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My landlord asks, way too casually, "Hey, did you hear clanging on your kitchen pipes in the middle of the night?"
"What? No," I say with a mixture of boredom and amusement, clearly superior in the Hey I'm So Offhand affectation.
He tries a variation on the same question, looking at me kinda sideways. I repeat my denial.
I wonder if he's installed a spy-cam in his apartment (just above mine), and at 3:00 a.m. watched silent live footage of me slamming a pair of pliers against the pipe in a sleep-deprived rage at having to endure his cement-foot clomping.
Years ago I met a girl whose boyfriend gave her a big basket containing a dozen or so different deodorants for her birthday. Rather than cramming a stick of baby's-bottom-scented Secret down his throat like a goose being tortured to create foie gras, she squealed with ecstasy. She loved the way all varieties of the stuff smelled and held each up to her nose and inhaled deeply, as if she'd been presented with vintage Chanel No. 5 once worn by Coco herself. I was rather taken aback, especially since she had the hairiest underarms I'd ever seen on a girl.
I'm transcribing the interview of a secret pedophile who has amassed an enormous collection of kiddy porn on his computer. He's showing the interviewer, a young female sex worker, photos of the girls he lusts after, with the same tone of voice someone would use to order a pizza on a routine Friday night. Occasionally he giggles a little, like he's sneaking in some ice cream. I only have the audio, so I can't see the photos or the two people speaking. I wonder, though, if I could see them, if it would be apparent that they're father and daughter.
I know the laundromat attendant, an older bespectacled Indian man, sneaks peeks over his New York Post to get a gander at my panties, both when I'm cramming them in the washer and transferring them to my laundry bag (for at-home air-drying). I know he thinks, "Now, there is a girl who not only has fine taste in underpinnings but who is not afraid to stray from black. Oh, I am quite fond of the purple pair! And look at the efficiency with which she completes her tasks!"
I cannot decide if he wants to hire me or marry me.
I remember nothing of the occasion except that I was maybe 10 and it was at the Northeast Philadelphia house of a relative on my stepfather's side. I was interested in only two things: the food table, where an enormous assortment of Jewy goodness would go from beautiful to beat faster than you could say "oy", and a coffee-table book that included this photo of Marilyn Monroe: http://www.mutoworld.com/MMPLayboy.htm. The low point of the afternoon was when my cousin, Heather Amy, smeared snot in the kugel I had not yet touched. The high point was finally being alone with the book.
This afternoon several people responded to my Craigslist posting about the severed head that suddenly appeared on my patio a few hours ago.
"How much does that head weigh?" one asked. "The head I lost weighed 18 pounds."
I don't like stepping on the scale unless it's the first thing in the morning, so I didn't want to do that whole "weigh yourself alone, then weigh yourself holding the severed head and then subtract the difference" thing. Fortunately I have a cat, though, so I had her hold the head and then did the calculations.
I'm all about the troubleshooting.
I submit that the laws of feng shui be adjusted, if not outright abandoned, for those of us living in old Manhattan apartments. When you have odd window placement, heating pipes snaking up the walls, seemingly random electrical outlets, and floors whose unevenness make furniture placement a challenge, you can hardly be expected to concern yourself with whether your bed is placing north, south, east, west, or north-north-west-south. In a studio apartment, your "prosperity" corner may be occupied by your bed, which may not be so far off, given that perhaps using it is one way to pay the rent.
I stand in front of the full-length mirror, checking out as many angles as I can even though it's not a three-way. This dress and boot combo is smokin'! I peer over my shoulder, a la the Special K commercials, imagining I'm nodding my head in approval. I decide I deserve even more affirmation, so I nod and add a bonus loud wolf whistle and rather rude leer. I'm tempted to say something extremely inappropriate to my reflection, but my cat beats me to it. "Hot pussy!" she says. But then I notice she's addressing her own reflection. Oh well.
This spring I saw a scruffy dark-haired guy amble by Madison Square Garden with a cat atop his head. The cat didn't seem to think there was anything out of the ordinary about this mode of transport. Indeed, I'd wager it felt entitled. Everyone who noticed (and believe it or not, some people didn't) smiled or laughed. The guy, though, sneered and gave everyone disdainful looks. If you insist on walking around with a cat on your head, I demand you have a sense of humor about it. No one is forcing you to wear a cat for a hat.
Karl doesn't know how to answer Belinda's questions. He suspects it might be wrong if he said, "No, I would not walk on broken glass for you, but I'd tiptoe on shattered plastic. I would not give you the shirt off my back, but I'd lend you my belt. I would not go to the ends of the earth for you, but I'd take the subway down to your office if you wanted to have lunch sometime."
So he pushes her head toward his lap and says, "Here's your answer, baby!"
And what's this? She's out the door? What the??
When asked, as I often am on the lecture circuit, to supply proof for my long-held position that animal babies are superior to human babies, I direct my audience's attention to a series of filmstrips from the early 1970s, YouTube videos, and watercolors of my own creation that depict the marvel of a newborn animal's immediate attempts to walk on its own four legs versus the embarrassment of an infant human's lazy satisfaction with lying swaddled in a chunk of cotton, inert and often red-faced, resorting to spastic flailing when it wants someone else to pick it up for transportation.
