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Gentlemen, please take note: Even the staunchest "Valentine's Day is for fucking losers, if you really love/like/dig someone, you don't need a bullshit so-called holiday telling you what to do, and who the hell wants to see a bunch of Bridge and Tunnel idiots mooning over each other at Nobu" chick/broad/lady still secretly wants you to do something, and will be not so secretly aggravated if you don't. And remember: Save the dozen red roses (although pretty) and a Whitman's Sampler (although fun with the little map on the inside lid) for your invalid great-aunt at Whispering Meadows. You're welcome.
Two Valentine's Days have passed with no one to do something sweet for me. I know people think Valentine's Day is stupid, a Hallmark holiday, commercial, blahblahwhatever, but I don't care. I don't need to go out to dinner to celebrate (in fact, I'd prefer not to), and don't want the usual dozen red roses with baby's breath and a box of chocolates. But I do want to know someone out there is thinking of me "romantically", someone who has a piece of my heart. I'm so glad I'm not alone anymore. But still, I'm secretly a little sad. Shhh.
My driver's license expired in October and I have yet to renew. I dread going to the DMV, even though I can just go to the "express" office at 34th and Eighth rather than wait in the line for the full-service DMV, a line almost as impenetrable as that outside the 59th Street Apple store the morning a new iPhone goes on sale. I fear that if I meet friends at a bar, a bouncer half my age and four times my size will deny me access, and I'll have to say, "Really? You truly don't think I'm over 21?"
Today is the 54th birthday of my first "serious" boyfriend. When we went out, I was 19 and he was 23, and even though he was a gigantic goofball, I thought he was so wise (the beard and mustache didn't hurt), smart, mature and worldly. He was none of that, and he's still none of that. Fifty-four was a PARENT age, older even, than my parents' age, and I could never picture either of us being this old. But really, I still don't feel like an adult, I still look like a baby, and that's the way it's gonna stay.
No one remembers Paul Smadbeck. He languishes in his dimly lit studio apartment on West 88th Street, dressed in a moth-gnawed cardigan, Sansabelt slacks, and filthy slippers, rarely plodding down the rickety five flights to ground level to see if Razr scooters have been replaced by jet-packs and the sun is still shining. The last time anyone uttered his name was when a crazy yet adorable couple who looked like a modern-day Shields and Yarnell peered out the window of Viand at 75th and Broadway, noticed it on a sign across the street, and lovingly added it to their lexicon.
Soon after it becomes apparent on Facebook that he and I are an "item", one of his friends requests Facebook "friendship". She writes a nice note, so I accept. Later I find out she's someone he had sex with a few days days before he and I met face to face. She knows I know. We chat quite a bit and I like her, even though she insists on tossing in tidbits to remind me that she "had" him. Her Facebook cover photo is a shot of her bed, and all I can think is, "Eww. That's where they fucked."
I haven't seen my cousin Brian in 35 to 40 years, so it's funny to be Facebook friends with him and write to each other like we're the kind of cousins who actually know what the inside of each other's house looks like. How lovely of this man to send me a huge basket of stuff from Mrs. Fields when my stepfather left this world a year and a half ago. And how sweet to send me "snail mail" cards, enclosing lottery tickets for me to collect proceeds of $10 and $5. Thanks for the dinner, cousin! Kisses to you!
I don't know if I've walked a mile in your shoes, but I've walked to the corner and back, and I must admit that I don't like how they felt on my feet. At the time you were wearing those shoes, I scoffed at the discomfort and pain they gave you, and suggested you learn how to walk a different way to accommodate. You resisted, and I insisted. I now realize, with broken blisters on my own heels, that I was wrong and had no right to not only have you wear those shoes but walk in them as well.
Someone very close to me told me several years ago that a friend of his always said, "All work is noble." And as "Up With People" as that may sound, I must say I agree. So, you fix things. Good for you. You repair people's bodies. Great. You type stuff for lawyers. Fine. You sweep the floors of a church. Nice. You make falafel. Thank you (and yum). What the work is does not matter, since what you do to earn the dollars, shekels, gold-foil-wrapped chocolate coins, or whatever currency doesn't truly define you as a human being, does it?
Things that are easy to do, don't require much mental or physical effort, but for which I find I must muster up considerable strength before doing (and even then, while groaning):
Changing the sheets on the bed
Folding and putting away clean laundry
Getting that laundry, while not yet clean, to the laundromat
(Oddly enough, the loading of the washer and the transfer to the dryer don't bother me)
Putting dishes away after draining dry by the sink
Putting away groceries
Retrieving a plate out of the china cabinet
Taking out the trash
And oh so much more.
