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I like to think I'm not, by nature, a sappy person, prone to not only eschewing cloying sentiment vocally but by the raising of a eyebrow so well-trained that it arches in derision as if by reflex. So how do I explain the cascade of recent months, the hot water that readily falls down my face not in blinky little tears but in full, gushing sheets? Do I blame it on something as lame as hormones or as sacrosanct as my grandfather inhabiting my -- what, my "soul"? Should I be alarmed? Call a plumber? Or go with the flow?
Annie and her mom, whose name I forget (I'm pretty sure it's something old-fashioned and befitting her old lady status, like Doris), are trying to make their way north on Amsterdam Avenue near Jacques Torres, and I'm trying to make mine south.
Theirs are the only friendly faces I see amid the Thanksgiving Eve crush, coming and/or going from the Macy's parade balloon blow-up nonsense on Central Park West. I stop to adore Annie and chat with "Doris", who is thrilled to see someone familiar.
"Where the hell are all these assholes going?" she says.
I couldn't love her more.
All that time trying to force a trapezoidal peg into what I thought was a round hole but really wasn't even a hole at all, but a shallow indentation where I thought a hole should have been. Like sucking in and holding my breath on an elevator when one more person who shouldn't be squeezing his mass into the car, like trying to make myself even smaller when someone enormous tries to wedge her ass into the seat next to me on the subway, overflowing into my space as well because I don't fill an entire seat. Game's over, loser!
Although I appreciate your eagerness to teach your kid how to ride a bike, as classic Americana has prompted ever since your suburban daddy taught you, I hardly think that tiptoeing beside your tired toddler as she barely pedals her tiny pink bike across the Saturday afternoon bustle of West 72nd Street is the right place to do it. Sure, you want her to be savvy of the peril of city streets, but wouldn't it be better if first she lost her baby teeth the natural way instead of risking premature loss thanks to the onslaught of impatient Manhattan motorists?
While it is true that my cat is not a huge fan of cinnamon, she wants to set the record straight that she did not, as rumored, ever confuse it with cardamom. Although she enjoys enhancing the flavor of her favorite dishes with a dash of spices considered exotic by most cats, and is reluctant to admit that she doesn't even know what cardamom is ("Is it anything like fennel?"), she does not want anyone to think she doesn't know what something as "common" as cinnamon is. "That's the one we sprinkle on our oatmeal," she says with an eyeroll.
I don't remember much about Neil other than that his breath always smelled like a combination of bologna, Bugles, and toothpaste. I couldn't decide whether this was just my imagination (I would often smell odd combinations, such as blueberries and gasoline, lemon Pledge and old pennies, and more) or whether he immediately brushed his teeth to hide the evidence of having stolen the contents of a third grader's lunchbox. I did not wish to offend him by asking him to confirm my suspicions, but I wanted to tell him that he ought to start mugging a better class of kid.
Alan Lambert sits on the steps outside his building, his black dog, Cody, lounging between his feet. As always, I stop to chat, not only because Levain Bakery is next door and the smell of its buttery cookies is enough to make me float through the air like Fred Flintstone toward the scent of a brontosaurus burger, but because in the five years since I've met them, I've never walked away feeling anything less than spectacularly happy. Gotta love a dog-loving guy great-grandfather with a full head of gorgeous white hair, rockin' purple Converse sneakers and colorful socks with aplomb.
Every morning the five-year-old who lives two floors above me clomps down the stairs, either screaming unintelligibly or crying in a manner that even his two-year-old sister would ridicule, if only she were old enough to do so. Indeed, even with her limited vocabulary, she must have a way of articulating to herself what a colossal crybaby pussy her brother is.
One day I saw them on the street with their dad. One of them was being pushed in the stroller, red-faced and bawling, while the other tottered alongside, quietly smiling. Like you even have to guess which was which.
My ex-boyfriend would only apologize to me if he determined, after a careful and painfully deliberate assessment of the damages I'd asserted, that his actions were egregious enough to warrant the utterance of a few words. Even then, the extraction seemed as difficult as if removing a particularly impacted wisdom tooth from deep within the jaw of a stubborn curmudgeon hellbent on clamping his mouth shut. Any apology, if offered, was for his own benefit, to assuage his flimsy sense of wrong-doing or guilt, and not for mine, to ease my sadness and pain. Sorry, but that just doesn't fly.
Thanks to the mirrors behind my manicurist, I see you enter the salon and teeter toward us in kitten heels and a swirl of skirts. Even from this vantage point, reflected and from 20 feet away, I see The Crazy in your watery blue eyes and in every tanned wrinkle around them. Once you're alongside the table, I keep my eyes down, peering at the chipped coral polish on your thick toenails and the muddied tattoo on your ankle. I hope you can't see me cringe as I try to wish away the inevitability of your raspy voice greeting us.
