Monday, October 20, 2014

My Failures as a Feminist

Yesterday, after reading my piece on Gerard Way, a dear friend of mine congratulated me on it and told me he tried to live his life by those guidelines ever since he met me. Since his equality-minded nature is one of the reasons we became friends, I asked him why not before. He said that he's always been a feminist, but not always gone about it the right way.

Who among us has?

Ever since I knew the basic definition I've considered myself a feminist. Ask my father's permission to date/marry/whatever me? Fuck off. Equal pay? Damn right I want it. Try to tell me when and how I'll become a mother? Them's fighting words.

Yet, I haven't always been a "good" feminist. I've made mistakes and I believe that anyone who's part of any movement has unknowingly worked against it at some point. So here are the most unfeminist things I've ever done or said, in hopes that I can learn from my mistakes, and perhaps so can others.

1. I mocked the girly girls
Somehow I got it into my head that women who enjoyed that which was pink, sparkly, or flowery were "stupid" and "fueling the fire of the enemy" (I went through a dramatic stage. It isn't over yet).
That somehow being themselves while simultaneously not being like me, those women were somehow undervaluing our whole gender because they liked "girly" things like romance novels and unicorns. I credited myself with (undue) depth and substance because I was above such tired tropes of femininity. I was important and they were stupid.

2. I undervalued the housewifely arts
Along with criticizing pink, I also felt that, due in no small part to an overconsumption of pop culture and mainstream Hollywood tripe, a truly successful woman cannot cook, clean up after herself, or mend her clothing. After all, the patriarchy had pigeonholed women into the housewifely role, and its abandonment was our salvation. Somehow I failed to take into consideration that the ability to feed myself, clean up after myself, and maintain a respectable appearance--especially when I realized that only 1% of the world gets to disavow such niceties because they have staff to take care of it for them--were essential to success.

3. I placed greater value on the feminist issues that affected me
Feminism can be deeply personal, and the passion that feminists bring to their activism comes from their own experiences, but at its core the movement is about everyone, especially those that are marginalized by the patriarchy. We should have a solidarity about us--what happens to my sister happens to me, even if she's trans and I'm cis, even if she's queer and I'm straight, even when her skin color brought her a different experience than mine did me, even if the she in question is my brother, a man who's been just as marginalized by the way things work as I have.

4. I've been guilty of slut-shaming
I've never judged a woman for how much sex she's had, but I've definitely been guilty of judging a woman for how much sex she looks like she's having. If you were showing what I deemed to be too much skin, talking too much about blow jobs, or just advocating a sexual more that I didn't agree with, I judged you for it, and I'm sorry. And while I'm at it, I prude-shamed too, allowing myself to think that women who chose abstinence or advocated prudence were enemies of sexual freedom that has been so hard won, when in truth they were expressing themselves within that freedom.

5. I conflated "men" with "patriarchy"
The patriarchal construct has rigid views of masculinity, femininity, sexuality, race, and nearly every other intrinsic part of personhood that makes each of our experiences unique. Only those who are at the top in this system will stay at the top, and at the cost to those beneath them. Only straight, white, cisgender men get to be fully represented and even they must adhere to the structure laid out for them, to the detriment of their health and happiness. Despite the gendered nouns that the movements have, patriarchy is not for men, nor feminism for women. Patriarchy is simply a way to maintain the status quo, while feminism is a way to lift us up.

The ultimate point is, the only real mistake I made as a young feminist is that I turned feminism into a competition. Everything that I did was done under the guise that I was in competition with those around me, but feminism is a means to an end, and the end is equality--not sameness, not homogeny, but the basic idea that everyone has the right to be themselves without suffering a loss of opportunity or safety. In equality, there is no competition, and the belief that there is is just a myth perpetuated to sidetrack us from what's really important--slowly, surely, confidently changing the world.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Feminist Men Rock

WARNING: THERE WILL BE SHAMELESS SHILLING AND FANGIRLING IN THIS POST. YOU'VE BEEN WARNED. PROCEED WITH WHATEVER CAUTION YOU DEEM NECESSARY.

I don't often take the time to discuss celebrities I like, but Friday night at the Trocadero theater in Philadelphia convinced me to make an exception. I was there to see Gerard Way, a fantastic solo musician who was the founder and lead singer of My Chemical Romance as well as the brilliant mind behind some truly great comics like The Umbrella Academy and The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys. It was a fantastic show and if you have the chance to check him out on this or any future tours, I highly recommend you do.

