Where to turn, oh where to turn when coffee is no longer
doing the trick, when the jazzy stuff you relied on for a colossal kick in the
bloomers, the pantaloons, and the cat's pajamas apparently has ditched its
steel-toe boot, the one that wallops you from here to the moon (Triscuit in
hand just in case its cheese isn't crappy bleu this time) and back, in favor of
squishy aloe-infused socks, barely nudging your somnolent carcass out into the
world beyond the front door and indeed crooks its gnarled finger back toward
the bed and says, "Never mind"? Where?
I warn him about my keyboard, that it's not the standard
sort, but still, when he goes to navigate to the site we want, he says,
"Whoa!" and his hands retreat as if it had turned into red-hot stovetop
coils. I tell him I told him so, and he maneuvers
the two halves to approximate a regular setup.
"Oh no," he says.
"Where's the C?" I
don't know. I never look at the keys
"Where's the M?" he says in mock terror.
"How do I even LIVE!" I say.
Somehow, we manage to order in our food anyway.
I won't memorialize your lips in drippy pink watercolor or satirize
them with thick red gouache blotches. I
refuse to empty the vacuum cleaner canister into a plastic bag and fish out cat
fur tufts to be fashioned into a likeness of your hair. I’d prefer not to save coffee grounds to use
as a tint that approximates the color of your cheek. Instead I'll sketch you with a yellow pencil
(Dixon Ticonderoga No. 2) on a sheet of loose-leaf with faintly bleeding blue wide-rule
lines, as if I'm in seventh grade, and erase you with a big pink eraser.
See, the thing about you telling me about your job,
especially when I didn't ask (I never will), is that I genuinely do not
care. I don't care what you do to earn
shekels, zloty, or the so-called Almighty Dollar. I can count on one hand, the four-fingered
hand of a cartoon character, how many people I know whose employment interests
me enough for my eyes not to glaze over the moment they start telling me about
it. I know it's how you afford your
stuff, how you spend a lot of your time, but really, I just don't care.
The suit is blue and white seersucker, the type worn by a seasoned
Southern barrister on his way to see a client, where they'll discuss the case on
the wraparound porch over homemade lemonade.
But we're in the North, and he's a young attorney better suited for gray
wool, especially since he's meeting me for lunch in a tucked-away joint where lemonade
has never been and never will be served.
I try to convince myself that not only do I not hate the suit but think
he looks marvelous in it and that I don't hate him for wearing it.
Sometimes my walks home from the gym are buoyant, and the
sun offers not only light but glitter, the breeze is as crisp as an apple slice,
my hair, released from its ponytail, cascades with Brigitte Bardot glory, and rather than want to spit a hardware store of
nails in the direction of every hideous, soulless 7-Eleven that has littered
the city in the past few years, I regard the franchise as a charming reminder
of 1970s suburban living and think, "I should get a Slurpee for my walk!" And then the needle scratches the record and
I wise up.
So you want to hang out topless around New York City just
like the fellas do, so you'll do so in Times Square or Washington Square Park,
or, hey, who knows, maybe go for a jaunty run through Central Park, tits-a-gogo. Fine.
Enjoy. Go for it.
"It's no different than a man," you say. "My brrreastssssss aren't sexual
objects. They're just part of my
anatomy. They serve a biological
Then what of the bra that hoists and contains, that creates
and displays cleavage, that you wear on a date?
What of that, Titsy McGee?
A little consistency, please.
I think it's been a year already that my landlord has failed
to find the proper hinge to reattach one of the kitchen cabinet doors. Odd that in all of New York City and the
Internet, which I hear has even more stuff than New York City, the piece cannot
be found. Given his usual way of dealing
with household repair, I am grateful that he has not tried to come up with an
alternate solution that involves bubble gum, rubber bands, an Acco fastener,
toothpicks, a bungee cord, masking tape, gum drops, and the arms of a kewpie
I'm glad I chose a restaurant only a few blocks away, so the
awkwardness resulting from his insistence on being a "gentleman" and
walking me home, is limited to how fast I can walk in the shoes I've chosen. He comments on the swiftness of my pace and I
blame it on the chill in the air and my short sleeves. He offers me his enormous sweater, and I
decline. I know he'd take it as a sign
to make yet another unwanted advance.
This is what I get for agreeing to meet a neighbor for dinner. Back off, chump.
The tradeoff for living inside the pocket of 8-year-old Marnie's
winter coat is that they aren't allowed to protest or complain when she pulls
them out and tosses the entire family of seven out onto the blacktop near the
Central Park sailboat pond, like dice or jacks or marbles. Dad, Mom, Little Billy, Sis, Baby Jenny, Gumps
and his minuscule cane, and the tiny cable guy all have to do as she says. Gumps claims he actually likes it because
otherwise he wouldn't get out and about.
