I don't know what's worse: that a little girl in the East Village, dressed for Hallowe'en as some sort of superhero (red leotard and cape), had camel toe ... or that I noticed it.
It's a tricky one.
But either way, it was no treat.
I just watched Born Rich, an HBO "America Undercover" documentary. No doubt you've read about it elsewhere, so I won't provide background.
And you know what, I won't even say what I thought of these rich kids (or "plutobrats", as they've been called in the press). Or the drone who made the movie. I planned to write about them, but really, they were the biggest collection of dimwitted bores I've ever seen on screen.
I will say this, however: With all that money, what's up with all the bad, bad teeth?
At first glance, she appears to be a damsel in distress, awaiting a kind passerby's assistance:
Closer inspection, however, reveals that she's just a trollop with her skirt hiked way up, sprawled out and showin' her stuff to anyone who passes by:
Even Georgia O'Keefe would blush:
A little dignity would be nice. And some underwear. Please.
You know who can blow me? Who can, at the very least, bite me?
Any movie, show, or book that has as its surprise "twist" ending something about how it was "all just a dream". Or how the action only existed inside the mind of a schizophrenic, so it didn't actually happen in real life, but was just a manifestation of his mental illness.
Whenever I spend time watching or reading something that ends like that, I want to take everyone involved with the idea and grate their faces, noses first, against a coarse cheese grater, while yelling, "This is not a dream! No, this is not a dream!"
The thing about food, and about food in a world-class city like the one I'm ridiculously fortunate to live in, is not only that it's available in outrageous abundance, but it's available in all shapes, forms, sizes, varieties, tastes, price ranges, and settings. That whole myth about New York being overpriced isn't necessarily true. You just have to know how to eat, where to eat, and how not to be taken advantage of. Basically you have to do a little bit of research, which isn't that difficult to do given the advent of this thing they call the internet and these crazy innovations called books. Books are free for the browsing, so even if you don't have the bucks to drop on books, you can leaf through some of them at a Barnes & Noble without being hassled. Unless, of course, you're setting them on fire as you're leafing through them. Then you'll run into a bit of a problem.
But let's just say you're reasonably intelligent. You're not a slackjawed nincompoop. You have the ability to think for yourself, at least marginally. You know what you like to eat, you know the kind of restaurant you enjoy, and you know how much money you have in your wallet. You also know how you like to dress when you eat. So, adding all these variables together, and doing a minimum of brain- or legwork, you should be able to come up with a setting in which to partake of a meal.
So why is it that no matter where I go, I am witness to someone complaining about something in a restaurant? I don't mean a fork that's less than clean, or someone smoking in the next booth in a no-smoking section, or the fact that there's a fly in your soup (does that ever really happen?). I mean stuff like what I witnessed on Saturday night at Zen Palate.
It's a vegetarian restaurant. Vegan. It's got an Asian flair. The flavors are incredible, the service is impeccable, the decor is tasteful and comfortable. Every time I've been there, I've had a dining experience par excellence. Although it had been about a year since the DOG and I were there, the owner and waiters remembered us and greeted us heartily. They welcomed us warmly, full of bonhomie. In fact, they're so nice, respectful, and considerate that after our dinner, when the DOG and I were already a few blocks away, the owner of the restaurant ran up to us with the DOG's scarf, which he had left behind at our table. We were blown away by this gesture, and impressed that he had even found us given that this isn't a two-bit town consisting only of Main Street and Maple Lane but then again, that's the kind of people who run the place. Truly "good people", as my father would say.
So, anyway, it's a vegan restaurant. They play New Age sort of music that you can barely hear, but it adds a nice sort of easy flow to complement the food. But some pinched-face schmuck at a neighboring table was offended by it and called a waiter over to command, in an ill-mannered voice completely devoid of humor, that the music either be changed or turned down. Because, of course, this man, who also had to question the waiter about the methods of each tofu dish's preparation, was clearly the center of the universe.
(Tip for the men: Nothing shouts "pussy" louder than a man asking how tofu is prepared. Except, of course, when he sniffs at the word "sautéed" and asks to have it steamed.)
His companion ordered a plate of steamed vegetables (please, don't even get me started on that) as her entrée, and it came with some sort of dressing or sauce on the side. "Don't you have any other options?" Mr. Sourpuss asked with raised eyebrows, downturned mouth, and more than just a touch of disdain. (Because, of course, the woman was too meek to speak up for herself.)
"I've got an option for you, you haughty bastard," I whispered to the DOG. "How about my foot up your ass. Or, if that's not to your liking, how about I rub your face into a nice stucco wall. Or how about this novel idea: A different restaurant."
But this couple wasn't the only one that should have taken their business elsewhere. To my left were two women. They appeared to be a mother/daughter combo. The daughter ordered a dish that contained tempura mushrooms, and when it came out, she sneered at it and sat there as if the waiter had just plunked down a steaming dish of braised tripe. She couldn't even touch the table surrounding the plate. It was that offensive.
She stared down at her dish in disbelief. Apparently her brain was incapable of processing the information that "tempura" apparently has something to do with fried food. She called the waiter over. "Take this away," she said. "Can you just bring me a salad?" I did not hear what the waiter said, but he looked a little confused. "Is this what I ordered?" the girl asked, impatience and a bit of hysteria creeping into her voice. The waiter assured her it was. "Just bring me a salad," she repeated, and waved her hand in dismissal at the plate of food before her.
Now, listen, you uppity motherfuckers. This is a specialty restaurant. When you go to a place like this, you know what you're in for. You either read the menu posted by the front door if you're not familiar with the place, or you come to the restaurant equipped with the knowledge that it's Asian vegan food. You come prepared to expect something different from your usual "chow". You don't come to this place expecting Houlihan's. And if you do, then you're better off going to Houlihan's in the first place. (Which, by the way, is where the daughter belonged, given her dirty sneakers and frayed pants. But again, don't get me started on the way people dress when they go out to eat.)
I'm a big proponent of "When in Rome ...". When you're in a nice restaurant, being treated like royalty by graceful, accommodating people, act in kind. When you're in a restaurant, remember you're in a restaurant and the items on the menu are there for a reason. If you're going to find fault with everything about the place, from the music to the menu to the food preparation and beyond, then you always have the option of staying home.
It's that time of year again. Time for the ever-popular and, as some have told me, scary "pumpkinhead" to present itself, in keeping with the season.
