Special Snowflake

Amy Roe, a fellow runner, one I do not know, recently wrote this for the Guardian:

I was ordering coffee when I noticed a well-dressed woman staring at me.

“You look like you just did a class,” she said, giving me the once-over. I had no idea what she meant so I said nothing.

“Or swimming?” she offered, with a tight smile.

Oh, that. I’d just run 12 miles and the hair sticking out from under my hat was wet. It took me a moment to formulate an answer.

“Um, running,” I mumbled finally. “I just … sweat a lot.”

I took the paper cup of drip coffee and hustled past the condiment bar. Screw the half-and-half; I’d drink it black.

Once safely inside my car, I threw off my damp running cap and flipped up the hood of my sweatshirt in embarrassment. I wanted to dive deep into that Lululemon Scuba and never come back up for air.

Eventually the caffeine kicked in and it hit me: I’d been sweat-shamed. Sweat-shaming is when someone points out your sweatiness as a way to signal disapproval.

Now, maybe it’s that as I get older, I get less tolerant of this kind of bullshit.  Perhaps, because I’m a man, I have gone through life sweat-privileged.  Perchance, there really is a thing called “sweat-shaming”…but this, dear Amy, this, you Special Snowflake, was not that.  This was someone making friendly conversation while she, like you, was waiting for her over-priced coffee (mind you, I love my Starbucks…Italian Roast Clover…zing!).

What you did, Ms. Roe, was what we call “Friendly Conversation Shaming”.  Well, that’s not really a thing either, is it?  Maybe you were “Well-dressed Shaming”…”Observation Shaming”?  I digress.

Had she said, “whew!  YOU stink!” or “Ew.  How can you walk around like that.” you might be on to something, but this:

“You look like you just did a class,” she said, giving me the once-over. I had no idea what she meant so I said nothing.

“Or swimming?” she offered, with a tight smile.

Um, no.

Your reaction was more a reflection on how YOU feel about sweat; how you think others feel about sweat.  It has nothing to do with that well-dressed woman.  She was making small talk.  Perhaps, wanting to start an exercise program of her own, she was inspired by you?  Well, you’ve killed that now, haven’t you?  Maybe she liked your $120 hoodie and wanted to know what brand it was?  Speaking of which, why you felt the need to point out that you wanted to bury your head in your Lululemon Scuba, I have no idea.  It screams, “I’m white, I’m wealthy, I’m privileged and Waaaah!”

It’s possible that she simply was trying to make the world a friendlier place by finding a topic you might have in common (maybe she’s loves taking exercise classes).

Roe goes on to write:

If I were to re-imagine the sweat-shaming incident as a music video, it would play out like this: a spotlight comes down, and maybe a disco ball. Baristas dance back-up around me.

“I don’t think you’re ready for this sweaty,” I belt out, to the tune of Bootylicious.

It’s just a fantasy, but it helps me see how I might react differently. I’ve got another long run this weekend and afterward, I’m going to sit down with my coffee, all sweaty and transgressive.

The stigmas surrounding women’s bodies are powerful, but they’re no match for how powerful I feel after running.

Several things – first off, how old are you?  Seriously!  14?  Because that is how old you sound.  Perhaps you need to look in the mirror and sing “I don’t think you’re ready for this sweaty,” to yourself before doing it to random strangers, even if it IS in your own fantasy.  Second, a better response might have been something along the lines of, “yeah, just did 12 miles.  Tired, obviously,” as you point to your hair, “but totally worth it.”  Third, transgressive? Really?  You’re going to sit with your coffee, all sweaty and transgressive?  Nothing like responding to a perceived wrong, and I emphasize perceived, with an actual wrong.  If you are actually really sweaty after a 12 mile run (I know I always am), don’t sit on the chairs at Starbucks…that’s just rude, and again, you’re revealing your own insecurities and immaturity.  Finally, you say that “the stigmas surrounding women’s bodies are powerful, but they’re no match for how powerful I feel after running.”  Your own post contradicts this.  After a long run, I am generally soaked.  I wear that sweat like a goddamned badge.  I do feel powerful after I run, no matter how tired I am.  And if I walk into a Starbucks after a long run, if anything, I am “You’re-Not-Working-Out-As-Hard-As-I-Am-Shaming” everyone in the place.  Crawling into your $120 Lululemon hoodie does not bring “how powerful I feel” to mind.

Get a grip.

Let’s be clear, you say, “Strong may be the new sexy and fit may be the new skinny but sweaty is as gross as ever.”  Wrong.

Sweat. Is. Sexy.

I give you…










Gina…and many, many more.

I rest my case.

