Chatological Humor: ISO Size 34W/31L Jeans

Gene Weingarten
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, July 22, 2008; 12:00 PM

Gene Weingarten's humor column, Below the Beltway, appears every Sunday in The Washington Post magazine. It is syndicated nationally by the Washington Post Writers Group.

At one time or another, Below the Beltway has managed to offend persons of both sexes as well as individuals belonging to every religious, ethnic, regional, political and socioeconomic group. If you know of a group we have missed, please write in and the situation will be promptly rectified. "Rectified" is a funny word.

On Tuesdays at noon, Weingarten is online to take your questions and abuse. He will chat about anything. Although this chat is updated regularly throughout the week, it is not and never will be a "blog," even though many persons keep making that mistake. One reason for the confusion is the Underpants Paradox: Blogs, like underpants, contain "threads," whereas this chat contains no "threads" but, like underpants, does sometimes get funky and inexcusable.

This Week's Poll: MEN | WOMEN

Not chat day? Visit the Gene Pool.

Important, secret note to readers: The management of The Washington Post apparently does not know this chat exists, or it would have been shut down long ago. Please do not tell them. Thank you.

Weingarten is also the author of "The Hypochondriac's Guide to Life. And Death" and co-author of "I'm with Stupid," with feminist scholar Gina Barreca.

New to Chatological Humor? Read the FAQ.

P.S. If composing your questions in Microsoft Word please turn off the Smart Quotes functionality. I haven't the time to edit them out. -- Liz


Gene Weingarten: Good afternoon.

Do you remember Michael Savage, the poisonous right-wing radio talk show host whom I reported about in my piece on 24-hour punditry? Michael is back in the news for expressing the opinion, on the air, that "99 percent" of all children diagnosed with autism are "brats" who haven't been told to "cut the act out." He said: "They don't have a father around to tell them, 'Don't act like a moron. You'll get nowhere in life.'"

Savage is not retracting this, even though he admits it might be a little wrong. And I don't blame him. Getting things a little wrong is okay. I remain a supporter of Michael Savage, because I am a fan of his column "Savage Love," in which he deals forthrightly with the fact that he is gay and proud of it, and joyfully gives out highly knowledgeable advice on techniques for active, hedonistic, sexually adventuresome gay males like himself. I LOVE that column.


So, I am five foot ten and weigh 170 pounds. The correct jean size for me is 34 waist, 31 length, and I happily wore that size for about 20 years, until most stores stopped carrying them. It happened almost overnight. The 31 length simply disappeared. Clerks informed me that I should buy a 32, which means I walk on the cuffs when barefoot, or a 30, which makes me look like Lord Fauntleroy.

Finally, it occurred to me that I could probably find 31s online. I did, but they were True Religions, cost $175, and appeared to have an embroidery of a faerie on the front pocket. Finally, I found some Levis! Almost new. And I ordered them. They arrived yesterday, and I was delighted to see, on the label, that they are 31s. My euphoria lasted until I put them on, to discover that they were mislabeled. The inseam is about a 25. I put on knee socks and walked around looking like John Adams.

Does anyone know what the story is with the scarcity of 31-inseam jeans?


You may have already seen the Clip of the Day, but it's good enough so I'm including it for those who missed it.


We thank Henry Chen for this link to a brilliant Jim Borgman cartoon about the New Yorker cover controversy.

And we thank Deb Johnson, who noted this aptonym:

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Directors voted to rename the airport in this once-segregated city for a civil rights leader who staged demonstrations alongside the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Birmingham International Airport will become Birmingham Shuttlesworth International Airport, for the Rev. Fred L. Shuttlesworth.

The Comic Pick of the Week is Sunday's Doonesbury, for saying in about 75 words what I have been trying, unsuccessfully, to express many times over the last four years. First Runner Up, today's Speed Bump. Honorables: Monday's Pearls, Sunday's Candorville, Sunday's Rhymes With Orange.

Can anyone explain to me what the lawyers in Monday's Brevity save by doing what they are doing? Won't they still need three tickets on the train, or am I missing something? I bet I am missing something.


Shepherd Park: Did you actually try the doggy treats, and if you did, what does steer penis taste like?

Gene Weingarten: It tastes like iguana penis, only more rubbery.


XX Zo, NE: "I used to deal with them periodically like my wife's menstrual period."

Now, Gene. Did you post this question precisely because you knew the writer's comment above would alienate your largely young, female audience and subliminally sway them to your side? (And I hope that wasn't his attempt at a pun. Periods ARE periodic, zit-for-brains.)

For the record, this 36-going-on-14-year-old laughed herself sick over "dried steer penises." So did her near-40 Ph.D. husband and his near-40 Ph.D. online gaming buddies.

I don't love all your columns equally, but the promise that there will be gems like that is what keeps me reading.

Gene Weingarten: This is a shrewd question.

Hm. Well, I copied the post exactly as it came in, and so my defense is truth, but I suppose I could have edited it to delete that reference. But I was leery of doing this poll at all, and it gave me a slim comfort zone. It turns out, however, there is not much of a statistical difference between the way women and men answered that question. So I'm not sure it mattered.

Interestingly, I got an email this morning from the guy who wrote the post. Here it is:

Fundamentally, I am embarrassed. I, obviously, read your column religiously (haha). I had feuded with my 14-year old daughter that night and, later that evening, looking for humorous solace, read your BTB. Okay, alcohol was involved. I am sending this to you so if you need me to play the stooge we might have some fun. I am sure your female readers will be less than pleased with the "period" reference. Maybe not. Keep up the good work. I will comment tomorrow if you want me to.