So check it out, above. You can't miss it. And as a special treat, if you hover over the pumpkinhead image, you will see the comforting familiar face you're used to seeing.
See, it's not all about fright. It's also about delight. Who says I can't please all of the people all of the time?
You are dying to know what I ate for my birthday. I know you are. You think I suspended my usual relative veganism and devoured a bacon bison burger with a side of pork rind-encrusted lard croquettes deep-fried in beef tallow. You think I indulged in a bachhanalian feast complete with slaughtered lamb that arrived at my table without mint jelly. At the very least you think I broke down and licked a spinning rotisserie recently denuded of shwarma.
Well, you're wrong. I did indulge in quite a feast, but one that left the beasts alone, as always. I did not allow my brother to lead me astray and eat eggs again. After all, I may be 40 now, but that doesn't mean I'm necessarily senile.
So what did I eat? Well, I'll show you two lunches and one cake. There was more food involved during the week, but I did not photograph all of it. And I did not use my camera for my birthday dinner Saturday night. I draw the line somewhere with the photos. If I were to take photos at dinner, I'd be one step away from handing the camera to my waiter or another restaurant patron and asking one of them to take a picture of me and the DOG grinning maniacally over our Olive Garden breadsticks. There is, after all, a time and place for everything.
Here is some of what I enjoyed during the hours appropriate for taking food fotos:
I dug into this delight at Village Natural, where I think I can now consider myself a "regular". If you go through my recent archives, you will find pictorial evidence of my having been there before. You will also note, if you're savvy, that a lot of the food looks pretty much the same. I assure you the similarities are only visual and do not cross over to taste.
Yesterday we had lunch at Gobo, where we've only been once before. It was sensational. I created a sensation by taking photos of my food. The woman to my left (it was banquette seating, which I loathe, but which I'm willing to put up with if the food is good enough, which it is) apparently was visiting from a land to which cameras have not yet been introduced. She kept looking over at me like I was dipping baby fingers into cheese fondue. Please.
Here is what was so photo-worthy:
Not pictured are the seitan skewers with green tea mustard sauce and coconut whole grain rice with raisins. Trust me when I tell you they were stunners, both visually and tastebuddily.
To my right, a couple of women were celebrating one of their birthdays. They'd finished their lunch and were sharing a huge slice of chocolate layer cake, enjoying it with abandon. I asked them if the cake was as good as it looked, and they assured me it was. I told them it was my birthday too, and we shared shrieks and handshakes. When they left, I told them I was going to reach over and take the part of the cake they hadn't finished, and they both said, "Oh! Would you like it? It's delicious!" I was tempted, and I actually considered it, but I knew there was a cake waiting for me at home.
Here it is:
It's a chocolate truffle cake. I'm willing to bet your life it's not vegan. But you see, when it comes to baked goods, although I do like the vegan stuff, I do relax the rules.* Oh so "rich" (apologies to my mom and sister, who hate that description). So dense it has its own spot on the periodic table of elements. And tas-tay? You bet! (Each candle bore the responsibility of representing ten years. How ambitious!)
All of this food is bound to make you hungry, so, please, be my guest and lick your computer screen. I've arranged for today's images to be tasteable. Consider it my gift to you.
* Note to my steadfast skeptic brother: Remember those fantastic apple crumb things and other treats that the DOG and I brought to your fun-time country house about a year ago? They were vegan. And you raved. So be quiet. Be. Quiet. Or else I'll force you to eat tofu scramble.
Last year on this day (my birthday, in case you haven't been paying attention or this is your first time here), I trotted out a very popular post I'd written a couple of months earlier, entitled "Crappy Birthday to You". Those were the days I allowed comments on this site, and it collected its fair share. I still receive email about it, and other people are still linking to it, so I take that as an indication that I should start a tradition by posting it every year on my own birthday.
So here, without further pomp and/or circumstance, but with a liberal sprinkling of confetti befitting the occasion, I present ... Crappy Birthday to You.
* * *
My birthday has been just lovely. And true to a new tradition on this site, I will include photos of two of the birthday lunches I've indulged in this weekend. Oh, and there will be cake too. I haven't seen the cake yet, but I'm sure it's a beaut.
Thank you to everyone who acknowledged my birthday in some fashion whether via email, card, gift, or drawing on my For the Refrigerator page. Thank you to those of you who announced my birthday on your own sites. I appreciate all of it more than I'll ever let on.
And to those of you who will use the excuse that you sent me birthday greetings via telepathy, well, I'm sorry but that doesn't cut it. You should know those kinds of messages can't travel through the big bouquets of mylar balloons surrounding me.
Enjoy your Sunday, whatever you're doing. If you're eating a stale Tastykake cupcake (the ones that used to be the size of a "preemie"'s head but are now about the size of an Oreo), pretend it's in honor of me, even if it's not, so I won't have to hate you for refusing to participate in the gala that is my birthday.
This may very well be my last post before I am officially not this age anymore. So just to play it safe and let's face it, kids, you have to these days, oh how you have to! I thought I'd just touch base (a phrase I hate) and say, "It's been nice knowing you."
Because let's face it. I'm going to be over the hill come Sunday. If I even make it over, that is. Hey, you may be turning your clocks back on Sunday, but my clock will be marching ahead, with one foot in the grave, another on a rollerskate, another on a banana peel, another on an oil slick, and yet another on something decidedly revolting that may or not be ooze from an unidentified orifice of a street person. That makes quite a few legs for my clock. And me? Well, I'm on my last.
Go out and enjoy your impetuous youth tonight. As for me, I'm just waiting for Sunday morning when I wake up, look down, and see that somehow, overnight, my feet pajamas have "morphed" into an oversized T-shirt proclaiming I'm FORTY ... AND LOVIN' IT!.
Good night, youngsters.
All right. So it's almost here. The day. A day that has people around me in a flurry, all a-twitter and agog and a-gogo. Gaga!
My date of birth. The day the first digit in my age changes! A day that doesn't come 'round more than a couple of handfuls in a person's life. It's even more exciting than when a car's odometer "turns over"!
Sunday's the day. The 26th. So for those of you who think you've missed it, well, don't sweat it. Don't fret it. Just don't you forget it.
Circle it in red. Circle it in blue. Circle it in purple. Or use one of those four-color Bic pens, and do it up with four-color "flava". Better yet, get your hands on a box of 64 crayons and circle it in burnt sienna. That'd make me happy. And, after all, you want me to be happy as the hip hap happiest of days approaches, don't you?
