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Donald and Catherine lie back to back in what they jokingly call "the marital bed". Donald is not sure if Catherine's snores are genuine. She has been known to fake it and fake sleep altogether, usually to get out of conversation that Don prefers to initiate under cover of darkness.
"I wonder what day of the week I'll die on," he once wondered aloud, a decibel below her snores. "Monday, the beginning of the week? Or Sunday, the end?"
"How many times do I have to tell you?" Catherine had growled. "Sunday's the first day of the week!"
Okay, so yesterday's entry isn't continued today. When I wrote that one, I did have a continuation in mind, but now, weeks after that writing, I have no idea what I'd planned.
So, yes, in answer to your searing question, sometimes I write these things out of order. I know that seems highly unorthodox, but please deal with the trauma by writing to me to tell me I'm KOOKY. And if you do, I will write a 100 Words entry ABOUT YOU next month, creating a situation for you that I can promise will have nothing to do with reality.
Am I an "easy mark" because of the small bag of grapes I'm carrying, purchased mere moments ago from a very cute (Russian?) vendor?
"I'll make you a deal," this other (Middle Eastern?) cutie says, eyeing my goods, gesturing toward his set-up. "I'll give you a box of cherry tomatoes, an avocado, and a cantaloupe for $5,00, and I'll throw in an apple!"
"I only have $3.00!" I say to this jovial, fruit-vending Monty Hall. "I'll come back tomorrow!"
The next morning, as I pass by, he doesn't recognize me, and I feel slighted. Is this my punishment for lying?
Before my age reached the double digits, I used to lick the palms of my hands after a long day of doing whatever it is a kid does. (Yes, I'd wash my hands after using the bathroom. I wasn't that disgusting.) I realize now that I was taunting Fate by quite possibly swallowing errant molecules of Black Plague or polio or TB or conjunctivitis or pregnancy or Tay-Sachs by pressing my tongue to the filth layers that lingered, but I didn't really care. All I knew was that my hands tasted really, really sweet. So Fate could kiss my ass.
Nick Cave is not going to fuck you. It doesn't matter how black your ensemble is, how thick your eyeliner, how big and clunky or how tall and high-heel your boots, how alterna-goth-punk your slouch and stance, he's not going to fuck you. He's not going to stop, mid-song, mid-frenzied keyboard riffing and arm-flailing and stage-running, and not only notice you in your get-up but be so completely riveted by it, unable to do more than just let your uniqueness overwhelm him, and pull you up on stage to fuck you. You've all wasted your time. And look fantastically ridiculous.
Now that she broke up with her boyfriend, K invited me to replace him at the Turtle Bay Music School beginning singing lessons she'd bought him as a birthday present. I don't resent that I'm the first runner-up, so I agree to accompany her, even though I'm skeptical about anything called "lessons". I envision us in Miss Vicki's low-ceilinged dance studio in a pinpoint suburban strip mall, mixed in with a giggle of noisy girls whose ages have not reached double digits. And I alone am wearing a pink tutu even though we're there for tap, not ballet.
Continued from 10/6 (which I erroneously indicated would be continued on 10/6 -- oy!)
The molten flesh lump masquerading as a receptionist at Turtle Bay Music School directs us up several flights of stairs and around a corner or two to the classroom. After a mild bout of confusion, we think we may have found it. Two muffled voices leak from behind the door.
"Maybe they've already started?" K says.
This is when I learn these are not private lessons. This is when I learn this is an actual class. This is when I regret agreeing to come.
Continued from 10/7
K is intimidated by the mere suggestion of entering a room where activity has already begun. Since I'm not the one who paid for the lessons, I don't feel it's my place to be the aggressor, even though I'd have no problem swinging the door open and striding inside. How're the meek supposed to inherit the earth if they cannot fearlessly enter a room? More importantly, how are they going to sing in front of anyone?
Somehow we enter and are met with the mouse-like face of a lone classmate and a butterball instructor.
Continued on 10/9
Continued from 10/8
C, the mouse, couldn't be more aggressively non-descript if she tried. I place her and her lank shoulder-length squirrel-colored hair, wire-frame glasses, pointed nose and chin, lipless mouth, eye-dots, and spare, ass-free frame slouched on a folding chair at about 32. She's taking the class so she can sing better to her baby. I wonder if my eye-roll is audible. Later, when I discover she's an East Village resident, I change my perception of that neighborhood from one of swirling psychedelic color to one whose palette runs the edgy gamut from beige to tan.
Continued on 10/10
Continued from 10/9
No sooner have I decided that the class is really gonna rock and quite possibly even roll now that I've met the near-mute mouse-mommy who so far is the only other participant, than in slumps R, whose gold-backed teeth, grayish skin, and somewhat hypophonic speech make him appear a decade older than his suspected age of 55. R makes his home on Roosevelt Island, probably, I note with raised eyebrow, because none of the real boroughs will have him. For his solo song, this atonal schlub has selected "Love Me Tender". I want to cry.
