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In the mid-'80s, my friend Debbie and I spent many nights at the Irish Pub in Philadelphia. Blue-eyed, perky, and tan, she inevitably attracted the "cool" guy of any duo-pack that approached us, and I was stuck with the stuttering shmoe as the smooth-talker tried to woo her. I wore a small Zippy the Pinhead button on my denim (yes!) jacket saying, "All life is a blur of Republicans and meat", which confused the beer-breathed hell out of every single simpleton who approached me. Not one dunderpate "got it", so no one got me. Meanwhile, Debbie got gigglingly groped. Shocking!
It doesn't take much really. A computer and a keyboard, a blank page, a glass or two of something cold, one a quasi-fruity water thing, the other definitely coffee-based, a ceiling fan, the notion of a nap, several dozen glances down at my cat to remind me of what's most important, a daydream of my homemade empanadas, friends popping by via electronic means, squishy comfy pants, a tank top, no shoes, and a mind that isn't satisfied just with snap, crackle, and pop but demands more sizzle, pizzazz, and kapow. Many days (most) this is all I need or want.
Anytime someone boasts, "I don't care what people think about me," I want to bellow, "BULLSHIT!" through a bullhorn. Or maybe into one of those old-fashioned "ear trumpets". Or maybe without the enhancement of any apparatus at all, given my ability to "project" my voice like a miniature unbearded Richard Kiley. This claim doesn't impress me as a sign of superior strength, as I've found that most people who present it are way more wonderfully sensitive than they care to confess. Admitting you care doesn't mean you want to change to please someone else. It's merely a protective, defensive pose.
Any minute now he's going to stop abruptly right here on East 36th Street, pivot on the heel of his perfectly polished shoe, look right into her eyes, and say, "What? What? WHAT? Why are you following me?" And she will almost collide into him because she wasn't really watching him, wasn't following him, but was so enchanted by the flashes of cobalt blue that comprise the lining of his suit jacket, revealed every few steps as he stroll-strutted down the sidewalk, and didn't even realize she'd gone about 10 blocks out of her way just for the vibrant glimpse.
Twenty minutes have passed since I sucked down my first strawful of the banana-cherry smoothie my Vitamix concocted for me, and I'm still sitting here in Davy-Jones-with-hearts-for-eyes reverie, wondering how it is that the taste-total of two fruits I love so much when eaten individually is greater than the sum of its parts. It's so delicious that I couldn't help but break out into a celebratory dance, grabbing Shana around the waist in a poor approximation of a conga from the kitchen to my desk. That there was any left in the glass after that ten-second performance is absolutely shocking.
Ahhh, yes, at long last, confirmation from a friend that something I suspected two years ago is indeed true, and that I was right about certain mechanisms set in place behind the scenes like a fucked-up Rube Goldberg contraption. I laugh even more now than I did when you so vehemently denied my "accusations". I say to myself, now as I did then, in my best British actor accent, "Methinks thou doth protest too much", but now I do so with even more conviction. The jig is up, the truth's been told, and so it goes. Hands, consider yourselves dusted.
Oh, "The L Word", thanks to my week-long binge-fest on your tasty treats, I'm in a tizzy. Today, while at a medical appointment, the exotic dark-haired nurse and I were seated close to each other in her tiny office and, despite her wedding ring, she seemed to be flirting with me as much as I was with her. I was FORCED, thanks to the scenarios depicted on your show, to imagine tearing off her lab coat and ravaging her. I was also forced to imagine the same thing with the X-ray technician. I keep forgetting I'm not a lesbian. Whoops.
A gorgeous, brilliant, hilarious, insanely talented friend, someone I called one of my "kids" because she was young enough to be my daughter, took her own life yesterday. We'd been friends for over a decade, and the last time I saw her was maybe 1-1/2 years ago when she was visiting NYC after having moved across the country. She moved back since then and recently we were making plans to meet for lunch and act ridiculous together. I can't even describe how I feel right now, having just learned of this tragedy an hour ago. I have no words. None.
"Are you from -- ?"
She nods. Says something yes-ish.
" -- yes, you are."
Yay, "Yoga Jones" from "Orange is the New Black" on the downtown-bound 2. She wore faded "boy" style jeans with huge holes in the knees, white T-shirt, black shoes, and carried a black and white shoulder tote. Hair in tiny twin pigtails. She and her male companion got off at 14th Street, as did I, and looked lost, as I did not. I purposely moved away from them quickly so I couldn't be "offended" when they didn't ask me for help with directions.
Cargo-ish-type pants were made to not be ironed, right? (Please agree. Otherwise, I'll be forced to drag the creaky old ironing board from a closet and drop the leaky iron on my foot, at which point I'll also be forced to curse all kinds of punctuation marks and dash out of the apartment, down the street, through a cave, by a river, through a forest, all in old-fashioned Hanna-Barbera cartoon form, which will noticeably loop/repeat , eventually landing atop a snow-capped mountain, where I'll hop on my "good" foot and roar a Fred Flintstone-like, "Yeowwwwwww!!!" while damning Barney and/or Wilma.
