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I Wanted The Pandemic To Be Over So Badly I Stopped Paying Attention To Reality

SCHOOLCRAFT, MI - AUGUST 30: Students return for the first day of the school year at Schoolcraft Elementary on August 30, 2021 in Schoolcraft, Michigan. The Schoolcraft Community School district, like many school districts throughout the country are adapting to mask mandates for teachers and students due to the current surge of Covid-19 cases. (Photo by Matthew Hatcher/Getty Images)
Matthew Hatcher/Getty Images

Time for your weekly edition of the Defector Funbag. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag. And preorder Drew’s next book, The Night The Lights Went Out, while you’re at it. Today, we’re talking about mall music, dick pics on Wikipedia, pleasurable diarrhea, and more.

Your letters:

Matt:

What’s your position on public drinking fountains, and will it change post-pandemic? Did/will you use them/let your kids use them? If you couldn’t guess this is to settle an argument with my ladyfriend. 

All that shit about hygiene theater was exposed over a year ago, so I’d drink from a water fountain now (and have). As for my kids, I’ve generally let them make their own choices about COVID prevention, because they’ve spent enough time living through the pandemic to understand it and to understand what makes them comfortable and what doesn’t. My youngest is a different story because he isn’t vaxxed yet, so we’ve still got the bubble wrap on him. But in general, I don’t fear water fountains. Besides, everyone parked at one now uses it to fill up a sports bottle. Takes them half an hour. Their lips don’t come within a foot of the spout.

Up until this past weekend, I was basically the Clay Travis of the Delta variant. I was like, If you’re vaxxed you’re still bulletproof, and the media is overstating the danger just to get attention. Then my wife asked me to mask up for Defector’s one-year anniversary party in New York and I threw a little shitfit. The pandemic was over for ME. I had done my job. I had the right to live my goddamn life again. I wrote so many doe-eyed “we can live again” posts, on this very site, that I refused to believe we couldn’t.

But I wasn’t REALLY looking at the information out there. I made all my decisions pre-vaccine based on trusted sources of information, but I had essentially stopped trusting those sources after my jab because I hated what they told me. My wife made me come correct, so I went and looked at everything again and yeah, there’s enough danger to the variant where I should really keep the mask on indoors to prevent my son from getting infected. I’ve made it this far masking up, and it’s not that huge of an imposition. And my kids are masked at school all day—as mandated by the county for every child K–12, vaccinated or not. So I’ll keep doing it until he’s jabbed and the threat has subsided for good. I’m just sick to death of it all, although I’m hardly alone in that.

Related: If you’re an anti-vaxxer, you can still go fuck yourself.

Adam:

What are some good words or phrases that you’ve had to stop using because too many (dorky, white) people on the internet started saying them way too often? It’s kind of the same sensation of liking a song, then getting kind of tired of it after hearing it a little too often, then having to disown it completely after hearing it on like a Chrysler Town and Country commercial. I’ve noticed this recently with the word “slaps”. It used to be a cool word to describe a good song, maybe one with a little bit of funk. The other day I saw some (dorky, white, media) guy say that a burrito he was eating “slaps” and I knew I could never say it again. 

I’m already on record with some of these words.

I still hate “bangers.” I hate “slaps.” I hate “whips.” I hate “fire”/”flames.” I hate all that shit. They have perfectly acceptable origins, but greater Twitter got hold of them and now I can’t go five seconds without some chirpy dipshit going, “Not gonna lie, Boston Legal still slaps.” Every grownup online wants to be 20 years younger than they actually are. And they attempt to pass themselves off as such by co-opting words that Zoomers ditched three months ago, all to garnish their stale-ass opinions about everything. They can all suck my ass. Find some new goddamn slang, Twitter. It’s like you only know six words. ZIP IT UP AND ZIP IT OUT.

Matt:

So the guy who “volunteered” himself to be the example demonstrating ejaculation on Wikipedia… what’s his deal? Do you think that he talks about that as an ice breaker at parties? Lists it on his resume? I mean, who would do that?

Welp, now I gotta look at the picture, don’t I? Let’s have at it. Wouldn’t be the first time I saw photos or video of another man ejaculating now, would it.

[looks at photo]

I gotta be honest: that’s a pretty terrific quadtych of one man’s spunking process. Looks like it was directed by Andrew Blake.

