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Funbag

Should I Feel Bad For Trying To Get Laid During The Pandemic?

little boy and little boy kissing at party
Tom Kelley/Getty Images

Time for your weekly edition of the Defector Funbag. Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag. And buy Drew’s new novel while you’re at it. Today, we’re talking about hating your hair, Bill Simmons, somersaults, turd memorabilia, and more

Your letters:

Kevin:

Do I need to feel bad for trying to get laid during the rona? I honest-to-God try to be good. I never go to my mom’s house, I never eat out, any social interaction is done outdoors as much as possible. But I started using the dating apps again. I am just a sad and lonely 32-year-old man. I said I wouldn’t do it, but the fact that the assfaces are out doing whatever the shit they want while I try to do the right thing for no reason at this point is just really hard to stomach. So I have gone on a few outdoor first dates and I am already feeling less guilty about it. Am I the problem? Should I even care if I am?

You’re not the problem. It’s been almost a fucking YEAR of this shit. I’m lucky because I have the wife and kids always around, so I never get all that lonely. I can’t imagine how hard this has been for people living alone and forced to cut themselves off from the rest of the world. Going by my hard-up teenage years, I would have handled that kind of situation poorly. VERY poorly. We all need other people. We need contact. That’s not bad poetry. Biologically, we really do need those things for basic health. It’s a fundamental human drive. You see people and touch them and, if you’re lucky, fuck their brains out. Being starved of that contact will drive you insane, and that’s like the best case result.

So I won’t rona-shame you for dating. You gotta date responsibly, of course. I’ve initialed enough clearance forms now to know the basics: No dating with a fever in the past two weeks, or trouble breathing, or a sore throat, or bleeding lungs, etc. Fill out a mental clearance form for yourself before every date and, you know, assure the person you’re with that you’ve taken every last precaution to be squeaky clean. There is likely an etiquette to all this that I can’t even begin to understand because it’s all so new. But at least you’re only going on outdoor dates. Not only is that, like, honorable, but it also clues the other person into the fact that you are NOT a sociopathic coronavirus womanizer who’ll strut maskless into any underground nightclub to get your dick wet. And if that’s a good sign to them, well then their approval is also a good sign for YOU. You both seem to get it. Maybe you could each sign a waiver or something before you fuck.

We’re deep enough into this mess now to know that you can do a lot of shit so long as you Get It. You can go to the grocery store. I didn’t do that for fucking MONTHS at first. I ordered Peapod and then frantically wiped down every milk carton and then washed my hands for an hour AFTER wiping it down, etc. But I get it now. I can go shopping with a mask on. My kids can play youth sports with masks on and proper sideline distancing. There’s a new “normal” that’s been, over the course of the year, fairly easy to adapt to. But that normal still includes never going into anyone else’s house and never touching anyone who isn’t my family. Dating other people would constitute a breach of my soft bubble. But, since I’m married, I can’t date and don’t wanna. You, on the other hand, must. You’re operating in the dark here, but you’ve survived this pandemic long enough that you can probably sort out a date who gets it from one who’s a dangerous moron.

It remains deeply irritating that we could have prevented a mass outbreak and never did, and that so many Americans now are like JUST LIVE WITH IT that the rest of us have essentially been forced to: stepping carefully around all the landmines these idiots have our in our way. But I’m trying my best, and clearly you are as well. That’s about all you can do right now. So good luck and don’t date any Notre Dame fangirls.

Andy:

I recently decided to shave my head because of my thinning hair on the top of my head. Turns out, I hate the look. My head looks like a testicle now. I’m wearing a hat to work now because I’m so embarrassed about how I look. My question is, what the fuck am I supposed to do until it grows back to how I had it before I went with the shaved scrotum look. Do I just wear hats for a year?

You can, but you still gotta take that hat off at the end of the day. Unless you sleep in your hat, which only happens in a Clement Clarke Moore poem. If you hide your testis head all day long, you’ll still be extremely conscious of it. You’ll still hate it, and yourself by extension. In fact, covering it up all day will just make everything worse, because you put off confronting how you look and how to live with it for a bit. I know your hair is already thinning, but it’s not gonna take a fucking year for your old look to come back. It’s hair. It’s not an apple tree. On average, human hair grows half an inch a month. If you keep the hat off, you’ll see your hairline progress little by little each month and feel better about how it’s improved. Then you can shave a big ANDY into the sideburns.

