Category Archives: At Home With

Don’t Accuse Judy Agnew of Being a Bad Hostess

92714786_134098689093Sure, the First Ladies get the biopics, the memoirs, and the biographies—but that doesn’t mean, especially when it comes to national politics, that they’re the only interesting ladies in D.C. There are, after all, the Second Ladies. (Maybe we never hear about them because “Second Ladies” sounds so… sinister.)

For instance, there was Judy Agnew. Oh Lord, poor Judy Agnew. She was content just being a homemaker for Spiro while he was governor of Maryland, then she got caught up in Nixon’s whirlwind just as it stopped being fun and started being felonious. Not that she was political. When someone asked her what she was doing as Second Lady,s he replied, “Trying to keep the ashtrays clean.”

And when a news report went out saying that… Well, no. Let me just quote it straight from her New York Times obituary:

During the 1968 presidential campaign, after newspapers reported that she had scandalized Maryland society by serving martinis in peanut butter jars, she went on television to rebut the accusation, displaying her shining crystal glasses.

Does anyone have that footage?

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Smoke ‘Em If Ya Got ‘Em

Bette Davis Smoking A CigaretteThe loss of nicotine isn’t what makes me abruptly crave a cigarette. In fact, I had almost no withdrawal symptoms when I quit smoking this time around. I was relatively pleasant; I didn’t grind my teeth; I didn’t have too many moments of, “Oh, fuck it. Does anyone have a light?”

I do feel undone, however.

I’ve been rereading Mary Gaitskill this week, and one of her themes is the importance of props to our notions of who we are. Relationships falter when one’s props are no longer simpatico; frequently, characters assign one another slightly off signifiers, proving the utter implausibility of ever being able to accurately communicate with another human being. And for me, cigarettes were central to who I am. Was?

I feel bereft of my security blanket. Cigarettes buy you time. They’re an excuse, a motivation, a breather, an emotional barometer. They provide a literal smoke screen between the smoker and the rest of the world. That’s what I miss the most. I don’t want a cigarette when I’m upset because it’s soothing; I want a cigarette in the same way knights put on a suit of armor—they are my protection. And now I’m learning how to live without protection and sometimes the feeling is of overwhelming terror because who you were is not who you are becoming.

But then I think about all the money I’m saving, and the whole point is moot.


Peacock Living

My day job is pretty much all-consuming (you try running a magazine and then finding time to talk about weird shit here). PLus, don’t we all have attention-deficit disorder by now? Didn’t I read that somewhere? Regardless, for style icons and tips on how to live a more organized, cleaner life, contemplate subscribing to my newly created daily newsletter, Peacock Living. But rest assured, things will still be popping up here!

Tales of Former Glamour Gals

When I was 20 years old, I was bright enough to understand that my schtick had an expiration date on it. That’s pretty impressive, given that my schtick at the time was being precocious for older gentlemen. “This can’t last, Peacock,” I said to myself (I call myself Peacock). “Your time as a bright young thing has a shelf date, and judging by the way you’re aging, it’s fast approaching.”

As it happened, I slid from the Gay List’s newest member to ostracized to bitter hard drinker (I once screamed “You’ll all die alone” in the middle of a bar) to someone who just shrugs and works harder. That’s where we’re at now.

The problem with working hard is that I am now at an age where everyone’s administrative assistants are up-and-coming twinks working for the same older men I once worked so hard to impress. There was a period in my life when I would fervently wish that my looks would fade so that people would take me seriously, which is the dumbest fucking wish one can imagine. Why wasn’t I wishing to be surrounded by better people?

I was talking on the phone with an old friend from those days. “I have a new assistant,” he said. “He’s 21 and wears big ol’ cowboy boots just like you. I call him Twinky Boots.”

I once wore cowboy boots a lot, but it’s been a very long time and I have never considered them to be one of my defining characteristics.


Looking for a Prison Pen Pal? (Aren’t We All?)

Screen shot 2014-03-02 at 9.55.55 AMAn accidental, laundry-related viewing of Lifetime’s Blue-Eyed Butcher led me to my new favorite website: (You’ll be relieved to hear that it is ranked #1 in prison pen pal websites.)

What do I like about this, you ask? Well, for people of a certain generation who came of age pre email, the concept of pen pals has always been exciting. I vaguely remember having one in elementary school, but who knows if that’s real or just a stolen memory from Beverly Cleary books. The point is, pen pals mean you can meet people you’d never otherwise have the chance to speak to—and people can teach you a lot about the world!

Then there are the photos. (Let’s just say there are a lot of A-line tank tops, if you know what I mean.) And the fact that you can browse by age. Not age range; straight-up age. And the prisoners’ bios! If you’re looking for something a little less dark than the list of executed prisoners’ last words and mug shots, then this is the site for you!

(“Did you get hacked?” a friend texted back when I sent over one particularly memorable profile without any explanation or preamble.)

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