Do not even try to include me in any form of manufactured drama, online or off. I would say "I'm too old for this shit" or attribute my lack of interest to being 50, and point to a Buzzfeed, Thought Catalog, or Elephant Journal "listicle" that bullet-points what I now know since I've reached this decade, but really, I had less than zero interest in drama even when I was 40, 30, 20, and 10. And I'm sure this is a pattern that will continue with each decade to come. I don't take rotten bait dangling from rusty hooks, kidz.
So, the diagnosis is not Parkinson's or cancer of something and/or anything and/or everything and, yes, I should live. (Huzzah!) Naturally I knock all varieties of wood, from pressed plywood to teak and beyond, because still, in the back of my mind, I think something's still amiss. Something still feels "off". I'm not a pill-popping hypochondriac, and getting me to see doctors at all was a major feat. I was even shocked at the x-ray equipment, expecting an old fashioned square black screen behind which I would stand, my bones, when revealed, appearing like a Bugs Bunny cartoon from the 1940s.
You have to have traveled to a foreign country with just a backpack and no real itinerary. You have to have lived on your own without roommates in an apartment you wrangled for yourself, paid for by your hard work. You have to have had a relationship of at least two years' duration. You have to be able to navigate a city, if not by GPS, then by asking people along the way. When we go to a party, I have to know that when I leave the room, you'll still be having fun. Not too much to ask for.
That's the thing about suicide: Nobody ever tells you, when you do it, that you can't come back. Or, wait, maybe they do. They do. But not in the bedroom beside you when you're pulling the trigger or on the bridge just as you jump or in the bathtub as you slit your wrists. You're not coming back. You don't get to hover above the scene and watch people cry. You don't get to attend the funeral and say, "Miss me now?!" I know because I came back, and I know that when you're dead, that shit just doesn't happen.
I would seriously hurt someone for some Indian food right now. I mean, like punch someone in the pancreas. Literally. Like, look at a diagram of a human body, one of those really nifty kinds I loved in elementary school (and still do) with the plastic page overlays for each "system" inside the body, locate the pancreas, and then locate it through someone's clothing, give it a gentle "test punch" and then go in for the real one. All for some baingan bharta, samosas, onion naan, and a little chana masala. Or I could just order through Seamless, I guess.
I seem to have forgotten that I promised myself I'd never take the "redeye" again. Just like when I used to "forget" that certain foods caused great stomach upset and would indulge anyway, thinking, ahhh, I can handle it, if it even happens this time it won't be as bad. But no. I convinced myself it would be glamorous to be at LAX close to midnight, that it would be all foggy like on the train tracks in a 1930s movie and we were both wearing trench coats. Alas, he wore a hoodie, and now I feel like a zombie.
I finally saw him the other day with his wife. I hadn't seen him in several years, no desire to, but always thought that if I did see him, I would dash away or hide behind a wall or buy a potted plant behind which to duck if he looked my way. But none of that happened. I saw them through a restaurant's big window, facing each other but each looking down at their phones, neither smiling. I didn't tap on the glass, I didn't go in to say hi, I just thought, "Oh" and carried my kitty litter home.
Our "inaugural" show attracted a much bigger audience than we'd anticipated, so much that the small space we'd booked didn't have enough seating so I suppose it was technically "standing room only", even though some of those who couldn't find seats took to sitting on the floor. We'd fretted that we hadn't "rehearsed" enough, but it turned out we work even better together when it's more of an improv sort of thing. Rather nerve-wracking but ultimately more exhilarating. We took in enough money to indulge in Indian food for the rest of the summer. All in all, a rousing success!
When I was five or so, and thunder wasn't yet one of my favorite things, my mom told me it was just God rearranging his furniture. Other times she told me he was bowling. I knew this was bunkum because I didn't believe anyone named "God" would participate in such mundane activities. I did believe her, though, when she told me that, despite her tiny size, she used to be a lady wrestler, and her opponents were dinosaurs. And I believed her when she said she won, because there was no way T-Rex could have with those tiny, tiny arms.
Someone, please, post a photo of a flopped soufflé, reveal you wear a toupee, admit you're not really working on a screenplay. Confess to being alone on a Saturday night, licking an ice cream bowl clean, or that when you're out you often daydream about being at home licking an ice cream bowl clean. Whisper that you hate your girlfriend's yoga obsession, your husband's crappy guitar-playing, that you sometimes want to shake a baby. Tell me rainbows annoy you, you love when people's basements get flooded, and you roll your eyes at people who Purell their hands on the subway.
No one is allowed to challenge you, to insert any variety of "no" into your enchanted little terrarium world, to even hint that you are not perfect, that you are, gasp!, infallible, that you may have to do a bit of way overdue self-examination to figure out why you think your cape is so pristine. No, you need a doormat, not just to tap the tips of your boots upon before crossing the threshold, but to scrape their crusty bottoms on until all your grime and filth attaches itself to the silent mat whose job it is to take it.