Sure you do.
Oh, and the circle doesn't even have to be a circle, per se. You can use a heart, a rhombus, a scalene triangle, or any shape you like. (Even a phallic one, because I know you're dying to do it.)
Just don't forget, OK? There's nothing that will make me hate you more than if you don't remember my birthday. And remind me that you remember!
P.S. I can't believe that come next week, I won't be a teen anymore!
- American Beauty
- Punch-Drunk Love
P.S. I said three. Kindly refrain from reminding me of others that I "forgot".
Note: This photo, like all others of the clock tower, has a permanent home in Clock Watch.
If you're unskilled with knives and don't dare risk losing one of your pretty fingers while trying to slice a mango properly in order to enjoy a healthful and tasty mid-afternoon snack, then I suppose you have no choice but to do what I did. You have no option other than to peel the skin off with a few of your fingers (still pretty for having not been rendered bloody stubs thanks to clumsy knife-wielding) and then to lift the fruit to your face with both hands, preferably in the specific direction of your gaping maw, and gnaw through it like a ravenous, blood-thirsty cannibal.
Try to ignore the fact that tearing through the mango's pulpy flesh is not unlike tearing through that of, say, size-wise, a lemur's head. Try not to think about it. Remember, it's a mango, and the sticky liquid that's drooling from your lips, dripping down your chin, and running rivers between your fingers is just mango juice and not animal blood.
And the next time you find yourself in the company of a lemur and feel the need to snack, try slicing it carefully with a sharp knife and eating it primly with a dainty fork from a pretty dessert plate so you aren't reminded of mango carnage.
Bonus: Is this the sound of someone eating a mango? Or the sound of a lemur? You tell me.
You do know that if you heat your screen while visiting my site, you can read invisible messages that I typed using my lemon juice keyboard, right?
I can't tell you the precise temperature, so melting your monitor is a risk you'll just have to take.
But I assure you it's worth it!
I miss the good old days, when we called them Siamese Twins without apology and they were joined in a wider variety of places than just the head. I realize they have very little control over the situation since they're babies and thus don't have the vocabulary to express themselves fully, but I'm sure that if they were capable of communicating from within the womb, they'd put their heads together and ask to be joined elsewhere.
But the way it stands now, this joined-at-the-head stuff is just so overdone. Call me a traditionalist, but I vote for a return to the good old-fashioned Chang and Eng style. It may not seem creative by today's standards, but they were way ahead of their time!
Dear First-Floor Yoga Studio Tenants:
Is it really necessary for you to make so much outside noise to find inner peace? Aren't your own heartbeats sufficient percussion? I find it curious that you continue to disturb my peace on the quest for your own.
In addition, when you hose off the sidewalk in front of your door, would it hurt you to make sure you don't drench your neighbor's newspaper that's waiting for him on the step just outside his?
How is it that even with a "third eye", you somehow still can't see what's going on in the real world outside yourselves?
Wishing you all dead,
I am as much a woman of my word as I am a lady who lunches, so without further fanfare, I present this week's lunch line-up:
Kate's Joint, Tofu Steak Au Poivre
13 October 2003
So far I have managed to avoid bringing a dog-eared volume of "beat" poetry I just bought from some tattered guy on East Fourth Street, to this place, so I could conspicuously place it on the table by my water glass, in a transparent attempt to conform with the self-conscious non-conformists always in attendance. The only excitement at my table, other than the food, was my always darling, ever charming friend Kyria.
Applejack Diner, Baked Potato and Broccoli
15 October 2003
More fun than it looks, I promise. Perhaps because it was enjoyed in the company of my effervescent friend "L". The broccoli had more personality than the catatonic cashier at Rizzoli that afternoon, and the potato was more glamorous than the "personality" who dropped by the bookstore to sign his book.
Vynl, Thai Red Curry with Tofu
17 October 2003
I'd been meaning to try Vynl for a while. True to what I'd read about it, it was indeed kitschy, but not nearly as cluttered as I'd anticipated. Menus are printed inside old album (LP) covers. (Note to younger readers: Albums may not be as convenient as CDs, but their covers are a lot easier to roll joints on than "jewel cases". This, coming from a real hardcore burnout, yeah.) This is a fun place, even if you're by yourself, but if you come with friends it's a great place to pose. At least that's what I gathered from everyone else around me. (Oh, and the french fries, which I didn't have, looked great.)
Cupcake Cafe, Chocolate Cupcake
17 October 2003
My friend "C" has been raving about Cupcake Cafe for quite some time and recently told me she bought her girlfriend a birthday cake here that was out of this world. I had to try the cupcakes, she said. The frosting was not to be believed. Well, I hate to say this, but I won't be believing C much anymore. This cupcake looked very promising, but it didn't have much to offer other than a pretty face. In its defense, though, I'm not really much of a cupcake person, so you may not want to believe me either.
Village Mingala, Tamin Let-Thoke
18 October 2003
The DOG and I loved the food at this place so much when we first went there two weeks ago that we just had to go back this afternoon. Although I was tempted to replay my order, I went with a slightly different dish. Still, we did get the tofu kyaw again, because it was so dreamy. The DOG had kow swear kyaw with shrimp. The waiter suggested that I get the "lunch special" version of my dish, but I insisted on the regular order. When he came to clear our empty plates later, he was genuinely impressed that I'd managed to finish mine. I am so proud.
Village Mingala, Buddha
18 October 2003
No, he wasn't on the menu, but he was seated by our table. We contributed 25 cents to his worthy cause. (He's laughing like mad here because just before I snapped this photo, I tried to slip him a dollar bill somewhere that tickled!) We didn't expect to get much in return, so you can imagine our surprise and delight when he engaged us in witty conversation throughout our lunch. (Talk about "Buddha's Delight"!) And yes, he's just as dusty as he is busty!
You know how sometimes, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, you'll take a shine to a certain food and want to eat it all the time? And how you say to yourself, "My god, I never realized how delicious tuna fish is! I really should eat this more often!" and so you do?
Well, that's the way I am right now with FreeCell. Yes, that FreeCell. The nifty little card game that comes with the computer. The one your grandfather thinks is the cat's pajamas because it's kinda like a new-fangled Solitaire!
