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How shallow does it make me that I get giddy every time I think about the two Velvet Matte Academy Jackets (one Navy! one Carob!) I ordered from J. Crew? How ridiculous does it make me that I get lost in fluffy reverie when I imagine how fantastic I'll look (hello, modesty!) and how, just by knowing that, I will not merely walk when wearing them but strut down streets and swagger into restaurants? And how much of an abomination am I when the thought of tossing a scarf around my neck, in conjunction with the jackets, nearly evokes spasms?
Something strange is afoot in Manhattan. On several different occasions over the past few days, children between the ages of, oh, I'd say six to 12, have been acting in a bizarre manner to which I have not been accustomed: they are being polite! Polite! Soft-spoken, with "please" and "excuse me" and "thank you"! And sincere! So polite, soft-spoken, and sincere that I feel I should not only acknowledge it and praise them for it but and congratulate their parents on a job well done. How ridiculous is it, though, that this behavior is an aberration and not the "norm".
"You should've seen the look on Linda's face when she saw the butt plug in the dishwasher," Roger says, "in the silverware caddy with the forks we'd used for dinner!"
He thinks he's shocking me. Trying to pretend, by not inflecting the term "butt plug", that he's accustomed to throwing it around like, say, "toothpaste". His eyes, which try to bore into mine while the term's on his lips, tell me otherwise.
If only he knew that Bill, my client before him, just told me about his wife hanging his PVC mummification suit (with zippered hood) on their suburban clothesline.
"Where can I print photos without anyone seeing them?" Cindy asks, over a grilled cheese sandwich. "James took filthy photos of me last night."
"Duane Reade," I say. "The one at 69th. The machine's right by the door."
"But won't somebody see the photos if they're standing nearby?"
Don't worry, I tell her. No one's really going to be interested in her photos. I know I'm not. But it's clear she wants me to be.
"I mean, these are really filthy," she says. "In an arty way, though."
I artfully cut into my baked potato, add pepper, and chew, unblinking.
I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that I used to wear skirts all the time. And not just skirts, but mini-skirts. Skirts so mini that a Dress Barn-befrocked secretary once dubbed them "cumberbunds" (yes, "cumber", not "cummer"). And not with hose, but with tanned legs bare and pedicured feet shoved into the highest of heels.
Who the hell was that?
Now I won't be caught dead in anything I can't get down on the ground in, so I can roll around with dogs with abandon, without worrying, "Who's going to see I'm not wearing underwear?"
I can't believe that last year I went out with someone who, when I told him I was vegetarian, said, "I eat meat. I love it so much that I'd stick a fork into a live cow!" And I laughed! Like it was cute and not in any way offensive. Laughed, when I wanted to shove a fork up his meaty ass.
How amazing is it that my new, super-mega-boyfriend is the complete opposite. Oh, how marvelous and joyous to kiss a vegan and not have to worry if meat-bits linger behind his gums and between his teeth! (How romantic.)
"Home office". Who does she think she's kidding? "Home office" means she's not just on her bed but in it, laptop balanced on pajama'd thighs. Coffee (or wine) in one hand, cigarette in the other. Both, shaking. "A third hand would be nice," she thinks as, cigarette dangling from lips, she tries typing with the just-freed hand.
Instead, she hires a secretary for the home office, as a right arm and third hand. The secretary sits in a twin bed, balancing a laptop on her skirted thighs, and cringes at the thought of what a lunch break might look like.
Note to everyone who's ever been to a concert where the audience on "the floor" is packed shoulder to shoulder, hip to hip, foot to foot (you get the picture): Knock it off already with the enthusiastic pogostick-on-speed impersonations. Same with the twirly-whirly, swinging and swaying, ribbon-swishy, free-to-be-you-and-me arm movements and other sundry body mechanics and shenanigans that demonstrate to everyone around you that you, bohemian heart, are the band's most devoted, dedicated, and worthy fan. And also stop singing along. I am here to listen to the band, not to witness your trippy dancing and your off-key warbling. Fuckers.
Now that you've finally come out and told me you're still harboring ill will toward me for something you think I did years ago -- how silly of me to think that you would've moved on! -- it's my turn to confess somethin' that's been weighing heavily on my mind for ages, too.
This: Your shoes SUCK.
Those Naturalizers or Life-Strides or whatever the hell comfy-cozy geriatric brand you revere. Those lace-up oxfords you can't believe are so hard to find -- suck. There's a reason they're hard to find. Because even the most stodgy of grannies have more style.
Without provocation, an ex-boyfriend emailed me several photos of his sister's newly adopted daughter. He had gushed, so I was expecting adorable things from her.
Perhaps that was my mistake: I had expectations. I should know better than to have them, especially when they involve unseen photos of someone's kid.
She wasn't a particularly hideous kid. I'll give her that much. But she was nothing to write home about or to me about or to warrant the sending of pictures. A simple "She is a standard issue kid who will grow up to be boring, no doubt" would have sufficed.