Now here’s the best part: Wikipedia lists the photo credit as “Shadowhead69 – Own work.” In other words, a Wiki editor used photos of his own goddamn dick erupting. I assume he had the photos already on hand for everyday pervert shit. But if he actually staged a shoot specifically FOR this entry, I have to hand it to him. He’s got a handsome peener AND he’s willing to use it to educate the general public.

So, to get clearer answers (as if they’re really needed), I summoned my inner Ashley Feinberg and reached out to Shadowhead69 via email to ask him about his dick.

“Is this Wikipedia user Shadowhead69? I got a question for you for Defector.com if you are.”

That was Monday. Still no answer. I will update you if he responds.

Chris:

Given the big IPCC report released the other day, we’re clearly heading towards a really shitty future. Since we can’t even get people to take a fucking vaccine to save their lives, I was trying to think of some things ‘we’ could do to try and minimize fossil fuel emissions. What if sports teams (MLB/NBA/NHL) did a minimized travel schedule and stuck to various regions for weeks at a time? 

That wouldn’t do anything. It’s not Major League Baseball that’s in the established 100 companies causing 71 percent of fuel emissions. Throwing up your hands and saying, “Well I guess it’s up to us” is the game plan OF those companies, and they’ve got half the op-ed page ready and willing to assist them in spreading that horseshit around. The way you as an individual—or even you as the NL East—can minimize fossil fuel emissions is by voting, protesting, donating, and spitting in the Exxon CEO’s face whenever you see him (his name is Darren Woods). Condensing the MLB schedule to 54 consecutive three-game series between the Marlins and the Rays isn’t gonna cut it. Also, not a person on Earth would watch that shit.

While we’re talking about the coming apocalypse, I do recommend you read Peter Brannen’s The Ends Of The World, which chronicles the five mass extinctions that have already struck Earth during its lifespan. Don’t worry; it’s actually FUN to read this book I swear. It’s possible, if not likely, that the biggest of those extinctions—the K-T Extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs—set the table for humans to evolve and to eventually exercise dominion over the planet.

Now, from there you can wring your hands over the fact that mankind is quickly pissing that dominion away by burning every last thing in the ground … OR you can read to the end of Brannen’s book, where he notes that despite our best efforts, we’re not anywhere close to experiencing a mass extinction. It’s likely that humans will survive the current ecological crisis. It’s just that our lives will absolutely SUCK when we do. But we’ve already proven an annoyingly resourceful species. There could be a bizarre future ahead where we all live at the poles and travel by genetically modified sled dog. But at least it’s a future.

And if we DO go extinct, that potentially sets the table for some new, utterly alien species to take our place. One that won’t say “bangers” all the goddamn time.

Amanda:

My parents gave me a microwave for my birthday. When I unwrapped it, my mom proudly explained, “I got you a new one, because I could never get yours to work!” This was news to us, and her last visit was eight months ago. The thing is, our current microwave works perfectly well, I like it, and I don’t want to get rid of it. It’s not even the only microwave in our house! We have no room for a *third* microwave. Also, I love my mom.

The new microwave is currently in my parent’s garage, because they gave it to me during a recent family visit; we live 600 miles away, and the box is too enormous to fit in our trunk, particularly amidst the pack and plays and various other detritus from our two small children. My folks are now threatening to drive it to us on *their* next trip in two weeks. What do we do?!!

You let them bring the microwave to you, and then you flip it on Marketplace. And if your mom is like, “Hey, where’s the microwave we got you?” on her next visit, you either tell her the truth, or you lie and say that it broke. Can you believe Amana would make such a shoddy countertop appliance? Such a shame.

I’m right at your stage in life, when my parents show up at my house to casually call into question the fabric of my existence (“So you’re still letting your kids snack all the time?”) and declare all the shit we own to be weird and scary. I have learned to handle these moments. I either ignore my parents, or I tell them they’re wrong and to leave me alone. Will they still bring it up seven seconds later? Yes. But by then, I’ve firmly established my opinion and I’m nut-deep into a bag of Sun Chips. The discussion is over, as far as I’m concerned.

But they’re my parents. They still love me and wanna parent me, and this is how they do it. It’s not the worst thing in the world. I already know I’ll be exactly the same way when I’m their age. I’ll barge into my daughter’s house with a crate of Moxie soda being like, “You always told me you loved Moxie! Why are your curtains like that?!” And she’ll just have to learn to deal with my horseshit.

