REPORT A PROBLEM
One of my proudest accomplishments is that I've turned into a female version of my maternal grandfather, the great and celebrated Poppop/Isaac, who, even at 85, left this world too soon. How I wish he'd lived to witness this remarkable transformation.
I am now, in one neat little package, the Weepy Jew who makes teary-eyed toasts and the Maven Mayor who enters a familiar place and takes over, waving as if on a parade float.
If he were here, we'd walk arm-in-arm into a long-lost Horn & Hardart and table-hop as was his tradition, in tandem. I'm sure of it.
“It’s his fault we broke up,” Pamela says, looking up from the knitting she started bringing to her sessions when I told her that cotton candy counted as food (even though her mother always chided her otherwise) and thus was forbidden in my office.
“I can’t help it,” she says. “I just don’t think a man is a man unless he can grow a full beard. I hate when it grows in all patchy and sparse.”
I remind her that she detests facial hair and won’t date anyone who allows as much as stubble, anyway.
“Yeah, but still,” she says.
It's slim pickin's all right, tonight at the market. Sheila should've known better than to wait until after work, especially since she worked overtime (again!), and especially since everyone knows that if you get there too late, everything's been picked over, and what's left is a jumble of rejects, thus underscoring the futility of the undertaking. Her mother may have been satisfied to scrounge, but that doesn't fly with Sheila.
All the good ones are taken tonight. What's left is unemployed and chewed-cuticled, riddled with odd pattern baldness (paisley-shaped!?), and is covered in pleats.
She leaves the market, empty-handed (again).
It came as no surprise to me that I had misplaced my baby again, as I was always doing it in the first year of her life and had a tendency to misplace everything back then. Most of the time the stuff was recovered, but a few times outright lost, never to be found again, and in those instances I suffered a feeling of loss so profound that I'd sink into a near-catatonic state for a week, or at least until UPS rang my bell and brought me a package that I would promptly misplace within five minutes of receipt.
He’s facing away, scanning the sidewalk, anticipating her approach from the usual direction. He’s so accustomed to this corner that he knows its every detail. As always, he wonders if the love shared by BH and KL, whose initials are hugged inside a careful heart, is as permanent as the cement beneath his feet suggests.
He listens in vain for her purposeful high-heeled clack. He slumps, hands hanging like apologies at his sides. In a moment she’ll see him like this from behind and turn around in her soft-soled flats. She can’t break up with him in these mute shoes.
I was always mistaking one thing for another, placing this where that should be and that where this should be. Thus, it did not shock me when I found the baby atop my head and my sunglasses thrown out with the bath water. Sometimes I downright "confused" two things on purpose, to maximize the hilarity. I'd wrench Barbie's limbs from their sockets and force her arms into her leg-holes and her legs into her arm-holes. Yanking her head from her head-hole (a/k/a "neck"), however, was less gratifying, as she was not equipped with an ass-hole into which to ram it.
Dear Tippy Twinkletoes,
You seem like a nice enough fellow. Unlike many of the gym cretins, you smile and ask if it's okay to change a TV's channel before you board a treadmill. You may run like a silly girl whose feet have only ever known high heels, but this is cause for amusement not derision.
So, it is with sadness that I tell you I now hate you a little for apparently vomiting in the bathroom and having the vomit-stink attached to your body when you recommence your run by the large fan servicing the treadmill area.
Martina's mother warns her against slashing a big black "X" through every day on her wall calendar, marking a countdown toward nothing in particular.
"Why?" Martina asks. "What's the big deal?"
"One day you'll see," her mom says.
Two months later, Martina finds herself dead and in Hell.
"Is it because of the calendar thing?" she asks Satan, who can't be bothered to look up from sharpening his pitchfork to properly welcome her. He flicks the switch on an old filmstrip projector. With each "bleeeep", a new image appears. But Martina can't see a thing through the big black "X"s.
Perhaps I am being too hasty in squealing and shrieking and getting a prickly shiver of revulsion up and down my spine every time I see a cockroach scampering across the floor in an attempt to avoid the rapid scuttle-paw "departure coaxing" techniques Shana has enlisted as part of her job duties. Perhaps I should regard these unwanted freeloading tenants with a touch of nostalgia, recalling how their ancestors had taken up residence in my grandparents' basement 35 years ago, where, without the threat or fear of murderous cat paws, they would saunter across the black and white checkered linoleum.
Forgotten in a box under my bed for two years, the four-inch tall fuzzy light brown teddy bear with moveable arms and legs now reclines on my desk, where his close-set dot eyes stare at me with what I originally believed was unblinking patience but which I now regard as glazed boredom.
Years ago, a friend gave him to me to keep close by as a reminder to do something, the identity of which I now cannot remember. And he's not about to tell me. After all, I kept *him* in the dark for at least two years, didn't I?
A friend and I are going to see the "Sex and the City" movie together, probably with two of her friends. I'm sure we won't be the only female foursome doing this. And I'm sure that each attendee will assign herself the role of one of the series' characters.
"As long as I get to be Samantha Jones," I say to my boyfriend, when telling him of this plan.
