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If it hadn’t been for the unusually deep potholes on the westernmost block of Phelps Street , no one would’ve ever known what substance paved the road decades before the faceless blacktop was unceremoniously smoothed down and decades after the charming cobblestones were laid out. If not for the potholes, the once quiet stretch would not be swarming now with reporters and tourists and thrillseekers, all clamoring and rubbernecking for a chance to gawk and gasp at the layer of two-inch-thick human skin that, aside from the enormous pits left by the potholes, was as smooth as a baby’s behind.
It’s 1987, and we’re side by side by the elevators, waiting to be whisked upstairs to the law office. In my peripheral vision, I see him looking up at me, sidelong. In heels, I’m three inches taller than he, but it may as well be three feet. Still, this doesn’t stop him from acting like a big shot.
“If you were my lady, I’d put you in a Jaguar, dress you in the finest of furs,” he murmurs.
“Such big dreams, tiny Esquire,” I think, wishing email would be invented already so I could send his wife an anonymous one.
The petite trapezist has just performed, and the audience is googly-eyed and manic. Applauding to near hand-bleeding. Par for the Oprah course.
The episode’s about “happiness”, one of Oprah’s pet themes. You can be happy making 10% of your salary! Just look at whatshername, with her shining eyes and hair and grin that’s larger than her head!
Sure, that’s easy, ladies, when you used to be a banker making at least $500,000. Try living on 10% of what a viewer in rural Mississippi, too poor to even own a TV, makes -- and then show me your enormous shiny grins.
Wilson’s offhanded brushing of an invisible fleck of lint from his freshly cropped left sideburn couldn’t be more "studied" if it tried. He spends the first 10 minutes of the session raving about last night’s pizza and Netflix offering as if he isn’t aware of the safety pin jabbed through his earlobe. As if he doesn’t notice the ooze from the reddened, swollen flesh.
"Oh. THAT?" he says, when he sees me raising my eyebrow and blinking a slow dismissive blink at the display. "It’s self-acupuncture!"
"You mean acu-PUNK-ture?" I say.
"Yeah. What’d I say?" he says.
Oh, never mind.
Enormous mistake, you see, trying to force yourself into a major key when you were born a minor. To force cheer when you were born for melancholy, the screams when the doctor spanks your infant ass not just from the impact and shock but because you’re letting everyone know, right off the bat, that this is what/who you are.
Cultivating the minor key is an art, requiring a balance between expression of the melancholia mood without sinking into an unshakable maudlin mood and the ability to occasionally lift yourself outside of it to see how the other, perkier side lives.
Wanda’s pretty miffed. Wendy, her identical twin, just hurled an enormous brush at her side of the wide mirror above the side-by-side sinks, installed by their parents in their private bathroom for their 13th birthday last month.
"Every teenaged girl should have her own sink," Dad said.
"And mirror!" Mom said.
So now Wendy and her brush have shattered their side, just moments after Wendy’s ear-splitting fit in which she hurled not just the brush but insults of "Hideous!" at her "fugly" reflection.
And Wanda’s too miffed about the ruined symmetry to realize her sister has just insulted
Thirteen-year-old Tara does not like drawing attention to herself, and is most comfortable hiding under water, so most afternoons you’ll find her swimming countless laps at the local Y. Rumor has it that they put chemicals in the pool that turns the water red if someone pees and leaves a trail behind the offender.
One day as she approaches the wall for a turn, someone yells, “Pee! Pee!” She stops, treads water, and looks down. Blood clings to her thighs. But she’s more mortified about “becoming a woman” than mistaken pool-peeing, and thus does not and cannot deny the accusation.
Even when I had a crush on him, years ago, when dating him was a fantasy I never thought would come true, I hated how he’d stand at my desk singing “Whipping Post” as he signed correspondence. So it came as no surprise when, years later, after the fantasy finally came true, I hated how he’d pound out the beat with both hands on the steering wheel while singing it. Now that we were dating, this display rankled me even more. Especially when followed by the awe-struck assertion, moments later during more classic rock hell, that “Springstein is a POET!”