Mr. Stooge is welcome to further weigh in, if he wishes.


USVI: You don't really write your company toll-free phone line columns. You come up with a general outline (or plot) of how you want to steer the conversation, then merely record the responses. You can't even completely script your part because your reactions have to reflect the individual responses by the customer service people. I always thought you didn't feel like writing on the weeks you do them.

Gene Weingarten: Everything you say is true, but I'm not sure why it amounts to criticism.

Sometimes, the customer service reps take me in completely unanticipated directions, though, and that can get exciting. In this particular column, I loved that Joanna simply could not bring herself to tell me I was eating bull penis. She needed her supervisor to drop the P-bomb.

One other thing: It is very rare that these reps get mad at me, at least to any degree that is apparent. I think I serve as comic relief. This column was notable because one of the reps -- Jim, the last guy -- did lose patience with me. I believe it was only the second time I was hung up on in the many years I have been doing this column.


New York, NY: Re: Brevity -- it doesn't say where it's taking place, but if the turnstile entry means they're in the subway, three guys just got on the train for free.

Gene Weingarten: Okay, I'll accept that.


jeans, issue: Oh Gene, this cracks me up. My father had a similar problem for many years. Until he realized that many Hispanic men are built like him (and you). so he went to malls in heavily Hispanic areas (ie the mall in Ballston about five years ago) and found his jeans there!

Gene Weingarten: Really? Thirty-ones?


Time To Shut It Down: There once was a fella named Gene Whose columns were cleverly mean. But then his head grew, And his columns blew, But his Post Chat remained quite the scene.

Gene Weingarten: You're a guy, right?

Here is the single most interesting statistical fact from the poll:

About nine percent of the men say my columns suck and I should just close down the operation.

Only three percent of women say that.

I conclude both figures are really about 9 percent, but the women are nicer. It's a pretty rude thing to tell someone he sucks, and even in an anonymous poll, the girls show their class.

I love women.


Suck Ups? Not, ME: I am a (30/f) faithful reader of both your chats and the WaPo Magazine, however I would put myself in the camp that I read your columns largely out of obligation (to you? to your chats? as your fan? I'm not sure). I know you've received this criticism from others in this forum before, but I have to concur -- I just don't think your columns are that funny. It surprises me that the overwhelming majority (as of 10am at least) appear to looooove the columns. It makes me wonder just how many little brown-nosers we have out there answering the poll today....

Even though I don't like your columns that much, I look forward to your chats on Tuesdays!

Gene Weingarten: Okay, so maybe not ALL women.


Michael Sava, GE: The thing that burns me about Savage and others of his ilk is that they are "a little bit wrong" ALL THE TIME. Not just wrongheaded, but simply play fast and loose with (or simply ignore) factual information that contradicts them. How do they have any credibility whatsoever?

That's why I'm an elitist and proud of it. Why would I want to spend any time at all with people who are actively ignorant, and continue to lap up the hate-filled drivel that guys like Savage spew?

Gene Weingarten: Savage is one of the meanest people I've ever heard on the air. He makes O'Reilly seem like Colmes.


I don't get it: Borgman's cartoon was in my paper too, and try as I might, I don't get it. New Yorkers see the rest of the country as....what exactly?

Gene Weingarten: It's a joke on the old New Yorker cover of how New Yorkers see the world. Only this is completely literal.


Baltimore, Md.: 31 inch inseams: It is all a matter of standardization by big manufacturers. What you should do is get your jeans from Land's End, as they will hem them for you. You can even get 31 and a half if you want. But do you really have a 34 inch waist at 170 pounds? Or are you like those guys I see on the Metro who button their pants at their hips so they can say to themselves "Same size as I was in college," while their huge guts spill over toward the floor?

Gene Weingarten: No, I fit a 34.


The lost art of commenting: You recently started a topic on the Gene Pool asking why story commenters are nuts. I think I've figured it out - they haven't been punished yet.

If somebody creates a profile on, and makes comments on stories, they can write the most inane, cryptic, what-in-the-hell-are-you-on-and-where-can-I-get-some remarks, and about the worst thing that will happen to them is their messages will be flagged for potential abuse. Too many of those, and that profile could be banned from the site. There is nothing preventing this joker from starting a new account and proceeding anon.

However, on some of the less genteel sites that thrive on comments - fark, somethingawful, 4chan, etc... - the commenting community and site moderators are much more aggressive in verbally and electronically smacking down those who would dare violate posting rules. Are all their methods ethical or even legal? That's debatable. But, they can be enjoyable.

As much as I've enjoyed the Chandra Levy articles, and have been intrigued by the story format, I'm saddened by the absolute idiocy in the comments. Every day, there are a dozen new "why is the Post wasting time and effort on this non-story" comments, which obviously begs the question "who held a gun to your head, made you read the story, and then write a comment that's been written 11 times before?" It's a newspaper story, not a torture experiment from "A Clockwork Orange."

There's an interesting debate going on at about the state of internet commenting, and that newspapers in general are having a harder time with it than blogs. Blogs are used to a more free-wheeling commenting-and-moderation style, whereas newspapers generally aren't. Perhaps the solution is to go back to the "Letters to the Editor" days, and have all comments submitted in that kind of formal, non-anonymous format.

Gene Weingarten: There was an absolutely astonishing comment to the Chandra Levy series yesterday by someone who felt the series was pathetic because it was not pointing out the OBVIOUS links between Chandra Levy and Timothy McVeigh.


Washington, D.C.: Savage Love is written by Dan Savage, not the talk show host. Hax has met him and can set you straight. So to speak.

Gene Weingarten: Ohhhhhhhhh. Gee, I am so embarrassed.


