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My dad's voice is still on the answering machine at my mom's house. When I call and am not sure if she's around or not, I simultaneously dread and long for the machine to pick up. The moment it does, I brace myself but I know I cannot steel myself against the torrent of tears and racing heart. For the first time today (I'm typing this on 5 February, much later than the stated date), as the message played, I said, "I love you, Daddy, I miss you so much," as his voice played. It simultaneously comforted and destroyed me.
I haven't heard from R since I turned down his offer to spend a Jewish holiday with his family, none of whom I'd ever met before, only two days before the event, not nearly fair enough "warning" that I'm vegan, which would not only include him trying to explain to his sister, the hostess, exactly what a vegan is and also trying to find recipes to accommodate me. I turned him down nicely and gently, but I suppose he took it as a personal affront, a rejection of him rather than a genuine plea not to disrupt someone else's day.
Years ago my beloved lava lamp broke, and from the looks of my apartment walls, you'd think the dark red splatters were the result of someone being bludgeoned with it, the liquid obviously the blood and the soft chunks the pulpy remains of my victim's head, including but not limited to brains, skull, gums, and teeth. Years later, an ex-boyfriend's uncle blew his own head off (on purpose) in the den of the aunt's house, and she cleaned up the entire gruesome mess. I cringe as I confess that I would be curious to see if there was any similarity.
One of the perks of living in a "parlor level" apartment in a row of very old buildings in a Manhattan neighborhood is the spritely company of water bugs (they prefer this to "fucking huge-ass cockroaches"). On days when they've read the latest favorable Yelp reviews, I've been the hostess to up to half a dozen guests, none of whom were invited and none of whom are welcome. Some of them are fortunate enough to be escorted onto the patio, but most, alas, are, shall we say, snubbed, by my maitre d' who just so happens to be a cat.
Several years ago an ex-beau appeared on "Wheel of Fortune". Had I not known him in real life and only watched as an outsider, I would have found him adorable and exuberant, albeit pretty damned dorky, and, despite his schnooky navy blue country club dad blazer, wanted to date him (and not just because he wound up winning more money than I make in a year). In the end bonus round, the J, Z, and W he selected were quite helpful in allowing him to shout out, "JIGSAW PUZZLE!!!" as soon as Pat Sajak let him out of the gate.
When you're having a conversation with someone, and the other person is telling a story that doesn't need your input, so basically it's his "turn" to talk, please refrain from breaking up the flow of his narrative with rapid-fire "Yeah, yeah, yeah, right, right" and "Sure, right, yeah" and "Okay" and "Mm-hmm, mm-hmm, mm-hmm" and other similar utterances. Let him just talk. You're contributing nothing to the exchange. It doesn't make you sound like you're really listening. It makes you sound like you can't wait for him to shut the fuck up so you can launch into your own "turn".
Ethan insists on using a brush with the finger paints, much to the frustration and alarm of his mother, Elaine, who's been peering over the top edge of "Parents" magazine for the entire 45 minutes her 3-year-old has been quietly engaged in what he calls "arp time". Yesterday he used his fingers in the watercolors, which caused her an equal amount of chagrin, even though he was outside on an inch-thick blanket of newspapers. She shudders, imagining him at Melinda's fourth birthday party on Sunday, eating ice cream with a fork and singing the birthday song in the wrong key.
Lonely Lotharios, would-be wooers, and sundry cyber-studs: The time I could've spent indulging your offers to "role-play" before I even know your names or using the phone numbers you provided, unsolicited, has been spent culling through your impressive dating profiles. You may want to tone down the boastful tone when declaring that you only read non-fiction and hold off on haughtily mentioning your disdain for cats. If you took the time to look beyond the photos of these webcam Mensans and their desperate cleavage, you'd see the lone book in their Hello Kitty-outfitted apartments is a dog-eared chick lit paperback.
My Match subscription may have expired after a two-month insanity stint, but that doesn't mean I'll miss out on notes from other online dating sources, like OKCupid. To wit, I present this example, which I imagine the sender, dressed in a silk ascot and monocle (and nothing else), composing first on the finest of vellum using a quill pen dipped in a cut-crystal inkpot before typing into cyberspace: "hello. just wanna show some luv to ur beautiful sexy fine self. absolutely drop dead gorgeous. a perfect 10. any guy be lucky to be with u. just had to tell u"
I found myself in an oddly buoyant mood this afternoon after vacuuming the floors/rugs and sofa in anticipation of cozying up to the pristine pages of Veganomicon, a cookbook I bought a year-plus ago but have never opened for longer than one minute let alone used. As I scanned the recipes, noting unfamiliar words such as "teaspoon", "sauté" and "cast iron pan", I tried to keep my spirits high even as I felt a dash more deflated upon discounting each successive recipe. Even one-pot enterprises seemed like too much effort for the girl who literally burns boiling water. SeamlessWeb, anyone?
