REPORT A PROBLEM
Had I know that a mere biological fact could excuse me from the tortures of gym class, I would have concocted its onset years before its actual occurrence at age 12. What's this? Eighth grade? Bah! Too many years of enduring "crab soccer", jumping jacks and, dread of all dreads, outdoor softball, all could've been avoided had I only known the wonders of "womanhood" at an earlier age. I could've been the talk of the school, an exceedingly premature six-year-old. (I would have pointed to the fact that I was reading by age three as testament to my maturity.)
Hello, airport cretin. Did you ever stop to think that the moment you're in front of the conveyor belt and x-ray machine is NOT the moment when you should realize you should've been preparing yourself and your stuff for presentation to the surly personnel who grant you permission to pass through the magic doorway (provided you haven't stashed a machete in your pants)? At the very least, while in line, you should've been unbuckling if not removing your belt. I have no doubt you are similarly ill-prepared when at a toll booth. Or when paying for groceries. With a check.
Although it's been quite some time since I studied the instructions on the Q-Tips box, I remember they include an admonishment that users should not insert the swab into the ear canal. Instead, the tip of the swab should be gently applied to the delicate shell-like part of the ear.
While that application is certainly not without its delights, it's nothing compared to the thrill of doing exactly what the box tells you not to do. I can't think of one person who, when presented with a Q-Tip, doesn't thrill over trying to tickle his or her brain with it.
I have no book, iPod, or newspaper, and none of the passengers on the subway inspire daydreams, so I focus on the empty seat to my left, on which is embedded an asterisk-shaped mark a few shades deeper than the orange of the seat itself.
The first thing I think is, "What, was Kurt Vonnegut here?" recalling his signature "asshole" drawing.
The second is, "Oh, look, someone was such a colossal asshole that he couldn't help but leave his imprint behind. What a treat for a future 'urban archaeologist' to find this perfectly preserved asshole fossil."
The third is, "Fosshole?"
"Any dead roaches in this apartment died of old age," my boyfriend says when I return from the gym around 8:00.
As I wonder how the coroner's office could've called with the autopsy results so early in the day, he adds, "Obviously Shana isn't killing them." While I was out, an enormous specimen crept across her tail as she just laid there. Apparently she had less interest in it than an eight-year-old has in a history textbook.
She knows she has me over a barrel, though. Her coffee is the best in town, so she knows I won't fire her.
Writing 100 words, on a particularly uninspired day, is only like the tired old cliché of pulling teeth if the teeth you use as a reference point are firmly rooted deep within the gums and the gums, in turn, are solidly attached to the structure of the jaw. It's not as effective if the teeth are as easy to manipulate as corn boiled to mush on the cob, nudged from their water-logged host with minimal effort, or an ancient weather-worn tombstone, barely two inches thick and so frail with moss that even the least enthusiastic corpse could kick it over.
At 11:58, we turned on "Dick Clark's Rockin' Eve" -- or whatever it's called now, "Ryan Seacrest's Blahwhateverblahzzzzzznewyear" -- just in time to be horrified by the propped-up roughed, warmed corpse of Dick Clark, sounding like a 45 playing on 33-1/3 (the babies among you probably have no idea what I'm talking about) underwater. No sooner was I recovering from that than the camera cut back to Times Square, where J. Lo presented herself in a flesh-colored sparkly cat suit that, like whatever plastic surgery she had on her face to make herself resemble a cat, did her no favors.
"I don't think we should to tell her," my friend says. "She'd be mortified."
Aloud I agree, but silently I do not.
I think our mutual friend, the hostess of the party, knows full well that her thin-material white dress, when witnessed in a certain light, provides anyone with eyes a clear view of her panties and bare legs. Given that she has been leaning forward all evening to afford her guests a peep show of tiny tits propped up by a rather industrious push-up bra, I am certain she is not only aware of her exhibitionism but celebrating it.
At Neighborhood Playhouse, during acting exercises, we were encouraged to call our "partners" out when we felt they were bullshitting us with false emotion. The ability to produce tears and to display them for all to admire doesn't make you a good actor. Standing before me with water oozing from your eyes doesn't necessarily move me. I cannot be manipulated that easily. I shouted "Bullshit!" often.
However, I have been genuinely moved by strangers on the street whose tears weren't manufactured to make a statement. I've found myself in tears over their tears, without either of us having to try.
For my sister's sixteenth birthday, she threw herself a boozy, crowded party in our parents' basement. There was nothing sweet about it. I didn't drink, but I may as well have been drunk for as much as I remember. (I did make out rather heavily with a cute beer-soaked drone in his car, though.)
One of the peripheral guys, an enormous amorphous lumbering lump, blew his brains out a few years later. All my sister and I remember about him was that at the party, in an invertebrate drunken ooze, he slurred, "I can't even see straight!"
What a legacy.
The following are a few unrelated items that never fail to thrill me. Some of them may be "common", but that doesn't detract from their delight.
New gym socks, straight from the store, fluffy and spongy and pristine (don't even bother saying, "Yeah, but I heard that you should always wash stuff before you wear it!)
