I STAND BEFORE YOU AGAIN a message from JOE TOWER

Hey y’all. OBVIOUSLY, this is Joe Tower, the creator of Tales of Male Folly, a storytelling series based in LA that, for the last three years, has upheld the mission of curating content, both live and online, meant to put the shame and embarrassment back into being a man.

You may have noticed on our social media and, here, on our website that we’ve changed our name.

Or, maybe you didn’t. It's slight.

But, maybe you did. The truth is, we’ve been changing a lot. First, a couple years back, we dropped our first show title – Boys Will Be Boys – because of the obvious association with a culture we didn't want to be associated with. Then, more recently, we began incorporating all-female shows, because it felt problematic to be exclusively male, even if the spirit of that has always meant to be tongue and cheek.

See, the philosophy of this show has always been to point a finger at men. But, also, to cut away the social bullshit to bring to light the actual good dudes who are out there in the world.

In this way, it’s become something more, and so we feel the need to change again to stay on what we think is the right side of the culture tide.

From here on out, our show, our podcast, and all our curated content, will be geared toward mining everyone’s daily life for those stories of shame and embarrassment.

Because folly ain't just for boys, anymore.

This… is TALES OF OUR FOLLY.

THE GODDAMN REVOLUTION: a message from JOE TOWER

Hey, y’all. This is Joe Tower.

What you'll find here is a little treatise on some changes we’re making at Tales of Male Folly, in the hopes that we can better reflect what we think everybody wants, and also, based on what the fuck is going on in the world around us.

First, Tales of Male Folly will now alternate the lineups of our live shows with all-male and all-female performers. There may even be times where, I dunno, we are predominantly or perhaps forever all-female, so just, like, stay on your toes. We choose to be on the right side of this goddamn revolution, you guys.

In addition, we’re adding a bonus feature to our podcast: each month, we’ll release the usual two new storytelling episodes, by two new storytellers, recorded live at one of our past shows, but, also, we’ll be releasing a third and additional episode -- a one-on-one conversation between me and a past or current performer, who, for whatever reason, needs a little more time at the mic. The hope is the episodes revolve around a discussion about a specific tale of folly, as well as the role both tales and folly play in all our lives.

They say a good rule of thumb for the persistence of a thing is to have a theme and stick to it, so your audience can count on what it is you have to deliver. But when we started this storytelling show almost three years ago –- as a sort of surface-level laugh about dudes –- we had no idea what would be the dire state of things today.

So, I think a good rule of thumb for the persistence of this thing is to evolve with the times. And if that means we’re an all-male storytelling show that’s suddenly now female, so be it.

What we have to deliver is stories. Stories that offer a certain brand of shameful reliability. Shame around the choices we’ve made in our lives that aren’t the proud, valiant, admirable choices. But, rather, the self-serving and stupid choices of the asshole, the idiot, or the buffoon; of the simple-minded human who, in that particular moment, was just trying to get through it all, man.

Bottom line is: it doesn’t matter who you are, everyone's got a real good story about doing dumb shit.

FEAR THE SUPER SIZE by JOE TOWER

Characters you will find in line at a drive-thru window at three o'clock in the morning: FAT PEOPLE, DRUNK PEOPLE, CRAZY PEOPLE, POOR PEOPLE. 

ME.

That's right. Me. I'm the guy who's there because he actually wants it. Because he needs it, and because he's willing to wait out however long it takes to get that late night Big Mac.

Why?

Well, see, there's a demon that lives inside me. And that demon loves to eat drive-thru. It's a demon that's been in me a long time, both dormant and thriving. Most recently, though, it's been thriving while I worked at this bar in Mid-City.

This was while I was a closing bartender. Shifts were long and always went late, and afterwards, invariably, on the commute home, with next day's dawn already threatening to break on me, a row of neon signs signaling "DRIVE THRU OPEN LATE." Shone like torches; like they were summoning the communion of an ancient ritual.

"Do not fear the Super Size," the demon whispers. "Your tomorrow is already ruined."

See, I can't expel this demon, because, well, that's how fucking demons work, so all I can only really do is my best at outsmarting it.

So. I made routes.

Routes to drive from the point A of work to the point B of home that could provide me with a strategy to either corral the demon when it's weak, or to let it run wild when I was. 

