Thursday, December 14, 2006

crossed signals

This evening, my suspicions were confirmed - there is, indeed, a particular stretch of 14th St. that is prone to crazy ass dudes using electronic devices. I walk down this way often, en route to the writing space I use, so therefore, I am obviously qualified to make this assertion.

Lately, the area around Union Square (on the 14th St. side) is packed with consumers buying assorted crap from the red and white tent-like structures that sprung up right around Turkey Day. Move up a block, and it's just your average pedestrians. But right after you cross Fifth Ave, it's like you've stepped into another dimension. The proportion of Sane:Crazy is thrown radically out of whack.

Right around the Guitar Center, there is always a man - up until today, I wasn't sure if it was the same dude or not, but now I'm almost positive. This guy is memorable for one reason and one reason only - he makes crazy talk into portable electronic devices on the regular. And by "on the regular," I mean "every time I walk by."

Frequently, he uses a cell phone. I'm not even really sure that he's speaking to anybody, but by the tone of his voice, he probably thinks he's carrying on a conversation with a higher power. Or sometimes, his crack dealer. One day he had a portable radio (so very 80's breakdancing video!). But then there was today...

Today, homeboy (let's call him "Transmitter Tom") had a walkie talkie! He was talking into it, as he generally does with smallish electronic devices, but the difference today was that someone was talking back to him!

It quickly became apparent that the walkie talkie was...uh...borrowed, because the male voice on the other end was yelling angrily to the tune of "return this immediately!...static....prosecuted!...static..."

Tranny Tom was having none of this, however. He calmly pressed the "Talk" button and said to his accuser, "Don't you ever be makin' me late to dinner! OR lunch!" Then he paused, trying to think of a clincher. "OR SNACKS!!!!" With that he strode rapidly towards 6th, walkie talkie in hand, crazy mumbles leaking out of the side of his mouth.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Turning a new leaf - haiku

"Unemployment Check"
Like the lottery
Except with little money
And more depression

"Rain Boots"
Ricky's rubber boots
Look! They shine in the window!
Wish I had some dough

"Freelancer Style"
Hey, got some Ramen?
I'll edit your resume
For only ten bucks

"Hey, People with Jobs!"
It sucks to be you!
Until it's time to pay rent
Then you're one leg up

No more MetroCard!
I'll be staying in my bed
Til Jan 1, '07

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

I will become an advertising executive

Overheard today on North 7th & Havemeyer, as I walk the long walk to the police station:

Teenage girl: What I'm concerned about is pollution. When that stuff gets on your skin...

Adolescent boy: What stuff?

TG: Butane. It's like lighter fluid. It will mess you up.

AB: Cool! I'd set stuff on fire!

TG: (Very upset that she is walking next to a pyro-in-training) No, Cal! Then you'd get burned. Do you want that? Your face will be horribly disfigured.

AB/Cal: (considering what it would really mean for his face to become horribly disfigured) Wow! Then I'd look just like Michael Jackson!!

This conversation prompted me to consider a turn on the ol' career path. Why, you ask? Well, consider this:

a) Smokey the Bear is kind of played out.
b) Fire is still bad, whether or not Smokey is passé.
c) Michael Jackson is frightening to adolescent boys.
d) Adolescent boys are the prime fire-starting cohort.

a + b + c + d = Award-winning print & television public service announcement that makes the connection between setting fires (not just forest fires, mind you, but any kind of hot, burny fires), getting horribly disfigured from the flames, and subsequently morphing into Michael Jackson. (Um...but not cool morphing, like in that "Black or White" video.)

Now, where's my Obie? Is that the award advertising executives receive?

Sunday, September 17, 2006

sleep tight

I think that there is a homicidal maniac living in my apartment building.

I swear, the above statement is totally founded; it's not just the paranoia of city living OR the fact that I watched Natural Born Killers and Mulholland Dr back to back last night getting to me. No, no, no. Homicidal maniac, I swear.

And, if I'm counting correctly, last night was Night 3 of his rampage of death and destruction.

Yes, I'm sure.
No, I haven't called the police.

After my uplifting movie marathon, I returned home at some late hour, made a phone call, and buried myself in my bed. At 4:00am, I heard the following, in a homicidal maniac man's voice:


I bolt upright in my bed, as I have the last 3 nights. Some really loud, crazed yelling, some other, unidentified loud noises, then a repeat of the inhuman noise above.

As I have the past 3 nights, I get sort of paralyzed with fear - I want to press my ear against my window to listen more closely, but I am afraid that if I do, the homicidal maniac man will see my ear against the window and head in my direction, propelling his rage towards me. This, I do not want to happen.

Then, the questions start:

-Why does he do this every morning around 4:00am?
-Who is he yelling at?
-Why does he sound like a live buffalo being gutted every time he yells?
-What is he saying when he is not yelling like that?
-What apartment does he live in, because I sure fucking hope it's not any of the ones near me?
-Why does an eerie silence always follow the crazy, buffalo-death-yelling?
-Should I call the police?

Before I could answer any of the above questions, I fell asleep. The next time I woke up, it was approximately 6:30am, and I was waking from a dream in which Naomi Watts was trying to make out with me as Woody Harrelson danced around me with a sawed-off shotgun.

I think I need a vacation. And a new pair of ear plugs.


I left the apartment about a half hour ago to get a slice of pizza. On the corner, a man and woman were speaking in hushed tones.

Bald Man: I heard it too!
Pale Woman: It was like someone was being killed.
BM: I heard him say, 'I can't love you if I DON'T LOVE MYSELF!!!!'
PW: Oh, my gaaaawd. If this continues, I'm calling the fuckin' cops next time.

I paused. They were talking about homicidal maniac man!!! I deliberately missed the light to cross the street so I could listen in a bit more. It's like Wisteria Lane around here. Thank god, confirmation that I am not nutso and/or hearing voices.

(Sidenote: I almost joined the conversation, but stopped when I realied that BM was, in fact, the crazy dude who accosted a friend and I in the corner bodega one evening and warned us to never, ever do ecstasy like he did back in the Studio 54 heyday, when his brother was a big-name DJ.)

Sunday, September 10, 2006


I try to avoid being a guilt-ridden person by avoiding doing the type of things that will instill a sense of latent cheating on my hairdresser.

I didn't mean for it to happen, I swear. I mean, it actually hasn't happened yet...I mean, I only made an appointment; it's not really cheating until you go all the way and let them plunge their scissors into your wild mane.

I know it's wrong. There's a reason why I have stuck with the same hairdresser(s) for the past year...a) they are my friends and b) they do a damn good job. My hair is like a bipolar teenager - it needs discipline, love, structure. It needs a caring set of hands. And, truth be told, I already have those in Steph and Lowry.

But, alas, temptation has struck. I stepped into the Origins store the other day and the salesgirl rushed over to try some new treatment on my hands. I let her, because I had time to kill and a free hand massage never hurt anyone. It was good, it was fine...but her was magical, full of perfect ringlets falling gently against her cheekbones. I didn't want the gooey crap she was slathering on my paws...I wanted her hair.

Me: So....thanks. My hands, uh, feel good...


Me: Uh, sure. So, anyway....what products do you use on your hair?

PS: Oh! (looks to her left and then to her right and adopts a hushed tone) Well...I actually use products from the salon I go to....a salon for women with curly hair...

Me: (HOLY SHIT! Did she just say "a salon for women with curly hair"? I AM A WOMAN WITH CURLY HAIR!!!) Um...WOW. I want to go there. Right now.

PS: (still speaking in a barely audible voice; visibly nervous) Ummmm....ooooookay. I'll write down the information....tell them I sent you. It's like a cult over there...they don't let anybody in....

A curly-haired cult? Finally, a place I belong!!!

I rushed over to the address she provided. The door was marked with only a swirl of paint - a curl. The secret symbol.

I asked the doorman how I should enter the sacred chamber of curly locks, and he showed me to a side hallway...which lead to a frosted door....which led to another curved hallway...which led down two flights of steps...and then....the antechamber. Filled with women with curly hair.

Oh my god. It was a like a Sci-Fi flick; like Amazon Women Of Curlvania or something. Redheads. Brunettes. Blondes. Some with highlights. Some with short curls. Some with long curls. And all curls in between. I was saved. I ran up to the counter.

Me: I have curly hair. I was sent here. (Yes, I said that. Exactly that. Do you think I make this shit up?)

Desk Lady With Undiscernable Accent But Perfect Curls: Yessssss...

Me: I want an appointment! PLEASE!!!

DLWUABPC: (eyeing me with suspicion)You were sent here? who? Oh, okay......zen we will get you an appointment in ze calendar....

She handed me my little grey appointment card and I headed back into the sunshine, suddenly a much happier person. I had found my people, the ones who understood my genetic disposition for frizz. I was saved.

It was when I got home that I started feeling guilty. I am cheating on Steph. She will never speak to me again when she finds out that I made an appointment with another stylist. She loves my hair curly. She cut it curly. She knows curls, too. Uhhhh....shit.

I considered cancelling the appointment. I considered 'fessing up to Steph when I saw her at brunch today. But I did neither. Instead, I kept that goddamned hair appointment and the curl masters are going to do brilliant things to my hair and it's gonna look really nice and shiny and stuff and you can't stop me.

(This is okay with you, right Steph? Pretty please?)

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Is Mercury in retrograde? Is that why Fate is giving me the long face as of late?

For the second time since living in New York, I had to call the police today. Now, the first time was because, as I was heading to lunch at the very corporate corner of 42nd St. & 5th Ave., I witnessed a mob on the opposite corner; as I crossed the street, I noticed the mob quickly scatter and found myself standing directly in front of a crazy motherfucker with a neon green box cutter. Blade exposed. Waving wildly in the air.

"Uh-oh," I thought to myself. "Crazy person with sharp object. Must turn away. Must avoid being knifed during incredibly short 'lunch hour.' Must eat overpriced salad and return to desk unscathed."

As I switched my route, Crazy McStabber started slashing at a man standing on the corner near him, making contact with the man's outstretched arm several times. Alarmed and mystified that I had, in essence, witnessed a stabbing on the corner of 42nd St. & 5th Ave. in broad daylight, I dialed up 911 and spoke to a dispatcher who, among other things, asked if I would stay on the scene. NO, I will NOT stay on the scene. I DO NOT want to incur the wrath of Crazy McStabber. The answer is NO, 911 Lady. NO, I will not stay on the scene of the bloody knifing where the knifer is still slashing at the knifee." Instead, I bought my salad and made my way back to the 27th floor.

So this time, luckily, there were no bodily fluids involved in my police-summoning. Instead, I arrived at work at the godawful time of 7:45am and busied myself with opening up and doing my general morning crap, including re-setting the computers in the computer lab. At 8:30am, the Shop Monitor came in. At 8:50am, the Desk Dude came in. At 9:40 a.m, I was interviewing a potential Desk Chick. At 10am, I noticed that some fucking motherfucking fucktard wiped out our computer lab. MO-THER-FUUUUUUUCK.

I searched high. I searched low. I yelled at Shop Monitor. I yelled at Desk Dude. I felt bad and stopped yelling. I cursed. A lot. I kicked a garbage can. I cursed some more.

When we realized that the computers really hadn't decided to take a bathroom break, as I'd hoped was the case, I dialed 911 and spoke to the most lethargic operator of all time:

Me: (panicked) We've been robbed! Burglarized!

Lethargic 911 Lady: (almost audibly rolling her eyes) Queens, Manhattan, Brooklyn....

Me: Brooklyn! We've been robbed! They took our...

L911L: (Letting out a very loud sigh) Yeah, okay. Sure. Where are you located? We'll send someone out when we have the time.

Me: (What? When you 'have the time'??? The time is NOW! Our computers are gone! We need a team of officers!) Our address is.....Oh! Can you send a fingerprint team? I'm sure there are fingerprints...

L911L: Lady, we're busy this morning, so someone will get over there when they can. Goodbye.

You know, I hope they record these things, like they do on C.O.P.S. and Rescue 911 (didn't you just looooove Billy Shatner in that show? Brilllllliant.) This lady obviously didn't understand the gravity of the situation. But the police officers would...I'm sure they would...

(Enter: Two undercover, Johnny-Goumba-type beefy guys wearing - I shit you not - GOLD CHAINS and tapered, stone-washed jeans and sporting enough hair gel to serve as a masturbatory aid for an entire classroom of teenage boys)

Johnny Goumba 1: Hey, yeah, so what's the problem? Heeeeyyyyy....this place is cool. Nice artwork.

Me: Someone came in this morning and burglar...

Johnny Goumba 2: Yeah, I like the colors in here. You got a nice place here. Where's the bathroom?

Me: Um, down there. So, someone came in this morning and stole our computers. While I was...

JG2: You talk to her, I'm gonna go take a leak.

JG1: Yeah, okay. So, what did they steal?

Me: Computers, from the room...

JG1: Yeah, okay. Uh, so what do you guys do here? I think you should all wear name tags. Like on a necklace or something.

And so on and so on and so forth. The Brothers Goumba spent more time talking about how interesting our facility was than about the actual thieving that had occurred. And JG1 just had to use the bathroom after JG2 returned with raving reviews. NEVERMIND THE FACT THAT WE HAD BEEN BURGLARIZED WHEN I WAS IN THE BUILDING NOT 30 MINUTES EARLIER.

NYPD. Sucks.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Oh, Dr. Z...!

If you frequent the NYC subway system in any capacity, you have surely seen the giant billboards - in nearly every subway car on nearly every line - for Dr. Zizmor ("Dr. Z," if you will).

His chubby little face smiles right underneath a gigantic rainbow, and Dr. Z (a dermatologist, it seems, and one with an unlimited advertising budget - although one that obviously does not include a graphic designer of any sort) implores us to all consider the multitudes of imperfections that our skin surely has. Wrinkles? Dr. Z'll take care of 'em. Zits? Dr. Z will zap 'em. Veins? Dr. Z will banish every unsightly mark on your skin.

Today, I was riding home in a daze from the most boring grant application meeting ever in the history of ever, and happened to look up and spot one of Dr. Z's giant rainbows. However, instead of explaining how he would rid my skin of zits, veins, and wrinkles, he was suggesting that I needed to tighten my skin to preserve my youthful appearance!

And Dr. Z's method of skin-tightening-youthfulness? Why, "a gentle cryogenic spray," of course!

Now, unless you're Michael Jackson going bonkers in a hermetically-sealed underground lair in Dubai, you gotta be slightly off-kilter (and more than hint desperate) to feel as if there could possibly be anything gentle about a cryogenic spray.

I won't be able to sleep tonight with thoughts of Dr. Z laughing like a maniac while spraying my face with the steam from dry ice racing around my brain. Someone should revoke his subway advertising license.

Sunday, August 6, 2006

Observations in chlorine and purple

I thought that it was impossible, as an adult, to feel the same kind of sheer fantastical excitement that a Santa-lovin child feels on X-Mas Eve. But, when MaryEllen uttered a sentence that included the words "Splish" and "Splash" and "Waterpark," I rocketed into the atmosphere. Fuck an old guy with a beard. Fuck presents. Fuck candy canes and figgy pudding and cherubic children singing carols. Water slides are where it's at.

I talked about Splish Splash all week. I annoyed my co-workers. I couldnt sleep Friday evening. Visions of inner tubes danced in my head. After carefully selecting a book for the train ride and slipping on my favorite, favorite, favorite bikini of all time (the one I won by sending in a postcard to Jane Magazine, by the way), I busted ass to Penn Station.

Once there, I sprinted off of the train and barreled up the stairs. I spotted MaryEllen across 34th St. We ran to each other and jumped around a bit, not unlike exuberant Girl Scouts hopped up on too many Thin Mints. We were going to the motherfuckin' water park and we were going to have fun, dammit.

The train ride to Ronkonkoma (or Ron-KON-ko-MA!, as the conductor pronounced it, emphasis all his) was uneventful, save for the fact that every ten minutes or so, one of us would squeal, "Were going to SPLISH SPLASH! FUCK YEAH!!!"

When we arrived at the Ron-KON-ko-MA train station, we searched for the Coastal Fun Shuttle to Splish Splash, but all we saw were several ratty school buses. MaryEllen nudged the sweaty woman standing beside the buses. "Do you know where we can find the bus to Splish Splash?" The woman pointed at the row of rusty yellow. Oh, it doesnt matter that its not a comfy, cushy, air-conditioned coach bus, we thought. We're going to the water park! Everything is GREAT!

Our bus driver (Jackie, we would later learn) was a Long Island goddess, resplendent in purple. Purple tank top. Shiny purple shorts. Layer upon layer of gaudy purple necklaces. A stack of jingly purple bracelets. And, topping it all off, a puffy purple scrunchie wrapped around her brassy ponytail like a cloud of grape cotton candy. Jackie was divine.

MaryEllen and I settled in the back of the bus, bags on our laps like well-behaved schoolchildren on a field trip. Besides Jackie, we were the oldest Splish Splashers on the bus (save for a few cross-looking mothers and fathers tending over hyperactive children). But it didn't matter - We were going to float in the lazy river! We were going to frolic in the wave pool! We were going to run around barefoot, eating greasy french fries and dripping on the concrete! We were going to the water park! Everything was GREAT!

It was when Jackie dropped us off, unceremoniously, in the vast asphalt lot surrounding the park, that something in the cosmos changed. We pulled out our tickets and waited in line at the gate, only to be told that we needed to exchange our tickets for other, prettier tickets. Ok. We waited in line at Window No. 1, only to be told that to receive our prettier tickets, we must move down a few windows, to Window No. 3. Ok. We waited in line at Window No. 3 when the family of 10 in front of us suffered a complete meltdown. Dad had mistakenly given Jackie (she of the purple haze) his park admission ticket instead of his bus ticket. Jackie was attempting to placate a trio of irate school bus passengers. Mom was employing the word "fuck" a lot. Junior was running full-tilt into the parking lot. Ticket Girl was chewing her gum and staring vacantly at the rangy kid running Window No. 2. MaryEllen and I exchanged a glance.

When we finally had clearance at the window, Ticket Girl gave us the prettier tickets, but then told us to head back over to Window No. 1 or Window No. 2 to run our credit cards. We did so. We headed back to the main gate, pushed through the turnstile, and felt excited again! "Let's get a locker!" MaryEllen enthused. "YES!" I replied.

Oh. There were no keys in the lockers. You need to pay $10 to get a locker. Ok. So we wait in another line, this one also filled with mothers employing the word "fuck" a lot. It was while we waited in this line that we started to understand the strange phenomenon of theme park queues - why you stand and stand and wait and wait and never move anywhere. This is because the mothers who employ "fuck" a lot figure that because they are pushing a baby carriage filled with a screaming toddler, because they need a cigarette, and because their daisy dukes are perpetually jammed up their ass, they deserve to cut right in front of you.

Regardless, ten minutes later, we had a locker. We smooshed our shit in it. We were excited again! "Lets ride on the lazy river!" I shouted at MaryEllen. "YES!" she replied. After a twirl around the lazy river, we headed to a ride where you had to climb a tower before sailing down a steep tube in a raft. YES! FUN! Towers! Rafts! We got the signal to begin climbing the tower stairs and we eagerly began our ascent.

But HOLY SHIT! The stairs were ON FIRE! Burning hot sear-off-the-flesh-on-the-bottom-of-your-feet-hot!! We bolted up until we could go no more and then quivered on our tiptoes in the shadow of a small oak. We looked down at our blistered feet. The steps were made out of black plastic. Because, as we all know, black plastic would never soak up heat and blast it back onto your naked feet like some sort of atomic Death Star.

After scorching our toes, we were a bit weary and decided to take a break and walk over to Fry World (Fry World!) to fill our tummies. We shimmied over to the shortest line. And waited. And waited. The only three things on the menu were: fries, chicken, and soda. Fries, chicken, and soda. I glanced at the counter inside - basket upon basket of fries and chicken and fries and chicken. The soda machine was ready to go. But still, the line stood still. The mother at the front of the line (naturally, sporting a baby carriage and short-shorts) started employing the word "fuck" in a rapid staccato. Fuck-f-f-fuck-fffffuckfuckfuck!

At this point, the serious man in front of us sensed disaster. He turned to his son and with an earnest gaze, gave him the important mission of finding a picnic table on which to spread out the fries, chicken, and soda feast. His son ambled off, and the dad began yelling directives, becoming increasingly more and more agitated with each sentence he sputtered:

Jacob! No! Over there!

Wait! Jacob! See those people leaving? Go for it!

No! Jacob! Just jump in there! Dont lose the table, son!

Jacob! Just stay there. JUST STAY THERE!!!

After another 10 minutes or so, the Fry World line had progressed and it was my turn. I was ready and fired off the following:

Me: French fries with cheese sauce and one 16-oz Coke and I will pay with my Go Pass

Counter girl: What do you want to drink?

Fucking hopeless, this place. Hopeless. After drink confirmation was made, Counter Girl handed me my Coke and motioned for MaryEllen to order, as if she was done with me.

Me: Hey, wait. I had fries. With cheese sauce.

Counter girl: How do you want that cheese sauce?

Me: Quickly.

We scavenged for a bit of picnic table and scarfed down our fries and chugged our Cokes, just in time to be ousted by a family of 16; eight on each side of the picnic table. But you know, we were excited again, because we were going to the wave pool! MaryEllen had never stepped foot inside of a wave pool, and because of this, she was willing to forget the days inadequacies. Waves! FUN!

We waded around for a while in the pool, counting down the time until the wave generator would push forth its walls of water. We avoided splashy children and playful teenagers. We did elementary water aerobics. We started to get bored.

Suddenly, there was a commotion in the center of the pool - a group of high schoolers was yelling about something...that appeared to be...a giant condom...filled with something...floating in the pool. A kid with cornrows tossed it out and the lifeguard scolded him. And then blew her whistle. And then made us all get out. We were being punished; there were no waves.

MaryEllen frowned. Things werent going well. I had a headache that had been slowly building all day and was threatening to break into a raging crescendo. We got some water. We waited. After some time, they let everyone re-enter the pool. We took up our positions once again, ready to bob up and down in unison with the other swimmers. We practiced, me pushing the water towards MaryEllen and MaryEllen smiling and popping up an inch or two each time my tiny wave reached her stomach. We pretended that we were baby seals, rolling around on our backs. We started to get bored.

Suddenly, there was a commotion in the center of the pool. MaryEllen shot me the kind of look that one might shoot when they realize that they've been stood up for the high school prom and they would never get to wear a corsage or pose for a cute photo underneath the beautiful balloon awning. She was near tears. I say this without exaggeration.

A very large teenager was in over her head and was flailing about, screaming something incoherent. A lifeguard jumped in and pulled the girl over her life-saving raft thing, towing the drownee to the relative safety of the 2'5" section of the wave pool. The girl stood up in the water, looked at the lifeguard, and began yelling the kind of obscenities that aren't meant for public consumption. She lost her water shoe in the faux-drowning; she wanted it back. While she was busy harassing the possibly life-saving lifeguard, another guard picked up the water shoe and tossed it the would-be victim, hitting her square in the side of the head. I think I detected a smile on his face.

Needless to say, the waves never came. MaryEllen was depressed. We prepared to go home. We asked a staffer where one would find the Coastal Fun Shuttle back to Ron-KON-ko-MA, and he pointed vaguely back at the asphalt, and so it was there that we walked. And there it was! Shiny! Big! Air-conditioned! Plush! We pulled out our tickets and practically ran to the bus, eager to leave the most inefficient theme park in the world. The woman guarding the bus door (not Jackie) simply said, "Theeees eeees not your bus."

It was then that MaryEllen said, "I am writing a letter of complaint to Splish Splash and to the Long Island Railroad" and I totally believed her.

Jackie finally showed up, surprisingly enough, driving a big fancy white coach bus! We walked up to the bus, only to be intercepted by a chubby guy with a comb-over. "Jaaaaackie," he scolded. "You need to move the bus over there." Jackie shook her head like an insolent toddler, the feathery bits of her purple scrunchie waving back and forth with each shake. "Yes, Jaaaaackie," Comb-Over coaxed, "Come oooooon, just move it twoooooo spots over."

Jackie complied and a minute later, along rolled a rusty yellow school bus. And this is what we rode, without insolent, purple Jackie in the driver's seat. The new driver lady turned to me and cautioned that the air conditioner jimmy-rigged above my head liked to drip occasionally. I didn't care. Just. Get. Me. To. Ron-KON-ko-MA.

MaryEllen started to drift off. I started to drift off. Until I felt a river of cold water splash down my back, causing me to scream, causing MaryEllen to jump, and causing passengers to stare. The bus driver laughed. Bitch.

The rest of the ride was spent in silence. Before boarding the train back to Manhattan, we grabbed some pasta and I realized that I lost the bottoms to my favorite, favorite, favorite bikini somewhere between hell and the bus. Fuck it, I said to myself. I will just sleep on the train.

But thwarting my restful plans were four little girls sitting behind us, ages 5 to 8, giggling and pulling on our hair. Their mother was sleeping (probably tired after employing a lot of very loud "fucks" throughout the day) and was ignoring our stern requests that the little girls stop giggling and pulling our hair. A very, very fed up MaryEllen turned around and threatened to wake the little girls' mother and the little girls finally moved one seat back. MaryEllen then pointed to the two tallboys of Budweiser that the little girls, ages 5 to 8, were draining while giggling and playing the hair-pulling game. Drunk toddlers. Figures. Par for the course.

I did nap for a bit, and MaryEllen and I parted ways when we arrived at Penn Station. Exhausted, I made my way to the train and there, on the platform, heard an operatic voice, belonging to one Rosa Theresa, the Subway Siren. She sat there with her keyboard, singing away, resplendent in purple capri pants, a purple caftan, and a bright purple streak in her graying hair, a far cry from Long Island Jackie.

I relaxed, smiled and set down my tote to dig a dollar out of my purse. I walked over and placed it in the small plastic bag set up next to the keyboard. Rosa Theresa looked me in the eye as she sang, blurted out a quick "Thank you!" in the middle of a verse and continued on with her music. I smiled again as the train rolled up, pleased that a 30-second subway encounter had me heading home on a high note.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Free beating with every spa service!

Because I am lucky enough to still be cashing in on the whole birthday thing, my friend Sydney offered to take me for a pedicure today. Pedicure! Doesn't the very word just conjure up images of bubblebaths, martinis, and kitten-heeled slippers with those pink marabou feather fluffs on them?

It should, right? It should...

We were heading over to Diva Something Something Nails to have our tootsies pampered. I mean...Diva! Yes! We had to be on the right beauty math tells me that Pedicure + Diva = Something Utterly Fanfuckingtastic!

We fell into a pedi-trance upon entering the salon, most likely a beauty coma induced by the sheer amount of shimmery pink the place was bathed in. Pink + Diva + Pedicure = Beauty Bliss! Exactly!

"We're here for pedicures," I told the petite brunette behind the counter. "One for each of us," added Sydney. Counter girl gave us each a quick glance, made a lazy flip through her appointment book and rolled her eyes back at the full salon. "Bachelorette party," she said, before eyeing us a little more thoroughly. "There's no room for you." Ohmygod....the faint sound of hearts dropping. We would never be bachelorettes and there would be no shimmery pink and there would be no divas and we would never get pedicures. End. Of. World.

We stepped back outside into the hot, harsh New York sun. "Wait," I said, remembering a tiny nail spot I saw a few blocks up. "It isn't 'Diva,' but a pedicure is a pedicure, right?"

Wrong. So. Very. Wrong.

We walked up the block and were immediately seated in the pedi-chairs. My pedi-lady turned on the foot spa thing, and motioned for me to dip my feet in. With gusto, I did so...and OH JESUS, BURNING HOT FLAMING WATER!!! I yelped and whipped my feet out, much to pedi-lady's apparent amusement. "Oh! Oh! I make cold!" she snickered as I studied my red feet.

As she started working on my cuticles, I remembered one thing:

I do not like it when people touch my toes.

I especially do not like it when people start bending my toes, reminding me of one of the main reasons why I do not like it when people touch my toes - they feel double-jointy, like the little foot phalanges weren't connected correctly in the womb. And pedi-lady seems to be enjoying my freaky toe flexibility, bending them all willy-nilly in her quest to remove excess polish, my cuticles, and an approximately 3" layer of epidermis from my toes.

I squirm. I make little uncomfortable noises. I even jerk my feet away in a protective manner. Pedi-lady just continues on with her unique brand of torture, smiling and saying mean things about me and my feet in Chinese to the lady next to her.

It is when she begins to systematically lift each toenail with some medieval torture device and sloooowwwwly, agonizingly scrape New York City from my nailbed - lifting each nail far enough that it makes me believe she might accidentally rip an entire nail off - that I consider kicking her in the head.

But I'm civilized. I let the woman slick on the polish. I gladly walk over to the foot dryer in my regulation-issue paper sandals. I begin talking to Sydney as if I haven't just been traumatized for 15 minutes.

Sydney's pedi-lady then walks over and places two gentle hands on her upper back, giving her a soothing massage. I believe that things will get better from here, that my pedi-lady will come over and rub away all of her indiscretions. I am saved.

Oh! Um. Ow! Errrrrr.... (pedi-lady is kneading my back like I am Rocky preparing for the fight and she is a burly trainer from a seedy part of Philadelphia who has a lot of money riding on this fight)

Oh! Um, don't have to.... (pedi-lady is now pushing my back flesh up and down through my shirt in a manner that makes my entire upper body bob up and down with the back flesh, alarming Sydney, who is near-catatonic with bliss next to me)

uhhhhhhhhh....grmpppppp....schnfffffffff.....owowowowowowowowowowow (pedi-lady is actively punching me in the back. Punching. Me. In. The back. Pummeling me. Taking out a lifetime worth of aggression from working with people's disgusting, calloused, stinky, nasty feet on my back like she is Nanuck of the North and I am the baby seal that she is clubbing slowly to death)

Perhaps there is a reason why massage therapists are licensed to do what they do. And perhaps there is a reason why I will never again in my natural life get a pedicure.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Can I get some eucalyptus with that?

I will say this, friends...I am beginning to hate public transporation. It is beginning to give me hives. It is beginning to make me wish that I lived on a small island in the Pacific and spent my days feasting on mangoes, lounging in rattan chairs, and enjoying the cool breeze provided by the palm leaf fanning over me, courtesy of some oiled-up poolboy named Jacques.

Ok, that has nothing to do with public transportation. I just wanted an excuse to sear into your minds the image of an "oiled-up poolboy named Jacques." My apologies.

Nevertheless, back to my contempt for public transport. Being the kind individual I am, and because I probably would have suffered some severe glares at work on Monday morning had I not done the following, I ventured into Brooklyn on a Saturday night to cover a front desk shift at work. The L train was not running, so I walked to Union Square, took the Q to Canal Street, took the J to Marcy Ave, took the B60 bus to Morgan Ave, and walked the rest of the way.

This took me an hour and I really, truthfully hated 58 of those minutes.

The 2 minutes that I enjoyed, however, were the 2 minutes in which a man lumbered up to the B60 bus stop with his buddy. He was a big tall fellow, probably in his mid-30's, Marine-type haircut, brand new kicks on his feet, saggy man-pris straddling his waist. His biceps could probably crush heads and other large objects and were overrun with tattoos of the faux-tribal, pointy, sharp, barbed-wire-y variety.

Tough Guy (that's what we're calling him here) looked at his buddy and said, "Dude, I'm gonna get laid tonight." He was confident, assured. His big tree trunk thighs would be wrapped around some ladyparts later on. There was an actual exchange of high-fives.

What is missing from the above description (which is pretty mundane, in and of itself) is the fact that Tough Guy was wearing a too-tight (bicep-enhancing, perhaps) grey T-shirt bearing a large cartoon picture of two cute, doe-eyed panda bears munching on eucalyptus leaves on the front, and the sentence "I saw the World Famous Pandas!" on the back. Cartoon. Pandas.

Probably to show off his "sensitive side," is my guess. Good luck, Tough Guy. Good luck.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Goin' Down In Chinatown

Last night I made a valiant attempt to attend a friend-of-a-friend's birthday party. I really did.

I wrote down directions and kept watch over the clock. I showered myself nice 'n clean, applied deoderant with precision, and strapped on the big girl heels. I left the house on time (sometimes a magical feat in and of itself), exactly one half hour before said event was to take place. My route was mapped out, my MetroCard at the ready. It was almost party time.

I descended to the F train platform on 6th Avenue, purse full of dollars, face full of makeup. I waited. I watched a guy warble something remotely countrified at uninterested passengers-to-be. I waited. I saw a girl dip precariously near the yellow edge of the platform, her jokey frat-boyfriend threatening to tip her over. I waited. I slid away from a guy who was surely the Valedictorian of the Samuel L. Jackson Finishing School for Badasses, as he mumbled some crazy shit in a nice, deep (and fitting) baritone. I waited.

Suddenly -
F Train Announcer Lady: "<Static.....the F train .... static .... Queens .... static ....minutes.... static ....please...static...patience."

Valedictorian of SLJFSFB: "crazy mumble...heh heh heh...crazy mumble....i'ts HOOOOOT out there!...crazy mumble....heh heh heh....."

The train eventually came, after I was coated with a slick layer of grimy sweat, and I had about 2 minutes to spare before I was due at the restaurant. No biggie, I thought. There's really a 15-minute cushion built into all party arrivals. 25, if you come bearing gifts. Oh, wait....I didn't have a gift. Shit.

Ten minutes later, I exited in the middle of Chinatown. I know my Chinatown. I know my Chinatown.....I know, shit. I don't read Chinese. It's nighttime. It smells. I don't know my Chinatown. I am somehow now 20 minutes late. No gift.

I will call a cab! Yes! are there no cabs in Chinatown? Why are there so many dark alleys in Chinatown? Why are there so many suspicious-looking men hanging out on the dark corners near the dark alleys in Chinatown? WHY ARE THERE NO CABS IN CHINATOWN!?!? I am somehow now 30 minutes late. And I am developing a blister on the heel of my well-shod right foot.

Walk, walk,! Cab pulls over! Cab lets me in! To the corner of Orchard and Canal, I say! YES!

(8 minutes later)-

Cabbie: "Fuck, miss. I do not think Canal and Orchard join."
Miss: "Yes, they do. My friend's text message tells me so. Please take me there."
Cabbie: "Oh, wait, I am going the wrong way. You take one dollar off! One dollar!!!"
Miss: "Oh....ohhhhkayyyyy...."

(another 8 minutes later, after 2 loops through the edge of Little Italy) -

Cabbie: "Fuck, miss. Fuck. Construction! Fucking construction! I can't do my fucking job...insane cabbie mumble...fucking construction!"
Miss: "Uh, you can let me off here."
Cabbie: "Fuck. No, I get you there. Five dollar! You only give me five!"

(another 5 minutes later, after swerving OVER a curb to avoid hitting an old man on a bicycle)

Cabbie: "Fuck! Look out! Fuck, miss. I can't take you. Five dollars."
Miss: (Realizing that "purse full of dollars" meant "purse full with 8 dollar bills") "grumble....Where IS Orchard and Canal?"
Cabbie: "3 blocks THAT way..." (meaning: 7 that way, 2 that way, and 1 diagonal....oh and, oh, the restaurant is unmarked and ridiculously hidden....)

Lesson 1: Subway platforms are hellish; even more so after 20 minutes of no air
Lesson 2: Count your dollars before you leave the house
Lesson 3: It's best to get out of the cab before the cabbie utters his tenth "fuck"
Lesson 4: "Going down to Chinatown" is not as cutesy as it sounds

Total time spent traveling to party: 80 minutes

Total time spent at party: 30 minutes

Monday, July 17, 2006

fucking summer in NYC - haiku

"Black Kleenex"
Oh, New York City
Full of much dirt, sludge, and grime
I blow black boogers.

"Turning into Auto Mechanic"
Dirt in fingernails
No matter how hard I scrub
Hand me the noose, please

"Public Transpor-suck-tion"
Filthy subway cars
Homicidal feelings start
Thank god it's my stop

"Ode to Freon"
Air conditioner
Sweet manna, golden savior
I need you now, bitch

"Sominex, Please"
City of no sleep
The heat index keeps me up
Sweat in my ass crack

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

A Ceviche Scorned

As I sit here typing this, I am considering a quick little fall to the knees to pray to The Ecuadorian Lunch Lady so that she may not deny me the fruits de mer of her labor as punishment for my recent ceviche indiscretion.

It all kicked off two months ago, with my arrival at the new job. I soon became a member of the noontime group congregated outside, piled behind a hulking minivan and waving dollars in the air, beseeching "por favor" in hopes that there was enough of the good stuff to go around for lunch.

Fridays are the Golden Day, when you double-check to make sure your wallet carries the six bucks that guarantees you a one-way ticket to a culinary Ecuadorian Eden - ceviche. A bowl of the warmest, softest, fluffiest rice ever to puff up on this earth; a salty, greasy bag of homemade corn nuts; and the crowning jewel - a large, full container brimming with lime juice, red onions, cilantro, tomatoes, and gorgeous shrimp.

You take your stash and steal off to the nearest office, picnic table, corner...anywhere you can be alone to slowly blend the rice in, dipping your spoon deep in the mix and soaking in the goddamn glorious flavor.

(Oh, god...I need a moment...)

The other day, I had ceviche on the brain. I had just finished telling a friend the day before about The Ecuadorian Lunch Lady's magical powers, when I passed by a Mexican restaurant. An enchilada? Maybe. A taco? Quite possibly...

But wait...was that...ceviche on the menu? Did I dare? Oh! And it came on a tostada! "The Ecuadorian Lunch Lady will never know," I rationalized. (Although, it can be said that having an internal monologue about stepping outside of one's ceviche paradigm is probably not rationalizable at all.)

I slowly worked my way through a mediocre basket of chips, waiting... hoping. And then it happened. The promised dish arrived on a hard, burnt corn disc, surrounded by wilty lettuce leaves and a pile of something greenish-brownish. It came devoid of shrimp, afraid of flavor, and instead was sprinkled with a generous helping of what appeared to be the cancerous bits of a dead eel.

It also came along with a bout of 10-hour gut rot that made me believe that The Ecuadorian Lunch Lady will most definitely put a hex on you for daring to betray her prized ceviche.

Lesson learned: You don't fuck around with ceviche, and copious amounts of Immodium AD will not cure ceviche hexes

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

M'am - Step Away From The Sudafed

Jeeeeeeeeeeeesus Chriiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiist, people.

I woke up in what can only be called a foul mood, furthered by the fact that my body is enjoying a nice vacation from health. On my way to work, I stopped by the crappy CVS and decided to get some Sudafed.

Coughing and sniffling my way to the counter, I had my hand on my credit card when the Most Surly CVS Worker In The World held up my dual pack of generic CVS-brand Daytime and Nighttime Cold Medicine and said,

"M'am, this is a RESTRICTED ITEM [emphasis totally hers], I CANNOT let you buy this until you show me PROOF that you are a NEW YORK RESIDENT with your NEW YORK STATE DRIVER'S LICENSE."

I looked at her dumbfounded, coughed a little phlegm up for good measure, and said, "But I live around the corner. And I'm sick. And I have proof of address."

A self-satisfied smile spread across her face, pleased that she caught another pseudoephedrine druggie red-handed. "M'am, you CANNOT buy this medicine if you DO NOT HAVE a NY STATE DRIVER'S LICENSE."

And then, just to further prove her might, she pointed at the bottles of generic CVS brand Nighttime and Daytime Cold Medicine and smugly placed them on the shelf behind her.


Sunday, March 26, 2006

Everybody Fung Wah Tonight

There are a few things a person generally does before boarding a crowded bus for a 4-hour ride, and those things almost often involve personal hygiene.

But perhaps I generalize, perhaps not everyone thinks this way. No, perhaps there is one dirty M.I.T. nerd out there who would be so bold as to reek of B.O. while poring over his fucking Astronomical Geophysics From Mars Advanced Algorithms book during said 4-hour ride back to NY. And not only would this man - so bold - reek of B.O., but he would also have the goddamned worst breath ever breathed on the planet, and he would exhale through is mouth every time he turned a corner on an astronomical geophysics from Mars advanced algorithm. It would sound like this: "huuuuuuuuuuuffffffff" and smell like this: uuuuuuuuuugh.

And that said, when it seemed as if he could assault the olfactories no more, stinky M.I.T. genius gently ruffles a small red bag and produces a bagel. With peanut butter on it. The most goddamned potent peanut butter to ever exist. And now the peanut butter is mingling with the B.O. and the uuuuuuuuuuugh and there is no room to breathe. None.

And to cap it all off, dear friends? To cap it all off?

He slowly turns his head to the window after polishing off the putrid peanut butter bagel and lets out the slowest, squeakiest, motherfucking smelliest fart to ever emerge from a person's sphincter.

This is when I literally sat with my head in the aisle, my finger cradled under my nose, praying for Conneticut to speed by a little faster.