Hi! It's R. Eric Thomas. From the internet?
This week: the greatest picture from the Michael Cohen hearings, Lady Gaga is so good at winning, and Ivanka Trump, heiress, thinks people don't want free money.
I made a promise to myself that I wouldn't write about CrossFit in this newsletter until I'd been going for a solid year because I figured if I made a big to-do about starting CrossFit and then two weeks later I was like "LOL never mind" it would be embarrassing. Plus, I didn't want to be one of those people who's like "LIFE ANNOUNCEMENT: I'm going to be hot soon. Please behave accordingly." My plan, actually, was to go to CrossFit in secret for a year and then just suddenly be hot. My Instagram would pivot to thirst traps and everyone would be like "Wow have you always been this hot?" And I'd giggle and say things like "Oh, just drinking more water lately." Why be hot when you can be hot and also a liar? I'm the Michael Cohen of attractiveness. Anyway, as you might have guessed from perusing my very normal Instagram, I did not do CrossFit for a year. And I refuse to drink any more water. Ever. I'm over it!
I did CrossFit for two weeks and then tweaked my back and stopped going. That was a month ago so now I figure I can talk about it because I'm pretty sure I'm not going back. I really enjoyed CrossFit but also, and this is important, I really enjoy not going to CrossFit. I wanted to like CrossFit because I really like being a part of things that seem like cults but are not. Plus, half of my friends are going to CrossFit now (including Jarrod!) and I felt like it was easier for me to join their thing than to come up with interesting things to talk about in my own life. I mean really.
But I didn't join because of social pressure. I joined for the right reason: blatant envy. See, I met up with my ex-boyfriend for brunch a few months back. We hadn't talked in 5 years and then he reached out and was like "I don't hate you" and I was like "Cool." So I drove to New Jersey and met him in a suburban parking lot like a government informant. He's looking great and I told him so. He told me I was looking great, too, which is objectively not true but I'll allow it. Midway through the brunch we decided to follow each other on Instagram, which is the sign that all had been mended between us. See, after we broke up things were not great, and then they were okay, and then they were not great. And during this last period, one of us vengefully unfollowed the other on Instagram like a Kardashian, and then the other vengefully unfollowed back. Also like a Kardashian. So, the re-following was an event of great symbolic importance. Hashtag Geneva Convention.
I scrolled through his photos and remarked about one where he was about to jump in a lake and he looked really ripped. You couldn't see his whole body but his neck muscles were popping and I just inferred the rest. I'm a thirst detective; I've made more out of less. Case closed! My ex sheepishly explained that he had been going to CrossFit for a while. This seemed very out of character for him. Also, we had been talking for over two hours and this was the first I'd heard about it, which seemed very out of character for anyone who is currently doing CrossFit. We soon moved on to talking about other things but when I came home that day I announced to David "I've decided for no reason to begin CrossFit completely of my own volition and definitely not related to anything that happened today." He was like "Your ex-boyfriend started working out, didn't he?" And I was like "Curse your psychic skills!"
Anyway, so I signed up at the CrossFit gym a block from our apartment and in the slot where they ask who referred you I wrote "My ex's clavicle," which is accurate but maybe not helpful for them. And I went faithfully and put my effort into it and definitely almost fainted multiple times and somehow managed to only bring it up in casual conversation once a day and two weeks later I wasn't magically hot but I did have the self-confidence of a solid 7. And then I did a bunch of deadlifts and my back got super pissed unfollowed me on Instagram. I literally couldn't stand, sit, or turn without screaming for 10 days. The CrossFit coach said that they could fix me but I emailed back "Ugh, thanks but mentally I'm a 7 now so I think I'll just lie here with under a weighted blanket made of Icy Hot patches, online shopping for aspirational bathing suits that will not fit me. Thank you for your time. Sincerely, R. Eric Thomas, Hot Liar and Thirst Detective." Some people go on Fitness Journeys; I go on Fitness Errands. What's great about this whole thing is that even though I only went to CrossFit for two weeks a few months ago, I still managed to talk about it today at length and that's truly inspirational.
In this week's columns, Billy Porter and Lady Gaga won the Oscars, and Ben Affleck's Batmobile ran afoul of the law. But first: the greatest picture of 2019.
Give this photo the Pulitzer Prize and also paint it on a mural and also tattoo it on my ribs right now. Put this on the money; issue a new three dollar bill and instead of e pluribus unum write don't start none, there won't be none. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]
After Lady Gaga won the Academy Award for Best Original Song, she proceeded to sail through the backstage press room and later the Vanity Fair Oscar party performing an extended fringe show called "Being Dramatically Happy with Gaga!" And, to be clear, it is one of the best things that has ever happened to an Oscar. Gaga, who seems simultaneously to be a diva and guileless, had no problem posing for the kind of victory lap photos your mom would insist on after you won the elementary spelling bee. It's glorious. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]
Styled by Sam Ratelle, Billy Porter showed up looking like the glamorous dowager with a dangerous secret in a Victorian novel and also her suave butler with a mysterious past. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]
It's nice to see that even celebrities try to get out of tickets by treating parking attendants like old college friends. "Oh hey! Oh my God! I was just about to move my car. What a coincidence! So good to see you! Anyway, byeeeee." Honey, we all know, once they've started a ticket they can't stop. Confidential between me and Ben Affleck: I sort of feel like this isn't true. Like, there has to be a cancel key. What if they make a typo? I feel like when parking attendants tell you they can't stop writing the ticket it's like when your parents told you the TV doesn't work after 9 p.m. It's just not realistic. The only thing that can't be undone is a tweet; everything else is malleable. That's what I believe. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]
Some—a very small number, I am sure—may also question why I, a wealthy person since birth thanks to the tireless grifting of my father and a minuscule loan from his father, would be against people getting anything for free. Some—one or two people at most—may find it ironic that I, a person who was given a high-ranking and totally undefined job in the administration of my father—would suggest that a guarantee of a job for other Americans would be a bad idea. And yet, here I am, a study of contradictions in earth tones. [READ THE FULL COLUMN]
Booked and Busy
I have two book recommendations for you! Well, I have a billion recommendations but I don't want to inundate you so I'll just tell you about two that are on my radar this week.
Reader Callie Feyen sent me the first two chapters of her recently published book Twirl: My Life with Stories, Writing and Clothes and I absolutely loved them and wanted to immediately dive into the rest of the book. Callie uses stories from her life and an extended metaphor about her relationship to clothing and presentation as a way to tease out complicated truths about figuring out who you are and where you belong in the world. It's an engaging, inspiring book that I think you or someone you know will really love.
I also got a chance to read an advance copy of Linda Holmes' delightful new novel, Evvie Drake Starts Over. It's a smart, warm-hearted romcom about a young widow in a small town who rents a room in her house to an attractive former baseball player going through a tough life transition. Holmes, who you know and love from NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour, is a total natural, creating complicated characters and giving them real, vivid emotions while spinning a tale that is compulsively readable and a true joy. I feel like some will call it a guilty pleasure, but I think it's more than that. It's quite simply a pleasure. It hits stands in June just into to get slipped into your beach bag, but is available for preorder now.
Random Thing From the Internet
I think I'm going to make this Chickpea Stew for dinner but I don't know what to make with it! Feeding oneself: a constant challenge!
Mentally I'm a 7,