pauses and gazes past my shoulder. He's
silent for at least a minute, a rarity if you know this guy. I turn, to find out what's so captivating
that he'd interrupt the flow of what had been one of our rather hilarious
are you doing? Is the train
coming?" I say, looking into the completely dark tunnel.
no," he says. "I was just thinking
about how I'll translate everything we did today into a melodic poem."
I didn't like him so much, I'd tell him to knock it off and just call it a
dashes into my office like he's being chased and tries hard not to slam the
door. He flops into the cushy chair, balls
up his jacket, and shoves his face into it.
I know he wants to scream. I can practically
hear his mouth opening wide behind the jangle of zippers and snaps.
wait for him to start. When he's like
this, that's the best approach.
just EVERYTHING!" he says. "An
assault of my see-holes and hear-holes and today, on the train, my
wait a bit before telling him to say "eyes", "ears", and
Professor Fenster Graphite likes to wiggle his fleshy ears as
he introduces the syllabus to his class on the first day of each semester. If by page 2 no one notices, he loses
patience, but slows his review of the page to give someone the chance to at
least raise an eyebrow in recognition, if not downright appreciation and
admiration, of his unique gift. You'd
think that after 30 years of doing this, word would have gotten out that the
first three students to notice by the end of page 2 automatically get an
"A" for the term. But no.
Freddy has accepted that he'll never be yarn wrapped between
the hands of someone's patient granddaughter, enjoying metamorphosis into a scarf,
taken for rides around town all winter long.
He's accepted that he'll never be embroidery floss, colorful and shiny,
decorating the hem of a teenager's well-worn jeans. He knows he's a tiny piece of white thread left
in the eye of a needle, to be discarded the next time someone needs a button
sewn. He just wishes everyone else in
the sewing basket would stop saying, "(Th)ready, Freddy?" From now on, he wants to be known only as
When I'd accompany my mom on errands in her turquoise Ford
Fairlane 500 in the early '70s, on one of the commercial roads we'd pass a
building on whose stone face was inscribed the number 1620. Every time I saw it, I'd think something
like, "I didn't think 350-year-old buildings looked the same as the
buildings of today!" I'd marvel at
its modern design, how it blended in so well with the slick suburban architecture
of Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Eventually I
realized that was the street number of the building's address. (Secret:
Sometimes this still happens here in NYC.)
Hello, it's been over an hour since I ordered and I'd --
WHAT'S THE ADDRESS? He shouts above the clatter
of people who actually leave their homes on Friday nights.
"Your food is just leaving now, ma'am," he
says. I'm relieved I called, so now I
don't have to worry that they forgot about me and my dal makhani and samosas
and don't have to worry about placing the dreaded call itself.
I thank him and hang up, treating the phone receiver like a
hot potato. And start to fret over
having to go to the door to accept delivery.
Oh, that moment when you open a new package of tofu with a
knife, and a sliver you inadvertently sliced off finds its way into your maw (because
you're like a dog that way) tastes like something a dog would roll in in a
grassy field, and you spit it out into your hand like a lady of elegance, and
then bring the rest of the tofu block to your dainty schnoz and tell yourself
the fetid stink isn't that bad just because you don't feel like returning it to
Whole Foods. And then you come to your
MarciaMarciaMarcia's parents tell him he was named after one
of the kids on a show they've never allowed him to watch for reasons they still
haven't told him. He knows nothing of
the show except that it's about six kids who wound up living together in a house
with too few bedrooms and they had a dog and then they didn't and they had a
maid too. And he only knows that from
the bits and pieces he's heard on the street.
He thinks the name is girly-stupid and can see why the kids
at school constantly beat him up.
Sal "Salamander" Mandarino tells me he's got the
skinny on the sitch. Those are the words
he uses. He's yelling into his
phone. I tell him to cool his jets, take
a walk around the block, and smoke a cigar.
Maybe get a cannoli or streudel or whatever stuff the local bakery
sells. "This ain't 1946,
Jimmy," he says. I want to say,
"Then why do you still have a rotary phone?" but I don't because I
don't want him coming after me in the Caddy, the one with the big fins, that
used to belong to his "uncle", Vito.
I never thought I'd be telling someone they can't name their
newborn "Cortisone Shot," but here I am. The squirmy pink blob, who's got the
consistency of that fast food "slurry" stuff that's made into chicken
nuggets, is in his exhausted mom's arms, and his shiny-faced dad's touching
each larva-sized finger and counting to 12 and back again.
"People always say, 'I don't care what we have, as long
as the baby's healthy and has ten fingers and ten toes,' so I feel like we
lucked out here with the extras," Ben says.
He's obviously trying to change the subject.
He invites me to his friend's one-woman show. I'll love it, he says. She's funny and brilliant and a great
performer. Plus it's free. I tell him I'll think about it, even though
in the five seconds since he invited me and then excused himself to find the
restroom, I've already thought about it and decided against it. I barely want to go to my own friends'
one-person shows, where my appreciation of the material and performance is colored
by our relationship. The thought of
effusing fake accolades to a stranger after the show is repugnant. I'll stay home, thanks.
