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"I will be at your house at 11:00 milkshake to pick you up for the pic-a-nic," he says.
"Did you just say 'milkshake'?" I say.
He grins his assent.
"What does that mean?" I say. "Or is that your new nickname for me in homage to that song about the milkshakes and the boys coming to my yard?"
"No, I say 'milkshake' instead of 'a.m.' so you don't think I mean 'p.m.'"
"Okay, so I wouldn't have thought you meant 'p.m.'," I say. "Also: That makes no sense."
"Exactly," he says.
"Which is why I totally get it," I say.
One night when they think he's asleep in his oxygen tank, Wayne overhears his parents saying, over soup slurps, that he's not long for this earth. Unless someone's been holding back information, this is the only Earth there is, isn't it? Or is there some other Earth just like this one but with better TV and tastier food and prettier girls (although he can't imagine anyone prettier Jessie McAllister, even if she'd never give him the time of day anyway since she's a sixth grader). Wayne promises himself that if he makes it through the night, he'll ask for clarification.
One night when they think he's asleep in his oxygen tank, Wayne overhears his parents saying, over soup slurps, that he's not long for this earth. Unless someone's been holding back information, this is the only Earth there is, isn't it? Or is there some other Earth just like this one but with better TV and tastier food and prettier girls (although he can't imagine anyone prettier than Jessie McAllister, even if she'd never give him the time of day since she's a sixth grader). Wayne promises himself that if he makes it through the night, he'll ask for clarification.
She'll never admit she has fantasies of doing the cheesiest of things, of riding through New York City on a slightly chilly night in a limousine, standing up in her stocking feet, stilettos kicked off inside, body halfway out of the sunroof, arms above her head shouting, "Woooo!" She can't decide if her cheesy fantasy involves a glass of champagne raised overhead, but she knows her shoulders are chilly in her sleeveless gown and she wishes the boyfriend warm inside the limo would give her his tux jacket but he won't. Even in her fantasy, he's still a colossal dick.
A big whoopsie daisy, whoospie pansy, and whoopsie snapdragon is in order for posting the same entry for June 2 and 3. I guess Wayne and his oxygen tank had such a profound impact on my consciousness that I was compelled to post his plight twice.
He's not real, though, he's fiction, but I found myself feeling sorry for him anyway, as I often do when I create someone whose snippet of "life" is only shared in these 100 Words. I wish Wayne could live long enough to go to the prom with Jessie McAllister, free of his oxygen tank!
She wakes up in the middle of the night with pain in the arm that's no longer there. She tries to prop herself up on that arm to turn on the light and fails, of course, but she's not awake enough yet to realize why she's still on her back. Soon she'll remember the term "phantom limb" that she'd read about a long time ago and which she had me Google repetitively in the days following the accident that made that term her reality. And she'll hate that she has to wear her watch on her right wrist now instead.
Whole Foods spruced up the fruit displays at 97th/ Columbus, so now each banana bunch hangs from an individual hook, requiring a bit of effort to grasp if you have a shoulder injury and/or are not 6 feet tall. I accept the challenge if it means the bananas get to breathe a sigh of relief at being chosen. "I feel like it's a real live game of hangman up there," one of a bunch whispered to me last week as I transferred it and its friends to my shopping cart, "and no one realizes the mystery word contains a Z."
The 62 other photos you took before settling on the "filtered" one as your profile photo; the status update about how you resent having pretended you're fine with a "staycation" just so no one knows your "hubby" isn't really a highly sought-after professional photographer but has been working in New Jersey as an IT temp for eight months; a MapMyRun diagram revealing your only "run" was .3 miles to the bodega and back. Oh, if only Facebook were more of a confessional than a circle jerk. (I'm in my pajamas and will be lucky if I leave the house today.)
There's no way this triple-decker "Dagwood" is finding its way into my mouth. I don't like the taste of the Empire State Building (too salty), and that's what he's chosen as the "meat", despite telling him who knows how many times that I prefer the taste of the Flatiron. To his credit, though, this time he's left off the shredded Visa statement "slaw" and has placed the dill pickle on the plate rather than in the sandwich itself. Next time I'll order an open-face brownstone and hope he gets it right. I thought everyone knew that skyscrapers are too much for lunch.
Oh, for the love of fuck, please leave it up to someone else to call what you do "art". Do not attach that word to your prose, your poems, your rambling novel, your splatters of paint, your decoupage, the chords you string together and pick out on the guitar when you're feeling "inspired". Do what you do without labeling it, without putting it on a pedestal, without trying too hard to make it MEAN SOMETHING . Saying "Sorry, I can't go out for happy hour, I have art to create!" makes you sound like the worst kind of pompous git.
