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My stomach keeps threatening to run off and join the circus. All elegant loops and perilous drops. I'm once again making deals with the universe, which amounts to proposing deals, as counterproposals are never slid back across the table. I want this for him so much. Creating lists in my head of things dear to me that I would gladly forsake if only. If only. In my youth I would have to divulge such wheeler-dealering in confession as an excess of desire. But what if it's for another and they're the thing most dear you are willing to give up?
"Where are you?" "The bar across from the theater." "It's so quiet." I'm in the bathroom. I'll see you soon." "But you're not coming home now." "I said that. I've gotta go." "Someone needs to use the restroom?" "No I just don't want to talk for an hour." "It hasn't been an hour." I hung up abruptly, starting to cry and curse myself and doubt him. Hours later when he climbed into bed and set his alarm I started crying again. "Are you crying?" J. challenged. I stated one fact. Six words. Unimpeachable. I felt his heart bleed its pique.
J., usually oblivious to such things, affixed a post-it to the postcard "I had no idea!" Yeah, I signed up for the NYPD exam. I saw a recruitment ad that said you could be no older than me so I thought, this is my last chance. I don't want to be a cop, I said, I just want to take the exam. J. says he thought I got the card by mistake, but I would make a good cop and I don't know what to say to that. Leaving the apartment I see four fat cops loitering on the corner.
The preening always had a healthy dose humor in its grandiosity. Even in the unfortunate eighties with its sherbet suits and more forgettable songs. Thin white dukes have no need of straight white teeth. Their souls are snaggled and unapologetic and charming. Now, suddenly sporting the mouth of a California televangelist or a primetime news magazine anchor, the words falling from his mouth are suspect. All equally white blunt and even. Somebody I idolized "improving" himself in such a banal way cuts me to the quick. Oh well, J. still does a stunning impression of him, ragged teeth an all.
When the pile got big enough Stevie lugged the books to Goodwill along with a piece of her past as it was her habit to use old photos as bookmarks, and having tucked the photo back into already read pages, they remained, consistently forgotten. In this way a graduate student who was happy to find Foucault's
for less than a dollar is thrilled to see Stevie at seven smiling gap-toothed on a carousel as her brother Loyd pretended to pick a wooden lion's nose behind her. The new owner of
Killing Mr. Watson
got a strip of sixth-grade wallet-sized.
Shiri peeled the lens off her eye and put in the compartment without the "R". Ow ow ow. Left it in too long again. She grabbed a wad of tissue. She always lied to her doctor. No, no I don't know how my eye got so scratched. Of course I don't sleep in them. But oh to wake up, open your eyes and be able to see, how could she not? The room had lost its edges. The dirt behind the toilet disappeared. Would a smoother world be so bad? Rudolph Valentino's poor eyesight kept him out of the military.
No news is definitely not good. J. had been so happy with the audition tape. Didn't think it could have gone better. All week we've avoided talking about it. Pretended it wasn't there. But the film starts soon and nothing. We know the picture's star likes him. We know they asked for him specifically to read for the part. And then it went gangbusters. I thought for sure we would hear this week one way or the other. But to hear nothing at all. It's not good. I should have known that I had nothing that the universe would want.
It's a peculiar rite of summer. Come gooey weather the non-natives become restless and drive in from wherever they keep the automobiles with out-sized stereo systems. Proud of their seismic beats and revelatory deejay aptitudes, they park on Broadway and quake the neighborhood, making our bones rattle all the way up on the ninth floor. Sometimes if we're lucky it will only be a song or two while one of the posse runs into Wendy's. On others is can be over an hour. Cardoors splayed open, serenading the entire block as they wait for their shopgirl girlfriends to finish work.
Any requests? I drag myself to the kitchen. "Anything," a blast of indifference. The novelty of packing lunches has worn off long ago. I can't wait to stop, especially on Sunday morning. I muster up the feeling that should back up this act of kind care-taking. J . pops his head into the kitchen, "Actually. Do we have anymore of that tunafish? " "Sure," I'm disproportionately touched that he requested something I make from scratch. The funny thing is, I hate tuna salad. Actually I loathe mayonnaise. To me, it's punishment. I've no idea what my tuna salad tastes like.
It was all I could do to keep myself from picking up the phone and screaming at the young man leaving the chipper message. THEY LOST THE TAPE. J,'s audition tape. It never made it to L.A. "So we need you to come in and do it again." J. is at his tech rehearsal, his play opens for previews on Wednesday. I can't get hold of him on his cell and leave a message. I call the box office and ask them to have J. call home. When he finally does I can hear the white knuckles in his voice.