I know I’ll be the last person who talks to him today.
“Yes, the M5, 6, or 7 will take you to Central Park South,” I’ve said.
“All of them?”
“Yes. The M6 ends there, and the 5 and 7 continue north. You can take any one you like!”
He grins shyly and thanks me profusely.
If I look in his eyes again, I’ll cry. But it’s no better when I look down at the varicose veins riddling the mottled skin of his legs, above which hang dingy shorts belted with what looks like rope.
Doesn’t anyone call him “Dad”?
Why can I hear your clients’ incessant chatter even when my music, at full volume, blasts directly into my brain? I blame no defect of my iPod, but a defect in your “training”. Did it ever occur to you to insist that, pre-session, your clients worship at the alter of St. Fu? Perhaps if they worked their bodies as hard as they flapped their jaws, they’d lose the flub, which is, I assume, the purpose of hiring you in the first place. Or perhaps that would be self-defeating on your part.
Ahh! NOW I get it!
Dear Women With Children,
Listen. There is no need for you to refer to yourselves as “mommies” when you’re in adult company. While “Mommy” is indeed perfectly acceptable – and even, I’ll grant, CUTE -- for your kids to use, it is not acceptable when talking about yourselves to each other. The juvenile moniker needs to be dumped into the nearest diaper genie immediately. “I am Rebecca’s mother” makes you sound like an intelligent person capable of caring for a little one. “I am Rebecca’s mommy” makes you sound like you’re the one in need of care.
Yours, in adulthood,
Somewhere between the good-byes and my actual departure from the party, the hostess, my best friend, decides she wants to move on from caressing my left calf, as she’d done in the living room earlier, to my ass. She cups the left side in her small hand, and looks up at me, looking just like the little girl on a "Love Is" glass I had before she was even born.
But she’s not satisfied with these simple hands-on gestures. No, she’s gotta go and pull me into the hallway just outside the kitchen, and kiss me, doesn’t she.
Chairs are lacking at the party, so I sit on my boyfriend’s lap.
“Oh, look, everyone’s doing laps now,” says one similarly situated girl. “But WE’RE doing it because we WANT to.”
Oh, yes. Because you’re so hip, bohemian, and innovative, with your barefooted legs wrapped around your long-distance boyfriend’s waist. Amazing, how this was such a stirring issue that you felt compelled to finally speak after spending almost the entire night insulated from everyone else, in your cozy leg cocoon.
Made me want to lift my skirt, impale myself on my boyfriend, and say, “Who’s zoomin’ who NOW, bitch?”
Dana brushes her teeth so vigorously that the gums have no choice but to bleed, forming tiny blood-pools at the gumline. Before spitting the mess into the pristine white basin, she opens her mouth wide and gazes in fascination at the mess. Such a pretty red. Even prettier than her little wagon!
And much much prettier than the pale, almost-pinkish one she would find attached to her teeth thanks to the “disclosing tablets” Mom used to force her to chew after brushing her teeth, when Mom decided she didn’t devote the proper amount of enthusiasm and commitment to the task.
It happens every year, around this time. Yeeeeears ago, I would’ve been dreading the onset of fall because it meant a new school year. Even the thrill of fresh new notebooks and unsharpened pencils and crisp paper wasn’t strong enough to overcome the fear. But now, with no school to worry about, I fantasize about corduroy (for some reason always dark brown) and scarves (striped) and apples (crunchy) and trees (colorful). And the idea of cider (hot) -- even though I’m not fond of it. (Warm apple pie, though, with a crumb crust, well, that’s another story.) Bring it on!
Today was almost the day that 32 assorted people at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and 23rd Street would have had something really awesome to talk about all day. Something a little more thrilling than the usual tripe about sports or back-to-school sales or the weather or their kids.
