Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Got Poked for Valentine's

I think Valentine’s is like New Year’s never lives up to the hype. Once you shrug your shoulder to the romantic holidays, that’s when it really starts to get interesting.

I’ll take you back to Valentine’s 1999. I decided to move to New York. I’m not sure why, maybe to avoid the holiday all together, but Feb. 14th was the day I chose to book my flight. On the way from JFK airport, my cab got in a fender bender.

The furious driver of the other cab got out and walked to my driver's window. He was yelling and gesturing. He boldly went where no other profanity had gone before. He was cursing so much, the sentences didn’t even make sense.

I had six bags of heavy luggage in the trunk and there wasn’t a chance in hell that I was getting out to get another cab. My driver didn’t get out either. Instead he cracked his window about half an inch to listen to the guy. My driver calmly smiled at the man. During pauses, he alternated between two sentences in broken English. One was “Oh, I so sorry” the other was “Happy Valentine’s Day.”

At the time, I was horrified and amused that they just drove off afterwards. Now, as I look back, I’m shocked that they even stopped at all.

Now we go back merely a year to Valentine’s 2005.

My husband, Art, sweetly researched to find the poshist vegetarian restaurant in NYC. Not because I’m still a vegetarian, but because I'm always begging him to go to one. “Let’s eat Vegan” or “There’s this new macrobiotic place I want to try…”

He did the right thing. He planned ahead. He was thoughtful. Picked out a place he thought I would like. He couldn't get reservations until 9 or 10. So beforehand we went to a fund-raiser for a friend's softball team. I vaguely remember the server saying that he was going to 'hook me up'. I realized later that the only thing I could have potentially been hooked up to was a hospital IV.

By the time we got to the restaurant I was so sauced, I could hardly walk to the table, much less carry on a conversation. While we ate hundreds of dollars worth of lettuce, I stared blankly out the window at the McDonald's across the street and salivated over my secret dream of fries. There's a reason that there are no 24 hour vegan restaurants. No one is going out at 2 am looking for a tofu burger.

Ahhh, romantic Valentine’s of yester-year.

So, this year, I said no swanky dinners. Why don’t we get a massage, then order in? He suggested going to the Turkish bath house in the East Village.

I was elated. “I'm going to get the Platza Oak Leaf special treatment!”

I don’t know how this can be classified as a special treatment when it is actually described on their website as the ‘platza specialist will scrub you (actually beat you) with a broom made of fresh oak leaves.’ No, I did not alter any of the text, 'actually beat you' is part of the description. I guess it’s a special treatment, kind of like the silent treatment or water-torture treatment.

Alas, nothing says Happy Valentine's Day like getting spanked by a professional, and I couldn’t wait.

Although Art had the foresight to call and make sure they were open, he neglected to find out how late they were open. They closed early for a private party. So, instead we roamed around the East Village where he treated me to a piercing and dinner.

It started out as one of those casual comments such as “I need to stop at an ATM before dinner” but it was “Let's stop at this piercing salon before we eat…”

Have you ever done something and not remembered why? Like you'll walk past the kitchen and realize you left milk on top of the microwave instead of in the frig and you think, "huh, why'd I do that?" That's what I think when I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror.

He didn’t think I’d really go through with it, and the strange part is neither did I.

When I walked in, the guy was eating Pad Thai. I asked him a few questions, and admitted to the fact that I would most likely chicken out.

He took me in a back room and jabbed a rod through my snout as a confused tears fell from my right eye. Not the left, no, my left eye is tough! My left eye was looking at my right eye yelling ‘Whimp! Get a hold of yourself!’

I wondered if the guy piercing me might not be much different than me. Did he cry like a school girl when he got the skull tattooed on the back of his hand? Did his right eye betray the No Cry Pact with his left during his nose ring or eyebrow piercings? Was he worried that when his parents saw him, they would joke, “boy, it looks like you fell into a tackle box!”

He was done piercing and went back to eating Pad Thai. Yep, put the fork down, stuck his finger in my nose, punctured it, then went back to dinner. The thought was revolting. But then, am I any less disgusting? Sitting in my living room, eating Bhindi Masala off the coffee table while watching an autopsy on CSI?

Although I’m unfortunately not able to report that I got spanked by a specialist on Valentine’s Day, I can say that I got poked by a professional.