I have stretch marks on my love handles and on my chest. These are souvenirs from the time in my life when I was severely overweight. I fucking hated those stretch marks when I found them. I broke open vitamin E capsules and rubbed the gel all over the marks to make them go away (some pregnant women also use vitamin E for this). It didn’t work. You can still see those bad boys anytime I gallivant around half-naked, as is my wont.

But I’m not conscious of the marks anymore because I’ve had them for so long. They’re just one of MANY things I’ve had to get used to about myself: stretch marks, back problems, love handles, no chin, aggressive nose hairs, being deaf, etc. Some of these things, like the love handles, are ostensibly things I can rid myself of with enough exertion. Some of them are here forever. No matter how long it takes your hair to grow back, your nascent baldness will still be around after that. That’s aging, amigo. You can get started on aging gracefully, or you can get plugs, or you can fasten a beanie to your head with a hot glue gun and wear it forever. The first option is probably the best of them.

Brian:

Your job and industry arguably doesn’t exist without Bill Simmons being hired by ESPN. So spill it: what are your true ambivalent thoughts about Bill Simmons?

That he fucking sucks. Of course he paved the way for “spoiled liberal arts college grad who becomes a voice-of-the-fan blogger” types like me. Truly, and legitimately, NO ONE DENIES THIS. I’d be an arrogant prick if I tried. But then what’d Simmons do after he paved that way? Well, he became a fucking brat at ESPN, started a subsite there that was eternally impressed with itself, sabotaged that site the second he got fired from ESPN, started another site that remains aggressively inessential to this day, then sold it to a company infamous for destroying musicians’ livelihoods for a mint, all so that he could be a clueless rich asshole for the rest of his days. His union fucking hates him and some of his best talent is already bolting.

As for my “industry,” I had to quit my job, spend months adrift as a freelancer, and then help pull together this site just to keep doing what I always wanted to do. This was because of private equity shitbags who probably listen to Bill and Carl J break down the true winners of the Four Seasons Total Landscaping story on every Simmons podcast. Half the people I’ve worked with in my career—good and talented people—are now on the waiver wire or out of the game entirely. So… thanks, Bill? He made it big and yanked the ladder up afterward, so fuck him in his Birdsocket.

There. Those are my true, ambivalent thoughts on Bill Simmons. Steve Jobs gave us the iPhone and he was a piece of shit too, you know. I don’t owe either of those people a fucking thing.

Colleen:

Drew, like you, I’m 44. Unlike you, I became a parent for the first time in May. Since then I’ve spent many a nighttime feeding pondering who has it better: parents who have their kids young, or old fogies like me. In my pro column for geriatric parenting are things like having more money to throw at problems, being more established in our careers and therefore having more flexibility and control, not giving a shit about school districts when we’ve bought houses, and having lots of fun in our 20s and 30s. The cons are the big scary one of leaving her without one or both of us far too young, our own parents being past the age of being reliable babysitters, and silently crying at the end of bath time while my back seizes up. So what do you think Drew? Knowing what you know now as a 44-year-old parent, do you think it’s better to have kids when you’re young or old?

I only have one frame of reference for you to answer it. All I know is that I’m EXTREMELY glad I have all the baby shit out of the way now. That time of my life is done and I couldn’t be happier about it. I’m so happy, in fact, that I had a doctor cut into my scrotum to GUARANTEE everything stays this way. And I don’t let doctors cut into my scrotum for just any old reason, mind you.

I have only just begun learning how to be the parent of a teenager. This is its own misery. Just within the last couple of months, my wife and I have had a LOT of teen parenting crises. I’ve been confiscating phones and reading psychology books and scrolling through my kids’ texts and even grounding them, old school. The pandemic has made all of this triply difficult. None of the books I’ve read account for, you know, imminent death lurking inside every mall food court your kid wants to go to. The whole thing blows.