Bethesda, Md.: I'm also 5'10" (but I round down, and I've seen you, you round up) and also weight 170. My waist is 34, leg is 32. I suggest you simply grow another inch. Or learn to sew. Your choice.

Gene Weingarten: Thank you.


Sorta sober, Calif.: Did you read David Carr's amazing look at his recovery from being a junkie in the NY Times Magazine? Man, what a read. It kinda haunts me.

As someone who's been down that road, what did you think? Were you ever that bad?

Gene Weingarten: It was a riveting piece, and remarkably honest.

No, I was never that bad. I was never addicted, never got in trouble with the law. Never was violent to anyone. I was just your peaceful, law abiding, weekend hippie heroin user.


Choking o,UT: Gene, as the most famous hypochondriac whose book I own, perhaps you can help me figure out why it feels like a dwarf is hugging my trachea while backed up against some immovable lump of crud in my esophagus.

I've been a competitive runner and triathlete for a few years now, but lately my windpipe and chest seem to close up about 7-10 minutes into intense exercise. When this happens, I can't get enough oxygen to my muscles (esp. my legs), causing them to feel uncomfortably tingly and weak. I keep having to cut my swim workouts short because of increased difficulty breathing, and this past Thursday, after a very fast-paced 2-mile run, I felt unusually lightheaded. Over the weekend, a palm-sized area at the bottom of my sternum has become tender to the touch and I don't know why.

The throat crud/trachea hug occurs just above the V formed by my clavicles, started in early May when I was sick for a few days, and has gotten decidedly worse over the past 2-3 weeks.

The doctor I saw in early July can only shake his head and say, "WTF?" because I am otherwise as healthy as a horse. The chest x-ray and an EKG he ordered for me came back negative, and the albuterol inhaler he sent me away with doesn't seem to help. Is this something that will either fix itself or can be fixed w/different meds? Should I call the doc again and suggest any specific tests? I'd appreciate your insight between funnier questions. Thanks!!!

Gene Weingarten: You seem to have confused me with someone who actually knows something.

Is there someone out there who actually knows something who has some advice for this disgustingly athletic person?


Michael v. Dan: What do you think Dan Savage will do when he discovers that you just insulted him unforgivably? He is without question the best advice columnist out there. If I were a gay man I would fling virtual tighty whities at him.

Gene Weingarten: I really AM a big fan of his column. He'd get the joke.


Savage: The thing that gets me about Savage is that his rejection of autism as a legitimate medical condition serves absolutely no purpose except to cast aspersions on parents of autistic kids, reinforce the sexist notion that a woman can't discipline kids the way a father can, denigrate the efforts of autistic/behaviorally-challenged kids and the therapists who work with them and stir up furor for no reason. No doctor is going to hear his asinine comments and stop treating or diagnosing autism -- so what's the point in being a pointless jerk?

Gene Weingarten: He is the third most listened to radio talk show host in the country! BECAUSE he is a jerk.


Upper Marlboro, Md.: Gene, am I missing a joke or something? Isn't the Savage Love column you referred to in your intro written by Dan Savage, not Michael Savage?

Gene Weingarten: Yes, you are missing something.


Does anyone know what the story is with the scarcity of 31-inseam jeans?: oh, you poor baby.

You do realize that maybe, at most, about half of women's pants come in lengths at all, and those are limited to long, average, and petite. Aren't the majority of your chatters women? Shouldn't you have learned better by now than to complain about such things in front of a (cyber) room-full of women?

Gene Weingarten: Oh.




Modesto, California: Wear a 32" and a shoe with a heel.

Gene Weingarten: But I go barefoot all the time. That's the problem.


to UT: Get thee to a good pulmonologist, ASAP!

Gene Weingarten: Good. Heed, please.


Chain Restaurant: Ok, so I was stuck at Gordon Biersch yesterday because it was the only place near the Spy Museum that my 3, 85 year-old grandparents could walk to easily. In a city full of good food, what's your excuse? I have to say that I'm glad you were there, as your son is very easy on the eyes.

Gene Weingarten: Were you the one who stole my credit card? Lost the card there.

Family had just seen "Busted Jesus Comix" at the Fringe Festival. Very good.

Son: Hot.

Gene Weingarten: Hamburgers: Adequate, though at first they refused Rib's request to have hers rare. "Chef does not do rare," they said.

They relented when we met this with amused remarks.


Sibling Hell: Gene,

How does one deal with a sibling one doesn't like? Particularly when Mom's entire happiness seems to rest on all of her children being There For Each Other? My younger sister is in her early 20s, and her behavior is irresponsible and extremely selfish. She says things to me off-handedly that would curl your eyebrows and then gets mad and yells at me when I tell her something hurts my feelings. She regularly drinks til she passes out, despite having to be hospitalized for drinking in the past, but if I bring it up out of concern for her well-being, she screams at me and says horrible things. I'm just over it, you know? I'm sick of her sense of entitlement, of her telling my parents what she wants and watching them cave to demands they can't afford or don't really want to meet, because they're cowed by her temper and afraid she'll accuse them of playing favorites or something (which makes no sense, because neither my brother nor I ask my parents for things - we're independent adults). She thinks I'm a lame stick in the mud because I don't drink (I have a metabolic issue with alcohol and don't tolerate it at all). She thinks I'm annoying because I love to run, and I think she sees judgment there because she doesn't exercise, when there honestly isn't any. I don't really care if she works out or not, I just want her to stop being so nasty to me, so abusive of my parents, and most importantly, to stop freaking drinking already. And my mom is always after me to make a better effort to get along with my sister, even though I'm the one who contacts her, I'm the one who invites her to visit and then pays for everything when she does (I live in a very vacationy destination, so I don't think she's visiting out of much affection for me, but rather to work on her tan). I don't know how to tell my mom that sis and I are probably just too different to really see eye to eye on things, and that just because we're sisters, we aren't necessarily meant to be best friends. What I really don't know how to do, though, is tell her what a horse's ass my sister can be to me, without sounding like tattling. When I mentioned once that sister's treatment of me wasn't something I was willing to put up with, my mom told me I needed to just get over it because she's still got some growing up to do. The latter part is true, obviously, but I'm not sure how to go about just brushing her behavior off without ignoring her completely. She gets along famously with my brother, which I think makes my mom see this as more my problem than my sister's. Help?

