REPORT A PROBLEM
Over and done with and I walk away from the equation-crammed blackboard, clapping dust from my palms, rubbing them on my pants, leaving shadowy x-ray prints on the black fabric, part of an equation now resides in reverse, daring me, somewhat lazily, to solve it. I ignore it and say I have better things to do than give a damn about solving an equation I lost interest in ages ago. Whether there on the blackboard in front of me, crisp, or on my pants, blurred, I don't give a damn what the answer is anymore. I've even forgotten the question.
We weren't the kind of family who had fresh-squeezed orange juice on the breakfast table, waiting to be poured with love from a simple rounded-bottom glass pitcher into perfectly spotless glasses. Years ago, in an attempt to become the kind of woman who'd have that kind of family, my mom bought an electric juicer made just for oranges. It took a crazy number of oranges to make one decent glass of juice, which she gave to my dad, who downed it just as quickly as she handed it to him. And so we returned to the frozen neon concentrate crap.
Dearest Gentlewoman on the Uptown 3:
Those two slovenly, slouchy, snickering trash-talking females (I refuse to call them "women"), old enough to be the mothers of any grandchildren you may have, who harangued you when you politely took a seat next to one of them, who said to keep your fat ass off of them, to not sit your old ass on their laps, and who continued to badger you, have no idea how lucky they were that you gave it back calmly and firmly when they deserved fists in their faces that would have silenced them for good.
When you said, in a voice reminiscent of Maya Angelou, "If I'm old, as you said I am, don't you think I deserve respect?" you deserved an Emmy, a Tony, an Oscar, and a People's Choice Award.
When you rose to leave at Times Square, I knew I had leave too even though that wasn't my stop. I had to dash after you, tap you on the shoulder, and tell you you're my hero and gab with you for a while. The man accompanying you said I just made your day. And ohhh, you made mine.
She may not speak my language, but I'm willing to bet she understands it and would speak it if her vocal cords (and whatever other kitty innards make sounds in her fuzzy little body) were capable of producing the same sounds as mine are. I think I'm doing a bang-up job of replicating her coos, chirps, and meows, but I'm pretty sure that to her ear I sound ridiculous, like a foreigner with an abysmal lack of grasp of her meowther tongue who fancies herself a skilled native speaker. Still, I think we understand each other most of the time.
Every once in a while I think about leaving this city for a smaller city or town, one with streets less clogged with cars and people and craziness, the pace slower, the buildings shorter, the apartments more sprawling, the whatever a lot whateverer, and so on. And then I'll leave my apartment and be out on Broadway, among the fruit vendors and the dogs and the old ladies and the "granny carts" pushed by old ladies and not-so-old fellas and the flash of lights and sound and realize, why the fuck would I ever want to leave this grand poetry?
You need to stop watching me from your window when I use the mailbox across from your building. You need to stop pretending that you just so happen to have run out of baking soda when I pass by on my way home from the gym. (Really? Baking soda? How often does someone need to buy baking soda?) You need to stop waving to me in Fairway the cereal aisle. You need to not pop up as a cashier at Westside Market when I'm checking out with pretzels. If you're going to be in my dreams, why be so mundane?
At long last, the scaffolding around St. Patrick's Cathedral, the Metropolitan Life clock tower, and the Flatiron Building, which has been hovering like angular dinosaur skeletons hellbent on devouring delicious marble, steel, and other construction comestibles (ignorant of the fact that being skeletons renders that an impossibility), has come down. The buildings are now free from the threat of that seemingly interminable invasion and ready to be photographed during "the holidays" by the sloth stampede of tourists. They're standing up straight and tall, proud, grinning like dorky 1970s teens on School Picture Day, elated to be unshackled from silvery-gray braces.
I'm on the subway platform, quietly minding my own business, daydreaming about French fries and dogs, when a recording interrupts my train of thought. This one doesn't announce the number of minutes until the train arrives or "If you see something, say something", but reminds us that cold and flu season is upon and admonishes that if we need to sneeze, we should do so into a tissue or into the bend of our arms. In addition, once on the train, we are reminded that unlawful sexual contact is prohibited. Thank you, M(om)TA, for your concern and vigilance. You're tops!
I thought I'd miss the friendship, long as it was with experience and memory and secrets and cozy good things, the equivalent of curling under a blanket on a dank Sunday with my hands wrapped around a big mug of hot orange spice tea and an old movie bringing a bit of sentimental nostalgia into the mix. But I'd forgotten the needless drama, the hypochondria, the chronic lateness, the penchant for boring food choices, the affection of a voice that was trying hard to be sophisticated and failing miserably, and my feeling of unbuttoned relief when dreaded plans were cancelled.
