Saturday, December 28, 2019


Every year when I write my year-end post I try to think about what made the last twelve months "good." There certainly have been years in which that task was harder than others; but even then, I can usually think of a reason the year was valuable. I learned something and became a stronger person, for example.

I'm proud of those times, of course. We become the best versions of ourselves because of storms, not naps. But I have to say it really was wonderful that in 2019 I got to just breathe a little. I kept myself busy, yes. I got stressed from work from time-to-time. But this really was just such a lovely year for me. I'm sorry if it wasn't for you. I know how that is, and I don't mean to brag now.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

The Top Ten Posts of 2019

I started this tradition a few years ago and I've enjoyed taking the walk down memory lane so I always look forward to it now. These are the top ten most trafficked Stranger posts from 2019. Thanks for making this year so fun, thoughtful, and a little strange with me.

Duncan thanks you, too.

10. Neck Pillow

It was one of the worst flights I've ever had. I was seated next to a couple that was, well, very interested in reading.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

I Don't Understand.

Years ago I told you that I was well into my twenties before it occurred to me that eggs were not a dairy product. I know that seems obvious, but I had just never really thought about it. The eggs were next to the milk and butter at the grocery store so they were grouped together in my mind.

One day in college I was listing dairy products to a roommate for some reason (BYU was wild) and I included eggs in that list. This prompted months of mocking in my house. My roommates would regularly hold up a piece of bread, for example, and say things like "Eli, would you like some fish?" And then they'd all laugh hysterically to themselves.

The point is we were all single and no one wondered why.

That was probably 12 years ago. Sometimes I get into this habit of thinking, now that I'm in my mid-thirties, I probably know most basic things. Like, there's probably not going to be another "eggs aren't dairy???" mix-up at this point in my life.

But then this morning Skylar said something about his shirt being made of polyester and it suddenly occurred to me I have no idea what the hell polyester is. Does it come from animals? Is it made from the same material that gives us plastic? What actually is plastic? Is polyester found in nature or did we make it in a lab.

I have no. idea.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Space Jesus

Today I published an article on The Beehive called "Space Jesus." I decided I wanted to write a humor piece on Temple Square (and Salt Lake City in general) around Christmas. But when I set out to write it it just didn't come out as a humor piece, and instead came out as a reflection on what it feels/looks like to have a complicated relationship with religion (for whatever reason).

It's the most sincere and heartfelt thing I've written in a long time and it's really important to me. I'd love to have you go read it. You can find the article here. And I would really love to hear your thoughts on the topic, whether or not you feel you can relate specifically.

"Space Jesus"

There I stood; swayed, really. I was eight years old, in an ascending line curving up a long ramp into a domed rotunda. My parents insisted we stop by and say hello to the eleven-foot statue up top.

“We came all the way out here for the lights,” I remember my mother saying. “We might as well go inside.”

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Banana Bread

I work at a pretty big law firm (for Utah). There are nearly 200 attorneys spread out over several different offices, plus lots of staff. What this means is there are a lot of people at my firm I don't know.

The vast majority of the people who work for my firm are quite Mormon, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't worry from time-to-time that being a big fat homo wasn't going to cause some drama at work at some point. Fortunately I made some exceptional friends very early on who have been terrific allies in waiting--promising me that if ever I was mistreated, heads would roll.

I've never had to put that to the test because people have been just lovely. There are a few exceptions to that, but none involving anyone whose opinion matters to me.

I have friends in the legal community who will, from time to time, ask me how uncomfortable it is for me, a big fat homo, to work at what is known to be a very conservative and religious firm. They are often surprised when I tell them how pleasant it is--how much I love and admire the people I work with.

No, I don't respect everyone in my firm, but that would be true in any office of this size. In fact, I think it's possible that I'm treated better at my quite Mormon firm than I would be at some place much less so, if for no other reason because the people I work with are aware of the outside perception so they are extra careful to make me feel welcome and loved.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Have you ever let yourself quit something?

We're leaving for Palau in a few weeks and that is feeling very surreal to me.

I've started trying to make plans for some activities while we're there. Snorkeling, kayaking, hiking, etc. 

Palau is known for its scuba diving. People come from all over the world to dive there. I've heard from divers that it is considered by a lot of people to be the best place in the world to dive.

I got scuba certified a few weeks after I moved to Palau in 2012. It was a no-brainer. Almost immediately after arriving in the country I was pushed to get certified so I could start going on weekend diving trips.

And I went. I went diving at least a couple times a month. We saw some impressive stuff. I can see why people love doing it.

But, y'all. 

I'm going to whisper this next part to you so you know I'm treating this like a possibly controversial confession: I don't love scuba diving.

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Meltdown City

I told you that knitting has become an anxiety coping mechanism for me but recently it turned into THE MOST STRESSFUL THING ANYONE HAS EVER DONE.

I guess I thought I was the world's greatest knitter. Unstoppable. No pattern too complicated. That's why I didn't even bother looking at this one pattern before purchasing it to verify whether it was within my skill set.

I downloaded the five or so pages, a little surprised that it was five or so pages because most patterns for scarves are only like two pages and most of page one is just giant pictures of some woman's kids modeling the finished product in front of a barn.

But then I got it home and pulled it out and this is what it looked like:

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Pictures from my Phone & Weekly Distractions

Hi I just took Duncan outside and he didn't want to walk in the snow so he just stood on the patio for five minutes so I walked into the snow to show him it was ok and I pretended to go potty in the yard in hopes this would encourage him to do the same and it did not work and he just stood there and watched me and in the process I stepped in dog poop because it snowed before I could get out and clean up the month-worth of dog poop back there so now it's all buried in snow in places I can't see MERRY CHRISTMAS.

And now, your Pictures & Distractions:
Snuggle times with Mr. Pants

Monday, December 2, 2019

Our Snowy Graveyard

Last week we went to Vancouver Washington for Thanksgiving. Skylar grew up there and all of his family still lives in Vancouver or across the river in Portland so the whole place has become sort of a second home for me over the past several years.

I don't know what possessed us to decide we should try to drive this time. We did this for Christmas in 2017 and the drive from Portland to Salt Lake City through a 300-square-mile blizzard on un-plowed roads was so terrifying that ever since I've been about 25% convinced we may have died and we've just been living a Sixth Sense unfinished business ghost situation. Which would really piss me off considering that I've been going to work and doing laundry for the last 2 years like some alive idiot.

