She's not thrilled that we still call her "Mrs.
Ketchup" even though she's been divorced from Cynthia's dad, Mr. Ketchum,
for two years and has a new boyfriend named Mr. Smith, who all the other moms
are taking bets will be Cynthia's stepdad by the time fifth grade is over.
"It would be rude to call her Mrs. Ketchup when she
becomes Mrs. Smith," Donna's mom, Mrs. Messer, says as she plops Welch's
on top of the Jif she's just spread on Wonder Bread without ruining the bread
the way my mom does.
"Whatever you say, Mrs. Mustard," Cynthia says.
I'd like to pretend I see something marvelous, new, and
exciting every morning I walk home from the gym up Fifth, but I cannot. I suppose if by "new" I see a
square of sidewalk I hadn't looked at before, that is so, but I mean something
new in the exciting and marvelous sense.
I'm not jaded to this city in the least (indeed, I fall in love with it
again almost every day), but until the scaffolding is completely off magnificent
St. Patrick's, I won't feel like I'm seeing anything truly spectacular there. Still, it's NYC, so there's that.
The guy I do the bulk of my work for asks me if I can do a
"rush" job. He'll pay me the
premium rate, of course. I can think of
other ways I'd rather spend this blue-skied sunny day with no humidity, ideal
for a bike ride along the Hudson River, perhaps with a picnic lunch to enjoy either
at the Christopher Street pier in the West Village or by the George Washington
Bridge, but I like being able to pay my bills with ease, which makes me even
happier than a blue-skied sunny day with no humidity. Priorities!
Catherine Molimar has taken up residence in the zipped
inside pocket of my message bag/purse for the past year and I don't have the
heart to evict her even though she's habitually late on rent. When I say "rent" I mean lollipops,
preferably purple, from TD Bank, which are rarer than the green ones that are
always available at the teller windows.
She does such a nice job of keeping the inside pocket free of salt and
pepper packets, empty paper wrappers from rolls of laundry quarters, and expired,
used-up Metrocards, so at least there's that.
She's not a freeloader.
Things that terrified me in the '70s and early '80s, as a
teen, that no longer terrify me in the "teens":
Toxic shock syndrome
The possibility of being poisoned by Tylenol tampering (even
though I never used it)
The suggestion that the United States may adopt the metric
The advent of cable TV
Computer punch cards
Talking to people without writing out a script first
The cool kids
French fries and any food that isn't cabbage, cucumbers,
Things that still terrify me:
Being asked to play volleyball or softball
Anything involving nudity in a locker room
Whenever I see a real life friend on Facebook who's trying
to get all "zen" and 'Buddhist" and "om", the same
person who when we get together bitches and complains and "dishes"
and has a wicked take on other people's nonsense, I want to throw a burlap sack
over his (or her) head, drag him to Times Square smack dab in the middle of a
whole bunch of festering humanity just ripe for the ripping, grab him a
gigantic cup of strong coffee, remove the sack, and tell him to take a good
look around and wise the fuck up.
After school, Penny's mom served us thick juice in 3-ounce
Dixie cups that she called "secret fun wine". Penny and I would swear we were drunk on the stuff
and acted accordingly. One day when she
was in the powder room and Penny was in the family room looking for the
"clicker", I snuck into kitchen and saw the bottle stashed behind the fondue set. Cough syrup?
Hrmph! I continued to act drunk
for Penny's benefit and winked at her mom as if she knew that I knew her
secret. But she was too drunk on real
wine to notice.
A friend used to bemoan the state of her skin and go to an
expensive skincare place in Midtown East to treat conditions that I couldn't
see. She'd examine it, on her own, in a
magnifying mirror that made her pores look like a sponge. If she used a magnifying glass as powerful as
a microscope, she'd see bacteria squirming on her cheeks and tiny bugs writhing
on her eyebrows. She'd find her face was
a lively village for all sorts of villains that up until then had been
invisible. What's the point? Why create problems where none clearly exist?
Technology only delights me when it works the way it's
supposed to. But when I'm in a coffee
shop, trying to bring up the CUPS "app" so I can hand my phone to the
cashier so he can enter the code for my order, and I either can't get a signal
or the little swirly circle thing on the screen keeps swirling like I'm lazily stirring
almond milk into the coffee I have yet to receive BECAUSE DAMN IT WHAT THE FUCK
IS WRONG WITH THIS FUCKING THING, I want to stomp my feet like a tired toddler
The photo of Anna, a turkey my sister adopted for me from
the Animal Sanctuary, hangs on the bulletin board above my desk. I know she doesn't really belong to me and I
can't zip up to the sanctuary in a vintage convertible and ask whomever runs it
if I can see my daughter so we can go for a nice drive through the countryside
and stop at a local farm for juicy fresh peaches and a picnic lunch by a lake. (I'd have a little scarf to protect Anna's
head from the elements.) But still, it's
a lovely thought.