At Neighborhood Playhouse, the acting instructors made it their mission to teach us o detect when someone wasn't being truthful in his or her acting. During Mr. Pinter's Friday morning class, I was known to call almost every one of my partners out, shouting, literally, "Bullshit!" I was older than all but one of my classmates and had dated enough guys, worked with enough lawyers to know when someone was trying to take me for a ride. Sometimes I felt marginally sorry when faced with a 19-year-old kid who no doubt felt like she was being punished by a parent.
Homemade eggplant parmigiana with fresh mozzarella (or "mozzarell", as they say since they're Italian and can get away with it, whereas I'd sound like a gigantic Alex Trebek-style poseur if I dared pronounced it that way), a pile of pasta, followed by as many cookies from the best bakery in the area that, contrary to what is usually the case, taste better than they look (and they look good!), full-on approval to lick the spatula clean. Cats aplenty. No pressure to do anything. Hottness in a twin bed. What's not to love about my first visit to his mom's house?
She's on the living room sofa, the cat she calls hers, one of three who share her home, cradled in her arms like a baby. I'm in the dining room maybe 20 feet away, still cramming cookies into my face. She's watching a movie I've seen before but don't remember too well. The movie is dark and depressing and we agree that the special effects are somewhat distracting. Neither of our comments are more than peripheral, but I feel closer to this boyfriend's mother on this, our first meeting, from across the room, than I have ever with any other.
I love that you're "unplugged". That you don't numb your brain with music or audiobooks or curl your thumbs around the edges of a cell phone to send texts to anyone and everyone or to engage in activities with electronic birds who may very well be angry. I love that you indulge the cacophony of Penn Station, the drag of the subway, the symphony on the street. You are here for it all, in the thick of everything. You may be shy, but you don't shy away from the reality of this outrageous city, and for that I adore you.
An image, stuck in my head, of a photo in a magazine, of a small room or an elevator in which all shapes and sizes and colors of dogs are piled in a heap, a jumble of paws that can no longer dig, noses that can no longer sniff, eyes that can no longer plead, tails that can no longer wag. The short article or blurb or caption stated something like, "This photo is real. This is the way euthanasia is carried out in Japan." Some nights I still cry myself to sleep remembering it, more than a year later.
Kudos on the self-aggrandizement, "America's Most Convenient Bank"! Although I appreciate your confidence, I question the veracity of your claim and wonder upon what criteria it is based. If it's supplying your customers with a sugar fix via free green and purple lollipops or supplying canine companions with free biscuits to mollify them as they wait in the interminable line that forms thanks to the fact that on a busy Friday morning only two tellers are available, both of whom apparently reached for the lithium instead of the coffee cup, then yes, you have earned the right to the title.
The tiny landscape fingerpainting on its tiny easel has been a fixture on my desk ever since I brought it home from a trip to Indiana to visit friends. I wanted it not only because it would look adorable on my desk but because I needed a reminder that a work of art doesn't have to be huge or magnificent to be significant and because I need to tell myself that I only have to fill a small canvas to make an impact. But now that it's been here for a while, I look at it without even seeing it.
My dear sweet boy, I can't tell you how much I love our "pizza night" that substitutes Thai food for pizza. I was hoping we would have a routine that included the delivery of food, hopefully from the same place, and that we would have "usuals" that made us salivate and clap our hands together like seals at the mere mention of their names and sight on the online menu. And that we'd make out for the duration of the lag time between sending the order and the buzz of the buzzer signaling its arrival. I can't say "Yay!" enough.
In order to push myself at the gym when I felt like I couldn't do more, I used to concoct fantasies that had me winning something grand. The imaginary victory could translate, diluted, naturally, into the reality that no, I wasn't onstage receiving raucous applause, but on a treadmill at the gym on Broadway. These days, though, I just "Patrick" and instantly I'm recharged. If that little pit bull could survive starvation and being shoved in a garbage bag and dumped 19 floors into the trash, left for dead, certainly I can lift five more pounds or run another mile.
Since stumbling upon the Facebook dog advocates, I have spent a great deal of time and tracking the stories and progress of so many dogs that I've lost count. I've donated money to the causes I found trustworthy, and while not enough to qualify as a fortune, almost enough to break my own bank. From my desk, I support the extremely hard work of people who are actually out on the streets rescuing these dogs from abuse, cruelty, and death, writing comments of encouragement to spur them on, even though their doggedness never lags or rests or sleeps.