I invited my brother to the dress rehearsal. See the play for free, even bring a date. That's $90, pure savings. Except the play's in much rougher shape than seemed possible, seeing's it's scheduled to start charging people $45 dollars a head starting tomorrow, Afterward, J. showed me the place he had to spend much of the play—under the stage. The area had been carpeted and lit with white Christmas lights. It was a low difficult crawl in my skirt. I couldn't get out fast enough. Breath-sucking closeness, like the first time through the Tactile Dome, minus reassuring tactility.
I have a fondness for instruments large swaths of the population catagorize as excruciating to the ear. Like bagpipes. Recently I became strangely obsessed with the idea of learning to play the banjo. I located an old Sears Silvertone 5-string for sale on the internet for under a $100, which granted I still don't have to spare, but I bought it anyway. Perhaps an even more brilliant choice for my swollen fingers than knitting. I can only imagine how much my neighbors will enjoy sharing my learning process. I understand banjo carries, but then, at least it's not the bagpipes.
A woman put her 14-month-old daughter in an oven. The oven was on, but news items don't report the temperature setting. The girl's father rescued the girl after hearing her screams. The mother's initial story was that the girl fell into the oven, which then slammed closed. Later she pointed the finger at voices who apparently said things like "Put your daughter in the oven." I figure a toddler would weigh about the same as very large stuffed turkey, but wriggling. Perhaps someone should have seen this coming, according to the newspaper the family's address is "100 Harm's Way." Really.
They fired the director of J.'s play and are bringing in a show doctor. Not really. They have asked the director of J.'s play to take some time off and get a little distance from the project and are bringing in a "consultant". We've been walking around saying "consultant" and waggling our fingers in the air in the universal symbol for quotation marks. Don't you doubt that the universe drips with sarcasm. I think it sounds like a good idea. From everything J's said the actors have been frustrated by the directors lack or directing. They could use some consulting.
I feel like everything is sprained. My ankles, my hips, my wrists my fingers. Especially my fingers. I wake every morning these days and use my rings as a barometer, starting with the loosest. No use moving on if even that one won't come off. I take an ibuprofen and check my rings again in a couple hours. The first slips off. I repeat the rest of the day, sneaking up on my body – so sure I'll benefit from inflammation-- by taking only one pill at a time until all the rings come off. I'm ready to start again tomorrow.
There was something just plain off. They whispered to each other. Forwarded his emails.
Does this sound condescending to you, they asked. Do you think he meant to be patronizing?
Didn't you tell me he said the exact opposite to you about how I handled that project?
Why, yes he did. In fact that's what I said.
God he recycles compliments he's heard only makes them sound worse by putting them in his own words!
See, he'd have explained if he was asked, he just didn't think up compliments as easily as other people seemed to. He didn't know why.
The would-be rampage killer didn't really have his heart in it as it turned out. He shot a man on Second Avenue who had it coming, being white all. The victim made it to Bar Veloce. (Used to be Orson's back in the day when J. and our friends worked constantly at the Ontological Theater. Now a wine bar, the young owner has bought us drinks in the past because he knows J.'s work.) The rampager followed and there terrorized the patrons, non-fatally shooting two more when they, 20-year-old female patrons, jumped the gunman.
printed their ages. Whoops.
As a child I was mystified by people who claimed they could smell rain. It was clear it had just rained. Everything was wet. Who were they trying to impress? Everyone knew water didn't smell, except the well water at my cousin's house where they made the most vile Kool-Aid, as if artificial fruit flavor could hide sulfur. I was convinced people simply smelled wet things, like grass, and called that rain. Of course I have since learned differently. As I walked outside I was fairly intoxicated by the smell of ozone. I wish I could make it my perfume.
Once again, Madison Avenue creates problem – solves it. The young woman is pretty and when she smiles, she dimples, because if a young woman's carrying a couple extra pounds, it had better dimple prettily if she's going to sell the American public anything. Especially, say, maxi-pads for big gals. Most pads, we're told are designed to fit a size 6. She wrinkles her nose knowingly. Look, problem solved. Finally a maxi for maxis. You know, I've heard my share of weight griping from my sex, but I'm yet to hear, "Damn, my labia's getting so fat!" Listen up lipsuction industry.
J. is in the bathroom knocking things out of the medicine cabinet hunting for cortisone. Me too, I say, having already scratched the last night's bites into scabby welts. Damn high-rise mosquitoes. Do they fly 9 stories or take the elevator? Later S. and I finally conclude our phone-tag marathon. I claim nothing new. She however's got Lyme disease to report. "From the house?" "From a deer tick." "But you were up at the house?" She got the bull's-eye rash big, on her stomach, which just so happens to be the locus of her other news. Bulls-eye marks the baby.
