A sad person with a bag over their head looking in the mirror
Illustration by Koji Yamamoto
Life

"What Are Ugly People Meant To Do?"

Time for your weekly edition of Drew Magary's Funbag. Today, we're talking about the South, penis toes, free shoes, existential loneliness, and more.
March 31, 2020, 6:05pm

Got something on your mind? Email the Funbag. Your letters:

Winona:

What are ugly people meant to do? Like, I am generally OK with the (sorry) state of my looks—Melissa McCarthy's body with way smaller boobs, Joe Pesci's face with Steve Buscemi's eyes—because it's not like I have to see it. But Christ is it miserable to be stuck in the dating discount bin like Stinky Pete the Prospector.

I "got out there"—volunteering, joining my union, going on speed dating nights even, and hitting the tickboxes generously. Either I got no matches or got ghosted. I don't have any expectations of True Wuv or pulling Chris Evans, I'd settle for a fumble with any dude above the age of consent who regularly brushes his teeth and isn't a Nazi. But despite maintaining decent hygiene levels myself and being OK company (I managed to make friends at all my "getting out there" endeavors, just not any more than friends), I'm resorting to offering to be the demo body at First Aid training just to get some human contact. I'm nudging 40 and in good health but am looking at literal decades ahead of me full of cold showers and body pillows. What the fuck are we meant to do?

It sucks. I know. I spent the entirety of my adolescence worried that no one would ever kiss me, let alone love me. I fell madly in love with a couple of girls, but all of those first loves went unrequited. One afternoon in college, I went to my room and started crying on the bed. Loudly. My friend walked in and asked me if I was okay. I must have looked like someone in my family had just died. And I told him, outright, that girls didn't like me. Everything I had tried to get them to notice me—playing sports, befriending them, using Dep to style my hair, sending them mixtapes—had barely registered. I was invisible to love. I would never have a girlfriend. I would never get laid. When you're that lonely, it feels like a permanent condition. You go outside and it feels like everyone else has someone except for you. Even ugly-ass motherfuckers are walking around with a boyfriend or girlfriend and you're like, "Well why do THEY get to be loved and not me?"

My friend reassured me that the tide would turn, and eventually it did. And I could give you the same reassurances, but those ring hollow now that you're hitting 40. You have a larger sample size for your despair than I had back when I was a 20-year-old virgin. You've tried everything and you've hit a wall. Also, guys are massive dicks. And now you're stuck inside for at least another month, if not longer. Fucking awful.

BUT … well now, I'm not just gonna give you more reasons to feel like shit. Eventually THAT starts to ring hollow, too. So first off, I just wanna tell you that you're not alone in feeling alone. Especially right now! Literally no one can touch anyone in America. So there are many people suffering from social isolation today in ways that go past merely being bored (me) but perhaps don't rise to the level of severe depression (millions more). But even once the pandemic goes away—not that the federal government seems all that interested in making it go away—there'll still be other people out there like you, wondering when they'll finally find someone. You can commiserate with these people, maybe even marry one of them.

Secondly, you need a plan beyond just putting yourself out there:A new plan'll give you a bit more hope than if you keep trying the same shit. First of all, you're probably gonna want to talk to a therapist, which can be done online but ain't cheap. Secondly, the thing I learned during my fallow years was that the harder I tried to find love, the more elusive it became. Girls only really noticed me during the five minutes per day when I was too locked into doing something else that I wasn't even THINKING about getting laid. So you can't be a person whose chief attribute is "looking for love." There's reason every online dating profile starts off with a guy or girl saying that they're super into rock climbing. They want to show that they're interesting and not just attractive. You could do that. Take up playing the bass. I promise you that there's no way you're uglier than the average bassist. And bassists get laid a LOT! It's baffling.

Lastly, you said you're "generally OK" with your looks but only because you don't have to look at yourself in the mirror if you don't want to. You called yourself ugly in the standard joking-but-not-really-joking way. So you're clearly not okay with your looks. You're avoiding yourself and it's coloring your whole mood. Movies and TV taught me that inner and outer beauty were distinct and separate entities, but that's not true at all. Turns out Shallow Hal was TOTAL horseshit. Who knew? When you love yourself and feel good about who you are as a person, people SEE it and gravitate to you. Going the other way, take it from Deion Sanders: "If you look good, you feel good. If you feel good, you play good. If you play good, they pay good." Inner and outer beauty are inextricably linked, and clearly one is affecting the other for you right now, and not in a good way.

