Breathe: Eric Reads the Week #56

Hi! It's R. Eric Thomas. From the internet?

This week: doggos and catfights on The Bachelor, shark attack in DC, and a day of lip-service.

I don't think I technically have a crush on the Golden Gate Bridge. I'm fairly certain that my feelings about it are strictly platonic. I would not, necessarily swear to that in open court. But I would probably say it in a deposition. And yes, I'm aware that a deposition and testimony in open court are essentially the same thing, or at least I think they are from my years enrolled in The Good Wife School of Law. But still.

In any case, I really like the Golden Gate Bridge. I get weird and tongue-tied when it walks in the room. But I am not in love with it. That's my official statement.

I told this to David as we stood on a pier looking at the Golden Gate Bridge and I bashfully made heart-eyes at it. I felt it was important for our relationship that I assure him that I didn't have inappropriate feelings for this bridge. He looked at me like I was crazy, which is an appropriate response. I had never seen the bridge in person before this week and being in its physical presence brought all these intense feelings to the surface that I suppose I was aware of but had never really put together. This bridge is amazing. It's so beautiful! It's so vast! I was stunned! I realized that I every time I'd seen it on screen I'd gotten unreasonably happy. Any time I'd seen it destroyed in a movie (and I've seen it destroyed in movies many times) I became emotionally wounded. And here were were, finally together, like Deborah Carr and Cary Grant in An Affair to Remember and it was a whole thing.

I just wanted David to know that though I was probably, slightly, a little bit enamored with this bridge, I wasn't one of those people who was, like, in love with the bridge. Or any bridge. "There's people who love bridges," I told him. He was unaware of this. "Oh yeah," I said. "I saw it on Tumblr. There's people who fall in love with bridges and trains. Sometimes both but not always. Sometimes it's sexual. I saw it on the internet. I wasn't looking for it. Obviously. Why would I do that? I just found it. The internet has a lot of things. I just want you to know that I'm not going to leave you for the Golden Gate Bridge."

"Okay," he said.

Communication is very important.

I had never been to San Francisco before, which is odd to me because it's a city that combines so many of my favorite things: LGBTQ history, extreme walkability, water, (THE GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE, MY LOVE), and exorbitant real estate prices. I guess I'd always assumed it was too expensive to even visit and the siren song of my bridgefriend wasn't strong enough.

David was doing some continuing education in the city and he suggested that I fly out and join him, see the city, maybe have a meet-cute with a large metal structure. Despite admiring the city from afar I was shocked by how much I enjoyed it. It's so vibrant and, while not exactly glamorous, very iconic. I met up with Kenyon and Victoria, two people who I heretofore only knew on the internet and they didn't murder me, so that was really wonderful. They were actually so fun and so funny and a nice reminder that the internet doesn't only bring out the worst in people.

The weather was stunning. I'd been fighting a sinus problem for about a week and I'd almost cancelled the trip because I felt so bad, but a day in the cool, humid climate fixed every problem I've ever had. This was revolutionary for me. I've had sinus problems for years and years; I just assumed it was my lot. It's better than it's been because I had a sinus surgery about 6 years ago that fixed something mysterious in the broken tubes inside my head. That's what it was called "Sinus Surgery." Very mysterious. I had a very good Scandinavian otorhinolaryngologist (what a word!) who suggested I get "Sinus Surgery" to get my "Sinus Problems" fixed. I was like, "Okay."

He said he didn't think I had a deviated septum. I assumed him that I would not mind if he just happened to give me a nose job anyway. At that point I was very okay with getting a new nose because I was going through a phase of life. I wouldn't have voluntarily gotten one, but if it just happened, so be it. I wasn't about to argue with the will of God and a Scandinavian Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor.

I wouldn't get my nose changed now. It's a family trait. I'm attached to. (It is also attached to me. Because it's my nose.) We are attached to each other. For better or worse.

Anyway, having the nose I have was infinitely better in San Francisco. I could breath so much better! Highly recommend breathing. Five stars.

Another thing I appreciated about San Francisco was the visible queerness. I don't mean people were making out on street corners or anything. I mean, people of all genders and gender configurations in relationship with each other in all the ways that people can be in relationship in public. Queer couples holding hands, walking side-by-side while laughing, huddled over a phone trying to make sense of directions, dining together. Just being people in the same space, freely.