L. our neighbor across the way, is wrestling a couple suitcases into the hallway. L.'s an English woman who hennas her hair bright red and wears enviable jewelry. "Oh," she says, "Do you want a flower?" Excuse me? "I'm leaving town for the weekend but I just got this flower…" She opens the door and shows me a flower which is really mass of tiny purple flowers about 5"in diameter on one thick stalk. It's charmingly Suessian. I take it, shuddering in horror that it almost died all alone, unobserved. I'm so happy, L. said, and left on her weekend.
Yow. I can't wait to build up callouses, My finger are killing me. I just got my banjo. I've been practicing rolls. I decided rather arbitrarily to begin by studying three-finger picking, sometimes called the Scruggs style after someone legend has was named Scruggs. I bought the finger picks but was a little embarrassed to ask the guy at the guitar store how I was supposed to wear them so I got home and looked for picture on the internet. What I found was numerous sites touting metal banjo picks as "cheap creative SM toys." So says the Frugal Pervert.
I'd just as soon become a cop as go back and complete my PhD. The NYPD entrance exam was today. At least the alternative Sunday offering I requested so that I wouldn't have to miss one of my ballet classes to exercise my morbid curiosity was. It was held on the lower east side, and because it's a Sunday I was figuring this session would have attracted all the Orthodox would-be police officers. But not a yarmulke in sight. Go figure. I wanted to know who took the test and what they were asked. I wish I had been surprised.
"I'd just assume it," her Long Island bray cut over the screams of the children's party in the bar of the restaurant. Her little girl, about four, climbed onto the bar stool in front of her requesting a wine. "Elliot, get her a wine," she winked. The bartender handed over a coke. The girl took a sip. "Elliot, Elliot," the mother called, "She took a sip and said ‘this is soda'." "She used to the real stuff?" the bartender obligingly asked. The woman called out, "Elliot, Elliot" and told the story two more times before we could make our escape.
She is confident and that's what irks me. She sits serenely eating sour cream with a spoon from the folded paper cup on her neighbor's plate unbothered by the yellow feathers escaping the corners of her mouth. To speak to her is to conduct an interview. Answering questions easily because nothing in her life's path could even remotely be considered objectionable or below the praise of somebody, probably within earshot. In the silence left by her lack of returned interest I focus on the hunger that makes her eat sour cream from her neighbor's plate after finishing a full meal.
Micheline knew it was work that needed to be done to ensure the forward momentum of her life. Somewhere she had read that it takes half as long to get over a breakup as the actual length of the relationship. Empirically, the estimate had a ring of truth except in the case of one-night stands when sometimes the hope they will call lingers far longer than the, ahem, liaison. Now, six years into their thing Micheline had started to worry about the mounting recovery time. Why wait until it's over, she thought, when I can start getting over him today.
I admit it. I'm liking this heat. Even yesterday when it poured and poured and minutes after it stopped the sidewalks were dry as if the deluge never happened and it was even hotter. The hot moist air wraps around me like a cocoon. I pile on layers and leave dance class drenched to the skin, but the opposite since the dousing comes from me. Drenched to the air. Still my teacher runs her hand up my sweaty back, hooking under my arms to get me to pull up more during the adagio. Dancers are immune to other people's sweat.
While working on rolls and chords I watch t.v. instead of my fingers--maniacally repeating monotonous patterns. RCN cable has this feature that synopsizes programs, usually in a shorthand worthy of a pre-teen chat room with strange, inscrutable abbreviations. But then, inexplicably. I came across this for Dateline: "NBC's ubiquitous prime-time newsmagazine, the one that finally succeeded after more than a decade of attempts (and the one that has aired in many time slots since its March 31, 1992 debut). The series offers a mix of investigations, news u." That "u" is typically enigmatic. But the rest of it? Meow.
I wouldn't be a very good hooker. I hate cash transactions. Especially negotiable ones. I make J. call to order food and then greet the delivery guy at the door. Tipping embarrasses me, so mostly, I overtip. Which is expensive when you're as surrounded by service industries as I am. Every month I ask J. for his part of our expenses. "The regular amount?" I'll say yes even if electric is sky-high from the AC or I spent hundreds on a friend's wedding we agreed to split, I'm too poor for such generosity, but I'm also too embarrassed to ask.
Another opening, another show. I'm seeing the play tonight for the first time since the invited dress debacle and director switcheroo. J,'s napping in preparation after actually waking early enough to go see
at Film Forum as he promised. I thought it would never happen after he got in at his usual four in the morning. But he dragged himself out of bed, requested french toast and was good (enough) to go. It was strange seeing the film with other people. Having only seen it in the past on tv while alone had made it very private. Mine.
The Tip Jar