One of the best things about having friends all over the place is that when I travel alone, as I usually do, I don't stay hotels but instead am treated to wonderful accommodations in their homes. As much as I love this (my friends are marvelous hosts), and as relaxing and stress-free as it is, I would like to follow my friend Nina's lead and go on short trips by myself, like a three-day getaway to a bed and breakfast in smaller town like Savannah or Provincetown or Portland, somewhere I've never been and where I know absolutely no one.
My beloved Poppop was a bread and bagel baker for about 70 years. I have been a bread baker for less than one day. Although my first attempt, prepared completely by hand and baked in a cast iron Dutch oven, didn't result in anything like what he created, I still like to think he's got his arm around my shoulders and is smiling at me, saying, "Good job, mein darling" in his thick Polish accent.
The bottom of the bread was rather blackened, but that didn't stop this novice baker from hovering over the loaf, ready to devour it regardless.
The subway doors open at Columbus Circle. A voice rises above the crush. "Don't push me! C'mon! You'll get on!"
I'm in love before I see her. Then I see her. She could be my much younger sister. She looks my way. We exchange smiles.
At the next stop, I stand and offer her my seat.
"Are you sure?" she says.
"You sounded just like I did I the other day," I say, laughing.
"Thank you! You're so nice!" she says, and sits.
Before I exit at the next stop, she smiles at me and says, "Have a nice day."
A portly, grizzled, older Jewish guy, belly straining against a striped white button-down shirt, standard drab gray and black coat/pants/and so on, faces a prematurely gray mocha-latte-skinned dancer-boy-bodied Trader Joe's cashier with gorgeous smile. Both gaze at a large glass jar of sliced pickles on the counter between them without saying a word. Then:
Jewish Guy, with NYC/Eastern European accent: "She likes pickles."
Cashier: "Your wife likes pickles."
Jewish Guy: "She loves pickles. Always pickles."
Cashier: "When you go shopping, you can't come home unless you bring the pickles, right?"
Jewish Guy: "The shopping could be ALL pickles."
At Whole Foods, when I come across a huge display of Vitamin Water heralded by a sign announcing "4 for $5", including a seemingly endless supply of my favorite variety, in the Zero subset, "Squeezed", I almost do a little jig. But settle for a Riverdance. I'm compelled to buy them in multiples of four, usually going with eight, because I fear that the sale is only valid that way, and if I buy, say, five, I will only be given the sale price for four of them and will be charged the full price of $52.65 for the fifth.
Four years ago, after seeing a photo of a friend's fresh-baked bread on Facebook, I told her I had to have that bread right now, here in my own house, made by my own hands, so I bought "My Bread: The Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method" by Jim Lahey on Amazon in a frenzy, and it arrived on my doorstep almost as quickly as I could say, "Pumpernickel!" I'm finally getting around to making a round loaf of the basic recipe. I hope my effort makes my Poppop, who was a bread and bagel baker for more than 70 years, proud.
Thanks to my marvelous vegan friend Michael, a wonderful spinoff friend introduced to me by one of my so-called "besties", Eric, and his bestowing upon me a recipe for mouth-watering tofu-mushroom stroganoff, I have dived (doven? diven? divan? Dijon?) headlong into the cooking world. This shocks no one more than it shocks me, given that with rare exception, for the 7-1/2 years I've inhabited this apartment, my oven has been used as storage for baking/cooking implements that of course were rarely used. Every week I add a new recipe to the ever-growing repertoire. Next up: A cute vintage full-length apron!
Fantasy response to a vile, bilious cunt who sent me the most hideous of private messages here on Facey B. and then took the cowardly way out by blocking me:
Often a person saddled with such a tragic lack of physical attractiveness that even the most skilled Photoshop artist, if called upon to improve on the disaster, would throw up his or her hands and concede to instant failure, makes up for the shortcoming by demonstrating a sparkling wit, charming conversational skills, a rippling sense of humor, or compassion that reveals a beautiful heart. Thank you for debunking the stereotype.
The only way to look more like a big honkin' fool when you do that little "dance" thing with someone as you're trying to pass each other in opposite directions is to get all mad and pissy and huffy. Oh, how I would love if, just once, someone would do what I want to do, which is lift up his or her arms as if "framing" a ballroom dance, in concert with me, and the two of us do a little spin thing (technical dance term) that lands us each in the direction in which we had wanted to go.
