Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Americana Room

I recently took a weekend away from NYC to go to Kansas for Watermelon Brother's grad school graduation. Zach is great!

Clearly, we celebrated by eating delicious burgers and blowing bubbles. (The restaurant in which we ate also featured a dish called the Cowboy Burger, involving a burger so multi-layered and gigantic that anyone who finishes gets a free t-shirt. Zach tells me, however, that the restaurant will not cover any expenses of the subsequent food coma.)

Mostly, though, I wanted to post some photos from the bed & breakfast where we stayed. My parents had to sign a form that we would not bring alcohol, even unopened, anywhere on the premises. That may have been my first clue. But I really knew something was a bit fishy when I spotted a bit of light reading on a table in the game room:

Hmm. Glenn Beck?! What was this strange universe I seemed to have stumbled upon?

Further into the tour, I spotted a sign in one of the guest rooms that read, "Shopping with your husband is like hunting with the game warden."

And then, above the dining room table, this gem:

I guess I'm accustomed to sexist messages being insidious -- perhaps packaged up with pretty ribbon* under the guise of empowerment, for example (see: Cosmo, Sex and the City, and their ilk). Sneaky messages, like the multibillion beauty, fashion, and weight loss industries that use advertising as a means to make women feel like they're not measuring up and not even quite knowing why. It's really shocking and almost refreshing to see offensive messages stated so clearly -- like having the creeper following you around stop and introduce himself. And then we can have a real conversation.

* (Let me be clear here that I'm pro-pretty ribbon in almost every existing scenario.)

My point is, it's no good being told what you can or cannot do, or who you can or cannot be. And it's really no good when it's based on something you can't control, or maybe something that doesn't even exist, depending on your views of gender as a social construct. I really like people in general, and I'm lucky to have lots of good ones in my life, both men and women. In Feminist Theory from Margin to Center, bell hooks writes about the importance of valuing parenting as a whole, rather than necessarily privileging motherhood or fatherhood. She raises the point that when young girls take care of a baby doll, adults say things like, "She's practicing being a good mother." When a young boy does the same, the same adults might discourage it, thinking that he's exhibiting behavior that could be an indicator of homosexuality. Instead, a more appropriate response might be, "He's practicing being a good father."

Science fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein said, "A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects."

I really like this. And I like being a weirdo non-insect human being. And I'm tired of reading about how feminism is ruining men, because somehow I have a feeling that men probably don't like being insects, either. And a lot of stuff that's offensive to women is offensive to men, too -- in purely conforming to societal gender expectations, we miss out on the full experience of being human.

Getting back to the bed & breakfast -- the room that we stayed in was called the Americana room. It featured fake Revolutionary War memorabilia, framed nautical knots, and a bust of Abraham Lincoln in the bathroom.

Also, a beautiful dog.

I mean, goodness. A miniature husky? Who'd ever heard of such a glorious thing?

I like this photo for the proof it gives that very small animals are the best at taking up tons of room.

Before we checked out, my parents and I noticed a guestbook on the table in our room. We debated for a few minutes what, if anything, we should write.

"How about: 'My name is Tony, and I'm a man that can make a really excellent breakfast,'" I suggested to my dad.

He crunched a handful of corn-nuts as he contemplated. "But maybe I'll add on, 'However, you may have a point about the husband as the game warden.'"


  1. The visitor from Appleton, Wisconsin is me!

    I like to think of Bjork like a force of nature, much like a faerie. She cannot be judged by our transitory values; she drifts right through them like a sigh on gossamer.

  2. The winner is you!

    Also, you should write a poem about Bjork.

    I was a little disappointed that we weren't playing her music while she was in the store, since it's a frequent musical choice by the managers. I wonder if she would have reacted at all.