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Lazy writing, such as the substitution of “u” for “you” and “2” for “to”, the use of all lowercase, and inattention to punctuation, is the equivalent of slouchy posture and does as much damage to the mind as the slouch does to the body. Sure, it may be a shortcut, easier to effectuate and require less effort than the proper form, but in the long run this laziness leads to a loss of mental acuity and a rise in spine problems. Straighten both out, damn it, and you can easily avoid a bleak future as a stuttering, sputtering, scoliotic mess.
Dear Highway Menace,
Congratulations on being a self-centered speed demon hellbent on arriving at your destination a full three seconds ahead of everyone else on the road. You should know that flashing your turn signal on, mid-swoop, supposedly as a concession to being a considerate human being, is about as courteous as apologizing to someone as you repeatedly slap him across the face.
Please know that when I keyed the driver’s side door of your race-car half an hour later, after diverting my own path to follow you to Houlihan’s, my whispered apologies were profuse and sincere.
It can’t be good news when an obviously new commode is piled atop a curbside heap of trash awaiting collection. I waver between deeming its user unfortunate to require it and fortunate not to be connected to invasive devices that obviate the need for any sort of toilet. Either way, indignity slaps my face, and I catch my breath at the sight of the seemingly casual discard of such intimate, telling apparatus. “I’m so sorry,” I whisper to the unknown deceased, whose body I envision being removed from the apartment building in a bag not unlike that containing the trash.
From my bus window, I get an eyeful of an office alcove across the street. Fluorescent lights whose flicker sickens the skin, haphazard paper-stacks atop a metal desk trying to cheer itself with a small vase and a picture frame. It’s too early for the alcove’s occupant to be there, but I know it’s a woman, and under her desk she’s got high heels she never takes home, pennies in the center desk drawer, and an emergency granola bar by the phone. Does she ever think, "Yeah, it blows, but I have a window, and it overlooks Central Park South!"?
She’s convinced he dumped her because her name didn’t end in "a".
"Look at the facts," she says. "Two days after dumping me, he started seeing this chick named Miranda. When he introduced her to my sister – of all people! – she told him she preferred to be called Randi. And sure enough, she never heard from him again."
More proof, I ask?
"He asked out my yoga instructor, Barbi, but insisted on calling her Barbara!"
At next session, she’s beaming. "I’m having coffee with him later!"
"Are you sure that’s what you want, Mandy?"
"Uhm, it’s Amanda now," she says.
“So, how’s your love life?” my landlord asks, standing in the doorway to my apartment, after telling me how he’ll repair the bathroom ceiling.
I’d be taken aback about 8% if he didn’t live in the building (just above me) and didn’t always engage me in all sorts of conversation about anything and everything, any and every time our paths meet.
“What, you can’t hear through my ceiling/your floor?” I want to say, with or without a wink.
Instead I tell him it’s fabulous fabulous, and “we’re” going to Milwaukee for Christmas!
And I know he’s thinking about the ceiling/floor.
“After a while, it’s kinda boring,” Reggie says, his yoyo dying in an end-of-string spin.
I’d suggested, the week before, that Reggie, paralyzed by too much “thinking”, start a hobby that didn’t involve too much thought, to “get him out of his head”.
“It’s a yoyo,” I say. “It won’t move the earth.”
“No, I mean dating strippers,” he says. “Y’know the fantasy of librarians removing their glasses, undoing their hair, and swinging around poles in flashing red light? Well, I fantasize that the strippers put on glasses, pin up their hair, and read aloud from encyclopedias under fluorescent lighting.”
We had Shrdze for only a few months before we brought Shimmer home to be her “brother”. Although she was a Lhasa Apso and he an Irish Setter (a runt and a giant in their respective breeds!), they had no idea they weren’t biologically related and loved each other fiercely for the 11 years they lived together. On February 3, 1986, my parents found Shrdze’s tiny white body underneath their bed, in a pool of what could best be described as molasses. Shimmer had no clue that his “big sister” wasn’t just sleeping, and tried to lick her awake.
Continued . . .
The first week after Shrdze’s death, Shimmer thought she was playing hide-and-seek, and sniffed all around the house for her, particularly in the spots where he was used to finding her, such as under the bed where she was found dead.
“Come on, guys,” he seemed to say with his customary tongue-lolling smile and rolling eyebrows. “Where is she? A little hint, maybe?”
The second week, he realized something was not quite right, and parked his enormous red body in the living room, where he didn’t budge, refusing to eat or look for his lost friend.
It was no longer a game. Shimmer knew the truth: that no matter where he looked or for how long, he wasn’t going to find Shrdze. His big red heart was broken.
Two weeks to the day after Shrdze’s death, my dad sat on the living room floor, cradling as much of Shimmer’s enormous body as he could on his own large lap, trying to squeeze water into his dry mouth with a new kitchen sponge.
I could barely see through my tears as I bolted upstairs to my bedroom, which had become my hideaway more than ever.