"Of course you're Samantha Jones," he says. "In any group of four girls, you'll always be the Samantha Jones. And if you're not, I'd love to meet the one who is!"
M's co-worker and very good friend, T, is moving to England to go to school. I congratulate her aloud, with genuine admiration, but add a silent P.S. of good riddance.
It's not that I don't like her. I really do. At parties at M's place and out and about in bars, she's tons of fun. Bawdy, funny, slutty, with great hair, she's my kind of dame. But without her in the picture, I can move in and displace her as M's #1 "Grace".
Should I feel guilty about counting down the days until she leaves? Is this truly a Dis-Grace?
Wednesday night, 11:15. I'm walking toward the part of the platform that'll put me at the front of the subway, so I can alight in front of the preferred staircase at my destination. Other normal-looking people are waiting too, so it feels safe. One "regular white boy", early 30s, bejeaned and iPodded, stares at me as I approach. As I pass, he turns his whole body to follow my path. I look down the tunnel, in his direction, to watch for the train, and he's still ogling me, trying to make eye contact. Yeah, like that's gonna happen, buddy boy.
Oh my god, it's him. The soap opera actor who keeps me tuned in even when the show is otherwise unwatchable. The one who's a bit "older" (my age!) than his co-star pretty boys, who looks like he may need to shave more than once a day. This gaspworthily handsome man is here, in front of me, shaking my hand here at the corner store, saying he knows he's seen me around the neighborhood. What? He's noticed ME? He's seen me, unguarded, unaware of his deep set dark brown eyes registering me, in my natural habitat?
Permission to swoon, please?
I can't stand when boots that have snaps or buckles or straps or laces or some other sort of "confining" closure that would necessitate more than just pulling them on in order to wear them, also have a long inside zipper to ease the process. It's especially irritating when the zipper interrupts the flow of a strap, especially if the strap is supposed to look like it is constraining the leg. It's the equivalent of handcuffs that can be undone without effort, without the benefit of a key. I don't like ornamentation that has no function beyond just looking pretty.
Products I heartily endorse:
* "So Good!" Miso Mayo
* John Frieda Brilliant Brunette shampoo and conditioner (and not just because the name is SO appropriate and TRUE)
* White Wave/Silk chocolate soy milk (the "light" tastes exactly like the regular)
* Essie "Berry Hard" nail polish
* Helen's Food tofu steaks (frozen)
* The Company Store bedding
* My boyfriend's forearms (not for sale)
* Ted Baker shirts (for the boys) (especially my own, even though rolling up the sleeves to expose those incredible forearms means that a great little detail, like velvet trim on a cuff, is "lost")
I hug Toby for his own sake, for his own overgrown floppy flailing tongue-lolling puppy sake, but also for yours as well, my sweet sweet love. Every time I wrap my arms around his squiggly body that hasn't yet learned how to sit still to receive that energy, every time I stroke his fur that looks oh so much like yours and tousle his ears that flop just like yours, and kiss his snout that, yes, looks like yours, I am wrapping and stroking and touseling and kissing you by proxy. I miss you so much.
How do you get to the point where your gut extends so far out from your body that it not only becomes a shelf for your sloppy tits to roost but also precludes you from seeing your feet? The only body part grateful for the mountainous flesh are indeed those tits that, once unleashed from the confines of a full-to-bursting foundation garment, fully unfurled and galumphed down to the ground, are in mortal danger of being trampled upon by the very feet you cannot see in the first place.
Belly up to the buffet, dear. Your gut depends on it.
After weeks of purely online communication via Scrabulous, we're face to face again. Not only am I surprised to see you are not pale and atrophied, like an invalid shut-in, but that you are not grizzly-faced, tobacco-stained, and wearing shabby pajamas like one. Instantly I feel like I have forgotten to wear shoes and am standing here in the bar, après-comedy show, in fluffy socks with toothpaste around my mouth.
I am amazed I can make conversation with you at all. I expected all I would be able to do is communicate one word at a time, in three-minute increments.
I can't remember if Ray wore "pocket squares", but he was the sort of guy who would. This is the sort of thing that ordinarily would automatically disqualify a prospect, but sometimes I lift my restrictions if another factor can override an objectionable one.
His model looks, gentlemanly demeanor, and slick wardrobe were all lovely, but his appeal lay largely in the fact that all the other girls wanted him. And I was the one he chose. How could I let a little swatch of folded silk get in the way of making all the office bitches seethe with jealousy?
I have never been, and never will be, a "beach person". Not for me the sun and surf, full to brimming with "hang ten", suntan lotion-swathing, sand in the bathing suit, pigeon-chasing kid, dead jellyfish stick-poking, fake coconut-scented, volleyballed, Beach Blanket Bingo nonsense. Even as a kid, I found it tiresome and loathsome and wished to find a dark, rocky cave somewhere, dank with dripping stalactites, full of echoes from mysterious sources.
The beach is straightforward, with nothing to hide. It doesn't keep you guessing. But the cave? Ahh, the cave is a flirty mistress, leaving much to the imagination.