But at least my kids sleep through the night and I don’t have to change full-to-the-brim diapers anymore. You’ll have fun as a new parent in middle age no matter what. But I’m glad I didn’t put it off.

Chris:

How much money do you think one of Trump’s turds would fetch you? 10k? A mil? Couple pesos?

Nothing. That was the beauty of this weekend. Everything about Trump became worthless in an instant. With any luck, one day he’ll end up having to shoot someone on Fifth Avenue just so he can steal grocery money off of them. He’s over. I know Republicans are still trying to contest the election because they’ll never stop being evil. But once the results are made official (and they fucking better be), no one has to give a fuck about Trump anymore. I know I don’t.

HALFTIME!

Dan:

In a situation where one spouse is cooking, it’s traditional for the other spouse to do the dishes after dinner. I agree with this and I’m fine with it in theory. In practice, my wife uses the absolute maximum number of bowls, utensils, cutting boards, pots and pans while cooking. She leaves the stovetop and counters covered in shit. I’ll even get a “sucks to be you” comment periodically after a particularly disastrous meal. Because she has no skin in the game with cleaning, that she has no incentive to use a reasonable amount of dishes in preparation and to not leave shit all over the stovetop and counters. Heretofore, I propose that the cooking process IS NOT COMPLETE until the preliminary cleaning is done.

I also clean while cooking. Years of domesticity have given me a compulsion where I gotta clean shit in the kitchen if it’s lingering. I can’t leave dirty dishes overnight or any of that shit. My househusband brain won’t allow for it. So when I’m cooking and there are dead spots (food is in the oven, or on the stovetop simmering), then I go ahead and pre-clean whatever’s around: mixing bowls etc. My wife does likewise. She’s the one who taught me the practice, of course. It’s only fair to the dishwasher because there will still be a huge pile of dishes at the end of the meal. May as well give that person a bit of breathing room before they get started. Sometimes I cook and clean in one night, but I don’t mind. One added bonus of having somewhat older kids is that the 14-year-old loads the dishwasher now after dinner. Every night. I still do the big pots but that’s nothing. I got my dishwashing gloves. I have the power.

If you don’t do any pre-cleaning when you cook and make the absolute biggest mess you possibly can for your spouse to deal with, that’s a dick move. You got married to make each other’s lives easier. Next time your wife pulls that shit, refuse to ever flush a toilet again. SEE HOW SHE LIKES IT.

Mike:

Can 78-year-old Harrison Ford do a somersault? My family challenged me, a 43-year-old guy, to do a somersault recently and it did not turn out well. Then we watched “Call of the Wild” where Ford does a shirtless scene and looks pretty good. My kid said “I bet he could do a somersault.” My wife agreed.

Hang on. Lemme do a somersault myself right now.

(does a somersault)

Can’t say I enjoyed that but I did, indeed, execute the somersault properly. I think there’s something weird happening with my foot right now as a result. Possible nerve damage. But still: GREAT SUCCESS.

Five years ago, GQ sent me to Florida to report on little kids doing MMA. I trained with those kids at the gym. One of the first drills we had to do was a series of tumbles, where you tuck in a shoulder and roll on the mat. This is a somersault, but no one in the MMA gym called it that, because that wouldn’t have sounded mean enough. I rolled many times. The little tuck move stays with you forever after that. I just deployed it on my office carpet to make my somersault look professional. I will not do it again.

That is long-winded way of saying that yeah, Harrison Ford can do one of these. The man has crashed TWO planes and lived. He broke his leg on the Force Awakens set and finished the movie anyway. He’s definitely on a SHITLOAD of HGH and roids like every other old action-movie actor is. The old man can probably do a reverse handspring if you paid him enough.

Jason:

Read and enjoyed Ratto’s latest screed on Dusty Baker (seriously, Ratto is absolutely on fire with his articles) and was kind of surprised at the Astros hate in the comments. Obviously they’re assholes for the most part so I get that, but I’m genuinely taken aback at how many people are angry about the sign stealing. Now, I’m not one of those, “if you ain’t cheating you ain’t trying” guys, but sign stealing has been occurring since the dawn of baseball. If a team is doctoring the ball or corking bats or employs Chase Utley I could see the hate, but really, is it worth getting angry over stealing signs?