All is quiet in my bedroom. All is quiet downstairs, throughout the house. The quiet in the living room is so loud, however, that I want to turn on Queen’s “Jazz” on my eight-track player, sink into my denim beanbag chair, and numb every part of myself capable of feeling.
Mere moments after reaching my haven, the silence takes a beat and then my mother screams, “No! No! No!”
At that exact beat, a thick and dense “whoosh” leaves the house through the roof, and I know, more from that than from my mother’s cries, that Shimmer is gone.
Proof of my ridiculousness (as if you needed more?):
When I used to buy Cottonelle “toilet tissue” (before deciding I had to “go green” and buy the kind they sell at Whole Foods that’s not nearly as soft and delicious and which kinda creeps me out a little because I can’t help but think that the recycled portion of the paper comes from used toilet paper), I used to take extra special care, when opening the four-roll package by punching my index finger through the plastic, not to perforate any of the images of the soft, fluffy, smily-faced puppy mascot.
My seamstress ancestors would be ashamed to know I can’t even sew on a button. Actually, rewind further, and you’ll see me struggling to thread a needle.
My deficiency came to the glaring forefront in seventh grade, during the sewing portion of home ec class. The girls were to make wrap skirts, oh so fashionable then, using sewing machines. I chose corduroy for my haute couture.
Upon viewing my completed project, the teacher praised my innovation. “I’ve never seen anyone use corduroy horizontally before!”
I hadn’t even noticed the blunder, which, oh yes, netted me an “A” for the class.
In this city, anyone with any luck has a view – of a courtyard. Yes, a courtyard, and not a panorama including Central Park, the Statue of Liberty, or the Empire State Building. A courtyard because it is through a neighbor’s often shade-barren or blind-raised window that you, a regular schmoe, can get an eyeful of tits and ass and everything above, below, and in between, and, if you’re lucky, get to see it all in fabulous full force and effect during a particularly vigorous shagging.
The people sharing my courtyard are lucky indeed. Because, you see, I am that neighbor.
The memory consists of a single word, suspended in a void, all lowercase, in a sans serif font that I think is Courier. The letters are dark but are not a specific color. If you look closely, the word may bob slightly, but that may be just an optical illusion.
The word: “fondle”. When heard inside my head, it’s not pronounced like an item in a word list or in the way a featured word would be pronounced on, say, Sesame Street. It’s uttered in a masculine voice, as part of a phrase or sentence that I cannot otherwise hear.
Ways to piss off biodad on weekend visits:
Brother: Unwrap many straws. Fashion a long chain/tube of them by sticking their ends inside each other (hottt!). Place one end of the chain/tube into your drinking glass, which you will have placed far away from you, across the table. Commence distance-drinking.
Sis: Dump Sweet ‘n’ Low and sugar and their torn-open paper packets, ketchup, mustard, and shredded napkin in water glass. Stir with spoon until overflow. Continue after overflow.
Me: Blow massive bubbles in chocolate milk until they form what appears to be a brain tumor and spill onto the table.
Class, please turn to this page in your workbooks: http://www.mype.co.za/images/articles/drugs.jpg
Now, please take a moment to review it and then provide me with three statements about the “before-and-after” of taking drugs.
“Uhm, doing drugs will make you lose your eyebrows?”
Good, good. And ... Anna?
“Doing drugs will make you dye your hair a super-ugly color and also stop wearing eyeliner?”
Yes! Very good. Brandon?
“Doing drugs won’t make you forget to put on a necklace, maybe?”
Wonderful! And … yes, Mindy?
“If you don’t do drugs you will still look like David Cassidy?”
Marvelous, marvelous! Class dismissed!
Dear Ms. Gardner,
Remember in third grade when I won the math contest in your class and was rewarded with a picnic-in-the-woods lunch with you (I had a nice ham sandwich, like a good little Jew), during which we talked about your boyfriend, Mr. Wilbur, and how you were going to be Mrs. Wilbur soon, and the whole time I fantasized about how when I was as old as you were, like 23, I would wear turtlenecks and plaid miniskirts and chunky shoes with buckles and have long brown hair and longer pale legs too?
Well, I cheated.
My mom used to tell my brother, sister, and me that she had wrestled dinosaurs in her youth. I don’t know what impressed me more – that she’d be so strong that she could even consider taking on one of these enormous creatures or that she was old enough to have been in their company in the first place.
My grandfather used to tell me that the delicious filling inside the sweet rolls I loved to gobble was made of ants. I don’t know what disgusted me more – that he would bake something like that or that I still ate it.
Before Shana came to live with me seven and a half years ago, I told myself that if I ever had a cat I wouldn’t be one of those insaniac idiots who talks to the cat in a cat-like meowy voice. Sure, I would talk to every dog I met in a doggish voice, but that was acceptable. In fact, I sneered at the freaks who didn’t use some form of dog voice. But somewhere along the line, when Shana and I were watching TV together, discussing how stupid the show was, I realized it’s not that crazy after all.