Thanks! You rock.

Gene Weingarten: Uh, sounds like you have made as much of an effort as you can here. Show this post to your mother, along with my advice to her, as a parent: This young woman has evidently has a drinking problem and it will poison all her relationships until it is addressed. That's the duty of the parent here. When that is resolved, other relationships can and will heal.


703: Gene, you're wrong about the 31 inch inseam. I am a woman, 5 feet 4 inches, and I wear a 30. My pants in no way drag on the ground.

Liz, he has on highwaters, doesn't he? Wait. Or. Gene, you have very wee legs, don't you?

Gene Weingarten: Clearly, you have a bigger butt than I do.


RE: Jeans: This page has options for Levi's with a 34 inch waist and a 31 inch inseam.

Gene Weingarten: Thank you. I am posting this so I can access it later.

I bet they are out of them.


For Baltimore: 34 Pants: My husband weighs 200 and wears a 34. He has no gut, because he runs about 30 miles a week. 170 is not fat, honeybunch.

Gene Weingarten: I have some gut, which is why 34 fits both of us.


Washington, D.C.: Hi Gene,

I've noticed the decline of the 31s as well. I'm a 33 waist, 31 length. I have always thought that I'm just odd.

Gene Weingarten: It's an outrage!


Savage: Michael Savage of Savage Love is right wing? I never knew he was a radio host, I only know him from his column. But man, that's weird.

Gene Weingarten: Sigh.


Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.: Gene, I introduced myself to you and Murphy last night around 8:30 on 8th Street. I just want to reassure the chatting public that you are not fat. But your voice...

Gene Weingarten: Yeah. Man, I know.

Gene Weingarten: ESPECIALLY when disciplining a dog.


Metro Blocked: Gene, I was stuck on the metro yesterday while it was going through its system-wide meltdown. My trip length was more than doubled because of all the delays. But it didn't have to be that way. I missed my yellow line train by about 10 seconds (the next 25 minutes only green lines came!) because a woman was occupying the left side of the escalator, instead of walking. What is the proper etiquette in that situation? What if you're several people behind the person causing the backup?

Gene Weingarten: It's the same as if you are two cars behind the person who is asleep at the green light. You have to beep. Speak up. Shout.

This is, as you all know, a real peeve for me. People who have all the time in the world and think everyone else does.


Stanton Park, D.C.: Gene, when you set traps like this one, how long does it take before someone falls in? Also, can you give us an idea how many people take the bait?

Washington, D.C.: Savage Love is written by Dan Savage, not the talk show host. Hax has met him and can set you straight. So to speak.

Gene Weingarten: Ohhhhhhhhh. Gee, I am so embarrassed.

Gene Weingarten: According to Chatwoman, we have had five so far.


Wheaton, MD: Hi Gene. I wish there had been a way to express in the poll how much both my husband and I really like the Gene and Gina columns. When they appear in the magazine, he reads them aloud to me, so we can comment on them together. We've both missed them very much and wish you would do more of them.

Just my two cents.

Gene Weingarten: See next post.


Colum, NS: Please please please please please do not re-pick up the pace of the Gene & Gina columns. I have two X chromosomes and even a set of ovaries, thank you very much, but Gina DOES NOT speak for me. And, as a card and ovary carrying woman who also giggles at fart jokes and doesn't get all, like, hissy over stuff, I find the whole, aren't men and women different! And that's funny! stuff so tiresome.

Mostly, those columns just resulted in a strong desire to sit Gina down, across a lovely, well-set tea table of course, and say, Really? I mean, REALLY?!?!

Gene Weingarten: See?


Providence, R.I.: I wish I had the option in question 1 to express greater love for your call-in columns. They consistently make me laugh out loud, and I'm a tough customer.

-- Female, 37, eating Indian take-out during your chat

Gene Weingarten: Please see next post.


Customer Service Columns: The best ones are when the conversation is actually funny. But more than half the time it's a contorted conversation just to get to some lame joke you've already written. Don't think of your punch line first. Let it come naturally.

Gene Weingarten: Sigh.


Toronto, ON: ARGH I totally hate your "I love women" bullsh**. I am a woman. I find it offensive. The woman who asked if you thought you were sexist last week had it right. If you went around saying "I love black people" as many times as you say "I love women" and gave the same bullshit essentialist reasons you would be forced at some point to acknowledge you were racist. I can't wait until you are forced to acknowledge your sexism.

For the record - I didn't say you should stop writing columns altogether because I don't feel qualified to comment. I don't read your columns. I read the chat because the other chatters amuse me and because sometimes you have really funny/insightful things to say. But the way to talk about women is really starting to grate on me. I even quit reading your chat for a few months because of it. For the record, I am a young woman.

Gene Weingarten: I love women.