Most nights I eat off a pretty plate. I choose one that "goes with" the food I've made or ordered in, and I arrange everything so it looks not picture perfect but picture imperfect, because I like stuff to look *slightly* "off" so the food doesn't feel like it's posing for a school photo. Sometimes, though, with leftovers, I just like picking at them straight out of the refrigerator storage container, and, if the food was delivery, from the aluminum, sometimes even without the benefit of a fork, licking my fingers like A dog. Ahhh, the beauty of living alone!
Out of one side of her mouth she tells me how much she loathes this band of giggle-chicks who refer to themselves are goddesses and superstars, who paint their tits and toes and roll on blank canvases to create ARTE, who go on grrrrls-only retreats full of affirmations, hugs, and circle-sitting. And out of the other, she's not only kissing their asses with a prettily lipglossed mouth but powder-puffing them as well. I'm sure that if she could, she'd sprout a third side of the mouth to contradict the other two. Or maybe that's where her ass comes into play.
I refuse to write you a poem at all
Especially a poem that rhymes
And one whose rhymes are contrived or entirely too pleased with their own clever rhyming scheme
Those are especially odious
I will spare myself the trouble
And the nausea.
You are not worth the finger-breath of composition
Or the flutter and breathlessness that comes with the perfect turn of phrase
I won't mince words or dice words or julienne or slice or even leave them whole and intact
I will simply resort to chanting FUCK YOU silently on the treadmill
As I daydream about your goatee
Every weekday morning my landlord walks his wife 40 blocks north to work, then walks back alone and goes to Trader Joe's a few blocks south of our building. I love the romance, the gallantry, the friendship, the camaraderie, the practicality of getting in a nice bit of exercise, and the fact that they still do it and they're in their seventies. I love that he likes telling me about it, and that he sometimes knocks on my door and tells me, as we both stand there, about the wonderful soup he makes from what he buys at the store.
It started with rye bread. Marina would taste it randomly several times a week even when she hadn't had any food at all. Later, it was well-done French toast with maple syrup and fresh raspberries, soon to be replaced with Coquilles St. Jacques, even though she had never actually tasted that dish and wasn't even sure what it was. One sunny day in May, she tasted the sound of clashing cymbals, the left forearm of character actor J.K. Simmons, and "the kind of desperation born of an imminent send of foreboding". And then one day it just all went away.
I cannot help but think of Dustin Hoffman whenever I run around the Reservoir, about the scene in "Marathon Man" with the dentist ("Is it safe?") and the other scene where the dentist is in the Diamond District and slashes another guy with a knife hidden up his sleeve or in his cane handle. I get queasy and feel like I need to lie down (but not in a dentist's chair) until the nausea passes. And that's all I remember of the movie. I would love to watch it again because I am obsessed with 1970s NYC, but dare I?
The short canister of Pringles rolls from underneath a seat where it had been hiding and makes its way across the subway aisle to a pair of flip-flops, which disregards it. It sidles up to the running shoes next to the sandals and is nudged away. Red stilettos isn't as kind, and kicks the canister my way. It looks up at me, sniffling, and I pick it up, using a minimum of finger surface. I remove the lid the same way. Inside is a thick wad of ten-dollar bills and a piece of paper on which "Thank you!" is printed.
Oh, Rizzoli, how I wish you could rizz in peace, not in pieces. You were by far the most loveable character in "Falling in Love" (Robert DeNiro, Meryl Streep, 1984). I used to spend considerable time admiring book-friends there, opening some gingerly enough to avoid "breaking" them and thus violating their pristine pages but just enough to indulge in a heady whiff of that incredible New Book Smell, one time peering over the top of a bookcase to smirk mightily as André Leon Talley minced and pouted because no one was recognizing, let alone fawning over, him and his scarf.
The guys with the water cooler bottles on folding tables, shouting out for passersby to help the homeless, hawking their cause like old-time "newsies", except this news is old, and I can't believe there hasn't been a crackdown. If I want to help out the homeless, I'll help people like Bobby on West 34th or the guy on Second who only wanted an orange soda. Any more than that, and I'll be homeless myself, because remember, this is NYC, and I'm one of the majority who struggles to make rent by working at an honest job seven days a week.
Vintage early '70s picnic-a-gogo is in the planning stages. Girls in Key-Party-Meets-Picnic garb, guys in flared pants and groovy shirts. Sandwiches, cut diagonally, wrapped in wax paper, transported in a two-flap basket along with Tab and 7-Up and Pringles and Funyuns and Cheetos. Chips Ahoy aplenty. I'll bring my bright orange plastic all-in-one picnic kit that's been begging to be used. The only nod toward modern life, an iPad streaming music from a Spotify playlist that includes "Playground in My Mind" by Clint Holmes, countered by "Touch Me" by The Doors. There may be sparkling wine coolers. And definitely quoits.