Every day on Facebook I see so much animal abuse, things
that rival my bloody Adrian Lyne/Jacob's Ladder nightmares for terror that I
can barely keep my face dry from the tears.
The latest craze among the sick fuck set is duct-taping dogs' mouths
shut, wrapping tape around the snout, with the tongue protruding and swelling
so ferociously that it doesn't even look like a tongue. So, listen.
If you're that miserable of a motherfucker, take it out on
yourself. Or come see me and I'll see to
it that you are treated to a public stoning on the house.
My friend is right.
The crackers she's been raving about are fantastic, perfect for hummus. Their name, Ak-Mak, amuses me and reminds me
of AFLAC duck, Pac-Man, and The Muppets.
I dig them so much that I finish the box in short order, and buy a new one
in the next day or two. I wonder what
makes them so tasty. I hadn't checked the
ingredients as I ordinarily would.
"Clover honey" and "dairy
butter", neither of which is vegan.
Imagine an overhead movie camera (technical term) zooming out from my
scalp as I throw my head back, bellowing, "Noooooo!!!"
While I appreciate that I can simply unscrew the top of any
of the laundry detergents at Whole Foods to determine if "lemongrass"
would be something I'd like to smell on my sheets or if I'd prefer
"magnolia and lily", part of me is squeamish because I think,
"Maybe a displeased shopper saw fit to unscrew the top and deposit sputum
and such into the detergent just because?"
And then I realize, hell, I could be that disgusting person, and if I
really wanted to, I could do it. I never
would, but ugh, how easy it would be, yes?
Even though it may ruin other people's plans, I love when it
pours on the weekend and I feel justified in staying home watching movies, eating
hummus and drinking iced coffee, dozing in and out of naps, doing a little work
as I see fit, reading a book, chatting with my best real life friend online,
wearing torn-up jeans and a T-shirt, my hair Brigitte Bardot huge, and the
ultimate in thrills, ordering in Indian food from delivery.com and having the
only words I utter aloud to another person being "Thanks!" when I take
the bag from the delivery guy.
As far as I can tell, there's no reason for his nickname of
"Thoroughfare". His isn't
employed as a toll taker, he doesn't play golf, and his first name doesn't
begin with a "T" and his last name is simply Smith. When one of the girls in accounts receivable starts
calling him "Tupperware" and the UPS guy says, "Yo, Thoroughbred!", because that
makes just as much sense as "Thoroughfare", he's not only unamused
but pissed. He also doesn't take too kindly
to "Frigidaire", "Thurgood Marshall", or "Turgid Bear",
which makes Penny the receptionist blush after she asks what "turgid"
Landline (yes, I have one) rings. It's SECURITY24 with a number I don't
recognize. I let it ring several times,
thinking I'll either just pick up and hang up or let it ring through. By the second ring, I'm already rankled, so I
pick up and say hello.
I say hello again.
"If you're gonna fucking call me, fucking say
something. Fucking SAY SOMETHING,"
Silence, and then something akin to movement.
"Whatever it is, I don't fucking want it and remove my
name from your fucking list!"
Oh, I can't wait for them to call back.
Fonzie is dead tired, but determined to win the dance
marathon if it's the last thing he does.
Ain't no way he's gonna lose out to that little blonde pipsqueak cutie-pie
who will go on to star in "Dallas" and eventually fizzle into ho-hum obscurity. Fueled by her taunts, he rises and does that
Russian squat dance thing to perfection, his compact body perfect in his tight
jeans and white T-shirt, and I, barely a teen, am teary-eyed, transfixed,
practically panting, almost breathless, and know at that moment that I will
never find a man as perfect as Henry Winkler.
The best thing I could have done for myself in the past few
months, other than making my patio absolutely adorable and so much more
inviting thanks to the improvements, is to have no contact with one of the most
"toxic" people to ever participate in my life. This person contributes absolutely nothing to
my well-being but instead offers nothing but selfish moaning and wallows in
misery by choice. I'm thrilled that I no
longer have to worry about spending time in this person's company and have to
listen to the childish narrative. I know
who my real friends are.
Five years ago this month I went to the Coney Island Mermaid
Parade with a couple of friends visiting from Indianapolis, a mutual friend in
the city with whom they were staying, and my then-boyfriend who was literally
cheating on me behind my back, texting the girl on his iPhone. I had asked him several times if he was
seeing someone else and he denied it.
Sometimes I think it would've been easier for me to have dumped him
instead of the other way around. But
then I realize that would've made it easier for him. Sayonara, either way, chump.
Last night, inspired by the beauty of the sparkly twinkly
star ornament that I found in the morning among a neighbor's discards, which
has been added to my patio's grooviness, I decided to "camp out" with
my cat under that star and the others much higher up who were hobnobbing with the
clouds. I felt very Bobby and/or Cindy
Brady, trying to snooze on a 1970s picnic-y blanket/spread on the Astroturf,
and managed, if not to catch actual "Z"s, to snag a few
"Y"s. I am now on Amazon.com obsessing
over camping mats/pads, because this definitely needs to happen again.