Projecting your own insecurities onto others does nothing to move society forward.  Assigning “Sweat Shaming” to “You look like you just did a class,” is immature, insecure and most likely, narcissistic.

Own it, Amy.  You are not a Special Snowflake and not every comment is an attempt to “shame” someone.  This post, however, is.


There are times I look at #BlackLivesMatter and I understand neither the tactics nor the intended message.  There are time I read about or listen to #BlackLivesMatter and simply cannot relate.  There are time when I see a thread on Facebook regarding #BlackLivesMatter and I am tempted to jump in and say “try this!” or “do that!” or “I really think that if you said or did it this way you would get your message across better.”

But here’s the thing.  I’m not Black.  I don’t consider myself white (less than 1/2 of my heritage is white…15/32s the be exact), but the way I look, especially as I spend less and less time getting a dark tan that generally used to last me through the winter, allows me to pass as white; that, in turn, allows me to experience the privilege White people experience in this country.  That very fact is why when I follow a conversation or social media thread that touches on #BlackLivesMatter, I tend to shut my mouth and open my ears.  When Black people speak about racial issues and #BlackLivesMatter, I don’t speak; I listen.  I truly believe that no matter how well intentioned my beliefs or opinions might be about being black in America, the experience and opinion of someone who has lived that life will trump my thoughts on the topic every, single time.  If my thoughts on the topic don’t match up with what Black people are saying, in all likelihood, the problem is mine, not theirs.

If asked directly, I will gladly give my thoughts on the topic, but in general, I will defer to my black friends for guidance.  To me, #BlackLivesMatter is a manifestation of Black people taking back control of their voice, one that has, for too long, been in the hands of people who really didn’t know what it means to be Black in America.

You see where I’m going with this, right?

My daughter is autistic.  I am not.  In a vacuum, facing her initial diagnosis, my inclination, my goal, my purpose was to make her better.  All I knew about autism was what I had seen on TV and then what I had read and heard through Autism Speaks.  I bought in and ran. I ran and ran and ran some more, raising money for Autism Speaks along the way.  They were going to fix my daughter, cure her, make her better.  Speaking with other parents of autistic kids, we found encouragement to keep doing what we were doing.  We spoke at kickoff events.  We recruited. We got others to raise money.  We had direction and purpose.

But slowly, too slowly, we began to listen to voices that questioned what we were doing.  Why were we raising money for Autism Speaks? Why were we supporting Autism Speaks?  These voices did not come from fellow parents, the people we could most relate to.  No, these were the voices of the very people we were “helping”.

At first, I thought, well, they just don’t understand.  I could not have the structure of the world I had built dismantled.  This advocating gig was what partly defined who I was.

But the voices got louder.  Jess was the first to come around.  I continued for a while to work with Autism Speaks, believing that as long as I insisted I was doing it to raise awareness, I was doing a good thing.

But these were autistic voices, speaking for autistic individuals, saying, “Hey! We’re right here! We want OUR voice heard. We want to speak for OURSELVES!”

Yes, I am a dad. I am a dad of an autistic girl.  I am not autistic.  I know what it is like to be the parent of an autistic girl.  I don’t know what it’s like to be autistic.  

In a vacuum, I will gladly speak for my girl; for both of my girls.  But if they want to, if they can advocate for themselves, and they tell me that I am not expressing their desires, their wants, their needs, perhaps I need to step back and let them speak; perhaps I need to step back and listen.  Today’s autistic advocates are the grown up versions of Brooke.  I may not understand their message all of the time or their priorities, but their message, their priorities are for Brooke, for all of the Brooke’s in the world.

If a black person is speaking about #BlackLivesMatter, and you are not black try to listen.  Don’t speak, listen.

If an autistic person is speaking about autism and what the autistic community needs, and you are not autistic, even if you are a parent, try, at least for a genuine moment, try to listen – I mean REALLY listen.  

Don’t speak, listen.


If you’ve been here for more than a few moments, you probably know that politically I lean left – left center on some issues, far left on others.  I have to admit that not so deep down inside, a part of me has taken some glee in watching several social conservative celebrities and politicians squirm and perform figurative gymnastics in the wake of this whole Ashley Madison data dump.  That glee, of course, stems from the fact that many of these social conservative types preach and preach and preach and preach about family values, claiming that same sex marriages and working moms eat away and destroy the moral fabric of our society.


Karma…she’s a funny lady.

My gut reactions when the names of these social conservatives started popping up was, “good!  they deserve it.”  My initial reaction when some wrote asking why “conservatives were getting slammed and not the gajillion other (liberal) people on Ashley Madison?” was “well, those gajillion other people aren’t preaching conservative family values.  They aren’t condemning gay marriage because it will break up traditional families…blah, blah, blah.”

