People We Know Who Resemble Pop Music Icons Yet Refuse to Admit It
Posted by GxxP at 11:59 AM
On Friday Jen and I regressed in age and attended the Anger Management Tour at Jones Beach Amphitheater. Our primary motivation was to see the headlining act, Eminem, whose latest CD is receiving lots of airplay in our respective stereos. If given the choice I’d much rather see a show in a small venue – the Supper Club, Bowery Ballroom, Irving Plaza, even the floor of Hammerstein Ballroom are all more intimate venues than the colossal Jones Beach Tommy Hilfger (blech) Amphitheater. I am however of the belief that if an artist comes to town and I have their CD and can afford to go to the concert, then my attendance is a must.
Thus Jen and I found ourselves at Jones Beach on Friday, a venue where the list of the items forbidden inside the “compound” walls is about 30 long (weapons, umbrellas, backpacks, food, bottles – you name it, it’s not allowed.) In spite of its prohibitive rules, Jones Beach hosts a star-studded concert series this summer – Area2, Mary J Blige, and Smoking Grooves are among the stellar acts performing over the next few weeks. Luckily we knew about their no-booze policy and crammed two small bottles of vodka (a little bit of weed mixed with some hard liquor…) into Jen’s bag, which made it in past the security check (unlike my backpack, which we parted ways with at the door.) We immediately purchased ourselves a $8 nacho platter and $4.50 sodas to mix with our vodka, and surveyed the crowd.
The Anger Management ticket holders were primarily white and under the age of 21, which I suspected would be the case but was still surprised by once I was in the middle of it all. Jen and I parked ourselves on a bench outside the amphitheater and people-watched throughout the opening acts. Not only were we met with a number of seatus-interruptors (New York kids are bold – I’ve never been hit on by so many people in one day in all my life), but I was told by a 22 year old boy that I reminded him of his aunt, and that he was afraid I was going to yell at him for being drunk. I informed him I was as drunk as he, and not to worry. It was a moment plucked right out of Sex and the City, but somehow since it happened to Carrie in the Fleet Week episode, I didn’t feel so bad. At least he didn’t tell me I reminded him of his mother.
Eminem’s lyrics make even more sense now that I’ve seen his followers. They really are white suburban teens. Some were accompanied by their parents, and I couldn’t help but think, what are the parents doing to protect their children's virgin ears during the “When I say fuck, you say that -- Fuck…THAT! Fuck… THAT!” portion of the warm up act? Judging by the kindred looks I was getting from the smattering of attendees over the age of 25, I am definitely of the older demographic targeted by Em’s music. It’s not a club I want to be a member of, but if in order to dance to some good rap I have to look at little out of place, so be it.
Of course none of this mattered when Eminem took the stage. Although our seats were so high up I was scared (I actually imagined myself taking a wrong dip during a dance move and rolling over the lower bowls of people and into the Long Island Sound), thanks to the immense computer screens to either side of the stage, we were able to see Eminem as clearly as if we’d been in the third row. I am sure that Jennifer has bruise marks on her arms from the many times I grabbed her screaming “OH MY GOD. OH MY GOD,” while I gazed at Eminem’s visage. I know how the 14 year olds at Beatles’ concerts circa 1963 felt. He seriously looked so hot it took my breath away. How old am I again?
Jen and I are suckers for extravagant shows, and in this vein, Eminem joined the ranks of Madonna and Marilyn Manson. The stage was adorned with a Circus marquee displaying “The Eminem Show”; a Ferris wheel rotated at stage left, and a 25 foot platform adorned stage right, where Em and his collaborators would take breaks from bopping across the stage and rap from atop the platform. The show opened with "Square Dance", whose dark gothic chords were the perfect soundtrack to the circus-like setting. The songs were punctuated with pyrotechnics and Eminem changed outfits about three times. It was exactly the type of show we paid to see, and we danced and ogled to our hearts' content.
There were some disappointments however, the most obvious of which was poor sound quality. When we first sat in our seats and surveyed the gargantuan theater around us, I commented that I would be happy to just listen to the CD pumping out of the immense speakers. Wrong. I might have been better off synchronizing my Walkman with Eminem’s songs – I’m accustomed to hearing every note, every bass line, and I’m afraid the 3-story-high speakers did not do the songs justice. Not only that, but the music often overpowered Eminem’s lyrics. (This could also be because we were practically in the very last row of the uppermost bowl – still, we paid a lot for our tickets, and expected better sound than what we got.) I was also a bit disappointed in Eminem’s compression of his songs – one of the other sticky rules about Jones Beach is that shows must wrap up by 11 pm, so in order to fit as much in as possible, Eminem abbreviated most of his performance. I realized that a lot of my favorite lyrics come later in his songs, and was sad that the post-song fireworks hit before I could hear “Lyrics lyrics, constant controversy, sponsors working round the clock to try to stop my concerts early…” Technically, it was Eminem who was stopping the concert early last Friday, or at least the songs.
Highlights of the night included "When the Music’s Over", where his collaborators jumped around the stage with him, including an artist that I will refer to as the “Shower Cap Rapper”. Although this too was cut short, the song was fun, and with such a large stage, it looks better to have more people up there, rather than Em pacing back and forth (and looking, from our seats, like mini-Eminem). He pummeled a Moby doll during “Without Me” and got nasty with his female counterpart in “Superman”, a song which is quickly becoming one of my favorites, because it’s so schizophrenic and hilarious that I can’t help but think Em is a lyrical genius for writing it. (It was during this song that I found myself bellowing, “Fuck ME. Fuck ME,” in spite of the parents and teens around me. Shameful.) I seriously considered finding a security guard after the show and telling him, “Please tell Eminem that Gina and Jen are here to have sex with him. We’ll wait right here for him. Thank you.” I didn’t do this, but instead picked up my bag from the coat check and made my way to the bus. Sad.
Eminem isn’t for everyone, but he’s definitely for Jen and I, and didn’t fail to deliver last Friday night. It was well worth the trip, the smuggling of booze, and the fielding of 21-year old suitors to enjoy this experience. Unlike our kiddie counterparts, however, the show depleted us of our energy, and we went straight to our respective beds like a couple of 45 year olds. Maybe it was the energy of the show, and maybe it was the vodka, but we both slept well, with visions of Eminems dancing in our heads.
Posted by GxxP at 10:21 AM
Voice Re-Messaging System
The act of saving a voicemail from a boy in order to listen to it again and again (and play it for your friends)
Wurd courtesy of Pazzy
Posted by GxxP at 11:38 AM
Happy Anniversary Jerry, Gina, and Madonna
Today marks the one-year anniversary of Madonna's Madison Square Garden show of the Drowned World Tour. I wasn't even supposed to go to this concert - I bought a single ticket as a contingency plan on the off chance that I wouldn't score tickets for her New Jersey show, which a large group of my friends from work (and of course Jen) ended up getting tickets to. (In an unfortunate turn of events, Madonna cancelled the Jersey show, but that is too negative a topic for the lovefest you are about to read.) Instead of selling the MSG ticket, I kept it, and decided to go alone. Jerry scored a single ticket to the MSG show, as did a friend of his, so we went to the show together, even though we figured the chances of sitting together were slim to none.
Other than a few company happy hours, I had never gone out with Jerry before, so I can honestly say that July 25, 2001 was the beginning of an era. Not only did I get to dance with Jerry and John throughout the whole concert, but I realized for the first time the beauty of being sandwiched between two incredibly hot, sweaty, gay men. I was like the creamy filling of a big gay Oreo cookie. Not only that, but Madge knows how to put on a concert. It was a visual and visceral extravaganza (plus waiters walked around with trays of champagne and strawberries - nice touch, Madonna.)
Madonna is a legend, and after being an off and on fan for nearly 18 years, I was thrilled to finally have the chance to see her live. But she did much more for me that day than give an amazing performance. She brought me together with people that I consider good friends, people that I hope will still be in my life 10 years from now for Madonna's Sparkling Universe tour, or whatever she's into in 2012.
Thank you, Madonna. And Happy Anniversary!
Posted by GxxP at 05:20 PM
Hippie Teenagers Have Kidnapped My Brother
I know that everyone thinks they’re a little psychic at times, and I’m no different. Throughout my life I’ve encountered situations in which I’ve had an overwhelming feeling that I knew what was going to happen before it did. Sometimes my premonitions come from dreams, other times from feelings, and still other times from just plain common sense. In my past relationships, for example, I’ve often known what my boyfriend will do before he does it, what he'll say before he says it, and who he’ll cheat on me with before he cheats on me. It’s uncanny sometimes, enough to lead me to question whether I have a bit of psychic power or just a propensity towards the self-fulfilling prophesy. There are times when I’m grateful for the premonitions, such as when I experience a negative situation in a dream before it happens so that it’s not quite so awful once it does. Yet there are also times when I resent them, and those are the moments that constitute what I call the Cassandra Syndrome.
Cassandra was the character from classic Greek mythology who was given the gift of predicting the future by Apollo in an attempt on his part to win her affections. When she rejected him as a lover, he turned the tables on her and added a curse to his gift – that no one would ever believe a word she said. My first Cassandra Syndrome occurrence was a two-parter. It started the day that my parents traded in their Mercury Cougar for a Ford Pinto station wagon. I didn’t like that car from the moment I saw it, and cried all the way home from the dealership, in spite of my parents’ attempt to appease me by allowing me to sit in what they christened the “way back” (they lowered the back seat and gave me full range of the back of the vehicle.) No matter. There was just something I didn’t like about that car – I still remember how upset I felt, even if I didn’t know the reason. I’m sure my tantrum could be attributed to a resistance to change -- at a young age you put a lot of value on things you are able to rely upon, such as being picked up from pre-school in the same vehicle every day. I was about five years old and was already miffed about sharing the spotlight with my new baby brother. First my parents added another person to the house, then they expected me to be happy riding around in a dark blue Mom-mobile with wood paneling. I just wasn’t having it and cried myself to sleep that night.
Nearly two years later I had, out of necessity, learned to accept the Pinto, until one day I had another emotional outburst regarding the car. By this time my brother Greg was a rambunctious toddler still stuck, at three, in a phase my mother had called the “terrible twos”. My brother is a wonderful person and I love him dearly but his early years were tenuous at best. He wore corrective shoes for his pigeon-toed feet and was twice the size of the children his age (therefore very difficult to handle -- there are several family photos in which I am visibly crushed by his body weight while trying to hold him.) When he was very young he suffered from colic, thus relegating us to the “crying section” of church during Sunday mass every week. Not only was I no longer an only child, but I was forced to live with a crooked-footed chubbo that cried a lot. Our early years together were an interesting juxtaposition of unconditional love and extreme resentment. Basically your normal brother-sister dynamic.
On that fated day we were going to deliver girl scout cookies (Stop laughing. Now.) to my cousins' house, who lived about five minutes away by car. As I was readying myself for the ride I overheard my mother yelling at my brother. He’d done something wrong – something not important enough for me to remember now but offensive enough for my mom to have been very angry with him – and his punishment was to stay in the car while my mom and I delivered the cookies. Immediately this struck me as a horrible idea and I pleaded with her not to make Greg stay in the car. “He’ll do something bad,” I repeated again and again while I beseeched my mother to be logical. “Please don’t let him stay in the car.”
My request fell on deaf ears – at least my mother’s deaf ears, who told me I was silly and loaded several boxes of cookies and two sulking children into the Pinto. When we arrived at my cousins’ house we parked in their driveway. Their house was built atop a small hill. That driveway had always frightened me because it was a rather steep upward incline and emptied into a steep downward incline in the driveway of the house across the street. I was always leery when we parked the car there – another fear that my mother on many occasions tried to assuage by assuring me that the emergency brake would prevent the car from rolling down the drive. On that day, like every other time we parked there, the emergency brake was on when we left the car and headed for the house. Only this time my brother was not with us, banished to the innards of the Pinto while we chatted over thin mint cookies inside.
Only about five minutes passed while my mother, grandmother, aunt, cousins and I were inside the house that morning. I don’t remember what propelled us to leave when we did. I can only assume it was my mother’s need to get back to her 3 year old son, who had suffered enough for his crime and would likely be treated to a girl scout cookie or two upon our return home. As we made our way to the door, the screams of someone – my Nana, aunt, or mother, at this point I’m not sure – drew my attention to the Pinto in the driveway.
It’s been over twenty years since that day, and although my memory of the details leading up to and following this event are sketchy, I know exactly what I felt at the moment I saw the car. The Pinto was moving down the driveway, and smoke appeared to be coming out of the tires. In my utter shock, I thought I saw a couple of long-haired heads peeking up over the tops of the seats. I believed at that moment that hippie teenagers had kidnapped my brother.
The seconds that followed passed in an instant yet lasted an eternity. I can still hear the pitch of my aunt's frantic screams as the entire family sprinted after the Pinto. My sixty-five year old grandmother slipped and sprained her ankle so badly that she was on crutches for weeks to follow. It was the super-human prowess of my mother that saved my brother from disaster. She somehow managed to open the driver’s side door while the car was sliding backwards into the driveway across the street. To this day I’m not even sure how she did it, but she stopped the car just as it crashed into the garage of the neighbors’ house. Several layers of bricks smashed into the back of the car, crushing the top of the “way back”, and scaring the living shit out of everyone who was there to witness it. Had the car rolled another 6 inches it would have toppled the support beams and the entire second floor of the house would have flattened the Pinto-- and everyone in it-- like a pancake.