I gotta be delicate here Winona, because you're a woman and I'm a man and this is the internet, where every Redditor tells every woman, "Hey lady you gotta drop 30 pounds if you wanna be more than a 4!" This isn't about hitting a goal weight or doing the romcom thing where you switch to contact lenses and suddenly you're not a nerd anymore. This is about rebuilding yourself in a way that goes beyond some beauty mag giving you 18 Foolproof Tips To Make Him Explode. Seek out new physical and mental activities. Take an objective look in your closet and see if what you're wearing makes you feel good. (I am currently wearing track pants that are too long and a shirt I've already pitted out, so I have work to do myself here.) Find new sources of stimulation. (Oh God, now I REALLY sound like a dad. Every day it's just my wife and I going, "The kids really needed the stimulation they got from that walk to the bank!")

The point is, you'll keep feeling helpless if you don't find new shit that reshapes you spiritually if not physically. Then you'll feel good about yourself. That'll remain true even if you keep getting negged on Tinder, because you won't have invested all of your hopes and dreams into someone noticing you. Then you'll feel more confident, and then suddenly there's Timothee Chamalet at your doorstep. Nude. BOOYAKASHA. Love only comes when you don't force it, which is what makes it so, so annoying. We really need this virus to fuck off so all the bars can reopen.

Tom:

As I drive around in the summer I see so many houses with volleyball nets. They range from cheap volleyball/badminton dual purpose set to serious 4"x4" pressure treated posts. Does anyone use a volleyball net more than once? Why do we keep fooling ourselves into thinking it's worth the effort? My kids guilted me into the Sportscraft set one summer and it now sits an unused tangled mess in the garage—just like the one my father bought for me.

That's the kind of shit that has kept Dick's in business for over 70 years. I remember I bought a cornhole set there once. I used to get so fucking jacked anytime I saw cornhole out at a cookout or at an outdoor bar, and now I'd have a set all for ME! We used that set four times before it broke. Dick owes my ass $70.

But there's no avoiding the temptation, because kids get bored and a shitty volleyball net promises them outdoor STIMULATION with no screen time. I will never stop falling for this pitch because I remain ever desperate to get my kids the fuck off of screens. I hate to tack on an "especially now" to every goddamn answer this week, but alas. I have spent the past two weeks feverishly brainstorming outdoor activities that we can do in the backyard that don't require the presence of other, potentially diseased children to keep my own children occupied. Nothing was dismissed out of hand. I even said to my wife, "Hey girl, maybe I dig up the yard myself and make a very tiny basketball court for them." We ruled that out for 500 different reasons, but holy shit what if we're stuck here ALL summer with nowhere else to fucking go?! Tom, I'll buy the volleyball net off you. Even if the kids only play with it for 10 minutes, that's 10 fewer minutes I'll need to keep these savages entertained while the world burns.

Gus:

A friend of mine was recently walking down the street and came across a pair of brown wing-tip boots out in front of an apartment. They were set out like an old sofa—potentially up for grabs, but maybe just waiting for the garbage truck to pick it up. He thought about it for a bit after passing by, and then walked back to pick them up and took them home. He says they were in good shape and only needed to change out the insoles. What do you think about picking up shoes off the street? Good deal or this-is-how-we-get-bed-bugs bad idea?

I'd grab shoes off the street. I'm no dummy. If they suck, back out on the curb they go. If they fit, free shoes! There's no downside, apart from possibly contracting footrona.

I live in the suburbs, which means there's free shit sitting out in front of houses every weekend: furniture, lamps, Little Tikes toys, grill parts, etc. The amount of waste wouldn't shock you, but it would still anger you. I have driven past an appealing curbside good, texted my wife that I saw a free birdcage sitting out, and then doubled back to go retrieve it after her formal approval. One time I saw a bunch of cool shit in front of a house and was on the verge of grabbing it when I realized that the items were outside because someone was moving in. I almost stole a goddamn dining chair set from a family just trying to unpack. Not my best moment.

So as far as I'm concerned, free shoes are fair game. Wipe 'em down and spray the insoles with Lysol like a good little boy. After that, they're yours to cherish. There's gonna be a lot of high-end junk left out on the streets as we go deeper into quarantine and families go the full Marie Kondo to stave off cabin fever. So you may as well enjoy the chance to engage in socially distant, legally approved looting while you have the chance. We scored an old bike just this weekend. I scoured it free of germs and lubed the chain and adjusted the seat height for my boy, then he bitched when I asked him to ride it. Little bastard. I should have gotten him a volleyball set.

HALFTIME!

Michael:

Would you rather have penis fingers or penis toes? Normal penis rules apply, they get hard when you're aroused, shrink in cold water, etc. Assume that they are functional and you can still walk/pick stuff up without problems. It would be embarrassing having penis fingers while out in public but penis toes would make it hard to wear shoes if you happen to get boner toes.