Sprawling out diagonally in bed when sleeping alone
The click-hiss-click of a soda can being opened
The end seat on the subway
Squeegees (watching but especially using)
Self check-out of library books
Fresh sheets, complete with cold pillow
Slicing open a hot baked potato
I regret I have taken so long to apologize for questioning the need for increased membership fees. I accept, in advance, your apology for taking so long to effectuate improvements that warrant the hike. After all, I appreciate that a great deal of planning goes into installing mini-refrigerators containing eucalyptus-scented washcloths near the cardio equipment. I am sure the exceedingly fit koalas who crammed the suggestion box are delighted. However, those of us who do not enjoy tasting Vick's VapoRub while exerting considerable lung power are not. May I suggest expedient treadmill repair as an alternative?
You'd think that by now I'd be able to think about him without feeling like I'm being stabbed in the brain with a skewer. That I'd be able to say his name without feeling like my throat is being scraped with a wire brush. That I'd be able to hear a German Shepherd bark or see the face of one without wanting to gouge out my ears or eyes with a grapefruit spoon. You'd think that after almost two years after he left this world the sting and flow of tears wouldn't be so damned immediate. You would be wrong.
Every month or so, my bathroom sink decides it'd like nothing more than to refuse to allow the swift passage of water down its drain. Although my usual solution is one of the many toxic potions offered at any drugstore, this time I opted for a somewhat less harsh treatment. Sporting Birkenstocks, a fringed poncho, and a hemp cap hand-knitted by my cat, I poured several ounces of a "green" unclogger into its stubborn mouth. I warbled a li'l Joan Baez for good measure. And lo and behold -- it fucking didn't do shit, motherfucker. Back to the Drano board!
Because I can hear my loudmouth neighbor through the shared wall between my bathroom and his kitchen, it only stands to reason (look at me, all logical 'n' whatnot) that he can hear me as well. This I realize, um --
sotto voce, please!
-- mid-stream, and because I'm oh so positive that he's stopped everything he's doing on his side of the wall to focus on what I'm doing on mine, I rush to turn on the faucet so he won't be able to hear. I cringe while flushing, knowing he's just pictured me mid-underwear-pull-up.
I am truly delusional.
Sunday evenings, as savvy homemakers have known since time began, are known for the ticking of the "60 Minutes" clock on the TV that mesmerizes their husbands and for their own refuge in the kitchen, where they're continuing to cook enough food for the rest of the week, in compliance with the time-saving tips suggested by Heloise and Ladies Home Journal. That little trick has nothing on mine, though: Make the bed 30 times on Saturday, and you'll be set for all month! Pop the kids in the washer every Monday! (Be sure to sort for whites or, um, "coloreds"!)
One of the exercises at Neighborhood Playhouse was known as "knock at the door". One person would be in the classroom, performing an activity that commanded his concentration, and the other person would leave the room and then knock at the door, needing something from the person already in the room. The knock was to be informed by whatever scenario he'd concocted as the reason for seeking assistance. Once permitted entry into the room, an odd dialogue would evolve using Meisner's technique of "repetition", where the tone of what was being said was more important than the content.
Continued from 1/17
So, one person would be seated on the shabby twin bed in the classroom, trying to thread a needle or glue together Carol Brady's ill-fated vase, and the knock at the door would more often than not have the ring of urgency. To indicate a genuine reaction, the sewer/gluer would groan, make an exasperated face, and clomp to the door, often without asking "Who is it?" And on the other side, more often than should ever have to be witnessed, would be the classmate in mock dire straits, naked and clutching his special delivery package.
Duane Reade is a 50-year-old drugstore chain in NYC even more ubiquitous than Starbucks, notorious for poor, often surly service. Its blue and red logo, perhaps the most recognized in the city (the shopping bags have even acquired some sort of iconic status, as you can read here -- http://tinyurl.com/yf83w8r), is being phased out in favor of a more contemporary black, white, and purple logo. I'm resistant to the new color scheme and this attempt to upgrade the store's image. Some things should just be allowed to retain their familiar dowdiness. This is like trying to spruce up Susan Boyle.
Continued from 1/18
The first time someone appeared nude at the door, the rest of us looked at each with a mixture of horror, titillation, and disbelief. The teacher, I'm sure, rolled his eyes, having seen this sort of fake bravery at the beginning of every new term.
Sometimes the person already inside the room would be at partially naked and fail to cover up to answer the door.
By the end of the year, I'd seen enough tits to choke a whore and more boy parts than I could shake a dick at.
(And no, I never did it.)
My landlord tells me he was called to the apartment of a fourth-floor tenant, a woman with a cane who has some sort of health problem (invisibilism? I've only seen her once, and even then I'm not too sure). She was lying in the one spot where falling was a possibility: a narrow slot not inhabited by massive piles and stacks of crap like you'd see on "Hoarders". All I could think was, wow, it must be really bad, given that he thinks the condition of the common vestibule, which could pass for the "Sanford and Son" set, is acceptable.