Every once in a while I notice it on the computer and think, "I haven't played that in so long!" and then I start playing it again. And oh how good it tastes! Ever since I reacquainted myself with it a few weeks ago, I've been enamored of it again. "Why did I ever stop playing this?" I asked myself one night at 3:15 a.m., when I was on a winning streak and had won 796 games out of 812 in one session. "It's marvelous fun!"
And then I had a bacon cheeseburger!
P.S. Don't be alarmed. Just like with a favored food item, this too will pass, and one day I'll wake up and lose my appetite for FreeCell. And then I'll move on to something bigger and better, like Jumble!
Earlier this week (the day of the thrilling André Leon Talley sighting), I bought a magazine at Rizzoli. I handed the cashier the money with a smile. She took it, placed the magazine in a bag, and handed me the bag and the receipt. All without a word. Not even a grunt. Or a hum. I don't think she even blinked.
"Oh, you are so welcome!" I said, and my friend L and I left the store.
"What the hell is everyone's problem?" I said to L. "Doesn't anybody know how to say 'thank you' anymore? Is it that difficult?"
As we walked along 57th Street, on a block lined with fancy stores, we ranted about a lack of civility. About courtesy not being common. About how we know this is New York, but that's no excuse. Of course, this is nothing new, and I've written about it before (see here and here). But still, every time I experience or witness a shameful lack of the most basic of manners, I am shocked.
"You know," I said, "it's a shame I won't be able to go back to Rizzoli now, because it's a really beautiful place. But I refuse to return to a store where the customers aren't thanked. I'll just have to add it to the list!"
"You'll never leave the house, then," L said.
At first I thought she was right. But then I realized that there are places where customers are treated better than others, where a purchase and a person are recognized. And although the places that treat customers well (or at least better) may not be as conveniently located, I will go out of my way to patronize them, even if, in some instances, the purchases cost a little more. But that's quite all right. Sometimes that's the price you pay.
To those stores who don't thank me, I say no thank you. They won't make me stay on this side of the doors of my house. And they certainly won't get me on the other side of theirs.
I wouldn't say I'm a "bargain shopper".
If a bargain happens to present itself during the course of shopping, however, I am, of course, elated and feel like I won a prize. Especially if the bargain isn't immediately apparent, such as when the amazingly low price isn't indicated on the tag and it only shows up when the tag is scanned at the register. Then I feel like I've not only won a prize but that I've somehow managed to pull something over on the store, even though I had nothing to do with the lower price not being marked. I almost feel like winking at the cashier. And sometimes, when I'm in a particularly kicky mood, I do. (But only inside my head, because winking is the hallmark of the cheesy and I pride myself on being delightfully dairy-free.)
So, anyway, sometimes the bargains can't just help but be there, by dint of the store in which I'm shopping. TJMaxx, for example. However, I have found that I cannot get anything "good" at the one here because anything groovy is quickly snatched up by city slickers with good taste, and all that's left is the stuff that, in the store's suburban branches, would have the Liz Claiborne and Eddie Bauer set all a-twitter, digging in the heels of their sensible shoes to be the first to set their hands on a wooden duck with a bow around its neck or a sculpture of a lighthouse. My mother always gets fantastic stuff in the TJMaxx near her house, because no one else there clamors for the cool stuff. So I suppose the suburbs do have their advantages.
As for me, well, when I want a bargain I go to Loehmann's. Not for me Century 21 and its hideous crowds. I'm partial to Loehmann's. It's closer to home, attracts fewer tourists (Century 21 is just across the street from the World Trade Center site), and it doesn't make me nervous. In addition, Loehmann's is one of my only concessions to Judaism. So I haven't been inside a synagogue since my brother's bar mitzvah in 1974. So what? I've been to Loehmann's. That should count for something.
So, anyway, I shop there from time to time, and although my excursions don't always yield something, the last time I went I was fortunate. (No, no photos. You can just wait for the paparazzi to hound me and see the stuff on Celebrities Uncensored. You'll also get to see me secretly eating sides of beef when I think no one's looking.) Two of the shirts had tags that categorized them as CAREER. This might lead you to think I bought a bow blouse that would make John T. Molloy, the author of Dress for Success, beam with pride, appreciation, and approval, but I assure you that's not the case. Indeed, I was actually shocked to find these two shirts in the "career" section, given how much they don't appear to be career-wear.
Then I realized this: Perhaps Loehmann's is liberal! Perhaps they don't regard "career" as an office job. Perhaps their notion of what "career" consists of is broader than mine is. I wanted to ask one of the salespeople why, for instance, slutty lingerie was not marked as "career", when that's what some ladies wear for their careers. Or why athletic apparel wasn't marked that way, either, when many people make their livings as personal trainers. Or why pajama bottoms and T-shirts weren't indicated as "career" for writers who work from home. Or bloody aprons for butchers. Or bloody anything for career criminals.
See, I'm not a bargain shopper, but by dint of the tags on two Loehmann's shirts, I got more than I bargained for: high style ... and an entry for my fabulous website!
Spotted in Rizzoli around 3:00 this afternoon: André Leon Talley, Vogue editor at large, standing near the front of the store signing one of his books. It wasn't a book-signing, and there was no fanfare. I think he'd just wandered in off the street perhaps while sleepwalking, given the appearance of his dress.
At first I didn't even recognize him. I did hear him, though, making some sort of loud fuss, looking around as if he expected someone everyone to recognize him and make a suitable fuss.
From the looks and sound of him, I thought he was just a loudmouth schlep off the street who wanted to take refuge in opulence. A very tall and large loudmouth schlep with a French accent who wanted to deface books by scribbling in them. I didn't pay him much attention, other than to wonder who the big pretentious lug was who obviously wanted someone to notice Who He Was.
The only person who seemed to give him more than a passing glance was an employee of the store, who asked him several times, "Will a driver be here for you?" She spoke to him the way you would to an escaped mental patient who was waiting for his "driver" to pick him up to take him back to his "mansion".
"Mordecai ... Mordecai," he said loudly, as if speaking to a foreigner, with an air of diffidence usually reserved for those famous enough to be recognized. He must have said it eight times, each time more loudly than the one before.
Mordecai must have arrived while I had more important and interesting things to do, such as observe the second hand of my watch, because all of a sudden the bookstore was quiet again and not a "Mordecai" could be heard.
And I didn't even get to say au revoir!
I know what you're thinking. (Other than that. Beast.)
Jodi, you're thinking, what's eatin' ya? You ain't posted nothin' about lunch this week. Last time was Saturday! I'm worried abou'cha 'n' all 'n' stuff.