The thing that gets me about Savage is that his rejection of autism as a legitimate medical condition serves absolutely no purpose except to cast aspersions on parents of autistic kids: No, his whole point was to get some air time and IT WORKED! He doesn't have an opinion about kids one way or the other, but he knows a good extreme statement will get him lots of air time!

Gene Weingarten: We're talking about him, aren't we?


Barefoot? You Hippie!: If Gina's not available, maybe you should do joint columsn with Dan Savagae. A kind of "Straight Men are from Mars, Gay Men are from Off Broadway" thing. He could play straight man to your straight man, you're both unafraid to discuss bodily functions, etc.

Gene Weingarten: You know, many years ago I did such a column with Hank Stuever. Liz, can you find this?


Allow, ME: Folks: Michael Savage and Dan Savage are two different people. Gene KNOWS they are two different people. Michael Savage would be appalled to be confused with Dan Savage (and, really, probably vice-versa). Therein lies the joke.

You're welcome, Gene.

Gene Weingarten: Indeed.


Jea, NS: In addition to all the consolidation-of-sizes, styles have changed and lots of guys wear jeans that scuff the ground (even with shoes), creating an oh-so-fashionable tattered cuff. Inseam is less important when it's just going to drag anyway.

Also, more dudes are realizing that when you drop $100+ on a pair of jeans, it actually makes sense to get them tailored.

Of course I just outed myself as a raging metrosexual. Ah well.

Gene Weingarten: The Don, the art-of-pickup teacher for the Mystery Method, was wearing $200 True Religions. He saw absolutely zero reason to wear those instead of Levis, except: "Women notice them. They will actually TOUCH them."


Phoning it, IN: On your customer-service call columns, how many calls do you typcially have to make to get four good ones? How much of each call is edited out as you sturggle to make them say something amusing? I find it hard to believe that every call you make is print worthy. Althought that may be your problem...

Gene Weingarten: I use the results of about 75percent of the calls I make. And they are heavily edited. Many go in unproductive directions, but veer back, etc. People are quoted correctly, but there is much cutting.


Gene and Gina columns: Count me as a fan of the Gene and Gina Show. But is it even possible for you to do more columns with Gina? I was under the impression that you two had a, um, lovers' spat and your relationship was a bit frosty now.

Gene Weingarten: We frosted, but have thawed. You will see more in the future.


Still Ambivalent, Calif.: Small-town ME here. I still think the Chandra epic-by-inches is of dubious merit and that you guys have buried the lede. But here's the deal: I'm bloody riveted to it.

You win.

Gene Weingarten: Thank you.


Pants sizing: I think we need to investigate other changes in men's pants sizing besides the disappearance of the 31 inch inseam. My dad asked for pants for Father's Day. He told me he needed waist 31 and length 30, the same size he has been wearing all his adult life, and he's 77 years old. Like you, I was delighted to find the exact size online, Levi's also, and ordered two pair. When they arrived and he tried them on, they were at least 3 inches too big in the waist and also much too long. I wondered if they were sized for a younger man who would be low-riding, but even that didn't make sense. Gene, can you get to the bottom of this issue?

Gene Weingarten: You said bottom.

I don't think there is size inflation in men's clothes, because, like, these are exact measurements, you know?


More Gina: Re the poll.

The Gene and Gina columns have consistently been among the funniest you have ever done. I particularly like exchanges in the following format:

Gene: Openly sexist remark.


Gene: Amplification of openly sexist remark.

My only concern is that I may choke on my bagel.

Gene Weingarten: Understood.

_______________________ Hey guys -- Gene is such a douchenozzle, he skedded an important phone call during the chat. He's on that call now and should be back with us in about 5 or so minutes. In the meantime, we can talk about celebrities or my cat or something.


703: Gene Weingarten: Clearly, you have a bigger butt than I do.

Are you calling me FAT?? Yes, Gene was calling you fat. What'cha gonna do about it?


Gene Weingarten: Sorry. Back. That's the first time I've actually had to take a call mid-chat!


North McLean, Va.: Direct to Liz. I assume Mr. Cohen is, like, totally off your Christmas Card list now. I mean, really, one can certainly have an aesthetic objection to tattoos, but to link body art to the imminent collapse of Social Security seems kind of a stretch. Until I'd read this I was thinking of having Mr. Cohen's face tattoo'ed on my lower back -- you know, the "tramp stamp" location. Now I think I'll have to go with Gene Robinson's visage.

Seriously -- has there every been a crochety-er sounding crotchety old man? Doesn't he know even sommeliers who get written up in The Post Magazine have tats nowadays?

Gene Weingarten: I kind of like this column, though I think his efforts to universalize this with gravitas -- the fiscal irresponsibility thing -- strains rather mightily.

I think tattoos are a mistake, for the same reason Richard does. And, unlike tattoos, I think the fad will fade, meaning that about 40 years from now, grandma and grandpappy are going to be kinda comical.

Sorry, Lizzie and all the rest. In the continuum of mistakes, this one is pretty minor, though.

(Are tats still big among twentysomethings?) "Fad"? This fad has been around for centuries now. Kind of like clothes or jewelry. Think they'll all go out of fashion simultaneously? Ah well, so goes the print edition.

And speaking of fads, when you do spoze you'll be disposing of that caterpillar under your nose?

Gene Weingarten: The only thing that is going to remove that is chemotherapy.

Hey can you find that SNL skit about back tattoos? Here you go, 1978. Enjoy: Video: Back Tattoo Removal, (SNL)


Smok, IN: Gene:

Scarlett Johansson at 24 looks is hot in a bikini. Do you think she will look this good at 63?

Gene Weingarten: This is an important question. I think we need to compare this image to Scarlett in a bikini currently, and to Helen when she was Scarlett's age, more or less. Liz, you know the picture I mean. Young, topless Helen (NSFW!)