"Don't look now, and I mean it," he says, "but isn't that Sylvia from 'Mad Men' over by the salsa?"
Of course I look, pretending to check out the chips on the other side of the aisle.
"No, it's Linsday from 'Freaks and Geeks'," I say.
"I could swear it's Sylvia," he whispers, entering his password into his iPhone and tapping the IMDb app.
I'm just about to tell him he's a dope, it's the same actress, when she sidles up to us and whispers, laughing, "You're both wrong. I'm Abby from 'New Girl'."
(Yes, she's even cuter in person.)
The other evening, a block from home, I saw Sly, a dark brown brindle boxer I've met before, hanging out with his "dad" and a woman. As I approached, something smaller scuttled near Sly's paws, and quickly, thanks to my keen powers of deduction, I identified it not as an adorable rat but as a puppy sidekick, a bonus trial size of Sly. Gracie, 10 weeks old, Sly, 1-1/2, are brother and sister from different litters. That information caused me to utter all kinds of unintelligible gurgly sounds, and the other woman joined in. In that moment I loved *everyone*.
He finds me on LinkedIn, of all places, and woos me by "endorsing" me for copywriting and editing skills. We're not Facebook friends, and I haven't heard from him since late 2010, after a couple of dates that led nowhere. From the looks of his LinkedIn page, he's doing quite well professionally, but I know that that image, just like Facebook, could be contrived. He suggests lunch at a fantastic Indian buffet I haven't been to in years, with banquettes like out of a 1960s movie, when he returns next month from a three-week business trip to Italy. Why not!?
I can't think of a better way to spend a Sunday than to meet one of my best friend at Red Bamboo in the West Village, laugh like dopes over way too much food (I often eat more than he does), then amble past Washington Square Park, dog- and boy-watching, more laughing, sometimes to the point of tears, make our way to the East Village for shaved ice followed almost immediately by vegan ice cream at Van Leeuwen, and then to May Wah on Hester. Walking those 5-1/2 miles beats the treadmill, or sitting home on the computer, any day!
This morning on my way home from the gym, taking the less-than-scenic route up Sixth Avenue, I stopped in the middle of a cross street devoid of traffic, with the "walk" sign in my favor, to quickly snap a phone photo of something in the street. A crone in a schmatte best described as a Mrs. Roper castoff said, with disgust, as she passed, "Really?" shaking her frizzy gray mop in disbelief.
"Yes, really," I said. "Does it really bother you *that* much, like your DRESS bothers me?" and then turned to smile at the TV camera like Mr. Roper.
Through the front windows on the fifth floor, I can see the big living room skylight onto which I would watch the rain fall when the apartment was mine. I wonder if the tenants who have occupied the place since I moved out ten years ago positioned their sofa so they could do the same. The old keys are still on my key ring. The outdoor key still works. I scramble up the five flights as if it were just one, hold my breath as I slide it in the inner door keyhole, and it works too. Dare I enter?
A friend's brother passed away two days ago and friends who know about it still insist on sending him and his fiancee stupid-ass fucking email about their own personal nonsense, trivial detritus, and self-centered blatherskite. No one gives a shit about your ukulele, your ramen noodles, or your roommate's futon now, you clueless, mindless imbeciles. No one wants your texts from the crappy East Village bar where you're drinking crappier beer to try to forget about your dead-end job and that girl who dumped you. You're not 4 years old. You don't get to whine about your popsicle now. Sorry.
The 2 to Grand Army Plaza, then a stroll through Prospect Park in the hopes of not getting lost finding my "bestie" and his husband and a few other Brooklyners. Of course I get lost, so thank Dog for cell phones. I find my friends under a tree, with the little grill and tons of chips and lemonade and blankets. Our group grows to about a dozen people or so, including a baby cute enough to pass for a puppy. I eat too many chips, the sun is too aggressive, but I'm so happy to be among such groovy people.
First order of business, rent. Second order of business, cable bill. Third order of business, everything else. This is a not so gentle reminder for me to stop forgetting to fucking pay Time-Warner, so I don't have to go through the ordeal of listening to the neverending shpiel when I call customer service in a panic on a weekday evening, praying I have sufficient funds to restore service, because that's what they do when you forget to pay, they shut you off, and they keep telling you over and over that you're delinquent, like a harsh, punishing, unforgiving, uncompromising parent.
Tomorrow marks the eighth year that I've lived in this cute little apartment, and I'm going to celebrate by ordering in Indian food, snuggling with my cat, propping my feet up on the blue Swiss ball, watching a stupid movie, drinking iced coffee, enjoying the breeze from the ceiling fan, the quiet of the courtyard, the comfort of my sofa. I take great pride in coming home to this little place, to having a key that slides into a lock that lets me in to my oasis. It's often a struggle to keep up (NYC is a bitch murderess), but I'm doing it.
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