Continued from 10/10
Hope is all but abandoned when A blusters into the room, a dark-haired swirl with eyes crinkled to match the laughing grin that can't help itself from cavorting across her face. At first, I have hope for this slightly chunky Jewish Park Sloper, married for 15 years and the mom of two or three kids. However, once I realize that she keeps looking over at me every time she says something funny, I sense more than a smidge of desperation and suspect that, given even moderate encouragement, she could glom onto me.
Hope is abandoned.
Continued from 10/11
Before you run, they say, you have to learn how to walk. Baby steps and all that, I hear. So why is it that people who can barely speak without stumbling over their tiptoed words, who seem to be physically and psychically pained to say a few words about themselves as the instructor asked, think they're going to be able to sing?
I want to yell, "Balderdash!" in E-flat and flee from the dingy room, demanding reimbursement of tuition that I didn't even pay in the first place.
These people don't need singing lessons. They need therapy.
Every morning the white-haired man shuffles down my street toward the park, both hands gripping the bar of his wheeled walker, one of those hands also gripping his dogís leash. His back is so stooped that itís impossible for him to view more than the sidewalk below, where his dog, stocky and low to the ground, all black but tipped with age-white, as old in dog years as he is in people years, smiles up at him. The postal service, which stakes a specious claim to pull through despite whatever the weather throws its way, has nothing on this pair.
JagStar, known to her Westchester parents as Janet Greenberg-Strom, dreams of moving to Williamsburg and becoming a barista, where all of her earnings would go toward keeping herself in vintage silverware and gouache. (No one'd have to know Gran would be signing the rent check.) But since CoreValue, her sorta-boyfriend, known to his Upper East Side parents as Charles van Pleet, deems Williamsburg too "played", they slouch around Astor Place and St. Marks instead in their carefully crafted "retro-punk" getups, shellacking each other's neon-colored hair to dizzying, dangerous heights to the wide-eyed mock delight and shock of tourists.
Continued from 10/14
JagStar, who spends almost as much time chewing her black fingernails over whether she should present her name as "JaGstar" instead as she does shellacking her hair, black-lining her eyes, and practicing a Cockney accent, spends $28 on a pair of fishnet tights and then rips holes in them -- or, if she's feeling particularly savage, grabs them with her perfect dentistry and shreds them that way -- all the more so they look she dug them out of the same rat-riddled Dumpster she pretends she scavenges for discarded day-old sesame bagels and half-empty bottles of "Jack".
Oh, that Shirley. Always up to no good. While the other customer service "girls" at the pest control ("'Exterminator' sounds so mean!") office wear knee-high stockings under their capris -- either classic "suntan" or "nude" for the more daring (either way the better to show off their 14K gold ankle bracelets) -- Shirley's sporting another pair of kooky novelty socks, her "signature look." The other girls reserve such maverick frivolity for holidays, when it's conventional to be so wildly unconventional!
"Shirley, do you really think it's appropriate that the frog-faces on your socks are sticking out their tongues?" Lorna says.
The living and dining rooms in our Cherry Hill, NJ split-level house waited with stoic patience for furnishings for the duration of the three years of my family's inhabitation. The family room, a misnomer if ever there was one, was decked out in a variety of funky late '60s/early '70s accoutrements, including a near-skin-tone Naugehyde sofa that remained cold no matter how long you availed yourself of it (a charming metaphor for my father), a long red Parsons table, and a skin-tone and red table and chairs with accommodations for four, even though there were five of us.
Continued from 10/17
My brother, sister, and I didn't care that, aside from my piano off to one side in the living room, both that room and the dining room were completely bare. Any time someone mentioned the possibility of future furniture, I'd cringe at the notion of losing such a vast and unencumbered play space. Where else would we be able to slide in our socks -- their slipperiness often enhanced by placing scraps of my sister's and my pink tutus under our feet -- on shiny wood floors without the risk of colliding into pesky furniture?
Continued from 10/18
I remember very little about any actual meals eaten at that house. I don't remember the food or the lifting of it to the mouth by spoon or fork or the cutting of it by knife. I don't remember the chewing, the swallowing, or even the opening of the mouth. However, I do remember that in order to leave the table, which I regarded as the highlight of the experience, we had to lift our hands above-table, fingers pointing up, present the palms and then the backs, and say, cheerfully, "May I please be excused?"
Continued from 10/19
After my parents' separation, my mom lived with my soon-to-be-stepfather, and my brother, sister, and I lived with my grandparents in their Philadelphia rowhouse. Oh, paradise! I had full refrigerator access, which permitted me to sneak mouthsful of Bosco from the bottle, grab handsful of cold farfel, and take advantage of the enormous Hershey bar that never seemed to get smaller no matter how many pieces I bit off. I could live with the terrifying waterbugs that occasionally scurried across the black-and-white checked basement floor in exchange for getting to stay up late to watch "The Golddiggers."
Although they've denied it until they were purple in the face, the following events occurred:
* J was banned from a Philadelphia-area Ann Taylor, after her buying-and-then-returning-one-day-later evolved from an innocuous habit into an embarrassing epidemic. Although I feigned outrage, I was relieved. I didn't want to be regarded as guilty by association, especially since I never abused the liberal return policy.