But this is not a review or a critique of his artistry. However much I enjoy criticizing art in private, I don't feel like it's my place to do so on a public forum, as well as the fact that whatever flaws Gerard Way may have, I'm blind to, because I've adored him since I was 19.

However, the ways he uses his power as a public figure, that's worth discussing. It should be noted that at the tender age of 28, I skew significantly older than most of Gerard Way's fanbase. He had a captive audience of teenagers, mostly young women, who adore him, follow him on social media, and would respond to whatever he chose to say, and it was this: (paraphrasing)

"I've been on the internet and seen a lot of the shit that women, young women, get thrown at them, and I just wanna say ladies, it's coming from old, white dudes with power who are afraid of you!"

"Never, ever, ever give up control for free!"

"Things are changing and I'm loving it. I'm not scared of this generation being in charge at all. Stay strong, ladies!"

In a world where the Millennial generation is constantly under attack from the previous generations (i.e. the ones who raised them) for their perceived laziness, their lack of ambition, their addiction to their phones and their general crappiness, having a Gen X'er who's also a major pop culture figure tell them not only that he's not afraid of them, but that they're awesome, is incalculably huge. People respond to how they're treated, but being treated well by adults when you're a teen is so rare it could qualify as a superpower, and we consistently wonder why teenagers are so sullen. Maybe it's because we tell them almost constantly that we implicitly hate everything they think, like, do, are?

In true patriarchal fashion, women seem to bear a stronger brunt of this than men. Not only in pop culture, but politics, women are told that they are nothing more than the sum total of their sex organs, and that those body parts are public property. For every amazing woman who stands up for herself and her sisters, there's an oppressive body of men--and even more disheartening, other women--who want to shout her down. And yet, here's Gerard Way, pushing 40 (I know you don't believe me, so here), white, and a guy, benefitting from the current power structure no matter which way you spin it, and he's encouraging young women to change the world, showing he's not afraid because their power and strength is something to be celebrated instead of loathed.

They say young women need role models, and it's fucking true, but feminism is about celebrating everyone, and in the changing world young men need to see that better opportunities for women =/= worsening or fewer opportunities for them. Too often, young men are told that feminism is not for them, that it wants to take from them, and that's why men like Gerard Way are so important as public figures. He's married, has a child, beat the odds in overcoming alcoholism and in earning his living making the art he wants to make. He's surrounded by adoring fans and is successful in every measurable way. And he's a feminist.

The only real problem with Gerard Way is his singularity. For every him, for every Wil Wheaton, for every Joss Whedon, for every George R. R. Martin, for every man with a public audience who steps up for equality and improvement, who shares instead of hordes, popular culture will respond with a thousand different ways to shut them up, to put us all back in our boxes, keep us chugging along in a system where the current winners are the only winners, and everyone else suffers through. So take some inspiration. Learn by example.

Say something.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Tragedy of Maleficent

Spoilers abound for anyone who has yet to bear witness to the festering bed sore that is Disney's latest abomination,

Once upon a time, humans lived among the fair folk. They were allowed to live as they liked, so long as they paid the fey their due respect. Some fairies responded with obeisance, others with reward, and still others with disinterest, so long as the humans observed the appropriate rights.

As it happened, one king and queen allowed the power they had over their fellow humans to go to their heads, and upon the birth of their daughter, publicly spurned an unpopular but vastly powerful fey named Maleficent by expressly not inviting her to the christening. In equal parts retribution to the royal upstarts as well as a reminder to those to follow of the foolishness of incurring her wrath, Maleficent cursed the newborn princess. She bore the babe no ill will, the child was merely collateral damage in the political chess game that the royal family had instigated. Sadly, Maleficent's quest for justice was thwarted by lesser fairies and the entitled entourage of the human royals, and she died a martyr to her own brand of retribution.

Sadly, this is not the story that Disney chose to tell with their re-imagining of one of their most beloved villains. In the trio of films that would go on to anchor the Disney princess franchise, Maleficent was a larger than life powerhouse among the vain, aging queen and the social-climbing, sycophantic stepmother. While Snow White, Cinderella, and Aurora are all equally innocent victims, Sleeping Beauty was the first film to depict a villain who was provoked before lashing out. Aurora, the titular beauty, is merely the catalyst for the events of the film, but it has always been Maleficent's story.

The live-action adaptation starring Angelina Jolie is, at best, a subpar Lifetime movie about a good woman done wrong by a bad man, and oh look, sparkles.

