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Years ago Claudio stopped telling people his name doesn't rhyme with "audio", because when he'd correct them, saying, "No, it's like 'cloud' followed by E-O", at least one kid who thought he was clever and original would say, "Cloudy? Yo!" or "More like Cloud B.O.!" or a simple, "Well, it should rhyme with 'audio'. That's just dumb. You're dumb." Now he's 36 and he's new in this office and a big, barrel-chested doofus in pleated khakis named Warren just did the "Cloudy? Yo!" thing. Claudio wonders if he should trot out his "War and Peace" zinger for good measure. Soon.
It depresses me to focus on the ways the UWS has changed since I moved up here in 2004. That Fairway's awnings are now suburban shopping center green instead of bright blue is enough to cause distress. The closing of "mom and pop" shops in favor of "big box" crap you'd find in Wisconsin is even worse. And of course the endless banks. I try to focus instead on the small stuff that's springing up and the old delights that seem to be holding their ground, and frequent the "little guy" as much as possible. It helps the sanity immensely.
It's so hard to believe that up until a year and a half ago, not only was I barely cooking at all but the mere thought of cooking made me cringe and pout and want to run for the computer to scour online menus for the best delivery option or to Westside Market for some of their wonderful prepared food. I have become one of those people who would cause me to roll my eyes when they'd say, "I can make it better at home." Because, really, who's going to make better, creamier, more flavorful tofu stroganoff than I do?
Bobby Landry's list of names for his new puppy, all rejected by his parents:
Bobby Landry, Jr.
Robert Q. Landry, III
Trout Peter Scott
BunnyBunny Yoyo Topps
Plaster of Paris
Fluffy Pita Pan Pie
Flippity Flopper the Bowling Ball Dropper
Sixteen and One-Quarter
Dicky DickDick Honk
Mr. Daddy and Mommy Are Jerks
Mr. Mommy and Daddy Suck
He's trying to tell me that "microsubfasciinitis" is a word. I tell him it is not, even though I haven't consulted any dictionary, online or off, and haven't Googled it.
"How do you know then?" he says.
"Because I know you made it up, just like you made something up on Monday," I say.
"I don't remember," he says.
"You don't remember 'deframpulinatory'?" I say.
"How about 'chloromyofragmentopathy'?"
We go on this way for ten minutes. Finally we Google "microsubfasciinitis" and there it is, in an article. Authored by him in 1962.
"See? I told you," he says.
The fortress underneath my sister's part of our trundle bed (the non-collapsible part, of course) is a little sanctuary from the craziness of the cramped bedroom the two of us share when our stepsister stays with us. At 7 and 8, we're small enough that we can sit/lounge comfortably beneath it on our bed pillows as if in a harem. We wish we could hang real curtains along the length of the bed so it feels more authentic. We wish we had a dorm-size refrigerator. We wish we each had our own bedroom. We wish we had our own apartment.
My best girl friend and I made a pact that on Saturday at noon, we'll each dig into the bigger of our two closets in our respective apartments and organize/clean out/do whatever we need to do so we don't keep fretting about the overwhelming task we've both avoided for way too long. We agree to dedicate an hour of time, and, once submerged, if we want to go beyond that, of course we can. But we only need to commit to one hour. Doing it this way makes us feel like we might be able to finally get it done.
At least 40 years ago, I put a handful of stones into my treasured rock tumbler, added whatever solution came with it, along with water, and sealed it for tumbling, presumably to make something like a groovy pendant. I never finished doing whatever it is you're supposed to do, and stored it in the bigger of the two closets in my bedroom. I left that house 27 years ago, leaving the rock tumbler behind. If it still exists, I'd be torn between unsealing it and freeing the aged stones or leaving it intact, with the 40-year-old air inside saved forever.
Ahhh yes, I was always so eager to "fit in" with what everyone else is doing, always one to just go with the so-called flow, to march to the beat of the same drummer. Indeed, for my fourth grade school photo, I chose a purple suit comprised of knickers and a bolero jacket, complete with white tights and shiny black shoes. And ten years later, at a community college, I traipsed around in tweed knickers, a lacy Edwardian blouse, cinch belt, cream-colored ribbed tights, authentic black ballet slippers, and a very, very long coat with attached scarf for bonus flourish.
"There will be no hotcakes for you!"
"There will be! No! Hotcakes for you!"
"There! Will be no! Hotcakes for! You!"
I don't want hotcakes, I don't even call them hotcakes anyway, and who is this guy to make the determination that I will not have hotcakes? This is a free country and I can have hotcakes if I want! Indeed, now I may even want them since they're being denied me!
Alas, this is indeed a free country and the dusty shambling man at 32nd and Sixth has every right to express himself vis-à-vis hotcakes too.