My mother and Greg emerged from the car, unscathed, but visibly shaken. No hippie teenagers followed them out of the crushed station wagon that day – in fact there hadn’t been any hippie teenagers in the first place, it was just the theory I came up with in the milliseconds before the accident. The tire smoke made me think of the squealing tires from cars driven recklessly down our quiet street by, as my father called them, “damn teenagers”. The hippie part I suppose came from the long hair I thought I saw (I saw them in flannel shirts too – as if Wayne and Garth circa 1980 had taken over the car. I appear to be confusing "burn-outs" with "hippies", but I was young, and confused.) I had completely overlooked the possibility that it was my brother who had been driving the car, or at least assisting its descent down the drive. In his boundless curiosity he had released the emergency brake, which had sent the car on its collision course down the hill, in the moments before my mother saved his life.
In the aftermath of the accident, the cops were called, neighbors gathered, and my dad and uncle arrived on the scene to lend support to their freaked out family. At one point someone called the people that lived in the house, who were on vacation, to tell them about the disaster they would be returning to. I learned this from the people traipsing in and out of my aunt's house, and I watched the activity across the street from the front window, in between the comedy routines I was performing for my 2 year old twin cousins. Someone needed to keep them in the house while the adults sorted through the mess outside, and that person was me. I know that Greg now realizes the gravity of the situation that was at hand, but that day I think he was so excited to be talking to a real live police officer that he wasn’t nearly as rattled as he should have been. Even in the moment of high drama, Greg still managed to get something out it. I never even got to leave the damn living room. Although given my questionable perspective on the accident, I’m sure I would have made a lousy witness.
In time, everything affected by that day returned to normal. The Pinto was fixed, the garage was rebuilt, Nana’s ankle healed. To this day I don’t quite know if I had a psychic connection with that car or if my mere insistence that something bad would happen allowed it to be so (am I the one who gave my brother the idea in the first place?) Either way, I have given enough subsequent warnings to people that have gone unheeded for me to still believe I carry the curse of Cassandra. I suppose the predictions seem so absurd that no rational minded individual would believe them -- not even myself, if someone else were to say them to me. Must have been awful to be Cassandra. Take it from someone who knows.
Posted by GxxP at 11:58 AM
While reflecting on the different stages of love recently, I realized that I haven't successfully made it past the second stage of love, and that most of my relationships with men have ended within less than three years. This time frame seems to be prevalent in the other commitments I’ve made in my life as well – my first college major (1 ½ years), my second college major (2 ½ years), the longest job I ever held (3 ½ years). In fact, beyond my familial ties and friendships, there seems to be only one commitment I’ve been able to keep for the long haul – my tenure in New York City. This summer marked my six year anniversary in the city that never sleeps, and I’ve taken some time to reflect on some examples of why it may be time I asked for a little space.
Everyone who’s ever been to New York City knows that it truly is the concrete jungle. Not only do the buildings reach high into the sky but they are also horizontally stacked – one of the first things I noticed when I moved here from Chicago was that you couldn’t slip a piece of notebook paper between most of the buildings on these city blocks. Manhattan is a relatively small island, yet it hosts thousands of businesses and millions of people, and it didn’t get that way without efficiently using every square inch of its surface area. This means that whether you’re walking down the street, riding the subway , or seated at a restaurant two inches from the table next to you, you are always sharing your space. Here are some examples of how ridiculous it can be.
Monday night power yoga class. Thanks to Jen I’ve recently discovered the health benefits of yoga. At first she taught me the sun salutations and poses in the comfort of her sprawling Brooklyn apartment. Once we both felt I was ready for a real class, she introduced me to the New York Health and Raquet Club’s Monday night power yoga class. To jump from doing sun salutations in Jen’s living room to sharing a room with 30 strangers was a bit of a shock to the system. This particular class has been growing exponentially in popularity. Every time we go it seems as if the class membership has multiplied, probably because it’s given at a convenient time and because it’s the quintessential New York class. Last week the instructor skipped the meditation and went straight to the push ups –it’s as if this is the easy-to-swallow-pill format of big city exercising. Within the first five minutes everyone is sweating so profusely that you’d think the class was conducted on the equator. It can get quite dangerous, considering you are only inches from the person next to you, and one false move could mean you take down 15 others like a pile of sweat-slicked dominoes. Just last week the girl next to me slipped right off her mat and into the wall in front of us. Thankfully I was in the zone and didn’t laugh, although the crash of her body into the wall was a tad distracting.
Communal livin’. Because rents are so high in Manhattan, most people are left with no choice but to live with a roommate. I got very lucky and met Aaron through Roommate Finders years ago, when the only apartment Mike and I could afford was a three-bedroom apartment on Amsterdam Avenue above a restaurant that was, judging by our occasional visitors from the rodentia-world, home to some harmless city mice. Before we realized this, however, we screened dozens of applicants for the spare bedroom. Their tales of real estate woe were discouraging to say the least. One candidate told us that he applied for an opening in a three bedroom apartment in Chinatown. Upon screening the place he discovered what the ad failed to mention -- that one roommate’s girlfriend, her brother, and a lesbian couple were already living there, in addition to a steady stream of visiting relatives. He also met a woman who was asking $1,000 a month for a room in an apartment that she was running as a bed and breakfast. He was asked not to have guests because sometimes she would board families of four and things could get a bit tight. Another potential roommate he encountered had constructed a cardboard wall covered in cloth as a partition between bedrooms. One of the roommates had a girlfriend that was a frequent nocturnal visitor. (Not very likely that the poor bastard on the other side of the wall would be getting much sleep when the couple was feeling frisky.) We didn’t end up selecting this candidate, but I hope he found something a little more promising than that which he described to us.
The George Forman Barbeque. Not long ago Jen and several of her co-workers were invited to a barbeque at a colleague’s home. They all jumped on the A-train and took it deep into Queens, assuming that a spacious backyard and Weber grill piled with dozens of burgers awaited them. Must to their surprise they arrived at a tiny apartment with no clear access to the “backyard” they had been promised by the host. Instead they had to squeeze through his kitchen window and shimmy onto a small patch of concrete patio, where they stood around sans lawn chairs and were handed burgers one at a time as he cooked them on his George Forman grill. He also doled out rations of condiments in single serve McDonald’s ketchup packets, and quickly ran out of beer.
The cemetery just outside of Coney Island. I recently read that years ago for public health reasons the city of New York no longer permitted cemeteries in southern Manhattan, therefore moving the final resting place of our city’s departed to the outer boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn. A few weeks ago I took some visitors to Coney Island for the day. The F-train is elevated in this part of Brooklyn, and from the windows of the train you can see one of the most unusual cemeteries I’ve ever laid eyes on. The tombstones are stacked inches apart, a visually shocking reminder that even in death, New Yorkers have to share their space. I don't plan to die here, but if I do, I ask that my ashes are spread somewhere that isn't quite so populated. I haven't found an appropriate place yet, and hopefully I won't need to.
Posted by GxxP at 12:43 PM
Just an ordinary night on the town
A recap of yet another amusing night out on the town… As tends to happen while hanging with a gaggle of gay men, we ended up at Splash. On this particular evening we were eagerly anticipating the arrival of our friend Rafe, who was coming in from London. As you will see, there were a few logistical problems involved with his arrival. The plan was to connect via cell phone when he reached Penn Station, whereupon we would inform him of our whereabouts so we could meet up for a night out. As you will see, when one relies too heavily on their cell phone, a simple evening can quickly become quite complicated…
730: I arrived at G. Upon arrival, I quickly realized that my phone would not work while inside the bar. When I went outside, I realized that that it would also not work on the street immediately outside the bar. Apparently there is some sort of vortex on 19th Street, between 7th and 8th Avenue, where, when you place a call on a Sprint phone it says: "Service not available in this area," and starts roaming. (Jerry's did the same thing) I don’t understand it. We were in Chelsea for christ’s sake, not the middle of the wilderness. Fortunately for me, I found that when you step onto the corner of 19th and 7th, there actually was phone service. Go figure. While standing on the corner, freezing my ass off and waiting for a call from Rafe, I got a call from Stevie telling me that he's at Chase waiting for me. Unfortunately, as I stated previously, we were not in fact at Chase, but instead downtown at G. (Apparently there were some mixed signals.) Stevie mentioned that since Penn Station is at 42nd Street, and Chase is closer to 42nd than G, he would just stay put until Rafe contacted us. After I informed him that Penn Station is not in fact on 42nd street, he decided to come down to meet us. I then walked back to the bar.
745: Stevie arrived, and I walked back to the corner of 19th and 7th to see if I could find out if Rafe had arrived yet. Come to find out via a voicemail that of course I had not seen, not only had he arrived, but he was waiting at Penn Station for me. I then walked back to the bar, filled the boys in on what was going on, and left, by myself, to go find Rafe at an undisclosed location near or at Penn Station.
750-8p: While in cab to Penn Rafe called and started to tell me where he was...I hear: "On the corner of 33rd and....beep, beep, beep. My phone died.
8p: Pulled up to Penn in cab, left meter running, and found (a very anxious) Rafe on the corner of 33rd and 8TH. Got back in cab, went back to G.
801p: Walked into G, tossed my bag down, and proceeded to knock over a drink and break a glass.
802p-930: Love, kisses, presents, drinks. Blah, blah, blah... Jerry and I made friends with hot waiter.
931P: Jerry and I took pill.
932p-230a: (The exact order of the these events in this window are slightly unclear)
·Went to XL for drinks. Jerry and I became convinced that we were going to win one of the prizes in a "Queer as Folk" raffle, even though we had no raffle ticket, nor did we officially enter the contest. We did not win.
·Jerry and I went to the bathroom together where he pooped while in the stall with me.
·We decided to leave and realized that Stevie's jacket had been stolen or was lost. We gave up hope after an incredibly half- assed search on Jerry’s and my part. By that time Jerry and I were giggling like schoolgirls.
·Cabbed it to Splash.
·Got taken for tourists at the door to Splash due to the fact that Stevie was carting around Rafe's suitcase in the manner of a flight attendant on the way to a trip. In a sick and twisted effort to take advantage of us the supposed tourists, the doorman charged us DOUBLE the cover. The doorman then informed Stevie that there were no suitcases allowed in Splash, (huh?) and if Stevie wanted to come in he had to make it look "NOT like a suitcase." Stevie somehow appeased the doorman by picking up the suitcase instead of pulling it, thus making it look like a ...uh....well...it still looked like a damn suitcase to me.
·Jerry was too f*&ked up to dance, and no one else would dance with me, so we stand around.
·A large group of people entered the club and crowded us into the corner. I realized that my purse was still UNDER the large group of people and I attempted to locate it. I tapped some guy on the shoulder and told him that I needed to get my bag. Someone then pushed me from behind, upon which I fell against the guy, and realized that it was Nathan Lane. I groped around under Nathan Lane's feet for a while and finally found it. He looked at me quizzically and I walked off.
·Dan arrived, and finally I got to dance.
·Jerry suddenly decided to depart, and I decided to leave with him. I threw a temper tantrum for a really stupid reason, and ran out the door.
·Jerry immediately got in cab and went home. I then realized that I didn’t have any money left over so I headed to an ATM.
·Naturally, my card was demagnetized. I went to about 43 ATM's in a desperate effort to get cash. I was not successful. I went BACK to Splash to see if I could find Stevie and Rafe. They were gone. I considered asking Nathan Lane for some money, but I decided that was a bad idea.
3a: Since my cell phone was dead (See events that occurred 750-8pm) and I had no way to contact anyone who could help me, I realized that I had to take the Subway home and proceeded to walk to 14th street. In keeping with the frustrating nature of the evening, the subway station at 14th street was not open and I had to walk to West 4th. While walking up to the entrance of the subway, someone pushed me down, kicked my bag away from me, and bent down as if he was going to steal it. Then, in a miraculous turn of events, out of nowhere someone came from behind and pushed the guy who had pushed me, and saved me from being robbed. This unknown hero then disappeared into the darkness. I took a breath and stood up. My stuff was everywhere. I believe at this point I yelled, "What else could possibly go wrong!!!"
430AM: Finally get home after a particularly long ride on the Subway. By this point I was absolutely FUMING.
431: Go to bed.
630a: Wake up and go to work.
See... Like I said,Just another night on the town.
Posted by Jen at 11:48 AM
What are the rules for hugging? I might be inserting the hug into business situations where a simple handshake should suffice. The other day, for example, I gave a hug to a vendor named Jerome in an awkward moment when I felt he was making a move to hug me. But based on his reaction, I think hugging me was not his intention. He may have just been en route to opening the door. After the hug I felt bad because there was another guy from Jerome's company in the room, and I'd clearly excluded him from the hug. I felt this guilt before, on a client lunch in Chicago, when I hugged all the women but gave the one man present a firm handshake. I made up for it after the lunch and gave him a big bear hug on the street in front of the restaurant. I figured after a $200 lunch we were close enough to embrace.
Hopefully the huggees find the hugs pleasant, because that's of course how they're intended. I guess I'm just a hugger, it's my nature. And a cheek kisser too, come to think of it. Everyone should be, really, when the situation deems it appropriate. I suppose I'm still trying to figure out exactly what those situations are.