Maleficent starts out as a sunshine-vomiting fairy who epitomizes the Dark is Not Evil trope, and right away that's a major flaw in the film. Maleficent IS evil, deliciously evil, her very name is a portmanteau of mal (French: bad) and magnificent. Her malevolence is just a manifestation of her nature, and nothing, nothing that happens from here on out will convince any moviegoer that the 2014 Maleficent is capable of becoming the 1959 Maleficent.

As the film progresses, with a helping of trite and redundant narration, Maleficent falls in love with a sweet but ambitious boy named Stefan, whose human kingdom fears and loathes the neighboring fairies. In a quest to prove himself worthy of the throne, Stefan cuts off Maleficent's wings to prove to his warmongering king that he has slain the fairy, and so marries the milquetoast princess and becomes king.

Heartbroken and stung by betrayal, Maleficent uses her magic to curse her former lover's newborn in an almost word for word recitation of the animated film's iconic scene. She mentions the lack of invitation, but she's merely mocking the king--make no mistake, this is a classic example of woman scorned. Three fairies take Aurora off to raise her as a commoner, but while this is a cunning plan in the original,  the fairies are so bafflingly stupid that Maleficent herself is forced to keep watch over the child so she can live long enough to enact the curse. Over the next sixteen years, in various sickeningly sweet scenes, Maleficent predictably falls in love with the child and seeks to undo her own curse, which, failing to do so, she unwittingly breaks it with True Love's kiss in a "twist" that Disney property Once Upon A Time has done much better. Twice.

No one fears the bite of a de-fanged cobra, and no one will find anything to fear in the vacillating cream puff that purports to be one of animation's most terrifying villains. Maleficent was introduced as a badass, and the creators of this latest film should be ashamed for what they've done to her.

It's hard not to see Maleficent's stolen wings as a huge and disturbing rape metaphor. The first king makes war on her lands because he fears her power. Stefan drugs her, and then takes what is rightfully hers without her permission. Notable at this point is that Maleficent is the guardian of her moor, friend to all fairies, with long brown hair and a dress to match, the virtuous embodiment of "good" womanhood. Following her "rape", the film justifies Stefan's victimization of Maleficent by turning her into a "bad" woman who kills babies while the crowning glory of her femininity is bound under tight, uncomfortable looking black leather. She finds her way back to "goodness" by forming a maternal bond (the pinnacle of womanhood) to the child she swore vengeance upon. You can tell her redemption is complete by the end of the film because she once again has long hair flowing around her face, and the moor sparkles in her presence.

Following the USCB shootings, this is an especially disturbing parallel to our view of rape victims. Rape turns victims into "bad" people, continuously accused of lying, of asking for it, as being damaged goods. Stefan, for most of the film, gets away with his actions, even achieving his ambitions as a direct result of what he did to Maleficent. Even as he spends the majority of the film in a downward spiral of insanity, it's due to his fear of retribution, not guilt.

Maleficent started out as one of the greatest characters in film canon. She was conceived as evil, she died evil, and from beginning to end she terrified the audience with a drama and flair that female characters 55 years after her debut would kill to possess. The tragedy is we've used this strongly defined villain to paint an ugly portrait of how our society sees women, and splattered it across screens to show girls everywhere what we do to those who don't fit our molds.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

White Disney World

Recently, I've been substituting all the things I used to do--spending time with friends, reading, concerts, movies, dating, gym, exercise--with Pinterest. I blame the fact that the app runs better on my iPhone than it did on my droid, and therefore, I cannot be held responsible for the fact that my traitorous  thumb swipes over to it every time I get an email or a text. Due to the massive amount of time I spend on there, I've run across this gem at least five times:

This image is originally from  http://themetapicture.com/brilliant-comeback/
All credit due the creators and other such indemnification.

First of all, Brave is set in Scotland, not Ireland. I have relatives that would murder you for failing that distinction.

But with that minor quibble very serious infraction of cultural sensitivity addressed, let's examine the underlying argument being stated: namely, that because Rapunzel, Anna, and Elsa are from traditional European fairy tales/folklore, and Merida is a medieval Scot, Disney is not guilty of whitewashing.

While it's true that it makes the most sense for the three protagonists and deuteragonist to be white for these three films, and also, for the bit and supporting players to be white in the contexts of the story, in the past four years Disney has failed to release a feature film in its princess pantheon with a non-white lead or a diverse cast. While the films are most definitely based on traditional fairy tales, every culture has a rich tradition of storytelling that Disney could've mined and adapted, but in four years, they've chosen from a strictly European formula. Also, stories such as "The Frog Prince" are from the same cultural landscape as "Rapunzel", but Disney storytellers set it in the Jazz age of New Orleans with a black protagonist, black villain, black mentor, white foil, and ethnically ambiguous love interest--more diversity in 2009 than 2014.

