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Despite making $2500 a week, Beth cannot pay her rent or buy any food.
"Obviously you spend it all on haute couture," I say, indicating her ill-fitting plaid flannel culottes and matching bolero vest.
"No. I made this! I found the fabric on eBay for a song!"
She confides that she spends all of her time and money on eBay, bidding on everything she comes across for which there are zero bids.
"I feel sorry for the stuff nobody else wants," she says.
Next week she comes in wearing a spittle-stained chenille housecoat, eating stale Razzles from a paper packet.
Dear People Standing in Line at the Food Cart on the Northwest Corner of 53rd and Sixth:
Can any of you tell me what's so special about the food there? Why are there dozens of you waiting in line in the dark for this cart's offerings? From what I can smell, it's just some sort of grilled meat, the standard fare found anywhere in the city.
This is Manhattan. There are other places to eat. Other carts serving the same thing. You may want to expand your repertoire.
Or is the meat MAGIC? Is that what it is?
Two swarthy guys who clearly fancy themselves as slicksters seat themselves behind my and K's sidewalk table at Cosi.
"Hello, ladies!" one says with an oily grin. We supply a minimal response.
He points a video camera at passersby. He makes idiotic remarks to almost every woman, and is stunned when a pretty brunette tells him to knock it the fuck off.
When it's time to leave, I want to jump over the partition to avoid being taped too. But he doesn't even try. Apparently he'd overheard me when I'd asked K, "Does this shit ever work for this douchebag?"
If I wind up on Oprah, I don't want it to be as a "con" victim. I refuse to be one of those women about whom the audience and viewers -- and Oprah and Dr. Robin -- silently think, "How could she have been so fucking STUPID?"
When I watched one of this week's episodes, about several women who were "conned" by the same guy, I recognized bits of myself in them and my own lying guy.
If I appear on the show, I pray my hair looks good. I don't want everyone to think, "Stupid AND with bad hair!"
Gorgeous guy, walking east on West 75th, between West End and Broadway. Me, approaching from his left and behind, likin' what I see.
Me: You look just like Clark Kent. It's incredible.
Him: (laughing) And you look like Lois Lane!
Me: Well ... there you go! (laughing)
Me, walking ahead to Broadway, where I turn left and cross the street to head north and turn to look at him. He's looking at me. He laugh-smiles. He makes a right onto Broadway, toward Fairway.
The only way I could've been gayer would've been if I'd said, "This is super, man!"
If nothing else, I must at least get him to stop wearing "relaxed" fit Gap jeans and shirts that look like they came out of a Today's Man grab bag. I must put him in hipper jeans and cooler shirts that will never, under any circumstances -- not even under threat of monetary penalty or certain death -- be tucked in.
I'm not asking for a hipster. But I am looking for improvements that will have him looking less like he belongs in a suburban mall holding his wife's purse as she clacks through the endless racks at Dress Barn.
Jason is gathering the clothes strewn all over his bedroom floor. Man oh man, last night was really hot. Donna was in rare form.
"What the --?" he says, squinting at the sleeve of the white button-down he couldn't get off fast enough when they'd stumbled into the room. Lipstick? Nah. Unlike most babes, Donna never wore it. Wine? Nope. Strictly a gin-and-tonic chick. "What is this?" He hands her the shirt.
Damn it! Fuck! Last night she'd merely thought the words LOVE YOU, and here they seeped out her fingers onto his sleeve. That wasn't supposed to happen.
His name is Mr. Kirby, and I am at once shocked, frightened, and thrilled to make his acquaintance. I don't know what to expect of this fellow, my experience with his sort extremely limited. Do I greet him with a polite "How do you do?" and shake his & hand?
No. I just let his guardian jam him inside me, even though I've never opened the doors to such a gentleman caller. Soon he leaves his calling card, and I'm left wondering if this is really the gentlemanly thing to do.
Boys, a bit of advice: Never name your dicks.
An otherwise unremarkable day found me in a magnanimous and chatty mood, brought on by who the hell knows what. So much so that when, while pushing my blue wheelie cart home full of warm dry laundry, I came upon a cute youngish guy with his baby in a stroller, I said, with a chuckle, "Your load is a lot cuter than mine!"
But it wasn't true. His baby was a standard issue baby. Short, stumpy, and without a large vocabulary or social circle. My laundry, on the other hand, was dashing, handsome, and a known bon vivant throughout Manhattan.
L and I are Googling people we knew from acting school five years ago, and coming up empty. If we "loved" our fellow ex-classmates, we would be disappointed or sympathetic or give some sort of fuck, flying or otherwise, that not only are they not even close to being glittery household names like they thought they deserved but they haven't worked enough in "the industry" to warrant even a passing parenthetical mention on the internet. But as it is, every time our search yields nothing, we clap our hands in glee over their apparent failure. Bravo! Way to not go!