Posted by GxxP at 11:24 AM
identifright: the act of being shocked by your own image, such as when a roll of film from a night at Twist is developed.
See attached for examples...
(Wurd courtesy of Heather Z.)
Posted by Jen at 12:54 PM
I've just realized that the past 3 times I've gotten some action, I've lost something valuable. The architect in Chicago - Lost my wallet and an antique handbag that was refurbished and given to all the bridesmaids as gifts. The Model/Thief - Missing: 1 small television set, 1 diet peach iced tea Snapple, my pride. The Shady Russian - 1 brand new black cardigan sweater. It's as if I suffer from some form of disease where when I get action, the world must take something valuable from me.
karmicoitus: a condition which causes the world to take something valuable from you in exchange for the opportunity to get some action. The likelihood of karmicoitus increases when this event happens with a stranger, and is even further increased when alcohol is added. The level of loss seems to be in direct proportion to how good experience actually was.
Posted by Jen at 12:54 PM
safe sex: the act of getting cock-rubbed during a makeout session with your best gay friend
(Wurd courtesy of Vivian Darkbloom)
Posted by Jen at 12:52 PM
digicleptimania: compulsive condition, primarily affecting hot, male supermodels, where sufferers find themselves unable to resist heisting TV's from their gracious hostesses.
digicleptiphobia: (see "digicleptimania): tertiary social symptom of digicleptimania; the fear of waking in the morning to find that one has unwittingly exchanged small television set for male-model-stained bedding
digicleptimaniac: See attached for example.
(Wurd courtesy of Vivian Darkbloom)
Posted by Jen at 12:51 PM
Radio Sham: Sydrome affecting bartenders in which a patron promises fictitious Radio Shack products in exchange for paying their $100 tab. Typically the customer leaves a catalog behind, promises to return in 20 minutes with a PlayStation2, and is never to be seen again. Particularly offensive considering Radio Shack only sells their private label crap and not Sony Playstations.
(Wurd courtesy of GxxP)
Posted by Jen at 12:50 PM
eecup: manic email moment; when one hits "send mail" faster than one edits it
(Wurd courtesy of Vivian Darkbloom.)
Posted by Jen at 12:49 PM
Snoopdooped: Result of being lured to Uncle Rio's private hotel room with the promise that Snoop Doggy Dog and other exciting ghetto celebs may be present. (Click here for the full story...)
(Wurd courtesy of Vivian Darkbloom)
Posted by Jen at 12:48 PM
The Little Nerd Who Could: Term used to describe unattractive, socially challenged men who find themselves in relationships with women who are too good for them. Often times the LNWC becomes excessively cocky and may go so far as to sever relations with the aforementioned woman, only to be filled with remorse and regret approximately 6 months later, at which point the woman is too apathetic about LNWC to care.
(Wurd courtesy of GxxP)
Posted by Jen at 12:47 PM
Inculust: The act of becoming unrealistically infatuated with Brandon Boyd of Incubus. Manifestations of said condition include purchasing the “When Incubus Attacks” DVD and three of their latest albums in the span of 2 weeks, as well as dreaming that you will use Mike the guitarist to get to Brandon.
See attached for Inculust gone wrong...
(Wurd courtesy of GxxP)
Posted by Jen at 12:45 PM
Over the past 10 years, the following story has been told so many times that I feel as if I must finally put the official account down on paper before it takes on a life of its own. No matter how many times I tell it, it never ceases to amaze even me. However, the most remarkable thing about the story itself, is that it is completely and utterly true…
In August of 1992 my family was relocated to Hawaii, courtesy of the United States Marine Corps. The move was welcome as far as I was concerned, as I was coming off a rather rocky and awkward couple of years in Virginia. Puberty had been less that kind to me during my tenure at First Colonial High School in Virginia Beach, and I was anxious to make a fresh start in a new place. When my family told me that we would be moving to Hawaii I couldn’t believe my luck. I couldn’t possibly have dreamt up a better place to spend my last two years of high school.
It took almost a month for my parents to find suitable housing on the island. Real Estate on Oahu is expensive and scarce. In addition to it being hard to find, most of it is also somewhat unacceptable. Due to the casual nature of most of its inhabitants, many homes were not kept up incredibly well. Since neither of my parents wanted their family living in a rundown shack, the search for a decent place to live took quite a while. While my parents were searching for a place to live, the USMC put us up in a hotel on Waikiki Beach. For about a month, my family and I resided quite comfortably at The Hale Koa Hotel. My siblings and I spent the majority of our days sitting by the pool, eating fresh tropical fruits, learning to surf, and (in my case) flirting with the hot Hawaiian lifeguards that worked at the hotel. By the time we moved to Kailua, I was quite content with island life. Kailua was (and is) a sleepy little town on the west side of the island of Oahu. It was a mere 20 minutes from the bustling tourist attraction of Waikiki, but it felt light years away. The beaches were gorgeous and uncrowded, and the people friendly and welcoming. I kept my fingers crossed that this blissful life would continue as I entered into what would be my eighth school since I began kindergarten so many years ago. Clearly being the “new kid” was not a foreign thing to me, but I was still rather nervous. I knew that I would be finishing up my High School career in Hawaii and, more than anything, I really wanted to make a good impression.
I started my Junior year at Kalaheo High School two weeks before my 16th birthday. I was slightly upset that I was going to have to celebrate such a momentous occasion so early in my days at the high school. I knew I would be hard pressed to make a lot of progress in the friend-making department during my first week at the school, and no doubt my birthday celebration would be a quiet, family-type thing as a result. Thankfully, the transition was much easier than I expected and, though the majority of the people I met were boys (hot surfer boys at that), I considered my first week at school a success…So much so in fact that I asked my mother if I could throw a birthday party at our home for my big “Sweet Sixteen.” She agreed immediately, happy that I was making friends with such ease, and we set the date for that Friday night.
During lunchtime on the day of the party I was talking to several of my new friends who would be in attendance that evening. After expressing some concern that not enough people might show up, I was asked a question that seemed pretty innocuous at the time. “Dude,” they asked, “Do you want us to make it RAGE??” Not knowing the full implications of what I was about to get myself into, I answered… “Yeah, sure. I guess.”
I went promptly home after school that afternoon. Several of my new friends came over to help set up for the party. My parents had purchased a ton of juice, soda, and potato chips for the revelers to enjoy. We put the chips in bowls, cut up some veggies, and put the drinks on ice. I told everyone that the party would start promptly at 7 pm, and as the hour approached I began to get more and more nervous that no one would show up. My parents sensed how anxious I was getting, and decided that they would assuage my nervousness a bit by leaving for a couple of hours. They decided to take my brother and sister out to a movie so the party could get rolling without parental units in attendance. When they returned home a few hours later and found that they couldn’t get down the street due to the fact that it was packed with cars and teenagers as far as the eye could see, they quickly realized how big of a mistake they had made.
In those short two hours in which my parents were away, approximately 200 people had shown up at my home. Just about the time that I was absolutely convinced that no one was going to show up, people started gradually trickling in. Then, really without any warning at all, my entire backyard, front yard, and the surrounding area on the street, was filled with people, most of whom I had never set eyes on before. I have never been so overwhelmed or scared in my life. In the blink of an eye, my innocent little 16th birthday party had been transformed into a scene from Animal House. I had never really been a “partier” while living in Virginia Beach. My social agenda had previously consisted mostly of dance practice and study groups. Therefore, the event that was unfolding before my eyes was somewhat of a shock to my system. I was in a state of disbelief as I walked around the party. I was having a hard enough time just taking it all in, figuring out what I was going to do was another thing altogether. Most of all, for the life of me, I could not even begin to guess how 200 strangers could have possibly ended up at my home. I was completely baffled.
At first, I focused all my energy in preventing people from getting inside my house. I figured that if I could at least keep people away from my parent’s most valuable possessions, I could alleviate a lot of damage that I was sure was going to take place. Thank god I was mostly successful. Though several people had managed to sneak in, they seemed to be causing very little trouble. I found several people smoking pot in my younger brother’s room, and there were various couples making out all over the place, but relatively speaking it seemed rather tame. I had actually managed to calm myself down a bit until one of my friends from the soccer team came running in and said, “Jen, you should come outside. Now.” I made my way back outside, and quickly realized that what was going on inside the house was child’s play in comparison to the scene that laid before me. Someone had dumped out the trashcan full of sodas and juices and replaced it with a giant keg of beer. The chips and veggies that I had so lovingly placed on the bar appeared as if they had been ravaged by a pack of wild animals. All of the windows in the outdoor bar had somehow been knocked out of their panes and were lying discarded and broken on the deck. With tears in my eyes, I continued to survey the situation. It appeared that a small reggae band had set up shop in the corner of the yard, and there were people dancing, laughing, and having a grand ole’ time. Someone had taken the cover off our broken hot tub and, after realizing that it was in fact NOT filled with water, decided to sit in it anyway. A small group seemed to be having a lovely time sitting casually in the dry tub. As I continued to walk across the deck a body whizzed by me from above. People were jumping off the roof into the pool. Every few minutes a large splash would drench any poor soul who happened to be standing too close to the edge. It was complete and utter mayhem. I had no clue what to do. I knew that my parents would be home fairly soon, and in all honesty, I was sort of glad. I had no clue how to control the crowd, and was certain that if things continued to progress in this manner, it was entirely possible that my home be taken over by unruly high school kids.
At that very moment my parents were parking their car at the end of our street and making their way toward the house. I was in the backyard trying to break up a fight when they arrived. A friend of mine tapped me on the shoulder and informed me that my Mom and Dad had returned and were waiting for me inside. I walked toward their room, and dejectedly opened the door. I have to say for the record that I am quite lucky that my parents are such reasonable people. They expressed confusion as to how so many people had ended up at their home. I informed them that I was equally as perplexed. They assured me that they knew that the situation could not have possibly been entirely my fault. They realized that though they did know that I was certainly a likable person, they also knew that there was no way in hell that I could have made 200 friends in the span of 10 days. In an effort to help me save face, they allowed me to attempt to remedy the situation on my own. They told me to tell my “guests” that the party was over, and to try to get them to leave peacefully. I did just as they said, and was completely unsuccessful. My announcement that the party was over was met with a lot blank stares and quite a bit of laughter. I informed my father that I had failed at my task, and he proceeded out into the party.
My father was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Marine Corps at the time. He is a man that had commanded thousands of troops to victory on the battlefield, a man who is highly respected by his superiors, and revered by his colleagues. Unfortunately, none of these attributes helped him in his efforts to remove 200 disorderly teenagers from his home. He did manage to get them out of the backyard and, for the most part, off his property. They would not however leave the street. The party may have ended at Casa de Stephan, but it continued to rage on the street outside. Scared that their new neighbors might not appreciate such a raucous neighborhood party being thrown without their permission, my parents trekked outside to face the music. Upon going outside, they realized that most of the neighborhood had gathered on their lawns to watch the spectacle that was going on at our house. Many neighbors had even brought out lawn chairs and coolers and, for the most part, appeared to be having a pretty decent time. My parents went across the street to speak to a family that had lived in Hawaii all their lives. After explaining to the neighbors what had happened, and expressing their disbelief that it COULD have happened, they were then told about how things work in the land of paradise. Apparently the news of a party can spread like wildfire on the island of Oahu. There’s some sort of “coconut” information line that can inform an entire island about a party in the span of a couple of hours. In the hours after lunchtime on that fated day, word had been passed from person to person and from high school to high school, until virtually the entire Island of Oahu had been informed of my little shindig. I know this sounds absolutely unbelievable, but it’s the unqualified truth. If you want to have a quiet party on the island, you have to keep it VERY, VERY quiet.
“Okay then,” my Mother replied to the neighbor with skepticism. “I think I understand, but what do we do now?”
“Call the cops,” he answered.
So…with a heavy heart, my father dialed 911. Upon the arrival of the policemen, the crowd quickly began to disperse. My parents, happy that the situation had been contained, approached the officers to express their gratitude. “You know,” one of the Policemen said, “It’s illegal to serve alcohol to minors. You could be fined for this.” “EXCUSE ME??” My father bellowed. “I called YOU. These people are trespassing on MY property. Do you think I planned this??” The cop had a difficult time processing the concept that someone had called the cops to break up their OWN party, but eventually he nodded and went on his way. Gradually most of the kids left and we returned back into the house, thinking that the worst was behind us. Scared to even look my parents in the eye at that point, I went immediately to the backyard to begin cleaning up the mess. As I was cleaning up the debris left behind by the partygoers, I heard my mother yell.
“JENNIFER!! GET IN THE BATHROOM NOW!!”
No…really. I mean SHIT. There was poop everywhere. Someone had smeared his or her poop all over our hall bathroom. It was all over the place. On the floor, on the walls, on the shower curtain…it was appalling. I didn’t know what to say. I mean, what exactly CAN you say at that point? I was ashamed enough at what had already happened. Hell. I was having a hard enough time coming up with a way to explain how 200 people ended up at our home. I had NO idea how to explain a bathroom smeared with poo. So…I really didn’t say anything. My Mother told me to get away from her, let me know that she would take care of it, and then asked me not to speak to her for a little while. I agreed, and ran off to continue picking up the mess that my “guests” caused.
