Coffee Log, Year 2, Day 42


Coffee: Maxwell House Drip, Office Coffee

Here’s the question: if Lucy Flores had been a man, would Biden have put his hands on her? Would he have kissed her from behind? Listen to your gut: the answer’s ‘no.’

When I was in Japan, I learned there’s a quick way to make a Japanese person uncomfortable: shake their hand when you meet them. You’d see the kids get confused and the adults blush. Pretty soon, I knew well enough to stop grabbing hands.

There’s a sanctity to a person’s skin. Literally and metaphorically it’s the barrier between yourself and the rest of the world. Different cultures have different norms about when a touch is acceptable. In America we shake hands. In much of Europe you kiss the cheek. What’s intimate in one place might be acceptable in another but regardless of where you are a touch has meaning. You’re pressing your identities together. Mixing paints.

I’ve heard a lot of arguments that Biden’s just being ‘old-school.’ I take that to mean this type of touch used to be socially acceptable. And I buy that argument, to a degree – I’m sure it was socially acceptable. But there’s a wrinkle here. Remember the question: would he have done the same thing if Flores were a man? No. There’s a gender dynamic. It’s mono-directional – you can touch the woman, but she doesn’t have the same access to you. It’s couched in power and privilege. So sure, Biden didn’t realize what he was doing, but now he’s making jokes at the fact someone pointed out his wrongs. If he didn’t get it back then, he certainly should now.

Another thing that’s going round is: but Trump! And of course Trump is worse. There are many worse men being held lest accountable than Biden. But is that a good argument to be complacent? Is that a good reason to let him off the hook?

When a demon dances at midnight it puts on a robe of flayed skin. It revels in it’s sin. But when the devil dances, it does so in the finest suit.

Basically, you should keep your eye on all the monsters, but especially the ones that hide their wickedness. You and I aren’t ever going to revel in sexual assault. But if we see that beautiful man dancing in a flawless suit, we might be tempted to try wearing it ourselves.

Novel Count: 36,338

Currently Reading: The Sense of an Ending, Julian Barnes

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So I try to be mindful, at all times, of what a difference a small human gesture can make to people in need. What does it really cost to take a moment to look someone in the eye, to give him a hug, to let her know, I get it. You’re not alone?

Joe Biden, Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship and Purpose

Coffee Log, Day 142


Coffee: Cafe Pajaro Extra Dark Roast, Trader Joe’s Brand

There used to be a hotel here. I stayed there once, a Radisson. It was a school trip. I was in the ocean science quiz bowl, we were competing regionals in Raleigh. We won.

I remember the night in the hotel better than the bowl. We had a ten o’clock curfew, stayed in gender separate rooms. I was in a room with my best friend and current roommate, a few other guys. Before curfew, the girls hung out with us.

Ac sat on the bed with me. She’d come out the shower, was wearing daisy dukes. I’d had a crush on her since middle school. My friend was crushing on her now, and her on him. Anyway, R was in the shower himself, Ac and I were on the bed, she took my hand and started her fingers sprinting, telling me I had soft skin; a lot of people tell me that. I remember the floral sheets, pink-gold lamplight, Ac’s bronze skin. A couple months later I bought her yellow tulips for her birthday. She and R never got together. Of course, I never got with her either.

Bloodshot attraction at 17 – the Radisson’s gone; took a tack of curfew memories with it.

Currently Reading: LaRose, Louise Erdrich

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“I went to the Hotel of the Violet Hippopotamus and drank five glasses of good wine.” – Anton Chekhov