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I can't tell whether she's keeping up with her or she's keeping up with him, but either way, it's clear that they're one of these old couples who walks through Central Park together, slowly, in patient appreciation of the trees and grass and everything else that congregates within its boundaries to make every walk beautiful. They're in my path near Strawberry Fields, and I want to pass, but decide to stop and chat instead. She is lovelier than her face presents, and she smiles when she says he's saved her life. Of course he has, I say. He's a dog.
I can't tell whether she's keeping up with him or he's keeping up with her, but either way, it's clear that they're one of these old couples who walk through Central Park together, slowly, in patient appreciation of the trees and grass and everything else that congregates within its boundaries to make every walk beautiful. They're in my path near Strawberry Fields, and I want to pass, but decide to stop and chat instead. She is lovelier than her face presents, and she smiles when she says he's saved her life. Of course he has, I say, he's a dog.
He strides around town toting a large green canvas bag on which the white-lettered words "ASK ME ABOUT MY WEIGHT LOSS!" are flaking off. He puffs on a pipe that, given the smile of his eyebrows, I'd sooner expect bubbles to float from its marbled wood bowl rather than the faint scent of cherry. One day I find myself seated next to him in the park, and in rummaging through his bag (for bubbles?) he removes an astronaut's helmet, a miner's helmet, and a dunce cap, in that order. "You never know when you'll be called to duty," he says.
Little-known fact: In the movies, just as it's against the law to not include a baguette and/or large stalk of greens poking from a shopping bag to indicate grocery shopping, it's also a criminal offense to feature a wedding without including two kids chasing each other at the reception, on or around the dance floor, perhaps en route to the cake table, usually a long-haired girl in a dress with a big bow and a boy, often shorter than the girl, in dress pants and a button-down shirt that makes him look like he's on break from taking a deposition.
You know you've seen the temp before, but you can't quite place her. You're breaking the unspoken office code by talking to a rogue secretary, but you've always been a bit of a maverick.
"Weren't you on 'Maury', getting your hair cut for the first time in 25 years?" you ask. " I think I remember you crying as they sawed through your ponytail like through the thick frayed rope you'd see hoisting an anchor onto the deck of a boat."
"No, that wasn't me," she whispers, her right hand curling around the back of her neck like a reflex.
"I think you should know I'm celebrate," he says, French fry mid-air, en route to ketchup-dipping.
Apparently he thought that by saying yes, he could have a few of my fries, I was inviting a certain sort of, intimacy. All of a sudden I wish I'd told him to use a fork when invading my plate.
"And you're telling me that WHY?" I say.
"Because I'm celebrate and I don't want you getting any ideas," he says.
And I don't want you in my fries or my pants, buddy boy. Keep your grubby mitts and your horrid mispronunciation to yourself.
"If you were a candy, what would you be?" he says.
"I don't know," I say. "I don't want to be pretentious and name the finest quality truffles in all the land. Can I be wax lips?"
"If we're sticking to cheap candy," he says, "I see you as a Twizzler. Lean, classic, yet twisted."
I kind of like that, even though I'm bored of his Barbara Walters-esque questions.
"But I have a feeling you taste better than Twizzlers," he says.
"And Twizzlers can break your teeth when you least expect it," I say.
Ugggh. What a fucking (milk) dud.
You must know:
Every time I regard a dried date, I flinch for several seconds and think, "This could be a cockroach," and then, even after identifying it as not being one, still cringe as I bite into it.
Every time I flush a dead cockroach down the toilet (while saying, "I'm sorry, little guy"), I cannot watch it swirl out of sight. The next time I lift the lid to make my acquaintance with the device, I blanch as I think that somehow the water not only revived the cockroach but reconstituted it to at least twice its size.
When dogs are 'evaluated' at shelters, one of the tests is how they react with food. If they "guard", it's a strike against them. Gee, what a shocker that a dog who may have had to scrounge for food his whole life would *dare* to "guard" it. I know how I get when someone tries to take one of my French fries (or even asks for one), even if I just ate 20 minutes ago. What a bunch of absolute bollocks, to put a dog's life in jeopardy because he doesn't know when, if ever, the next food is coming.
Among the congregants at Judson Memorial Church this morning: A man who has been living with AIDS for 21 years who just celebrated his 60th birthday, an older lady with a classic "Jewish mother" voice estranged from her biological family, a black lesbian couple and their daughter who had had a naming ceremony there yesterday, an interracial lesbian couple whose son was being baptized, and an atheist dressed like the second coming of Mary Tyler Moore who almost lost it a few times not out of revulsion over all the "Jesus" stuff but out of the palpable love surrounding her.