My mother woke me up the next morning at about 6am, handed me a box of garbage bags, and told me to go pick up every beer bottle and piece of trash that had been left in our neighborhood. I obeyed without a word. I was still waiting for my the other shoe to drop. I was positive that my punishment was going to be quite bad. It had to be. I threw a rager and someone spread poo all over my Mom’s bathroom. That had to qualify me for some MAJOR punishment. I was sure that they were just trying to dream up something suitable enough to fit the crime. I returned inside after filling countless garbage bags with cans and bottles. Upon entering the house, I found my parents scratching their heads (and holding their noses) trying to solve quite a conundrum. My Mom had cleaned and cleaned, and yet the bathroom STILL smelled like poop. They could not for the life of them figure out what was causing the smell. After doing some searching, we found that the perpetrator of the poop-smearing incident had left behind a little present. Under the sink we found his poop covered socks and underwear. They were disposed of immediately, and it was quite some time before I could mention the bathroom incident to my mother.
The aftermath of the party was not as horrible as I thought it might be. As I mentioned before, my parents were and are incredibly reasonable people. They knew that the cause of the party was largely not my fault, so my punishment was relatively simple: I was not allowed to attend any parties in the town of Kailua for quite some time…and understandably so. My parents had seen firsthand EXACTLY what went down at these functions, and could not in good conscience let their daughter attend such debaucherous events. A couple days later I found out via the grapevine who had been the cause of the bathroom incident. I decided to confront him at school during lunchtime. I was slightly intimidated, as he was perhaps the largest Samoan teenager that I had ever seen. Regardless, I put aside my fears, and I forged ahead. I felt it to be completely necessary that he know that what he did would not go unchecked. I didn’t make a huge scene. I simply walked up to him while he was eating lunch with his friends, and informed him that if he happened to be missing any dirty socks or underwear, he could find them at my house. I let him know that he was free to pick them up at anytime. From that point on he took to running the other direction when he would see me in the hall.
For the next two years while we lived at that house, we were constantly reminded of the infamous party. Randomly, during the weekends, kids would stop by our house to see if there just happened to be another party going on that night. We were also pegged by the police as a potential “party house,” and would often see police cruisers rolling by on Friday and Saturday nights just to see if I was up to my old tricks. I would also frequently find bottle caps and beer cans hidden in the strangest of places. When I did, I would point them out to my parents, and we would all laugh and recount the story of that night. As time put a greater distance between the party and our day-to-day lives, we were all able to make light of the incident more and more. The 16th Birthday Party Story has become a rather famous one in our circle of family and friends. To this day, I am constantly teased and ridiculed about what happened that night. Almost everyone I know knows all about it, and each time it is told it is met with the same disbelief. In all honesty, if I didn’t see it with my own two eyes, I don’t know that I would believe it either.
Posted by Jen at 11:10 AM
Several months ago Jen and I were in the habit of going to Twist at least twice a week. Scottie the bartender makes us feel at home - he mixes delicious frothy drinks with names like "Cake" and gives us free reign of the stereo. There is one thing about those drinks though... they're very strong, and on more than one occasion they've gotten us into a bit of trouble. Apparently one lonely woman at the bar (and we know who she is, too) was upset enough about our good time to post a review about us on Citysearch. It was immediately taken down, along with our "Twist-O-Meter", and a review calling me a "theater geek" (whatever!). But we saved a copy, for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy.
Posted by GxxP at 10:40 AM
Wurd of the day:
Yoga performed in the snow by yogaholics on their vacation.
Posted by GxxP at 11:06 AM
People in Love Are on Drugs... No, Really, They Are
It happened again. Last Thursday I was at a lunch with several colleagues, and the topic of love and relationships was discussed. “Gina! Tell them about the chemistry stuff,” my colleague Todd encouraged me, and off I went on my “love is drugs” speech. How I became a resident expert on such a topic goes back to the last time I was in love. The feeling was so overwhelming that I felt as if forces beyond my control were at work. I had a pressing sensation on my chest as if a 300 pound person was sitting on me. Goofy songs lyrics like “Could it be I’m falling in love?” ran through my head on a continual loop (much to my shock and embarrassment). I was happy, giddy, and didn’t require much sleep. Even my journal writing focused on love:
How curious that the mouth, although apparently designed to facilitate human consumption of a life supporting source such as food, is also an integral body part to one of the most beautiful gestures in life – the kiss. Could it possibly be that love is as important to human life as the food we eat and the air we breathe? …And isn’t love just an extremely pleasant combination of axons and dendrites furiously conspiring and causing the feeling that they do? Like déjà vu times a million and much longer lasting? Can all ethereal occurrences – all the things we have difficulty expressing in words other than the names we’ve given them – love, feelings – be explained by a chemical equation just as we can explain the digestion of food and inhalation of air?
As a person who is strongly ruled by her emotions, yet who also harbors a curious scientist within, I am always looking for explanations behind that which defines us as human. So with the help of a friend I started to research the topic, and found a vast amount of published information on the chemistry of love.
In the dozens of articles I read on the topic, Dr. Helen Fisher was quoted in nearly half. She’s a professor of anthropology at Rutgers University, specializing in love. According to Dr. Fisher, there are three stages of love, all of which have been associated with the increase of specific chemicals in the brain. The stages are identified as lust, romantic love or infatuation, and long-term love or attachment. These stages are interrelated yet somewhat distinct, and people can attach different feelings to different people at the same time – meaning you can lust after the cutie at the office while you’re in a long-term relationship with your partner.
The lust one is pretty easy to understand. It is our most primal need for sex, fueled mainly by an increase in testosterone in the brain. I think of college boys when I think of this stage. It doesn’t really matter who they sleep with, the criteria is more or less anyone who will go home with them. It’s pretty easy to identify the areas of the body that are most affected during this stage – just think of the last time you had sex with a college boy.
But that doesn’t do much to explain that pounding in my chest, or better yet, one friend’s report that after she and her boyfriend broke up, the first night she spent alone without him she found herself shivering uncontrollably on her couch. “It was as if I was going through withdrawal,” she explained.
And she may have been. Her relationship fell somewhere in between the stages of lust and attachment - during those blissful 18 months to 4 years referred to by Dr. Fisher as the romantic love, or infatuation period. During this period the body increases production of PEA, phenylethylamine, a neurotransmitter which is always present in the brain. High incidences of PEA are not only found when someone is in love, but also during stressful events such as skydiving or bungee jumping. PEA stimulates the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter which is a “feel good” chemical similar to drugs like cocaine. Among its many uses, dopamine also plays a role in reinforcement, linking certain behaviors with positive results. “Needless to say, the brain’s dopaminergic and norepinephrinergic circuits predate the use of speed and cocaine and certainly did not evolve to give us an appreciation of psychoactive drugs,” Natalie Angier explains in Women, An Intimate Geography. “Instead, the circuits of pleasure arose to reinforce behaviors and activities of possible use to the individual. If we assume that we are attracted to a particular person for good reason -- that our instincts detect something worthwhile about the person, some reason to want to mate and spend time with the person -- then a neural system designed to amplify our intitial attraction, not to let us off the hook, might prove handy, for we are inclined toward laziness and sometimes need a kick in the pants."
But that's not all. During the infatuation phase not only do we produce more "feel good" neurotransmitters, but we also produce less seratonin, the result of which can be obsessive behavior. This could explain the dopey music that repeated in my head or the continual thoughts that people have about their sweethearts while in love. (It's currently being studied to help people who suffer from uncontrollable obsessions or stalking tendencies.)
Alas, as I mentioned before, bliss does not forever last. Scientists report that the typical 18 months to 4 years of this phase of love evolved in order to give a couple enough time to give birth to a child and raise it to toddlerhood. Humans have evolved as have other species (such as geese, dolphins, and some primates) to raising only one child at a time and investing a great deal of resources to that. This stage appears to be nature’s little way of keeping couples together long enough to advance the species.
Which brings us to the third group, and perhaps the most elusive of all, those capable of long-term love. With the help of endorphins, a group of chemicals also known to work as painkillers similar to morphine, those under the spell of long-term love (or attchment) are able to cohabitate with their partner with as little hostility as possible for the long haul. Although I’ve seen the wonderful affects of this phase- the long-standing marriage between my parents, for example –this is the phase that I refer to as nature tricking us into staying in monogamous relationships. I can’t help but think of the future peoples of A Brave New World, calmly taking their soma and going about their business. Although social, behavioral, and environmental factors play a heavy hand in the success of relationships that stand the test of time, I can't help but be intrigued by the fact that some people may never be able to commit to long term relationships simply because they don't carry a lot of endorphins around with them.
Don’t get me wrong. I like to let the scientist side of me take over because I tend to think logically, but if given the option of whether to understand how love works or actually be in love, I’ll take the experience of it over theory anytime. That chest-pressing can be scary but it also reminds me that I’m alive. Being in love is like being in on a big secret with one other person in the world. No scientist can ever explain - or take away- the beauty of that.
And this is the reality that poets live in. Even the scientists concede that the best experts on love are the poets. As Dr. Fisher explains, "I think the most powerful love poetry is written by people who are passionately in love at the time. That makes them manic, it makes them desperate... Emily Dickinson, I can feel her bleeding on the page. " Anybody who's ever been in love knows what she's talking about.
Posted by GxxP at 05:55 PM
While watching TV this weekend I was delivered the most amazing piece of information… A revolutionary new product has rocked the world of painting! Dutch Boy Paint has created a miraculous line of paint cans with an easy pour spout!! I was treated to a: 30 second commercial that showed a slew of smartly dressed woman easily opening up cans of brightly colored paint. The Ladies flashed us a winning smile, and poured the paint into their trays with a flourish, all seemingly without spilling a drop (Or messing up their perfect manicures). Wow. Incredible. It’s about time.
Hardly! What a waste. I just recently painted my entire apartment, and I can tell you from experience that the act of pouring the paint into a tray was the least of my worries while accomplishing this task. I was much more concerned about the hours of backbreaking work I knew would immediately follow the 10 second act of pouring paint into a tray. Perhaps Dutch Boy should focus their efforts on more pressing issues regarding paint. How about inventing paint that easily washes out of your hair after it drips on your head while painting the ceiling? Oh! Maybe they could invent paint that turns out to actually be the SAME color on the wall that is it is the can, so you can avoid ending up painting an entire room fluorescent yellow. Even better, how about coming up with a can where, when you open it, four handsome professional painters pop out like genie’s, paint your entire apartment for you, and then take you out to dinner afterwards. Just an idea...
Posted by Jen at 11:12 AM
Jerry Meets Madonna... sorta
Due to a lack of response to our cry for help on June 27, Jerry set off for Vegas without many suggestions on where to go for fun, and was somehow roped into attending a performance of "American Superstars". From what I can gather this extravaganza features Vegas-ized celebrity impersonators, whose repertiores consist mainly of off-key pop tunes. Despite the dearth of talent on stage, the audience was wowed, and a large line of adoring fans seeking faux-celeb-photos formed after the show. Thanks to Jerry's sister, we are able to enjoy this souvenir from his night with the stars.
Posted by GxxP at 11:58 AM
Congratulations! It's a...Homie?
Last night I dreamt that I was pregnant. Well...sort of pregnant. No one knew I was With Child (even me) until moments before I gave birth. I was barely showing. On my due date, Gina, Jayme, and I were invited to see Howard Stern record his radio show. I was a bit apprehensive, as I could have given birth at any moment, but decided to take the chance anyway. The show was being recorded in an outdoor studio located in what appeared to be a small Midwestern town. The "studio" consisted of a small ham radio and a bunch of folding chairs that were way too small for anyone to fit in. It appeared that they had been built for very tiny people, who would have to have been the approximate size of Cabbage Patch Kids. About half way through the show, I went into labor. I asked Jayme if she could drive me to the hospital, and she refused. She said that she needed to go buy some lipstick. Gina somehow managed to convince one of the Howard Stern Show guys to take me to the hospital. Upon arrival, I immediately gave birth. (Here’s where it get strange.) Seems that I gave birth not to a child, but to one of those plastic containers that hold various prizes that you can purchase for a quarter at supermarkets. Sort of like the ones that hold Homie’s. There was some sort of nondescript plastic figurine in the plastic container that I have given birth to. (Sadly, not a Homie.) Apparently, the birth was premature, so the “child” was put into an incubator with other plastic containers holding figurines in various stages of development. After weeks of watching and hoping, it turned out that I gave birth to a singing bobbing head doll.
Posted by Jen at 02:28 PM
I have been playing in our company softball league for the past few weeks. The honest truth is that I am not a good softball player. In fact, other than a few games during P.E. in high school, I don’t know that I’ve ever actually played softball before. Therefore, the request that I participate in the league was obviously not due to my prowess on the field, but instead due to the simple fact that I am a GIRL. Much to the chagrin of several of my overly-competitive teammates, every team must have 3 female players on the field at all times. With the exception of a select few, most of the women who play are not exactly female versions of Derek Jeter. We're basically only in the game for "show."
Win. OR ELSE!