Penis toes. I don't want people to see my hand dicks all day long. I don't want to see them either. If I'm still functional with 10 penis toes, then gimme those. Pissing out of them would be an issue, but I'm gonna cheat and pretend that the Mother Penis between my legs can handle ALL urinary and ejaculatory duties on their behalf. Imagine if it couldn't! Imagine if you had to do all that out of your extremities!

For the shoe issue, I simply disrupt the shoe economy by inventing an aqua sock that could accommodate morning toe wood. Or I could wear Yeezys. One time I was at the GQ office and they had a pair of Yeezys sitting around, as you might expect at the GQ office. So I put them on and they were basically socks with soles. You could get a toe boner in these sneakers. Might be a little bit of a squeeze but it's doable. Or I could get the weirdos who make those Vibram FiveFingers toe shoes to make a custom FiveBoners variety just for me. And they would! Sneaker companies love making custom shit for famous people. And with my erotic deformity, I would qualify. I would be the Toe Dick Guy. Pornographers would pay me MILLIONS.

Patrick:

My wife is due with our first child in two months. We are excited, but one of the things we've noticed (and are getting tired of) is that everyone we talk to either has some random bits of advice or some form of the classic, "Ohh, your life's about to change" line. Is there a way to avoid the unsolicited advice from people, or is this just an inevitability having a child that we need to deal with? And, as a follow-up, does this get any better the more kids you have?

There's no way to avoid it with your first child. You'll be a touch more sheltered from it during quarantine, but you'll still get emails and DMs and Insta comments from Childrearing Knowers who desperately need to tell you how sleep-deprived you're about to be. You cannot stop them…

UNTIL you have a second child. Once you have a second kid, no one gives a fuck anymore. They know that you know all the basic miseries of the job, so they can't delude themselves into thinking they're the first people to spring the news on you. They'll move onto some other new parent to torture with their friendly warnings. May as well get back to conceiving while you've got the free time.

Philip:

As a lifelong standing wiper, I have something that I'm genuinely curious about given the somewhat recent discovery that some people sit to wipe. How do sitters admire their work? Do they stand up to take a look upon completion, like we standers? Do they grab their dick and balls to move them out of the way and look between their legs? Lift a cheek and check on the side?

I look between my legs. There's enough room to get a good look before I wipe. My dick isn't a totem pole. I do not lift a cheek and view from the side. My spine is not built to accommodate such contortions. And I can't stand and look because I gotta wipe first. Once the toilet paper goes into the bowl, the view is ruined. Toilet paper wads are the cloud cover of a good bowel movement. Very hard for that brown sunlight to shine through. I do not enjoy the idea of standing up with my ass unwiped. My asscheeks have to maintain their own social distancing pre-wipe.

Bryce:

I just moved to Chicago after growing up and going to college in the South, and as I'm falling very much in love with the Midwest it seems like everyone I know can't understand why anyone would live above the Mason-Dixon. Everyone up here complains about the cold but have you spent more than a few days in the South?? Have you BEEN to Disney when its 100 degrees and 100% humidity?? The only reason places like New Orleans and Nashville are bearable is because you're actively encouraged to be blackout drunk the whole time you're there. Either way, cold or hot, you're indoors for most of the month! Also it seems like people are much nicer up here, people can be passive aggressive in the South. People complain about how expensive it is, but I would gladly pay a little extra to live up here. You're a hearty Midwesterner right, back me up here, the south is overrated isn't it?

I grew up in Minnesota so I can't sit here and accuse OTHER Americans of being overly passive-aggressive. I know Southerners have their own particular brand of false niceties. "Bless your heart," etc. But at least they hand you a jar of delicious banana pudding instead of a Jell-O casserole when they do it. Chicago is the best Midwestern city because it harbors fewer passive-aggressive dickheads than the surrounding heartland, but it more than makes up for that by being the most corrupt and segregated city in the fucking universe.

But we're here to dump on the South, so let's get to that. Professional Southerners act like they're from the REALEST place on Earth and that everyone from everywhere else is uninteresting. This is especially true of white Southerners who think that Black Southern culture is something THEY deserve partial credit for. Meanwhile, as Bryce said, it's hot as balls all the fucking time there. These are people who know HOW to be hot, just as people up north know how to be cold, but that doesn't make your nuts any drier when you visit. As I've aged, I've moved progressively farther south as I've grown less tolerant of winter. So sometimes I'm like Hey, maybe we should move to Carolina. Then I wait a beat and am like actually no, that would be fucking terrible. Maryland is as far south as I'm willing to go. I'll go WEST, but I ain't going south. I can't deal with Southerners who are hopelessly addicted to their own antebellum horseshit, and I don't even LIVE there.