The girl at the next table has called her chocolate dessert "molten" at least three times since it was placed in front of her.
"I wouldn't call it 'mud pie'," she says, referring to a menu. "I'd say it's more molten. I'm not complaining, not at all. I even actually prefer molten to mud."
She lifts an enormous forkful, almost half the cake, to her mouth. "So molten. So, so, so molten."
"Gee, is it molten?" I whisper to my companion.
"It is!" the girl shrieks through her mouthful. "See!? I told you it's molten!" she says to her friend.
Waiting for the light to change, humming a tune I've made up and can't get outta my head. A great-looking guy in a snappy suit next to me smiles and starts singing a few words to accompany my little song. He's holding a bouquet of white tulips, my favorite.
"Fine flowers, fella," I sort of sing-song.
"Then they're yours!" he says, handing them over with a flourish. "I just remembered I'm supposed to visit my grandma tomorrow, not today!"
The light changes, he crosses and enters The Esplanade. Through the glass doors I see him hug a tiny old lady.
"Are we even pretending to still be sticking to New Year's resolutions?" he says.
I stare at the back of the woman's head in front of me. How long does it take to pay for coffee and step aside?
"Are we even pretending?" he says.
Could she count her change any slower?
"Are we?" he says.
I spin around.
"You talking to me?"
"I think I may be talking to her," he says, indicating the slowpoke. "If her resolution is to drive strangers up a fucking wall, then she's to be commended for grand success."
I may be in love.
Dear Recipes on Pinterest:
Can you appear by yourselves with one or two gorgeous headshots and one or two jaunty introductory paragraphs, instead of being preceded by a top-heavy narrative long enough to rival The Iliad, broken up by more photos than posted by the parents of a newborn who think everyone is as dazzled by every blink of their baby's eyes as they are, and a list of juicy adjectives describing the end product so exhaustive and exhausting that it causes a thesaurus to roll its eyes? Can you just dial it back to speed-dating succinctness? Thanks.
My brother and nephew are crossing Central Park, and then we're going to lunch. I assume we're going on the Upper West Side, but when we leave here, we're walking south, past the 60th. Last time I looked there were a few restaurants around here. Our destination is in the West 40s. It better be worth it, I think. Turns out it's pretty much a hole in the wall with spicy noodles for about 8 clams a pop. We sit on stools at a narrow ledge, off plastic plates with cheap chopsticks. Was it worth the walk? Good god yes.
Do I remember him, he asks? After all these years, he asks? Do I remember our date and the rain and his hair curling up so he resembled 1980s Albert Brooks? Of course I do, I say, and does he remember I told him I wished I had one of those old-timey plastic accordion-folded rain bonnets with the name of a bank stamped on its carrying case to protect my own coif? Yes, he does. Would I like to recreate that date, he asks? Can I take a rain-check, I ask, hoping he "gets it". He does. And we're on!
Nicky Noonster is getting sick and tired of people asking him (1) if he is a rooster; (2) if he is a "moonster" (they say this while making their hands into claws or their arms out in front of them like a lurching zombie); and (3) if he is into "afternoon delight". He's 44 years old, and these jokes have been old for, oh, at least four decades. No one notices anything else about him, though, so he just grins and bears it. Or at least he thinks what his face is doing is a grin. Who's to say, really?
Miriam winds the kitchen timer for seven minutes and dashes out the back door of her split-level house and underneath the hedge by the garden gate, where she blinks three times, shrinks to dandelion size, and hops into a transporter the size and shape of a watermelon, which burrows into the ground and whisks her to the Earth's center in five seconds, where she spends six minutes and 45 seconds (two hours in underground time) with her second family, all of whom not only
when she burns dinner but don't use it as an excuse to order in pizza.
"I think he just said, 'Frifferschiffer on the Hampshire'," I say.
"No, no, no," my date says. "SHE said, 'Poppersnopper on the Berkshires", and then maybe a "tally ho". And then HE said, "Whip me up a langaloop.'"
"I had a feeling that's what it was, but you can never be too sure," I say.
"Well, you're just gonna have to trust me on this one," he says.
We hope we're confusing any other couples in the Indian restaurant who may be playing the lipsync "eavesdropping" game too. At the very least, we hope someone gets in argument over "Frifferschiffer".
She pours me a cup of "Sanctum" and says her apartment is an oapsis away from the middling muddles, and do I feel as compterfull as she does among the bric-a-brac and riffraff? I tell her I've got a soft spot for other people's nostalgia, and she asks if that's anything like lasagna and, if so, could she please have the "receipt" so she can make it for her mother. (Her mother would be 121 years old by now.) I tell her it's not something you can eat. She's so disappointed she refuses to give me "shoo-shoo" for my Sanctum.