Up until last night, all the games so far this season were actually, as had been promised to me, “just for fun,” so when I showed up last night ready to play a friendly game of softball, I certainly did not expect the nonsense that occurred. Upon arriving at the field, tensions were already high. It seems that the manager of our team got into an email altercation with the manager of the opposing team. I have yet to figure out what this argument was about, but he was pissed off, and he definitely wanted to WIN this game. His dislike of the other manager so strongly fueled his competitive nature that it resulted in giving us a “pep” talk that basically involved him telling us that we had to win. OR ELSE!
Voila! Instant Umpire...
The game got off to a late start due to the fact that the umpires who had been assigned to our game failed to show up. Instead of rescheduling the game, the other team got the bright idea to hire the beer/water guy that goes around the park selling frosty beverages to the spectators at the 4 surrounding fields. He stowed his cart under the bleachers, charged us 30 dollars, donned a mask, and...Voila! Instant Umpire. (Personally, I think that this may have been some sort of conspiracy on the part of the other team. I honestly think that they may have rigged the game, and told the real ump’s not to show up just so they could hire this new guy. I mean, I know I’m not a softball aficionado, but I’m pretty sure that if the ball lands ON the plate…it is NOT a strike.)
After another inspiring pep talk ("Don't screw this up! Go Team!"), the game began. We did not do well. The majority of the calls were in favor of the other team, and if they weren't for them, they were most certainly against us. Though my play was certainly less than fabulous, I was fortunate enough not to be the cause of any major problems. They put me in the position of “shortfield,” which I’m pretty sure is not actually a real position. I think they invented it as a way to put the less than stellar players on the field without having them actually participate in the game. I went the entire game without seeing any action at all. I don’t think that I even touched the ball to be honest with you. It is because of this that I don’t blame myself for our horrible loss. As the game went on, the competition became more and more heated. There was a lot of trash talkin' and obscenities being thrown around. Someone threw dirt on the benches and got thrown out of the game. I got in an argument with one of my teammates because I overheard him mumbling about how he wished the girls didn’t have to play. (I was predisposed to dislike this particular teammate, as he happened to be they guy who, in a completely unrelated incident, stole one of my presentations, and took credit for it. Who DOES that anyway??) The highlight of the game, for me anyway, was when I was walked and got to take first base. (The bases were loaded, so I actually got an RBI…ha! More than that plagiarizing bastard can say for himself. He struck out every time he was at bat.) I was quite excited that I had actually made a contribution to the game, and prepared myself for the run to second base. The batter immediately got a hit and I took off running. As I approached second base, I realized that I was in serious danger of being thrown out, as one of the female members of the opposing team was standing on the bag, poised and ready to catch the ball. (I don’t know where they got this girl. She looked like a professional. A very large, very intimidating professional.) I don’t really know exactly what happened at this point… it all happened so fast. I do know that I was somehow tripped by the second basewoman, which caused me to fly up into the air and land on my bad knee. As you may have assumed, I was called out. As I limped toward the bench, the manager of our team offered the following encouragement: “It’s okay Jen. Did you see those legs on her? You couldn’t have taken her down even if you'd had a chainsaw.”
The whole experience was too stressful. I think I'm going to retire from the game.
Posted by Jen at 02:12 PM
It's been just about a year now since I've opened up my circle of friends to include the likes of Jerry and Stevie, and my life has grown increasingly better and happier thanks to them. I'm sure Jen can say the same. The only drawback is that we're two men and two women and we're all attracted to men, so we have the occasional dispute (drunk, at 2 am, when flirting runs the most rampant and judgement has already passed out for the night.) Therefore I recently drafted some rules that should prolong our blissful moments together and keep us out of harm's way.
Sent: Monday, June 17, 2002 11:53 AM
To: Stevie, Jerry, Jen
Subject: RE: magic mountain....
Hm. Maybe we should establish some rules?
1) If two members of our group of friends like the same person, the first person to express the crush gets dibs. This would only be pre-empted by
A) the second crush-er asking the first crush's permission to make out with/have crush on said crushee.
B) the second crush-er happens to be more aligned with the crushee's sexual orientation, therefore the second crushee gets make out dibs.
2) If one member of our group has a crush on someone, but makes out with them or takes them home and decides they were insane to have the crush in the first place, then someone else in the group is allowed to have a crush on that crushee (although why would they want to???)
3) Flirting, ass-grabbing, and other public activities between the group of friends and crushees are allowed, but use your best judgement when taking someone home (obey the above rules, if possible.)
4) If two members of our group get drunk, they are entitled to make out with one another, regardless of sexual orientation.
5) However, should two members of our group get drunk, and should their sexual orientations be incongruent with one another, both members are entitled to bringing home someone outside of the group for serious fun when the evening ends and Splash kicks our drunk asses out. No crying allowed at this point, if it can be helped.
Let me know if you find the above mentioned rules too stringent. I think the smartest route of action is open communication, so if these rules seem to restricting, let's just be honest with each other and we'll all have a good time.
Oh, and I can think of a real life example of just about every single scenario mentioned above, so if your memory is clouded and you need a concrete example, ask away.
Posted by GxxP at 10:53 AM
Shady's Back. Tell a Friend.
Let me just say that the new Eminem album is pretty damn good. It’s a journey; a session on the couch of Eminem’s shrink replete with Ice Cube-style power rap, angry lyrics about those who have wronged him (ranging from his mother to Tipper Gore), yet tender near-ballads tipping his hat to his daughter Hailie, whose name appears in the lyrics nearly as much as the dastardly United States government. I liked this album from the moment I pushed play - the beats laid by Em and his collaborators such as Dr. Dre are catchy, and the emotionally drenched lyrics are enthralling. I find myself just wanting to listen to the album -- not as a backdrop to reading a book or other activities -- but listening to the album as an experience in and of itself. Some songs make you want to get up and dance (like the first radio hit, Without Me), others lure you out of your seat in fist-pumping shared rage (such as the album opener, White America.) Eminem lays it all out for us -- what's happened to him, his family, and his country since his 2000 release, the Marshall Mathers LP.
Eminem has been regarded as a controversial artist for years. I don’t think the controversy he spends so much time lamenting is as undeserved as he claims – through his lyrics, videos, and his headline-making personal life, he’s cleverly manipulated the media into giving him lots of free press. He’s even cooked up alter egos to share the spotlight with. But it’s a method that works. Whether positive or negative, every time his name is mentioned on television or in print, more albums are sold. The Emninem Show has spent six weeks at the top of the charts, and not without good reason. In listening to the album the overriding feeling I walk away with is that it’s so very honest - it’s funny, it’s angry, and at times even scary. People are taking notice and spending their money on it.
The album’s first single Without Me kicks off with the addictive lyrics, “Two trailer park girls go round the outside, round the outside, round the outside” and only gets better as it goes on. He raps in double-time over catchy old school beats of how everyone from the FCC to MTV brings him down but the world feels so empty without him. And you know something? Now that he’s back with such force, I realize how empty it really is without him. Even Moby isn’t safe from his lyrical wrath in this selection, yet even to the lyrics that I don’t completely agree with, I find myself tapping my toes.
In Hailie’s Song, the ode to his daughter, he actually takes a stab at singing, confesses to his insecurities and his softer side, and pulls off a slow song as well as any of the brasher works on the album. He talks about wanting to give Hailie a better life than his, lending a tender side to the often otherwise misogynistic lyrics elsewhere in his work.
White America is a wake up call about how race is still prevalent to record sales, how artists are accountable for the messages they transmit, and how we must constantly fight for our freedom of speech. These messages and more are delivered with in-your-face, frenetic vocals from Eminem. In speaking of the secret of his success, Em refers to his audience’s approval of his Dre-backed music. “That’s all it took, and they were instantly hooked right in, and they connected with me too because I looked like them.” As I learned throughout this album, the lyrics speak for themselves and summing them up seems superfluous, like trying to rewrite Shakespeare. As Eminem stated in a recent interview with Rolling Stone when asked where he is his most honest, “In the songs. ... Why do I have to sit here and explain myself? Just listen to the fucking songs. They will tell you everything.”
Eminem dares to say what others only think about, and he has grown not just as a person but as an artist, with this album, right before our ears. The music itself is likeable, even if unremarkable - it acts as the waves on which his vessel of message sets sail. There are some ol’ standards present – the signature “duet” (this time in Sing for the Moment he partners up with a sample of Aerosmith’s Dream On ), and of course no rap album would be complete without an STD song (Drips). Still the music is powerful and addicting -- soaked with catchy riffs and beats. It will make people angry, it will make people think, but ultimately it will make people dance.
It’s a refreshing change to have an entire album that impresses - The Eminem Show has been on continual loops in stereos since May when bootlegged copies circulated weeks before the album’s actual release. The listening audience is fickle, though, and it’s tough to say how long this album will reside at the top of the charts. Who knows, it could be a repeat of the Beastie Boys’ Hello Nasty, which we all raved about and danced to non-stop upon its release, but within three months we had completely tired of it. Even Eminem’s nemesis Moby was on constant repeat with his last album Play, but when I hear it now I run from the room. As long as it doesn’t get driven into our ears ad nauseam in the months to come, The Eminem Show will be a noteworthy album in many collections years from now.
And now, let’s take Em’s advice and let lyrics speak for themselves.
-And suddenly it seems like my shoulder blades have just shifted – it’s like the greatest gift you could get, the weight has been lifted (about being awarded custody of his daughter in Hailie’s Song.)
- I’m just playing America, you know I love you. (surprising disclaimer at the end of White America)
-There’s no such thing, like a female with good looks that cooks and cleans (Business)
-Keep kicking ass in the morning and taking names in the evening. (Cleaning Out My Closet. Also listen for the clenched-teeth “Ma”s he punctuates his statements to his mother with. Ouch.)
-Lyrics lyrics, constant controversy, sponsors working round the clock to try to stop my concerts early. Hip hop is never a problem in Harlem, only in Boston, after it bothered the fathers of daughters starting to blossom. (White America)
-Look at these eyes, baby, blue baby, just like youself. If they were brown, Shady lose, Shady sits on the shelf. (White America)
-I’d slice my gums, get struck by fuckin’ lightning twice at once and come back as Vanilla Ice’s son, and walk around the rest of my life spit on, and kicked and hit with shit everytime I sung, like R Kelly as soon as “Bump and Grind” comes on (when reflecting on the worst case scenarios in My Dad’s Gone Crazy)
-I do know one thing though. Bitches, they come, they go. (Eminem’s bi-polar relationship in Superman)
-Psychotic, hynoptic product, I got the antibiotic (From Square Dance –also listen for the gothic piano and strings in this one.)
-What's gotten into me? Drugs, rock and Hennessey. (Square Dance)
-Shady’s back. Tell a friend.
Posted by GxxP at 06:13 PM
Pros and Cons of New York Livin’
By now you’ve probably gathered that I’m involved in a love affair with New York City. And just like a human love affair, it’s riddled with highs and lows. For everything that I love about her, the city seems to have an equal and opposite downside. So far the negatives have been greatly overshadowed by the positive, but sometimes I have to reflect on the big picture, to assure myself that I’ve made the right place my home.
Pro – I live in an apartment building with a 32nd floor roof deck with a glorious midtown view of the city.
Con – I’m almost 30 years old, and share my less than 700 square foot apartment with a man I’m not sleeping with.
Pro – I have access to every musical act that passes through town (and almost all do).
Con – I have to miss some, as the ones I’m going to are breaking me, or it least making it impossible to save for my future.
Pro – There’s a hotbed of cultural and historical interests and events in every neighborhood of the city.
Con – Everyone else wants to see them too, such that, coupled with the communal living situation, you’re rarely alone.
Pro – I’m surrounded by diverse, driven, ambitious people from all walks of life.
Con – They’re driven, ambitious, and ultimately very busy people, therefore making friends is not incredibly easy to do. Once you’re lucky enough to make a friend, their ambition drives them to move away.
Pro – There’s always a store open. In fact, why bother with going to the store? Just about anything you want can be delivered to your door.
Con – In the same way that people in the Midwest shop at 12,000 square foot compounds, we in NYC with our delivery services aplenty could be taking the easy way out.
Pro – With a remedial knowledge of the subway, bus, and train schedules, you can access beaches, swimming pools, state parks, and mountains.
Con – Once you get there and spend a day with suburban families, you want to come right back to the city.
Pro – We have three international airports within 45 minutes from midtown, meaning access to the rest of the country and world is always within our reach.
Con – All of our money goes to rent. Who can afford a vacation?
Pro – We experience diverse seasons, each one filled with its own distinct pleasures (the first day of spring when everyone talks to each other, the technicolored foliage of Central Park in fall…)
Con – It was 95 goddamn degrees today. Subways are as stuffy as saunas. You’re sweaty before 9 am. Sometimes summer in the city just boils down to garbage cooking on the sidewalk.
Posted by GxxP at 01:48 PM
The other day I became acquainted with the site www.findyourspot.com. It’s not what you’re thinking (or, at least it’s not what my gutter-mind was originally thinking) -- it’s a site where you answer a series of questions and at the end are awarded with a list of all the ideal cities for you to move to in the country. Not only that, but it can help you find a roommate, a job, and buy your damn plane ticket to your new home. Apparently the site is funded by local listings and helpful services for the movers-to-be.
My sole purpose for visiting this site was sheer curiosity. The survey only takes 10 minutes to fill out, if that, and I had to know what sort of questions led to the answers that would determine where I should be taking up residence in this country of ours. (Since it doesn’t cover cities outside of the US, I figured it couldn’t give me any practical relocation ideas anyway.) Embarking into the survey, I aimed to be as truthful as possible, confidant that any question I answered with honesty would lead me to destination New York City, my chosen home for the past six years of my life.
Then I saw the questions. The first set related to climate. You are given five levels of possible answers, ranging from strongly agree to strongly disagree. It’s your basic aggravating multiple choice test where you answer something strongly in one direction and know it will have an impact on the results contrary to what you want or expect. Basically, I found myself telling little white lies by question #3:
Summers are meant to be long and hot, like good chile peppers.
Considering it was 95 degrees outside when I took this test, and considering I knew by affirming this statement I was saying I wanted to live in a city with oppressively hot summers, I agreed. Not strongly, but I agreed.
I moved on like this, going so far as to say that I had no opinion either way on whether or not I’d love to be able to play tennis in January without a roof - or mittens. Although- duh! Who wouldn’t like that? But I suppose that’s what summer is for, so I wasn't really lying, per se, by saying I don’t care.
I was similarly neutral on the safety issue (Of course I’d like a safe place, but it’s no more important than things like economic, recreational, and cultural opportunities) and the taxes issue (You take the bad with the good - taxes are a necessary evil that I can live with as they are), even though the socialist inside me cringed. I was similarly neutral in selecting what part of the country I wanted to live in or whether or not there are religious groups or political associations present. But for the obvious ones, I was opinionated as hell. Yes, I want to live in a big city! Yes, I want to be near airports and major medical centers! My hometown should have plenty of public transportation! What more do you need to know about my opinions on home schooling and winter sports? I’ve told you all you need to know. Just take me to my destination, the only place I’m meant to be – New York City, baby.
I pressed the magic key that would lead me to my spot and was met with the following results:
San Diego, CA (not a bad place at all, but number one?)
Orange County, CA (aren’t we sort of getting at the same thing here, folks?)
Albuquerque, NM (um… isn’t that the place where Bugs Bunny always took the wrong turn?)
Honolulu, HI (now we’re talking)
Las Vegas, NV (must have been that “strongly agree” response to the “I love the nightlife” question)
Portland, OR (I see they call it the City of Roses. That, and the fact that the kid who sold me pot in college used to live there, is about all I know of Portland, OR)
There were six entries per page for a total of four pages. I had precisely 18 more chances to be united with the thing I love most about America (besides my parents and freedom). I cruised along in search of her, but was only met with Oakland. LA. Boston. Baltimore. Providence, RI. New Haven, CT (um, aren’t we going in the wrong direction here, folks?) Long Beach, CA. San Jose, CA. New Orleans. Hartford, CT (what the?). Little Rock, AR. DC. San Fran. Sacramento (ooookay, I think we’ve covered all of California now). Milwaukee, WI (aaaaaagggggggghhhhhh, do you know who you’re talking to?!) Chicago. Santa Fe, NM. Las Cruces, NM.
That’s it. End of story. Please click here to find a roommate or a job. But no mention of a little island on the south east edge of New York state that to some is the center of the universe.
I took the test with Jerry and Stevie, neither of whom received NYC as a result either (and Stevie concentrated in only two parts of the country – the northeast and the southwest.) By this point, we were sure there must be some mistake, a glaring omission had been made. Either they didn’t put New York in the database, or they were using all the wrong criteria for matching a person to the city of her dreams. We theorized that the cities that got the highest listings paid the highest ad dollars – and that when approached by the sales force from FindYourSpot.com, the New York tourism bureau said, “Screw you. We don’t want anybody here who needs a website to find us. Send those sorry bastards to Albuquerque.” Any explanation was possible, that is, anything but the fact that perhaps New York didn’t fulfill all the things we loved in life, and that some other town in the south or the midwest was just as great (and half the price!)
I decided to have a little fun with it and opted for the “Find A Roommate” function. Upon seeing the photo of Jamie in Phoenix AZ – he has a bedroom open for $500 and one hell of a head shot – I immediately told Jerry about it (he approached it not unlike a dating service- I saw him ogling Soho Chad right before I grabbed him for lunch.) We laughed about how we’d be quitting and moving to Phoenix next week to live with Jamie, and forgot about the site for the day.
But today, it bothered me that New York didn’t make my profile, and I tried to outsmart the system. I tried multiple combinations of survey answers that I thought would better suit a NYC match. For anything even remotely weather related that would not work in the city’s favor, I was neutral. I even changed my tax answer to If anything, we need to foster stronger government programs, even if that means more taxes (the socialist in me nodded.) I raised the target rent to as high as it would go ($1500), told the system I was from Peoria (in case it’s so smart it doesn’t recommend the city you live in now). I even offered to buy a house. At long last, I made it to the final page, and was recommended, in the 24th slot, New York City.
And just seeing it there, the City that never Sleeps, with its $600,000 cost for an average house, population 9.3 million, annual precipitation of 41 inches and snowfall 25 inches, made me happy, proud, matched. I had found my spot. I clicked through to learn about this great city I love, and was met with an image of the “skyline” – and my mood took a bit of a downturn. It looked so sad to me. Without the twins, we look just like my boss described when we drove into Manhattan from New Jersey after a business meeting – we look like any other city (no offense, Empire State Building.) The article goes on, citing a US News and World Report proclamation (no date attached) that New York was the “Comeback City”. Undergoing a renaissance of epic proportions, today the big Apple is cleaner, safer, and more prosperous than ever before. Well, thanks and everything, but isn’t all of America? Hasn’t economic prosperity been good to every strip-mall- and chain-restaurant-infused speck on the map from Maine to California? Why are we all of a sudden the Bad News Bears in the league of American cities?
Perhaps for the reasons stated earlier in FindYourSpot.com’s homage to my home – that the Sinatra song applies – if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere. New York, in spite of all of the characteristics that make it wonderful, can also be a very tough place to live compared to most of the cities in America (watch this space for future musing on this topic). The article goes on to cite our “comeback” as being only a few years old, and although it says glowing things about our peoples of many colors, our recreation, our business, our art – it is still keeping us at arm’s length. And that’s probably what the rest of the country does too. In fact, it’s what I used to do. My most popular remark about my experiences in the big city after my first visit in ’94 was, “Great place to visit, but I could never live there.” For a myriad of reasons, two years later my opinion changed. I took the plunge and moved here, and my life will never be the same.
I suppose it’s the feeling of being misunderstood by the rest of the country that is so confounding to us New Yorkers. After all, most people’s impression of this place is fueled by the entertainment industry and media. In the 70’s most people associated NYC with the urban decay touched on in films like Taxi Driver and Mean Streets. In the 80’s, Wall Street and the Brett Easton Ellis genre defined us – slick-haired Gordon Gecko types were our poster children, and not many people can relate to that. The innocuous television programming of the 90’s sitcoms helped improve our image – after all, who doesn’t love Seinfeld or even (cringe) Friends? But now, in 2002, I’m afraid the image that most people can’t shake is of our precious towers ablaze, and the loss of so much human life on that fated day. In this day of government warnings about the safety (or lack thereof) of our precious landmarks like the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge, the message to many is proceed at your own risk. We may be the “Comeback City”, but there are probably still a lot of people who are unwilling to come back for a visit, let alone to make it their home.
But that’s okay with me. I worry about the things I can control, not the things I cannot. If FindYourSpot.com and the rest of the country think that Albuquerque is a more desirable place to live, they’re entitled to their opinion. I just know that right now, NYC is the place for me, and it’s going to take a lot more than being snubbed on FindYourSpot.com to make me change my mind.
Posted by GxxP at 10:07 AM
I truly believe that the single most redeeming quality about my place of employment is the material it provides for silly anecdotes and wacky stories. Since Day one, my company has proven to be a hotbed of nonsense, a veritable smorgasbord of unbelievable characters and their even more unbelievable behaviors. Many-a-party has been livened up by dazzling tales of the going’s-on on the corner of 57th Street and 7th Avenue. Tales of assistants who hide Entenmanns’s sheet cakes under their desk and consume them in their entirety in a single day, of managers who doodle pictures of anatomically correct naked pirates on pending reports and then accidentally pass them out to their staff, of superiors who speak so much industry jargon that they are unable to form a coherent sentence, of co-workers who put on a different pair of shoes when going to the restroom in an effort to disguise their identity, and of sales reps who do not know what mozzarella cheese is. Up until recently, the star of this motley cast was a girl referred to as “Crazy Cathy.” She was employed as a Sales Assistant at my company for a brief period of time. Though this business can be fast paced and sometimes slightly overwhelming at times, sales assistants have relatively simple jobs. Many people take assistant positions in an effort to springboard themselves to the better paying, more fulfilling (or so they say), Account Manager roles. Others simply use the position solely as a means to a paycheck, and, as in the case of my assistant, spend the majority of the day chatting with people online about whether or not Episode 12 of the first season of Deep Space Nine is better than episode 7 of the second season of Star Trek: The New Generation. Cathy fell into the first category. Or so she thought anyway.
I first met Cathy at an industry party at Iguana, one of the worst bars in the City of New York. People in my industry have an uncanny knack of picking the most horrendous places to throw functions. They must figure, why go out to a nice lounge with good music and interesting people when you can hang out in a noisy theme restaurant surrounded by big screen TV’s or an Irish Pub with no ambiance? The reason behind the party escapes me, and is also completely irrelevant. It consisted of the same people, drinking the same drinks, wearing the same clothes, and having the same conversations. Habitually, I spend these parties drinking as much as I possibly can on the company’s tab, and then promptly running out the door at the earliest acceptable time to go meet my friends who work at companies that understand that there are in fact more than 2 bars in the city of New York. This night was no different. I was standing silently in a corner of the room plotting my escape, when I was approached by a strange woman wearing a bright purple polyester pants suit. Her appearance was quite unsettling to say the least. She was a rather portly woman, a trait accentuated by the tight purple double-knit fabric that made up her suit. She had kinky blond hair that was piled atop of her head in a haphazard bouffantish hairdo of sorts. The real kicker was her skin. She had self-tanned herself into oblivion, and her skin was glowing an especially frightening orangish color. Since I was trapped like a rat in the corner by this horrible glowing person, I was forced to chat with her for quite some time. She informed me that she was a recent addition to the company and claimed to have been hired as what she referred to as a “temporary” assistant. She explained that she was hired for the position for the explicit reason of becoming an Account Manager in relatively quick fashion, and that her assistantship was basically training for bigger and better things. She mentioned that they had already given her some “key” accounts, and that things were moving along quite fast for her. Though I hadn’t heard of anything like this before, I had no reason to doubt her story. It seem somewhat plausible considering that the last sales trainee they hired had the intelligence of a doorknob, and had allegedly plagiarized the presentation that she used in her interview for the job. We hire people that have been convicted of stealing mail to work in our mailroom, why not hire frizzy headed women with skin the color of basketballs to be Account Managers? It made perfect sense at the time. It took me the better part of an hour to wrest myself from the conversation, but I somehow managed to pawn her off on an unsuspecting research analyst and made a run for it. My frantic sprint to the bar for a much needed drink was interrupted by a fellow coworker. Joe was the first person that I worked for at the company, and just so happened to be the manager of the team in which Cathy claimed to be training to be an account manager. When I asked how the new “trainee” was doing, He shot me a quizzical look, and said, “Huh?” Come to find out that Cathy was hired to be a Sales Assistant and ONLY a Sales Assistant and according to him, she wasn’t a very good one at that. She had already been pulled off several accounts due to her propensity to attempt to take on the duties of the Account Manager she was working for. Though it seems like a relatively innocent (some might even say ambitious) thing to do, when handling millions of dollars of business for huge advertisers and even bigger television stations, a person who doesn’t know what they’re doing can do quite a bit of damage. The research analyst that I had pawned Cathy off on then interrupted my discussion with Joe. It seems that Cathy had propositioned the little tyke, and he, in an effort to lose her, had spent 10 minutes hiding out in the bathroom, only to emerge and find her poised and waiting for him at the door. I allowed him to use me as a human shield, and we both ran the hell out of the Iguana.
A couple of days later I noticed an eerie glow a short proximity away, and observed that Cathy was sitting at the previously empty desk that was situated near my office. (Read: cubicle). Upon some investigation, I found out that she had been moved to a team with smaller stations and even less responsibility. She apparently had been up to her old tricks, and had developed a habit of constantly telling the clients who called that she was capable of performing Account Manager duties. I feared that the move would cause problems, and she would attempt contact with me on a regular basis. Thankfully, I was wrong, and my contact with her was limited to awkward conversations at the fax machine about her status as “trainee” and brief encounters in the kitchenette while purchasing pop tarts in the vending machine. Occasionally I would hear a story about how she flubbed an order, or had had yet another delusion that she was functioning in a more prestigious role in the company. For the most part though, I was blissfully unexposed to the dangerous glow of her skin, right up until one fateful day at the Health and Racket Club of NY.
The Health and Racket Club is the gym in which the employees at my company are offered a discount. Due to this “deal,” during the lunchtime hours it is teeming with my coworkers. It’s hard enough dealing with said coworkers while they are in their regular clothing, it’s another thing seeing them scantily clad in sweaty workout clothes, or even worse… (gasp) NAKED!! Much like when I go out to bars with these people, I spend the majority of my time at the gym avoiding anyone else from the company that happens to be utilizing the facilities. I take great pains to always keep my headphones on and to avoid eye contact at all times. This is not an easy feat, but with practice and perseverance I have managed to perfect it. Unfortunately, you’re a bit more vulnerable when in the locker room. There are no headphones to protect you, and for the most part all of your concentration goes to trying to figure out how in the world you are going to cover yourself with a towel the size of a washcloth. Due to this it isn’t uncommon to be caught off guard, often times finding yourself face to boob with a very tall coworker who finds it necessary to chat you up while you’re both standing there in the buff. One afternoon, I was hiding out in the steam room trying to relax, when the door opened and I noticed a familiar orangy hue emerge through the mist. Surprise, surprise, it turned out to be Cathy. She had herself all wrapped up in a navy blue silk mini-kimono and was heading right for me. She said something to me, but I could not hear her. I was too busy trying to figure out why she was wearing sweat socks in the steam room. I felt slightly violated and a bit frightened, but caught like a deer in headlights, I remained steadfast. I kept my eyes closed and waited it out. Self-tanner must not agree with deep heat and humidity, because in no time flat she got up and left the sauna, her sweat socks making a squish-squish noise with each step out of the room. The showers at the HRC are in the direct field of vision of the steam room, and I had a perfect view of Cathy preparing to get in the shower. Here’s an interesting factoid: Preparing to take a shower doesn’t take very long when you don’t actually remove all of your clothes. She dropped the kimono on the floor, and very leisurely stepped into the shower while still wearing her sweat socks. Perhaps she was in a hurry or perhaps she had some sort of hygiene-related foot issue, the reason was never made all that clear to me. What I DO know is that she took a shower with her socks on, and proceeded to wear these sopping wet socks throughout the locker room while she got dressed.
As you can imagine, one can only be so crazy for so long without causing serious damage to their life in some way. The damage in this case was to her (faux) career. Strangely enough, at my company you practically have to murder someone in order to warrant being fired. In order to let someone go I’m pretty sure policy dictates that you have to give the employee in question approximately 43 warnings before you are allowed to dismiss him or her. It’s absolutely preposterous. Regardless, Cathy somehow managed to meet these lofty pre-requisites to unemployment, and the shit hit the proverbial fan. It wasn’t anything out of the ordinary that finished her off. It was simply one more instance of the same old delusional behavior that resulted in her ultimate demise. As she had many times in the past, she took on the role of an account executive, resulting in disaster, and cost the company quite a bit of money. She was gone before anyone knew it, leaving behind only memories and the faint odor of self-tanner in the air.
Life here is just not the same without Crazy Cathy. Luckily for all of us, my place of employment continues to be fertile ground for insanity. Cathy was recently replaced with a crazy assistant who, in an effort to explain his excessive absences and tardiness, told his supervisor that he has cancer. When asked to bring in a doctors note, he brought in a diagram of the human body with arrows pointing to various body parts labeled “cancerous.” It appeared as if he had torn the page out of a medical journal or textbook. We are still waiting for a “real” note.* I’m not holding my breath.
*An addendum: Since writing this essay, this new “sick” assistant has been fired. He called one morning claiming to have checked himself into a hospital for tests. We called his wife to find out what hospital he was at, as we wanted to send flowers and a get-well card from the company. We were informed by his (shocked) wife, that he was not in fact at the hospital, but actually in the Dominican Republic on vacation. We instructed his spouse to tell him that it wasn’t necessary that he return to work.
Posted by Jen at 03:42 PM
1. One small, used, plastic, Boston Market container which appears to be containing 10 small blueberries.
2. One can of Beef-a-Roni.
3. Bag o' Pasta (For those of you not familiar with Bag o' Pasta. Bag o' Pasta is basically leftover Chef Boy-Ar-Dee Spaghetti and Meatballs which is being stored in a ziplock bag)
4. One lone grape. (In freezer)
5. One half-eaten snickers bar in a ziplock bag.
6. One empty Duane Reade bag (In freezer. Has been in freezer for a month)
7. One greasy Pizza Hut box containing a partially consumed P'Zone. (A new an innovative creation by the wizards at The Hut. It's a wacky combination of Pizza and a Calzone. What will those crazy kids think of next?)
8. A "Jam" Sandwich (Not the conventional Jam Sandwich that you remember fondly from your childhood. No, no... This "Jam" Sandwich is simply 2 slices of white wonderbread "jammed" together with nothing but a sad, lonely, slice of bologna in between.)
9. A plate of condiments (A plate of what you ask? It is just what it sounds like it is. A plastic plate on which you can find such treasures as red pepper flakes, garlic salt, flavored olive oil, and parmesean cheese.)
The contents of this fridge have amused my coworkers and I so much that a game has been created. Playing "The Lunch Hunch" is quite simple. The only tools needed are a refrigerator, access to email, and an imagination. To begin, all the players in the game go to the refrigerator and inspect it for odd and unusual items. Once the item is located and chosen, the players then adjourn to their respective desks. Guesses as to who the employee is who has brought the chosen item to work are emailed to all players in game. Players then spend the rest of the day spying on the Kitchenette so as to find out who the true owner of the chosen item is. Want to make it interesting? Place bets.
Trust me, it really livens up an otherwise boring day at work.
Posted by Jen at 02:27 PM
The idea behind the man meter started nearly a year ago, while friends and I were in New Jersey for a wedding. As we told stories in our hotel room the night before the ceremony, our conversation took a turn to the topic of how do you know when you’re in the right relationship? We concluded that we don’t know, but one thing we can tell you is we sure know when we’re in the wrong one. We kept ourselves up to the wee hours exchanging anecdotes of love prospects gone awry. Subsequent conversations with other friends of mine have propelled me to lay out the motley assortment of characters that have courted us in days past. Here is an overview of some of the highlights (or I should say, lowlights):
Al the pathological lying chef. An ex of my friend Beth B’s. Not only did he have several other girlfriends at the time he dated her (including his “roommate”), but he also invented a dog named Jake and referred to him while on the phone with Beth. (“There there Jake, now that’s a good boy,” etc etc.)
*danger level – low, unless you entrust him with anything remotely important to you. And pathological liars can be funny sometimes, or at least John Lovitz has led us to believe this.
Mrs. Field’s Boy. Also one of Beth B’s. At the age of 27 she picked up someone whom she believed to be a grad student at a party and took him home to have her way with him. Afterwards he confessed that he was a 17 year old senior at Grover Cleveland High School but he still wanted to continue their sexual relationship. She was forced to avoid Mrs. Fields (his place of employment) every time she visited Faniel Hall in the months that followed, and cringed every time he called her, expecting him to ask her to buy him beer.
*danger level - from a legal perspective, it’s pretty damn high, although who prosecutes for underage sex - the parents? Embarrassment level, however... huge.
Eric the unscrupulous optometrist. This is someone from my friend Allison’s past. Really he just met her at a party and talked to her about how he was an optometrist and could make her contact lenses. Weeks later he turned up at her apartment with a pair of contacts for which he charged her $80.
*danger level - low, although the relationship could get expensive.
Mike the gravedigger. One of Jen’s many ex-boyfriends who later turned out to be gay. This she realized while he was dancing in a cage at a gay bar a good year or more after they dated (the gravedigger gig was while they were dating.)
*danger level - none, although several gay boyfriends in a row can be a bit perplexing, if not damaging to the ego (see Harold the gay tucker.)
The Old Man. Jen’s Mr. Big, except not as sexy and not as cool. And apparently, not as young.
*danger level - low, unless you have a serious problem with old men in mini-kimonos, which Jen evidently did.
Harold the gay tucker. Another entry in the ex-boyfriends of Jen’s who are now gay genre. For whatever reason while they were dating the fact that he tucked everything he wore into his pants (sweaters included) did not provide Jen any insight into his true sexual orientation.
*danger level - see Mike the Gravedigger.
Pool Boy. My own bike-obsessed Long Island boy. The first of my relationships to have been borne of (and suffered a death through) email.
*danger level - low, unless you fear that technology, in an effort to simplify and improve our lives, is becoming the vehicle for emotions otherwise left for love- and Dear John- letters (or -- gasp! -- face to face conversations).
Dr. Jorgen Stern. Jen G’s beret-wearing, coffee shop-frequenting German professor, who wanted to whisk her away to the mother country and who seduced her with spoken word night in the smoke-infested cafes of the college community.
*danger level – low, although have you ever heard German poetry? My guess is that it doesn’t exactly flow off the tongue in honey-soaked love-references, but I could be completely wrong here.
The Eco-Pod Hippie. A man my friend Allison dated at Stanford who wanted to co-habitate with her and a cult of fellow tree-huggers in a nature-friendly eco-pod.
*danger level - low, unless something goes wrong with the refrigeration system. Nothing’s worse than rotting hummus.
Missing Sony Man. A fun date of Jen’s who went MIA.
*danger level - low, unless you have a joint checking account.
The I’ve Hidden a Towel Under the Pillow Sex-Anticipator. A one-night stand of Jayme’s, who later traveled a great distance to see her in the hopes of a repeat performance. Upon realizing this was not going to happen, he attributed the demise of the “relationship” to a disconnection between his high morals and her low ones.
*danger level - low, and he keeps a clean house.
Dennis the insecure stalker. Another one of mine. He sent me a mixed tape ala high school with the song names scribbled on the tape sleeve in the handwriting of a madman. The frequency of his phone calls, and a particularly disturbing bitter voicemail, eventually drove me to bitch him out. My final words to him, “Don’t ever fucking call me again.” He didn’t.
*danger level – medium – had he been a stalker with self-esteem, I could have been in some real danger. But he just sort of whimpered away like a punished pooch and never bothered me again.
The Scottish cab farter. Picked up by Jen in an Irish pub on St. Patrick’s Day, dropped off minutes into the cab ride home, confused, in the middle of Times Square.
*danger level - low, but embarrassment level high.
The Financial Industry burper. A pseudo-date of mine that wouldn’t leave my apartment until I donned pajamas, repeated for the twentieth time how tired I was, and forced Jen to spend the night (or at least stay until he left.)
*danger level - see The Scottish cab farter.
Hubie and the eyeball. Ex-work fling of mine that suffered some eyeball damage during a tryst in a cab.
*danger level - for me, low. For Hubie’s eyeball, hospital-visit-high.
Persistent bad-grammar boy. Dana’s first Santiago fling who pleaded against their break up with a grammatically butchered note on Snoopy stationery. (Butchered in Spanish, mind you. His native tongue, mind you.)
*danger level - low, although sometimes the Red Baron used to scare me.
David, the fake photographer. Small-time con who got an Armani suit out of Hannah (well, almost did) during our trip to Santa Barbara.
*danger level - high enough to warrant an investigation by the Donna Karan company to punish his crime of deception.
Tourettes Chris. Mimi’s barndance date whose Tourette’s Syndrome was unknown to me until Mimi stopped me from asking about a cat that wasn’t there (apparently Chris was the source of the meowing.)
*danger level - see The Financial Industry burper.
My ex-boyfriend the School Mascot. Ex of mine who deserves his own future tribute. Watch this space.
*danger level - see Tourettes Chris.
Omnipresent Motorcycling Neighbor. Perhaps I initiated things by making out with him when he let me into my apartment one night when I was too drunk to work my key. I ignored his courtyard beckoning calls, but couldn’t hide when he planted himself in the median on upper Broadway when he spotted me walking home. Eventually, in an unrelated turn of events, I moved away.
*danger level - medium, since he knew where I lived.
HONORABLE MENTIONS (also known as the fuck this, all these stories are depressing me, I’m going to bed category.)
The underhanded Russian. Also Jen’s.
Darryl the never-leaving (and never debt-repaying) houseguest. Mine and Alana’s.
“39”. Beth L’s motorcycle-dwelling three-way instigator.
Bad John. Jen G’s live-in boyfriend whom she spied taking a female friend to Miss Saigon while he was supposed to be entertaining clients.
Shady Rich. Jen G’s boyfriend who never had her over to his apartment (because he lived with his fiancee.)
Lock and Key. A preppy Connecticut boy of Jen’s who told her they fit like “lock and key”. He drove her home one day to Brooklyn and he cancelled their next date.
The Banana Republic counterfeiter. Jerry’s incarcerated roommate. What’s law in the name of lust?
The Junior. Jerry’s summer boyfriend in college. (Well, Jerry was the one in college. The boyfriend was in town for a summer class - a high school summer class, that is.)
The Engaged Dater. Boy who called Jen 10 minutes prior to their first date to cancel because he just "couldn't go through with it." Apparently he had just proposed to his girlfriend and didn't feel right about playing the field.
Fingered at the ATM. Mine. Tried it at a parking garage too.
Everyone who’s ever offered me a threesome.
The computer genius who didn't know anything. Blind date of Jen's who owned his own computer company but had no interests at all. He didn't read, watch tv, go to the movies, or know what a carbohydrate was. In an attempt to make conversation Jen gave a lengthy speech on her love for shoes.
The boy who was outsmarted by a dog. Jayme’s alcohol-prone ex-boyfriend was no match for Syrus’s wit. He actually thought that by making Syrus sit before he fed him the remnants of his human dinner, he was training him not to beg.