I have now lived in Manhattan longer than I lived in Center City Philadelphia. Although I'd lived in Philadelphia as a kid, that doesn't count because it wasn't Center City, and I don't count that as part of the "real" city, and it wasn't part of the consecutive years that I lived there on my own as a so-called adult. During a recent visit, Philadelphia felt no more home than anywhere I had never lived. So much had changed, but even so, I didn't feel like I had come home again. I felt like I didn't even speak its language.
No, I'm sorry, you're wrong. I have no desire to go to Disneyworld or Disneyland or Disneyville or Disneyburgtownborough. I have no desire to go to Epcot Center. I have no desire to go on a Princess Cruise. My vacation time is oh so scarce, and life is way too short to spend it spending way too much money on a prefabricated experience when I can go out and create my own, to make my own way somewhere else, guidebooks be damned, in a land where I may not know much of the language. There's a real world out there.
Practical Romantic Relationship Advice for People Who Wish Not to Be Deluded and Who Are Also Not Teenagers and Who Refuse to Buy Into the Tearjerker Pap Hollywood Shoves Down Our Throats With a Warm Spoon, Advice, Yes, from a Spinster, But One Who Enjoys the View of the Real World, As Tarnished As It May Be, Way Too Much to Have Her Head Up Her Ass, No. 1: If you find a person in whose company you feel comfortable, and at least 51% of the time you are quite happy to be around him or her, stick with it.
Oh no, I am not full-out dancing in the aisles of Whole Foods on a Saturday morning. I wouldn't go that far. Not for me to pirouette and arabesque or even skip-to-the-lou-my-darling there, but a few snappy steps contained within my own magnetic field or personal cart space, oh yes indeed. I figure if they're going to encourage it by dint of playing good music, I'm going to dance enough to amuse a bored not-yet-caffeinated employee who may be watching on a closed-circuit surveillance monitor. But really, when faced with all of these fantastic tofu options, who even needs music?
"So, I'm just telling you I'd be really happy if I were able to meet you sometime. Perhaps you favor writing for a while, maybe a call, or just meeting. If you want to that is, I'm not presumptuous."
Oh, how wonderfully refreshing, especially following "What have you got to loose?" after I politely turn down an offer of "a glass of wine" from a faceless, photo-less OKCupid dreamboat whose sparsely-worded profile made it clear he's on the prowl for sex, lots of it, from anybody. I wanted to respond, "My self-respect, for more reasons than you can count, looser."
After two months of being winked at by scores of guys who'd never have the gall to wink at me from across Columbus Avenue, at the gym while climbing the Stairway to Nowhere, or while checking out how their feet look (suburban) in comfort wingtips in a calf-high mirror at Tip Top Shoes, I've ditched my Match profile. When deactivating, the site asked if I was sure and even wept a little, pleading with me to reconsider and offering a reduced rate, as if price is the real reason I'm leaving and not the fact that online dating is abysmal.
I'm going to start wearing a little dispenser on my belt, not for change like someone who sells cotton candy at a stadium (although I always wanted one of those too) but for tiny red flags that I can click out each time a date does or says something that raises one. I want to take these little flags and line them up on my side of my coffee cup or my plate or even in my palm, depending on the location of the date, and smile down at them as the guy prattles on and earns himself yet another.
New policy, effective immediately: No "friending" a guy I meet on OKCupid before I've been out with him at least once, no matter how much we've already corresponded otherwise. Hey, fella, not only are you the one who initiated contact on that site, but you're the one who suggested the Facebook "friending". If you can't commit to a casual Facebook friendship beyond 36 hours, which requires absolutely nothing to maintain and doesn't even ask for participation, good luck committing to a "romantic" relationship with a chick you meet, on OKCupid or otherwise, outside the bounds of the Internet. Aaaaand block.
A leaf did a dance past my window this past spring, to the tinkling symphony of my wind chimes, flitting this way and that, taking its time getting wherever it was going. It used its strength to stay aloft and thus didn't wave at me, but it did pause to peer in. I wished it could've sprouted wings to take it somewhere else, wherever its heart wished. It wasn't until after I pointed the remote control at the window to pause and rewind that I realized I'd wasted that time reaching for the remote rather than witnessing the entire dance.
The boots from Thailand are not only cuter but more substantial than they'd appeared on Etsy, all-around wow-worthy, except for a heady odor that brings to mind and nose a combination of glue and nail polish remover. I hold them to my face and take a whiff, as if they're a mimeographed quiz from 1972. Alas, they're a smidge too small, and although the seller is accommodating, I fret vis-ŕ-vis returning them. They lounge here for several weeks, and I decide to keep them. Returning them now would hurt their feelings. Never mind if they may hurt my feet. Woof.
Hates ta breaks it ta ya, buddy boy, but my right to implore you to cover your mouth while you're hacking out not only your bilateral lungs but half your pancreas, the bulk of your gall bladder and quite possibly your brain, as you heave your sweat-soaked, hairy, plodding carcass on the treadmill outweighs your right to turn around and unleash on me a torrent of filth so rancid that I wish I could unearth your parents and have them foist on you the discipline they should have meted out 60 years ago. Cover your mouth, fucker. And zip it.
