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The woman, gray-haired and rumpled in that academic/artistic/casual Upper West Side way, walks as if she either needs a new hip or has a replacement she's learning to accommodate. She's with a male counterpart and a medium-sized shaggy grayish dog. The dog resembles her more than the man does, down to the limp and easy smile.
"That's a great dog," I say, as we all cross Amsterdam. I point with a floppy hand to the dog and say, "There," even though he's the only dog around. I'm sure she wonders who let me wander away from my special school alone.
Resa Bergman is making a fool of herself. She still runs around town thinking she looks like Maggie Gyllenhaal, just because some guy told her, five months ago, that if you glanced at her in a dimly-lit bar, she could pass for a "poor man's Maggie Galloway or whatever her name is" but with better posture. (Of course she went home with him. With that kind of endorsement, she'd be crazy not to!) Just yesterday afternoon she caught a glimpse of herself in the back of an iced-tea spoon and reminded herself to slouch, because no one was "recognizing" her.
At long last, a diet soda that you don't have to feel like a pansy-ass drinking in public. That won't make chicks not want to fuck you. That will leave your manhood intact while trying to maintain your girlish figure. Oh, thanks, Pepsi, for not only leaving the fey word "diet" out of the product's name ("Pepsi One" is so … Presidential!) but changing the can to black, to drive the point home that fuck YEAH, this drink's got BALLS. Dude!
Man, oh man. If your masculinity hinges on something as flimsy as package design, you truly are a pussy.
When we, as English-speakers, relay something a Spanish-speaker was saying, we will say something nonsensical like, "La riba de la riba adios del agua momo limpo casa," using what few words we know and/or making up words to fit the rhythm and sound of the unfamiliar language. Similarly, for French, we'll spout crap like, "Le je deaux fou pour les quiches, Madame, s'il vous plait?" For Chinese, "Chang chee mau moo cheng chi wah!"
I'd like to know what non-English-speakers hear when they hear our language. And do the Spanish imitate us the same way the French and Chinese would?
Although I know I have a right to listen to embarrassing music on my iPod and shouldn't give a shit if anyone looking over my shoulder on the subway sees that the tune to which my fingers are tapping on my leg is "Take On Me" by A-Ha or something by an American Idol contestant, I do. Thus, I have undertaken a project whereby I'm substituting "cool" song names for all of my potentially embarrassing songs. "Take On Me" is now something by Yo La Tengo and the entire catalogue of Journey can now be found under The Flaming Lips.
Writing for the sake of writing, for the release, the rush, the joy, because it feels good, it tastes good, it smells good, it makes me feel alive and like I have something to contribute. Not writing for any purpose but just to get it out, not pausing to wonder or construct, just fingers flying as of their own volition, creating what they will, not worrying what anyone will think or say in response, especially not the biggest and most insidious critic, myself (of course). Flying pantless, without a seat in sight. Ahhh, the breeze, it feels so good. Bliss.
I'm going to have to ask you all to stop writing about unrequited love. People are just skipping over those entries and scanning the rest for hints of sexual perversion, deep dark secrets involving your seventh grade gym teacher slash field hockey coach, or cataloguing of just how many marshmallows you were able to cram into your mouth before you almost choked to death but refused to go to the hospital because x-rays would reveal that your mouth wasn't the only place you'd crammed them. Spare us the "He doesn't love me" pap. Give the filthy people what they want.
Don't use food as a reward, they say, these "women's" articles, advising hapless, hope-seeking dieters in search of a "cure". After a successful PowerPoint presentation, don't give yourself a fresh-baked cookie with molten chips that smear on your lips, no! After getting a long overdue raise, don't chomp at a french fry like a shark at a leg dangling over the side of a bloody rowboat! Don't do it! Instead, buy yourself a pretty scarf in a color that complements your eyes! Get yourself a pedicure and bonus foot massage!
My advice: Don't be successful in the first place! Yeah!
The night will be a rip-roarin' success because you're wearing the shiny black new shoes. The shoes that have been lying in wait in their box with the still-crisp corners, lounging beneath the crinkle of a magenta tissue paper blanket (don't think shroud, don't think shroud, don't think shroud), at long last, their debut. They're not made for walking, but you walk -- nay, a hybrid stroll-strut -- in them anyway, the better to rub the masses' already-dirty noses in their ever increasing inelegance. They won't witness your blistered, bloody, barefoot limp home hours later. They'll never be the wiser.
I'm not buying into the whole "the boyfriend jean" thing marketed by J Crew, J Jill, and other entities whose names may not necessarily include a "J". I suppose it was more successful in test markets than "the husband jean": pleated, a bit too short, reverse-fit, baggy-kneed, medium blue, faded in all the wrong places, and ironed. Is there an equivalent for our male counterparts, though? What of "the girlfriend jean"? And would "the wife jean" just be a variation on the eternally dreaded "mom jeans"? (And why aren't they referred to as "the mom jean", sans the "s"?) Questions!
The lease to Paul's post-divorce digs allows only fish as pets. He sells his enormous flat-screen TV before the move (the ex-wife was right about one thing) and replaces it with an even bigger aquarium, which he places in his new living room where the TV would've gone. He would take in stray fish, if he could, but the likelihood of them landing on his doorstep is rather slim. Instead, he starts adopting stray plants. Plants dragged gasping onto curbs, leaves just curling into brown, heads bowed to accept their sad fate. Discarded weeds, he replants. These are his friends.
Most people know that some animals, such as fish, sleep with their eyes open, to be on the alert for predators. This may win you $200 on Jeopardy but will not impress anyone at a cocktail party. In fact, I think I fell asleep typing it.
Here's something that will impress and keep people awake: Hamsters blink only one eye at a time. I suggest you use this information the next time a chick grimaces and rolls her eyes when you wink at her at a swanky social function. Just tell her you're a hamster. That'll really win her over.
The first time I hear my own voice today is when I'm chopping a Vidalia onion for my lunch salad. I realize, hey, how marvelous that I have the freedom to work at home in cargo pants and bare feet, that today I have no one to see and nowhere to go, and my private patio if I need this thing called "fresh air", and I have not only this onion but bright red peppers and peppadews and white mushrooms and raw pepitas and crisp spinach and freshly ground black pepper … and all of a sudden, tra-la-la-la -- singing!
The Craigslist photo of the bedroom available for sublet is crammed with a saggy full-size bed whose faded maroon comforter could barely accommodate a twin, a scuffed wooden dresser, flimsy torchiere lamp, metal folding table "desk", and a small striped rag rug. This is the "ENORMOUS!!!" bedroom Ray can have for $1,100 a month from July through October in a three-bedroom "PALACE!!!" in Washington Heights. This is where he'll be bringing girls home from the bar for five-minute fucking after he brags that not only does he live alone but that he owns an enormous palace uptown. Sign him up!
You're hand-washing a glass in the kitchen, kinda grossed out by the milk scum that forms a ring about an inch from the rim. Your next-door neighbor is flossing his teeth and thinking about a deposition. The lady in 2-D is memorizing the combination of her new padlock. A cat coughs up an invisible hairball. Someone sneezes. All, cross-section dollhouse scenarios that only the most dullard sort of kid would consider worthy of recreation. Somewhere, though, there are housesful of drama. Somewhere, you can bet your life on it, someone's grandma is dying. And someone else's grandma. And someone else's.
I guess it's up to me to speak up, right? To be the voice of the people too timid to talk, yes? Oh, well. It could be worse. I could be the one with the panties-gag in my mouth, pretending to not savor the thrill of the frill against my tongue. I could be the one fake-struggling to dislodge the gag, hoping with all hope that a gloved hand will cram it back in, even deeper this time.
But no. I'll leave all that for the powder-puff pussies. Just because their lips are sealed doesn't mean mine have to be.
I do not understand the notion of "time to kill". Not because my days are so jam-packed that I don't get the concept of having unassigned time, but because I cannot fathom the idea that time, which is oh so precious and limited, is something not to be LIVED.
You've got two hours between connecting flights. Traffic wasn't as bad as you anticipated, so you have 45 minutes before the movie starts. That time is a GIFT. A bonus. It's time with no plans attached, no expectations, no limits. Why why WHY would you attach the word "kill" to it?
Oh, the staggering mediocrity, the sheer weight of its burden, the tedium of its maintenance. Swifter than quicksand, scarier than a nightmare of disembodied hands reaching up through graveyard soil to grab at and clutch the ankles of a white nightgowned heroine – alas, less banal descriptions would be wasted on my relationship with AG. I simply could not continue dating this person who, equipped with a sleek Italian bike that cost more than a month of my NYC rent, never got beyond pedaling around his neighborhood in the professional cyclist outfit that neon-brightly underscored the magnitude of his pedestrian existence.
Peter looks out the window and says, in a voice so soft I have to stop doodling and lean forward to hear, “This afternoon I saw a black guy with dreds sitting on the steps of a church eating watermelon, and immediately thought, ‘Yeah, it figures.’ Yesterday I passed a new dry cleaning place in my neighborhood and noticed it was run by a Chinese lady and thought, ‘Gee, what a surprise.’”
It’s gotten out of hand, he says. He’s alienating friends with this.
“Then don’t tell them,” I say. “Attribute these notions to characters in your next book.”
Sam enters my office with more vigor than I've seen from him in the three years he's been under my care. At first I think he's "hopped up on 'the stuff'' but don't see chocolate around his mouth, the standard indicator. Perhaps he's started coloring his hair again (a thankfully short-lived experiment from a year ago)? I consider nose job for six seconds and blowjob for half that. He interrupts my contemplation of "Shoe-shine?"with a breezy, "Ta-da!" running his hands, Carol-Merrill-like, along his sides, indicating a jumpsuit that looks like a two-piece ensemble, the kind supplied to dementia "undressers". Fabulous!
One of the most miserable spots on our planet isn't found in some far-off country where bloated-bellied ragamuffins' enormous brown eyes are clogged with mucus, flies, and tears. It's below our well-shod feet, here in the good ol' U.S. of A., specifically in New York City, on the Times Square subway platforms in the summer. The only way to deal with the horror is not to take the bright-eyed, contrived "when life gives you lemons" approach but to stew abundantly in your own sizzling juices while indulging murderous fantasies. Caged birds, 86 the singing. I don't want to hear it.