She named the pig, and then she ate him. He was a member of the motley menagerie she kept in her yard, and I never thought she'd be the sort of beast who would eat him. How could you name someone -- I think his name was Gus -- and then have him taken to a slaughterhouse, the dead meat brought back to you without event?
How could she greet him every morning, tell stories about how adorable he was frolicking in the yard, treat him like she would one of her dogs -- and then eat him?
How is it that I never noticed his teeth were an odd shade of ecru-yellow? How could I have kissed a mouth that housed teeth of such an unfortunate, unacceptable color? I must've been blinded somehow (although certainly not by the dazzle of those teeth).
I'm not a fan of all of the tooth-whitening hooplah that's so trendy now. The words "Zoom whitening" make me want to gnash my teeth. I don't care if your teeth resemble Chiclets (in fact, I'd hope they don't). But I do care if they could, quite possibly, be mistaken for corn off the cob.
How good can their sex life be if, as she confides, he completely ignores her body from the waist up and focuses the bulk of his attention on her ass, bypassing her gorgeous gams, shapely from heredity, relative youth, and lifelong devotion to dance? How good can it be if, as she confesses, she never looked at herself "down there" until a year or two ago and, upon doing so, proclaimed it "ugly"? Of if he doesn't allow her to blow him unless and until he's showered? I'd like to witness their private activity, to see how this all works.
The long-awaited, much-discussed trip down to the Lower East Side to check out the goods at Toys in Babeland? Not so great. Tables displaying an array of dildos, large and small, in a variety of colors. Part of a wall devoted to condoms, blown up like balloons, perhaps to invite some giggles. A few items that could be used for flogging. Nothing in the way of clamps or clips. Nothing that could whet either of our appetites. We yawn.
"Kids' stuff," I say with a sniff as we exit onto Rivington and agree that all the good goods are online.
He has the bad kind of thumbs. The kind whose nails are disproportionately wide and whose cuticles start way too close to the fingertips. Whose nails are moonless.
These are the thumbs of aliens. Deformed aliens. Even the other aliens wrinkle their noses (or whatever passes for a nose on an alien) at the sight of such hideousness.
"Them's some ugly thumbs!" they say to each other in their telepathic language, shaking their heads in disgust.
I don't care that he's a brilliant man. That his conversation is, indeed, scintillating. All I can focus on are those damned alien thumbs.
Everyone is handed special glasses when tickets are taken just outside the theater. Those who wear their own glasses must remove them and wear only these.
"No excuses, no exceptions," the ushers say as they stroll down the aisles, looking here and there for those who would defy the order.
How else to view "The Invisible Mrs. McGill", the theater world's surprise smash hit?
Those who dare lift up their glasses during the play risk seeing the actress darting around the stage in ratty flannel pajamas -- hardly the wardrobe her imposing character would wear (if only she were visible).
I could stay up only until I finished my ice cream. But "The Golddiggers" was so good that I was determined to make it last. Ice cream, however, was known to melt. Were my hopes of lasting through the hour dashed?
I swirled the ice cream around the bowl with my spoon. As it softened, I dipped in the spoon, let the ice cream slip or drip off, and licked the spoon. I continued for as long as I could get away with it -- and then some.
Never mind the angry Bubby. This was "The Golddiggers", damn it!
Katya kicked the bagel across the kitchen floor
Scooped it up, buttered it, and kicked it somewhat more
Danced around the cluttered room, a blur of worn chenille
Using all parts of her slippered foot, from toe to threadbare heel
It lodged beneath the fridge, amid dust and long-dead bugs
Rice from old takeout and shards of shattered mugs
She put on her bifocals to see where it had gone
Rubbed'er nose, scratched'er chin, let out a giant yawn
Bent down to dislodge it, dusted it off a bit
And mumbled to her sleeping cat, "This bagel tastes like shit."
Anyone can run down the street with a baby in a stroller made specifically for such activity, but it takes a real athlete to run with an enormous load of laundry in a wheelie-cart used most frequently for transporting granny's groceries home from the market. And that's precisely what I, in all my athletic glory, do. From my swingin' bachelorette pad on the Upper West Side, down to my boyfriend's place at Columbus Circle, I dart in and out, through and past the throngs of schmoes dragging their carcasses down the sidewalks. It's fun! I suggest you try it sometime.
Yvonne shows me the score card for her first speed-dating event. She says doesn't think she did it right. I say there's no right or wrong way, but she insists there's gotta be a method better than bullet-listing her criterion and adding notes after each item.
She shows me:
Name/Age: Bill W. (42)
Hair: Split-ends, cowlick
Favorite Movie: Caddyshack
Favorite Food: Some chicken thing from Olive Garden (raves over unlimited breadsticks)
Favorite Number: 68 (winked, said you suck me off and I owe you one.
And she went out with him. This, I wanted to tell her, was not right.
Maura holds each empty green-glass bottle to her lips and thinks hard about what she wants each to contain. She has only ten minutes, by herself, to fill 12 bottles. She doesn't want him coming over to where she sits, on the water's edge, and asking what she's doing. Or WHY.