Volcanic Coffee

Monday night I came home and Art proudly asked, "Did you notice the steps?" He had shoveled all the snow off the steps outside and put salt down. I could tell by his enthusiasm that he was so pleased that his hard work ensured that neither one of us would bust our ass when we left in the morning.

At midnight, I was trying to send him an e-card at my computer and I heard him coming downstairs to the living room. As I typed faster, all of a sudden I heard, "BAM...baddah bam-bam!"

I turned around just in time to see his arms and legs in the air and his coffee shooting out of his cup like a brown volcano. He landed with legs and arms still frozen in the air, sitting in a pool of coffee, and holding his breath with his face all squished up . His body was like the letter V for several seconds. While I quickly debated about calling an ambulance vs. getting a cab to the hospital, he finally exhaled "aaaaahhhhhh, my toe!"

First of all, I can't believe he fell down half a flight of stairs and all he hurt was his toe. I thought for sure we'd be out shopping for a new hip this week. After he spoke, it was a littler harder to imagine the 911 call, "yes, come quickly, send an Ambulance, he fell and hurt his...what honey? ....his toe! His TOE! Oh my God! It might be broken. I'm scared to move him... help, send someone QUICK!"

Once ice and Neosporin had been administered he tooted his own horn. "Hey, did you notice I didn't get mad and cuss like I normally do when I'm hurt?" I hadn't noticed. And that's the shame of human nature. When someone is doing something wrong you notice it like a giant flashing neon sign, whereas doing the right thing gets the attention of a small post-it.

With his foot propped he went to bed without showering. I tried to overlook the fact that he smelled like a giant coffee cup. Do you know how hard it is to fall asleep to the smell of coffee? I felt like I was sleeping in a diner booth.

In the middle of the night, I woke up because he's simultaneously talking in his sleep, rowing and smiling. As I'm watching him I realize there really is a separation of right and left brain because my mind began to wander in two separate directions. I am concurrently thinking things like, "I'm hungry. I want some waffles!" and "Is something burning? The house is on fire!" Then simultaneous panic thoughts, "Oh no, we don't have any maple syrup!" and "Where are our emergency exits if we can't get out the front door?" And I was able to jointly sort logistics "Is the rusty old fire escape structurally safe enough to use?" and "how old are those frozen waffles in the frig?"

Half convinced I'm in some coffee-sniffing dream-induced insanity and the other half convinced that downstairs is now a blazing inferno, I finally pull the plug on his crew dreams.

"Hey, does it smell like something is burning?"

"Huh?" He shoots out of bed and shouts, "Yeah, something's burning! Something's on fire!"

Then, like the emperor, he realizes he has on no clothes, "You go check it out!"


"I'm not dressed."

I don't know if I went to check it out so that the arsenic burglar wouldn't see his manhood, or if I was protecting his willy from any unnecessary smoke inhalation, but I open the door and realized there was indeed smoke. Horror filled me as I recognized the familiar smell. Someone had burnt a perfectly good waffle.

I walked all around the house and couldn't find where it came from because the smell was everywhere. I think the neighbors must have gotten the middle of the night munchies, then fallen back asleep before they finished cooking.

One morning a month ago I woke up to the yummy smell of pancakes and Art was already up, so I thought he was going to bring me breakfast in bed, but alas, it was just the neighbors torturing me. It's one thing to hear your neighbors hammering, playing their crummy music and having sex, but it's more of an intrusion to smell them. I think there should be some sort of smell ordenance passed. Although, I envision the cop showing up at the door being more amused than threatening, "excuse me sir, we got a call about a waffle complaint...mind if I come in and take a sniff around?"


This past weekend it snowed two feet. Most normal adults dread snow because it means ass-busting potential as you walk to work. It means shovelling and salting. It means taking longer to get anywhere. It means stores are closed. But for me, it meant sledding!

This is where me and my husband differ. He saw the giant flakes falling from the sky as a perfect excuse not to leave the house for two days. I saw it as the perfect excuse TO leave.

He humored me and we walked to the park as I hummed and drug my red plastic sled. There were a lot of people out. I realized that all the people out in the snow with sleds had something I did not...children. Yes, kids everywhere. I felt like the the kid at roll-a-rink with no skates watching everyone else have fun.