Today at the gym I was traumatized by some barely-toweled twat who, just as I was about to pass, felt the need to bend at the waist and, I dunno, dry her toes with her legs far apart enough to expose not only a rather rude wink but the entirety of what I will only describe as a fur-burger with foliage that crept up so far as to supply an eyebrow to that wink.
I laughed so hard inside my head that my brain almost shattered and then guffawed the minute my fleet feet hit Broadway. Holy mother of muffs!
I have reached an age where I can (and do) grumble about how much better things were "when I was a kid". I need only recall the first series of Wacky Packages from the late '60s, die-cuts on thick cardboard that gave rise to some rather fiendish paper cuts. These weren't the flimsy snooze-fest stickers fed to today's kids, no, they were punch-outs, with a coating of useless glue on the back-side to be licked like a postage stamp.
This one made me so happy I could barely contain myself: http://www.wackypackages.org/stickers/die-cuts/frontbacks/crust_12_front_back.html. It's never taken much to make me stupidly happy.
The notion of what "God" manifests is trumpeted brilliantly during funeral services. The weather, long a topic invoked to avoid the burden of real conversation, is used as numbing comfort. If raining, we're told it's symbolic tears for the loss of our loved one. Similarly, if rain does not cry on us, and the sun beams instead, we're urged to recognize this as a benevolent smile from "God", reassurance that our dead guy is being welcomed into "heaven". Either way, we are comforted. Either way, we cannot lose. We accept this prepackaged form of bereavement as a form of solidarity.
The same Netflix DVD has been sitting atop my TV for longer than I care to remember. Most of the time I can't even recall what it is. And then when I slide it from the envelope to remind myself ("Butcher Boy"), I think, "Am I really going to watch this? And if so, when?" Invariably (obviously), I slide it back in the envelope, an apparent affirmative.
So, why is it still on top of the TV? Why hasn't it made its way into the actual player? I suppose this is what they mean by the point of no return.
I cannot remember the last time I disliked a movie character as much as I disliked "Julie" in "Julie & Julia". If Julie is that fantastically whiny, self-serving, bitchy, graceless, and insensitive in the movie, I cannot even imagine how insufferable she is in real life. (I remember visiting her blog years before the movie came out and rolling my eyes at her smugness even back then.) Conversely, Julia was an absolute delight, more engaging, adorable, and frothy than I ever would have guessed.
My "redux" for the movie "recipe": Replace all parts Julie with two parts Julia. Et voila!
Just because he's chosen not to be the Will to my Grace anymore is no reason why I can't compliment him on the red velvet cake he made for a get-together of other mutual friends. It'd take more energy to suppress my appreciation of the cake's moistness (a word that nauseates 95% of the population) (I'm in that 95%) and creamy frosting (nauseating to 0%) than to express it. Thankfully he thanks me with an easy grin. I don't compliment his new glasses, even though they're a sight better than his old ones. I don't want to push my luck.
Thanks, airport restroom, for forcing me to face a horrifying Goldilocks situation. Behind door number one rests a toilet seat with splatters so copious that I wonder if, in off-peak hours, a showerhead telescopes from behind a secret wall panel, allowing the stall to do double duty as a shower. Behind door number two lies a toilet bowl victimized by a mammoth mudslide mountain that prompts me to think, "Ass avalanche". Somehow the scene behind door number three is miraculously devoid of "number one" or "number two". Still, I insist on a "buffer flush". "Ladies room"? What a gross misnomer.
What's the point of my buying one-quart zip-lock bags, pouring liquids and gels into three-ounce travel bottles, and stashing the packet in an EZ-access outside pocket of my carry-on suitcase if you're not going to at least remind me to remove the bag and place it in a plastic bin for x-raying (if not commend me for perfectly following the 3-1-1 rule)?
Didn't you notice it on the black-and-white screen you were supposed to monitor? Could I have gotten away with bottles larger than three ounces and more than one bag larger than one quart?
Way to go!
After the show, Scott introduces me to his friend Victoria, a transgendered person in transition. Even though I'm just meeting her, I'm already proud to be acquainted with the person who not only took the cake at the drag show but iced it, sliced it, and served it without losing a crumb. I hold her soft hand and gaze at her exquisitely made-up face, perfect teeth, and short blonde hair, as transfixed as if I were ten years old and meeting Marcia Brady. I'm sure she's looking down at me and thinking, "Honey, you should do something about those eyebrows."
Just as we turn into the drive that leads to the airport, my friend says, "You know, we should've checked your flight status before we left."
"Well, I signed up for email alerts, and I haven't" -- and here I open Gmail on my iPhone -- "received" -- and here I cringe -- "any -- ohgodnowaitIhaveIhaveIhaveFUCK!"
Orbitz dutifully sent notification 2-1/2 hours before the original departure. I tell my friend to just drop me off, I'll wait around, no big deal. "Really?" he says, sounding relieved.
"Yeah," I say, and mean it. Thank "god" for WiFi, Hulu.com, and Erica Kane!
The Tip Jar