For example, if I drove Fairfax to 6th, and then 6th all the way to Vermont, it was possible for me to get all the way home and into bed with my wife with nary a french fry passing through my lips. But, if I took Fairfax to Beverly, then headed east to Western and north, it's a veritable horn of plenty, and the demon's druthers could have its pick from Jack In The BoxKFCTaco Bell, and, last but not least, McDonald's. IN. THAT. ORDER.

As a fail-safe: if I took the sober route but, upon reaching Western, the demon awoke and I was cast aside, we could take a quick right on Fountain, drive to Sunset, and there through the fog of a hardware store parking lot ... a Del Taco. 

You gotta have routes, guys.

So, it was this one night at the bar, just like any other, and I knew by last call that the demon was up and fiending for a fix. Six Piece. Crunchwrap? A Double Quarter Pounder w/ Cheese. It needed something. "Do not fear the Super Size," intoned in my ears.

Now, I was always confident in my knowledge of drive-thru geolocation and subsequent ability to get the demon whatever it needed. The only X Factor on my grid was a Taco Bell on Western that, for whatever reason, wouldn't abide by posted hours. "DRIVE THRU OPEN LATE," the sign said, but, well, not. Always, though, as I'd cruise past the dead speaker, I'd see dudes milling in back, presumably having the time of their lives whipping up all the Chalupas they could stuff in their bellies.

Taco Bell is the demon's first tier of desire.

The concession when that Taco Bell failed was is a McDonald's that's catty-corner from it. Now, McDonald's is third tier of desire or lower on the demon's metric of desire, but, then there are those times, and when it's the only choice, it's the first choice. So this particular night, the shadow puppets at Taco Bell did their misleading dance, so I peeled over to the McDonald's, the demon already chomping at the bit. 

Just off Western, the drive-thru lane winds around behind the building where the speaker is, then after you order, you pull around to side of the building where the set of double windows are for payment and pickup. So I ordered. A favorite of ours -- two Double Cheese burgers with just ketchup, large fries, large Coke, six piece Chicken McNuggets with BBQ sauce -- then pulled around to the first window, paid, got a receipt which I pinned in my sun visor, and settled in behind a BMW at the second window to wait.

Drive-thru didn't get popular because of quality, it got popular because of speed. But late night at a drive-thru won't boast much in the way of speed, so, for the commoner, what are you left with? See, chances are that management whittled down overnight staff to maybe two, so one slings food, the other mans the window. But you might roll a dice at a more ghetto spot -- like McDonald's at Wilton and Sunset -- and I'll bet they whittle their staff down to one, so that poor fucker has gotta do everything.

But, like I said, the demon and I can wait.

And so there I was, sitting behind this BMW in the drive-thru line at this McDonald's on Western, waiting, when suddenly I saw a figure approaching from the street. He was a medium-size dude on foot, wearing a large, black windbreaker, the hood up, and both his hands stuffed in the jacket's pockets.

Now, it's force of habit to wait in a drive-thru line with your windows down, I think, but I when I felt all the hair on the back up of my neck stand on end I sealed myself up in my car. Tight. The guy in front of me, behind the wheel of the BMW, however, had all his windows down and sunroof open, so, like, I was thinking maybe he deserves whatever he's about to get.

The dude in the windbreaker stalked up to the pickup window, and hid off to the side so that whoever was inside wouldn't've able to see him there. Then, when the attendant appeared in said window, windbreaker dude pulled out what I could only assume was a blackjack -- based only on a loose familiarity with the TV shows like The Sopranos and The WireHe used it to smack the glass on the pickup window, clearly in an attempt to shatter it.

So, at this point, McDonald's goes on lock-down. Bro Namath in the BMW, like a total fucking idiot, starts arguing with winderbreaker dude, who was still clearly wielding that goddamn blackjack. He takes a swipe at the Beemer's side mirror, and, finally, Bro Montana pulls both his perfectly cuffed shirtsleeves into his fucking car and rolls up the windows, and I pull the fuck out of line and get out of there as fast as I absolutely can because I may be disgusting but I AIN'T TRYING TO DIE IN NO MCDONALD'S DRIVE THRU AT THREE O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING.

However. Did I mention? There's a demon that lives inside of me. And it had not been fed.

So we decided to just wait it out. Grabbed our receipt. Circled the block. Let things cool off. 

Then got right back in line.