Well, don't worry.
And for the love of Pete, God, and money (not necessarily in that order), don't use the word "ya". Or "ain't." (When I was in third grade or so, we used to say, "Ain't ain't a word, because ain't ain't in the dictionary." But now it is. That doesn't mean it's right though.) And please enunciate. You sound like a bum, droppin' all those "g"s off the ends of your words.
Where was I?
Oh, that's right. Yes. Here: Don't worry. I've had lunch. I had a pretty tasty one on Monday, will no doubt have an amazing one tomorrow (lunch with my brother!), and may even another two this week that are worth sharing. Only pictorially, though, because I don't want your fork in my food. Or your fingers. So don't worry. You'll be able to feast your eyes on my lunches no later than this Saturday, in a glorious Lunch Week In Review!
You're so cute when you worry about me, though. So cute I may even let you say "ya" if you really want to.
Enjoy your afternoon. And your lunch.
As if it's not bad enough that we have Barbie dolls to lead little girls into lives of quiet bimbo desperation (spare me the argument that Barbie's independent now, what with the condo and her careers), and comfy little pink dumbbells that won't rough up the little pink hands of belles dumb enough to buy into the notion that girls don't lift more than five pounds, and Secret and secret deodorants, and all sorts of TV channels and gyms and books targeted at a gender that insists it wants to be treated not as "second class citizens" or the weaker sex, Bed Bath & Beyond, the marketplace of all that is domestic, offers "solutions for women":
Why, yes, it's a pretty tool kit for the pretty sex! "Simple home repair" for simple minds! And how appropriate that it's by "barbara k!" (exclamation point!)! A grown-up Barbie!
At long last, solutions to a problem I didn't know existed until barbara k! told me otherwise!
See, barbara k! knows that a girl doesn't have the arm to swing a big boy hammer! And now, thanks to barbara k!, she'll learn that a screwdriver isn't just something that men buy her at the bar! And nails, too! They're not just those pretty things sprouting out of each of her fingertips (the ones she'd no doubt chip if she dared to handle the tools of the testosterone trade!)!
Thanks a trundle, barbara k! !
But one teensy-weensy question: Why doesn't it come in pink?
Note: This is a continuation of yesterday's Glass Destruction. It is imperative that you read that first before proceeding. (Go on. I'll wait.)
It wasn't until I was taking a cat nap sometime late Sunday afternoon that I finally found out why the large chunk of broken glass was still under the bed. Especially since I would have sworn on your life (yes, yours) that I'd been meticulous when retrieving the pieces.
So I was curled up in bed, imitating a fetus, pretending the red flannel sheets were placenta (it's all about the props!), Shana molded to the space created by knees pulled up close to my chest. I was just waking up, half groggy, half soggy (thanks to the amniotic fluid!), and as I placed my hand on the lush fur of Shana's belly, I realized something was wrong.
It wasn't lush fur, but plush fur. The kind that belongs to one of my two stuffed moose/meese. And while it was comforting in an artificial way (sort of like eating the plastic grapes from your grandmother's fake fruit bowl), it wasn't the same as Shana. It was odd that she would leave me during a cat nap, especially since I'd vowed to start calling our joint naps "cat naps" after she petitioned me to do so several months earlier.
But I figured she had her reasons, and I was quick to forgive her. After all, our nap was going on six hours already, and I know she had a paper to write and other things to accomplish on her "Dumb Things I Gotta Do" list. I turned on the bedside lamp and reached for her list out of curiosity, a trait not exclusive to her species. I started to sit up in bed to see what she had planned.
And it was then that I learned that while that trait may kill the cat, such killing is not solely within their province. Because at just that moment, Shana pounced on my lap with a ferocity I'd never witnessed in the three and a half years I've known her. This wasn't the pouncing of a cat obsessed with hands hidden under a blanket pretending to be an elusive mouse. It wasn't the pouncing of a cat intent on perfecting her deep muscle massage technique. No, it was the pouncing of cat with only one thing on her mind: to kill me.
I am no stranger to her attempts to cause me harm. It started as it does with all cats, with the traditional clawing and biting techniques, which she quickly mastered. She moved on to a more passive method. It worked with insects, but when she tried it on me, it did slay me, although not in the way she wished. Then she resumed a more active role and took to scampering under my feet everywhere I walked, in an attempt to effectuate a neck-snapping fall. When I confronted her and told her I knew what she was up to, she denied it and mewed plaintively. She even approximated a purr. I thought maybe I had been wrong all along.
But when I found a blueprint of her scheme, which was as intricate as the drawings of "better mousetraps"* and as well-designed as the Honda "Cog" commercial that recently took the advertising world by storm, I realized that my original suspicion was correct, and she was, indeed, trying to kill me. The trick was to make it look like an accident.
Sunday afternoon, however, was no accident. Because as she pounced on me, I saw she had one paw behind her back, and when I tried to sit up completely and engage her in sprightly cat play, she brought that paw around with lightning speed. The light from the bedside lamp glinted off something attached to her paw, and I realized it was a large chunk of broken glass! A different piece from the one I had discovered on Saturday! It was expertly secured to her paw by all of the ponytail elastics I thought I had lost. She raised her forearm above her head and lunged for my neck.
"I'm going to KILL mew!" she said.
"Excuse me?" I said.
"I'm going to KILL mew!" she said, narrowing her eyes.
"What? What's wrong with you?" I said. "Get away from me!" I tried to push her away, but she wasn't budging.
"I'm going to KILL mew," she said with all the calmness of Hannibal Lechter.
"Why? Why?" I said.
"Do I need a reason?" she said. "I'm a cat."
And just then, the rustle of a plastic bag from the direction of the kitchen distracted her. She turned her head toward the sound, and just like that POOF! she was off my neck, off the bed, and out of the room in a flash, hobbling on the three legs unencumbered by her weapon. All for a pinch of bonito flakes.
I thought this behavior was particular to Shana, but when a dedicated reader sent me the following note, I realized it is more common than I thought:
your glass story reminds me of the mystery glass pieces in the corner of my kitchen, tucked away by the sink. when i moved in, there were chunks of glass there, which i disposed of. i regularly sweep under the radiator there too. but about once a month, i find the cats playing there with large chunks of glass, that mysteriously appear there.
P.S. Order bonito flakes here. A small price to pay for your life.