Straight out of a Nora Ephron movie, it is, the way I meet you in the laundromat, and the way you run home and bring me warm homemade cornbread in between stages of the laundry process, the way I surprise you by showing up at the museum where you're leading a tour and you look over and smile at me like we already share cute secrets, the way you invite me for dinner and you have this groovy apartment with all sorts of artifacts and books and all the food you've made is really good, and oh, that cake.
I suppose even your attempt to kiss me as I was on my way out was very Nora Ephron. Billy Crystal would have been impressed with the awkward hug that morphed into an even more awkward attempt at a kiss, which I immediately rebuffed. And then an email exchange where I reiterated my lack of interest "that way", your pretending that was okay, and me avoiding the laundromat on Sundays at all costs, even hand-washing clothes at home instead. And me cursing you for your insistence on ignoring the washer/dryer in your apartment in favor of the laundromat.
Time passes, and we email a bit. In a rare magnanimous mood, I accept his invitation to a restaurant. I make sure he knows it's not a date, but he still swings by to pick me up, arriving in an oversized sweater that he later tells me his mother made for him a million years ago, which I find endearing in spite of myself. After dinner, he tries to hold my hand, I remind him I'm not interested (hey, chump, I even paid my own way), and I cannot get home quickly enough. What would Meg Ryan do?
Meg Ryan probably would've padded around her multi-room apartment in adorable man-style pajamas, quietly cursing the jerk's audacity before getting into a big Anthropologie-outfitted bed along with a dog who took up more than his side of it. Maybe she would have written the would-be loser Lothario a scathing email and saved it in her drafts folder and deleted it the next morning. But I'm not Meg Ryan, so I wrote that email and sent it immediately. And he responded in a way that would only be found in the deleted scenes on the DVD. Nora Ephron be damned.
I neglected to do laundry and as a result have no clean gym clothes, so I'm not gymming right now. My punishment: The laundromat on a Monday morning. Which is even more cry-inducing than being at the gym on a Monday morning Is this a Catch-22 or a "circle of life" thing? Didn't O. Henry write about this? Who knows. All I know is that in 1-1/2 hours I'll be wheeling my 20-something granny chart to the laundromat and waiting in the wind for it to open, which is even more punishment for needing to avoid the Monday rush. Yay!
Thank you, one ex-boyfriend, for the super-champ space heater that's now under my desk, so I don't have to freeze my toes off while working barefoot in the winter. Thank you for rendering superfluous. The space heater another ex-boyfriend gave me never worked, so for the past two winters, I'd had to wear socks, which I don't like to do when I'm working because I like to feel the foot pedal beneath my skin.
Note to future ex-boyfriends: The window air conditioner I have right now isn't strong enough to cool the whole room effectively and it's much too noisy.
He starts to tell me what he did for Thanksgiving and pauses when mentioning his mode of transport.
"I thought you said you were never driving in or out of the city again," I say.
" I didn't. Someone else did."
He pauses, starts to speak, and catches himself. Starts to speak again and catches himself again. For fuck's sake, I say, is it that hard to answer?
He didn't want to say anything because he didn't want to "hurt" me.
I wish I used the word "dude", so I could say, "Dude, like I give a shit?"
Rare is the posed still shot of me that looks anything like I truly look. Point a camera at me and tell me to "look natural" or to stand or sit there for longer than a nanosecond for you to frame the shot or do anything more than exhale, and you'll have me cringing hard enough that creases take over my face and make me look like a crone. Tell me to "smile" and it'll look like I'm being forced to compliment an ugly bride. There is no such thing as a posed shot that isn't self-conscious. Talk about "cheese".
No, I will not join your weekly book club. I will not sit in a chair in any sort of circle, rhombus, triangle, or any other geometric configuration, with the selected/required book nestled on my lap, a cup of burnt-tasting Starbucks coffee in my hands, and wait my turn to tell you what I think of the book. Let me just read a book in peace, a book of my choosing, alone (or with my cat snuggled against me). And think what I want to think of it, alone. And drink better coffee made in my own kitchen. Alone. Alone.
It's a raucously windy night, and the three sets of wind chimes on my patio are swinging, swaying, and tinkling their simple music, much to my delight and perhaps to the chagrin of any neighbors who don't fancy the song of wind chimes. But I don't care if it rankles someone, because I have no patience for anyone who is put off by wind chimes and the delicate little vibrations they put out into the world, especially after dark when they seem like they should be tucked away in tiny bunk beds, giggling quietly to each other under cloud blankets.
I see the email subject first: "Long time no see, but". I don't recognize the sender name. I click on the subject and the email appears on my screen (I'm still amazed by email), and I read all about how it's been a long time since written or seen me but he's been thinking about me and wondered if I remembered him and, oh, he saw me downtown in the show and had no idea I was involved in that endeavor. My skin feels like it's literally crawling, as if he'd been watching me on the toilet through a periscope.