T has been asking me to read another story in the East Village, this time for the new show she's producing on her own. I'm one of her favorites, she says, and people loved the last story. I shuffle the toes of my Hush Puppies in the dust with a big "gee whiz", and already start throwing up a little at the mere thought. After the other reading, my friend Amy told me that her dad says if you don't get nervous before performing, you don't care enough. I figure any wisdom from George Costanza's dad is wisdom to heed.
If you look up at the gym from West 77th, you have a clear view, through the huge window, of whomever is on the treadmill on the end, the one I run on every time I go to that branch in the early evening. As much as I cringe thinking that people would actually be watching from, say, the outdoor seating of the restaurant across the street, or an apartment above that restaurant, I like to imagine they are, because it keeps me going, as if I'm there to "perform". Treadmill as stage? Just don't break a leg, right? Hee-yuk.
The last syllable is uttered, and it's all I can do to not flee the room without even putting on my coat before dashing outside to hail a cab. Crammed into my coat, I serpentine through the room and am almost free when I come face to face with the face I least want to see tonight. He grins at me. I internally grimace. Why the horrible straw-type hat, hideous enough in August, but grotesque now in November? I feign exhaustion and he only succeeds in kissing me on the cheek before I bolt outside, where the wind slaps it.
"Revving" his exceedingly red convertible Ferrari at a not-quite-as-red light, left wrist draped over the steering wheel at "12 o'clock", mirrored aviator sunglasses hiding what I'm sure is a dopey gaze., he's waiting impatiently nonetheless for green to "gun it" much to what he thinks will be the delight of every pathetic car-deprived pedestrian at the intersection of Broadway and 72nd Street. He's trying hard to telepathically make his passenger, a McDonald's bag inside of which is a quickly-cooling Filet o' Fish and large fries, disappear, so he can fill the seat with a winsome "baby girl" instead. No dice.
Random gratefulness, since it's November 'n' all and this is "how we do", as "they" say:
My warm, cozy, colorful apartment-lair-oasis
Central Park, the best therapist in all the land
An incredibly warm hand "muff" (eww) in the form of one Shana Shornstein (my cat)
Proximity of stores that sell Chock Full O' Nuts for less than $4.00 a can
The popping up of retro-looking vertical signs on several Upper West Side establishments, including Viand Cafe and The Town Shop
Etsy and eBay, so I can dress like it's 1968 or 1971
Friends, family, health, vocal cords (goes without saying)
Sayonara, see-ya, and so on:
Two so-called friends of more than a decade
"My rent hasn't increased in seven years."
Desire/patience for weekly appointments at the nail salon
My unfounded aversion to smoothies
Any desire to set foot inside Banana Republic, Gap, or any other chain store that would have me dressed like everyone or anyone else
Stack of unread magazines that I don't even think I ever intended to read anyway
14,000 bags crammed under the kitchen sink
Embarrassing stained kitchen floor that probably bore footprints from 1936 (still there, but covered by new floor with 2013 footprints)
Does my dark green paisley zip-front jumpsuit, white gogo boots, white necklace that is best described as "Granny Meets Starfleet", and camel-colored sweater jacket ensemble offend your mock turtleneck sensibilities, dearest Madam? I'm just standing on a street corner here in New York City, blocks from Times Square, smiling at the sun, waiting for the light to change with the rest of the world. I know you feel as if you've fallen into an abyss if you choose your fashions from any store other than a Gap boutique, but come on, my outfit, while groovy, isn't really that far out.
Like so many other people, I eagerly awaited the airing of the fourth season of "Arrested Development". However, unlike so many others, I still have not finished watching it. I know this is months after I "should" have watched it, after its long-awaited arrival years after its premature yanking, but ugggh, the mere thought of spending sofa-time trying to pretend I don't hate it is enervating. Perhaps one night when my guard is down, and it's either look at Facebook photos of babies or watch this show (the only two options available in the small village of Manhattan), I'll return.
Mark insists on spelling "potato" not with an "e" like Dan Quayle but with a capital "P".
"We spell 'God' with a capital letter, so why not 'Potato'?" he asks, peering down at the perfectly golden, lightly peppered and salted steak fry speared on his fork with the same kind of expression on his face that I've seen on Sunday churchgoers.
" That makes perfect sense to me," I say, plucking the fry off his fork and gobbling his God.
"Should I go so far as to replace the vowels with hyphens, like 'G-d'?" he asks.
"Pfft," I say.
I've joined a yoga class on the Upper West Side populated entirely by manicured "mommies" whose OCD-coordinated Lululemon outfits are fit not just for indoor poses but for dashing around the neighborhood in pursuit of the perfect "froyo" for themselves and enormous cupcakes with heaps of Cookie Monster blue frosting to generously smear around their toddlers' mouths for Instagram photo ops. I joined only so I could fabricate my own darling mop-topped wonder child, who, when I leave her in the care of our bright-eyed Haitian nanny on my way out to class with a nasal "Namaste", replies, "Mama, stay."