Dashing down 71st, I hadn't noticed the old lady, non-descript in baggy pants, pilly sweater, and shoes fit for a walk she couldn't manage on her own. Now she was grabbing my offered hand. Unloading into the other a Fairway bag heavy for someone with half her years and four times her strength.
The walk was three times as long as she'd let on, and took about 20 minutes. I cringed as I thought, "This is the Now me, walking the Future me toward decrepitude."
She thanked me profusely throughout. When I left her, I couldn't get away fast enough.
He used to hover over my desk, squinting at some legal document or another, totally unaware that he was grinding his teeth to crumbly stubs and actively flaking bits of white, dry, scaly scalp onto the documents I was still revising. I feared that one day a piece large enough to chew like a little snack would plop onto the desk, and I would be compelled to pick it up between my fingers like pincers, hold it close to my eyes for visual inspection, then sniff it and taste it like I would a curious snack food at a party.
At least he had the grace and foresight to completely remove the window from the casing and carefully prop it against the bedroom wall before plunging to his limb-twisted, eggshell-headed, splattered death eight floors below. Otherwise, people might have thought it was accidental. He wouldn't want his final act to be misconstrued. This way, he left no possibility for doubt: 'Twas suicide!
How lovely of him, though, wasn't it, that in committing the most selfish of acts that took maybe 20 seconds to effect, he took time to consider others. Say what you will, naysayers, but here's a noble guy!
My red-painted fingernails rest on the fine, lean torso of fresh-faced Ace Young, taken outside ABC Studios this spring, after he was voted off of American Idol. We're fresh out of a huge hug, during which his hands had run up and down my back. My right hand is less than a foot from the big red buckle of his belt. What would he do if my hand "slips" and brushes his jeans just below the buckle? I could feign mortification quite easily while winking to myself inside my head.
Too bad I just realized this, months after the fact.
One of B's greatest fears was that eventually I would talk about him the way I'd talked to him about A. I would speak unkindly. I would tell my friends what a dickhead he was, what a loser, an idiot, a schmoe. How uninventive he was in bed, how unexciting he was otherwise.
"That will never happen!" I said.
I thought I meant it.
No fewer than two months later, his greatest fear was realized. But really, if he wanted to avoid it, he would have trained his pathetic pud to operate at more than 60%, 100% of the time.
Is it so wrong that I entertain delicious fantasies about an aluminum baseball bat, freshly heated to skin-searing perfection, propped over my shoulder as I assume a perfect batter's stance, which I swing with all my might against the side of the head of Little Boy Blue, my inconsiderate, oblivious talentless hack of a neighbor who insists on polluting the air with hideous horn-blowing? And then, not satisfied with the mere pulp created by this bashing, proceeding to press the red-hot bat to the worthless lips that press themselves against the mouthpiece of the horn he abuses day and night?
"Every time I see someone sprinkle sugar on a grapefruit half, I want to scream," Marnie says.
I look up from my tablet, where I've been doodling a parade of derby-wearing schlongs with googly eyes and mustaches since the start of Marnie's session 20 minutes ago. I've been admiring the smooth sweep of the black gel-pen I'd found in a taxi earlier in the day.
"Sugared strawberries used to bother me," she says, "but they don't anymore."
"Your progress is admirable," I say, pretending to note it on the pad but really adding feathers to all of the schlongs's hats.
"I feel bad because I don't particularly care for monkeys," Elizabeth says, unable to meet my gaze. She's picking at lint flecks on her polar fleece jacket and inspecting them with far more scrutiny than they should warrant.
Why can't my patients have normal problems, like trauma from childhood incidents or this delightful condition known as ADD that so many of my colleagues tell me is all the rage?
"I wish I could feel that special warm feeling when I pass the primates at the zoo, but I just can't," she says.
What I wouldn't give for a compulsive hand-washer.
"I wish I'd never heard of Stacy London and Clinton Kelly!" Lisa says. "They're ruining my life!"
How, I ask.
"Before I watched their show, I had no problem with these," she says, displaying the adorable but slightly clunky hiking-type shoe on her right foot. "But now when I wear them, I hear them telling me I could find a much cuter shoe with a kitten heel that would serve the same purpose."
I tell her I saw Clinton in shabby cargo pants and flipflops on Lexington Avenue a couple of summers ago, and she beams like there's no tomorrow.
Note to Everyone:
I insist that you stop using the word "potty". Under no circumstances should you be using it in the first place, but if you are -- or if you intend to do so in the future -- you are well advised to cease the practice immediately.
If you are in possession of a toddler who's learning the joys of using the toilet, find a better, less infantile word. (May I suggest "toilet"?)
If you wish to tell someone she should not be using language you consider offensive and call her a "potty mouth", fuck off.