The cold-hot hand of dread grips the back of my neck when an odd meow-growl enters the room behind me before its host, Shana, joins it, tiptoe-lumbering with what sounds like a bit less pep in her step than usual. As I swivel around to face her, a flash of peripheral vision terrifies me into thinking her mouth is frothy with rabies. Head-on, the rabies-froth is really a bird. Shana's meow-growl is muffled by its still body.
"What the fuck! No! No! No!" I shriek, jumping up from my chair so fast it almost ricochets off the walls.
Shana drops the dead bird between her front legs and looks up at me without blinking or flinching.
"I don’t want it! No! No! I do NOT want it! Take it back! Take it back!"
"I bring you a gift, and this is the reaction I get?" she says. "Whatever happened to 'it's the thought that counts'?"
"Have you forgotten I'm vegetarian?" I yell. "Come on!"
"It's made of tofu. Amazing what they can do with that stuff these days."
"Bullshit," I say.
"Whatever," she says, turning to go back out onto the patio. "Fucking ingrate."
As much as I don't like that the bird is dead, I am happy that it's not partially alive, because there's no way in hell I could finish what my cat started. So, in that sense I am grateful to Shana. I try to tell her this, but she's out back smoking a cigarette and muttering.
Using a dustpan and brush, I transport the bird corpse into the patio, atop a ledge, out of Shana's reach. I am a non-stop stream of "imsorryimsorryimsorryimsorry" and tears. Tomorrow I will decide what to do with the little guy.
The next morning I contemplate a pre-sunrise burial beneath a bush in Riverside Park. However, I'm saddened to think of him all alone like that, so I'm thrilled when I realize I can bury him in one of my patio's empty flower boxes. I place him in a baggie and, apologizing to him for his death, dig into the dirt with a big spoon and place him in the hole. I tell him to rest in sweet peace as I toss dirt on top of him. Shana wants no part of it.
Bye, bye, birdie. Why'd'ja hafta go?
"I will rent you a drawer in one of my dressers for a reasonable price -- at least by New York standards. I will even throw in a small cedar block to keep the moths at bay, completely free of charge, and a promise not to violate your privacy that you will just have to trust that I'll honor. Just like I'll have to trust that you're using the drawer for the storage of ordinary household items that won't fit under your bed or in the oven."
So, where in my ad did you interpret "ordinary" to mean "severed hand"?
There seems to be a crop of youngish (early 30s or so) chicks out there who are busy being all domestic-like. They thrive on knitting brightly-colored caps and employing old-fashioned rolling pins and retro cherry-print aprons in kitchens outfitted with enameled colanders and stainless steel toasters. They bake whimsically-named cookies and cupcakes for both no reason and all occasions, with butter churned on their own organic farms, where their husbands bring them gourmet breakfast in a bed covered by a homemade quilt while wearing vintage pajamas they found in an old trunk in the attic of their house.
As I scan through lavishly-worded accounts of their daily routines, pausing occasionally to admire their hand-embroidered napkins, I confess I'm somewhat daunted. Why can’t I, too, refinish that scuffed old vanity I found on the Vermont roadside and replace its missing drawer pulls with antique varieties found at the flea market that my husband and I drive to every Sunday in our slightly dusty red pick-up truck? Why can’t I listen to Billie Holiday while baking biscotti made with flour I ground just that morning and currants I plucked from wherever the fuck currants come from?
Why don’t I make myself a necklace out of seashells and marbles and fingernail clippings and braid my hair into two thick long braids that I'll wear over the front of my shoulders and prance around in a meadow barefoot and toe-ringed, and write non-rhyming long-winded poetry that I'll present to my boyfriend on our wedding day, hand-printed with ink created from a blend of my own breast milk, menstrual blood, and tears on handmade paper and sealed with wax lovingly made by the bees I keep in my barn? Why?
Because I'm not that kind of girl. Thank god.
Several large bouquets of flowers are strapped by tape to the traffic light pole at the corner of 23rd and Sixth. A sign tells why.
IN LOVING MEMORY OF BETTY KAPETANAKIS
WHO WAS STRUCK DOWN ON
THIS CORNER BY A GARBAGE TRUCK
ON JULY 29, 2002
I don't need the sign. I've remembered the occasion, without floral representation, every year for the past seven. I don't remember the victim's name, so I'm thankful for the ordinary sheet of 8-1/2 x 11 paper, the kind found in an ordinary office. This way I can say, "I remember you, Betty" before passing.
Of all the "relationship status" options on Facebook, I detest "It's Complicated" the most. "It's Complicated" really means "I'm fucking someone from time to time and he/she/it is of course fucking someone else too, but I can't quite define what we have other than the occasional fucking, so I'll just say it's complicated so I don't have to take any real responsibility and ask that motherfucker what the fuck's up with this 'thing' we've kinda sorta not really got going." That, and it takes an exceedingly transparent situation and turns it into a faux enigma. It's not complicated. It's bullshit.
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