I'm on the Lower East Side, on the ground level of the venue, waiting for my friends' sound check on the level below to be complete so I can go downstairs and settle into a seat instead of feeling like I'm hovering over the stool I've been manning for about 20 minutes. I'm wishing I were home with my cat. Once the music is over, I realize that the entire time they were playing not once did I wish I were home with my cat (no offense to her, of course). That's the best review I could ever give anyone.
On one hand, I'm hoping the "chicken" nuggets I made that are baking in the oven as we speak are phenomenal and finger-lickin' good and hit the so-called spot and make me want to bark like a seal and do cartwheels because I can add this to my recipe repertoire. On the other hand, I hope they're a raging disappointment so that my backup plan, ordering in Indian food, can be set into motion and I can dive into a pair of sexy samosas. And on the third hand, I want to order Indian anyway as, you know, a supplement.
Rumbles of horrors in email from half a decade ago. The viscera has such incredible muscle memory that it clenches and cowers and cringes from the mere reading of words that still feel fresh even though they've been read quite a few times over the years. The impact isn't as severe as it was back then, but it's astounding that the words still make a dent now, and cause me to avert my head and close my eyes and grimace as if a wildlife show is on TV and I don't want to see the lion tearing apart the gazelle.
I swear this just happened. Verbatim.
Me: Merry Christmas, sweet Shay-She, my little love, little face! Yay! Meow!
Her: Meowy Christmouse! Do we do presents?
Me: No, we don't do that. You know we don't do that.
Her: Oh. That's right. So.
Me: We've never done that. But you know you're my favorite, right?
Her: I suppose so. Yes. And mew are my favorite.
Me (actually getting teary): Awww! That makes me happy!
Her: Out of all the people I know, mew're number 1.
Me: I'm honored, my beauty. And how many people do you know?
Gee, what a shocker that the boyfriend who cheated on his wife to he could be with you has now revealed himself, several years down the line, that he was cheating on you too. What makes you think that your womanly gifts are so impossibly delectable and unbeatable and earth-shattering that he's going to swear off trolling for as much action as he possibly can? And shocking, even more, that when you confront him with your suspicions, he denies it with all the vigor he surely displays when pulling his pathetic pud in response to some skank he met online?
Thank you, guy I had a scant handful of dates with two years ago who told me we shouldn't see each other anymore because you just don't see me as the "mommy" type who'd be happy wrapping endless Christmas presents for your two little "rug rats". Yesterday would have been an absolute nightmare had we still been together, but I doubt we would have because two other Christmases would have passed as well and I'm sure the first would have been hair-pullingly horrifying enough for me to curse Mr. Christ for ever having been born. Fa la la la loser.
This page left intentionally blank. This page left intentionally blank. This page left intentionally blank. This page left intentionally blank. This page left intentionally blank. This page left intentionally blank. This page left intentionally blank. This page left intentionally blank This page left intentionally blank. This page left intentionally blank. This page left intentionally blank. This page left intentionally blank. This page left intentionally blank. This page left intentionally blank. This page left intentionally blank. This page left intentionally blank. This page left intentionally blank. This page left intentionally blank. This page left intentionally blank. This page left intentionally blank.
Thank you for not blindfolding me as we made our way from place to place for our New Year's Eve Eve Eve celebration. Thank you for trusting me to avert my eyes from the cab windows and to not look up as we entered each place, so I only had to look distracted while entering each place rather than kidnapped. Thank you for the quiet "ta-da" each time you slid each place's business card in front of me or pressed one into my palm. Thank you for the "Yay!" every time I laughed with each revelation. Happy Almost New Year!
This year on Facebook I didn't see *one* "end of the year" post in my news feed. Sure, there was the usual stupid video things that Facebook creates if you want it to, but no one in my acquaintance offered a list of highlights or lowlights of the year or anything about the year except cliché wishes for a happy new year with "loved ones" or "friends and family". That's mind-numbing enough, but at least I didn't feel compelled to skim through people's lists to find a gem or two among the banal bunkum. Apparently have chosen my friends wisely.
Oh yes, indeed, that's right, smack-dab in the midst of a deposition, this fun-lovin', somewhat rollicking, plus-sized sassy deponent just nonchalantly reached into the neckline of her white blouse, removed a cell phone the size of an iPhone 22, complete with attached earbuds from her bra, without breaking stride, blinking, pausing mid-sentence, or excusing herself, as if she were at the neighborhood salon on a Saturday afternoon with an orange Slurpee and a bag of chips, "waiting on" her mama, sister, and cousin to get their hair did, and checked who was calling or texting or emailing or Tindering. Yesssss.
The Tip Jar