This vegan chocolate chip scones from Whole Foods deserves to be worshiped on a delicate plate. It should be held in my hands, raised up to the sky, as if in offering to "the gods" or the clouds or the admiration of a rogue bird, provided it is not predatory. Or like that baby in "Roots". Yet here I am, scrounging at a bit of it directly from the small paper bag in which I placed it at the store for purchase. Here I am, merely holding it in a crumpled napkin in my palm. Slow down, girl, and savor.
It's not going to get easier, it's not going to diminish into a mere thud rather than a pounding, it's not going to go away and leave me with a peaceful feeling that he's "in a better place". It's just not going to happen. I'm never going to be able to think of him without wanting to tear my hair out and pound my fists against the chest of a long-bearded "God" who, based on just physical description, would pretty much look like my dad. I'll bawl into my chocolate-covered cherries forever. I'd rather it be that way than subside.
The audience is roaring as if this guy is the second coming of Gallagher. I'm having the same reaction I do to Gallagher, which is squelching an urge so strong it almost feels like if it could burst forth from my viscera, it would do so with all the gusto of the Kool-Aid pitcher, and take physical form long enough to make use of its ephemeral feet to trip this guy as he's flailing and stomping onstage for the duration of his storytelling, and to make use of its temporary hands to slap some sense into those who are guffawing.
"Hello how 're you doing am ralph lonely man tired of been a lonely man i dont m,ind getting to know you better."
Oh, I'm not even going to bother to change his name to protect the innocent because, you know what, kidz? He's not. He's guilty, G-U-I to the T-L-Y, and should be sentenced for the heinous infractions in his sentence; to wit: Lack of punctuation and capitalization; errant mid-word comma; and not just one but two instances of "lonely man". He may not mind getting to know me better, but I certainly mind the idiocy of this communication.
Oh, West Village venue, with your gruff door guy who doesn't give a shit about my ID (WHY NOT?!) and only wants my $10, and your no-frills interior that has bar seating for maybe eight people, and drinks that are probably either incredibly strong or impossibly weak and, I suspect, cheap, but which, thanks to no "two drink minimum", I don't have to buy. You and your dressed-down patrons, who could pass for a crowd from 30 years ago, and live music that can't quite figure out what it is or what it wants to be. You, my friend, ROCK.
You know what? There's only so much Buddhisty, Zenny, meditate-y, love-thy-neighbor, count-to-ten-before-getting-angry, deep breath, be-the-bigger-man, don't-sweat-the-small-stuff, Oprah-gratitude, om-namaste-downward-facing-dog, white-light-and-love, circle-jerky platitudinous poppycock I can stand before I really WILL let people know how I really feel, even though by dint of their having said that, often with a chuckle barely covering a sigh, that they think I've already said too much.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: "Tell me how you really feel" is a flimsy, pusillanimous, passive-aggressive way of expressing disapproval. The next time someone says it to me, though, I'm going to take him literally.
Two days of depositions with the same nun, a white-haired 69-year-old with a smooth, unlined, perhaps too pink complexion, soft-spoken, who speaks as if she is composing and parsing sentences in her sensible noggin for good transcription effect, perfect for Central Casting if ever they needed to fill a role for a classic, timeless Midwestern nun. For some reason all of a sudden I realize, "This nun takes showers just like non-nuns," and picture the pins and needles of hot water cascading over her starched whimple, her pink and white naked body not merely blurred or pixilated but completely absent.
When friends whose taste I didn't question otherwise raved about "Downton Abbey" during its first season, I began to question my own judgment about the trustworthiness of their opinions. In a moment of either magnanimity or weakness, I surrendered and promised a friend I would give the first episode a chance.
Not even ten minutes in, I came to a conclusion: "Downton Abbey" was a stuffy bore and my friends were never to be trusted again. Then, in an odd forgiving mood, I pressed on. I am pleased to report that my original protestations have been replaced with resounding endorsements!
Talking to dating prospects on the phone has proven to be the KISS OF DEATH. I'm not a big phone person anyway, and I tell them that, but a few times I've made an exception to the "policy", if only in a specious demonstration of my ability to compromise. Even if the call goes well, somehow we wind up not meeting. Or, if we do, the guy is a woeful disappointment best left to communication via infrequent Morse code. I made an exception for Pastry Chef. As much as I detest being wrong, in this case I hope I am.
This gem made its way into my OKCupid messages:
"u kno I like u , u get rite to the point. u r honest, no bullshit with u . Y must b a sweet women wen people get to kno u .I sense that in ur summary . Would love to get aquianted with u .;)ty bobby"
Oh, the infractions on parade in this dazzling display! Myriad motley misspellings are bad enough, but oh! Funky punctuation? And as if the abundance of "u" isn't loathsome enough, "Y" now also substitutes for "you"?
It's too much for one "women" to bear!
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