* Can anyone tell me the name of the man who drew all of those far-fetched schemes of "better mousetrap" sorts of contraptions? I'm pulling out my hair trying to remember what it is, and it's ruining my coif.
Update, 1:04 p.m.: Many thanks to the DOG, and to conscientious readers Mike Z. and Julie, for telling me the name of the man is Rube Goldberg!
I am heartbroken.
Shortly after presenting Glass Destruction to the reading public, I shattered another glass's dreams. Moments after successfully transferring iced coffee from one glass to another, I inadvertently tapped the first glass a bit too aggressively against the second, resulting in the immediate cracking of the first glass.
My only consolation, small as it may be, is that it gave its life for a noble cause, and it died in the line of duty, while performing an act that gave us both a great deal of happiness: the presentation of iced coffee.
Ordinarily I would be loathe to photograph a subject in such a vulnerable and sad state (witness my reluctance to provide the world with photographs of a pale, puffy, and profusely sweating Elvis Presley in 1977, mere days before his death), but this time I am making an exception. By providing an image of this heroic glass, I am saving it from exploitation of the rabid tabloid buzzards who circled above my building just moments after learning of this latest tragedy.
I will miss you.
It is no secret that I have a habit of breaking glasses. It's not that I actively seek to break them or that breaking them is part of a cherished morning routine that has me out of bed before the sun rises and cracking a glass or two in the barn before I tend the fields. It's just that they just so happen to break in my presence. Just like that. Sometimes by fault of my own and sometimes by fault of telekinetic powers that I have not yet learned how to control. And then, of course, there are those instances when glasses can't help but spontaneously crack when I enter a room sort of like spontaneous combustion, only without the heat and all that messy char.
So, a while ago, I broke a glass in this room. And as is my custom, in keeping with my lifelong dedication to public and private safety, I cleaned up the mess immediately and carefully placed the glass's remains in the trash with a teary apology. It was just another experience with yet another broken glass, but still, each occasion brings with it a fresh and tender sorrow all its own.
On Saturday, while retrieving a pen that had fallen to the floor by the bed, I noticed, under the bed, a large chunk of a glass that had broken so long ago that I can't even remember when it happened. I did recall the sadness, of course, because emotion like that just doesn't go away. But I choked back the tears and wondered about that large chunk, approximately one-third of the bottom portion of the glass. How could I have possibly missed it during the original clean-up process? Certainly I'd taken special care to make sure that it, with its sharp and jagged edge, was safely removed from the scene. I'm sure of it.
I puzzled over this for quite some time. Plotted a detailed timeline. Devised a colorful pie chart. Staged a re-enactment. Interrogated myself under a bright white light and smacked myself a few times across the head with something blunt that wouldn't leave a mark because I just knew I was holding something back from myself.
It wasn't until 36 grueling hours later that I finally discovered the truth.
I always knew the DOG and I made a somewhat odd pair. Never mind the age difference (a generation!). Never mind that he's a quaalude and I'm a very long line of cocaine. And so what if until recently he didn't know Greg from Peter from Bobby? We're different, he and I, and that's just a fact. But I never realized just how zany our household is until I peeked into the refrigerator yesterday morning and saw this:
It's all so very Dharma and Greg!
I hate "Note to Self".
If I see it on your site, I will make a note to myself to secretly hate you.
This morning when I went outside to go to the gym, I noticed quite a bit of business going on several hops, skips, and jumps from my building. Hubbub! Catering trucks and props trucks, all sorts of scary equipment and big trailers, and harried-looking people wearing headsets telling people not to cross the street where they were trying to cross the street. I thought perhaps the circus had come to town or a colorful parade was approaching or a monster truck rally was heading my way, and I started to get very excited. Perhaps if all attention was on the action, I could find the table with all the food and get a little pre-workout snack!
While I waited to cross the street where crossing was prohibited, I stopped and stood off to the side to watch the action, whatever it was. Apparently it was a big-time movie set. A real live motion picture was being filmed in my very neighborhood! There were some non-descript people in business clothes and briefcases waiting for the "Action!" cue and their time to shine.
"Roll!" someone shouted.
"Action!" someone shouted.
And then they shone. And I crossed the street.
I did not see any big name stars. I did not gawk, because after all, I am jaded to the whole scene. This is Nueva York after all, and that is what they do here. They shoot the movies! (Remember this and this?)
About three hours later, the DOG and I left the building for our Saturday funfest, and the brouhaha was still brewing. Because he is just as jaded as I am to the business, he didn't want to stop to gawk either. Whatever stars might happen to be out, well, they would just have to do without a glimpse of the two of us.
We rounded the corner, and there, on the sidewalk, sat two black director-type chairs with the names of the two stars of the film in big white block letters across the back. I can't believe I didn't take photos of them, because they would certainly fetch only the prettiest of pennies.
Who were these stars, you ask?
Why, these two darlings!
"Oh," I said, arching an eyebrow as we passed. "I thought it was a real movie."
The stars of our day were our lunches!
You may have noticed by now that I love lunch. You may have noticed that I photograph my lunch whenever possible, which is always, given that I am never without my camera. Even when I am in the shower, I keep it in a neoprene case and wear it hanging from a rope around my neck, like soap on a rope. Indeed, if I ever found myself without my camera, I would render my lunch in pastels, Cray-Pas®, crayons, or, yes, body fluids, the last of which wouldn't yield as wide a color palette as I would like, but I'd just have to make do.
So I love lunch. I love that it's not breakfast. I love that it's not dinner. Perhaps I adore it so much because it, like I, is the middle child. The Jan Brady of the bunch.
Lunch is my biggest meal of the day. (ASIDE: My apologies to my family, including ME, for use of the word "meal", which for some reason we are genetically disposed to hate.) Midday is when I'm hungriest, so I like to take advantage of my hunger and treat it like a prince. (Not a princess, though, because everyone knows princesses only pick at their garden salads with lite dressing on the side and a breadstick.) Many times I will forego any sort of breakfast just so I'm like a bull in a bullpen when the afternoon rolls around, except with all that indelicate snorting and pawing.
I used to love school lunches in elementary and middle school (high school was spent avoiding the burden of eating at all costs, which is another story altogether). "Pizza buns" and tater tots was a favorite. Every Monday when the week's menu was distributed, I would scan it feverishly in search of that combination. It determined the tenor of the whole week. No matter what else threatened to ruin the days preceding the day that combination was offered for lunch oral book reports, presentation of dioramas, gym class I knew there was some sort of light at the end of the rat-infested tunnel. What was a little softball game (me in the very very very far outfield) when I knew my salvation was imminent?