I guess we mostly did it because we wanted to bring Duncan. We invited Matt and Ollie to come along, too, and so we just sort of thought it would be a lovely coming-of-age story about three friends and two dogs who drove across the country and learned some things about themselves along the way.

It all started to fall apart before it even began. Skylar bailed on us a few weeks before we left, deciding that since he was done with school several days before Matt or I could leave work, he would just fly one-way to Portland early to spend more time with his mother. I suggested he sell his umbilical cord to pay for his ticket and he thought that joke was very funny but didn't show it at all and instead glared at me and stomped out of the room and then later his mother told me the comment wasn't appreciated. The point is marriage is going extremely well.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

War & Peace: Smith's & VISA


Things were fine. Birds nested in trees and the sun glistened off of The Great Salt Lake. The valley was peaceful. Almost too peaceful. And then one day a sign was hung.

“As of March 1, 2019, Smith’s will no longer accept VISA Credit Cards.”

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Saved By The Bell: Wedding in Las Vegas

Here's my recap, completely from memory, of the 1994 made-for-tv cinematic masterpiece, “Saved By The Bell: Wedding in Las Vegas.” Proof of qualifications: a very worn out VHS tape on which I taped the film and wrote “IMPORTANT” on the label so my family wouldn't record over it.

The gang of Bayside High graduated and Zack and Kelly have finally decided tie the knot. One problem though—Zack’s dad doesn’t understand and won’t support the wedding OH BOY we’re in for some tension.

Zack tells Kelly about his father’s unreasonable obstinance and Kelly is all like “my parents are cool with this but they can’t support the wedding financially” which is consistent with the larger cannon of SBTB as we recall from when Kelly couldn’t buy a prom dress so Zack took her to parking lot prom.
Fortunately Zack’s mom gives him vouchers to stay at the Stardust hotel in Vegas and Zack has $1200 so the crew decides to road trip to the strip for some unexpected SHENANIGANS.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019


I haven't talked about her for a while, but rest assured, Herminda is still around. I know she's still around because she saw me naked today. Twice.

For those unfamiliar, a few years ago I "hired" someone to come clean my house every other week. I put "hired" in quotes because I'm not exactly sure if that's what I did. Herminda is a good friend of my uncle and for years he would pay her to come do some basic cleaning so she could make some extra money. We're not talking hard labor here--Herminda is in her 60s, and while she's very healthy and would probably vacuum my roof without problem if I asked her to, we generally avoid letting her do anything that makes her bend over.

My uncle moved to California and Herminda asked him if he knew anyone else who needed help. He told her she should just retire and he would pay her "pension" but she rolled her eyes at that and told him she wants to keep doing actual work as long as she's able. So that's when he called me.

I felt like a snob even considering it, but at the time I was working eleventy thousand hours a week and was frankly eager to pay someone to come do my laundry since no one else was doing it anymore and it had piled up so high that I had to buy a second house just to store it.

After one Herminda visit I was completely sold on the whole arrangement and thereafter started speaking in a British accent and asked my friends to call me Lord McCann from then on.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Real Houswives of Salt Lake City

Yesterday news broke that The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City is going to be a thing and my town is losing its mind over it.

Well, good news: I found the episode synopses for the season:

Episode 1: The Real Housewives have beach day on the gorgeous banks of The Great Salt Lake.

Episode 2: Kassaddee throws a glass of horchata at Braxleee inside a Cafe Rio just after General Conference.

Episode 3: Girls' trip to Zionsss!

Episode 4: Things heat up when Makinly starts stealing customers from Erynn after finding personal empowerment at the most recent Young Living convention at The Salt Palace.

Episode 5: Jinnifer puts on a birthday party for her son Baxtee at Classic.

Episode 6: Wheeler Farm.

Episode 7: The ladies try to navigate City Creek Mall during Comic Con.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Pictures from my Phone & Weekly Distractions

Apparently Bozo the Clown died. Matt just told me and then scolded me for asking who that is. Which reminds me, I called Skylar "the ol' battleaxe" last weekend and he said he had never heard that term before and didn't know what it meant. I think this means I married a child? The thing is, I didn't even know this was an old phrase.

This is almost as bad as when, a mere five days after our wedding, I referenced "the original Parent Trap" and he responded "the one with Lindsay Lohan?"

I'm telling you. Nearly got divorced that day.

And now, your Pictures & Distractions:

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Happy Birthday

Yesterday was Duncan's birthday. Well, I don't actually know whether that's true. He didn't come with papers or any helpful information, like a warning label that said "YOU WILL NOT SLEEP FOR THE NEXT THREE MONTHS."

The vet looked at his teeth and assumed he was born in early to mid November 2016. That made Duncan about 12 weeks old at the time, and the absolute perfect size to fit into a baby onesie.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Return to Palau

I returned to the United States of God Bless America from Palau just over six years ago WHAT HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE.

I've been thinking about Palau a lot lately because I'm going back there next month. I think I forgot to tell you that. Sorry. You deserved to know.

For anyone new to Stranger since 2013, I used to live in a county called Palau for work. It's a tropical island nation in the equatorial Pacific and the specific island I lived on was one-square-mile. Also Stranger used to be a Satanic cult and like half the people who were reading this site are in prison now because of things I got them to do through subliminal messaging, like post hundreds of comments on TMZ about how I was dating Britney Spears. So it's probably good you missed some of that. Our current cult is much more docile.

I haven't been back to Palau since 2013. I actually had not planned to go back anytime soon. I thought maybe once Sky was done with medical school and we had finished raising our children and retired and had dementia and I couldn't remember what it was like to live there, maybe we would head back to see some sea turtles.

But one of Skylar's closest friends from college grew up in a place called Saipan, which is "near" Palau (nothing is near Palau) and she's getting married there next month. Sky wanted to try to go to this wedding even though it's 19 light years away.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Winter is COMING

[psttt. Strangerville Live is this Friday in SLC at 8:00 at Kiln. Get tickets here if you haven't already. We only have a handful left.]

The other day I was sitting with Skylar, knitting, having a lovely time, when he said "you know there are machines that can do that."

I think he was joking, but I'm not totally sure.

The next thing I knew I was having a complete internal meltdown.

"What the hell am I doing?"

"There are machines that can do this."