Three weeks after she starts dating a new man, Kendra offers to start doing his laundry. She insists she loves doing it, that she has a "thing" for the fresh scent of Tide and derives enormous pleasure from folding heaps of clothes fresh from a hot dryer. The guys never suspect that before she actually washes the stuff, she selects two pairs of the grimiest socks, one of the sweatiest shirts, and several pairs of underwear she deems "well-traveled" and boils the bounty in a spaghetti pot along with two onions and a hambone. Her "man chowder" lasts all week!
My party-boy neighbor insists on making it clear to anyone with a nose who passes by his door that he not only chain-smokes cigarettes but indulges in day-long pot-fests that make the hall reek worse than if a dozen patchouli-steeped freaks staged a sit-in there, and to anyone with ears that he and his friends have a collective IQ of about 67. I don't even have to step out into the hall to hear his raucous drunken conversations; I hear them my bathroom wall just as clearly as if he's right next to me "praying" to my "porcelain god". Charming.
Shirley was always a daredevil. She just emailed Pat to tell her that despite the all-caps warnings on the sticker affixed to the back of her new 10" non-stick frying pan, she's using non-stick spray to make an Egg Beaters frittata for lunch.
"Oh, you just try and stop me, Pat!" she says when her sister calls, breathless, less than a minute later. Despite hunching up her shoulder to keep the phone against her ear, it slips away and dangles from its cord, smashing into the wall where it's mounted.
She pops open a Tab. There's no stopping her now.
Let's pause a moment, shall we, to take a little detour here: http://www.petrossian.com/chocolates-candies-7-hot-chocolate-on-a-stick-299.html.
I hate to break it to you, but I'm one of THOSE GIRLS who swoons over chocolate. I also swoon over shoes, so I guess this makes me more of a girl than I care to admit to the world at large. Whatever. DEAL with it, man, just DEAL. And if you love me (or even just non-hate me), please send me this (because I also, LIKE A GIRL, love PREZZIES) (I mean presents, not Presidents) (although I wouldn't mind making out with Alexander Hamilton). Thank you.
Whenever I enter the bank, I think the following, without fail:
If I make a deposit of, say, $500 (this number will vary), in the space on the deposit slip that asks for "number of items", I should put down the number of individual bills in my stack, e.g. "25" (20-dollar bills).
I should put four quarters in Penny Arcade, the self-service coin-counting machine, and then correctly "guess" my total bounty within the parameters required to win the prize.
I should do the same immediately after getting a roll of quarters from the teller.
I should take all the lollipops.
Because your dog is eager to please you, I, as one of the many cats who actually enjoys the company of dogs, feel it's up to me to let you know that not even the most ridiculous floppy-eared kibble-crunching galumph you know appreciates being ordered to sit and allow you to balance a miniature dog biscuit on his snout while you guffaw like a lunatic. Then again, perhaps I shouldn't talk, given that I allow you to derive the same sort of beastly pleasure from watching me dash around the room trying to catch a red pinpoint of light. Whatever.
Jill asks if it would be a bother if I could walk her Yorkie, Lolly, this week, while she has jury duty. I can say no, she says, and she'll still think I'm superhot and awesome. I appreciate her kind (and very very true) words, but really, does my pretty pretty friend not know me at all? Me, say NO to taking a break from the self-imposed isolation of work mid-day to frolick on the streets of the Upper West Side with a precious puppy pipsqueak or bring her here, where she can earn her keep as an office temp?
Every morning when I gaze at my mug in the mirror through bleary eyes -- grizzly, unshaven, sheet creases on my cheeks, some broad's tawdry red lipstick smeared near my mouth -- I think, man oh man oh Manischewitz, who would ever know this is the face of the former spelling bee champion of Poquessing Junior High circa 1976? Where's the "Where Are They Now?" crew when you need it?
What has become of me? I put a "k" on the end of "frolic" in yesterday's entry and today I misspelled "paltry" as "paultry". What's next? "Definatly"? The soul cringes.
Reviving a Dead Horse #261: You do not own the subway pole. If wrapping your two hands around it means that someone else's hand cannot hold on as well, how hard is it to remove one of yours to accommodate theirs? Easier, I would imagine, than receiving my hand across your face?
#308: If it's not possible to remove your enormous backpack once you're on the subway, realize that its bulk may collide with other passengers. Anything you carry or wear must be considered an extension of your body. Being a nylon hunchback doesn't mean you're entitled to monstrous manners.
I had lunch today with a guy I was gaga over six years ago. We dated for two months, and when we stopped seeing other (his decision), he didn't deserve a fleeting thought let alone the lingering rumination I allowed.
"Oh! I can't believe I almost forgot to get sake!" he said, summoning the waiter, ordering it for himself without asking if I wanted any.
"Yeah, I was wondering if you'd get it," I said.