Certain things about the South really do live up to the hype. The food is awesome. New Orleans is somehow more charming, and in more surprising ways, than the natives make it out to be. I even ventured a few miles away from downtown Atlanta and discovered that there's an ACTUAL city to that fucking dump. Plus the Southern countryside is unbearably gorgeous. I visit the rural south and I'm like maybe I should start a pecan farm. Just sit on a porch swing and play the banjo all day long.

Other parts of it are, as you said, hilariously overrated. Nashville is just smaller Dallas. Country music—even the non-commercialized shit—remains a hate crime. Inland South Carolina is a wasteland. And all of the fabled Southern hospitality, while genuinely lovely to encounter, quickly dissipates when you see a KEEP AMERICA GREAT sign out in every front yard. The south is a beautiful place often ruined by its own vanity. The neat thing is that we're currently getting to experience what it's like when the rest of the nation is poisoned in the exact same way! IT'S AWESOME.

Rob:

I've been to a new-ish friend's place for dinner twice, and he has smoked ribs both times. Both times those ribs have been nearly inedible due to him smoking them for way too long. His family sits around the table acting like nothing is wrong while they pile on the sides instead of his sad, wrinkly ribs. Do I say something? How is it possible nobody has said anything to him before? I'm glad to be invited, and the hang time is fun, but the prospect of eating shitty ribs makes me honestly just want to stay home instead.

No one says anything to your pal because smokeboy insecurity is a very real and vicious beast. I've proudly posted photos of my ribs to Twitter and had people go, "Hey man that looks awful" (even worse are fellow smokeboys chiming with ENDLESS commentary on how they would have smoked their shit better), and it never fails to make me unreasonably pissed. I mutter to myself These people don't understand how hard I worked on these ribs! The lighting in the picture is unflattering! I will only accept WANT as a reply!

Barbecue brings out the worst in male pride, so telling a guy his ribs suck to his face is a throwdown waiting to happen. The only real way to communicate your displeasure with his food is by not eating it. Having your dish ignored at the potluck is a very real and painful experience, but it tends to get the message across. Unless you're this fucking idiot.

Brian:

Why does all championship gear look like crap? No matter the league, every t-shirt and hat they give to the players (and sell to the fans) looks like it was thrown together 30 minutes prior. The design is always the same: A WordArt-looking "Champions," superimposed over a logo, in a color scheme not at all associated with the team.

The players wear garish shit because the TV cameras want the word CHAMPIONS in big letters across their foreheads so that the audience at home knows that the winning players are, indeed, champions. The final score, the trophies, and Jim Nantz having a contained orgasm over the mic are simply not enough to convey such news.

That's the shit that then gets sold to fans because a) Fans want whatever title merch the team is wearing, b) Fans ALSO want you to know, from a great distance away, that their team just won a big thing, and c) Fans have shitty taste. They ALL have shitty taste. I have browsed the NFL Shop for extended periods (five minutes), and finding any tasteful garment in that store is nigh impossible. These teams want you to look as tacky and shitty as possible, and they know that most fans are happy to look that way so long as they can wear the $60 equivalent of a gaudy championship ring. The fact that the merch gets to exist is the victory. The look of said merch is beside the point. I'd tell you that's somewhat endearing, but I've met Patriots fans, so no.

Nate:

Has Tiger Woods ever shoveled snow?

No.

Email of the week!

Zach:

A few years back, I dated a D-1 gymnast (this has nothing to do with the story, I just wanted to humblebrag a bit), and she took me to one of her teammate's weddings. As folks do at weddings, we got pretty drunk and returned to the hotel room, where she proceeded to feel ill. For whatever reason, she insisted on calling her mother and then handing me the phone to talk to her while she fled to the bathroom to do the drunk thing.

Upon talking to her mom for a few minutes and reassuring her that everything is fine, we just drank a little too much, my date came back into the bedroom and appeared to be feeling better. This was quite relieving. UNTIL I decided to get ready for bed and noticed that when she went to the bathroom, she somehow managed to take a shit ON THE BACK OF THE SEAT between the hinges. I'm sure I turned an even paler version of what usually I am when I walked back into the bedroom in pure horror and asked her if she knew what happened in there. She kinda shrugged, took a look herself, cleaned it up (kind of), half heartedly apologized, and went to bed.

To this day, I have no idea how she managed to poop behind the seat.

Drink more and you'll soon know the answer yourself!