"There are machines that can do the painstaking labor I often perform through blood, sweat, and tears over the course of several months. But the machines can do it in like, what, an hour?"

Maybe they're even faster. I don't know. I don't know where these machines are. But I assume there are machines that can knit and I assume they can knit much faster than my little old grandma hands. And I assume these machines do it without "mistakes that I'm sure no one will notice but me," which is the official name of every project I complete.

And I know. I KNOW. Sometimes it's just about the journey.

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Mr. Hooper

First of all, come to Strangerville Live THIS FRIDAY. (November 8 at 8:00 PM in Salt Lake City)

Look at these hot people who will be telling stories:

And I'm hosting. While the above people are hot, I'm exceptionally hot. 

You guys are going to die when you see how hot everything is. 

Get tickets HERE.

Thursday, October 31, 2019


We carved pumpkins on Tuesday because I'm a go-getter. They were beautiful. True masterpieces.

I'm like you, and everyone else ever in the history of the planet, in that I loathe pumpkin carving. It's messy. It's gross. It's a pain in the arse. Then I eat 300 pounds of pumpkin seeds and the next morning wake up and crab-walk to the bathroom like the exorcist girl except faster, etc.

You know. All the same problems you have with pumpkin carving.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Kennecott Copper Mine

When I was seven, I thought my family was living at the base of several volcanoes. I was a worrier and used a lot of my anxious energy in the early 90s imagining what we would do if the entire Salt Lake Valley suddenly filled with lava.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Let It Snow

We woke up to a snowstorm this morning, which is Skylar's actual vision of heaven.

Mine: I'm greeted by a woman making flour tortillas. We become best friends. We travel together and visit antique shops for all of eternity.

Skylar's: It's snowing but also somehow 110 degrees. He is handed mittens, a comically-large scarf, and is seated next to a fireplace with a stack of books. He is no longer affected by dairy or spicy food and can in fact consume an unlimited amount of each.

I don't think we can spend the afterlife together unless one of us is willing to experience hell, since that's how we view one another's paradises.

Our bedroom in our little hundred-year-old house is odd. The prior owners built an addition on the back of the home in the 50s, including two rooms, one which we use as our master bedroom and another that Skylar lovingly calls "Eli's room of forgotten hobbies."

The name isn't really accurate. In it I keep a piano, two guitars, a ukulele, a harmonica, some recording equipment, bike gear ok I hear it now BUT NOT ALL OF THOSE ARE FORGOTTEN.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Queer Eye

Look. Do I need glasses? No, I do not.

Do I want them? Obviously I do, because they are cute and trendy and I think they make me look smart.

Can you make me feel embarrassed by trying on my glasses and saying "these are so weak! Are you only pretending you need glasses!?"

No. You cannot. I don't care what you think about why I'm wearing glasses. Want to know why I don't care what you think?

Because I look cute and trendy and smart.

Also, why should you get to decorate your face in ways that serve no utility purposes? Do you need those earrings to hear better? No. You don't.

Well my glasses are just earrings for my eyes.

Ones that are cute and trendy and smart.

Sunday, October 20, 2019


This time in Strangerville, we’re sweeping the clouds away.
Snuffy, by Eli McCann (with contributions by Nicole Kragt, Alanna Coca, Laura Lacko, Catherine Yepsen, and Brice Laris, and many of you)
Production by Eli McCann & Meg Walter

Skylar is very relieved that I'm finally done with this episode on Suffleupagus because I've been constantly humming the Sesame Street song for weeks and it has nearly led to divorce.

This is the most excited I've been in a while to share something from Strangerville with you. I think it's because as I've done some research and talked with many of you about your childhood memories over the past couple of weeks it's put me in a very nostalgic place.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Pictures from my Phone & Weekly Distractions

I haven't done Pictures & Distractions since before the war so here you go. I know you've been praying for this. You know mamma doesn't like to let her babies down. And neither do I.

So, yeah. Your Pictures & Distractions:
"hi can we com in end talk 2 u about jeezus"

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Lagoon: Disneyland, But Damper

Meg and I recently asked our boss Clint if he would pay for us to go to Lagoon so I could write about it. He said yes because Meg is a woman and I’m a gay and I told him if he ever says no to us we’ll sue him for illegal discrimination. Now we get to go to places like Lagoon for work and ride around The Beehive’s offices on ponies.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Flu Shot

Last week Matt texted me.

"I guess you don't even care that I'm DYING."

He does this from time to time. Not the dying thing, specifically, but the "I guess you don't even care" followed by some news he's just sharing with me for the first time. It translates to "ask me about this." It's a very healthy form of communication for a nearly 40-year-old man.

I discovered upon inquiry that Matt had the flu. This was a Friday and we were supposed to sheet-rock or something-manly his basement that evening, but since he was no longer up for it I told him I would just come over and make chicken soup BECAUSE I AM MOTHER TERESA but also because I have no social life and Skylar was studying and I'm terrified of loneliness.

So I showed up to his house with a 5-pound chicken and some vegetables. It took until 9:00 to finish making dinner, which I had started referring to as "European Soup" so the timing would seem intentional.

Matt was looking worse by this point. He was shivering and had completely lost his appetite. So after giving him the "AFTER I SLAVED OVER THE HOT STOVE ALL EVENING FOR YOU" lecture, I got into the car and went home.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

First Husband

Skylar likes introducing me to people as his "first husband."

He did this when we went to get our marriage license. He marched up to the county clerk and said, "excuse me. My first husband and I would like to get married."

Then he giggled to himself. This joke never stops being funny to him. 

At the end of our wedding he sighed, said he was tired, and then added, "but I'm glad we did this. It's really given me some great ideas for my next wedding."

Earlier this year a friend asked us if we think we'll ever have kids. Skylar responded, "yes. What about you, Eli? Do you think you'll ever have kids?"

Yesterday he asked me a lot of very specific questions about my life insurance policy. When I asked why he wanted to know, he just laughed and then changed the subject. 

Maybe I deserve all of this. He is still saved in my phone as "Skylar Tinder," after all.

Please enjoy some Strangerville (and get your tickets for November 8 Strangerville Live here):

Thursday, October 10, 2019


Guuuueeeeessss whaaaaaa-aaaaaat. 

(I sang the above in an opera voice because Sky and I just got back from the opera. When the show started he said there was something really familiar about it but he couldn't put his finger on it. Then halfway through he gasped and whispered, "Oh! They sound like your laugh!" And then he giggled to himself for several minutes. I still have no idea.)

But no, really. Guess what.

Strangerville Live is going to be on November 8 at 8:00 PM in Salt Lake City. 

We are moving to a new venue this time. It's called Kiln (located at Gateway, 26 S Rio Grande St Suite 2072). The venue is awesome and we are very glad to force you to locate a new spot. We went and met the people who run the place recently. I showed them my cleavage and then Meg showed them her cleavage and then Jolyn showed them her cleavage and basically all the cleavage canceled each other out so in short, they're still letting us come do our show in their space.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Power Tools

Skylar thinks my feet are disgusting. He's not wrong, but it's still rude of him to say.

He wants me to see "a specialist." He whispers those words when he says them, I suppose to express the gravity of the situation. When I once asked him what kind of specialist, he just said "anyone who can perform amputations."

My argument is that my feet are not abnormally gross. It's just that I run a lot, so they aren't pretty. Counterpoint from Skylar: "then why are the toenails *that color* and why is one, and only one of them, perpetually dry?"

I've gotten used to yelling "AGREE TO DISAGREE" as soon as he starts that sentence, which is often surprisingly enough to get him to stop pursuing the conversation for at least a day.

Look. I can't go see a specialist about the feet thing because this whole dynamic has given me my best bargaining chip for our ongoing general negotiations. When I want him to do something he really doesn't want to do, I can be like, "maybe if you do that I'll consider going to see someone about my feet . . ." and then he gets excited and does the thing and then I never follow through on my end of the bargain and it's really like a win/win situation for us, except where one of us repeatedly loses.

Sunday, October 6, 2019


Meg wrote this article for The Beehive last week and I've been sharing it on the social medias because it's about ME and HOW BEAUTIFUL I AM so how could I resist, etc.

In all seriousness, it's one of the sweetest things anyone has ever written about/to me. Meg writes about the history of our frenimyship-become-friendship and what that has looked like to her during the years in which I came out and started courting* Skylar.

*I hate myself for saying "courting."

Meg likes to tell the story about when she approached me at a craft festival in Salt Lake City four or five years ago and yelled over blaring music that she wanted to collaborate on some projects with me. We had met once before at a storytelling show. I thought she was funny, and was flattered that she seemed to think I was, too.

Meg writes in the article about how we struggled to learn to work together as she became more involved in Strangerville, eventually taking over as cohost when Jolyn entered the Witness Protection Program to get away from me.

One of the most important things I've learned from working with Meg is how important it is for me to be willing to trust people I admire. I'm stubborn. I mean well, and I genuinely love the people in my life, but I struggle very much with change, especially when I feel like it's being thrust upon me.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Wedding Photos

I'm just going to dump them on you all at once. Sorrynotsorry if this post breaks your entire computer.

All of the below photos of our wedding day (with the exception of the first one with Duncan in a tux) were taken by my very talented cousin Heather Wrigley.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Photos of People Having an Authentic Time at my Wedding

I'm going to give you a bunch of details about the wedding with some actual wedding photos, etc. in the coming days. But for now, I want to leave you with this gem.

In the chaos of the morning and the photos with family and friends, someone took my phone. I think it was in my pocket and it was suggested I remove it for the pictures. I don't remember, really. It was all a whirlwind.

At the end of the wedding, my friend Caitlin handed my phone to me, saying she had it for a few hours and "don't worry. I took lots of pictures of people having a very authentic time."

I thanked her for her thoughtfulness and took the phone. On the drive back to the house I started looking through the photos she captured and discovered, well . . .

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Vows. Alternative Title: Ugly-Crying in Front of a Lot of People

By Skylar

I put off writing these vows, because I felt so much pressure. I mean, this is a gay wedding: the masses expect at least one uncomfortable musical number. And I wanted these vows to be perfect for you. They needed to be a mixture of funny, sweet, charming, clever, but totally cool and chill, because, to me, you are the perfect mixture of funny, sweet, charming, clever and totally cool and chill. You are an amazing person who brings so much joy and happiness and princess tiaras and Uintah Hiking and trips and wonderful stories into the lives of those around you. You deserve only the best vows.

Unfortunately, I am far from a perfect man or the perfect vow writer. Just this morning actually, I left the stove on. Yesterday, I left the car running in an enclosed space. I may be trying to kill us.

Regardless, I realized all of that doesn’t matter, because even after you have had to turn off the sink, which I left running all night (AGAIN), you still think I am a wonderful person. Even after we fight over the amount of times I play Dungeons and Dragons, which to you should be zero, you still tell me through tears that I am perfect. To be fair, you have cried thinking too hard about the ending to It’s a Wonderful Life, so the bar is low. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2019


It just occurred to me that probably no one is going to object at my wedding this week.

I bet not one single person is going to emerge from the shadows wearing a jet black fedora, holding a staff, and shouting, "I cannot allow this to continue."

Probably no man who we previously thought was dead is even going to pop up, very much alive, at the last possible second to sabotage our merry pronouncements.

I'm almost positive no former lovers will have escaped from a rat-infested prison cell on the outskirts of a desert town in a part of the country where they still call flip flops "thongs" just in time to drop from a tree, a rattling chain strapped to his ankle, wailing from the heartache of unrequited love.

I'm not even counting on one gang riot to break out mere feet from the ceremony. Not even a small one, upset about the power consolidation of our pending union.

No dance offs.

No knife fights.

Not one group of kids and their dog pulling a mask off of wedding planner to reveal a villainous identity and pernicious plot involving bank heists and government corruption that goes all the way to the top.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

In 1968

This time in Strangerville, Salt Lake City will give you a giant flag to help you cross the street. And then a story about fixing up an old bicycle (written version below).
In 1968, by Eli McCann
Production by Eli McCann & Meg Walter

In 1968
by Eli McCann
Skylar just walked into the house. His face is red right now because he just climbed off of a bike. The bike was my dad’s a long time ago. He said he purchased it when he was younger than I am now, but that’s impossible because he has always been over 60.

My dad bought the bike as he was graduating high school in 1968. It cost him $400. I know those details, because he has made sure I’m clear about them the dozen times I’ve mentioned the bike to him in the last three years. He smiles when he says it, raising his eyebrows a little, and nodding. “$400,” he repeats, somehow emphasizing every syllable in perfect equality, “in 1968.”

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Silly to be Afraid

I'm getting married next week. That's really strange.

I started this blog in 2007. I did it to "house my thoughts, especially the strange ones."

I don't think I contemplated that this site would see me through what it's seen me through. Some college immaturity. Some law school immaturity. Some post law school immaturity.

I don't think I thought this site would acknowledge some of my fears. My loneliness. My confusion. My hope. My miracle.

I'm not sure I had any clue this site would know times when I thought I could never really be happy. Times when I thought no one could ever really understand me. Times when I thought there wasn't much hope.

I don't think when I created this site I had any idea I would one day have to grapple with whether or not to inform this site that I was different. That I would have to one day decide how to explain it. That I would have to hope the people who read this site wouldn't hate me for being whatever I was. Whatever I am.

But it happened. After years of terror, I did it. I told you that I was different, and that I decided that was ok. I told you that I found love. I told you I was happy. Many of you stayed and expressed your humanity. Many of you stayed and expressed your version of Christianity. That made a difference for me.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Homohood of the Traveling T-Shirt

I got in trouble tonight. We went to Matt's house to pick up Duncan because he and Ollie have been on a 7-day back-and-forth sleepover date.

We pass the dogs between our two houses because we've decided they are sad when they aren't together because they are probably distantly related. How we know about our canines' complex emotions and preferences is unclear, but the point is, they have them, we know what they are, and we are willing to grossly inconvenience ourselves to acknowledge them.

Going to pick up Duncan wasn't the mistake, though. The mistake was what I was wearing.

I'm living something of a Homohood of the Traveling T-Shirt with Matt, Adam, and Skylar right now. Our version is much more competitive and deceptive than the one from those novels.

You see, Adam had this t-shirt that Matt stole when he discovered it fit him perfectly. Adam saw Matt wearing it one day and asked for it back because, although not the exact same size as Matt, he said the same t-shirt fit him perfectly.

I took it from Matt's house one day after working in Matt's yard with him and wanting to change my clothes. That's how I discovered this magical shirt fit me perfectly.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Pictures from my Phone & Weekly Distractions

What a week.

Duncan is sitting here on the couch with me. We are watching tv. Sort of. He's more focused on a bone and I'm more focused on this. Skylar is still at school. It's 9:00 and he keeps facetiming me to tell me he's bored. We are getting married in two weeks, if he can find a few minutes to attend his own wedding amid his stress. I can't tell you how strange it is for me to be thinking in school terms again. I'm rambling.

Some Pictures & Distractions:
Planted my new pots.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Wedding Gifts

I can't tell if it's tacky to talk about this so obviously I'm going to err on the side of being tacky and talk about it because if I'm anything, it's obliviously tacky.

The wedding gift process is a very uncomfortable and confusing thing.

I long ago accepted that we've all just decided it's normal and I've tried very hard not to read too much into it, but every time I get a wedding announcement for my teenager cousins who are marrying BYU next week and it includes directions to their "registry," I always implicitly feel like this is a little weird. Then I judge them for where they chose to register. Then I think about how I'm going to show up to the wedding a little drunk, overturn the cake table, and scream "IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN ME." Then I go onto the registry and buy something because I'm a phenomenally good person who long ago accepted that we've all just decided this is normal.

And look. This is not a personal attack on any of you. I very much know that I'm the weird one here. This really should not be an uncomfortable and confusing thing. People get married. We give them gifts to congratulate them and thank them for inviting us to a very expensive party. They know we are going to give them gifts so they might as well tell us what gifts to get so they don't end up with 9 toasters. This is efficient.

I understand that.

You're not the problem.

I'm the problem.

But I just can't get over this.

Sunday, September 8, 2019


On Saturday we decided to take Ollie and Duncan for a hike. We drove to the Uintas an hour and a half from Salt Lake City and found an 8-mile trail on which we would hike 8 miles and Duncan would hike somewhere around 20 because of the constant sprinting ahead and then back to us and then ahead and then back to us forever and ever until we got home and he went into the house and immediately got his ball and dropped it at my feet so he could play a never-ending high energy game of fetch SOMEONE FIGURE OUT HOW TO HARNESS THIS DOG'S ENERGY TO POWER THE PLANET.

Duncan is great off-leash, as long as he doesn't see a motorcycle, at which point he will chase and attempt to eat it. But since we were in the mountains and far from any motorcycles, we didn't have to worry about this.

The trail we hiked was not crowded. We came across more cows than people. For some reason there were dozens of cows just wandering the area. Standing in the middle the trail. Standing next to the trail. Staring us down like we had invaded the farm.

The dogs didn't seem interested in the cows, mostly refusing to even look at them. The cows similarly didn't seem interested either. Nonetheless, I would typically scoop Ollie and Duncan up and carry them whenever we encountered the farm wildlife, mostly because I wasn't sure they had ever seen cows before and I didn't know how they would react.

Thursday, September 5, 2019


For a while I've been the last person in America paying for cable. This is fitting, since I was the last person in America to start paying for cable as well.

My parents were holdouts for nearly the entirety of the 90s. On occasion my dad would have to drive to southern Utah on business trips and if I wasn't in school I was allowed to go with him, which I did. 100% of the reason I went with him was to watch the Game Show channel on the tv at the Ramada in St. George.

My siblings and I were desperate for a fix. We had our cousin Cami stay at our house on a nearly monthly basis, primarily because she would record Nickelodeon onto a VHS tape and bring it over for us to watch. These weren't targeted Nickelodeon recordings, but something more general. She just hit the record button and let the tape roll until it ran out.

We consumed these tapes. We didn't even fast forward through commercials. Why would we? The cable commercials were different than the garbage peddled at us poor folks on regular tv. We soaked up the advertisements, the rolling credits, the previews for other shows referenced but not recorded because of the space limitations of the VHS tape. And when the tape reached the end, we rewound and started it over. We let it just play in the background while we did other things so we could imagine what it felt like to be cable people. Cable people who had MTV on in the background and took for granted how special that was.

Then, sometime around 1998, Bob and Cathie McCann caved.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Strangerhood of the Traveling Snuggie Part 1

Our Snuggie has been on an adventure. It would be rude for me to keep this to myself. Please enjoy some highlights.

Melissa, in Scituate Massachusetts. Melissa added the beautiful text to the front. She also started a travel log book for Strangers to fill out as they go.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Recurring Dreams

When I was around 6 I started having this recurring nightmare where my entire family sat on a couch together, Simpsons style, staring out this glass door that led to the back porch. Tweedledee and Tweedledum from the animated Disney version of Alice in Wonderland would dance just behind the glass while we all watched. My whole family would be laughing.

All of that was bad enough. Disney films from that era--whatever that era is--were indistinguishable from horror films of today.

Looking at you, Fantasia.

Sunday, August 25, 2019


Today, my story from our most recent Strangerville Live. Check it out on Strangerville--written version below:

This time in Strangerville, a discussion about “Oh, The Places You’ll Go.” Then Eli takes the Strangerville Live stage to talk about the time he called 911 on a door-to-door salesman.
Door-to-Door, by Eli McCann
Production by Eli McCann & Meg Walter

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Neck Pillow

I don't travel well. Truly.

I'm talking about the actual act of traveling. Not being in a different place. I like that part, mostly. Depending on the place. And how old I feel. And how much I'm liking my own bed at the moment.

But the act of getting myself from one place to the next = not a thing I do well.

Whenever we have to fly somewhere Skylar bribes me with treats and compliments in a usually fruitless effort to keep me from becoming, as he calls it, "Mr. Cranky Pants" by the time we land at our destination.

Flying just takes a lot out of me. The hauling of bags. The being eyed suspiciously by people who are paid to weed out terrorists. The airport energy, which can only be described as "fatigued panic." The waiting. The climbing into a confined space that can fly for a reason that literally no one in the world understands and science can't explain. The arm-to-arm contact with a stranger who is transmitting a personal dose of fatigued panic. The sitting for sometimes many hours. The recycled air. The looming fear that at any given moment we could all be dead and there's literally nothing any of us can do about it. The waiting on a hot plane for the fatigued panicky masses to unload.

AND THEN YOU AREN'T EVEN AT YOUR DESTINATION because you still have to navigate another airport and whatever chaos surrounds your airport transportation.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

To Be Seen

I kept myself busy throughout my life as a coping mechanism. If I was too busy to stop and think, I would be too busy to be afraid. If I was too busy to stop and think, I would be too busy to suffocate from my cognitive dissonance. If I was too busy to stop and think, I would be too busy to have to grapple with being gay.

So I absorbed myself in dozens of hobbies and I signed up for everything. In high school I ran cross country and track & field, I sang (badly) in the school choir, I went to every school activity, and I packed my life with social events--as many as I could find.

In college I took a full class load and worked sometimes as many as three jobs at once. "I like being busy," I would tell people when they asked me how I had the energy to do everything I was doing.

The truth was I didn't like being that busy. I didn't like having a plate so full of tasks, many I didn't really enjoy doing, that I constantly felt overwhelmed. I didn't like not sleeping. It was stressful. But I was terrified of the alternative.

I would watch my friends guard their free time and I would feel jealous of them. Then I'd watch them get married and slip away. So I would make myself even busier, busy enough that I wouldn't have time to think about what my future looked like.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019


There's a grocery store chain in Utah called REAMS, and this place is a trip.

First of all, this is what it looks like on the outside:

No, that picture is not from the early 80s. That is what REAMS and the cars currently parked in front of it look like today.

At REAMS, it is always Utah in 1983.

There was a REAMS down the street from my house when I was growing up. It was our go-to store. Why wouldn't it be? In one single stop you could buy cantaloupe, one of those giant rainbow jawbreakers, and jeans.

Monday, August 12, 2019

A Night of Rage

Clint Betts runs The Beehive so he's basically our big scary boss. We made him tell a story at Strangerville Live, and this might be the funniest thing to ever come out of Spanish Fork Utah. Please enjoy.

This episode also includes some only slightly depressing discussion from me and Meg, prompted partly by a beautiful thing she wrote last week. Take a look, if you haven't already.

This time in Strangerville, a conversation about how to deal with depressing news. Also, a man takes the Strangerville Live stage to talk about a night his small Utah town will never forget.
A Night of Rage, by Clint Betts
Production by Eli McCann & Meg Walter

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Engagement Photos

My very talented soon-to-be brother-in-law, Brady, visited us last month. Skylar's sisters and their children came as well. For a full week, somewhere around 84 people were staying in my house. The fact that we didn't all contract meningitis was a true Pioneer Day miracle.

Brady is a photographer, and since he heard that Utah didn't have any of those, he decided to bring his camera on the trip so he could find out in person how completely unphotogenic I am.

I'm not kidding about this. It's a true curse. I should be compensated for it somehow. They should let me board planes first and skip the line at Disneyland.

It doesn't matter how I'm looking or how well-rested I am or how many times I've had the stomach flu in the last month, the moment a camera gets pointed at me I transform into Sloth from The Goonies.

Basically I'm trying to tell all of you who have never seen me in real life that I'm incredibly hot. You would totally faint if you saw me. Srsly.

Skylar doesn't understand my problem. You could snap a picture of him from a moving vehicle just after he passed out in a pool of his own vomit and it will somehow look like he's getting ready to walk the red carpet at the Oscars.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Science Fair

After a couple of weeks off, we are back with more Strangerville. And in happy news, the Strangerville Podcast is now a part of The Beehive. Pretty much all that means is we've sold our souls and Meg and I are now paid $1,000,000 per episode. That, and we have re-branded.

Please enjoy a truly exceptional story from our most recent Strangerville Live (written version below).

This time in Strangerville, simultaneously the best and worst karaoke to ever travel the seas. Also, a woman takes the Strangerville Live stage to talk about a science fair mishap.
Time Machine, by Alisa Van Langeveld
Production by Eli McCann, Meg Walter, & The Beehive

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Pictures from my Phone & Weekly Distractions

I'm getting yelled at right now because I just admitted to Skylar that the reason Duncan got up in the middle of the night last night and wanted to play was because I woke up first had to give him so much tickles. So I better go. But anyway, enjoy some Pictures & Distractions:
They took our photos for The Beehive. Sorry if my hair broke your computer.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Wedding Venue

Our wedding is in like two months which somehow simultaneously sounds stressfully close and impossibly far away.

Oh, in case you stopped reading Stranger for a few years and you just suddenly returned to this post, long story short, I got a puppy, chose to become gay, got engayged to a man, and then together we formed the Cult of the Metagalactic Witches of the Fourth Order. Everyone who reads this site direct deposits their entire paycheck every two weeks into a bank account we set up to cover the cost of living for our invisible immortal leader, Liza Spinnelli. And once a year we have a potluck retreat in Ohio where we wear matching t-shirts and play a nude game of steal the flag.

Look. Normally I'm the stress case. Normally I'm the one who is like WHAT IF WE DIE and Skylar is the one who is like WHO CARES THEY HAVE CANDY and then we get into the nice man's van because I'm older and more tired so I give in.

But we are having a total role reversal here because every two hours Skylar calls me and screams into the phone indecipherable nonsense in which I occasionally make out words like "flowers" and "cake" and "Liza Spinnelli."

Last month he nearly had a nervous breakdown because we hadn't yet decided exactly how many threads would be used to hand weave a napkin no one would ever see. So he called the venue and asked if we could come have a meeting to "just go over everything."

Sunday, July 28, 2019

It's Raining Men

I say that I’m not a cruise person. That doesn’t mean I didn’t have a good time last week with all 6,000 members of my family on a boat in Alaska. But the good time was had in spite of the boat, not because of it.

It’s probably because I’m a snob that I say this. Not generally. I don’t think I’m a general snob. I think I’m a travel snob.

I’ve got a friend who has a theory that everyone is a snob in at least one way. Even the most laid back person has at least one thing they are a snob about. Maybe you’re a food snob or a movie snob or something really specific, like a toothpaste snob or a Dr. Who snob. We all have at least one thing about which we are particular to the point that we almost subconsciously look down on others for having different (read, worse) taste.

Well, I’m a travel snob.

That doesn’t mean I stay in the Ritz and fly first class. Being a travel snob for me means seeing the world without being a “tourist,” whatever that means. It’s about going to places lazy people won’t deign to suffer. Places where you probably won’t get giardia from a hut in a town not found on maps.

I think the first time I ever even saw a cruise ship was in 2016. My friend Adam and I were in Helsinki and we needed to get to Estonia. We found out you could purchase one-way tickets across the water on a cruise ship that was making stops in both places. It was a three-hour or so ride. We, the temporary-ticket holders, were ushered to the buffet dining area of the ship to find a seat at some table. We sat with the cruisers, our noses slightly upturned, as they avoided us because we hadn't showered in a few days. 

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Yahoo! Answers XIV

I've been saving this for a while. Please cast your vote for your favorite answer. There are some WINNERS here.

Question 1: If the Titanic sinking really happened, why didn't the people who died ever say anything about it? I just think it's suspicious that not a single one of them ever talked about their experience.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Pioneer Day: The World's Greatest Holiday


“What the hell?”

That’s all the email said. It came from someone in California. It was 2017. The emailer and I knew one another through work and had developed enough of a friendly relationship that he could send me an email like that.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Yard-Life Crisis

Skylar and I had a midlife crisis about our yard and in the last two weeks we have used all of your college funds to toil and labor our Earth.

I'm sorry. I know you wanted to be astronauts. But you're just going to have to settle to be asstronauts instead, which is a job waiting tables at a gay-themed restaurant over by the airport.

I don't remember exactly how it started, but I think it was something Skylar said. We've had an ongoing fight about our landscaping because we have completely competing visions and tastes for this sort of thing. I want it to look like if Walt Disney designed a garden for Joseph Stalin, with straight lines, perfect symmetry, not a thing out of place, and ongoing mysterious disappearances of my political enemies.

But if you ask Skylar what he wants, he's like "IT MUST LOOK LIKE NO HUMAN HAS EVER EXISTED." Skylar wants an organized mess. He wants the equivalent of sexy bed head for the yard.

Because we have a total inability to see eye-to-eye or compromise MARRIAGE IS GOING TO BE SO GREAT we have been at a stand-still all year, vetoing one another's ideas, and getting nothing done in the process.

Until two weeks ago. I had finally had it with this, and so had Skylar. So we had a conversation wherein we discovered that we both really just wished our yard looked like our neighbor Lynne's yard. Lynne has somehow captured both of our conflicting tastes at once. Her yard is like if Disney gave Stalin bed head. And then murdered his political acquaintances.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Zebra Down

Strangerville Live last Friday was amazing ifwedosaysoourselves. A million thank yous for helping us pack the house and have really one of the most fun evenings of my life. Also, Meg is a top five funniest person in the world. (The other 4 are my mother, the cashier at the grocery store down the street from me, Skylar, Jan Terri, and Catherine O'Hara).

Today, please enjoy Meg's story from our show as a part of this episode of Strangerville (written version of her story also below).

This time in Strangerville, Meg and Eli talk about how the pioneers definitely had it worse. And Meg takes the Strangerville Live stage to tell us about her zebra-print sports bra.
Zebra Down, by Meg Walter
Production by Eli McCann & Meg Walter

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Pictures from my Phone & Weekly Distractions

It's about 24 hours before our show. I told Meg and Jolyn I don't know what to wear so they've been having me text them pictures of possible outfits I could wear. Meg finally chose something. So if you don't like what I'm wearing tomorrow, please @ Meg, which is a thing the kids do when they're mad.

And also, come to our show. Get tickets here. It's going to be fun. I half promise.

And now, your Pictures & Distractions:

He had a stressful morning so we went and got a puppichino.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019


The other night I watched Jaws and I decided to live Tweet my experience and I'm feeling lazy and some of you still refuse to follow me on Twitter BECAUSE YOU DON'T MIND COMMITTING HATE CRIMES and I'm frantically trying to prepare for our AMAZING SHOW in SLC this Friday (get tickets here, please. Meg keeps yelling at me because I'm not popular enough to sell out Madison Square Garden.).

So, here's my experience watching Jaws for the very first time. Also, what "old" movie do I need to see next?

Sunday, July 7, 2019

The Alexa

(I know. I KNOW. I'm a broken record. But this is the last week. Strangerville Live is THIS FRIDAY. Please come. Meg is telling an embarrassing story. And I'm telling a story I've been meaning to tell on the stage for four years but I couldn't quite figure out how to do it until recently. Plus there will be balloons and candy (if you bring them). Get your tickets at THIS LINK. Seriously. Go do it right now. We'll wait for you to come back before we start gossiping about The Suzzzzzz and her new face tattoo.)