I finally figured out why the people who live above me (the landlord and his socially awkward wife) clomp around their apartment so much. This: The landlord bought a nifty laser pointer and aims it all over their living room and hallway, thus leaving his wife no choice but to bolt around the place in a feline-like frenzy, in a futile attempt to catch the zippy red dot. This is the only explanation I can come up with. This is what I tell myself, so I am at least semi-amused when I am forced to endure their inconsiderate lead-foot shenanigans.
The next time you're on the subway, take a li'l looksee at everyone else and imagine then nude. Not just in their underwear, but full-on, full-out nude. In whatever position they happen to be in at the time. (This means no picturing them stretched out on a bed or suspended from an elaborate series of ropes and pulleys.) But don't picture the "good" stuff about nudity. Focus on the road less traveled -- the rolls of flesh roosting just above their laps, the uneven tits, the errant hairs and moles and blemishes. The grosser you can imagine it, the better.
Darla comes to her sessions hungry. I ask why she doesn't eat beforehand so her stomach won't rumble for the entire hour.
"I do most of my eating at 'off' hours. Yesterday I ate four slices of pizza at 3:00 a.m. and once had a whole pie at 4:15 a.m."
Those hours don't count, she explains, since they're "limbo" time -- between the time she goes to bed and the time she awakens.
"I don't know which day to tack the calories on to," she says.
"So they don't count?" I say.
"Yeah! You get it!"
Strangely enough, I do.
I now live in an apartment the size of one of the living rooms in my old place, and I couldn't be happier if I tried. (I'm not trying.) I love my quirky and colorful Dharma/Rhoda pad, with its mismatched everything and anything that somehow "pulls together" and "works". I love my schizo-retro kitchen with its hodgepodge of elements from different decades and my bathroom with old aqua and black tile. My grotto-like patio, home to terra-cotta planters and windchimes. The "police lock" and magic-eye on the heavy old front door. I feel safer here than I've felt anywhere else.
I fantasize about various methods of his disfigurement. Acid splashed in his face, his beautiful features sizzling and frothing into raw-edged, red, oozing nothingness. Flames licking his skin, his nose dripping down to his lips and fusing to his singed chin. A car crash that leaves his flawless face a mangled mishmash, a cacophony of crushed cheekbones and jangled jaws. And his long, slender fingers -- the fingers that play the cello to teary-eyed perfection -- smashed into stubs, joints destroyed, silencing the brilliant music that makes me still adore him even though I know he's a sadistic, cruel bastard.
He'll give me piggyback rides in Central Park. We'll walk arm-in-arm along Riverside. He'll sit right next to me on a park bench and I'll put my head on his shoulder. He'll kiss me near monuments that tourists clamor to conquer. He'll hold my hands across the table, whether candlelit or not. He'll tuck me into bed at night.
And I'll love it.
All these things I've seen in the kind of movies I pretend I think are cheesy are things my new fella and I are going to do this fall.
At long last, the cheese won't stand alone!
"The only explanation I can think of," Jillian says, pulling up her right pantleg and scratching her calf until it bleeds, "is that the calf who died to become my boots is getting back at me! Look!"
She pulls up her other pantleg. Scabs traintrack down her shin and disappear into her sock.
"Maybe you're allergic to something," I say, trying not to gag. Scabs really disgust me. And the last place I want to see them is in a diner.
She bites her bacon cheeseburger. Within seconds, she starts clawing at her tongue.
"It's the pigs, too!" she says.
I didn't notice the curled-up deformed hand at first, but when I did, I was entranced. Here this guy was, pointing to the stamps L brought for appraisal, acting like it was every day that a deformed finger pointed to 19th Century stamps. I wondered if L noticed.
"I don't want to shake your hand," she said to him on the way out. And then, to me, once outside, "Oh my god! I hope he knew I meant because I have a cold!"
'Twas a good thing she'd been wheezing in the store and had asked him for a tissue.
I sure hope the good people in the accounting/data entry departments of Con Edison, Ann Taylor, Chase Bank, Bloomingdale's, J. Crew, and every other place to which I mail bills every month are amused by the adorable little messages I am pressing onto my remittance stubs courtesy of the 16 "teacher stamps" my boyfriend bought me at hideous Costco this past weekend. I sure hope my encouraging red "Thumbs Up" next to the "amount enclosed" line is appreciated in Columbus, Ohio, and my exaltant green "Dino-mite" is enjoyed in San Antonio, Texas. Perhaps I'll get extra credit for my efforts!
If I pocket six packets of Splenda every day at the gym, I can pretty much cover myself insofar as my Splenda needs are concerned. I suppose I'll have to double up two of those days, though, since I don't go to the gym on the weekends, but that shouldn't pose a problem.
I've often thought of refilling the little hotel room bottle of mouthwash I took from one of D's rooms with the mouthwash from the ladies locker-room at the gym, too. And pilfering the Q-tips, cotton balls, and toilet paper.
Am I thrifty or just a raging klepto?
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