Once home, I wash my hands in the bathroom sink, and the
soap encourages delightful amounts of gray and brown CITY SMUDGE to swirl
around in the white basin. Funny, but my
hands didn't look dirty at all while I was out and about. What did I touch? The subway pole, probably, if not a full
grasp for the duration of the ride, then an intermittent one. Maybe a dog or four. A coffee cup.
A shoelace. My own face. Rather than be disgusted, I'm delighted for
the indication of ordinary participation in a city I treasure, filth and all.
Two or three years ago, someone moved into an apartment in
the building directly behind mine and sat in her window smoking a cigarette,
whose ashes she would flick into one of those disposable red plastic cups I associate
with boring suburban parties and tailgates, gabbing loudly on a cell phone, I
"prayed" that her lease would last only a year. The baby I claimed she was waking up with her
noise could only stay a baby so long, and I didn't want to have to come up with
another excuse to tell her to shut the fuck up (nicely).
My job is to stuff olives with tiny pieces of red pepper called
"pimento". I use a special
little tool that resembles a toothpick with a tiny knob on the end and record
the number of olives I stuff into a black and white composition book provided by
Mr. Salvadino, my employer. I have printed
"Olive Log" on the cover in green Sharpie with my name, Marietta
Loomis, underneath. I fill in each
"o" of my last name with a little red dot. The pay is a penny per ten olives. I'm going to be the richest fourth grader
Ever since my beloved Poppop left this world 22 years ago,
I've been using the blue "granny" cart I'd given him as a gift a few
years earlier. In the past year or so the
"spokes" of the basket have broken free from the frame and have
become not only unsightly but a hazard, especially if you're a klutz. I'm now in possession of a new cart, bright
and happy lime green, and the blue one has been retired. It enjoys a place of honor on the patio,
watching over me the way Poppop would if he were here. L'chaim.
I swear the baby I just saw on West 77th Street looked like
a cartoon drawing of a cartoon drawing of a redheaded Little Lotta complete
with a Lucy from "Peanuts" gaping black kidney bean-shaped
mouth. The redness of her hair was no
match for the redness of her already way too freckled face, engorged with hot tears
of displeasure and rage and all things absolutely awful, accompanied by a gasping
shriek that had a passing Labradoodle turn and say over its fluffy shoulder,
"Bitch, PLEASE." All I could
think was, "Ahhh, yes. She must
have just seen her reflection."
I can't remember if I was denied approval to "fly
up" to the Girl Scouts after being a Brownie. I don't know if there was any approval process,
if there was a quiz or an application with a fee, or if you had to be sponsored. All I know is that I wasn't a Girl Scout, and
that suited me fine, because I didn't want the additional responsibility and
participation that came with the new level.
And even more so, the green outfits weren't nearly as cute. And that's all I was really in the Brownies
for anyway: The outfit.
I don't know if my dad was incredibly trusting or incredibly
stupid to let a ten-year-old balance the books of his business, but hey, who
was I to question what he was if he was paying me a couple of dollars an hour for
my precious time that could've been spent watching Lidsville? I loved the long sheets of green and white
paper, the sharp pencil I to fill in the small boxes, the sound of the adding
machine. I fantasized about getting good
enough at the adding machine so I could do it without looking, but that never
That there is so much hummus in the city, oh so close to
home, and in such a wide and delicious variety and at such a good price, makes
me giddy. That I can get five bananas
for a dollar only two blocks away also makes me giddy. That I can get a can of soda for a dollar at
the little deli up the street makes me feel like I've unearthed a treasure
trove. Little stuff like this makes me
so happy that I stroll, nay STRUT, down the street grinning like a mental
patient on a day pass.
I've been having "blog" issues for eons (all
internal techy stuff that makes absolutely no sense to me) and the resultant
anxiety, which usually simmers on a back burner, has made its way to both front
burners is depressing the hell out of me.
I didn't know where to turn, but then thought of my friend J in Texas, whom
I've never met in person but have known for ages online, who has her own
business doing this stuff. She's going
to take care of this, without charge, and I'm so grateful for her generosity service
that I'm in tears.
Tomorrow is the ninth anniversary of moving into my Upper West
Side digs, the longest I've lived without another human. (I cannot technically say I live alone, since
animal companions count as roommates.
And I'm not just saying that because my cat will bludgeon me in my sleep
if I don't clarify.) To celebrate, I've
ordered four adorable new cushions for the "bistro table" chairs and a
big patio umbrella and stand, have a new three-part rainbow-colored
wind-spinner in the shape of a flower, and a twinkly star ornament I found in a
neighbor's discards. Home so very sweet