I really felt like they were getting what they deserved.

Lately though I am having a harder time with this.  My overall feelings toward those social conservatives hasn’t changed.  I think they’re dopes, especially those who are getting pregnant while swearing by abstinence, but my gut feelings toward those caught up in the Ashley Madison data dump are now tempered with a sense of uneasiness.

The Ashley Madison hack was theft, plain and simple.  Many of us, including myself, have been laughing at these social conservatives for what we say is their own stupidity or cluelessness.  They were asking for trouble, we say.

They were asking for trouble.

Here’s the thing though…they didn’t do anything illegal.  Did they do something dumb?  You betcha!  Maybe even reckless?  Sure.  Immoral?  I suppose it depends upon who you ask.  But they did nothing illegal.

But a crime was committed.  Information was stolen.  People who had no right to that information released it to the public.  I haven’t seen one post from my fellow liberal friends shaming the hackers.  How would you react if a thief broke into your house and shared every secret you may have hidden in your closet to the world?  Can you honestly say that there is nothing in your home that might be a cause of at least a little embarrassment?

Instead, we on the left have gleefully shamed the social conservatives caught in this mess because they deserved it…because they were asking for trouble.

That sounds a lot like language some of our conservative friends use to downplay the way women are treated in this country.

If you are in a monogamous relationship and you want to check on whether your spouse was on Ashley Madison or not?  Well, I suppose that is between you and your spouse, but unless that is the case, who is or isn’t on Ashley Madison is none of our business.  We don’t know the inner workings of each marriage.  Your  neighbors’ approach to marriage may well be very different from your approach to marriage, despite outward appearances and that is none of our business.

We on the left talk about keeping government out of bedrooms.  How about we keep everyone who hasn’t been invited or doesn’t live there out of them as well.


Justifying the Means…

A few weeks ago I got suckered.  I read this amazing post about a person who had been fat-shamed publicly online while minding her own business at a baseball game.  A trainer had called her out on his Facebook page and, having caught wind of the post, the victim hit back and wrote a wonderful piece about how she was on a journey of weightloss; working toward a more healthful lifestyle, but remembering to enjoy the present.  It was a wonderful message, reminding all of us that we don’t know where someone is on their journey in life.  I posted it on my Facebook page because I found it inspiring.

A day or two later, I found out that it was all a fraud.  A blogger, know to many as the anti-Jared, had seen the trainer’s post and decided that since he knew someone who had experienced something similar, HE would take on the persona of the victim, whom he did not know.  I felt icky, used, misled.  I was told that he does this from time to time and that anyone who follows his blog knows this.  I, along with millions of others, do NOT know or follow his blog.  I, along with millions of others was duped into believing an inspirational story that turned out to be nothing more than a ploy to go viral – which is why I will NOT link to it.

He later offered a non-apology to those who felt they were misled…kind of a “I’m sorry that you misunderstood, but…” kind of apology.  I hate that kind of crap.  It passes blame to the very people who deserve an apology and exonerates the person who perpetrated the misdeed…

In the end, his tactics only hurt the cause.  His post could have been just as powerful had he opened with a disclaimer.

To the anti-Jared, the ends justified the means…

The ends should NEVER justify the means.


As I was contemplating this post, I saw two anti-vax memes.  Now, as many of you are aware, I am a proponent of vaccines.  I hear the arguments of those who are adamantly against vaccines and those who advocate a choice and I still feel like the best course is the one we are on.  But this post is not about the debate whether one is for or against vaccines; it’s to ask, do the ends justify the means?  The posts I saw were from a heartless, dark souled woman who goes by the name Tenpenny.  In one meme she compared getting vaccinated to getting raped.  She had posted it several times because, she said, that whether we agreed with the message or not, it was promoting discussion.  To her, it didn’t matter that she was belittling the experience of millions of woman who have been brutally violated.

Let me be clear – you and I may or may not agree on vaccines.  Some of us want them; some of us don’t.  Nobody wants to be raped.

Her second meme asked, if the rise in autism  was a result of better diagnoses, where were all of the nonverbal autistic adults walking around in diapers and helmets.  I stared at the screen waiting for what I saw to change into something, anything else.  Forget the fact that she has a distorted view of pre-verbal autistic individuals – to her it doesn’t matter that she insults and belittles an entire portion of the population, making massive assumptions.

To her, the ends justify the means.  To get her message across, she doesn’t care who she hurts.

The ends should NEVER justify the means.