"Oh! Because you remember I always had to have it!" he said, all starry-eyed.
"Because I remember you were always a pretentious douche," I thought.
"Ham or turkey?" the flight attendant asks.
I'm repelled by both but say "turkey" as my boyfriend says "ham". Like the dogs we're going to give it to when we get to his brother's house are really going to turn their snouts up at either choice. I know I should decline even though I'm hungry and won't be eating for several hours, but I want the roll that comprises the bulk of the paltry sandwich.
I'm thrilled a few seconds later when I come face to face with a small single Twix on the plastic tray. Life is somewhat sweet.
Jack, my new 79-year-old friend, handsome and spry and natty, invites me to Thanksgiving lunch at the Woodstock Senior Center just off Times Square. There will be dancing, he's told me, so I take special care to wear something that will look nice when he leads me through the tango he'd taught me a few weeks earlier and other dances I know he wants to show me.
I'm in the room no more than two minutes when some other old guy, unctuous and leering, snags me for a dance and proceeds to do a close approximation of the pogo. WTF.
Sometimes Santa doesn't use a fork, I tell the five-year-old sitting opposite me on the carpet where we're hosting a tea party for at two dozen dolled-up stuffed animals eager for Earl Grey. She looks at me as if I've told her he's getting divorced from the little lady (which is true, by the way -- but I'll save that for another day.) He doesn't have time, after all, to waste on niceties, given that it's easier just to cram the cookies in his mouth. She's so dumfounded she neglects to remind me no one eats cookies with a fork.
My family was Santa Jews. We eschewed traditional Hanukkah decorations for the glamour and flash of Christmas. In December, we cleared my mother's forest of houseplants from the deep ledge of the living room bay window to create a stage for non-secular winter scenes whose elements were all out of proportion. Snoopy in a Santa hat towered over tiny trees Scotch-taped to a glitter-flecked blanket of fluffy white cotton snow. Hot Wheels revved their engines by the wayside. Small plastic animals better suited for a Noah's Ark diorama gathered in a tinsel manger, wondering where the hell Baby Jesus was.
On the shuttle to Times Square, a black guy dipped in gold paint sat next to me by the doors on two gold milk-crates. A shuffling lady started her begging shpiel and then had to compete for air-space with a guy in a cheap suit asking people to donate food for distribution to the homeless. A lady across from me told the beggar to ask him for food. Suit Guy saw Beggar and didn't offer her anything. Lady across from me muttered, "He shoulda given you some shit, that shit is fucked UP."
THIS is the New York I love.
Two fantasy reactions in response to my boyfriend's mother introducing me to people as his "friend" (even though we've been together 3-1/3 years):
"Well, I guess that makes us fuck buddies, then, doesn't it?" without any inflection on the
"Oh, I'd say more like bosom buddies" (in my best "Tiffany" voice), and then lifting up my shirt with my left hand, revealing delectable bralessness, indicating, with a wagging of my right index finger, six inches away from the goods, the bosoms in question, and saying, "And THESE are the bosoms!"
Instead, I said nothing, like a big boob.
My friend's boyfriend obviously doesn't care who sees his Facebook stuff, because I'm able to access all his stuff even though he and I aren't "friends". Listed among his "Pages" are Glock, I need my music LOUD!!!, Not Giving a Fuuck (yes, with two "u"s), I'm Proud To Be Christian, New Jersey Republican State Committee, and Sarah Palin". His photos, for the most part, feature his wife and 6,000 kids. My boyfriend says, "No cock is
amazing." Later I check his Pages to see if there are any that could cause anyone to say the same about him. Nope!
Freda is propped up in a rolling hospital bed, tongue lolling to one side in a way that's cute in dogs but disturbing in people, the skin on her ankles purple and mottled, clutching a dirty stuffed dog in her hands. Someone has adorned her with a purple sequined eyemask that rests atop her head. "You look pretty, Freda," says the woman who is "dancing" with her in the nursing room auditorium. Freda can barely move her eyes to indicate a response.
Later in the evening, someone notices one of Freda's feet faintly moving to the music. She is beautiful.
It is no secret that I am not a baby person. I do not coo and caw and make a fuss over tiny, largely bald humans who derive great pleasure from relieving themselves in their own swaddling, have no grasp of higher mathematics, and have been known to fall asleep during movies, even those in which they are featured as being capable of speech. Compare this to the average dog, who does his "business" outside, not only solves intricate word problems but actually prefers them on tests, and watches movies all the way through to the credits. Clearly, no contest.
Tomorrow will welcome not just a fresh new year, but a whole fresh decade. The old notion of a new year being like a pristine page in a regular notebook just won't cut it. No, for an event this momentous we need a new three-subject spiral-bound notebook complete with manila pockets for mimeographed quizzes and handouts. Red.
And the pencil, ohhh, the pencil. Classic Dixon-Ticonderoga. Yellow. Number 2. Sharpened to a point so sharp it could do double-duty as a scalpel. Eraser unmarred by evidence of indecision.
In 2010 my imagery clings to 1970. I'd have it no other way.
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