TRUMP RALLY IN MY BALLS by JOE TOWER

So, recently, I became a dog father. My wife and I adopted a small, older, female chihuahua. Her name is Bones.

We totally tried to have kids. And it just, totally, didn’t work.

It's fine. We're fine. I mean, yeah, it did suck a little at first. And during. And then every time my wife got her period, when we fell into a spiraling depression. 

Nevermind. I guess it sort of sucked the whole time.

The thing about trying to have a baby is this: for so long you try not to do this one thing, and end up pregnant, right? In fact, you try to actively prevent it. You run away from it, as though, somehow, it could sneak up on you from around a dark corner at any moment. And then, finally, suddenly, you're older, and you've met your match, and you're comfortable, and you feel ready, and so you decide to pull your proverbial thumb out of the proverbial hole in the proverbial levee, the thing that's been the only thing between you and the flood, and when you finally do, there ain't nothing but a desert on the other side.

It got even more sucky when we decided to start talking to specialists, which, if you can, you should try to never do. For anything. Never talk to specialists. It sucked mostly because of some health problems that popped up, which ultimately were a positive, I suppose, but also, it gave me an opportunity, as a man, to see first-hand how the fertility industry is skewered against the women it relies on and claims to care for.

My wife had so much more to contend with than I did.

We were at this clinic, and I won't name names but FUCK THAT PLACE, and we're in the doctor’s office sitting across his desk from him, and he doesn’t even really address me at any point. He doesn’t even really look at me, but he's talking to my wife -- still a very young 39, mind you -- as though, at any moment, her uterus is just going to pack up all its things and move to a retirement community in Florida. You know? Like it is so old, he can hardly conceive of the idea that she is trying to conceive a fucking baby. He is referring to her uterus like, at any second, it is just going to turn into a pile of dust. 

And then he decides that he needs to determine what's going on "up there," like her vagina is a cave, or something, and so he has a nurse take us into an exam room and he proceeds to administer a trans-vaginal ultrasound on my wife and, I mean, you basically know what I'm talking about if you've ever seen "Fire In The Sky." And my wife was traumatized, and it was crazy, and she got dressed and we left, and we walked to our car in tears.

I had to get a scrotal ultrasound, because what was up with me was this: I have low sperm morphology. That means that the "integrity" of my sperm is not great. My count is awesome, so basically, it all just means that there are a lot of people at my rally, but, like, they're all Trump supporters.

Anyways, because I joined my wife at her humiliating examination, she joined me for mine, and we went into this room and I laid down on a weird bed under a weird light, and a weird nurse sat down next to me with this "wand," and was weird about everything because, apparently, during a scrotal ultrasound, they want everything to do with your balls and nothing to do with your penis. They don't want to see it, man. They don't want to know it. They don't even want to think about it. I don't know if it's, like, a legal thing, or if they're just like, "We do balls here, man. We only do balls. We specialize in balls. So let's just leave dicks out of it." And so she gives me these two paper towels and puts one above and one below, you know, my dick, and she says, "I will turn around and you will remove the penis and tuck it up under the top paper towel, and rest the scrotum on the bottom paper towel," and so I do that, and she turns back around, and my dick's tucked up underneath one paper towel, and then there are my balls, just resting on top of this other paper towel like a bag of peanuts.

When she greases it up and starts going at it with the ultrasound wand, I have to tell you guys, aside from the precarious position of my penis, it actually felt kind of good. It was all so silly and ridiculous, and, you know, fine, that when my wife and I walked out of the clinic, back to our car, we laughed our asses off.

In all honesty, I have to say, the two of us proceeded to have a really long, really hard year -- and I mean we all did because, you know, Republicans and Trump and shit -- and it was a year that just really tested us as a couple. We weathered it together, of course, and came out stronger on the other side, of course, and when we decided that we were, definitively, not going to try to have kids anymore because we genuinely didn't want kids, we did that together, too. Because that's just how you have to do it in this life otherwise it's not worth anything.

At the very end, though, when things got good again, my wife turned to me, and she kissed me, and she said she loved me, but she was like, "You owe me big time," not really saying those exact words, per se, but, like, that was the general consensus, and not just really me, per se, but, like, everyone. And you know what? She's right, because I have to tell you this: fuck, when you're trying to get pregnant and you can't get pregnant, nothing will ever be as easy as having to get a scrotal ultrasound. 

Nothing.