So yeah. Lunch. I love my lunch. And as a special treat, today the DOG and I went to one of our favorite restaurants, Candle Cafe, which we haven't been to since I started documenting my lunches. "Hey! We can celebrate my brother's birthday!" I said. True, he wasn't with us, and true, we didn't invite him, but still, that's no reason why we couldn't celebrate in high style in his honor. (Candle Cafe is the only one of "my" restaurants that he doesn't make fun of. "None of my [vegan/vegetarian] restaurants are in here!" I said to him the last time he and I had lunch, as I flipped through the pages of his Zagat's. I won't tell you what he said in response. It was very unladylike.)
In honor of Bix's birthday, we had this:
We did not have dessert. I did ogle a very seductive brownie in a Chelsea window a couple of hours later, but decided to pass. To properly celebrate my brother's birthday, the dessert would have to be a big square of the famous "Neshaminy cake" from his and my high school and middle school (respectively) days. Neshaminy cake (named for our school district) was a sort of German chocolate cake that we both still wax incredibly rhapsodic over and that I revered almost as much as pizza buns and tater tots. (Almost.)
When I see him next, I will have something delicious in tow to commemorate his birthday. Not to make up for not having lunch with him on his birthday but for eating a vegan lunch in celebration.
If it's any consolation, dearest brother, please know that I consider you the pizza buns and tater tots of brothers. It doesn't come much better than that.
Yesterday afternoon, a series of frustrating events I experienced in a certain clothing store threatened to lead me to demonstrate the full drama of which I am capable, so I took leave of the premises before the inevitable could occur. I knew it was time to vacate when the pounding of blood in my ears drowned out the voices in my head, so I made my escape quietly and without event.
To make a not very long and not very interesting story not short enough (but shorter than it could be), it turns out that, even though in the past, cashiers at that store (and that branch in particular) have cheerifully allowed me to return unworn items bought at full price and then buy them back at a sale price (this, after the 14-day price adjustment period has expired) a two-part transaction that doesn't involve bleeding from the ears it is apparently against store policy to do so. And has been for at least a year and a half or forever, depending on which employee I asked. If I wanted to return the item, of course I was free to do so, but they would have to place it back "on the floor" and I could only buy it back at the reduced price after 24 hours. The item I'd bought was quite popular, and I knew if it were released back into the wild, it would not survive long enough for me to rescue it.
So I told them that was all so very nice indeed, but that shhhhh a lot of people do what I wanted to do and had done in the past and guess what they do it quite often and without questioning and you know what the store should really reword its policy because people with IQs above the original price of the shirt I'd bought could easily see how the current policy made no sense.
OK, so I didn't say that last thing. I was too busy trying to quiet the voices in my head and in my shopping bag who were starting to complain that none of us had had lunch yet and maybe we should think about eating a little something before we really flew off the handle.
I decided to produce Exhibits "A" and "B" original receipts that showed I'd recently done a return/rebuy (or whatever the technical term is in the world of retail). But then I remembered that a couple of weeks ago, I had tossed the receipt showing the rebuy. The very receipt that would prove my case. I cursed myself for deviating from my usual custom, which is to seal all receipts in plastic evidence bags and label them accordingly for record-keeping purposes.
So rather than go through the whole runaround again (and besides, I was starving!), I thanked the three girls and one unfortunate haired boy with whom I dealt, smiled prettily and politely, and walked calmly out of the store. Once outside, I continued my calm facade, and then, once beyond the eyeshot of anyone pressing their noses to the store's plate glass window, I ran to a spot several yards up Fifth Avenue and unleashed all of my frustration in a cell phone call to the DOG wherein I detailed all that had just transpired. By this time, I was, thankfully, laughing about it. But still, if I can be completely honest (and I feel I can!), I did still entertain ideas of effectuating the untimely and tragic demises of everyone inside the store (even the customers) using only the items in my well-seasoned Coach shoulderbag. I don't carry a ton of stuff with me, so my options were limited to reading to them from the swath of takeout menus stashed in the outside pocket of the bag, using voices appropriate to the ethnicity of each restaurant, or totally erasing their faces with a little container of Benefit Boi-ing coverup. Slow deaths, indeed, but very very painful.
But yesterday murder was only a fantasy. (Alas.) However, I wanted to show that ne'er-do-well store that I wasn't one to be played the fool. I decided to wield my power in another fashion, so I hastily patronized another popular chain clothing store, just down the street. Sort of like when some big loutish dolt dumps you for the town tramp and you go out and immediately start dating someone new with broader shoulders and deeper pockets and a cleft chin and a letterman sweater and flaunt him at the roller rink to show that you won't be beaten, no, you won't be beaten! Yeah, I'd show that other store, I would!
Heck, I walked into that store smiling. Grinning. Beaming! And I even touched every item I came across! I rubbed wool between my fingers. Patted cotton sweaters. Massaged a brown suede handbag and cood, "cute, ve-e-e-e-ry cute" as I caressed its nap with my fingertips. Let my fingers linger on multi-pocket cargo pants in a variety of earth tones. Noted smugly, and with a little "hmmph!" that J. Crew wasn't surrendering to the obnoxious pointy-toed footwear trend that the other store was so ready to accept.
I even went so far as to stroll around the store for a while with a pair of groovy sweat-type pants with little zippers at the bottoms of the legs and a red cotton zip-front coverup over my arm, before taking them both into the dressing room and sliding them against my skin!
But then the fury wore off, or the bloom was off the rose, or the honeymoon was over, or I noticed that my rebound date had bad skin or just wasn't my type, or something, and I remembered I'm the kind o' girl who never leaves the house less than completely "turned out", even if she's wearing jeans, and there's no way in fucking hell I'd be caught dead in any sort of sweatpants in public, cute little zippers at the bottoms of the legs or no cute little zippers. And red? Surely I remembered how I felt the last time I wore it in public. So I left the store with my money intact ... and my spirit surprisingly uplifted!
I considered stopping off at home and dropping off the shopping bag with the unreturned, unrebought-back shirt. Instead, I took the shirt out for lunch in midtown and promised that the next time we went out in public together, I'd wear him proudly.