I often feel like what I do isn't "real", though, since I'm not doing any literal legwork. I feel like I'm little more than a cheerleader, standing on the sidelines looking pretty while the rest of the team goes about the business of fighting the battle. But there's no way I could do what those people do. I couldn't go into shelters and see all the sad, desperate faces of the dogs, many, if not most, of whom are doomed, and walk away knowing that yes, even though I saved one, I couldn't save them all.
I've always rooted for the underdog, preferred things that are "flawed" (or would be considered flawed by those seeking perfection), even at the supermarket, selecting an apple with a little dent, that would otherwise not be chosen. I can barely stand the notion that some of the fruit won't get picked, that cut flowers will wither in buckets, never to be presented to a girlfriend, a wife, or a grandmother. If I think these things are crying, how the hell could I ever be expected to live with the sound of dogs' desperate pleas in my head forever?
It wasn't bad enough that you futzed with your umbrella just outside the diner doors without any regard for anyone behind you. It wasn't bad enough that you didn't hold open the first set of doors for anyone behind you. Or the second. It wasn't bad enough that when I said to the back of your "blonde" head, "Yep, because you're the only person in the world, never mind the fact that there may be people behind you," you spun on your tacky heel and spit back, "I didn't know anyone was behind me!" (Um, yeah, exactly. Imbecile.)
No, not only did you demonstrate your oblivion outside the confines of the restaurant, you extended it into a venue that had no choice but to be captive to your shrill ignorance. And not only did you refuse to turn around and make your not-so-merry way to a table, thus prompting me to word-prod you into doing so ("Just go," I said, holding your gaze that mistakenly thought I'd find intimidating), but when you finally clomped your tight-jeaned way down the aisle to the host, you tried to have me thrown out. On what grounds? Your own rudeness?
Pictures on Facebook of some faceless motherfucker abusing a medium-sized black and white dog lying on its side in a front yard somewhere in New York state. This filthy beast's foot hangs so close above the dog's head that I can't tell if it's making contact. Although it's a still, it may as well be video because I know what the next photo would show, a split second later, the foot, if not out and out splitting the dog's head, than doing damage that no living creature should have to endure, except the vile scourge committing this hideous, unspeakable cruelty.
Over the past few months, one of my so-called best friends has "defriended" me on Facebook at least twice, despite public proclamations there that she "never" does this unless someone has been unspeakably cruel to her. I suppose my unquestioning devotion to her during our real-life eight-year friendship, wherein I've supported her through a nervous breakdown or two and a suicide attempt and domestic abuse, is indeed cruel when compared to the charming treatment she's received at the fists and teeth of her former "soulmates" and the emotional anguish she perpetually endures from others with whom she maintains Facebook friendship.
My fantasy of growing my hair long enough to trick anyone coming across me lounging in a body of water into thinking I'm a mermaid was cut short last week when my hairdresser, contrary to what I'd directed, lopped off more than I wanted, rendering me more That Girl than That Mermaid. As miffed as I was, I must admit that my original plan was somewhat flawed because the only body of water in which I'd lounge would be a bubbly bathtub. Now, with the new swingy length, I'm more fit for a cocktail lounge with the mods. Better yet!
The past four months of my life have been my absolute favorite. Is it because I traveled the world on a yacht equipped with all the Indian food, iced coffee, and dark chocolate malted milk balls that my gorgeous little heart desires, which, although consumed in almost frightening and dizzying quantity, assure that I never gain an ounce let alone a pound? Alas, no. But as delightful as that would be, it would be no match for the reason why the past four months have been so grand. I owe it all to having, at long last, met my match!
I will not stand in judgment of the episode that led to your decision/desire to apologize to me. That you recognized your actions not only warranted but demanded an apology, and that you were quick to offer one so heartfelt that I could feel your heart almost springboarding through your shirt makes me pull you closer rather than push you away. The others who discarded you for your mistakes, who did not stand by you and help you realize how to correct them and move forward, are the losers, not you. Their loss, however, is my gain. Our gain. Onward!
Boyfriend is in the kitchen, singing cat nonsense while making us breakfast. I'm in the bathroom making sure I don't look like a hag, also singing cat nonsense. Our cat nonsense isn't meant to match or harmonize, and I don't think either of us is initially aware that the other is doing it. The cat, of course, is thinking, "They're getting it all wrong." I can't believe how amazing it is to have a boyfriend who sings cat nonsense. Who makes me breakfast. Who doesn't mind that I'm not helping. Who likes just "being" as much as I do. Hallefuckinglujah!
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