Ahhh, how I love the snow! Not just because it’s white and fluffy and quiet and means that winter’s working the way it should. Not just because watching it from the windows of my cozy apartment makes the apartment feel that much more cozy. Not because I secretly wish to throw snowballs at my boyfriend’s back and make snow-angels with him in the park, like in Love Story. But mostly because it means that when I get dressed for outside, I don’t have to worry about what shoes to wear. I just put on my cute fuzzy-faux-fur-lined boots and go!
Seventh grade brought with it the first locker room situation, and I was terrified. Although I didn’t have “coming of age” teen-type movies as a reference, I just knew that the experience was going to be wretched. Girls with tits were going to make sure that those without knew it. And worse, there would be sickening showings below the belt as well. I wanted to stop time, line them all up, the titless and the titful alike, strip them of their tops or towels, and run down the line, rippling my hand across their chests like an enormous flesh xylophone.
Dear Waitress at neighborhood hummus “jernt” to which I took my boyfriend for his birthday last weekend,
Thank you for following in the inept footsteps of the hostess, who, after seating us, ignored us for about ten minutes, until I mimed that, yes, our experience might be enhanced by actually having menus. Thank you for giving us at least 20 minutes to memorize the menu before placing our order.
Money was tight then, so the poor service allowed me to save several precious dollars that I otherwise would have tacked on to the paultry 10% tip I left.
Although I’m “straight”, I confess to womanhandling on a few occasions. The first was in ’98, when some bisexual German chick in tight Pucci-esque pants was grinding into me so hard on the dance floor that I finally got fed up with her teasing, pushed her up against a stage/platform off to the side of the dance floor, grabbed her sweaty blonde head, pulled her flushed face towards mine, and kissed the fuck outta her. I ran my hands down to her tits, which were more than two handsful, grabbed them, and growled at her to stop fucking with me.
I’m ashamed of myself and wish to apologize. Now, I know you’re wracking your brain wondering what I did that requires a shameful apology, but you’ll have to go back 24 years, given that I’ve been nothing short of perfect since then.
In 1983, when I went to the Kennedy Center for the mega-concert featuring Bryan Adams, John Cougar Mellencamp, and The Tubes, I stole $30 from your purse to pay for my ticket, as you suspected. But that is not what shames me.
What does? This: The hot pink sweatshorts-and-zipper-sweatshirt set I wore that day.
Something seems “off” about Hassidic guys walking down the street talking into cell phones. Given their unmistakably “old-fashioned” appearance, it seems only right that if they tote around any mode of telecommunication at all, it should be a portable telegraph on which they can tap out an order for herring in cream sauce, in Hebrew, and have it waiting for them just inside the front door of a greyscale version of Zabar’s, where it will be waiting for them to pick it up for ten cents, paid for with a Mercury dime.
Also: Do they text their friends, “What’s nu?”?
Just off the curb on Sixth Avenue, across the street from where I wait for the bus, my favorite morning scenario takes place. The big, shaggy, floppy-eared brown dog tiptoes in concentric, ever-smaller circles, searching for the perfect spot for his morning deposit. He squats, intent. A second later, he scooches three inches to the left, four to the right, gets up, rotates 30 degrees, and squats again. Ahhh, yes, this is even more perfect. His human companion never loses patience, and ruffles the top of his scruffy doghead for a job well done. And I applaud inside my own.
Yeah, there’s the sex that could be described as mind-blowing, but which I’ll just refer to as simulataneously nasty and romantic.
Yeah, there are the little presents for no reason, the helping on of my coat, the opening of doors, the protecting from the onslaught of approaching tourists and other sidewalk-hoggers on the busy Manhattan streets.
Yeah, there’s the car (red) and the hair (black) and the forearms (furry).
But more than that, above and beyond, there’s the “Good night, baby,” after the good night kiss – the words I’d “prayed” I’d hear from someone’s lips one day. That? Sheer bliss.
I know this comes as a shock to you, but until a week or two ago, I never knew how to play “Rock Paper Scissors”. It should also come as no shock that I fucking suck at it.
See, I get how scissors beats paper. And how rock beats scissors. But I don’t dig paper beating rock. Sorry, but given a whisper of a breeze, that paper would be flying off the rock, flitting off to who knows where – possibly somewhere dangerous, like between the legs of scissors.
Rock should beat paper, because it holds paper down, like a paperweight!
How far can a place be from a namesake/landmark before it should stop trying to cash in on its cache and call itself something else? For instance, a deli with “Bryant” in its name resides at 38th and Sixth Avenue, four NYC blocks south of Bryant Park. Although I sort of think a place should be visible from the place from which it gets its name, this example still seems reasonable. But what of Society Hill Florist in Philadelphia, in a neighborhood far from its namesake and as dumpy as Society Hill is lovely? Sorry, but that just don’t fly.
The Tip Jar