"It's not my real name," he says, "so don't
even think about Gurgling me, young man."
I resist the urge to say something smart-assy to Colander J.
Pepperschmidt, but keep mum. I also don't
tell him that my real name, oh by the way, is Georgette Woodentooth Washington,
even though it is. I don't want him
Gurgling me either.
I also don't say, "Say, I'm not a fella, by the
He adjusts his wax paper hat decorated with lemon rinds, I
straighten my tin foil crown with cherry tomato gems, and we both continue
waiting for a monorail that never comes.
He looks vaguely Bob Dylan-esque. He takes a seat on a bench outside Madison
Square Park and takes out a large Blick sketchpad. I feel a twinge of camaraderie given my own
Blick supplies. He opens the pad, crammed
with pencil drawings. Instead of passing,
I stop and say something innocuous like "Such a wonderful thing to
do." He scowls and says, "Yeah
yeah yeahhhhh" like he's trying to shut up his mother on the phone. I want to say, "Damn, your teeth look
like they were drawn by a sight-impaired toddler with palsy," but I take
the high road.
It's official. I have
not left NYC for an entire year. I
haven't even been to Hoboken or any other part of New Jersey. Yes, I've to Brooklyn, but that's as far from
home as I've been. If I didn't have a little
trip planned to Philadelphia in a few weeks, I'd get on a bus or train this
week and go somewhere just for the hell of it.
At this point a ferry to Edgewater, New Jersey would seem like a big
Ahhh, to be debt-free by year-end and free to dash to
California for a quick getaway!
Tara has fucked every guy on the subway since it lurched to
a stop 15 minutes ago and the conductor announced mechanical failure and
thanked the passengers for assumed patience.
She's fucked 'em all, even the tall guy with the marvelously broad shoulders,
because by the time she noticed the massive tufts sprouting from the back of
his henley's neckline, it was too late to stop the fantasy and she would have
felt a little bad rejecting him, knowing other people playing the silent "Who
would you fuck?" game wouldn't be so charitable as to forgive him his unfortunate
Between the idiot tourists who put a baby bison in the trunk
of their SUV at Yellowstone National Park because they said it looked
"cold" and the imbecile with a baby nurse shark stuck to her arm
after possibly taunting it at Boca Raton beach, I've had it up to here (somewhere
actually above my head, where a swirl of question marks and exclamation points
would be if I were in a comic strip panel) with the arrogance and stupidity of
the human race. Both animals were killed
as a result of unwelcome, unnecessary human interference. People make me sick.
not that my brother, sister, and I dressed like miniature spinsters, like that
one weird girl, Lisa, who was rumored to have been home-schooled by her
religious zealot mom before coming to our middle school, and who I imagined
could rival Carrie in a telekinetic showdown, but, yeah, we did dress kind of odd,
even for kids of the '70s. You never
would have guessed I wanted to make myself disappear and shrink in on myself,
given my love of the bright red hiphuggers borrowed from my mom, wide white
belt with happy face buckle, and blue high-top Converse.
The best part is how they toss into the delivery bag enough
utensils to accommodate three people and enough ketchup packets for three
orders of fries, even though I've only ordered one. I guess they think the other food in the bag
can use several liberal squeeze of the stuff as well. When the delivery guy comes to the door, I need
to wear something that shows that I am rather slim and not at all the kind or
size of person who would eat everything he's just handed to me in a brown bag
inside a white plastic one.
hours earlier, this white plastic bag transported a homemade macaroon to a
friend at the gym. Now it's bringing
home a tiny baby bird for burial in the flowerbox graveyard on my patio.
found you 20 blocks away, Hubert. I
didn't know what you were at first, but when bent down and saw your closed eyes
and yellow beak and flightless wing, my eyes filled and I sniffed away the immediate
tears. Had you ever lived at all?
buried you a few minutes ago, still crying.
I told you your sweet life mattered.
in peace, Hubert.
I'm convinced that the guy with the long, wavy/curly gray
hair in the mid-wash jeans who quietly goes about selecting his food at Whole Foods
at the same time I do every Saturday, who silently weighs his bulk bin stuff on the self-service scale, who
I don't think uses a full-sized cart (or maybe he does and it too makes no
sound), has an unarticulated crush on me and fervently hopes that one day I
make eye contact with him. (I purposely
avoid it because I want to maintain the majestic aloofness that he expects from
his pedestaled dream goddess.)
Am I only brunette at this party? Am I the only one born pre-1990? Who are all these droning clones and why are
they here? I guess they're all "actress"
acquaintances of my friend, the hostess.
Meanwhile, where is she?
Finally she surfaces, in a silvery bodysuit that should be
skintight but is a bit loose on tiny body.
Her spine and pelvis look especially bony. She quietly mounts the trapeze and starts
swinging fast. I drop to my stomach on
the sand floor so she doesn't take off my head.
Oh, Kelly Ripa, you're the life of your own party!
On a recent trek home from the gym, I passed a restaurant on
a side street that I must have passed countless times before but never even
noticed, perhaps because it's on the second floor of a nondescript
building. Its old sign boasted Pakistani
food, and from what I could see, gazing up from the sidewalk, it looked like a
hole in the wall. A quick Google search yielded
favorable reviews and I made a note to go back.
That it's accessed by a steel staircase that's steep enough to look and feel
somewhat precarious is part of the appeal.
Of course everyone is free to wear whatever he or she likes,
so if someone chooses to wear a jumpsuit in neon colors mixed with clashing earth
tones and a plastic flower hat with a blinking LED hula hoop around his neck,
fine, have at it. I'm just kind of sick
of people trying to be zany just for the sake of zaniness. I'm much more delighted when someone dressed
in a less "look at me" fashion says something hilarious or acts in a
colorful way. The contrast, the
surprise, is much more delicious. I
always appreciate an unexpected revelation.
Recent ways I wasted time on the Internet, Chapter 1:
Comparing recipes for vegan mushroom stroganoff when I
already have two rather tasty ones in my repertoire
Searching for "jersey wrist wrap" on Etsy when
I could make something similar by using an old T-shirt, if I wanted to get minimally
crafty, or even cared about sporting a jersey wrist wrap
Checking out Yelp reviews for a restaurant I've already
been to, to confirm that the food I enjoyed was enjoyable by strangers
Staring at images of mid-1950s Corvette convertibles
Wavering between ordering two bags of cat food or three
Can I use the word "curated" to describe what I've
done with regard to a new collection of, um, foundation garments that I've
recently procured from Ye Ole Internet without sounding like a hoodie-wearing,
big-beard-sporting hipster riding his "fixie" to a cafe that boasts
on its chalkboard menu an array of artisanal cheeses and locally "crafted"
beers? Probably not. But still.
I feel it's the proper word for the careful selection I made from an exhaustive
culling of every item on the site I chose for my undertaking. It sounds more romantic and lovely than
"I got some bras!", right?
I'll giggle like a moron the first time I make an
official tapping sound with my special shoes.
I'll be filled with giddy images of myself as Eleanor Powell and Ginger
Rogers, tapping my way across the floor of a club in the 1940s, my hair rolled
just so, skirt floating out from my knees, the boys in the band wishing they
could set down their horns to let out a few well-deserved hoots of appreciative
delight. I must remind myself that I'll be
on the level of a 4 year-old in Miss Jane's Tap 4 Toddlers in Waukegan,
It's raining too much for our trip to Philadelphia, so we're
staying put. We'll just run around our
own city in the rain. And where better
to start than at the doughnut place inside the carwash at 47th and the highway,
where on one side we can watch doughnuts being made and on the other, if we do
a little spin, we can watch cars being washed?
The doughnut part of the place is new, but the carwash is not, and this
gives me hope for NYC, where I lament so much of the old being replaced by the
Seriously, is there anything more eyeroll-worthy than
someone you know is an insidious, evil, totally twisted twat whose lifestyle
consists mainly of waking up wasted in a gutter and sponging off friends,
strangers, and everyone else in between, all of sudden waking up in that gutter
and getting all "zen" and pretending that, gosh, they love the
abundance of the big, bright, sunshiny universe and want to sit in a big circle,
barefoot, in a gauzy, breezy tunic, swaying and singing (poorly) "Kum Bah
Yah" and expect everyone who's owed an apology to just, like, forget the bullshit? Is there?
I started spiffying up the patio for the season. I decided to finish early this morning, or at
least get far enough to where it would be comfortably usable. I went out there in my lounge-y pants and "cami",
and kept thinking, "The person who had left notes on the front door
earlier this spring, asking us to take down the wind chimes may be looking down
at me and thinking, 'Wow, had I know she was so stunning, I never would have
complained." Then I remembered I'd
let my hair air-dry and I probably looked like Howard Stern.
The two gorgeous "oya" scarves I selected from
hundreds during a recent Etsy scour shipped today and are on their way from Turkey. Given that the last time I ordered something
from that side of the world (and here I fling my right arm toward the Hudson
River even though I know that's east and not west and thus indicating more Jersey
than Turkey) it took so long that I thought it was lost in transit forever, I
don't expect to see them before July. I am,
of course, saying that here, "aloud", so the opposite comes
true. (Clever, huh?)
Carol Kane doesn't know if I'm joking or not.
"You think I'm beautiful?" she says in her cute,
raspy voice, turning her head from side to side to evaluate her profile in
three-quarter view in the mirror that takes up a large portion of one of her enormous
"I do, "I say.
"Absolutely gorgeous." And
I mean it. Her hair is divine, right up
there with Bernadette's, and her jeans and shirt flatter her petite figure.
She doesn't seem to agree.
Is she going to be my new dream best friend? Will I have finally ousted Kelly Ripa?