On the pier in San Francisco, after I tore my gaze away from the bridge, David and I saw two older men approaching us from the beach. David and I were sitting pretty close to each other, just enjoying the weather, and I tensed up a little bit, instinctually worrying that these two guys, who had the weather-beaten appearance of old dock workers or fishermen, might be trouble. This isn't an uncommon feeling and it isn't unique to encounters with fishermen. David and I rarely hold hands in public; our queerness is always slightly less than visible because you never know when someone is going to find the sight of it offensive.

The two older men kept walking and sat down on the bench across from us. A dog ran up from the beach and joined them. Looking closer I realized that what I'd read as roughhewn dock worker chic was actually late-middle-age hipster gear. You know, basically Justin Timberlake on the Man of the Woods album. The two men acknowledged us and then went back to playing with their dog. They sat back, they looked out over the water, they held hands. I breathed easier.

It's an astounding thing to be able to be in love without the fear of reprisal. I loved the few days I spent in San Francisco. I loved the air. I loved the people. I loved the hills and the valleys. And I loved being in love in San Francisco (with my husband and, also, maybe, with a big, red bridge.)

This week's we have to talk about a literal fight on The Bachelor, golf, and the Fake News Awards. But first, the president is obsessed with sharks like a Bond villain, and it explains so much...

Today I Learned That Trump Is Afraid of Sharks; It's All I Can Think About

The InTouch story is a veritable cornucopia of "Do Not Want/Please Desist," from assertions that Trump spanked Daniels with a copy of Forbes magazine to the claim that that he created a company for the sole purpose of paying her $130,000 in hush money. There is literally nothing I've ever wanted less than to hear about anyone's sex life, particularly Donald Trump's, and yet, here we are in hell so this is pretty on-theme.

Perhaps the wildest part of a truly insane interview is not the president's sex habits nor his obsession with himself or the fact that he says if he cuts his hair he'll lose his power and wealth. (Okay, that last one is pretty wild.) The wildest claim that Daniels makes, however, is that the president of these United States has a whole thing with sharks. SHARKS. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]

I Regret to Inform You That I Did Not Win a Fake News Award

Sure, the blatant fallacies, snide commentary, and bitter asides I’m spreading don’t reach as wide an audience as the New York Times, but I can’t even get a nod? Injustice! This is Tiffany Haddish at the Golden Globes all over again. We need a congressional hearing.

Was I surprised that the Fakies turned out to be a propaganda blog post on the GOP site and not an actual under-attended ceremony hosted by Scott Baio? Sure I was! There was no way Scott Baio wasn’t available last night. He is never booked. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]

Glob-sessed: Arbitrary Rankings From The Bachelor: Week 3

"I think you know that I don't need you," Bekah says. Arie sputters in response while I scream at home. She continues, "Based on what you said, you've been attracted consistently to people who need you more than you need them. And it's scary to be attracted to someone who doesn't need you as much as you need them." This is the best thing that has ever happened on this show. And, yes, I'm including the 20 doggos we got to see. Coming in for a glorious landing, Bekah concludes, "Maybe that's why you like moms, too." And then she boops him on the nose!

Bekah is one cocktail away from from giving the Cool Girl speech from Gone Girl. I am so here for it. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]

Surprise! Trump Spent His Day of Service Playing Golf

For his first Martin Luther King, Jr. Day as president, Donald Trump spent his time fulfilling Dr. King's long-held dream by dismantling the prison industrial complex and divesting from our national warmongering culture golfing up a storm. According to a report in The Washington Post, the president spent the traditional day of service at a golf resort near Mar-a-Lago, just as he has for 91 of his days in office. This may seem like a lot of days to be playing golf while the world burns, but bear in mind that Trump has been president for approximately 4,000 years so he's earned a break. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]

Random thing from the internet...

I have become obsessed with the Longform podcast. It's, as the name might suggest, a series comprised of longform interviews with writers and journalists. It's a fabulous mix of technique talk, ideas talk, how-did-I-get-here talk, and money talk. It's been very helpful and challenging as I try to sort out ideas about myself as a capital W Writer. It's also insanely fascinating. The diversity of writers and styles and approaches is amazing. My favorites so far have been Patricia Lockwood, author of Priestdaddy, who is very funny and cavalier, Doreen St. Felix, who is deeply thoughtful while also being very charismatic, and Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah, who wrote an astounding piece on Dylan Roof and gives a searing, challenging, brilliant interview.

Let's hang out in Chicago March 1 through April 7! Purchase tickets.

Let's hang out in Philadelphia in May! Tickets are pay-what-you-decide after the show! Reserve here.

Build a bridge,