I switched subway cars this morning to avoid sibilant overflow from cheap earphones, and was rewarded immediately with the sweet face of a white dog snuggled on a Pacino-esque man's lap. Like a mallet-tapped knee, a smile attached itself to my face and wafted across the aisle, where they sat. He was taking his 5-year-old Maltese, whom he's had since puppyhood, to Central Park. Occasionally he kissed her head, her eyes reduced to slits, and she smiled contentedly. How very fitting for a little girl named "Baci". ("Like 'kisses'?" I'd said, to which he grinned and said yes.) Morning, made.
We're at Red Bamboo in the West Village. We've already drooled and flailed over our lunch, and then the server asks if we'd like dessert. I decline, but my fella rebuffs me and says we'll have a look at the menu. I still decline, but he orders whatever the vegan version is of butter pecan ice cream, one scoop. It arrives with two spoons, and the scoop is the size of a newborn's head. Thus, I'm compelled to partake. I don't know what's more delicious: The stuff itself or watching his face when he closes his eyes to taste it.
Thank you, Sylvia at Time Warner Cable, for being lovely, efficient, and effective. I would say you're too good for that place, and encourage you to find employment elsewhere, but then I'd lose out when I call Time Warner (thanks, gurrrl, for your direct extension!) the next time I have a problem, which is inevitable given that "Time Warner" is synonymous, as anyone in NYC knows, with "Motherfucking Cocksucking Sons of Bitches, Why the Fuck Is My Connection So Slow That I Can't Watch a Three-Minute YouTube Clip of a Slow Loris All the Way Through?"! Stay put, Sylvia, okay?
It seems like every two weeks at the 19th Street Equinox, the predawn crowd includes yet another Ryan Gosling-alike, quietly strolling around with perfectly Goslinged hair, not drawing attention to himself in any ostentatious way except for the fact that he, like the others preceding him, looks like Ryan Gosling. Given that there is a sign in a malfunctioning locker room sink stating "PARDON US WHILE WE SHAPE UP", never enough 25-pound dumbbells, and a wobbly treadmill or two, I have no choice but to assume this is where the increase in membership fees is directed. I am not complaining.
Last night on my way home from being out with friends, I saw an incredible black and white fluff ball on West 23rd Street. At first I just passed by with my usual "Hi, puppy!" but then was compelled to backtrack to lavish a bit more attention. Madison is 11 weeks old, an Old English Sheepdog, with fur so soft, paws so floppy, and delight so pure. I'm still happy, 15 hours after having "smooshed" him. If I have one thing to tell you today, it's this: Adopt a dog's attitude, and you're less likely to be a dick. Woof.
I'm seated on the northbound Q. A 40s-ish man stands to my left, his back to the doors. He has close-cropped dark hair, neatly-groomed facial hair, and is groovily, impeccably dressed in various browns and tans, tinted aviators, earbuds, and a long knit scarf. Or so I think. Turns out he's knitting that scarf, swiftly, deftly, and wearing another, rayon with tiny tassels. I look up, he smiles down, and I mouth the words, "I love that!" When I get off the train, he removes the earbuds, grins to reveal perfect feeth, and tells me to have a nice day.
That there is stuff at Loehmann's that, even at 90% off, still won't get sold by the time the store closes tomorrow, saddens me. I glanced in the window yesterday, and all I could think was that this must be torture for the pants, jackets, dresses, and more that has been literally hanging around, hoping someone will give it a chance. They're the wallflowers who stare at themselves in the girls' room mirror, applying lip gloss that doesn't stand a chance of being kissed off, or the classmates who try to smile bravely even as they're picked last for kickball.
If you're not going to take the time to remove your earbuds to hear what I'm trying to say to you, sir, then you deserve everything you get when the subway doors shut and you realize why you're the only person in that car other than the shabby man-heap at the far end. Even if you had MacGuyver skills abundant enough to fashion those earbuds into a noseplug, there's no way in hell they'd be able to shield you from the all-pervasive stench that results from a homeless guy taking what must have been a massive shit in already-filthy pants.
I just received notification that someone signed in to my Pinterest account from a different location. Since I know for a fact that Sunday is my day off from cloning myself and living a parallel (as opposed to perpendicular and/or pumpernickel) life elsewhere, I must conclude that somewhere out there someone with outstanding taste in 1960s/1970s clothing, a love of the Vitamix, and a hunger for vegan/raw food is eager to assume my identity and wreak irreversible havoc on the Internet. I'm sure this person does not live in a mildew-ridden basement apartment but in a ivy-festooned turret in Barcelona.
The Tip Jar