People are quoted correctly, but there is much cutting. : mr Weingarten, I would LIKE to remind you that our company is dedicated TO family-friendly products, and we do not make a FART pillow. WHILE not all of our products are WORKING well IN the marketplace, as evidenced be THE failure of the OVAL hula-hoop, our head OFFICE is confident sales will increase... what was your question?

Gene Weingarten: Thank you.


Washington, D.C.: As of 9 AM this morning, there are 49 men and 19 women who have answered "I think you should stop writing columns; you're not very good." in the poll. These are presumably not all people who just stumbled into your chat; the fact that they clicked on the chat link hours before the scheduled time suggests that they did so specifically to vote in the poll, and therefore that they are regular readers of your chat. These are regular readers who dislike your columns enough to tell you, more or less to your face, that you aren't any good.

I am one of these people. I used to enjoy your columns, but I think they've been pretty bad for years. The political ones are too petty and hostile (although I generally agree with your politics), there's too much of your dumb poetry, and overall they just aren't very funny anymore. I thought your Joshua Bell piece was pretentious and self-indulgent, and I'm appalled that it won a Pulitzer. Most of all, I detest this chat and the legion of pathetic fawning sycophants that populate it. I blame them for inflating your ego and ruining your sense of humor with all their idiot praise. I've come to hate you with every fiber of my being.

So why do I still read it almost every week? Why, Gene? This is insane. What is it that drives people to read, listen to, or watch things they know they hate: the venomous talk show host, the infuriatingly unfunny comic strip, the sickeningly sweet columnist? Do you find yourself engaging in this habit? Why am I even asking you, since I don't respect your opinion?

P.S. As much as I hate to admit it, I kind of like you.

Gene Weingarten: I bet you thought I wouldn't publish this.


Call Center: Didn't know what to answer on the poll. I like the "call center" columns when you make yourself the joke. Sometimes they are quite clever.

But, and I say this carefully, sometimes I just feel sorry for the poor representative. The joke isn't quite funny enough to justify making the rep look stupid or something.

I don't know. You like to analyze humor. Analyze and discuss.

Gene Weingarten: Well, this is an interesting point. I am not sure I have EVER made a customer service rep look stupid in these interviews. I think I make MYSELF look stupid and unreasonable just about every single time. I think the reps usually look really polite and professional and helpful, trying to reason with an idiot. I don't think there has been even one where the rep behaved in a way that would draw anything but praise from their supervisor.

Having said that, I shall now lead with my chin. Liz, can you link to as many of these columns as you can easily find on the Web? I haven't looked back at them. If readers can find cases where I humiliated a rep or made someone look really bad, cut and paste and post em here, and I will publish them.

Liz? April 6, 2008

Nov. 4, 2007

July 29, 2007

March 25, 2007

June 11, 2006

Jan. 22, 2006

Dec. 11, 2005

Aug. 7, 2005

Jan. 30, 2005

Sept. 5, 2004

Me good link monkey.


Inseams: As long as we are talking about them, have you heard of this idea that custom tailors will ask a gentleman if he "dresses left" or "dresses right" in order to properly fit him? I have heard this, but can't tell if it's a joke. It makes me nervous about getting a custom suit, because I don't really want to discuss that with my tailor.

Gene Weingarten: It's true! But I have never been asked. I heard it as "wear" left or right.


An, DY: How is the cat? Was there any lingering problems from the wasp sting? Nope. He was already on steroids for an unrelated problem, so I think that helped.

Gene Weingarten: Noted.


Aptonym, if he performs: Left-hander Josh Outman was picked up by the A's in the Joe Blanton trade.

Outman, 23, was moved to the pen after opening the season with a 3.16 ERA and a 32/15 K/BB ratio in 25 2/3 innings for Double-A Reading. He had since amassed a 3.22 ERA in 44 2/3 innings. The A's figure to move him back to the rotation and could call him up in August or September. Walks are always going to be a problem for him, but he has enough stuff to make it as a fourth or fifth starter anyway.

Gene Weingarten: Thank you.


Andy the Cat: Liz, love you and your pets. Who is Andy's favorite male celebrity? Thanks for all the questions -- we'll save them for the next time Gene double-books this hour and drops us for some hot phone call.

Gene Weingarten: (Pssst. Liz named Andy after Andy Dick, who she is secretly hot for.)


Sexist? You?: This is what I can't figure out: Do you see us gals as a whole other exhaulted species, so awe-inspiringly different from men that it's almost as if we were dropped in from another planet? Or is it that men and women are all people, but you find women in general to be a smidge awesomer? This young feminist sees sexism in the former but thanks you for the latter.

Gene Weingarten: I'm somewhere in between the two. It's like the second, but it's bigger than a smidge.


Jean Weingarten: Note my clever pun! Note it!

Gene Weingarten: Wow!


Washington, DC: Any chance of seeing a picture of the hot son?

Gene Weingarten: I'll ask him and report back next week. Probably not.


Savage satire: Gene, you're as irresponsible as the New Yorker. You should have provided more context like a footnote attached to the Savage Love reference that explicitly explained your intentions. This isn't a big mistake, but it is a mistake on your part. I'll call CNN and Fox News, and see if they can get you to apologize to both the Savages. I got the joke, but still think it was irresponsible, because I know there are a lot of stupid people out there who have the right not to be confused.

Gene Weingarten: Understood.


Washington, DC: Charlie Savage writes for the New York Times and previously wrote for the Boston Globe. And that's probably his real name.

Gene Weingarten: I know him. He was also once at the Miami Herald.