Monty:

Recently I was in a mall, and found myself walking in time with the shitty ambient music. I then intentionally changed my gait because I thought maybe people would look at me weird, stepping in time with the beat. And, it just feels odd to walk to the beat of music while passing by the Cheesecake Factory’s indoor patio space or J. Crew. I realized this happens to me pretty often, and my response is always to walk differently. Are we supposed to follow the beat? Is it weird for me to specifically NOT follow the beat?

I don’t recall postings around the mall demanding that everyone walk into step to “Levitating” when it comes on over the PA. The rent-a-cops aren’t gonna drag you to the Nordstrom jail if they catch you not syncing up your gait with the irresistible stylings of Dua Lipa. No one will judge you one way or the other.

Personally, I don’t mind getting swept up by the beat. Makes me feel like I’m in the opening credits of Saturday Night Fever. The average mall playlist isn’t loud enough for me to hear (the fact that I’m deaf is probably a factor). But when I CAN hear the music, sometimes I let the rhythm get me. That’s what music is for. I’ve heard many, many famous artists lament the fact that, thanks to streaming services and licensing rights, a lot of their work has been reduced to background noise. So it’s my duty as a citizen to take notice of their songs every so often and get the overbite going. Nod my head. Shake my hips a little. OH YEAH, BABY. This ain’t no ordinary trip to the Dress Barn. This is a party.

Every mall has the requisite Guy Singing Along Way Too Loudly To What’s Playing On His Headphones, but that’s another story. For communal music, let it work its magic on you.

HALFTIME!

Mark:

What’s the greatest disparity between a dry cereal’s iteration and when it’s served in milk? Here’s what prompted my question: Last night I grabbed a handful of Frosted Mini Wheats as an after-dinner palate cleanse. Huge mistake. Without milk, it was like chewing a bunch of sawdust. Instinctively, I’ve always known this, which is why it has taken me 20+ years of adulthood to try them this way. However, in a bowl of milk, Frosted Mini Wheats are sublime! They can soak in milk for 20 minutes and still be delicious. The difference between “wet” and dry Frosted Mini Wheats is substantial. On the other end of the spectrum, Golden Grahams are a delight to snack on right out of the box but taste like soggy paper towels after 30 seconds.

Before I answer your question, I just wanna tell you that the private label version of Frosted Mini-Wheats at my local Giant is WAY better than the Kellogg’s shit. It has more frosting and less hay. That’s important for you to know.

Now, as to the matter at hand, Mark here threw out Golden Grahams as a prime example of a cereal that’s fantastic in milk for exactly two minutes before things start to deteriorate. That’s also true of Frosted Flakes, Cocoa Krispies, and even Cookie Crisp on a bad day. But my No. 1 answer to you is Chex. I like eating Chex in milk as much as the next 44-year-old, but there’s a reason that dry Chex has an entire, separate snack food category based on it. It’s a perfect cereal for fisting right out of the box. And now I’m mad we don’t have any around the house.

Tarvaris:

I believe that I could eat more hot dogs than my friend could drink White Claws. We’re talking standard size White Claws, and normal hot dogs with bun. I think there is a small window around 4-5 hours where the White Claw drinker could sneak ahead. But, if I stormed out of the gates and ate eight hot dogs, I think I would demoralize my opponent and the game would be over before it ever started.

You’re nuts. The ABV on White Claw is 5 percent, pretty much the same as beer. I quit drinking before the hard seltzer boom, but back then I easily could have had more beers in one night than you could eat hot dogs. Shit, I could throw down three hot dogs of my own WITH the beer and still kick your ass. But this was because I drank a shitload, but still.

Now, I recognize that beer and White Claw may have the same amount of booze but may not hit your system in the exact same way. So I put the question to Defector’s chief hard seltzer correspondent Luis Paez-Pumar, who wrote:

Honestly, that’s close. White Claws are light but sweet so I don’t know if I’d want to drink like 8-12. Then again… hot dogs. IDK. I think White Claw guy takes it.

I feel validated. Don’t ever think you can out-consume a proper alcoholic. ‘Tis a fool’s errand.

Michael:

It’s probably criminal, but what are the chances that a NFL team tries to give its opponent COVID in hopes they have to play a backup (or WR!) at QB or completely forfeit altogether? These teams are trying to do everything to win, so what’s preventing the Double J from having a COVID positive intern go cough all around the visiting locker room at JerryWorld?