I thought about posting the two memes here so you could see just how awful and repugnant they were, but upon further consideration, I thought better.


I am sure that along the way, I have been guilty of some questionable posts.  I hope I have never done anything as egregious as the anti-Jared or Dr. Tenpenny.  If I have (or do in the future), call me on it, please.  Unless I am able to justify the means on their own, independent from the ends, I will take down the post and apologize profusely.  I expect no such apology from the soulless, attention seeking types like the anti-Jared or Dr. Tenpenny.

In the last two day, while debating with some about the tactics the Food Babe and her army use, I’ve been told that I am the r-word or that my questions are r-word-ed.

For the adults out there who can’t seem to get it, here is the definitive list of when it’s okay to use the r-word when trying to insult somebody or make a point:


1. Never


I hope that clears things up for the many of you who still think it’s okay to use that language.

English is a rich, full language, with countless ways to describe, make points, even insult without using the r-word.  When you do use that word, you hurt people, intentionally or not, because you make it just a little more okay to make fun of people or insult people at the expense of those who may be intellectually challenged.  Stooping to that level, even in anger or frustration, reveals something about yourself, your empathy, your lack of creativity, your lack of humanity.

I Went to Church Today…

As my feet hit the pavement for the first time in so long, Selena Gomez sang in my ear…

When you’re ready come and get it
Na na na na
When you’re ready come and get it
Na na na na

The song is at the beginning of my playlist for my Boot Camp in part because it’s a great song to ease into activity.  The slow, steady beat keeps you from starting too fast, but the throbbing, eastern feel gives you a sense of anticipation of what is coming after your body warms up…

…but today, the song felt different to me.  You see, I normally don’t listen to music for the lyrics.  Unlike Jess, whose love of country music stems from the stories country singers tell in their songs, my pleasure from music comes from the weaving of beats, sounds, harmonies, points and counterpoints.  It can be years later that I realize I still don’t know the lyrics to a favorite song, in part because I don’t care about what the artist is saying…I care about what the artist is saying

…but today, the song felt different to me.  As Selena Gomez’s voice sang to me…

When you’re ready come and get it
Na na na na
When you’re ready come and get it
Na na na na

…it was almost as if the road was singing as well…

You ain’t gotta worry, it’s an open invitation
I’ll be sittin’ right here, real patient
All day, all night, I’ll be waitin’ standby…

…and here I was.  I have not run regularly in over a year.  My last marathon was NYCM ’13, but even before then my mileage had dropped precipitously.  Though I still considered (consider) myself a runner, my heart and mind were not cooperating.

…but the road knew…

This love ain’t finished yet
So baby whenever you’re ready
When you’re ready come and get it
Na na na na

As the road sang to me, I got more excited for the slow, 6-miler I had planned.

Some of you may know that way back in the Fall I began talking with a local advocacy group about running 100 miles for them as a way to possibly raise money and awareness of their wonderful work.  Massachusetts Advocates for Children (MAC) is an incredible organization that offers free legal advice to families in need and works tirelessly on capital hill to protect the most vulnerable of society.  By the end of the Fall, we had settled on a Father’s Day run – a crazy dad running not just for his children, but for all children in Massachusetts.  The run will take me from Amherst to Boston Commons (an 89 mile route).

Then we got hit with the worst winter Boston has ever (EVAH) seen.  Between work and the snow, I ran a total of 0 miles in preparation for my run in June…that’s right: 0.

As my thoughts wandered during my run today, I inevitably began thinking of this monstrous task ahead of me.  It is, to say the least overwhelming and scary.  The long distance and short training time is not something I would ever prescribe or recommend for a client.  As I wrestled with my thoughts, Aloe Blacc began to sing to me…

Stand up now and face the sun
Won’t hide my tail or turn and run
It’s time to do what must be done
Be a king when kingdom comesWell you can tell everybody
Yeah you can tell everybody
Go ahead and tell everybody
I’m the man, I’m the man, I’m the man

…that was quickly followed up by Angélique Kidjo’s rendition of Voodoo Child…

Well I stand up next to a mountain
Chop it down with the edge of my hand
Well I stand up next to a mountain
Chop it down with the edge of my hand
Pick up the pieces and make an island
Might even raise a little sand

…and I knew, barring injury, I was going to do this 100 miles run.

Kidjo continued to sing…

‘Cause I’m a voodoo child
Lord knows I’m a voodoo child

I didn’t mean to take up all your sweet time
Make it back to you one of these days
I didn’t mean to take up all your sweet time
Make it back to you one of these days  

…and I was brought back full circle.