"I'd like to say she's an 8-1/2 out of 9, but I can't," the vet says. "She's a 9."
At first I think he's praising her undeniable extreme good looks. A 9 out of 9 means she's a 10! Watch out, Bo Derek!
Alas, he means the obesity scale.
He is unwilling to concede that my slick but not sleek all-black (down to the pads, whiskers, and soul) cat isn't ultra-mega-uber-enormo-boned but is, instead, obese. Yes, he utters that word in the presence of my Mewbenesque kittenface, without first translating into a language she won't understand.
We are not amewsed.
The wedding ceremony is endless, the music atrocious, the cake uninspired, and the bride ungracious, but still it’s the most fun I’ve ever had at a wedding, because you surprise me by finding it just as deliciously unbearable as I do. Every time you lean forward to tell me, above the din, about another aspect you find atrocious, or make a remark like that which I’d expect from one of my gayboyfriends, a delicious thrill runs up my spine, spears my heart, and makes me squirm with intense desire for you. So all in all, it is a raging success!
All weekend you've been tethered to your toddler daughter, and this dinner in the hotel restaurant is the first time your brother and I have been alone with you two. You fellas can talk politics. I'll color with the kid.
Wine? Sure, I'll share a bottle with you.
Glasses lifted, I toast to your newborn son whom I have yet to meet, at home with your wife and other daughter.
You don't acknowledge the toast at all, instead choosing to override it with one to your newlywed cousin and his undeserving bride, whose wedding we'd attended the evening before. Charming.
I suppose I should care that no concessions are being made for Passover and that our third grade class is all agog, instead, over making chocolate-dipped coconut candy for Easter, but really I don't. I want a plastic basket filled with green cellophane and poor quality colorful-foil-wrapped chocolate as much as any "gentile". Probably even more.
The highlight of the candy-making event, other than sneaking pinches-ful of gooey, condensed-milk-sweetened coconut or watching the chocolate harden after dipping, is hearing the ragged screams accompanying a zealous goy-boy's white finger-flesh as he shreds it on the grater along with the coconut. Delicious!
"What do you think?" Rhonda says, wagging a photo between her thumb and forefinger. "Is it better than the others?"
I tell her this isn't how she can best use the 45 minutes of her weekly session. What about her inability to hold onto a job, her decade-long eating disorder, or the fact that she enjoys pulling her hair out in clumps?
Rhonda is certain that one day she'll be the victim of a crime, probably involving kidnapping or her body's disappearance, so she's been taking scads of "candid" self-portraits to be shown during the news reports tracking her case.
I may probably go to hell for this, so forgive me father, mother, brother, sister, and family pets and plants, for I think I've sinned. Sinned because recently, when a youngish guy who often takes the same bus I do in the morning successfully ran to catch it (quite a feat given his leg braces/crutches and the twisted legs that necessitate them), flopped down into a seat in front, and then talked the ear off of a woman passenger near him, laboring with a thick tongue over each word, all I could think was, "Thank god I sit in back."
My 16 was in no way sweet, so it was only fitting that I didn't have a party claiming it was so. My heart-shaped-faced, blue-eyed, and vastly more perky friend Debbie, however, had celebrated her own teenaged sweetness seven months earlier, surrounded by at least 50 of her best friends in a fancy venue more befitting of a bridal shower or wedding reception. I wanted to flee the moment I arrived and seek refuge in my bedroom, where I knew my denim beanbag chair, headphones, and dimmed lights were much better friends to me than her 50-plus were to her.
By ceremony's end, I'm almost moved to tears. Not because the Brazilian bride is lovely in a dress that my boyfriend deems more gorgeous than I do or because the groom is handsome in a white jacket that makes him look more like a cruise ship's "purser" than a man about to be wed. Not because rain dashed the couple's dream of an oceanside union and forced it onto a garden veranda, where crushed shells lining a long bamboo runner struggled to simulate beachiness. No, because the whole shindig had to be translated into Portuguese, thus doubling the endless tedium.
You’d think that a bunch of twenty-something Brazilian bimbos, intent on displaying their bulbous tits and chunky legs in spangly low-cut short dresses and shoving their French-pedicured feet into high-heeled sandals more glittery than Dorothy’s, would be able to shake their ample groove-things and booties better than your average white-bread gathering of drunken, flush-faced sorority girls at a beer-soaked frat party. But you’d be wrong. No, here they are at their friend’s wedding reception, facing each other in a loose approximation of a circle, mistakenly believing they’re whooping it up in grand Brazilian style. Rio has never been so embarrassed.
Dear Jean S.,
More than three decades have passed since you turned around in your chair during class and asked me this riddle: "How is a Jew not like a pizza?" and I secretly cringed even before you answered it (immediately because the punchline was too delicious to be contained): "A pizza doesn't scream when you put it in the oven."
More than three decades have passed since I laughed along with you because I didn't want you, my best friend, to think I was uncool.
But you, you enormous-beaked, slump-shouldered, limp-haired Aryan cunt, were the uncool one.
The Tip Jar