Another runner: I'd bet the reason this guy has a tender sternum is just costochondritis from gasping for breath. But when my athletic, fit aunt started gasping for breath during exercise, it turned out she had some major blockages near her heart. This guy should double check with a cardiologist, ASAP. Just because he's otherwise healthy doesn't mean he can't get coronary artery disease!

Gene Weingarten: Again: Heed this, dude.


Baltimore, MD: So you question Andy Dick's stability in a column a couple weeks ago and a few days later he's incarcerated for a whole list of offenses related to a drunken escapade. Not quite the same as the Tim Russert curse but close, no?

Gene Weingarten: Interesting, but hardly shocking, you know?


Bethesda, Md.: Option not included in the polls:

My favorite columns are those with conversations between you and someone else, when you get to be clever and the other person rises to be even more clever. You have many good examples of this. When the victim or opponent gets a great dig in, or says something unexpectedly funny, it's the best.

Gene Weingarten: I should have included a question about those, right.


OK, the Savage thing is funny...: but what's really got me tearing up and gasping for air over here is all the responses from people who completely missed the point.

Gene Weingarten: I know!


Scotla, ND: Why don't you just wear kilts?

Gene Weingarten: It's the no-underpants part of the deal that scares me.


New York, NY: "I don't think there is size inflation in men's clothes, because, like, these are exact measurements, you know?"

Sadly, this is no longer true. When I was fitted for a tuxedo recently, I discovered that my 34-inch waist, which I thought had remained the same since college, is actually a 36-inch waist, even though I've been buying size 34 pants the whole time. The tailor said that he's had to disabuse a lot of guys about their true waist-size over the last few years.

Gene Weingarten: Uh oh. B-b-ut that means...


Hopes,MA: Oh my goodness, I didn't think it was possible, but it has gotten worse. My husband just showed me a note on a list he checks occasionally where some grandparents are welcoming their new grand-daughter (good for them) named...wait for it...Maddisyn.

Madison isn't bad enough, they had to deliberately misspell it. Next thing you know my daughter will be going to school with Maddisyn, Jeffyrsin, and Jahn. Sigh. And I'm stuck trying to find yet another nice normal girls name (sorry can't use Molly much as I like it--too confusing and cutesy to have Molly and Holly in the same house)

Gene Weingarten: The world is ending.


Arlington, Va.: Comic question for you: What do you think of The Perry Bible Fellowship?

Gene Weingarten: I like it a lot.


Washington, D.C.: Gene, you're smartish sort of. Could you explain why bicycles aren't allowed on sidewalks in D.C., but Segways are? Segways are like the SUVs of pedestrian transport--the operators are so high up that they can't see people trying to pass by them. They're dangerous. Plus, they always strike me as being really obnoxious, but I don't know why.

Gene Weingarten: Bicycles aren't allowed on the sidewalks of DC? ARe you out of your mind? Bicycles POPULATE the sidewalks of D.C. It is the second worst single thing about D.C., after the tourists who walk in a perpetual mosey. I pray for the bicyclists to collide with the tourists.


Well liz: body modification has been around for centuries, you're right. However, we've come to realize we were wrong about many of them (foot binding, genital mutilation, even circumcision). So knowing some superstitious native did it 200 years ago before we learned about germs, science and self confidance doesn't justify it. A person who opts to get a tattoo is hardly comparable to someone forced to undergo genital mutilation. Get real, bozo.

Gene Weingarten: I'm not sure there is any consensus against circumcision.


Herndon, VA: Did I just take crazy pills, or did Liz just post a link to pictures of boobies?

Gene Weingarten: We discussed it at length! We decided it was okay! We don't know why! But it is! And now that the decision has been made, it is company policy!


The Horr, OR!: Your conflation of the Savages in the mind of your (somewhat dense) readers could constitute the basis for a slander case by Dan.

Gene Weingarten: I know.


Backha, ND: I really like the columns you do with the feminist. She's really funny, and you do a really good job of not getting in her way, which takes a lot of courage for a professional humorist who is working with someone funnier than them.

Gene Weingarten: Uh, thank you.

Gina is very funny. At the risk of sounding defensive, those columns are jointly written. We discuss a topic for about an hour, then craft a column together that presents it in as funny a way as we can. Some of Gina's best lines are written by me. Some of my best lines are written by Gina.

We wrote the book the same way.


Boston, MA: Gene,

My girlfriend won't let me grow a moustache. She reads your columns and chats religiously. Can you give me some tips to convince her, or can you tell her directly? I would like to avoid the Lysistrata treatment, if possible.

Also, can you use your moustache as a baleen?

Gene Weingarten: It is,indeed, a filter.

No answer from me will be dispositive. Your girlfriend needs to hear from other women who have cohabited with a man with a mustache. I shall accept any endorsements here. If we get none, dude, both you and I are in trouble.


Obama Caricatures: Have you seen this article on how to draw a black man?

Gene Weingarten: I think most of these are fine. The last one is amazingly awful, though.


Mount Vernon, VA: What's with running the same Doonesbury today as yesterday? Mistake or comic big brother substitution?

Gene Weingarten: Mistake, clearly. Liz, can you link to today's? Doonesbury, (July 22)


The hot son: can be seen in the pic where Dana (Dan-uh not Day-nuh) is hugging her collegue after winning the Putzlier. Indeedy!

Gene Weingarten: Not a good picture of him, actually. He usually manages to have a two or three day stubble.


Arlington, Va.: Gene,

I'd like to throw a virtual jock-strap to chatwoman. I think she is hot with her tattoos. May I? Sure, as long as I don't actually have to catch it.