Additionally, while one could argue that old school Disney princess films such as "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs", "Cinderella", and "Sleeping Beauty" skewed pretty closely to the original tales, "Frozen", Disney's latest offering, is set in the fictional land of Arendelle, with clothing, technology, and inheritance rights all suggesting an anachronism stew of time periods and locations with no real world counterpart. Kai and Gerda, the main characters of "The Snow Queen", upon which the movie is loosely based, are not even in the film, so loyalty to the source material is moot. Yet, all the characters were so white I barely noticed when SPOILER! the land was engulfed in an eternal blizzard. Clearly, while not actively whitewashing by refusing to update the racial makeup of Arendelle, Disney certainly isn't being progressive either.

As for the assertion that there are "plenty of ethnic Disney ladies", I invite the reader to check out the list of official Disney princesses here. If you'd like confirmation from the Mouse, there is a link here, that hasn't yet been updated to include Anna and Elsa. If you'd rather not distract from the brilliant wit that is this post, there are thirteen official Disney princesses, in order: Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora (Sleeping Beauty), Ariel (The Little Mermaid), Belle (Beauty and the Beast), Jasmine (Aladdin), Pocahontas, Mulan, Tiana (The Princess and the Frog), Rapunzel (Tangled), Merida (Brave), and Anna and Elsa (Frozen). Esmerelda doesn't count as a princess, being the love interest of her film instead of the protagonist (like Jasmine), and not being royal by either birth or marriage (like Mulan) and also because basically Disney says so. Note that out of 13 princesses, two are Asian, one is American Indian, and one is black, bringing the total to a whopping four. Let everyone be aware that 4/13 qualifies as plenty. Try arguing that point should you get that grade on a test--which would be a 31%, for anyone keeping track. And the fact that Tiana has no black friends to hang out with at the Disney princess parties, that Pocahontas is the only American Indian, and South Asian Jasmine and East Asian Mulan don't know any princesses who look like them, we've added up to that ugly little t-word: tokenism. If you break through the glass ceiling, but you're standing alone on the rubble with no one following behind, you haven't really accomplished much.

I don't want to live in a PC world, filled with stories and characters that have been flexed and molded to  appease everyone and so please no one. I loved "Tangled", I  adored "Brave", and "Frozen" warmed the cockles of my fairy tale loving but feminist heart. I wouldn't change a thing about any of them. I would want to see movies--and I mean feature films that are added to the official princess list--that feature characters as flawed, interesting, diverse, and heroic as Rapunzel, Merida, Anna, and Elsa with a plethora of skin tones and ethnic backgrounds. I want the rich tapestry of folktales and legends from Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and the Americas updated, adapted, and given a Disney ending. I want an upgrade from tokenism to diversity. I want Disney, the stamp upon my childhood, to stop whitewashing. And I want them to mean it.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Perks and Pitfalls of Bringing Non-Nerds to See a Geek God

Meeting the creators of my favorite art is one of the best experiences I've ever had and meeting them after they've just made new art is even better.

Sometimes, life gets in the way. Wil Wheaton was in Philadelphia on Friday night, but due to the fact that I'm poor and the holidays are looming and my car decided now would be a good time to shit out its transmission, I instead signed up to work a double shift. Now, for clarity's sake, I should note that my love for Wil Wheaton began in earnest when I read this post. I never was a big fan of Star Trek (and before anyone spams the shit out of me, I'll get around to watching all the Trekkie goodness eventually. It's just never been my thing). The point is, I love Wil Wheaton the writer/comedian/professional awesome dude/Sheldon nemesis, and I am unabashedly nerdy in professing such love. I am, in fact proud to call myself a nerd in all respects. And undaunted, I wanted to see me some Wil Wheaton, and no time and a half with a $.50 pay differential second shift was going to get in my way.

Hence a 60-minute car drive followed by a 90-minute train ride and a 20-minute cab ride from Philly to New York so I could catch his show the following night.

And it was glorious.