The Double J did a face turn last week though and is pro-vaccine. Now, being pro-vaccine is the absolute least any person can do for the world at the moment, but it says something about NFL ownership that I was genuinely surprised to hear Jerry Jones talk about getting vaccinated in a sane and responsible manner. I fully expected him to get in front of the cameras and go, “WE’VE GOT COVID ON TAP ON EVERY LEVEL OF MAH STADIUM! HELP YERSELVES Y’ALL YEEEEEEEEEEEHAW!!!!!!!!” But he didn’t. Van Jones says that was the day Jerry became president.

So if Michael had asked me this question exactly a year ago, I would have said that at least one team—call them the Pew England Natriots—absolutely would have incorporated soft biological warfare into its “gamesmanship” portfolio. But no team did that. I don’t enjoy giving credit to the NFL for anything, but they pulled off the pandemic season without killing any of their players, and now all of their normally most despicable luminaries—Jerry, Belichick, Mike Zimmer—are the ones vehemently advocating to keep people safe. Aside from the whole playing football part of the equation. So no, there won’t be any COVID fuckery this coming season, except for Carson Wentz infecting himself 97 times over.

Patrick:

What would happen if the runner-up in the Super Bowl decided to pull a Donald Trump and just declare themselves the winner? Commissioned their own rings, sold their own championship merch, hung their own banner, and all their fans went along with it? What would the NFL do about it?

Ask Auburn. HEY-OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

For real though, you can pull that shit in college football because college football is still a hilarious clusterfuck. The NFL, by contrast, has too many lawyers who are all interested in the same result. This league fines you if your socks are an inch too low. So the Ginger Hammer wouldn’t stand for it if Andy Reid walked off the field in Tampa last February and was like, “Actually, we won.” They’ll let Jim Irsay hang a “First Place Indianapolis State Fair!” banner in his stadium, but take your truthering too far and suddenly you’re delegitimizing the accomplishments of Serious Football Men. There’s no greater crime to the league than that. Not even what Deshaun Watson allegedly did.

Also, there’s nothing head coaches love more than stewing over a loss. The average head coach does his best in the press conference to delegitimize his OWN team’s effort after a win. This is known as The Saban Effect, where one missed block renders a 38-0 victory hollow. So they’re all too prideful and weird to shamelessly co-opt a game everyone knows they didn’t win.

But again, college football? Whole other story. Truthering in that sport is what prepped Tommy Tuberville for winning a Senate seat.

Kevin:

Had a couple of hard Kombuchas last night and today I have hit the toilet 4 times and it’s not even 5pm. The last two rounds have been straight liquid and I found myself oddly enjoying it. Have you ever had, dare I say, enjoyable diarrhea?

While it’s happening? No. Afterward? I’d say more intriguing than enjoyable. I remember being DAZZLED by my own diarrhea as a little kid. I didn’t know poop could come out that way. A true rite of passage.

Nowadays I suffer through the runs with a stiff face and an angry mind, just like everyone else. But when I’m done? I check the bowl to see what went on back there. Sometimes there’s a red pepper skin. Fascinating.

Andy:

Are there any professional athletes that actually mow their own lawn? I’m assuming o-linemen and relief pitchers love to ride tractors and wear a Menards trucker hat to do it. What about hockey players? Golfers? Tennis players? I can’t imagine Tom Brady firing up the old Toro.

There’s a strain of guy that’s extremely dedicated and fastidious about lawn care, especially if they can afford a riding mower. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I read Peter King go on about Brett Favre working the LAND, or Kerry Collins being a gentleman farmer. All these guys are horny for dirt, and the football press loves to pretend that automatically transmutes into having a blue-collar work ethic on the field. Meanwhile, Favre was one of the laziest players in NFL history.

So yeah, there are athletes who still mow their own lawn. But should they? Here is where I remind you of the sad tale of former Detroit lineman Eric Andolsek, who was hit by a fucking 18-wheeler while he was whacking weeds around his lawn and died. This is why I don’t mow my own lawn. Way too scary.

Adrian:

Came across this from Dan Devine about Jackie MacMullan today:

Congratulations on retirement and best wishes to a trailblazing constant in this line of work — someone whose stories I’d always stop to read, and someone who was kind, welcoming, and collegial to a nobody blog guy when she absolutely didn’t have to be.