Gene Weingarten: She'd be hot in a burqua.


Madis, IN: My wife's friend just named their newborn son "Jaxson" (he wanted Jax(!), she wanted Jackson).


Gene Weingarten: Reminds me of, um, Jayson Blair. Not good.


Stuever lover: Hey Liz, where's that link? I loved that column they did together, much more than the Gene and Gina show - and I enjoyed G/G book.

Hmm. A Gene/Hank book? I need to recreate the story from the archives. Will add after the end of the chat.

Gene Weingarten: (Hank and I have actually talked about a book.)


Scarlett will have a shot at looking like Helen at 63 if:: She never had kids. Sorry, fellow moms, but that bikini look is not available to a tummy that's been pregnant.

Gene Weingarten: I disagree. I myself have seen one.


NY, NY: I used to send a few relevant links/comments to your WaPo email semi-regularly, and you'd always be cordial with a response. Then, a few months back, nothing. I was left to question if you did not appreciate the input, never received the messages, or had no time for a reply. Might any of these apply?

Gene Weingarten: I have said this before: It is because of the dreaded Vista. It is much harder for me to reply to mail, and I have been doing it more sparingly. It is bad. I believe this will be fixed in two weeks.


Moustaches: I hear they make eating at the oyster bar a better experience for your date.

Gene Weingarten: I have heard that too.


Bicyc. LE: Gene,

Bicycles are legally allowed on sidewalks in the District with the exception of the downtown buiness district. I cycle on the sidewalk to run over tourists.

Gene Weingarten: I want to stop cyclists on the sidewalk and asked them if they realize how wussily they are behaving. It is amazing wuss behavior. Bikes need to be in the streets.


New York, NY: Dan was born a Savage, Michael adopted it to make him seem, I don't know, powerful or dangerous or something.

Gene Weingarten: So, true. And it delights me to report that Michael's real first name is ... Wiener.


Alex, VA: For the blocked trachea guy - get your butt to a doctor at once. It may be nothing of consequence. But in my mom's case, it was a tumor pressing her esophagus shut.

Gene Weingarten: I think we have now amply established that Mr. Blocked Trachea needs more medical attention.


Speaking of double booking: I was going to ask you something snarky about having to compete with Debra Winger. But a better question is this: When the Post has scheduled someone else to chat at the same time, who has been responsible for the biggest decline in your chat participation?

Or is it possible that people just participate in both, while waiting for the other chat to update?

Gene Weingarten: I think a very long time ago I was up against Al Gore, and felt the difference.

Today, we're getting more questions than usual.


Speaking o' circumcision...: what's your stance? I frequent a board of pregnant moms and there was a recent all out war over this thing because some moms were doing it because they didn't want their sons ridiculed in the locker room for looking "different." Does this happen?

Gene Weingarten: Well, I think I can safely reveal that I did circumcise my son. I would do it again. I have seen zero credible evidence that it is bad, and it is the norm.

I will now get lots of mail from anti-circumcision zealots.


Arlington, Va.: As I came roaring up Spout Run Parkway at exactdly 7:30 pm on Saturday, July 19, I saw a woman standing on the sidewalk on my right in front of the grocery store waiting to cross the street. She was wearing a sleeveless blouse and I could not help but note the colorful tattoo on her left shoulder. Her face looked familiar, but it was not until I got to the light at Lee Highway that it flashed: Chatwoman sighting!!! I think the tattooed lady was in fact our own Liz Kelly. But I have lingering doubts, as she was wearing pants. Can we get a confirm/deny? Wow! It was me. The husband and I walked up to Clarendon to pick up some groceries and get a little gelato at that new place near Whole Foods.

On second thought: stalker.

Gene Weingarten: I believe this is the first recorded Chatwoman sighting.


Bummer: And I always thought that kid from The Wonder Years was such a nice guy. Now he hates autistic kids AND writes a gay column? The hell?

Gene Weingarten: Yeah. Also, he and Dana Plato used to hold up convenience stores.


Homoeroti, CA: OK, this was weird: I am a long-married, straight male. Last night, I had a dream about having sex with another man.

That wasn't the weird part -- I know dreams can go a million ways, and that it happens to lots of people.

The weird part was, in my dream I thought to myself, "Oh it's too bad. Now they won't let me give blood anymore."

Gene Weingarten: Hahahaha.

I've said this before: I had one sorta gay dream in my life, when I was in my mid 30s. I woke up laughing.

I wonder if I would have had a different reaction if that dream happened when I was, like, 18?


Re: mustaches: So...are the comments from women who like mustaches just pouring in? Poor Liz must be overwhelmed.

(pause for sound of crickets chirping)

Gene Weingarten: I think we have received ... none.


His real first name?: So his name was Wiener Savage?

Gene Weingarten: Oh. Sorry.


Bikes: Gene, I want to bike to work. I live in Arlington, work in Georgetown. It would save time, money, the Earth and my waist. But... I am terrified of biking in DC. It seems so dangerous. I would rather walk my bike on the sidewalk within city limits.

Gene Weingarten: Just ride on the sidewalks. Everyone else does.


Anonymous: If Michael Savage sues Gene for defamation would that be a case of reverse (anti-anti-gay) bigotry?

Gene Weingarten: It would.

Okay, we're gone. No updates this week because Lizzie and her tattoos are traveling. The Gene-Hank column is below.


Chatwoman sighting: I'm pretty sure i saw chatwoman at the Jim Gaffigan show last winter You did!

Gene Weingarten: Whoa!

_______________________ As promised, Gene and Hank face off: Below the Beltway, (Feb. 24, 2002)


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