have my older age play out the same way everyone else’s does. I wanted a normal life back after my accident, and I more or less got it. Big win for Drew. Also—and I’ve felt this acutely ever since my daughter started visiting colleges—I’m more than content to watch everyone else go out and do things. I don’t ever get FOMO anymore. The world goes on without you even before you’re gone, and that’s all right. Here’s something Matt Ufford told me for The Night The Lights Went Out. It didn’t make it into the final book for the usual editing reasons, but it’s stuck with me ever since he said it:

“You end up enjoying the process of fading into the background of your own life, and becoming a secondary character as your kids move to the foreground.”

That’s exactly right. My wife and I are a year and change away from turning our oldest loose on the world, and I’m so much more excited for that than I am anything that I myself will do thereafter. I’ll still write, ride my bike, demand attention online, and spend money unwisely, but ultimately I really won’t care about what happens to me. I’ll be a spectator from there on out, and it’ll be great. So if I have to pick a death date at gunpoint, make it an even 100. That way, I can watch as much of the show as I can. Then I can see my great-grandkids for the first time, eat one last chocolate bar, and then peace out for good. 

Sierra:

I was giving my dog some smoked beef brisket tooth cleaner the other night and couldn't help but wonder: is a human taste tester involved in the development of this product? My boyfriend said no, but I figured I'd throw the question to the Title IX Funbag. The dog loves the flavor btw.

Your boyfriend is wrong. Humans DO taste test pet food before it goes to market. And if you don’t think I want brisket-flavored Colgate after reading this question … you’re actually correct but still.

Email of the week!

Dana:

One of my grandpas was nicknamed Big Ben. He was 6’2” and 300 pounds. He drove a dragline for a living (largest in the world at that time). He once had one of the cables snap and bust through the window, breaking his leg in like four places and turning it into pulp. He wasn’t supposed to even keep the leg, but he did regain the ability to walk eventually. I was like two when that happened and apparently I walked up and down the aisles of the hospital collecting handfuls of candy from the old men on his rehab ward because I was so cute. Sadly, I am unable to remember this. My mom says I was the apple of his eye.

Big Ben was surrounded by women his whole adult life, with three daughters and his first grandchild born a girl. The love of his life, my grandma (who is still alive), is five feet tall even in sock feet. They looked ridiculous together. While it might sound like Big Ben was kind of badass, what with driving the world’s largest dragline, he was in fact a known joker and doofus. He had a weird sense of humour. Like many large, good-natured guys, Grandpa let his little wife rule the roost. But over the years, he managed to do a few things that got under her skin, and so she had the list of what she called “The Unforgivables”: stuff he’d done that was so dumb that it pissed her off years later. In no particular order, this included throwing her wedding bouquet into the fireplace the morning after the wedding (WHY?), painting the faded top half of his old car the wrong colour, and, for reasons none of us could discern, taking a new oak toilet seat and sanding it (because he thought it was uneven) until it was truly lopsided, then using clear silicone to build up the low part on the seat back up to height. The most bizarre Frankenstein monster toilet seat ever. 

And then there was the set of knives.

When they had no money and three kids under five, Big Ben bought a set of knives from a door to door salesman. They were expensive at the time, especially for people with no money. And dull. They couldn’t be sharpened either. My Grandma was enraged, but he insisted these were the greatest knives ever, and he tried to cut shit with them for the next 30 years. Not only that, he wouldn’t let her throw them out, because if you’re doubling down you need to COMMIT. 

So one day, when I was like 15, my mom has a garage sale, and my Grandma waited until Big Ben was at work. Once he was there, she brought the knives over. Sets them on the table, tells my mother to find a buyer. Walks off with the smugness of a woman who’s finally getting justice. Fast forward to Christmas. There is a huge, gold-wrapped gift under the tree for her. Massive box bigger than her. She is thinking it’s a fur coat, because it’s big but light. She opens it and guess what it is?

The knives.

He’s lucky they were dull or I swear she’d have stabbed him.

Swap out the knives in this story for wrestling dolls and we’ve come full circle.

Already a user?Log in

Welcome to Defector!

Sign up to read another couple free blogs.

Or, click here to subscribe!

If you liked this blog, please share it! Your referrals help Defector reach new readers, and those new readers always get a few free blogs before encountering our paywall.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter