The other day I was on the phone with someone I haven't spoken to in quite some time. She's one of those friends with whom you can instantly pick up right where you left off and act like not even two days have passed, even if a year has. (Let's just call her "Ellen".)
Ellen told me that she was finally rid of "Jim", her husband of who knows how many years.
"I finally got rid of ol' Number 29," she said. "Good riddance."
Jim used to wear some sort of team shirt with the number 29 on it. Constantly. I don't think there was a time when I didn't see him lumbering around in that thing.
"Oh my god," I said, "I completely forgot about that. That thing was absolutely revolting."
"Tell me about it," Ellen said with a laugh. "So he, and it, finally left the castle!"
Jim used to come home from work at night and actually demand dinner on the table, like some sort of chauvinistic sitcom jackass. If Ellen didn't have his dinner ready when he barrelled through the door, he would mumble something about how he was the "king of the castle" and sulk on the sofa sucking down a beer while Ellen scurried around the kitchen like Edith Bunker, getting his "meat and potatoes" ready.
I told her that I was actually quite relieved, because I'd never been able to get over something else about him that just rankled the hell out of me. It was something physical that I focused on whenever I saw him. It was as if he were synonymous with the flaw, the two of them inseparable. Indeed, it was the way I identified him whenever I had to describe him to someone who didn't know him by name.
You see, Jim big carnivore Jim was missing some of his teeth. When he opened his mouth to order Ellen around, which was often, you could see a big black space just beyond his front few teeth (on his right side), a space where teeth had literally fallen out of his head.
And that was the way I always thought of him. All I could think of was when I was about six years old and one of my baby teeth was just dangling by a pulpy thread, waiting to fall out. It kept getting in the way and I just couldn't stand it anymore. So the dentist pulled it. I was sure I was going to wind up sounding like Buddy Hinton on The Brady Bunch (after Peter punched him in the mouth for making fun of Cindy's lisp) and that everyone was going to chant, "Baby talk, baby talk, it's a wonder you can walk!"
But no one made fun of me, because all the other six year olds were missing teeth too. That was OK. We were supposed to be that way. However, one time when I was at the supermarket with my mother, I saw an old man or one that I thought was old but who was probably only like 30 at the time and he wasn't missing just one tooth, like I was, but several. I started to laugh and asked my mother what was wrong with him. She told me not to stare.
Still, it was hard not to keep looking at him because whenever he would look my way, he would grin widely at me and look like he wanted to laugh at my shock.
"That's why we brush our teeth," she said in a hushed tone. "That's why we brush our teeth twice a day. And floss. See? That's what happens if you don't."
All I could think was that he must've made a bundle off the tooth fairy. I pictured a tiny plastic treasure chest crammed full of teeth, waiting under this old guy's pillow, and him waking up the next morning with a big wad of dollar bills, all fanned out in front of his face. And him smiling that big black toothless grin.
"So, anyway," Ellen continued, "what was it that rankled the hell out of you about Jim?" I mean, other than the crusty 29 shirt and the 'My Home Is My Castle And I Am The King' crap. Was it ... oh my god ... was it ... no "
"Yes," I interrupted her. "I cannot lie. I must tell you the tooth. The whole tooth and nothing but the tooth."
She was mortified, and told me that he'd recently had a bridge made and that he actually looked a lot better with it. Now, maybe, he'd take better care of his teeth, she added.
"Great," Ellen said. "So we both remember him having holes in his head?"
"In more ways than one, of course," I said.
"I needed him like I needed a hole in MY head," she said.
"It's funny," I said, "the things we remember about people. We'll always remember Jim as a toothless dirtball. What a legacy."
"Ain't it the " Ellen started.
"Don't even," I finished.
Today I am entertaining Philip Roth, world class writer, in my posh Manhattan digs. So you'll have to excuse me if I have better things to do than tell you about what I had for breakfast (nothing), the hideous men who keep hitting on me (please, fellas ... as if!) and what all the hepcats are doing down at Union Square and below (posing).
Now get outta here and go do something for the last time ... that thing you swear you're not going to do anymore beyond today because tomorrow's a new month and April 1 is really the first day of spring no matter what the calendar or weather says or does, respectively. Just don't forget to waste an inordinate amount of time coming up with an outrageous, brilliant, completely original April Fools Day prank, too. (Because really, no one will suspect.)
Say what you will about the superiority of the metric system about how all the cool kids are using it, and how nifty it is that it's based on the decimal system, and how neat 'n' compact and logical it all is but you just can't beat the good old-fashioned standard system still in effect here in the U.S. of A. when it comes to its place in songs that demand a rhyme, adages that rely on standard measurement, and other stuff I just don't feel like categorizing right now.
Consider the following:
- Would The Who sound quite as groovy singing "I can see for kilometers and kilometers"?
- This just sounds too involved: "Give him 2.54 centimeters and he'll take approximately .0348 meters."
- What cowboy wants to wear a 35-liter hat?
- All those jackasses having sex in airplanes and feeling the need to tell the world how kooky they are will have to brag about being members of the "1.6 Kilometer High Club" instead.
- Does Kermit the Frog really have to relearn the song about the worm and start crooning, "2.54-centimeter worm, 2.54-centimeter worm ... measuring the marigolds"?
Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to watch this week's episode of One Hundred Eighty Centimeters Under on HBO.
Dear Ms. Because I Say So!:
Do you have an "About" page? What about one of those "100 Things" lists where you methodically enumerate a whole bunch of stuff in a riotously funny tongue-in-cheek manner and let your readers know, within minutes, everything they could possibly want to know about you, including your cholesterol count, your favorite Beatle, and your recent teary realization that you don't just think girls are pretty but that you're a full-fledged bisexual in the throes of a wonderful reawakening of her soul and spirit, and oh yes, that your favorite thing in the whole wide world is sitting on a porch on a breezy summer day in a floral frock sipping from a glass of hand-squeezed lemonade?
You rock! But I want to know what makes you roll!
Love (I mean it!),
Newark, New Jersey
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Thanks for the note.
Please read my archives. If it's not in there, I don't want you to know about it, and, chances are, that's because it's none of your business.
Thanks for stopping by. Enjoy your Sunday in Newark!
Perfection, perfection, perfection.
Ahh, yes. Perfection.
There's nothing more hideous and unnecessary than a body part that's singled out for exhibition. Especially when the body part is one that, even in context with the rest of the body, isn't exactly the most stunning.
Just because the Frederick's of Hollywood in your local mall sells bras with strategically placed cut-outs doesn't mean you have to buy them. And just because stores on lower Broadway sell $10 shirts that have notches that display their wearers' pupiks doesn't mean they have to be worn. These, of course, are only two of many examples/offenders.
Here is one more:
The one on the left showcases the big toe by way of actually hiding it, thus making the excluded toes look even more hideous than they ordinarily are, and the other (sorry for the less than fantastic foto) takes that idea and reverses it, singling out the big toe and secluding the rest.
Most people's toes shouldn't be seen in public anyway, but these shoes ... my god, I have to sit down and fan myself. Pass the ginger ale, please, and hand me a Saltine. I feel faint.
Say what you will about learning to love your own body, but really, nips 'n' pups 'n' toes really look better when they're surrounded by the rest of their neighboring body parts. Don't embarrass them by forcing them to tap dance in the spotlight they really don't deserve.
Note: If you really must have these shoes, you can find them at Otto Tootsi Plohound. You will find a lot of decent stuff, too, though. But remember: You will pay more. This is not Payless. Please.
Don't you love my fun, whimsical, unnecessary alliteration?
So do I.
Don't you love a nice kitchen?
So do I!
There are two kinds of kitchen appliances I covet: stainless steel (think Viking) and white enamel (think 1940s icebox). I like to think each represents a side of my personality: one sleek 'n' ever so moderne (think flat panel TV); the other lost in the days of black and white (think radio with an actual dial).
Aside: I know I'm asking you to do a lot of thinking, but that's OK. Thinking is good. Really. And studies show that it can help you lose weight and keep it off for good!!!
"If I had that kitchen," I invariably say when I see one that strikes my fancy in a glossy magazine, "I'd be cooking all the time!"
And then the person to whom I've just directed that comment laughs and says something tender, such as, "You're fucking full of shit."
"No, really. If I had that kitchen, I'd actually feel compelled to cook. It'd make it fun!"
I love kitchen stuff. Pots and pans. Colanders. Love the gadgets. Whisks. Can openers (hand-held). Love it all. In "theory", of course. Not in actual application.
Because in my fantasy (the "theory"), I'm wearing low-rise palazzo pants, a slinky shirt unbuttoned dangerously low, and stunning mules. My hair is up. I have a zexy accent. Crudités (what a hideous word, no?) and vegetable pâté are beautifully displayed on the sparkling clean countertop. Something requiring sauce is simmering in a pan (or is that a pot? I get so confused!), and all burners are going at once. Of course there are no spills and even the spoons that have been used to stir stuff are clean. All is spic, and, yes, span.
There is no microwave, because that is a shortcut! Everything is done by hand, lovingly stirred. No one's father is coming in to sample things and then put the same spoon back into the pot. No one's coming in to taste the kasha and bowties and picking out all of the bowties. (Of course there's kasha. What kind of Jewish household would it be without a huge pot of kasha?)
Yes, I would cook in that kitchen.
OK, so I wouldn't. But it would make it so much nicer for my chef and staff.
Yesterday afternoon this foursome played on the west side of Union Square. The music was fantastic, the guys were affable, and the crowd was extremely appreciative. There was no doubt everyone was having a great time. Strangers were smiling at and talking to each other. Everyone from a five-month old baby with her mom to an old woman in a wheelchair with her aide was tapping their feet against the ground, their fingers against their legs or arms, bopping their heads, or even doing a little hip action. It was, indeed, almost impossible to not get into it.
Except for one chick. She was no older than 25, runway model thin and tall and wore jeans that were obscenely tight and low. A black shirt. High-heeled boots. She just stood there, slouching, her arms crossed in front of her chest, completely still. Her face was immobile. She was even less animated than a cardboard cut-out and about as thick as one from the side. I wanted to poke her with a stick to see if she would respond. And, yes, beat her with a stick as well.
The group took a break and I talked to the guys for a bit, went to Java-n-Jazz to get some takeout iced coffee (!), and came back for the next set. So did Connie Comatose. Except this time she stood apart from those of us with pulses. She was planted to my right, several feet away, but slightly in front of everyone else. l wanted to see if she would blink if I punched her in the face that I still hadn't completely seen thanks to the curtain of lank brown hair hiding it.
Her posture was so poor that her flat stomach was protruding miserably. Her hipbones were somewhat raw and red (rug burns? I say rug burns!), and the expanse of skin just above the waistband of her jeans looked as if it had recently undergone a particularly aggressive and evil waxing.
Her scrawny shoulders hunched forward, and the part of her face trying to pass as a chin was almost resting on her concave chest. She was talking into a cell phone apparently she managed to come out of her coma long enough to lapse into a catatonic state! and didn't stop during the entire set. To her credit (the only I will afford her), she wasn't speaking loudly enough for anyone to hear her conversation. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if she just communicated via a series of carefully modulated breaths and glottal stops.
She reached into her large black messenger-type bag for a pack of cigarettes, and one escaped from the pack and onto the black street. She ignored it. I was all set to get mad at her for littering, but then thought, "Maybe she's a nice girl and is leaving it for a bum." (See? I was willing to give her a break!) No sooner did I close the quotes on that thought than a youngish guy bolted over, crouched down at her feet, squirrelishly grabbed the cigarette, jumped back up to his full height, put the cigarette between his own lips, and tapped the girl on the shoulder for a flick of her lighter just as she was done lighting her own.
"You're not from around here," he said abruptly.
She slightly turned to her left. I finally saw her face. She was an ostrich, complete with tiny undersized head, beak, and chinless overbite. She wasn't hideous, I suppose, and had a certain "look", but was far from pretty. She was attractive insofar as she was capable of attracting attention, but that's about it.
"No," she said without expression, and turned her head away from him to face the band. (She was off the phone, although only momentarily, by this time.)
"You're from Europe!" said her brilliant admirer.
"No," she said dismissively, barely looking at him out of the corner of her eye. This girl was no barrel of monkeys, but at least she knew better than to let her admirer know she had no intention of playing pick-up sticks.
"Where you from, then?" he asked, still pushing on, full of nervous bravado.
I didn't hear her response, but he then said, "Texas!? Wow!" and I saw a grimace (or was it a smirk? it was difficult to tell!) surfacing ever so slightly under her beak.
I didn't hear any further words exchanged for several beats. Finally the guy said, way too cheerfully given the level of success he'd achieved, "It was nice meeting you!", disappeared back to wherever he originally came from, and no doubt snuffed out his cigarette so he could save it as a memento of his truly momentous experience.
The mannequin didn't change her stance. She just stood there producing smoke. But contrary to the popular adage, there was no fire. Not even a spark.
Just one quasi-political-esque comment, before I forget:
Human shields are about as effective as panty shields.
Carry on ...
As seen in the April 2003 issue of Playboy: A fun way to wet your whistle, or at least keep it moist. (Ohhh, that word.)
Shut up. Like you're so innocent. You, reading Hole and Shaved. I checked out this magazine at the barber shop while waiting for the DOG. And no, I did not read the articles. (Miss April, by the way, in addition to being a complete moron, is also a liar. With curves like hers, there is no way her hips are the 27 inches she claims.)
Dear Ms. Verse:
I really love your site, but I can't help noticing it's not very child-friendly. Would you mind including a little story from time to time so I can share the fun with my son (we call him 'Little Man', LOL!) while I'm surfing the 'net? Thanks a bundle!
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Monica knows it’s not her fault she was born a green pepper. It doesn’t stop her from trying to fit in with the kids in her third grade class. Nobody asks her to play, though, so during recess she sits in the shade and tries to stay crisp. One day the prettiest girl in school asked Monica if she wanted to trade her chocolate cupcake for what she had inside her lunch box. Monica shyly accepted. Inside was a tossed garden salad, complete with sliced green pepper strips. But that was OK. The cupcake was made of Ex-Lax and mud.
Yes, kids, it's the Chrysler Building, as viewed from the sidewalk just off Bryant Park, on West 42nd Street. I love seeing it in context, hanging out with its friends. The photos people usually see of this spectacular building only show the building itself, without any of the other stuff that surrounds it. Tourists probably come here and are amazed to see that it doesn't stand alone. "It doesn't look that way on TV, in the opening credits of Sex and the City!" they probably whine in dismay.
Oh, and in case you're wondering what's at the very top of the building? It's a bathroom. A single room bathroom.* With one of the best views in the world.
*And no, I am not, uh, "shitting" you.
You want me to say something about last night's Oscars, don't you?
Well, I wish I had something to say.
But I don't, really.
They sucked. Blew. Bit.
The somber mood seemed forced, the lugubrious facial expressions put on. The whole thing reeked of a strange brand of poseurdom and self-consciousness.
Adrien Brody was a highlight, however, I suppose, when he grabbed Halle Berry and molested her mouth (hurrah!). His speech was noteworthy mostly because he managed to quiet the orchestra and speak longer than 45 seconds.
Peter O'Toole, also a highlight.
I won't mention the way anyone looked, because, really, no one wowed me. And I've already mentioned Renée Z's cheeks before.
But other than that, I'm sorry, but the whole thing was an amorphous blur of circumstance trying to play down the pomp.
What were they thinking? That less really was Moore?
I used to think that maybe I was the biggest heartlessest bitchisest on the planet. That nothing affected me or got through to me or really touched me in that tender spot known as ... my ... heart. (Pigs. All of you. Settle down.) I thought that maybe I was a psychopath or a sociopath. That I'd veered off the path or maybe had never been on it in the first place. Now, I know that's really really deep and meaningful, but that's not where I'm going.
Where I'm going is this: I'm perhaps one of the most "sensitive" people you will ever meet. (Or not meet. Because, let's face it, most of you I will never meet in real life. Really.) I care about things way too much, or maybe not "too" much but just "so" much. (Yes, there's a difference.) I'm extremely observant and can ruminate for hours on something that so many other people would just dismiss as inconsequential and not worthy of a second thought let alone a first one.
So wait. I haven't gotten anywhere yet. Where I'm going, really, is here: I may appear "insensitive" to some people because, well, the truth is, I know when I'm being manipulated; thus, I don't respond or react the way I know is expected of me. I know when someone's going for the so-called heartstrings, in a TV movie or movie-movie, in the theater (or theatre), or in literature or trash books, magazine articles, or in a "blog" entry. And that kind of cheap manipulation does not work with (or on) me.
I spent a heap of time in acting classes and even in a "theater program" (no, I won't tell you where), and knew, immediately, when tears were being used to manipulate me or when someone was faking any other emotion. I was often called on the carpet (which was pretty difficult, given that most of the floors were scuffed linoleum, at best) for "not taking it in". The truth was, and what no one not even the so-called instructors (the truest embodiment of "those who can't do, teach" on the planet) understood was that I took it ALL in (yes, I know that sounds vaguely pornographic). I took it all in immediately, and instantly knew I was being "played".
One day I will, indeed, treat you to some truly hilarious tales of my days in acting classes, where I was forced to pretend that I was feeling something for someone who felt nothing more than the desire to impress on the rest of the class that the ability to cry almost on cue was the equivalent of true emotion and a connection with the deepest core of "humanity".
"Look at her. She's amazing," the other students would say of one of the actors in the "family" (yes, kids, in the realm of serious acting students, even the women are actors; not actresses, OK?) (and yes, they're all part of a family!) as she curled in the fetal position in a corner of the room, her face red and wet with her manufactured tears. "She's really crying. Now that's acting! That's an actor!"
Yes. Yes, it was. It was a person who spent five minutes outside the room, imagining her boyfriend leaving her for some other skank on the same day as her puppy was run over by a truck and her grandmother was diagnosed with lung cancer and someone told her that her new pink-tipped hair looked retarded, and then coming back into the room to display her oh so genuine and spontaneous grief. Yes, she was an actor. Someone putting on an act.
And I always saw through it. I saw through it every time I was being set up like that. I've seen real grief. I've experienced it. I've seen unself-conscious wailing and real tears. I know the difference. I'm sensitive enough to know the huge difference.
You cannot pull the wool over my eyes. Especially when it's acrylic.
I'm adorable today. You should see me. I'm inside, first of all (obviously), avoiding the beshorted and beflipflopped bebops who stroll mindlessly down Broadway, barely lifting their feet from the sidewalk because they're either too damned cool or too fucking lazy (or perhaps a delightful blend of both!) to do so. It does, after all, require quite an expenditure of energy.
So anyway, I'm inside, wishing it would rain on people's pale toes and mat the hair on their bare pasty legs. I'm wishing the temperature would dip, suddenly and without fanfare or reason, back into the 20s, and all of these eager-for-summer beavers would have to scurry for cover inside some cheesy lower Broadway schlock shop in search of parkas and find none, because, after all, it's March and all they're "showing" now is stretch capris and brastrap-baring tank tops.
I'm inside, and wearing a pink Old Navy T-shirt. (I'm wearings pants, too, you perverts.) I think it's called a "little girl" T-shirt. I'm not sure. (Ordinarily I actually buy the real girls' clothing, because it's even less expensive [notice I didn't say "cheaper" and thus imply that Old Navy is a schlock shop!] and they accommodate my desire for a shorter T-shirt length by which I can display my stunningly concave stomach and shorter sleeves by which I can show off my fabulously sculpted arms.) What I am sure about is that it's just too funny to see me in pink.
But no, you don't get to see.
And that's because I'm such a tease.
It goes along with wearing pink.
See how that all works?
I'm gonna put on my wrinkled cargo pants (hanging low on my ass so you can see the Japanese symbol "tatt"), a tank top, slip my feet into flipflops, tie a sweatshirt around my hips, and shuffle over to an "indie" coffee house in Chelsea, where I'll slouch in a chair that has curious stains ground into its worn fabric upholstery and sip swill that tastes like it's been made by pouring tepid water over coffee grounds from earlier this morning. I'll alternately read my dog-eared, yellow-edged paperback that I picked up at a used book store and the coffee-stained newspaper that a previous sloucher discarded. I'll pretend I'm really into what's going on in the world while blocking it all out with whatever I'm embedding in my brain via my iPod. I'll regret not having brought my laptop.
I know you're worried because lately I haven't been serving up the delightful salad of vitriol and venom (with a side of vinaigrette, please!) to which you've become accustomed. In fact, I know that some of you are downright confused and even flummoxed because I haven't dished out anything harsh in days. So I'm here to tell you that you needn't wonder if, perhaps, I've decided to turn my life around and start embracing (literally) everyone around me rather than keeping them at arm's length. Don't fret, pets.
Why, if you were with me at Veg-In Diner this morning, you would have been in for a treat. I delighted my companion with a tasty tirade about the youngish scrawny dark-haired Jewy-nebbishy guy dressed in a nothing but a diaper, T-shirt, and sneakers (socks? I'm not sure), with feathery white wings affixed to his back, downing bottle after bottle of beer because soon he would be leaving the sanctuary of the restaurant and needed to be good and rip-fucking-roarin' drunk to pose on Broadway during the anti-war protest.
Soon he would be on Broadway wearing, in addition to the rest of his stunning ensemble, a wig and eye-mask (both of which he put on at his table before disappearing into the widdle boys' woom for 15 minutes why he had to go there when he was wearing a perfectly fine absorbent diaper, I don't know) and holding a big pink heart-shaped sign on a stick with smiley-face stickers and MAKE LOVE NOT WAR (so original!) written on it. You would have heard me say, both at the restaurant and upon seeing him at 25th and Broadway, that he was just another lame lose(u)r poseur who just wanted to be able to say at work, on Monday morning, to whomever would listen, "Yeah, I was in that anti-war thing on Broadway, and, like, everyone was looking at me!"
If you were with me today, you would have heard me rail against people who have to look outlandish and have their get-ups speak for them because they themselves have nothing to say. Maybe if his get-up didn't just say, "Look at me, I'm so whimsical and colorful and wearing a big diaper (and carrying this sign as a concession to the protest)" and if he didn't spend so much time looking around to see who was looking at him, I wouldn't have had anything to protest.
So, yeah. I've been my usual self. I've just been out and about more these days, railing against jackassery in real-time context and on location. Out in the field, researching. Gathering data. And discussing it in a live forum with people who enjoy the fresh freefall of venom and bile straight from the source. Sort of like spring water, but much more refreshing.
If you find nothing wrong with parading elephants (and other animals) through the Queens Midtown Tunnel, down Second Avenue, and then across 34th Street to Madison Square Garden so they can be humiliated further at the Ringling Brothers Circus, then you may as well tell me you enjoy cow-tipping and dog racing. We'll never be sharing a cup of coffee, you and I.
It tumbled pell mell through the clear sky above the city and crashed head first into the ground. From the shoulders up, it's lodged firmly in the soil, hidden from passersby. Its sturdy legs, in plain sight, are permanently poised as if to dash off at a moment's notice, a la Hermes (the messenger god, not the designer).
Underground, its mouth is wide open, toothless, screaming, life and limb, to be released, yet not being heard above.
Just another day on Central Park West!
Actually, he's quite lean. Even at 41, he still has his fabulous girlish figure. And even though I just spent ten hours with him, non-stop, unrelieved (except for bathroom relief heehaw!), listening to his glorious rants and raves, I feel as if I could have stayed up with him all night drinking girlie drinks and acting like the younger brother he never knew he had.
I have the best brother in the world and I'm not just saying that because he is what I always call "the boy me". I won't disclose the reasons why, because they are too personal to recount and too varied to count. All I'll say is this: I love you, Bix. And appreciate you more than you know.
P.S. Any time you want to go back to 212, I'm your man.
He and his cane sat just behind the bus driver on the M7 headed downtown during the late afternoon rush hour. He was speaking to an old black man in a hat and suit who sat with his cane across the aisle.
"My wife just passed," he said. A mixture of matter-of-fact resolution and pity-free sadness. "We were together 40 years. February 26. It's been very hard."
The two men looked directly at each other. Neither spoke aloud, but the tacit exchange between them was palpable.
"Do you have any brothers or sisters?" he asked the man in the hat.
Just then, several people got on the bus, and I was unable to hear the rest of their exchange.
The black man got off the bus a few stops later. Through the window to my right (I was in a one-seater), I watched him stand on the sidewalk and look up at the bus toward where the other man was still seated. The bus pulled away.
Several stops later, the other man got off the bus. Very slowly. He stood on the sidewalk looking lost. People with at least 50 years less experience than he had zipped by him without looking at him. He took a few halting steps south and paused to allow anyone and everyone to hurriedly make their way wherever they were going. He stood still in the midst of the blur.
I watched him the entire time the bus was stopped at the red light. I watched his face closely and realized I would probably never see it again.
I wanted to get off the bus and take him to a diner for a cup of coffee or tea or whatever else he wanted or needed. I wanted him to tell me about his wife.
Note: Pearl River Mart recently moved from its cluttered old digs on Canal Street to 477 Broadway (at Grand). I'm not sure if I like it all spiffy, though. There was something more genuine about having to schlep up that old staircase to get to the goods.
First it was Freedom fries.
Now there's Freedom toast.
What's next? Freedom kissing? Freedom maids? Mr. Freedom on "Family Affair"? Freedom poodles?
What a bunch of merde.
Whoops. Sorry. Pardon my Freedom.
Today in Soho, I saw a hot dog vendor.
Ta-da! End of story.
OK, so I saw this hot dog vendor who was quietly manning his cart. He was probably in his 40s, a little guy with darkish skin and a full head of very dark hair. The kind of cute little guy who looked like he took pride in his cart (and his hair). Just standing there, quietly enjoying the sunshine and the parade of people on Prince Street.
Facing him was a guy who yesterday probably stumbled from bar to bar with his face painted green. A regular ol' white guy, probably in his 30s, blondish, who looked like he'd enjoy nothing more than to spend the rest of his days with his "buddies" swilling beer in a frat house. In short, a real dick.
So anyway, just as I approached, I heard him say to the vendor, loudly, "Hot dogs! Are the hot dogs fresh?" And then, raising his voice a bit, "Are they fresh today? Fresh?"
I didn't catch the vendor's response, but apparently it was what he wanted to hear.
As I passed, the fratDUDE said, even more loudly, with a laugh, and slowly, "I. Take. ONE. One haaaht daaahg. Leee-tuhhl mahh-staaahd. No-o-o uhhhhn-yuhhhhn."
I hope he heard me say, as I passed, "JACK. Assssss."
Dear American Idol Contestants:
If one more of you says, "Three weeks ago, I was just a regular person bagging groceries/cutting hair/driving a beat-up truck/going to school in Dipsydoodle, U.S.A., and now people are calling me a celebrity (which I don't think I am!), fans are asking for my autograph, and I'm getting all this star treatment! But really, I'm still the same person inside, and I won't forget where I came from. And I LOVE you! I really love ALL of you!!!", Simon is going to sound positively Paul Abdul-esque compared to me.
There's a lot more I could say, but I won't. Trust me, you don't want to hear it. It would be perhaps even more excruciating for you to listen to what I really want to say than it is for me to hear you sing.
Your American JodIdol
P.S. In a few months, no one's going to remember your names.
cc: Kelly Clarkson
** ** **
Key for Those Who Don't Watch the Show:
Simon: The "mean" (a/k/a truthful) British guy (yes, I've changed my mind about him since last year)
Paul Abdul: Sappy, way-too-congratulatory softie who should just join "Up With People" and get it over with already
Kelly Clarkson: Last year's "winner"
This evening, while I was indulging in a special bag of Purim popcorn, Taxi sat in front of me and stared at me, determined (no blinking) and concerned (eyebrows rolling). He actually looked the way I drew him here. He was pulling out all stops in order to get what he wanted: his rightful share of the popcorn. He knew he would get it no matter what, but he knew he would get it sooner if he looked extra cute and told me how thin I looked and how he didn't mind that I don't sit around the house looking like the soap opera star I am.
"You know what?" he said, tilting his head and regarding me closely. "You look thin. I mean really thin. Almost, I daresay, too thin."
I wasn't ready to give in. He edged in a little closer, leaning in from the shoulders, a drop of drool ready to dive off the tip of his tongue. I didn't budge.
"And I've gotta tell you," he continued. "I love the way you're secure enough in your own skin and confident enough about your beauty that you don't feel the need to sit around the house in flimsy silk robes and high-heel mules. It takes a really special woman to do that. I even think it's quite sexy!"
So of course I gladly gave him the popcorn because I love hearing its soft crunch between his teeth, and when I sometimes hold out my hand and feed it to him the way you would feed a horse a sugarcube, I love feeling the fuzz around his mouth on my palm.
He doesn't even have to tell me I look extra thin or that I actually do look "hottt" in flannel. He doesn't have to sweet talk me into getting what he wants. He doesn't even have to give me his paw, which he sometimes offers as a bonus. All he has to do is sit there. But don't tell him that. Shhhhh.
In my haste to pander to the goyim, I completely forgot about Purim! I'm so ashamed!
Please ... indulge in some lovely hamentaschen.
... well, you get the picture.
Just remember what I said yesterday.
And yes, this photo also has a place in "Clock Watch".
Is this carp stuff a bunch of crap? Sounds pretty ... yes ... fishy to me.
I like that the fish had to shout. It couldn't just talk. It had to shout. Typical New Yorker, that fish. Always something to carp about.
(Hoo boy, there are puns a-plenty!)
Ingrid or Erika? I know I can't have both.
The choice here is clear, though.
I choose you, dear sweet Ingrid (even though Erika was first in line). Why? Because you want me to bring it, sight unseen. Erika, however, demands visual proof beforehand. Maybe she's just being cautious, but I don't think so.
P.S. One further comment, ladies: A simple "please" goes a long way. Please please me. Thank you!
You knew I wouldn't let you down. You've been checking back maniacally ever since this past Friday, when I introduced Timesavers, hoping with all your might that I would let you in on another well-kept secret regarding how to manage your time. Then, as now, I was/am here to serve you. And this tip, just like the first, is a surefire winner.
So now, without further fanfare (because my time's just as valuable as yours, Suburban Mom ... and yours too, Mr. CEO!), I present Tip #2. It's a shocker, so be prepared.
And don't pick up something on the way home, either.
Order in. Every night. You won't have to waste your time slicing, dicing, julienning, or whatever the hell it is you do in preparation for feeding yourself (and your family, if you have one). Slave no more over the hot stove or the cool microwave. Stop it already with the recipes and the planning. It's all such a waste of time!
I don't care how authentic Ladies Home Journal tells you its recipes are; they're not. Besides, I hate to break it to you (I really do, because you seem like nice people), but ... your stir-fries aren't as great as you think they are. Emerald Garden/Joy Luck/Happy Buddha do a much better job in their real woks. Same goes for the Crazee Curry in a Hurry that you've been dying to try. And those homemade pizzas too. Your family just doesn't have the heart to tell you that it's not the same when you make it at home. The sauce is just wrong and the cheese not melty in the right way that really makes a pizza a pizza.
So order in. Always. And if you don't live in an area where there are very many options, well, then, you have to move. (Yes, I know that moving is a very time-consuming undertaking, but in the long run it'll be worth it. I mean, who really wants to live in a two-bit schleppy nowhere town where no one delivers, anyway?)
P.S. New Yorkers, check this out!
Hurrah! It's St. Patrick's Day!*
"Everyone's Irish today!" So go out and perpetuate a stereotype!
Enjoy your green beer, Shamrock shake, Irish potatoes, and whatever the hell else you think symbolizes Ireland.
Make stupid jokes like, "Erin Go Bragh-less!" and think you're original! Make it even more moronic by affecting a really bad Irish brogue when you say it!
And when your breath stinks like beer and vomit, don't wonder why I'm not heeding the button pinned to your shirt, commanding me to kiss you because you're Irish.
You're not Irish. You're just a drunk jackass in a green shirt.
*Technically it's tomorrow, but today is the day o' fun!
This is one many crayon/placemat drawings that grace the walls of the Veg-In Diner on 14th Street, just east of Sixth Avenue. (Or at least it did in late December of last year, when I took this photo.) No, I didn't draw it, but I want to meet the person who did.
If you want to be really creative (and hilarious) tonight when you go out to your local T.G.I. Friday's, order the Caesar salad. When your server takes the plate away after you're done, look up at him and say, with a chuckle, "Look, and I et it tu!"
No, this isn't about me.
I mean, come on. Would I really wear that dress? And with those shoes?
Phrase to Stop Saying Du Jour: "It's all good."
Because, really, it's not.
Everyone's oh so busy busy busy these days. On the go go go go go! They've got places to go, people to see, soccer practice to drive to. Everyone's a go-getter, a hot shot, a bigwig. And everyone's looking for a way to make more efficient use of their time. "Even if there were 25 hours in a day, I'd still need more time!" these harried comedians say. "I should just put on rollerskates!"
Well, because I care so much about humanity, I'm here to help. I have a few time-saving ideas that are guaranteed to free up some extra time in people's cluttered days, and thus afford them the opportunity to fill that extra time with what's really important: watching more reality TV and hanging out at the mall.
Because I have nothing but time, and just adore the irony of offering you time-saving tips in a less than efficient manner, I will dole them out sparingly. My first time-saving device is as follows:
Take an entire week's allotment of showers in one day. You may not think you're really saving much time, but when you figure in all of the wasted minutes waiting for the water to heat up (city-folk, you know what I mean!), the labor of shedding your clothes, the task of working up a good lather, and all that arduous drying off, you can easily shave quite a chunk of time off that which you ordinarily reserve for personal hygiene!
Be sure to waste your time checking my site frequently to see if I've included more tips throught the next several days. Because we all know that people with no time to spare somehow find a way to squander quite a bit online.
(Oh, and you're welcome. As always, I am here to serve.)
I'm always the last to know. Always. I just found something out that apparently so many other people have been privy to for years. And, quite frankly, I'm shocked. I'm going to share what I learned with you here, just in case you don't already know (in which case I'll be happy and relieved, because that will mean that I wasn't truly, literally, the last to know).
Here it is. Brace yourself. Sit down if you must.
Sleep is important!
According to my sources, sleep is important for more than just beauty. Apparently getting some of this sleep stuff on a regular basis is vital to a general feeling of well-being and contributes mightily to productivity. It also gives a person energy. And they tell me it can even work wonders insofar as moods are concerned.
Quite a few people have written to me in reaction to yesterday's entry about the Horn & Hardart automats. Just moments ago, someone asked me what an automat was and commented that the Burger King that slouches at 182 Broadway, where the H&H once proudly stood, is "just tragic".
I told her that, "[T]he tragedy of that Burger King on Broadway is only completely understood when you realize how one sort of fast food has replaced another and how the two experiences are so completely unlike each other as to be truly heart-wrenching."
And then, to help her better understand, I directed her here. The part entitled "Why care about some fast food restaurant?" speaks volumes.
I loathe modern fast food restaurants for a variety of reasons, one of which is that I refuse to abuse my body with that rubbish masquerading as food. However, they not only violate my nutritional sense but offend my aesthetic one as well. Perhaps even more.
There's just too much ugliness in the world, and too much acceleration of our daily lives that isn't really necessary, including eating on the run (or the walk). The DOG expressed it perfectly when he wrote, "The contrasts in eateries you project are reflections of life as it used to be and now the willingness to work long to achieve compared to the instant gratification ethos of the colorized planet."
Sometimes I wish we would slow down so much that the world would go in reverse. My gloved hands and I would applaud that.
Two weeks ago, I took myself on a field trip up to the Museum of the City of New York to see the Horn & Hardart's Automat exhibit. Quite often, I am disappointed with exhibits and leave the gallery or museum feeling less than satisfied. However, this exhibit was definitely worth the long subway ride up to 103rd Street (and on the East Side, no less!) and the walk through a slightly unsavory neighborhood.
Once inside the museum, and immediately upon viewing the first few photographs in the exhibit, I confirmed yet again my long-held feeling that I was definitely born in the wrong era. When I saw the actual artifacts (china, menus, a table and two chairs from one of the older automats, among other things), I felt nostalgic for an experience I'd never even had. I even got chills when I saw the section of the facade pictured here. I don't know how long I stood transfixed in front of it, seeing my properly gloved hand reaching to open one of the doors to secure a piece of pie for one token (5 cents).
I left the museum feeling completely out of sorts. I walked outside and wanted everything to be black and white and slightly grainy and blurred, the way it appears in old newsreels. I wanted people to be dressed up on the streets, elegant, wearing hats and gloves. I wanted to spend my lunch hour in an automat, sipping coffee from a heavy cup. I wanted to deserve a break from carbon paper and my manual typewriter.
I was so taken by the image of 182 Broadway (above) that I decided to take the subway down there to see what it looked like today. I thought surely there would be some vestiges of 1940 left in its facade. I can't describe the magnitude of my disappointment. I can only show you, here.
All right. Can everyone please stop quoting Fight Club now?
Someone's gotta do something about people eating on the street. No, not eating the street itself, which even I sometimes do when I'm ravenous and don't have more than a few paltry sheckles in my pocket to buy some tasty Nuts4Nuts. I'm talking about people walking down the street, eating stuff that just shouldn't be eaten while perambulating.
I'm not going to preach about how gross the food itself is. How the pizza whose cheese has already been slopped off looks like a burn victim's thigh or how the do(ugh)nut is a total waste of time (shut up, Krispy Kreme devotees; I don't want to hear it) or how the soft pretzels here are not the treats they are in Philadelphia but instead taste like the stuff you scrape off the toaster oven rack or the floor of a mechanic's garage. (Not that I would know what that tastes like, of course. I'm willing to lick Broadway from time to time, but that's where I draw the line.)
So, anyway, people must stop eating certain food items on the street. As a general rule, if you would use utensils to eat it at home, you should not eat it on the street, either without utensils or with just your fingers. You should not walk down the street with a bento box, sampling its wares with your soy-soaked fingers or chopsticks. You should not shuffle down the street mindlessly reaching into an open pizza box or any sort of container whose purpose is to transport the food from its source to a suitable location where you would customarily remain stationary while cramming it down your gullet.
What's next? Roving three-martini business lunches? Itinerant dim sum? Nomadic lobster dinners, complete with plastic bib, shambling down Sixth Avenue? A clump of chunky cronies walking six abreast, sharing a mobile all-you-can-(and-will-)eat buffet?
Sit down. Take a literal load off. If you're not going to stop and smell the roses, then just sit the fuck down and smell your smorgasbord instead.
No, the "Z" is not a typo, kids. I don't need my ship saved. I need my ZIP saved. Or recovered. Or something. I'm at my wit's end! I'm dangling at the end of my wit. Help! Save me!
Or, actually, save my ZIP! One of my ZIP disks is now mocking me and insisting that it is CORRUPT. Not just acting like a punk and taking money out of the cookie jar or thinking about stealing office supplies from its employer. No. CORRUPT.
I'm envisioning it running all around the city (amok, if you will), brandishing two pistols, holding random people hostage, and hanging out on a street corner smoking candy cigarettes. Dumping over trash cans, murdering blokes and schlubs just for the thrill, and engaging in all sorts of dissolute behavior, including gambling and tawdry sex with smeary-lipstick-mouthed prostitutes in torn fishnets stockings (the kind with garters!).
So my ZIP disk is a ne'er-do-well. And it's making me want to turn to a life of dissolution as well. Or at least drown my sorrows in a six-pack of Diet Coke (with Lemon).
Can anyone help me? Is there any way I can recover the lost data? Or am I completely screwed?
Please email me here if you can help me. I've had it up to here (somewhere above my raised eyebrow) with this zippity-do-dah mess.
P.S. If you're one of the few people to whom I've ever sent email with photo or other image attachments, would you please send me those files? Than-Q!
Know who(m) I hate?
OK, so I know that's a "loaded question", and I know that the question should really be, "Know who(m) I don't hate?" and I know that the list of people I despise (a/k/a hate) is as long as my arm and yours and yours and yours all put together ...
But anyway ...
I hate the TLC. Not the "girl group" that uses those initials (although I remember not being crazy about them either, when, involuntarily, I heard them sing once). No, what I mean is the Tender Loving Couple. The couple who insists on inflicting their "romance" on the rest of us, no matter where they are. Urine-reeky subway platform? Let's caress each other's flushed cheeks with our fingertips. Doorway alcove on 14th Street, where someone vomited last night after a particularly intelligent night out? Let's stand face to face in our special love cocoon as we wait out the rain and explore the depths of each other's eyes as each of us massages the other's gently undulating ass.
Fancy restaurants, silken sheets, and beautiful parks? Sure, they're all nice 'n' stuff, but when you're part of a TLC, it doesn't matter where you are or what you do. 'Cause anywhere the two of you are together is your own special love lair!
TLCs are particularly fond of displaying their sweet brand of love (it goes beyond mere affection!) on public transportation, but especially the subway, where the other passengers are captive to their romantic gestures. Just the other day, a couple came into the car that I occupied and brought with them their need to share their private love with the public.
Sometimes the TLCs aren't quite old enough to know better (then why the hell are they in tender loving relationships already anyway?), but this couple definitely was. They were each at least 30 years old. But their behavior was more in line with the sort that is often exhibited by couples whose combined age is about 30. And so was their manner of dress. Each was dressed in a crazy mixed-up look-at-me-I'm-so-colorful-and-different getup. They kept looking around the car as if to make sure that we all noticed the presence of the Kwintessential Kooky Kouple.
At first I thought they were deaf because they seemed to be signing, but as I watched them more closely from behind the ironed curtain of my hair, and witnessed their fingers mingling like worms released from a can, I saw that they were just engaging in a special sort of lovers' pattycake. And it was clear that they weren't deaf because they kept whispering the sweetest of nothings in each other's tender shell-like ears and giggling. For a moment I thought perhaps they were mimes, and I would have to increase my disgust accordingly.
But perhaps the most revolting component of their display was this: They rubbed noses. Like a pair of colorful urban eskimos. They smiled close-lipped smiles so fierce that their cheeks' flesh forced their eyes into Renée Zelwegger slits, and, with their blissful, shiny faces turned to one another, ever so gently rubbed their red noses (drunk? or merely cold?) together. Back and forth. Side to side. Up and down. Many, many times.
I despised them so much that I couldn't stand to watch them out of the corner of my eye anymore, so I spied on them in reverse, courtesy of the reflection in the window to my right. I had to look. It was like watching a train wreck. Or, actually, like being in one.
Every idea I have right now is more raisin than grape. Too bad, because I'm really in the mood for a good w(h)ine.
Hasta luego, freaks.
If you know what's good for you (and you probably don't, given your diet of Krispy Kreme do[ugh]nuts and Mountain Dew, your penchant for potent intravenous drugs, and your unbridled promiscuity), you will never ever ever play a board game with me. It doesn't matter if winning is determined by skill or by a simple toss of the dice, if the game is Battleship or Candyland, or any other sort of circumstances ... I'm going to wind up either gloating (if I win, of course) or sulking (if I l-l-l-l-l-looo-[spit it out, Fonzie!]-loooo-loooooo-lose), and for the duration of the game I will exhibit all sorts of behavior that, within minutes, will make you wonder why you ever agreed to play with me in the first place.
This afternoon, I played Monopoly (New York City "collector's edition") with the DOG, and when it became clear that he was deliberately trying to undermine my delicate sense of self-worth and maliciously ensuring that I would regret ever bidding on this game on eBay, I realized that I am still the petty, petulant baby my mother once called a "slum lord" when the tables were turned and the winning thimble was on the other thumb.
Nothing brings out the most unattractive side of my personality than a board game. Believe me, you don't want to see it.
P.S. That's the last time I allow a self-serve bank, too! "This money is sticking together just like fresh bills from the ATM," my ass! (Cheater cheater cheater!)
I'm already "over" these "audio blogs" that are littering so many people's sites. Uggh. So now instead of just reading minutiae, we're listening to it too?
"Hi. I have nothing to say ... uhhm ... I just ate a bowl of frosted mini-wheats. I like the way they are frosted on one side and not on the other. It's like two cereals in one. And ... uhmmm ... I have a headache. And I am going to buy pants today. OK, that's all. Bye."
What's next? Is AltaVista going to supply a voice translation/dubbing service to accommodate this trend? Will deaf people click on the icon and be directed to a special page where the important message will automatically be "signed" for them?
To this audio blog thing I say this (but only in writing; no mp3 or signing necessary): Feh. Kaka.
If you live in this city, no doubt you know by now, unless you're in a catatonic state, that soon the MTA will be increasing its fares.* And while I really don't think the increases are very
fare fair (groan), what really rankles me more is that they are going to phase out the subway token.
Although I'm modern enough to use a Metrocard, I still think the token is a nifty little fella. It makes for a much more valid souvenir than the Metrocard and has a certain old-fashioned cache and appeal that just can't be found in yet another lifeless card that fits neatly into a special wallet compartment.
The token is more sensual. It makes a distinctive sound when dropped into the turnstile slot. It can be warmed in its user's palm, spun on a table. Made into a necklace charm. But the Metrocard? It's silent and flat. It can be worn on a chain around its user's neck along with an employment ID card and even has a little pre-punched hole toward one end expressly for that thrilling purpose. It's just another ubiquitous magnetic-stripped card to be "swiped". Feh.
I prefer things of more substance. Although I don't use them that often, I like the metal tokens. Same way I like actual metal keys instead of card keys. I like the weight of the metal in my palm. I like that tokens and keys can be turned over and over in my pocket. I like that they have shape and texture. I like knowing that their shape and texture are the very elements that enable them to allow me access to what I need. I like imagining the token fitting into a special slot that only it can fit into, and the key's jagged edge sliding into a lock that only its specific shape can open. I love the sound of a lock actually being turned. Swipe cards are so vanilla. So generic and bland. They are the equivalent of a Ken doll's "smooth spot".
So anyway, now I feel compelled to go out and buy a token before they go the way of the dodo. This is the same way I feel whenever someone says that pennies are going to be eliminated. I feel like I want to stock up on them not so I can eventually take them to one of those change machines and convert them into paper money, but so I can preserve them like medical curiosities in a jar. I want a token as a token of the way things "used to be". The way I wish they still were.
The above is what you treat yourself to (even though you have to trudge across the tundra in order to get it) after you stand in line for four hours for this and don't even get to go in because the first 500
losers who probably can't even speak intelligibly and are certainly not good-looking enough hopefuls were all they had time for anyway.
I may regale you with more details about my hilarious morning (frostbite is pretty!) later, but for now, I just want to sink into the sofa with my cookies and my cat and my comforter. Ahhh.
* * *
In case you're wondering what I bought, I've marked it here. Yes, that's right. Each cookie is six ounces. Yes.
For the record (if there is one), Levain Bakery is heaven on earth. You should go there someday.
It used to be that if people really needed sound advice, they would get some tasty Chinese food and wait for the fortune cookie. Or, if they were willing to shell out some do-re-mi (beat me for using that term, please) (thank you), they could heed the age-old wisdom of a Magic Eight Ball. But these days, everywhere you look, someone's spouting off a special brand of homespun advice. You don't even have to go looking for it.
Crystal Light is no exception. In fact, the only reason I even buy it in the 10-pack (and I don't even drink this stuff!) is because each individual "tub" is sealed with foil that offers me the sort of warm parental advice that makes me feel like someone really cares. Not once in all my years crying alone in a dusty corner of the orphanage did I ever feel like anyone truly cared.
What I want to know, though, about this particular advice (yeah, you're gonna have to, like, click on the image to see what I'm talking about), Crystal Light, is what do I do if the dog solidifies his threat with a challenge to rumble, and has the broken bottle in his paw to back it up? What do I do then, Crystal Light? What do I do then?
Because a certain real life friend requested that I bring back the classic, original Jodi drawing that used to oversee this site, and his happiness is more important than mine, I decided to do so. But don't worry. If you want to see the disheveled version that I introduced here late last December, you can still see it here, in any of the archived sections of this site, or in The Gallery.
You can also see the inspiration for Jodisheveled by climbing on my roof and peering down through my skylight between the hours of 4:50 a.m. and 5:30 a.m.
Product 2: Euro-Pro "the Shark"
Turbo Hand Vacuum
(600 watt turbo suction)
Sure it's cute and sleek and silver, and even looks a little like a scary shark if you remove the attachment and view it from slightly below but that's where the truth ends and the lies begin.
Euro-Pro, your product sucks. But not the way it's supposed to.
What a full-blown disappointment this thing must be for the hapless fellows out there who like to indulge in the occasional romance with a vacuum cleaner. Not to mention those of us who can't be bothered to actually lift our bowling balls, 16-pound or otherwise, without the aid of outside resources.
I thought I'd finally found a way to transport Shana in a more efficient manner, but alas, I was disappointed on that count as well.
(And oh yeah, it don't pick up dirt too good or nothin' neither.)
For Part 1 of "Lies My Products Told Me", go here.
I just got in from being out (and also about, if we're going to get specific), and now I'm contemplating the quality of my evening. All in all, I'd give it a few stars out of several, with special bonus points for my not blinking an eye when a young guy at the bar, in answer to my question about how he spelled his name (I'm curious like that), said, "J-O-E-L ... with an umlaut over the E [or was it the O?]." I also give myself a blue ribbon for not saying, "Oh, so it rhymes with Noel!"
I give myself a big kick in the ass for telling him that his coat, which I truly did admire and covet, was "awesome". I never use the word "awesome" in the manner in which I used it tonight. If something truly is awesome, such as the Grand Canyon, I might use it, but I'll just have to wait until I see the Grand Canyon to make an assessment as to whether or not it inspires awe.
I also give myself some sort of honorable mention for recognizing that I am a ridiculously jealous person. Now, I've always suspected that I am jealous of other people for truly enviable stuff, such as someone's ability to just burst out into song a capella on the subway; or to brazenly wear a tank top at night in the absolute dead of winter; or to ask the waiter for another fork because the one that's at my place has crusty old shepherd's pie stuck between the tines, without rehearsing what I'm going to say so he doesn't get offended and think I'm a snob who can't just overlook a little bit of shepherd's pie that's probably clean anyway because it's not like the fork didn't go through the dishwasher or anything. But what I didn't know (well, I suspected, but I wasn't fully aware of it until tonight) is that I'm jealous of other people's blind dates.
I was happily sipping my drink, waiting for tonight's comedy-fest to begin, just looking over the crowd of people, occasionally sharing with Joel a hey-I-just-met-you-but-now-we-have-to-keep-acknowledging-each-other smile, when I noticed that another guy kept looking over at me. He was at the opposite end of the bar from Joel, and kept giving me little half-smiles. (I felt so popular!) (Or like monkey in the middle!) (Or maybe a monkey of middling popularity!) The kind you do when you haven't yet advanced to the stage where Joel and I found ourselves. Occasionally our eyes would meet, but I looked away like the demure girl I am and became intensely interested in everyone else in the bar once even going so far as to smile broadly at Joel so the other guy (very young and a bit nervous looking) would think he and I were somehow "together".
Eventually the young guy came over to me and asked, "Are you Emily?" I laughed what I thought was a womanly laugh but which came out as a hiccupy giggle, and said I wasn't. He smiled, said he was waiting for someone named Emily, and then went back to his seat at the bar and kept looking at the door. I was glad he left when he did, because for some revolting reason I almost felt compelled to say, "No, I'm not Emily, but hey, if she doesn't show up, we can just pretend I am, eh?" With a wink. I also envisioned myself saying, "If she doesn't show up, baby, it is like sooo her loss."
Eventually Emily did show up, and that's when I recognized my jealousy. "Oh, so SHE showed up," I thought. "Well, it's about time. Bitch. Hrrmph." And then I checked her out as much as I possibly could without Emily's date noticing. And after I was done (it doesn't take long ... does it, ladies???), I sat a little taller on my barstool and said, "Well, I'll bet he's sorry I'm not Emily now. I'll bet he'd gladly trade that kinky-haired, no-chinned latecomer for me. Yeah!"
So then I stabbed Emily in the face with a clean (!) fork, took off my sweater, and, in just my tank top (and pants and boots), stormed the stage, and sang "Green-Eyed Lady" ... a capella!
See another bronze cat, here. (Scroll all the way down.)
Several years ago, when I was visiting San Francisco, I read in a book supplied by my hotel that if I wanted to fit in with the good natives of that city, I would not call it "Frisco". I had no intention of doing so, and in fact the mere notion of calling it that made me cringe quite audibly. I thought that calling San Francisco "Frisco" would be the equivalent of wearing sneakers, a baseball cap, and the dreaded fanny pack in Europe. (For the so-called record, I wouldn't be caught dead wearing any of those things here or "abroad". The only time I'll wear sneakers is to/from and in the gym.)
Just moments ago, I found myself reading a few lines of someone's "bio" on her site. She says that she's originally from a large state (I won't say which one, but it rhymes with "Chexas") and now attends school in ... Chi-Town. Indeed, her bio was littered with a slew of peppy Chi-Town references. Instantly I thought, "Chi-Town? How moronic. What is that anyway? Chinatown? Does she mean Chinatown?" And then I quickly realized that I too was a moron (but of a different variety) because it was clear from the name of her school that she meant Chicago. Of course. I'd heard Chicago referred to that way before: when I was visiting that city with a friend and he told me never to say "Chi-Town". (As if!)
So I started to wonder, as I'm prone to doing. Do the people who live in Chicago actually refer to their city as "Chi-Town"? Or is that just as hideous as calling San Francisco "Frisco"? And what about Boston? Do people who live there ever call it "Beantown"? And what of "Motown" and "The Big Easy"? Or are all of these just asinine nicknames that brand those who use them as tourists and not just any old tourists, but the dreaded kind who descend upon their host cities wearing colorful track suits, visors, and bright white sneakers purchased expressly for the occasion ("We're going to be doing a lot of walking!"), toting carefully marked copies of Fodors, and pointing? Does anyone who lives in a large city either as a born-and-bred native or a "transplant" of whatever duration seriously use these nicknames?
I mean, I never call New York "the Big Apple", either in jest or otherwise. Even before I moved here, I was never compelled to associate it with large fruit. And never, when I leave the house to go hither and yon, out and about, to make my way around this city on a little jaunt, do I gleefully proclaim, "I am going to take a bite out of the Big Apple!" So why do people ask me, in email, "So, how's the Big Apple?" Or tell me, "I'm going to be in the Big Apple next month! Let's get together!"?
I will only consider getting together with you if you sign an affidavit stating that you will not to refer to this city as anything other than "New York" or tell me you'll be in "Manhattan". Otherwise, you can just bite me. (I would say, "How d'ya like them apples?", but I generally like to avoid vomiting whenever possible.)
I licked the clock tower when it was lit up like this. It really did taste like sherbet!
Note: For more photos of this tower, go here.
There is a little candy store on West 23rd Street that doesn't look like it can hold more than eight people at once without those eight people becoming more intimate with one another than they'd ever really wanted. Not that it matters how many people it can accommodate, because until the other day, I'd never seen any customers in there at all. And that day, there were only two.
There is a little man who sits behind the counter in the back of the store. He doesn't look like he blinks or moves around much. He just looks sad, gray, and lonely. Every time I pass by, I think he is sitting there wondering why no one comes into his little store. I imagine him saying, quietly and softly, inside his head, "Please buy my candy."
I couldn't see his face the day when there were two other people in his store. I'd like to think his face was bright when they politely and respectfully asked for a handful of every different candy he had available for sale. I'd like to think they bought bags and bags of candy. I'd like to think the candy was fresh and colorful and he and his customers exchanged pleasant conversation, and that the customers promised to come back again because he had such a nice little store and was such a nice little man.
But I passed by the way I always do, barely able to look at him or his store longer than it took to see that there were finally people in there. I didn't want to be there if the customers walked out empty-handed. I didn't want to be there when the door opened and I could see the little man inside without the barrier of glass separating him from my glance. I didn't want to see his deep, sad eyes pleading with me, "Please buy my candy."
On Monday, I'm not going to just pass. I'm going to go into his store and buy something. I could use colorful jellybeans for the candy dish in my living room. And for once I'm not going to think that my one purchase will thrill him so much that he'll begin to rely on me the way a wingless bird relies on the kind old lady who feeds him every day. Because what will happen if one day that lady isn't there to help, and the bird dies of starvation?
Hopefully I'm just going to think that the little man will be as sweet as his candy and that eventually he'll know me by name. And when I pass by on a non-candy-buying day, I'll be able to cheerfully wave to him because I know that I've finally entered his world and bought his candy. Fresh, happy, colorful candy.
(And everyone will live happily ever after.)