Throughout my run, feeling the flow with each beat, I dance and sang and laughed with the music – I can only imagine what it looked like to other runners and pedestrians.

It was a celebration of sorts.

Toward the end of my run (my planned 6 had turned into 10 for no reason other than I was having fun), I passed a Church.  People flooded out of Easter services, all dressed in their Sunday best.  It hit me – I was dressed in my Sunday best and attending a Church I had not been to in a long, long time.

Now, despite being baptized presbyterian, I am not a religious man by any stretch, but how appropriate would it be were I to resurrect my passion for running on a day many believe to be a day of renewed life?

I went to Church today…and it was good.

Happy Easter and Good Pesach everyone.  I hope your Sunday morning was as glorious as mine.

The Promise of Tomorrow

I’m standing in the entrance of Brooke’s school.  It’s an hour after the end of school and kids are now trickling out from their after school activities.  As I stand on one side of the entryway, looking for my baby, I hear a group of kids behind me chattering away at 100 miles per hour.  It’s always tough for me to listen to Brooke’s schoolmates because they all speak with a fluidity and spontaneity that has eluded her from the very beginning.  I always end up doing exactly what I should not…comparing.

This day is no different.

Then I hear it.  Someone says, “he’s so retarded!”

I tense up.  The hair on my neck rises.  I prepare myself to be “that parent”; to turn around and say something…anything.  Despite being an adult, I am in unfamiliar territory.  This is not the school Katie goes to; where a majority of the kids know who I am.  I have a high profile in Katie’s middle school.  My profile at Brooke’s middle school is hardly a blip.  I take a deep breath and turn to make sure the moment doesn’t pass unchallenged.

Then it happens.

“Hey! Don’t use that word!”
“Yeah!  That’s offensive.”
“Not cool!”

These are not words coming out of my mouth.  They are coming out of the other kids that are behind me.  I let out a sigh.  I resist the urge to turn around because these kids don’t need me to say anything.  They get it.  They are 12, 13, 14 years old and for the most part, they get it.

Which brings me to Steve Harvey.

This morning, on his radio show, his alter ego, Sister Odell, went off on a fictional person at church.  Sister Odell went on a rant, making fun of “a 34 year old with the mind of a 3 year old”.  He goes on to make fun of this fictional character for “blowing bubbles in church” and wanting to wear a cheerleading outfit on Easter.  Although the character is a work of fiction, the mean-spiritedness is not.

His bit led one woman to post this on YouTube:

I went to Steve Harvey’s Facebook page to see if he had even acknowledged his insensitivity.

Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 6.12.03 PM

That has got to be the most half-assed apology ever.

“my intent was not directed at any other real person. And most certainly was not directed at any one you know.”  Really, Steve?  You’re right.  It wasn’t. It was directed at EVERY SINGLE PERSON WHO MAY BE INTELLECTUALLY CHALLENGED!  So guess what Steve?  Yes, it was directed at many people I know.

“The problem with comedy is ALL subjects can offend someone.”  True.  I can’t argue with that.  I would hope though that Steve could see why attacking the intellectually challenged might be little more offensive than attacking someone who is Italian.  Middle school aged kids get it, Steve.

What might be even harder to take however, are the comments on Harvey’s post:

Omg..someone cant handle..comedy? Smh

This is ridiculous! They say they don’t want to be treated differently and regular ppl get dog walked daily… That’s equality! This woman in the video is butt hurt over her own misconceptions about disabilities n a real drama queen. If u let every little thing bother you, your life will be a living hell!

Comedians have been doing this for years. If they stop for one group then they have to stop for another and so on and so on. People need to stop being so sensitive. If it’s not about you, then it’s not about you..

 I cant believe anyone is offended, really wow. Its all in fun!!!!

People get over it. If your that sheltered & don’t realize Sister Odell is a fictional character then so be it. Stop taking every damn thing ti heart. Steve don’t apologize for this.

You mean to tell me someone could really take the time to sit and complain about something that has no affect on their life

Love the show. Keep it coming. Really ppl. Steve keep up the good work. Obviously this person is having a bad day

All adults.  All willfully ignorant.  Perhaps they need to go back to middle school, because the kids at Brooke’s school get it.

There’s nothing wrong with teasing. There’s nothing wrong with having a little fun at the expense of others. BUT here’s the thing, those you make fun of, should be able to give it right back to you.  I want to assume that Steve Harvey’s skit was born out of ignorance, because you can fix ignorance with education.  Unfortunately, his apology make me think that he is just another Asshat.

I’m glad that Brooke will grow up in a world where her schoolmates will have a say in how all challenged people are treated.  Those kids are the promise of tomorrow.


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