Should we get a kid? And how could I find one before the snow melted or got dirty? I decided that there should be some service that matches up parents who need a break with adults who temporarily need a kid. Everyone has those times in their life when they wish they had someone under 6 with them. Like when you go to see a G-rated movie, or wait in line for the new Harry Potter book, or excitedly buy ice-cream.

I looked so silly - childless and sledding. Who was I kidding? It was really pathetic because I also realized that where I live is too flat to actually gain any momentum. And there's nothing more pathetic than a 32 year-old sitting in the snow on a stationary plastic sled.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Groundhog Day

Yesterday was a hellacious day for me. Do people still use the word hellacious? If they don't then that makes it even more appropriate, because that's just the kind of day it was.

I started off the day with the dreaded task of calling one of my acting teachers to say I wouldn't be taking classes in Feb. I wanted to put it off another day, but I knew that would only make things worse. I explained that I had been writing a lot and doing stand up. I felt I was on a roll and didn't want to stop. I didn't hear disappointment in her voice, I didn't hear annoyance, no I heard…disbelief. She didn't believe me! Did she not believe the writing or the comedy?

I didn't have time to ponder it any longer, or I would be late for work.

At work, I was standing in the cafeteria waiting for an omelet. When what to my wandering eyes should appear beside me, but the head of HR. I was about to e-mail her anyway, because she has a job posted that I want. I did the "hi, remember me, I met with you…"

Blank stare.

It was one of those situations where you know you should just stop talking and cut your social losses, but something deep within you makes you talk more, even though you know you are digging a socially impaired ditch. Turns out, she didn't remember me, and didn't even pretend to remember me. All she wanted was to quietly get her breakfast in peace and go eat it in the office with the door closed. Her body language explains this all to me.

The next item on my list of Today's Humiliations was to stop by and say hello to a Publisher that I previously worked for. Somewhere in the "hey, how's it going" my writing came up and I excitedly went into detail about it. However, instead of feeling like a confident professional pursuing her craft, I slowly realized I was a five year old kid standing in my mother's heels pretending to be an adult. Mid-sentence, the reality of the fact that I was speaking with an actual publisher like I was Sedaris sunk in…

"Well, I've had more time to focus on my writing, which has been great…(what the hell am I saying, who do I think I am? Oh no, am I shrinking?)….and I stawted wwwriting my book, and after a hundwed pages, I took a bweak to do a scweenpway…and the nice wady at the bank gave me a lolli-pop…"

I looked in my calendar after all this. It was Groundhog's Day…it was all beginning to make sense. It wasn't my fault. No, I wasn't an awkward freak, it was just the universe having a laugh. It was nature's own April Fool's Day.

After work I went to buy a birthday card for someone and saw this Emerson quote card, which was exactly what I needed to read.

"Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. You shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense."

Yes, my blunders were over. They were to be forgotten. Tomorrow, yes tomorrow is a new day! How liberating!

Ah, but my day was not over.

I then met a girl I used to babysit for coffee. Somewhere in our conversation, we realized we had applied for the same job. Now, this isn't absurd because what are the odds of two people who know each other randomly applying for the same job. No, this didn't bother me because I was competing for a job with someone I knew. No, this bothered me because she is seven years YOUNGER and I used to babysit her! It was like everything I had suspected about my career decisions was official, because you know your career path has had a lot of wrong turns and dead-ends when you and someone you used to babysit apply for the same job!

After this, Mother Nature got one last belly laugh at the movies. My husband and I scouted out seats. The ones we wanted involved another couple getting up. They stood to let us by. I needed to go to the bathroom, so rather than make them get up twice I waited to hand Art my purse.

Rather than tell me man:
a.) Sorry sir, I'm not sitting yet, so you may sit down, or
b.) At ease, soldier
c.) Or c, the best yet, say nothing and walk off, I instead went for option D.
d.) I'm going to the bathroom.

This is the point where I made eye contact and realized that he was horrified. He had a disgusted and appalled look on his face. I don't know if he thought I was currently going to the bathroom in my pants, or the mere fact that one would announce one's restroom schedule to a stranger could generate such a shocked face. I also realized at this same moment that I knew him.

I don't know if I previously worked with him at one of my dead-end jobs or if he was a b-list actor, but I had seen this offended face before.

Ah, but what can you do? Tomorrow is another day, an absurd one, but another day none-the-less.