I know. I feel like an old fogy cursing out the Astros not only for stealing signs, but for doing MATH to bloodlessly reorganize their operations and their scouting system. I’m supposed to be in favor of all that shit. Time and the world have turned me into a neocrank in certain ways. Now I have all the petty complaints I used to roast OTHER hot take artists for.

But I will NOT apologize for considering the Astros human scum. Yeah, there’s always gamesmanship, especially in baseball. But the Astros’ scheme was so blatant that even other baseball players were like THAT’S FUCKED UP. Also, the Astros never apologized, their players were never punished, their owner claimed they didn’t actually benefit from cheating, and they built their entire 2020 playoff run around the theme CRY MORE, LIBS. The sign-stealing was merely an example of them being terminal dickheads in a much broader sense. That is why I fucking hate them and you should, too. If the Astros had just been your garden variety stupid cheaters (like David Ortiz!), I wouldn’t have given a crap. But they went the full troll and deserve to burn in hell for it.

Sonny:

Which maniac killer do you think you could either survive or last the longest against if dropped in their universe?

Michael Myers

Jason Voorhees

Freddy Kruger

Pinhead

Freddy is out because he kills you in your sleep and I am a napping addict. Pinhead, the Hell Priest, is a demon sent to harvest souls and torture them. Not really sure how I beat that. That leaves Jason and Michael Myers. I think I could avoid both of those men simply by getting in my car and driving very far away. But the Friday The 13th movies and the Halloween sequels are not known for their verisimilitude. So lemme make sure neither of those guys were granted magic powers for the sake of conveniently papering over enormous plot holes.

(checks)

(does another somersault)

Okay so in Jason Goes to Hell (that’s the ninth one), Jason can possess other people and turn them into murderers. So that’s bad. Apparently that movie was not well-received by critics, but that’s of no importance here. What’s important is that Michael Myers, by contrast, does NOT appear to have ever had any supernatural abilities, save for some Jedi mind vision shit in one of the Rob Zombie Halloween movies (there were two!). In other words, no iteration of Michael Myers can track me down in my Kia. SO LONG, FUCKBOY.

Matt:

Who has the worst, most intolerable football fans, NCAA or NFL? Boston and Philly vs SEC country on a Saturday. 

College football. Not even close. I shit on fans of every NFL team as a matter of vocation, but even I know that Steelers fans and Eagles fans aren’t even worst fans in their own STATE. And Penn State fans, themselves, are nothing compared to the screeching hayseeds you’ll encounter in the SEC, in Texas, in Oklahoma, in Ohio, and in every other college football hellhole. NFL fans are annoying one day a week and easily ignored online every other day. Georgia fans, by contrast, are annoying ALL THE TIME, in person, regardless of the day, the season, or even what year it is. They’re the kind of people who actually give a fuck about Signing Day. They’re frightening human beings.

And you have good cause to be afraid of them. The entire college football season should have been canceled by now. It wasn’t. You can pin that on the coaches, and on the ADs, and on colleges that made their football programs too big to fail. But you can definitely blame the fans for all this shit, too. If Florida had listened to its idiot coach and allowed maximum capacity at The Swamp, those fans all would have showed up. Maskless. Proud imbeciles just dying to give each other lung rot. Even Pats fans are a model of restraint by comparison.

Kevin:

I work for a grassroots political org and have been doing small donor fundraisers over Zoom instead of in the tasteful homes of rich liberals because, you know, COVID. I did one this week and the host had loose connections to some C and D list comics and asked a few of them to perform as part of the event. One of the comics who performed was John Kassir, the voice of the one and only Crypt Keeper. Did he work in some political humor as the Crypt Keeper?? You bet he did (“SHOCK the vote” etc.). Got me thinking, you probably came across a lot of voice actors during your adman days, what kind of life do those folks have? Do they work their “famous” roles or quotes into everyday conversation? Do they make a decent living? Is it as simple as they show up, get copy, bang out a few takes and call it a day? I’m talking about every day voice actors who do like car commercials not Pixar movies.