Frederick tells me that he is addicted to rolling out pizza dough. He doesn't even like pizza, he says, but he finds the rolling of the dough oddly compelling, and he has taken to doing it for several hours a day, every day of the week. When he is not rolling dough, he feels lost and out of balance. He is unemployed, so I suggest that he apply for work at a pizza place, but he says that taking money for it would seem wrong, like he were being paid to shoot up heroin or get smashed on Mad Dog.
This morning as I approached The Plaza en route to the park, I thought of the lifeless squirrel I came across about a year ago at that very spot, and how I'd posted to Facebook telling him that someone cried for him that day. No sooner did I feel sad again than I almost stumbled over a lifeless rat (or very large skinny-tailed squirrel?), sprawled on his belly like a tired dog. I gasped as much at the surprise as for the coincidence or conjuring or whatever it was, and cried for him too, knowing that no one else would.
If you're going to chew on consonants like they're crappy Atlantic City taffy, masticate vowels like a Coney Island speed-eater, and choke-sputter throughout a sentence like a drunk mumblebee intent on poll(ut)inating the listener's ear with that garbage, you can't expect me to return the report you just dictated without an obstacle course of "INAUDIBLE". If I can't make out what you're saying on the third attempt, fuck you. I'm not digging through your verbal shit like a crazed newlywed plowing through the contents of her toilet bowl after realizing that, oh my god, she must have swallowed her ring.
Oh, for the love of fuck, just offer your seat on the subway to someone who looks like he or she may need it more than you do. Don't waste time worrying that that person will be "offended" that you asked. The worst that can happen is that someone miserable will refuse and spend the next eight hours wondering if you offered because you think they're fat, skinny, old, pregnant, disabled, sad, or it's Thursday. Or maybe someone stable will decline politely. And the best that can happen is that you made someone feel like someone cared enough to ask.
I'm sure the physical therapist knows why I'm hiding my face behind my hand, that he knows of the grimaces, the winces, the face scrunched up so hard that all of my features blend into one amorphous clump in the middle where my nose usually resides alone. The sounds I make are nothing like the screams I want to let out, but I'm trying to be as stoic as possible. At long last I can take it no longer, and on an exhale my "Ffffff" slides into a full-fledged "Fuck", and we both laugh stupidly. Still, I feel like crying.
Not-shot "selfie": Old red tanktop stretched out to "nip slip" (ew, sorry) oblivion; groovy black and white cotton pajama bottoms falling below my hipbones courtesy of lazy elastic and a recalcitrant drawstring; bare feet with intermittent metallic silver polish; hair in twin pigtails because I'm secretly a 14-year-old field hockey player; annoyed grimace because I just indulged a few paragraphs about Cheryl Hines marrying a Kennedy despite not giving a fuck; cat in the background contemplating my murder; laundry waiting in granny cart, heaving a sigh because it just learned it's not making it to the laundromat this morning. Hello!
Zen schmen. Calm schmalm. I truly believe that the secret to still looking like a baby at age 50 is to act like one instead of pretending to be an adult when I don't want to be. Crying in public, "losing it" in public, guffawing, twirling around poles and using scaffolding like a jungle gym, skipping and singing and rolling on the ground with dogs, making a colossal fucking jackass out of myself, and not caring that I'm 50 and not 5, the only difference being that I know when to reel it in (rarely) and when not to (often).
I don't care if my empanadas aren't "authentic" and that an Argentinian street vendor would no doubt scoff and say "¡No son lo auténtico!" The fact is they're authentically delicious to my taste buds and make me very, very happy in a way that causes to make up stupid songs in the kitchen as I roll out the dough, do a little prancy dance complete with poorly-executed pirouettes as they're baking, and applaud to the point of a standing ovation when I bite into them and realize, oh my god, I made these and it was terrific fun and yesyesYES!
Upon reaching Central Park West after a looong walk home from the gym this morning, I came upon Bruno, a four-year-old dark gray and white pitbull I've met before, lounging by a bench near 72nd Street, who expressed his supreme delight at being smooshed by "Jobi" (dogs can't pronounce the "d") by wagging his tail non-stop, rolling onto his side, smiling, and then onto on his back, neck stretched out, head lolling back, eyes barely open, thus inviting a prolonged belly-rub "sesh". The only way this morning can possibly get better is if French fries magically appear at my door.
I would kill right now for the following:
Van Leeuwen ice cream (large)
A knock at the door announcing the arrival of the handsome, slightly scruffy, dark-haired, not-too-young DILF I had a brief exchange with this morning around 73rd and Madison. He can even bring his adorable be-sunglass'd son.
Netflix to air a second season of "My So-Called Life" that just this morning was discovered hidden in an attic somewhere (better 20 years late than never).
French fries. (Duh.)
A three-hour smooshing session with a pitbull, a Mastiff, and a German Shepherd (but really, any dog combo).
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