This week’s Vice-President is: Charles Curtis!
Born:January 25, 1860
Died: February 8, 1936
Vice-President #: 31
Under: Herbert Hoover
Dates: March 4, 1929 – March 4, 1933
Fun Facts: Curtis is at least one-eighth American Indian! He is the great-great grandson of Kaw Indian Chief White Plume, who gave assistance to Lewis and Clark. He grew up on the Kaw reservation and even became a tribal hero when he ran sixty miles to Topeka for help when the Cheyenne raided the community (can that be true?).
Curtis’ legacy in Congress (he was the first Republican to have the title Senate Majority Leader) was The Curtis Act, which President McKinley signed into law in 1898. Although it’s stated mission was for the “Protection of People of the Indian Territory and for Other Purposes” it actually ended tribal sovereignty in Indian territory by abolishing the enforcement of tribal law, subjecting all persons in the territory to federal law, and abolishing tribal courts. In 1902, an act of Congress disbanded the Kaw tribe as a legal entity (while 1625 acres of Kaw land went to Curtis and his children).
But most importantly, Curtis was the last Vice-President (or President) to wear facial hair, in Curtis’ case, a handsome mustache.
Can someone please remind me what the etiquette is when a person clearly has a piece of food on his face cause, the other day, I’m eating lunch at this soul food place with some coworkers, one guy orders corn-on-the-cob, so yeah, you can do the math. I tell the guy when I notice he has a kernel of corn just above his upper lip, “Hey, you have a little piece of something over there,” and he gets visibly offended, “Yeah I know, I was about to wipe my face, calm down there.” All my coworkers laughed, I felt pretty embarrassed, all because I was trying to do the right thing and avoid his embarrassment of having food on his face! But instead it got all twisted, you know, and it was sort of implied that I was in love with this guy or something cause if I noticed the corn on his face quickly, I must have been watching his face pretty intently (that’s ridiculous coworker logic for you!)
Things have blown over at work but for the time-being, I’ve been on a courtesy-hiatus when it comes to this: now if I see anything on anyone’s face that shouldn’t be there, I keep my mouth shut. Let someone else point it out cause I’m done. Just know that other people may use the fact that you have food all over your face against you (cause it is pretty funny). They might say something snooty like, “Dude, you’re all over the place,” or “Ever heard of a napkin, Einstein?” Whew! It’s a brutal world, for sure.
I always thought it was slightly funny: you’re at a Chinese restaurant or something, drinking tea, eating fried rice, everything’s pretty mundane, and then all of a sudden the waiter comes out carrying a sizzling dish and WOW, a hush falls over the entire place, you know, everyone’s wide-mouthed, little whispers of “ooh, it’s sizzling” and “I wonder what she ordered?” are in the air, and we all just watch super-intently as the waiter delivers the dish (presumably from God himself) to the lucky table-recipient.
As you may or may not expect, my mom just loooooves sizzling dishes. Loves em. Yeah I’m pretty sure she’d order anything as long as it’s sizzling, an old shoe maybe. “It’s a new twist on a old favorite!” she might say, slurping down a shoelace like it was spaghetti. And I’m all hiding my face of course cause it’s embarrassing, right, when someone at your table orders a sizzling dish and suddenly all eyes are on you. That’s why just to be safe I ask the waiter, “Is this dish sizzling?” and usually his eyes would light up, “Well it could be” and I just shake my head, “No thank you,” and they get sad, of course, but they can just sue me, really, is how I feel about it.
Tiny addendum: The only thing worse than sizzling in my mind is when it’s someone’s birthday at your table (or maybe yours God forbid) and just when you’re all having some serious-esque conversation about abortion-rates, whathaveyou, the waiters start stamping out of the kitchen in a line wearing awkward grins, holding a cupcake, clapping and wailing, “Happy Birthday to you!” like it’s gym-class (people from other tables start clapping along, multiple babies are crying, it can all be a real mess. for real). Don’t you think?
You know how during your daily monotonous routine, walking from your apartment to the subway, walking to your office building from the subway, etc, you often start seeing the same people, but at different stages of the journey depending on how early/late you are on that particular day? Well, for me, I see the san-jose-sharks-jacket-guy, walking past me as I get off the ACE train and walk west up 33rd street. He’s ‘bigger’ in frame, has a pretty full dark beard, and of course he has one of those bright turquoise San Jose Sharks Starter-brand jackets that I would have drooled over back in 5th grade (I had an oversized NY Rangers Starter jacket, btw). Sometimes I see him way west which means I’m sort of early, but other times I see him right outside Madison Square Garden which means I’m pretty late, argh!