He sends me links to articles he's published in a handful of local papers, most of which serve the Upper West Side. Such a globetrotter, this one. Lives on the Upper East, writes about the Upper West. Takes the crosstown bus to shop at a well-stocked food store that isn't one of the big chains, and always with a coupon. Invites me out to free events all around town. Informs me of Groupons and coupons and deals and all sorts of things that make me think of him as a lonely octogenarian four decades prematurely. No, thanks. Delete, delete, delete.
I haven't checked Yahoo since, it seems, the Reagan Administration. I sign in on a whim and find a few handsful of email from fellas I'd corresponded with from OKCupid back in the day. Stragglers, hangers-on, compelling enough to have kept around for a while if only for diversion. One apparently has been asking me out the 14th of every month, for almost a year, with unflagging humor and a fine sense of rhythm and rhyme. I want to respond to him favorably on the 15th next month but fear it would mean the end of this charming one-sided correspondence.
My best friend and I are strolling through the West Village, laughing like hyenas at each other's ridiculous puns and jokes, meeting dogs left and right, eating portable snacks, smiling into the sunshine, popping into small stores to have a little look-see, buy fun sodas, and then making our way to the Christopher Street pier, where it seems every cute gay boy under the age of 35 is lounging and sunning and reveling in a relaxing sunny Sunday afternoon. Winter is in the past, and our love affair with New York City is renewed. There's nowhere else we'd rather be.
Apparently it won't be a wedding if I'm not there, so instead of staying home because I can't afford airfare or train fare, and being present only as a talking head on a phone screen (unable to even smell the cake!), the best man sends a car to pick me up and deliver me to the town that's hosting the festivities. The backseat is enormous, and since this is a company car, it's maintained even better than those from Carmel which I've taken to and from airports and smells faintly of citrus. I sleep all the way to Boston. Ahoy!
I fear my toaster oven, which I've recently resurrected from over ten years of dormancy, cleaned and buffed to shiny renewed perfection, and used with a vengeance to make up for lost time, may be showing signs of wanting to permanently retire. The last few times I've used it, it's smelled a bit like burning plastic, and today something sparked inside within minutes of being turned on (to make delicious roasted potatoes). I 'm scared to turn it on again, not only for fear of starting a fire but fear that its useful life may have come to an end.
After installing a new "launcher" for my phone to help combat what my exhaustive research revealed may have been the reason why it was eating up so much battery power, I spent another inordinate amount of time searching for icon packs, clocks, wallpaper so I could make it look superduper cute. Now I am so enamored of the way my phone's screens look that I keep looking at them just to admire them, which of course is eating up battery power. I am in awe of this technology, the only concession I'll make to living in the so-called "modern world".
Please, Dog, give me the strength not to purchase the fabulous blue wide stretch belt that will perfectly enhance the adorable blue and white coat/dress with flouncy hem that I bought a year ago, yet to be worn but which I'm positively giddy to debut this Spring, until such time as I've gone through the closet in which the charming garment resides and made it tidy/pretty/presentable so I no longer weep over the overwhelming task of getting it done. Please let me stick to my using the purchase as a "reward" or "incentive", because I'm a baby that way. AMEN.
Feeling like too much of a catatonic slug to even be bothered with tossing chickpeas and garlic with some spices and roasting them to add to kale and a simple dressing made with tahini, lemon juice, and whatever-else-that-I'm-forgetting-right-now. The thought of having to wash a couple of bowls and utensils is too much to bear. It's times like these that I'm happy I decided to not be snooty about picking up a few frozen Amy's things, which only require me to press a button and sully one fork. I have the rest of the week to cook like a champ.
Thank you ever so kindly for the email ending our friendship because, according to do you, we've "grown apart". I applaud you for the honesty, because had you not told me why you were ending it, I would have assumed it was because I know you better than most people you consider your friends, which means I know all your shit and know when you're full of it, and you cannot handle anyone thinking you're anything less than the spectacular specimen of humanity you're trying to peddle to people who don't know you in real life. Have a nice li(f)e.
The magnificent silvery-goldish gogo boots are being trotted out for the Secret City benefit in two weeks. They'll be accompanying the hot pink, orange, and yellow 1970s palazzo jumpsuit with plunging keyhole neckline that I bought just for the occasion, white stretchy bracelet, and white triple hoop earrings. Everything is vintage, so there is no way in hell that anyone else is going to be wearing anything even close to this. I feel like I'll be channeling a mixture of Megan from "Mad Men" and my two loves, Mary Tyler Moore and Marlo Thomas. The grooviness is off the charts!
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