However, 170 minutes is a long time for a solitary journey, so I enlisted reinforcements in the form of my three good co-worker friends, among whom there are a total of zero nerds. The conversation went something like this:

Me: Want to head up to New York on Saturday?
Friends: Why?
Me: Wil Wheaton is doing a show.
Friends: *crickets*
Me: He was on Star Trek: The Next Generation
Friends: *slightly louder crickets*
Me: He was the main kid in Stand By Me.
Friends: *hooting of an owl over the sound of crickets*
Me: He's Sheldon's arch-nemesis on The Big Bang Theory
Friends: Oh, right, that guy. What kind of show?
Me: Stand up
Friends: Is he funny?

If we were allowed access to YouTube at work, I would've pulled up a few vids of his past stand-up and let that do the talking. But since we're not, the better part of the next hour was spent convincing my friends that Wil Wheaton was funny and ultimately, they decided that I rarely steer them wrong and plans were made to visit the home of the Yankees (who suck harder than a Hoover, for the record).


At this juncture, just so you know what a magical night it was, I bring you "Kitty Corliss", first brought to me by co-headliners Paul and Storm.

To be fair and honest, you do not need to be a nerd to appreciate either the hilarity of Paul and Storm, whose song "My Favorite Band" perfectly encapsulates how I feel about My Chemical Romance, or Wil Wheaton's story about spicy dick milk (the name of my Michael Jackson cover band). The non-nerds I brought into the fray were cracking up over Wil's hysterical stories and the awesome Paul and Storm songs. And after we left, each of them declared themselves brand new but very enthusiastic fans of both.

However...

In a room full of geeks, I was sitting next to the people quietly, politely smiling during the references to Han shooting first, aiming to misbehave, and why his shirt was confusing to normal people. While I love converting the uninitiated, it's hard to explain the shorthand of nerd culture when you're rolling on the floor in glee. And the end of the evening is somewhat decimated when you recount the evening to your buddies and the explanation leaves them more baffled than the initial joke. There's a reason nerds gather amongst each other. We have the gene, and those who don't are confounded by our ways.

Since Wil Wheaton's name appears in this post a whopping nine times, I owe him one. He and his wife,  the lovely and sweet Anne Wheaton, are raising money for the Pasadena Humane Society and you can help them out with that here.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Expiration Gaying: The Boy Scouts of America Permit Homosexuality for 18 Whole Years!

If you ask the Boy Scouts of America, being gay is the sexual identity equivalent of pooping your pants. It's fine for a child, but when a boy becomes a man, a man cannot be having that shit anymore. A boy can love a boy, but a man can't love a man.

Bypassing the pissing and moaning of parents who want to yank their children from the BSA (soon to be renamed The Great All-American Gay Porn Hub), the leaders of one of the largest youth organizations in one of the greatest countries in the world, in 2013 I might add, are squatting on their hopelessly dated policy of banning openly gay adults from serving as leaders, and they are not budging their tight, white, wrinkled, Conservative-cash-loving asses on that one.

Gay youth are being double-damned on this policy, because while their inclusion gives lip-service to a spirit of acceptance and progress, the gaping hole where their gay role models within the organization should be are empty. And that void is not silent. It's filled with the omnipresent threats of anti-gay organizations to pull funding because the very acknowledgment of gay individuals is an affront. It is filled with the constant shitstorm of media controversy that gay people find themselves at the center of simply by being open about who they are. The void is tacit compliance on the part of BSA's leaders to invite gay youth into the organization to be isolated, marginalized, and bullied on a public stage.

And yet, the BSA's historic vote today, the marginal good, the extensive bad, the exceedingly ugly, is progress. Those who advocate an end to the ban against gay people in it's entirety point out that gay boys grow up to become gay men--and they are entirely right. It's easy for the BSA to turn away leaders who are TEH GAY, that massive, faceless entity that they've conditioned themselves to believe impugn the masculinity and morality that the BSA strives to uphold. In ten years, when the openly gay youth who are admitted to the scouts next year apply for leadership positions, they will be Brian, and Andrew, and Steve, the highly decorated and able scouts looked up to by their younger troop mates. And it will be much harder to turn them away after a decade of service to the organization.

The BSA ban on gay leaders is still discrimination in all its ugly, ignorant glory, but the number of people being discriminated against is dwindling. We pause to acknowledge that victory, and then we fight on until that number is a fat, happy zero. The gay youth (and adults) of America are counting on it. The straight youth are, as well. When gay men and women are held up as leaders, based on their intelligence, compassion, and general decency, all kids learn that sexuality is a baseless reason to eschew anyone. It's a lesson worth learning, and a goal worth pursuing.