But no. The tall guy who ran across the street, against the light, despite the fast approach of oncoming rush hour traffic, had to go and pick up the pace, when alerted by horns blaring against his stupidity, and make it safely to the other side.
Fucker. Ruined it for everyone.
Just because I wrote to ask about your father’s health, which was on the decline two years ago when we were “dating”, doesn’t mean I want to resume regular communication, so you can stop the verbal flailing. Your e-mail reads as if you’re in the throes of a particularly severe tonic-clonic seizure with a healthy dose of Parkinson’s thrown in for good measure.
Tell me how “How’s your dad?” would prompt you to ask me, “Do you miss my smile?”
I miss nothing about you. How could I, when there was nothing there to begin with?
Here’s the part of the treadmill craziness where I put on the hardest, most frenzied music on my iPod. Where I’m transported from the gym, on an imaginary mission to seek revenge on that dog-killing scum lump, Michael Vick. Where I find him at what his “crib”, tie him up on his back on blacktop and glass, spread-eagled, eyes propped open with toothpicks, mouth forced open by a ratchet, and slit his skin with jagged, rusty razorblades before hobbling him a la “Misery”. Where each scream revives a dog-victim, who pisses into the wounds before tearing into his putrid flesh.
Today one of my best friends turned 70. “I still feel 40,” he said.
Around the time I turned 40 – probably not on the actual day, because I didn’t want acknowledge turning 40 as an “event”, even though I regarded every activity I did the day before as “the last time I’ll do this in my 30s” -- I said aloud, “I still feel 20.”
However, since, at 20, I felt 40, does that mean that when I said I still felt 20, I really felt 40?
I suppose I will never know how 40 really felt. Oh, the tragedy!
Today’s a big day for you, big man. Big behemoth strong man, your hands defiantly gripping the steering wheel as you say something so upsetting to your wife that she leaves the car flushed and struggling to hold back the tears she’s going to unleash the moment she’s safely hidden behind the vendor truck where she orders coffee. Big day. You made your wife cry on a Friday morning, the one day of the work week she doesn’t hate because she knows it’s the last before two days away from the office. Two days with you. Way to go, champ.
Don’t get me wrong, girls. I don’t want what’s inside your panties (!), but I do want to see them. Never mind the condition of your parts. If your thighs and ass are slender, taut, and smooth, that’s fine and dandy. But if your possess gelatinous and lumpy thighs and asses that resemble stomach-churning smorgasbords of mashed potatoes mixed with tapioca pudding and oatmeal, well, that’s just finer and dandier. The grosser the presentation, the more delighted I’ll be. And if the panties are somehow wedged in various crevices only your gynecologist should see, that, my lovelies, is a bonus!
It’s a good thing Lindsay Lohan is fucking up so much these days. Otherwise, the paparazzi would still be lying in wait for me on my patio, among the plants, periscopic telephoto lenses poised to peer into my apartment, which efforts would yield photographic bonanza for every tabloid in existence.
Alas, I’m safe from scrutiny, shuffling around in old lounge pants with a large hole in back so conveniently positioned that they’re now referred to as “sodomy slacks”.
If you know me at all in real life, you’d know how much I revel in permitting myself this private decadent schleppiness.
Mary had a … MARY had a … MAAAARY had a little lamb, little lamb LIIIIITTLE lambbbbbbbbbbbb … Ican’tHEEEEEEEEEEEARyou………. Maybe not the most mature or “healthy” way to go, but who cares. Sometimes when someone’s spouting shit, talking out their ass (at best), with no intention of slowing it down or shutting it off, it’s best to employ the survival tactics of a three-year-old.
I’d kill to see someone actually do it. Some big guy, head full to brimming with nasal-drone wife-nags, flopping on his back, spinning, flailing, witnessed by many an amused bed-in-a-bag smack-dab in the middle of Target.
After looking at a countless number online, and a trip to Montblanc to inspect one I’d thought would be THE one, I finally found the most perfect money clip (tip: mondera.com!). However, I still had to consult with a fabulous gayboy -- because whenever a girl has a style concern, who better to turn to? Alas, he selected it, too, from among three “finalists” I sent him via email.
