Science and a Swabbed Orifice


-- चार हजार एक सौ तीस-सात --

So last night I went to Central Cinema to see "Science and a Movie" with a screening of Jaws, which I am certain I have seen more than 20 times in my life, but this was my fourth viewing since 2011. Third since 2012, when I bought the special edition Blu-Ray that had exclusive content which prompted me to buy the Blu-Ray player I now own -- which was so cheap that regularly I all but have to slap the side of the machine like it's an old TV on the fritz. I actually haven't watched that Blu-Ray copy since, as the two times I've seen it since, it was released in theatres.

Here's one way I can't remember shit: I was telling Evan that I last saw Jaws two years ago, at Cinerama, but I couldn't remember if I saw it with someone or by myself. I had only looked it up on my calendar, after all. And she said, "You saw it with me!. Oh, right. I've known Evan long enough now that she regularly comments on my terrible memory, because she'll often mention things we did together that I don't remember.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. I guess this is a common event now, these "Science and a Movie" screening, and Evan tells me they are very popular. Last night's screening was sold out, so I went there at 6 p.m. to get a decent seat. The guy who owns the place was at the front desk or register or whatever they call it, and I can't remember his name -- but I saw him frequently back when Barbara worked there for several years in the 2000s. I almost didn't recognize him last night, he looked so much older than I remember him.

Elden arrived first, surprisingly early. I struggled a little bit to find things to talk about with him, without Evan around, and I realized I have two friends with partners with whom this happens: Evan, and Claudia, my coworker. Something else both these couples have in common: they are moving in together this year. I think Claudia and Dylan just did. Evan and Elden found a place in Renton -- bleh, but they have to get outside Seattle for reasonable rent -- and will be moving there in September. I'd say it'll mean seeing her less often but I haven't been seeing Evan particularly frequently lately anyway, and she currently lives a block off Broadway, maybe two blocks away from Laney. Even was thinking it would be harder for me to get down there since I don't have a car, but she didn't know Shobhit has one, and also busing down there, which I've now done many times to see Danielle, isn't that bad. Still, I'm less likely to bus down for Evan than I am for Danielle. She seemed slightly comforted to know I already have a friend I see regularly who lives in Renton, though. Danielle loves it there. It's just not for me. I'm all about the urban living, which Renton -- a pretty quintessential suburb to my eyes -- is the antithesis of urban living.

Conversation flowed much more naturally once Evan arrived. She's just a lot more talkative person. She commented on my David Sedaris book I had brought, reading on the walk over; she said it's on her nightstand by her bed right now, but she hasn't started it. She said she's read all of his books. I have as well.

My weight is up slightly this morning, probably thanks in part to the $4 bowl of popcorn I ordered. But hey, at least I made dinner at home first instead of ordering a much more expensive dinner! I didn't even get a cocktail. This is pretty rare for when I'm at Central Cinema. I waited to get the popcorn until the movie itself had started.

But first, the talk from a wildlife ecologist, whose talk was only very indirectly related to the movie. He told us about his research on how fear alone -- specifically, fear of tiger sharks as predators for sea turtles in Shark Bay on the west coast of Australia -- has an effect on healthy and functioning ecosystems. As in, tiger sharks don't have to be eating the turtles all the time, they just have to pose a threat in an area that keeps the turtles away from sea grass that then remains untouched and able to grow unabated, ensuring the existence of all manner of other organisms. It was actually a pretty interesting talk, just slightly disappointing in its relative lack of direct application to the movie.

Then they played the movie, and I actually found myself impressed with it in new ways. Jaws is now 42 years old, and that movie seriously holds up. Of course, a lot of it is far from scientifically accurate (the scientist mentioned in the post-screening Q&A that no shark would follow a boat, with a vendetta), but for the purposes of an effective thriller, it works. As it happens, the shark caught relatively early in the film that is wrongly assumed to be the culprit is a tiger shark, and apparently a lot of the information shared about that species in the movie actually is pretty accurate -- they really do have a reputation for eating all sorts of garbage. But their primary pray, which is never mentioned in the movie, is sea turtles.

What impressed me the most about the movie this time around was the editing. That is an expertly edited film. I found myself thinking, if it deserved an Oscar for anything, it would be for Film Editing. And guess what? It won that! It also won for Best Sound and for John Williams's famously iconic score, that one being hardly a surprise. It was nominated for Best Picture, and that is a surprise. (The film that won that year, which incidentally I just recently watched with Ivan, was One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.)

I do see this as the mark of a truly great film: it bears repeat viewings and never stops being entertaining or being impressive. As I noted after seeing it in 2015, seeing it on a theatre screen does make it a lot easier to differentiate between shots showing a real shark and shots with the mechanical one, but that's still easy to look past. By 1975 standards, everything about that production, even after it was infamously bogged down by budget overruns and delays and mechanical failures (which inadvertently enhanced the film), is jaw-dropping.

The post-screening portion with the same wildlife ecologist was much more relevant to the film. Audience members could submit questions which the moderator then asked him, as they sat on chairs up on the stage under the screen. These questions tended to be more specific to Jaws and how realistic it was.

I walked home pretty much immediately after it was over, because it was a bit late. Ivan wasn't home when I arrived, and for some reason Shobhit had assumed he'd gone with me. Ivan doesn't have the attention span for an event like this. (Shobhit doesn't either.) I immediately went to get ready for bed.