Trevor's life fits into the pocket of a giant at the top of a beanstalk that he only recently decided to climb. It's the little coin pocket in the giant's jeans, where the giant stores a dime just in case he has to make a telephone call back to 1972. Trevor's life is a crumb in that pocket, and ever since he claimed it, he's been savoring that crumb like it's the entire cake. Is he waiting for the giant's finger, recently dipped into a can of Duncan-Hines frosting, to claim the dime, so he can finally have a taste?
Yes, I'm grateful. I'm grateful that although I may occasionally act like an idiot and do stuff that, in the moment, I don't realize is shitty, I have the wherewithal to later recognize it and apologize for any harm I may have done. I'm grateful that I'm not a soulless shell, that I don't give a flying if I cry on the bus over the mere thought of big-scale evil in this world or small-scale horror closer to home, and that those tears are often ones of supreme joy that I can barely articulate. I'm grateful just to fucking breathe.
The day the photo shoot, K sent me several "selects" to review. My instinct was to squint and look at them out of the corner of my eye, but instead I faced them full-on and gasped. She had promised me I would look good, that the lighting and a real camera would create something leagues more fabulous than anything I could ever take of myself with a cell phone in my poorly-lit apartment. She was not only right, she was super-right. I look like Mary Tyler Moore, from the flip of my hair to the lacing of my boots. Magic.
I am transcribing a video deposition out of Chicago. When the attorney asked the deponent, a soft-spoken gentleman, dressed appropriately as befits his profession as a CPA, if he'd talked to anyone about his deposition before sitting for it, the deponent said, "My husband." This made me very happy, and I had to pause the deposition to smile at him a little teary-eyed even though he couldn't see me. In replaying the video later, though, I would swear I saw him look slightly fearful as he gazed off to the side, and that made me a different kind of tearful.
Peeve (not quite "pet", but still peeve-y) (NOTE: This may sound like a math word problem, so please start flailing accordingly): When someone says something like, "Oh, it's taken me X amount of years to finally do Y", where X is his current age and Y is something that there's no way he could have wanted to do since gooey infancy. Unless, of course, the person was a brilliantly precocious newborn and knew, from the get-go, that one day he'd love to, for instance, scale Mt. Everest. )In which case, the newborn aged into a procrastinating underachiever and a disappointment.)
Last Thanksgiving we stood around the butcher block in my parents' kitchen, a room that we all knew, the next day, Black Friday, would be just my mom's kitchen. My nephew's girlfriend's restaurant supplied the food, and although we claimed it was delicious, I'm sure none of us really tasted much, our taste buds burning with the saltiness of tears we drank around my father's hospital bed that afternoon. This year we're going to my brother's house instead, where no real memories of my father have attached themselves. How typical of my family, to want to avoid dealing with pain.
My tofu jerky came out saltier than I had hoped, so it won't accompany me to my brother's for Thanksgiving. The family doesn't know what it tastes like when I've achieved the perfect balance of smokiness and saltiness and have left it in the dehydrator for the ideal number of hours, and I don't want them thinking this batch is my standard. I'll bring a big box of chocolates from Jacques Torres instead, a surefire success! And unlike certain thankless ex-friends of mine, someone at my brother's house will actually open the box in my presence for all to enjoy.
For two weeks I must "make do" with photos he's sending of himself "on set" on the series he's working on right now. How is it possible that someone can look that good in a phone photo snapped a few feet away from a sewer in Pittsburgh on a cold winter morning? There's enough room on the left side of the photo for me to Photoshop myself into, so we can be together in 2-D, but I'll just wait until he's here in 3-D, when we can take all the photos of the two of us as we can stand.
Under the cover of darkness last night, in the bathroom, Shana's green eyes peered up at me for a moment before disappearing, and she uttered a sentence that, although brief, was complete in a way -that would lend itself brilliantly as a seventh-grade green chalkboard example of grammatical parsing. I could almost see the "hangman"-like structure of the parsing and smell the white chalk dust. I think she said, "I can understand you", but I'm not certain. I can't tell which impressed/frightened me more: That she understood me or that her diction was so precise. (Just a dream? Maybe not.)
Dear Guy at the Gym At Whom I Directed A Slight Smile:
I smiled at you because from where I was situated, on a treadmill about 15 feet away, you appeared, in height, hair, posture, eyes, and paunch, to be a dead ringer for Ricky Gervais. Now, I know you weren't he, because what little I could see of your teeth, they didn't have quite the feral quality of his, which I confess was a disappointment. I wanted you to possibly actually be Ricky Gervais. But you had to go and ruin it with your good teeth, di'n'ja?
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