And today, we are one step closer.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Dude Days Are (Never) Over



If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you are very familiar with the furry face pictured above. My dog Dude took up about 90% of my pictures because My God, look at that cute wittle face! Sadly that face is only in pictures now, because my precious little boy died on February 16th at the age of twelve, because one of the cruel realities of the universe is that pets don't live as long as their people. One of the few blessings in all this is that he died both suddenly and peacefully, with no pain, in his home with the family he loved, that loved him with all their hearts.

I was fifteen when we got Dude, Christmas Eve of 2000. LittleSis was twelve and BabySis was eight. If you have sisters, or daughters for that matter, you'll know that three girls of those ages under one roof are generally hellbent on each others' destruction at the exclusion of all else. But it was very fairly agreed that Dude could unite us, make us playful, fun, and kind to each other, because he wanted to play with all his sisters at once, dammit, and His Royal Furriness always got his way! (The baby of the family always does).

He was actually a giant pain in the ass.

From puppyhood on up, he never learned the difference between outside barking and inside barking. He could show off his "inside voice", sure, but only if he had absolute certainty that there was a treat in it for him. Otherwise, doorbells, conversations between people in two different rooms, construction work going on in the neighborhood, fireworks, the flutter of a butterfly's wings in China, all were met with a healthy (loud) dose of barking, courtesy of The Dude (His full first name. Not inspired by The Big Lebowski. Just want to make that clear.)

He also chewed shoes when he got pissed off at whomever owned whatever pair he was chomping on. He had a particular and uncanny habit of always choosing the left of any pair, because the vindictive little fur face wasn't content to just ruin a pair of shoes altogether when he could taunt us with a right shoe that was both perfectly serviceable yet utterly useless.

Finally, Dude was, and I say this with utter gravitas and no hint of hyperbole, the biggest chickenshit alive. Hiccups, sneezes, burps, thunder, other dogs, small woodland creatures (yes, even bunnies)? All terrifying to our little boy, and he would bolt from wherever they were with a speed that athletes shrink their testicles to achieve. Once, I got the hiccups while taking him on one of his beloved walks and he wrestled himself out of his collar to get away from the horror of it all.

Somehow, none of this takes away from the fact that he was the best dog in the world. There's nothing quite like coming home after a long, painful day of work to a flurry of jumping, puppy kisses, and barking that translates to ohwowi'msohappytoseeyouyou'remyfavoritepersoninthewholebigworldiloveyouyousmellexcitingletmesniffyoupetmelookmytail'swaggingaren'ticuteyou'rethebestpersoneverdidimentioniloveyou (The translation is accurate, I spoke fluent Dude).

Despite being all of thirty pounds when soaking wet, and, as previously mentioned, a total chickenshit, Dude possessed total assurance that the house was not safe until he'd done a thorough patrol and personally seen to it that everyone was safely tucked into their beds. When LittleSis moved out, he would stalk the upstairs hallway all night, every night, until he visited her apartment and understood that his human lived here now and all was once again right with the world. He would still be awake if BabySis or I went out until the early hours of the morning, and greet us with a thumping tail and sleepy kisses, bearing no grudge that we'd kept him up all night.

He instinctively knew when we were grieving or stressed. He sought out my parents, my sisters, and myself when we cried and curled up next to us, laying a silent head on our laps and gazing up at us with his loving brown eyes until we felt better. He even tolerated our cuddles when we needed some puppy time, a big sacrifice on his part. Dude usually took a very catlike attitude towards physical affection, only acceptable on his terms, although petting was always welcomed--sometimes encouraged by a sleek head burrowing under a stationary hand for a stroke between the ears.

He was completely in love with a live audience, prancing out in the middle of the room to chase his own tail whenever people had the temerity to be in his house without paying attention to him. He also pawed at our legs if we weren't giving him a baby talk speech about how cute he was and what a special, wonderful, perfect little boy he was. Luckily for us, the one regret none of us could ever possibly have is the idea that we took him for granted. No day was complete without playing with, petting, and gushing over our sweet, beloved, admittedly spoiled little boy.

Anyone who has never loved a pet might be completely unaware how incredibly human they can be, full of distinct personalities and quirks. Although Dude might be the only dog in history who wasn't a dog person, he was also one of the only dogs to capture the hearts of people who flat out do not like dogs, or even animals in general.  He made our family complete, and now we are missing my parents' son and our baby brother.

So here's to Dude. We had him for twelve years, we will love him for all our lifetimes.


The Dude
October 16, 2000-February 16, 2013
Perfect love, wrapped in fur