I feel like I’ve seen the “they were nice to me when they didn’t have to be” well wishes quite often and I find it quite strange. Like, she didn’t have to offer him a job, or a bag of cash, or anything. But isn’t being kind, welcoming, and collegial just basic human decency? Like, shouldn’t we all expect that from most people? I know so many things are shitty for so many reasons, but I’d like to believe we still sort of live in a world where basic fucking human decency isn’t too much to ask for in a regular day. Am I crazy?

You’re not crazy, but the bar for decency is much, much lower if you’re famous. That’s why every celebrity profile out there is like ACTUALLY THIS GUY’S NOT AN ASSHOLE! I’ve written such profiles, because I expect celebrities to be awful people. Especially sportswriters. So I get why Devine wrote what he wrote. I’m still surprised when someone big of note, like, returns my emails. Because they don’t have to. I don’t expect them to punch me in the face for daring to say hello, but I do reasonably expect that they’ll be too busy guzzling champagne and diving off of yachts in the Mediterranean and avoiding the press (no sane famous person talks to the press voluntarily) to bother getting back to me. That’s really the sentiment Devine is going for there.

There’s some auto-humility that’s endemic online. That’s also part of the whole celebrity-industrial complex. Some young superstar does a movie with Meryl Streep and then they tell the press, “I’m not usually starstruck but on this day I was LITERALLY SHAKING.” Americans have been taught that ego is so bad for so long that a lot of them go out of their way to let you know that they’re simply awed ANYONE would give them the time of day. It’s a ritual of courtesy at this point. Even if, like me, you’re a little bit higher on yourself than you tell people. In fact, unless you’re an unreachable superstar like Beyonce or something, I very much DO expect you to be kind and welcoming to me. Yeah! I didn’t shower in the morning for nothing, man! My time is valuable, baby. If Jackie MacMullan was ever nice to me, I’d be like THAT’S GODDAMN RIGHT, LADY. SHOW SOME RESPECT FOR THE DREWMAN.

Brian:

Just read the Funbag and the halftime music was Sharp Dressed Man. I’m in the same generation as you (turned 40 this year), what percent of our generation has listened to this song while dressing for either prom or their wedding? I know I did.

I have no idea what I got dressed to for my prom or for my wedding. Definitely not “Sharp Dressed Man.” I wouldn’t have been organized enough to think of it. I probably put on “I Want Action” by Poison or something.

Email of the week!

Taylor:

When I was in middle school, my grandfather was so quiet and reserved that I thought he’d had a stroke. He was slightly stooped over and always had his mouth agape. He went to bed at 8pm and was up and in his coveralls and baggy long sleeve shirt every morning at 4am. He was probably between 70 and 75 when this story takes place (I never knew his exact age). My older cousin had just come back from basic training after enlisting in the Army and challenged Grandad to an arm wrestling match. I was confused because that seemed really unfair (and also a potential elder abuse situation). But then Grandad smoked him in three consecutive matches and laughed a weak little old man laugh. I was flabbergasted. Had my cousin purposely let him win? As it turns out, no. Later that evening, Grandad came out of the bathroom in his white tank-top undershirt to ask my grandmother to bring him his razor so he could shave before he took his bath. And it dawned on me that this was the first time in my life that I’d seen my grandfather’s bare arms. I am not exaggerating when I say that he was absolutely CUT. I mean, like the biggest muscles I’ve seen on someone in their 70s (or within 20 years of that age). Fully defined biceps and triceps but with none of the jiggly under-the-arm skin literally every other person that age has. And the slightly small shirt made it clear he also had a set of abs that he hid daily under his thick coveralls.

I came to find out that my grandfather got up at 4:00am not so he could start working at his job, but so he could be in his office by 5:00am and do his TWO-HOUR workout routine with the door closed. And that workout consisted of hundreds of push-ups, situps, and barbell curls… daily. This same man who had false teeth, pulled his church pants halfway up his torso, and ate his cornbread in a glass of buttermilk each night was the most fit person I’ve ever met. And he hid that physique under wrist-length coveralls for 50+ years. If I had even the slightest tricep definition, I’d show every person I know.

Grandad passed away around the age of 95 (I think) in 2016 right around the time the Cubs won the World Series and Trump became president. His death is still the most unbelievable thing that happened that fall.