Professor Stalker. Jen G took a dive under her kitchen table to avoid his visit.
The man who couldn’t get it up. Jen’s. Of course. Signature line: “What’s wrong with me?”
The head-bobber. Thanks to Jen’s dream about him morphing into a bobbing head doll, this one is no longer a threat to her ego or morality.
Horatio the Hornblower. Also Jen’s. He was also in the Israeli army and heralded from a family of speed skaters.
The gay straight bartender. Another of Jen’s. Now dating a woman. With fangs.
The boy who had sex with his best friend’s girlfriend and his girlfriend’s best friend. And technically that happened at the same time, since he stole his best friend’s girlfriend, and then had a threesome with her friend. We are no longer on speaking terms (and no, I wasn’t the girlfriend referenced here, but he was trying to get me back at the time of the first tryst. And people wonder why I’m bitter?)
Wes, the man who left me for a guitar. Or so he said. But in actuality, it was a blond from his office who later became his wife. Their engagement was only months after he said he felt he might marry me. Or so he said. And people wonder why I’m bitter?
Posted by GxxP at 10:22 AM
I find it incredibly difficult to have sympathy for people who complain about the following things:
*How dreadfully long the drive is to their summer home in the Hamptons.
*The fact that their new Jaguar is not a convertible. For if it was, they could enjoy the long commute to their home in the Hamptons ever SO much more.
*The fact that they MUST throw a huge soiree at their beach house for 200 of their closest friends. You see, they’ve been doing it ever since they began summering in the Country, and now it’s expected of them.
I (over)heard all of this while waiting for one of my superiors to get off the phone. This boss o’ mine called me into his office to see him, and asked me to sit down. He then proceeded to call his wife, or friend, or buddy, or whatever, therefore forcing me to listen to the entire conversation. He does this all the time. These overheard conversations are always regarding his fancy home, fancy car, fancy beach house, fancy vacation, etc. etc. Obviously I’m supposed to be impressed by his lavish lifestyle. After he hung up the phone, he then waited for some sort of sign from me acknowledging how in awe I was about what I had heard. “Can you believe it,” he asked, “I have to wait until 3pm tomorrow for the garage to finish detailing my Jag. This means I won’t get to the Hamptons until AFTER dark." "I’ll probably miss cocktail hour,” he said with a panicked look on his face. I gave him a blank stare and said something to the effect of, “That DOES stink.” What I really wanted to say was, “Oh yes. I completely understand. Just yesterday I was delayed almost 30 minutes on the A train while the authorities were searching for a criminal. I almost didn’t make it home in time to scrape together enough money for a pint of Bud at the dive bar down the street. I can totally relate.”
Posted by Jen at 06:15 PM
I just returned from a computer class that was required of me by my company. We have just purchased some software that is somewhat confusing, and we were all scheduled to attend various training sessions to be instructed as to how to use the new program. When I arrived, I was happy to find out that the new program was somewhat user friendly, and figured that there was no way we would be there for the full two hours that was allotted for the class. Unfortunately, I forgot to figure the "stupid question" factor into the equation, and the class ran almost 30 minutes over. This was largely due to the fact that the following questions/comments were asked/made during this two-hour "training" session:
“What are we here for?”
“What exactly do you mean by ‘right click’?”
“I keep spelling things wrong! What do I do about that?”
“What does the print button do?”
“I’m still on the first step. Do you mind starting from the beginning?”
When told that our login names were to be our first name followed by the first initial of our last name, you would have thought that the instructor had asked us to decipher a text written in Sanskrit. Someone behind me kept repeating, “First name, last initial. First name, last initial,” over and over again. He would then type something in (Clearly NOT his first name and last initial.) and shout, “It didn’t work!!” This went on for about 15 minutes.
These people in the class were ALL Salespeople for my company. They are all (allegedly) college educated and the majority of them make over $80K a year.
Welcome to corporate America everyone!!!
Posted by Jen at 01:22 PM
Orlando, Orlando, Where has our love gone?
I present this five year old piece (the World Trade Center reference is shocking to read today, as if I’m referring to the living days of a now-deceased friend) as a reminder of how hard it was to be happy in any city other than New York, where I’d lived for only a year and two weeks at the time of this entry. I’d like to think my tolerance of other communities has improved, but it probably hasn’t. I just happen to have a job that doesn’t send me to conferences in Florida anymore.
June 15, 1997
The Orlando that I loved as a kid probably hasn’t changed that much - besides maybe getting a little bigger and becoming the proud home of even more ridiculous attractions. About ten years have passed since I was last here, and I think I now hate it. All of the buildings appear to have been constructed out of Lego’s, painted in bright colors with enormous signs to entice the tourist to part with his green. The ride from the airport to the hotel was grim - the shuttle bus driver took it upon himself to make unsolicited announcements the entire time. Nothing he announced interested me after his first observation - “To the left, those two buildings are the original airport terminal.” The buildings were small and desolate. “They are now used for storage,” he added. I snickered quietly to myself. About half a mile up we got our next announcement. “To the left, E.T.” I gazed blankly at an enormous billboard with the extraterrestrial of Spielberg fame groping the sign from behind. “His eyes move,” our omniscient guide added. Sure enough, E.T.’s blue eyes, the size of enormous cue balls, slowly moved downward. Fascinating.
“To your right, the Terminator. In 3-D!,” the driver's voice reached the pinnacle of excitement. I and my five fellow passengers stared at another Universal Studios billboard. I suddenly grew disappointed, and moments later, depressed, as the driver gave us yet another piece of crucial information. “To your right, the old Hyatt Hotel.” It was an enormous peach colored building set a few hundred yards back from the highway. Before it laid a stretch of flat muddy land, a future parking lot site, I presumed. “Behind the hotel is a shopping mall,” he announced with glee. “You can exit the back of the hotel and enter the mall!”
I looked at the little sign on the dashboard. Your driver is GEORGE HARTER, it read in large white print. Gratuity is not included in fare, the tiny disclaimer followed. I considered tipping him to not shed light on any mundane trivialities for the remainder of the journey, but I didn’t want to be rude. Perhaps the others were enjoying it.
Soon we exited the highway and continued our route onto International Drive, a prospect which I found exciting until I realized what a bore International Drive was. Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, a Japanese chain restaurant transplanted in Orlando, and “Amazing Animals” (See them! Pet them! Feed them!) were the highlights of this leg of the journey. I suddenly felt the urge to get a drink.
“Where is Church Street?”, I inquired, remembering the recommendation my officemate Shannon made to me before I left New York.
“Downtown,” George replied, pointing to a tiny skyline barely visible to the human eye.
“Is that where the clubs are?” I asked.
“Why, yes,” George answered, readying himself to spew more facts. “On one side of Church Street Station you have The Dixieland Jazz Club.” Oh god, I could only hope that the other side of the street held more promise for my particular tastes. “On the other side of the street is a country-western club that’s loads of fun.” I almost started to cry.
George delivered me to the Radisson, and I suddenly felt a rush of panic. Surely I was at the wrong hotel and would have to shell out another twelve bucks to meander down International Drive. “I believe I’m staying at the Radisson Twin Towers,” I corrected. The name had instilled me with World Trade Center images when I made my arrangements.
“This is the Twin Towers,” George reassured me. The Twin Towers in actuality consists of two squat buildings, no more than twenty stories high.
“Oh, I guess I missed the towers,” I said, handing George a tip and wandering into the hotel, searching painfully for information on something to do that didn’t involve Disney, killer whales, or one of the major film production companies.
I don’t quite believe this. I think I’m in the Peoria of the south. I’m in the “hub” of downtown and it’s completely deserted, aside from a few straggling African clothing shops that are still open past 6 pm. Cars speed down the highway overpass looming just behind me. I may as well be on an island with no boat - how the hell do people without cars get around here? And more importantly, where do they go? I find myself yet again a fish without water in my long blank tank dress and black purse - I could possibly be the only living - or non-living for that matter (if you count the gargantuan Disney characters schlepping about somewhere - I know they're out there) - entity in this city that isn’t clad in neon or Hawaiian print. Damn the airlines and their “stay for Saturday night” discount fares! I want to be in New York! I want to be around people! I want to be in a city where there are things to do at 6:30 on a Saturday night! Shit.
Okay. The evening is minimally progressing. For starters, I went out entirely too early, but I had to get out of tourist trap hell. So now I’m in tourist trap hell, downtown. A quick walk in the opposite direction I originally set out in led me to the “happening” section of Church Street, which still isn’t saying much. I appear to have stumbled onto the only decent bar in town, Sapphire, where a live band or two soon promise to play. The bouncer’s pretty cool - he gave me a VIP pass even though I apparently don’t need it. It was some sort of incentive to return, even though that was inevitable given the options. (I’m just not in the mood for dance clubs named after the happening districts of other cities.) I did however pass some time shopping, buying more of what I already have, at shops I’ve already visited (Express, Vicky’s Secret), just in different colors from the clothes I already own. Man. Give me some money and some free time and I’m a goner. I must not spend a lot of time shopping in New York just because I’m never this bored. Now I’m perched at the bar, pulling the writing thing, which must really annoy everyone. Whatever. The bouncer seemed to be in agreement with me - the cult’o’Disney owns this town. He’s friends with a girl who had to train intensively for two weeks for a $6-an-hour job as Disney characters. She had to master each of their individual signatures and mannerisms and swear on her life that she wouldn’t allow herself (or himself, depending on the character) to be photographed with any social deviants who may actually be smoking a cigarette. I am reminded of the Meg (college roommate) Disney days, when she returned to us and immediately began filling the apartment which such frivolous items as Mickey Mouse cutting boards. How badly I wanted to set that thing on fucking fire, I can’t even tell you. According to Nora (Peoria friend), Kira (her sister) is a member of the same cult following, adorning the walls of her daughter’s room in Mickey Mouse wallpaper and going so far as to wear clothes decorated with Disney characters in public (not the little girl, but Kira. Um...?) The government annihilates Wako but allows this travesty to continue. It just doesn’t make sense.
* * * * * * * * * * *
For a few years now, my grandparents have taken a bit of criticism from others in the family - my grandfather in particular - for dwelling on the negative. For example, my aunt thought that he was not of sound mind when he wrote his Christmas letter a few years back. I read the letter, and actually found it refreshingly straightforward, as far as holiday letters go. I think my grandfather's crime is that he's realistic - and in the tough years that have followed the accusations, a number of people in our family have adopted his realistic viewpoint. That was '97 and this is '02, and a lot has changed. Below you will find one of my first brushes with the issue.
June 16, 1997
Last night I had dinner with Grandma and Grandpa. For the most part it was great - they both looked well and were completely coherent, not bad for their 78 and 81 years respectively. I thought we might run out of fuel for the conversation but we didn’t - in fact it was almost smoother than dinner with Mom, Dad, and Greg because we had so much to catch up on, whereas with the fam we often find ourselves exchanging anecdotes about work and weather. The grandparents, on the other hand, entertained me with stories of their past travels - which I found interesting (am I getting old?) I was actually picturing what it was like for Grandma to raise Mom and Chuck while Grandpa was always gone. For example, Grandma moved back to Chicago to have Mom because Grandpa has just been relocated to Utah, or somewhere depressing, and she didn’t want to have the baby alone. And Chuck, he was born in Panama. Subsequently they moved to New Mexico, Morocco, Germany, Indianapolis... I got as far as Virginia with them before they had to visit the buffet. We lost track of the conversation when they returned with their plates piled high with roast beef and various salad items. All in all, it was cool. They gave me the skinny on their friends the Davises who finally divorced after being together for ages. Throughout nearly the entire marriage Ken was kicking it with this woman from Colombia who he hooked up with through the church. He helped put her kids through college and got them jobs and got her a job and encouraged her to drop her drunk husband, which she did. This whole time he would go over to their little shack of a house to make repairs and such and his wife is stranded at home, sometimes for entire nights on end, thinking, “I wonder why it’s taking all night to caulk the shower?” Actually, she had more of a clue than that, but refused to dump him. Now he’s dumped her, and she’s alone and overweight and she recently suffered a stroke so when she speaks she sounds like a two year old. It’s absolutely horrible. Grandma and Grandpa told a lot of uplifting stories like that. They were talking about traveling to San Antonio for Grandpa’s Air Force squadron reunion, but there’s almost no one left now. Out of 200, maybe about 50 of those old coots are alive, and half of those are invalids. How fucking horrible. Grandpa also went into a blow by blow account of Grandma’s brush with fatality last year, going so far as to mention that when the doctor “cut her open and looked at her insides” (yes, those were his exact words), he found her intestines to be purple. Had they been black, he would have “sewn her up and let her die on the table.” All the while Grandma is listening to this, and I’m feeling a touch uncomfortable for her. But miraculously, they’re alive and well, and looking remarkably good I might add. I was fearing they would be shriveled and scary but they weren’t at all. We shared kind parting words, and Grandpa alluded to possibly seeing me in New York if they ever venture out to visit some old friends in Long Island. “But they’re so crippled up there’s probably not a lot we could do with them,” he added. God I was sad. I went back up to my hotel room and smoked five cigarettes, which of course put me a few baby steps closer to being there myself. In the present, however, that just doesn’t seem to matter.
Posted by GxxP at 11:56 AM