EEE HEE HEE HEE HEE HEE! That’s a GHOUL question, Kevin! I’d hate to BLEED you to wrong CONTUSIONS, but I’ll do my best to explain the KNIFE of these people to you! EEE HEE HEE HEE HEE HEE!

OK so voice actors are usually also, you know, actor actors. Some of them end up earning more for voice work and then stick mainly to that (My favorite example being the late Miguel Ferrer, who was the Elon Musk of the first Robocop movie but ended up doing so many trailers and network promos he never had to do much else), but your average working actor needs parts any way they can get them. For voiceover ad work, you get paid scale. That includes a session fee, which you get up front and then gets renewed after a set period of time if the ad keeps running. If your voice work becomes inexorably tied to the precious brand, then you can demand more and you’ll probably get it. If you’re doing voice work for TV shows and movies, that scale varies depending on what network the shit is on, what producers are offering for residuals, whether or not you’re Mike Myers, etc.

That’s all very complicated and boring, so I’ll make it simpler. Acting was a gig economy before that horrible term was ever coined. You average actor struggles to get by even when they have steady work at scale, and voice actors are no different. When I was at an ad agency, I worked with Stephen Colbert on one campaign when Colbert was at The Daily Show. Same with Ed Helms. Our client paid both those men scale at the time. That was it. That was all they got. And they were both already famous.

So even though it seems nice to get paid three/four figures to fuck around in a sound booth for a couple of hours (and it can take a while, because once they lay down tracks, they have to go through layers of approval before letting the actor go), it’s the same as any other freelance job: The money only carries you for so long. Thus, I don’t think your average v/o guy hums the “I’m Lovin’ It!” jingle to himself and then goes clicking his heels down the street.

Unless he’s the late Don LaFontaine.  That motherfucker lived WELL.

Email of the week!

Joe (not Biden):

My late father-in-law, George, was an avid recycler not necessarily for environmental reasons, but rather because he was a frugal man who relished recovering the deposits when returning old bottles and cans. His garage and shed were constantly full of blue bags of cans, and he never missed a chance to grab a discarded can that someone else had littered. It was free money as far as George was concerned. 

One of the very first times I met my in-laws, they were rescuing us after my car broke down. It was a nice day that was turning into chilly evening so we decided to leave my car where it was and pile into George’s car. We were starving so on the way home we stopped at a McDonald’s drive-thru. While we were ordering, George spotted a discarded Coke can lying below his car door. In one quick, practiced motion, George opened his door as he started moving the car, grabbed the can, and tossed it onto the floor of the back seat between me and my gf, who just rolled her eyes in knowing embarrassment. I didn’t think much of the situation and even made a mental note to raise my own recycling game.

Fast-forward 10 or 15 minutes later, after we had long since gotten our food and were proceeding along the highway… almost home. We had been saving the McDonald’s and were absolutely ravenous. Suddenly my gf screamed and we almost swerved off the highway. She was looking in her purse. 

Ants. In her purse. Ants. Everywhere. On the floor of the car. On our legs and shoes. The McDonald’s bags and tray of take-out Coke that we had sat on the floor of the car for stability? You’d better believe all of that was full of ants.

We quickly realized the Coke can had been infested with ants. It took us considerably longer to get the car to the level of ant-eradication that suited my gf and her Mom. This wasn’t easy. We were along the side of a busy highway sweeping virtually invisible ants off the dark carpet floor of a car as the evening got darker and darker. The sheer number of ants that must have been in that can still astounds me. 

Because it was chilly, dark, and starting to drizzle, we had kept the car running for heat and light. Naturally the car ran out of gas before we made it to our highway exit. Now it was 11pm, we had two disabled cars, spoiled food, no heat, and were waiting for somebody else to bring us gas while we were sitting in a car full of ants. George wanted to keep the offending can and even tried to wash it out in a puddle along the side of the highway while we were waiting but my gf and her Mom put their feet down on allowing the can back into the car. 

The ants later got into the radio and electrical system of the car – which is a thing that apparently happens – causing like $1000 in repairs.

Well I for one welcome your new insect overlords.