When Skylar talks to "The Alexa," as she is known in our home, he enunciates and speaks in a formality usually only reserved for an audience with the queen.

Skylar finds talking to The Alexa very overwhelming. If he pauses for too long while initiating a command, she gives up and starts asking him questions, which makes him lose his concentration and start yelling, which makes The Alexa more confused, which makes him yell even more. Basically I'm saying Skylar and Alexa need couple's counseling.

I can't really blame him for the frustrations. We currently have a set of lights in the house called "Christmas" on The Alexa because we had them set up last December and we used their associated devices for the Christmas tree and other Christmas lights. We've been too lazy to change the name of these things (and I frankly don't even know how to do it) so now when we want to turn on the lamps that are plugged into these devices or use these bulbs we have to ask The Alexa to "turn on Christmas." This would work fine if she didn't get confused nearly 50% of the time and start playing Christmas music on volume 10.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

8 Seconds of Heaven

My sister Krisanda called me last week and left a voicemail to invite me to a school function for my niece, Kate. It was an assembly, with music. Kate is in the fourth grade. I assume this was the Utah celebratory history assembly—the same one I participated in when I was in fourth grade in nineteen hundred and mumble mumble.

Side note, my new thing is to say twentieth century years as “nineteen hundred” such and such because it always makes people look just a little puzzled, but then they never ask me about it.

Anyway, since I’m uncle of the year, I totally forgot to respond to my sister or to put the assembly in my calendar so I just didn’t go.

Look. I have somewhere between 8 and 20 nieces and nephews. I love them all, but I just can’t keep track of the stuff and things anymore. How did that lady who lived in a shoe do it. It must be different when they’re your own kids. And when you live in a shoe. You probably don’t even have to have a job to afford to live in a shoe. You can just spend all of your time learning your kids names and going to their state propaganda assemblies.

The point is, I’m a suckface who forgot his family.

I'm not sure how it has already been 25 years since I participated in the Utah assembly. We practiced the hell out of our recorders in preparation. The class was ecstatic the day recorder rehearsal arrived because it was something different and because what ten-year-old wouldn't love the chance to own something that makes a very loud and obnoxious noise when you blow into it?

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Life is Always Sunny in Palau

For Strangerville this week I decided to share a story about Palau. The written version of the story may be found below. Please enjoy. And also, don't forget to grab your tickets to Strangerville Live, July 12. Meg has decided to tell a story. Please come sit on the front row and clap really enthusiastically. Grab tickets here.

This time in Strangerville, Meg and Eli talk their weird phobias, Eli shares a story about what moving to “paradise” really looks like, and then there’s an unexpected therapy session for which we don’t apologize.
Life is Always Sunny in Palau, by Eli McCann (including the cruddy music)
Production by Eli McCann & Meg Walter
Audio Playe

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

And That's OK

We're out on the patio. Skylar is studying. He decided to pursue a masters degree in the summers because apparently he's not sufficiently exhausted by medical school. This seems insane to me, but he's young so he can probably handle it.

I'm exhausted enough for the both of us. I've been working nights and weekends for much of the year. I'm supposed to be up for partner at my firm later this summer. How did I get that old? Wasn't I just sitting on a bed in my shared room in college creating a blog on my 15-pound laptop so I could tell my family what I was up to?

A few weeks ago I started crying in my office for absolutely no reason. It was 11:00 PM and I just started crying. And then I started laughing because I wasn't sure why I was crying. Then I packed up my stuff and drove home.

Skylar was studying when I got there. He was sitting on the couch, Duncan curled up next to him. It was strange how guilty I felt to just be getting home. I never used to feel that way when there was nothing waiting for me at home. I had gotten really used to nothing waiting for me at home.

We went to bed, and slept hard, waking up the next morning to do it all again.

I wondered that day if I was wasting my life doing things that made me feel exhausted. I thought about the same quandary I've considered a hundred times before. What am I actually accomplishing? Am I failing? Am I helping people? Am I helping my family? Am I helping myself?

Am I just wasting my life doing things that made me feel exhausted to no end?

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Britney Spears, Crossroads

(Hola. Strangerville Live is on July 12. I had a dream last night that I fell asleep during the show and when I woke up everyone had already left and Meg said I slept through my own story and so we had to give everyone their money back. I'm just glad we have a good return policy in my dreams. Get your tickets at THIS LINK.)

It suddenly occurred to me that I had never seen Britney Spears's 2002 cinematic masterpiece Crossroads so this morning I pulled up what the kids are calling the Youtubes and I watched.

Not the whole thing, for that is probably illegal, and stuff. But I found clips, and let me tell you something about Britney Spears's 2002 cinematic masterpiece Crossroads: this is not a great film.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Pictures from my Phone & Weekly Distractions

Hola. This is a reminder that we've got a Strangerville Live show coming up on July 12. Get your tickets at this link. It's going to be magical. Especially if you bring your magic sets and do some tricks for us.

Also, I think I have shingles again! Merry Christmas.

Please enjoy some Pictures & Distractions:
He likes to go outside so he can just stand at the window looking in at us.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

How picking up the phone has saved me.

I have a new thing: I call people when they send me angry emails at work instead of replying to the email. Truly, for me, the most exhausting part of being a lawyer is the constant contention, which, by the way, is totally unnecessary.

The best lawyers I know are not jerks. Period. They don't yell. They aren't rude to opposing counsel. They don't snap at people. They don't send long aggressive threatening emails.

They don't have to do those things because they are smart and effective without turning into the worst versions of themselves. Whenever I hear people brag that they hired an "aggressive attorney who scares people" I immediately think, "yeah, and he probably sucks and over-bills you." (Yes, it's always a he.)

I'm letting you in on this little secret because I like you guys. I've seen a lot of lawsuits in the last decade. Most of them go on much longer than they should because the attorneys are jerks to each other. They are jerks to each other who fight tooth and nail over everything. So their clients end up paying thousands of dollars just so two complete jackasses with monster egos can file long angry motions and responses over some meaningless thing they should have just compromised on, like a short deadline extension or providing some document that is clearly relevant to the case.

The clients don't benefit. They sit there, smugly, happy that their attorney is yelling at someone on their behalf, totally unaware that they are paying an astronomically-unnecessary amount of money for this service that is most definitely delaying a resolution of their case.