And Baby Jenny will grow up not knowing any other way of life.
He liked the little fingernail-sized lines at the corner of
her mouth. He liked when she smirked,
because they would instantly appear. He liked
to pretend she had a "little something" on her face just so he could
touch them to remove the phantom, even though she pushed his hand away with an
"Ugh" and a "Quit it."
He called them dimples, even though they weren't really dimples, and she
hated when she overheard him tell his mom over the phone that she had dimples
because it made her sound like an apple-cheeked girl fresh off the bus from Nebraska.
Rather than pretend I don't see the two guys foisting free
daily newspapers on passersby, I accept the papers, glance at them as a concession
to pretending I care about them, tell myself I’ll read them when I get home,
and then feel anxious about that self-imposed tenuous commitment. I pass by a vacant bus stop on Eighth Avenue
and leave them on a seat. I am certain
that any tourist who witnessed the abandonment is wondering if I'm one of those
people you see in movies who casually "makes a drop" for a faceless mystery
person or a kidnapper.
This is the year I'm finally going to the Woodstock Farm
Animal Sanctuary. I have to stop saying
I'm going and just go already. How can I
call myself a full-fledged animal-loving ethical vegan if I don't go to the Mecca that's
less than two hours away? I can't. My best friend and I have been saying we're
going to go for the past few years and every year we put it off. This post is here to hold me to it, to put it
"out there" in the ether, beyond his and my private messages and
conversations about it.
The hostess dims the lights.
The older couple at the next
table, who'd been looking at photos of their daughter's trip to France, raise
eyebrows at each other.
"We'll look at
these later," the wife says.
"I suppose you're stuck with looking at me for now. Thank God for the dim lights, in that
"Sunlight, fluorescent light, strobe light, moonlight. No matter what, you're the light of my
"Oh dear God," she says, and they giggle into
their Pad Thai.
"So cute," I mouth to my "date".
"Huh?" he says.
Nothing like being trapped with a burned-out bulb.
Just like there is a group of weekday regulars at Equinox,
there is a group of Saturday regulars at Whole Foods. Although I know some of the gym people's
names, I don't know most, and I don't know any of the shoppers' names. For a while I haven't seen this one tiny shopper
lady, whose scrawniness made her appear older than she probably was, with whom
I briefly chatted about vegan items months ago.
I hope she hasn't met the same fate as a tiny lady at the gym who died during
surgery apparently brought on by her eating disorder.
Despite rejecting all advances and telling him at the
beginning of the get-together that this is not a date, he insists on trying to
hold my hand or stroll arm in arm and make suggestions that aren't wholly
chaste. I walk faster. When he tries, at my building, to kiss me again
and I sharply reprimand him with a "No!" that would send a dog
whimpering, he says, "But you said in the restaurant that if we had kids,
they'd be very cute."
Yeah, cretin. So that
automatically means I want to get started on practicing to make some.
Oh, Martian Child (2007), starring John Cusack. Why didn't you copy from Starman and, when
the dog dies, have David revive using the one "Martian wish" Dennis had
bestowed upon him? After I realized that
wasn't going to happen, I thought,
"Ugh, they want us to forget about the wish and they're saving it for
something fantastic." So when
Dennis ran into David's arms, accepting him as his father, and David said,
"I got my Martian wish," I thought, bleh, I wish I hadn't watched
this tripe. (And booooo. Who kills off a dog for no good reason?)
I have no time for people who like to brag about how
little sleep they get. "I'll sleep
when I'm dead!' they say, quoting someone they probably can't identify.
"I got to bed around 3 and had to be up at 7 for
work, and I'm going out with people after work, so, yeah, I hardly have time to
"I grabbed a 15-minute power nap in my office instead
of lunch. I'm good for the night."
"Oh, I can't remember the last time I actually
slept. Maybe, like, 2012?"
Uggh. Shut up,
numbskulls. You're all putting me to
Friday night. Portlandia
on Netflix. Indian food delivery. Good progress on work, not requiring
attention for the rest of the day.
Apartment dusted. Enough coffee
for the morning. I'm in clothes that
barely touch my body. Cats are
alternately lounging and roaming, sometimes pausing to say hello. I think of all the people out and about,
segueing from the tail end of glassy-eyed happy hour into full-fledged
full-price boozing in a crowded bar, hobnobbing or "hooking up", and
am overjoyed that I'm not among them. I
say, aloud, to the fuzzfaces, "There is nowhere in the world I'd rather be."