* B ate a large rectangle of corn bread topped with chocolate pudding (both store-bought), in a small bowl with a large spoon. This disgusted me when I witnessed it but amuses the hell out of me now.
ďI don't care for your tone of voice,Ē Madeline says to her daughter, who stands in the harvest-gold kitchen with a Nilla wafer in her left hand and a glass of overly Bosco'd milk in her right. But Marina hasn't said anything. She's been ambushed on her way to the family room to watch Zoom, her self-rewarded treat for having finished her math homework without having to ask for help. She will stand there for another two minutes while her motherís bleary stare, intended to pierce her bored exterior, bounces off her striped T-shirt thanks to her superior supergirl powers.
A few weeks ago, as I was enjoying a brisk stride up Fifth Avenue (I seem incapable of serene strolls), I was taken aback by the appearance of certain graffiti on the side of a bus stop.
"Now wait a minute," I thought. "I didn't just see what I just saw, did I?"
I told myself to press on, to continue along my brisk way, that it didn't really matter, but I knew that if I didn't backtrack to confirm what I thought I'd seen, I would wonder about it all day and be useless for anything else.
Continued from 10/23
I pirouetted back to the site of the graffiti to confirm that my eyesight wasn't failing, and was rewarded accordingly. Just as I'd thought: A large black curlicue mustache was scrawled under the nose for news of a local newscaster, and his pretty co-anchor's white smile was marred by a single blackened front tooth. Both were given glasses that would obviate the contact lenses they were probably wearing.
How dare the good looks of this duo be besmirched! Couldn't the vandal have just dashed off an enormous squirting cock by both of their mouths and move on?
Somewhere during my flight from Prince Edward Island to Montreal, I noticed that everything around me sounded as if it were submerged underwater, hidden in a thick tube-sock. I swallowed several times, the traditional "cure" for ear-weirdness, considered doing that horrible haarrrnnkkk-hraaarnnnnkkk barnyard animal noise, and thought that maybe everyone on the plane, including the plane itself, had decided to just turn it down several notches to accommodate my need for quiet. It wasn't until people all around me started talking, sounding like they were 50 feet away instead of five, that I realized: I was going deaf.
Continued from 10/25
I figured that since I hadn't brought souvenirs back from PEI, Deafness decided it'd make a nice parting gift. When I went through security, the guard said he'd have to go through my handbag.
"No problem," I said, smiling, suspecting I was either yelling or whispering. "Hey, am I shouting or whispering?" I asked.
He said I wasn't and grinned.
"I'm talking in a modulated tone, then?"
He said I was.
"Oh, good," I said. "Because I seem to have lost hearing in one ear somewhere along the way, while flying over your fine country."
Template for Speech-Giving at Friend's Wedding:
Introduction - Self-deprecating warning that you're not good at these things. (Optional head-scratching, with or without wry indication of index cards containing speech notes)
Body - Anecdote about friend during an awkward time in his/her life, to which the new wife/husband may not be privy. (Frequent pauses to gauge newlyweds' responses for appropriate disbelief/sympathy/sham display of wanting an immediate annulment)
*Note - Be sure to relay your memory of the first time your friend told you about the person who is now his/her wife/husband.
Closing - Raucous Audience Laughter (obviates need for formal closing).
On a stroll with our fellas along Columbus Avenue, my best friend L and I were thrilled to notice a restaurant called Lansky's Old World Deli. We've both been along Columbus Avenue enough to know that it was relatively new, so of course we squealed and reached for the paper menus outside the entrance -- a little light reading for later, we said.
As I expected, the menu is like any other offering "Jewish delicatessen" type food, so it shouldn't be so fascinating to me. Yet it is. What is it about seeing "kasha varnishkes" in print that's so appealing?
Continued from 10/26
The guard continued going through my bag. I hoped he didn't think I was messy.
"If you find my hearing in there," I said, "just let me know."
"Your earring?" he said, meeting my eyes and smiling.
"No. My hearing."
He guffawed and grinned.
Instantly I started mourning the tragic loss of my left ear's ability to function. But ever the optimist, I figured, well, at least I already knew the ASL alphabet, and I could give Marly Matlin competition insofar as hot-girl deafness was concerned.
When my hearing came back two hours later, it was anti-climactic.
I know something's up when the mere envelope containing this month's ConEd bill zaps my tender fingertips with an electrical jolt the moment I extract it from my mailbox. Although I recognize this as a warning that the contents are going to be shocking, I'm still taken aback when the bill guffaws in my face as I unfold it to see the amount I owe.
A frenzied online search reveals a 22% increase in NYC energy costs, thus sparing me the burden of assuming a conspiracy against me. And here I was looking forward to a rousing round of paranoia.
I insist that the term "rock star" be removed from the lexicon, unless used to refer to someone like, say, Mick Jagger, Bon Jovi, or Nick Cave. I will concede that telling someone they look like a rock star (yes, my darling boyfriend, I am indeed referring to you, and yes, I do see how someone could say you resemble Paul McCartney, but that's really pushing it) is not so terrible. But if someone is an outstanding pastry chef, award-winning pool player, or has completed almost six years of 100 Words without a break, the term "rock star" sounds ridiculous.
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