What I find interesting is why I picked this guy, since there are probably so many other people I see almost every day but don’t realize it. For some reason he stuck in my memory, probably cause I found it odd that an adult was wearing the type of jacket I associate with my elementary school years. But also it’s interesting how seeing this guy has become so comforting for me – he’s a constant amidst the chaos, an anonymous friend. And of course I’m really interested in where he’s going, where he’s coming from, he always seems to be in sort of a hurry, but I’d never try to make contact with him obviously, in fear that I’d disrupt our perfect symbiosis. As my Dad used to say, you never make friends with your wristwatch cause pretty soon it’ll start telling you the time it thinks you want it to be. You should appreciate the fixtures is all he’s saying, just appreciate them from afar.
A tiny addendum to this is that I was talking to a guy at a party a few weeks ago and he came out and said to me that I was in fact this kind of time fixture for him! Every day he would ride his bike past me as I walked to the L train on Driggs Avenue (I had no idea of course). And depending on where I was along Driggs this would tell him how early-late he was. And I tell the guy, “Well I hate to break it to you, but I’m moving next week, so I won’t be taking this path to the subway anymore.” Needless to say he was crushed but appreciative that I warned him ahead of time. It’s a crazy world.
Is it just me or did we like turn our heads for one minute and all of a sudden they’re really great at simulating vomit in movies and on tv? I mean, wow, it just comes out of nowhere and there’s a lot of it and the actor really looks like he’s gagging, and it sounds perfect. In the old days, yeah it was pretty obvious that the actor just took a gulp of some goop and then they yelled “action,” cause only the amount that could fit in your mouth would come out. Or other times the camera would start on the person “vomiting” but it would quickly dip below to the ground, so all you saw was the goop that anyone could have poured from a bucket or whatever. But nowadays, wow, the person’s talking, they’re having a bite, and without a visible cut, without warning, they just start gushing out everywhere. Spontaneous barf city. I wonder if it’s become a mandatory thing in acting schools, you used to have to be able to cry at the snap of figure, now it’s boom, vomit on cue. Whatever they’re doing, it’s working, big time, and I won’t lie, I kinda like it. Keeps you on your toes. But hey, what’s next? Let’s just say we’re running out of holes for liquid to pour out of our bodies on screen, yeah let’s leave it real subtle like that, there’s only one more brownish gross goop that hasn’t quite reared it’s ugly face, if you know what I mean, but I won’t mention it cause some things are better left to the good ol’ imagination. It rhymes with diarrhea
This week’s Vice-President is: William R. King!
Born:April 7, 1786
Died: April 18, 1853
Vice-President #: 13
Under: Franklin Pierce
Dates: March 4, 1853 – April 18, 1853
Fun Facts: After being elected Vice-President alongside Franklin Pierce in 1852, William Rufus King was already terminally ill with tuberculosis and residing in Cuba. Through a special act of Congress, King was able to take the oath of office on foreign soil, in fear that he might not survive a trip back to the Capitol. A few weeks later, he returned to to his plantation in Alabama and was dead in 48 hours. After King’s death in 1853, the office of Vice-President remained vacant until 1857 when John C. Breckenridge was inaugurated.
Newly acquired land in the Washington Territory was named King County in honor of the Vice-President, yet in 1986, the county passed Motion 6461, “setting forth the historical basis for the ‘renaming’ of King County in honor of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.”
Lastly, rumors abound that King was gay, and that he in fact had a long term relationship with President James Buchanan (it is undisputed that they lived together in Washington DC for 16 years).
I find when I’m walking on the street and I call someone but I get their voicemail, I’m slightly embarrassed to leave a message, you know, surrounded by all those strangers. Do you get this too? It’s like a twinge of hesitation, I’m all ready to leave the message but when I hear that beep I suddenly dip in volume, “Hey uh…this Matt…” I’m practically whispering, “I uh…just wanted to see what you were up to…” blah blah blah. And thinking about it, I’m not embarrassed because I don’t want someone else to hear my conversation or anything like that. I’m embarrassed cause the act of leaving a message says something about who you are, and, in a way, it’s a sign of weakness.
Ok, so on the simplest level, you set out to do something, to connect with so-and-so, and essentially you failed, you got their voicemail. It also tells us that the people you call have other more important things to do than answer your phone calls. In the cell-phone hierarchy, I’d much rather be a call-receiver than a call-maker, not to mention an unsuccessful call-maker, i.e. a message-leaver. Unconsciously or consciously, in my mind, no one wants to show weakness in public even on the most subtle level. So sometimes I think I decide not to leave a message and pretend as if I was only listening to a voicemail (which tells people around you that you’re in fact a call-receiver, which is the best). Crazy world, or I’m just crazy? Little bit of both?