I enter the subway car and stop short. I can't proceed beyond two feet without maneuvering
around two large lion-colored dogs sprawled by the feet of a guy who looks like
Johnny Depp immersing himself in the role of an itinerant man suffering from a
disease that has left him thin and in need of constant medication through a
tube wrapped around his upper left arm and secured by stretchy mesh/netting. After a while, he smooths down the dogs'
bandanas, one blue, the other red, that say, "SERVICE DOG." I think he wants people to know he's not
A woman in red T-shirt and jean shorts and hair that looks
like a "Mama's Family" discard, who'd been seated on the opposite side
of the subway car, several seats down the row to my left, who'd also been
regarding the service dogs, comes over and sits to my right after the man and
dogs exit at Times Square. She makes a
negative remark about the trio, thinking she has an ally in me. I tell her the man was obviously very sick
and I have nothing but compassion for him.
I want to insult her crossed eyes but refrain.
There's no escaping it.
If I look down, I see my nose. If
I look off to the side, I see my nose.
No matter what I do, no matter where I look, there it is, just sitting there,
being seen. I know it's not my nose's
fault. I know it didn't choose to be
placed where it is, but still. There it
is, always in the way. And blurry. And
if I cross my eyes, it's even more insidious and more aggravating. I am eight years old. I have to live with this for the rest of my
No. 7-Eleven register guy
on East 23rd Street, you are *not* allowed to say to my friend,
"You have a fat stomach."
Whether she's a 55-pound anorexic, a 900-pound sumo wrestler, anything
in between, or anything above or below, is irrelevant. Although she was too taken aback to respond
with anything vituperative, and probably too kind anyway, or to ask to see your
manager, you'd better believe that if that had happened on my watch, you'd have
a lip fatter than any stomach and the pleasure of a permanent welt on your smarmy
face in the shape of my hand.
Recently I've become acutely aware of my teeth. I feel like overnight the front bottom row took
a poll and decided to inch forward on their tooth-bellies like troops on a
battlefield, so that when I awoke, I'd notice something was different but couldn't
quite place my finger (or tongue) on it.
I keep opening my mouth to peek inside, expecting to see a remarkable shift,
but everything looks as it always has.
Still, I'm convinced that they're up to no good and are determined to saddle
me with an underbite to rival that of the most pedigreed American Bulldog.
Nope, "sorry", you are not a goddess or a warrior
princess. You are a woman, a human being
like the rest of us, treading upon the brown and green of the blue marble, whether
on your own one or two feet or via the wizardry of wheels, or, if confined to a
bed, making your mark however best you can manage. There is no need to pretend
you are equipped with superpowers, to put yourself on a pedestal. You are wonderful because you are a woman, a
person, hopefully doing the best with what you have. Take power from THAT.
My new cat has been acting, quite frankly, like a bit of a
punk. Instead of lying on the desk in a
lounging fashion, the way she had been, she's taken to sitting upright in front
of the main computer monitor, licking her paw like it was just dipped in
cinnamon bun icing and she wants to savor every molecule. Or she will find an errant ponytail holder and
dash off with it in her mouth like she's just arrived on the Nina, Pinta, and/or
Santa Maria. I scold her, and she blows a
perfect smoke ring in my face.
Twice someone has left a can of Schweppes diet ginger ale in
this building's front hall, and I've left it for a day to see if anyone claimed
it. No one did, so twice I've been
afforded the pleasure of soda that, once placed in my refrigerator, I've
forgotten about, and then once it was no longer part of my consciousness,
provided me with even grander pleasure because it was cold! This time, though, I don't dare place the
empty can with the building recyclables for fear of being questioned by the
landlord, who I suspect is the rightful owner.
When Teresa first started going out with Ben, she loved that
he'd break out into the hand-clap part of "Bette Davis Eyes" without
notice, often at inappropriate times.
She stifled laughs when he did it at his Uncle Saunder's funeral,
especially when he pretended to be removing something sticky from his palms when
his mother shot him a death look. She
loved how he and the waiter at Sake Sushi did it in perfect sync on their third
date. But now it's in the top 5 reasons
for dumping him, right after "sleep apnea" and right before
"prefers milk chocolate".
Boohoo, tourists, boohoo.
So you don't like the "desnudas" in Times Square, the topless
body-painted ladies who have somehow
become all the rage, the ones that Mayor De Blasio is all up in arms about, who
are distracting your sons and probably making your daughters want to take the
first bus back from Ohio after your horrible trip to The Big City ends so they join
in rather than spend one more weekend in Boringtown. Boohoo.
Sorry your vision of Times Square isn't as Disney-deckled as you had
hoped. I trust you found refuge in the
M&M store, though, yes?