-- चार हजार एक सौ तीस-सात --


-- चार हजार एक सौ तीस-सात --

This morning a young pregnant South Asian woman stuck a swab in my ass. Okay, she was a doctor. I mean, I presume she still is. I don't expect it's changed in the last five hours. My next appointment will be in February, which will double as my annual physical, and she told me she'll probably be on maternity leave at the time, so I'll likely have to get my physical from someone else. It did not occur to me that she was pregnant, but when she mentioned it, I could see it.

I asked if she had other children and she said this is her first. This was the woman who told me last February she was thirty. I guess that means there's roughly a 50% chance she's 31 by now. She'll be 31 by the time the baby comes, at any rate. Apparently the baby is due on Christmas Day. "If I were that baby I'd want to come later," I said. She smiled and said, "Or earlier."

Anyway, before that, she asked me if since I last had the "full panel" of STD screening -- which would have been February -- I had unprotected oral sex. Who hasn't? The risk associated with oral sex is so much lower than with anal (or vaginal for that matter) that most people don't bother thinking much about it. But still, I figured, I wouldn't put up any fuss over her recommendations for testing -- no harm in covering your bases and being sure. She asked briefly about my sexual activity otherwise, and recommended another "full panel."

First was the swab of the back of my throat, both sides. I had no gag reflex. I usually do, actually. But it made me think about how this was once used as a "test" to weed out gay people in the military. This morning, I would have failed that test. "This guy's been sucking cock. Take him away!" The thing is, it doesn't necessarily mean you've been shoving cocks (or anything else) down your throat. It's a very inefficient test. There is no reliable "gay test" and there never has been. I guess there may come a time when there is a reliable DNA test, but that's not what we're talking about.

It took me a while to find the above link about weeding out gay people in the military -- which was itself found in a Rolling Stone article. I'm having a harder time finding a link for the now-pretty-well-known idea that it's not actually a reliable test. How things have changed: trying to Google that, I just find a bunch of pages full of tips on how to give more comfortable blow jobs.

I never know when is the best time to drop my pants with the doctor. Today I just waited for her to give me the direction. She just told me to "undo your pants," but going only that far clearly hinders access. Having your pants and underwear around your thighs and leaning over an exam table is a little awkward to say the least.

Awkward is not the same as uncomfortable, necessarily, and I must say I never felt uncomfortable with this doctor. I like her a lot. I honestly don't think I could ask for a better or more appropriate bedside manner. The doctor Shobhit and I had before her -- I liked him, but there was always something about him, something sort of distant. This doctor has a certain warmth that he lacked. It makes sense to want a doctor you can feel comfortable with, and particularly comfortable being honest with, right?

The entire appointment went rather quickly; there was only a small amount of business to be done and we did it in good time. Then it was two floors down to the 6th floor, where yet again the phlebotomist tried to take me to a regular chair, and I said, "With a needle I'm going to need to be reclined." I get these fucking blood samples taken twice a year now and I still have to be careful not to look at anything, and I still hyperventilate. Not as much as I used to, but it still happens. The woman drawing the blood had a handle on it though; she clearly deals with people like me regularly. She calmly told me to take deep breaths. The poke of the needle was a little more intense than usual but still really wasn't that big a deal. With me this shit is all psychological, but I still have no control over it.

Honestly having to go through this every three months (and having to see the doctor every six months) is a small price to pay for the freedom to have the kind of sex life I want. I'm taking care of myself. I'm being responsible.

-- चार हजार एक सौ तीस-सात --

My calendar item I sent to coworkers for being late to work today lasted through 9:30, but I was here by 8:30. That even after walking the entire way from Virginia Mason Medical Center. I thought about catching a bus on Third, but then I thought, fuck it -- walking gets me there all of five minutes later than waiting for a bus sometimes; ten minutes at most, and I was enjoying reading my David Sedaris library book. God knows it made no difference to my work load, which I'm still barely able to fill my days with lately. I lost all of an hour of work time, and I use the word "work" loosely. To tell you the truth, I could use something new, something that gives me at least a slight challenge. I actually am starting to get bored. I get paid way too much to come here and be bored.

Noah gave me an indication yesterday of the value of my simply being here, though. I guess there's still something to be said for how much more money it would take on the part of my employer to replace me with someone else who has none of the training or, probably more importantly, the history and the working relationships. I've been here fifteen years, after all. In the early years I used to worry about my job security, but those days are long gone.

Anyway, Noah left the office right after lunch time. He was off to do price comps -- "skulking around," as he put it, among our competitors' stores, writing down the retails they have on key competitive items. I've always been most grateful I've never had to do this task. (I'd much rather just be bored.) I told him, "I'm so glad I don’t have a car." And he told me then that I probably wouldn't have to worry about it even if I did, because my greatest value is being here at the office. And he's actually right about that. The kind of service I can be to the stores who need help or assistance or sometimes even information -- I can provide it far more quickly (and, likely, accurately, when it comes to item data maintenance) than he or Scott or Kevin can. In a way, a lot of my job actually is customer service. It's just that my service tends to be to the store staff.

There were no emergencies during my one-hour absence this morning, though. In fact I arrived to very few emails. I was almost disappointed. Maybe I should have gone to read my book at a park for another hour.

-- चार हजार एक सौ तीस-सात --


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