Today it arrived, in all its perfect polished stainless steel and carbon glory. It’s almost as gasp-worthy as the occasion – our one-year *anniversary*! this Monday! -- for which it’s being given.
There once was a girl from Peru
Whose room had an outrageous view
The Andes in the distance
Such a charmed existence
Because , really, she wasn’t on vacation, this was her day-to-day life, spent, in great part, lounging on a supremely comfortable window seat in a turret, while being served, at whim, steaming, heaping platters of just-cooked French fries (crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside, with the perfect sprinkling of salt and freshly-ground black pepper), complete with an array of condiments, including, but not limited to, ketchup, wasabi mustard, salsa, Miso Mayo, cocktail sauce, and mushroom gravy.
Shhhhh. Don’t say anything. I want to hear nothing but the blurry whirr of the ceiling fan, the murmury purr of my cat, the refrigerator making whatever sound it is refrigerators make, and the pounding of your heart, which seems right now to be the loudest and most prominent sound in the room.
It’s beating harder and faster than usual, perhaps in confusion over what to do with me when I get like this. But it needn’t be confused. It, and you, don’t have to figure anything out. The only thing I want from both of you is your presence.
Henrietta (not her real fake name) is ready for a half-hour of castigation and verbal castration (she’s a man) at the mouth of Erica (her real fake name). Under cover of the telephone, she cannot wait to whine about how the cool girls, cheerleaders all, never give her rides in their convertible, and how they, in their trendy outfits, look down on her frumpy wardrobe.
“Henrietta, please. Cheap espadrilles and a floral Fashion Bug dress? None of the football players will fuck you, you pathetic little shit.”
Erica, chenille-robe clad, spits this into the phone, between gulps of Diet Coke.
One year ago tonight, face-down on my bed in the semi-darkness, you somehow managing to stretch out on top of me without crushing me in the least (invisible strings like a marionette? pulleys a la Peter Pan?), your mouth hovering just above and behind my left ear, murmuring, “Tell me what you want.”
What I wanted, you wanted. I don’t even think I had to say it.
A year later, and I can still feel those words on my neck, my ear, and in my hair. And when you say it now, it’s just as thrilling as it was then.
In the early ‘70s, my brother, sister, and I were what eventually became known as “latch-key kids”. We rarely saw our parents, which didn’t bother us in the least, since we were all crammed into a two-bedroom apartment that, before the remarriage, had been my stepfather’s alone.
My favorite nights featured Ellio’s frozen pizza, a three-piece sheet/brick for each of us three kids, baked to slightly-browned-cheesed perfection (with added oregano, garlic powder, and crushed red pepper) by my 11-year-old brother in the toaster oven that provided a perfect fit.
This, eaten in front of the TV, was sheer, absolute bliss.
Even the most insistent, eardrum-busting German Industrial or frenetic, blood-rushing punk isn’t enough to ward off the cyclone gathering speed inside my head. And since there’s no way to coax or cajole it into submission and retreat – damn the New Age trippy tripe and transparent “reverse psychology”! – I’ve got to come up with something so all-consuming that my brain won’t be able to process anything else.
Ahhh, I know. Pediatric pathology. Hemangioma. Ichthyosis. Midline facial defect. And when all else fails, Siamese twins, preferably with bonus thoracopagus. Imagine: Being unable not only to escape yourself, but your twin, facing you.
In a perfect world, silent solemn knitter, the thing you are so carefully creating (do it faster! do it faster! knitting is only fun to watch when the knitter makes it look easy!) would be a pair of socks to cover the pale toes that are unfortunately exposed in your dainty red sandals. It’s not that they’re dirty or particularly hideous. It’s that, without the benefit of nail polish (not even clear!), they resemble the blind naked mole rat babies I saw at the Philadephia Zoo many years ago. Adorable if you’re a mole, but not if you’re human toes.
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