Because I can't say what I want to, aloud, she'd say. Because despite your saying you care what I have to say, you really wouldn't want to hear it if I did.
As each bottle is filled, she twists on its twist-off cap, and tosses it into the waves.
Dana has never set foot in nine of the rooms of her twelve-room house. The den, kitchen, and her bedroom (complete with en-suite bath) are all she ever uses. Her dining room, which houses a table fit to sit 16 people, has never seated any. Her living room has never seen life. (The silk flowers on the glass-topped coffee table are the most life-like good money can buy, the interior decorator had boasted.) Two guest rooms await guests never invited.
Dust has no time to settle in Dana's house. It wouldn't want to land there, anyway, even if it could.
"The reason I called you here, Mrs. Rourke, is to show you the drawings Melissa has been handing in to her art teacher for the past month."
I slide a folder toward Melissa's mother, who removes her right mitten to flip through the bundle of papers inside. The knuckles of the exposed hand are raw and bruised.
"I shuck clams," she whispers. I look at her, unblinking. "For fun."
She looks down at her daughter's crayoned drawings and back up at me, a question mark dangling above her head.
"None of the people in these drawings have mouths, Mrs. Rourke."
I've been afraid to commit my happiness to paper (or whatever passes for paper on the internet), for fear that I'll "jinx" the happiness by doing so. I have no experience with this kind of all-encompassing happiness, so I don't know how to handle it. I know I've "earned" it. I know I "deserve" it.
Perhaps I should just be happy that, even if I don't commit it to paper, I have at long last committed myself to someone. To the person who's the source of this happiness. Or at least an enormous part of its cause.
(P.S. Knock wood.)
The beauty of his face overwhelms me. The slightly sad eyes, the very faint crinkles at their sides, the rise of his cheekbones, the curve of his cheeks themselves, the soft edges of his lips. The smile at once bold and shy, full of love and lust and everything else that comes between and holds it all together like bookends containing a shelf bulging with books I've yet to read but cannot wait to devour. I sneak peeks at his profile, and my eyes overflow with emotions I cannot even begin to describe.
Where the hell did he come from?
I'm in Bubby's linen closet, a cocoon of bedding, toiletries, and darkness. Everyone else is downstairs, drunk on the aroma of sweet and sour meatballs that I cannot wait to get my hands and mouth on. After I'm done with the business at hand, that is. If I have enough room in my stomach, that is.
My business? Devouring the sweet, orange-flavored Vitamin C tablets contained in a grenade-sized plastic orange-shaped bottle I've been coveting. Popping them, one by one, into my six-year-old mouth like they're going out of style.
(Which, apparently, happened. I haven't seen those tablets in decades.)
I will resume the posting of anecdotes about my stable of therapy patients in November. It's not that I don't enjoy sharing their idiosyncracies with the world (or at least the slice of that world represented in 100 Words). It's just that this month I've had other fish to fry (cod and haddock), including, especially, the falling in what's known as "love" with a certain fellow who's got the good graces to reciprocate, and I feel the need to express, here, this happy fact, rather than regale you with more tales about the neuroses that feed my pocketbook.
My next-door neighbor, Wanda, was either a six-year-old with a perverse sense of humor and imagination or a six-year-old who was doing things no six-year-old had any business being involved in.
According to Wanda, the neighborhood boys, all older (I'm putting their age at about 10, but for some reason I think they may have been 16), took her to the woods behind our houses, forced her to strip, secured her in a large net, and then took turns spitting on her. This, when they weren't making her sit, also stripped, on a swing, which they would take turns pushing.
At long last, I have joined the modern world. While it is indeed true that I do not own a microwave and my apartment isn't equipped with a dishwasher, I can no longer amaze people by stating, "I do not have a DVD player."
I will miss their disbelieving, jaw-dropping stares. Their taunts, their jeers, their whispering behind their hands to their friends when I pass them on the street. "Don't look now, but & here comes that girl I told you about who doesn't have a DVD player!"
Well, now I do. And I am Netflix-ing with a vengeance!
Oh, ladies. Why oh why must you do it, year after year? Why must you insist on being a "sexy" something for Hallowe'en? Police officer, firefighter. Nun, nurse. Witch, ghost. Cat.
You really don't need an excuse to wear fishnet stockings. You can wear them in your real life, the other 364 (or 365, if it's a leap year) days of the year. Trust me! I've done it!
"But Hallowe'en gives me a chance to express another side of myself!" you say? I say express yourself every day. And for Hallowe'en, go out as a Kinko's counter clerk. Sans fishnets.
Her boyfriend is obsessed with germs, she says. So much that he goes through a regular-sized pump bottle of liquid soap in two or three days. So much that he won't let her "go down" on him if he hasn't properly washed the equipment beforehand. So much that he cringes when she stoops to pet a random dog on the street.
Why, then, are the walls in their apartment dingy with fingerprints? Why is the toilet showing signs of & use? Why are the light-switches grimy? Why is the paint peeling, the ceiling falling down, the table sticky and crumb-littered?
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