After lunch, the shirt called to me from the bag where he was resting, sated. "Thank you!" he said. "Thank you for not risking our life together by sending me back to the floor where I would no doubt be snatched up by some snooty sale-happy biatch who wouldn't wear me so well or give me as nice of a hanger as you've given me!"
"Anything for you, baby," I said. "I'd give the shirt off my back for you!"
"Girl, I am the shirt off your back!" he said.
We laughed the whole way home.
There must be a mathematical equation or algorithm or logarithm or biorhythm or graham cracker that can calculate the ratio of how many days a person can stand being out and about in New York City to how many she must spend indoors hiding from everyone and everything in order to recuperate from the bombardment.
People who don't live here say to me, "You know, Becky, if I lived in New York, I'd be out every day doing stuff. I'd go to galleries, shows, Central Park, Central Perk, Macy*s, Bloomingdale's, The Cloisters, and the top of the Empire State Building! I'd ride the Staten Island Ferry, visit Ellis Island, Coney Island, and eat hot dogs at every Gray's Papaya I could find! Oh, and see Blue Man Group at least once a month!"
And I always respond by telling them that if they lived here, they'd know better. They'd know that there are some days when you just have to hide. Especially after being out and about and among and between and amidst so many people for so long. And some days "so long" can only be an hour.
I've been out and about quite a lot lately. But today I reached my limit, so tomorrow I will be in hiding (except for the mandatory two-hour gym stint an experience that on a "good" day produces enough bile to hold me over for days). Many episodes this week, and today in particular, conspired to incite in me the burningest of desires to slap quite a few people across the face. I shan't give details, but suffice it to say that I will never be returning to Garden of Eden, a "gourmet" grocer on 23rd Street that employs sullen corpses as cashiers, or a clothing store that up until this afternoon had been one of my favorites. (I won't name it here. Just think "Plantain Democracy".)
It's all been just so very nerve-wracking that I was forced today to turn to this for comfort:
That's right. Tofu, couscous, chickpeas, kidney beans, and vegetables. I stomped on this stuff with my bare feet, a la the beloved side-splitting classic episode of I Love Lucy, and made myself a pretty little bottle of wine!
(Oh, and by the way, I think the ratio is 3:1. And that's being generous.)
I keep hearing all this stuff about how people are living longer these days, much longer than past generations, and isn't all so very exciting. And how scientists (or whoever's in charge of these studies or experiments or tests) are finding ways to extend our lives which always conjures up an image of a huge simmering pot of Hamburger Helper "extending" many many pounds of ground meat.
From what I can remember, having eaten a lot of that stuff as a kid, Hamburger Helper is pretty damned tasty. It takes a lump of boring meat and makes it into a fiesta! But, see, that doesn't translate so well for meat shaped like people. Because, hey, let's face it, once this species reaches very very old age, it doesn't hold up so well. And yeah yeah yeah, I know there's more to life than what you look like and how healthy you are, and yeah yeah yeah, I know the mind can still be sharp and Grandma Moses didn't start painting until she was 350 years old and there's some guy in Russia who's managed to reach 162 just by eating yogurt and swimming in freezing water every morning.
But still. Most people, by the time they reach ages approaching the century mark, aren't exactly holding up too well, and many suffer from blindness, incontinence, loss of hearing, brittle bones, dementia, and a severe decline in sense of style. You see it all the time when the latest oldest person in the world dies and home videos are shown on the news of the person propped up in a wheelchair, blind and deaf and toothless and forced to wear a birthday hat. Doesn't look like much of a party, does it. So why tack on another 25 or 30 years?
I could see if life expectancy hovered around 30 and the plan was to tack on a few more decades at the end of the usual run. The additional years could actually be enjoyed, and who knows, maybe even be productive. Not to mention that a lot of people are at the peak of their unbelievable hotness when they're in their 40s. But giving someone another couple of decades of debilitating old age? I don't know. If this whole life extension thing is going to be all the rage, I think someone had better figure out how to arrange it so that the additional years are somehow added to the middle, like an extender leaf in a dining room table, and not just tagged on to the end of a person's ordinary life span.
If it's going to become more common to live to riper old age, I don't want to just sit around all propped up and wait to become the brownest banana in the bunch the one everyone wants to discard but feels sorry for, but keeps around and says they'll make into banana bread ... soon ... but secretly waits for it to completely blacken so they don't have to worry about it anymore.
Tip: To keep bananas fresher longer, store them with their curved side UP. If they complain that it's a little uncomfortable, explain to them that it's for their own good.
Parlop sink matzi par zim boh? Klastu mantezk cjap dor plow? Ha! Spu aplso pip cranek kimmpor sem, taki klaymish konner bonner pop! Pistu? Nef! Miniu jorsek, miniu porsek, coust wenter simkwoe rembuy. Matzi cjap perb platzishmor. Platzishmor esmo cjovak corsovarp, perb ogyuz sink vepjum lishutok paraplanset. Setud, rishoc ubhold alomin uvocar.
Taki nes pou aplso nechoru palakon, fizpur spu crakoniu manzaw quapyop jorsek, coust tolimoc. Carabuxir somiu pop clershivet parascor ruckoshet? Nef! Yoi, esprisht vukumig esmo pep lishmax kalam. Taki nes pouy gregir. Taki nes pouy negascox. Uvoj pamim berashot esmo perb bilishan zloxmit. Parlop sink matzi dor plow?
All right, so I ate yesterday, when it was Yom Kippur 'n' all. I ate big and I ate good. I ate salty and I ate sweet. I did it up, as the kids say. Or as they used to say. Or as they might say in the future. Or as they never said at all.
So here's what I had for lunch today, to make up for yesterday:
It was so good, I had seconds ... and thirds!
Reasons to go here:
include this sign behind the counter:
and this painting, entitled "First Day of School", which is only part of a mural designed to look like a gallery dedicated to the wide variety of baked goods available at the bakery:
Oh, and of course, this:
(The plate is mine. Courtesy of me.)
I stumbled on all of that on my way to Kate's Joint. As if my previous lunch there wasn't enough to warrant another visit, then I certainly could have been persuaded to return based on today's lunch:
The only thing missing is some sort of leafy green vegetable, which I could have substituted for the cauliflower (which was the vegetable of the day) for a small surcharge ... but I didn't want to hurt the cauliflower's feelings. After all, it's not its fault it wasn't born green.
P.S. And yes, I know today is Yom Kippur. But I prefer to think of it as Yum Kippur! It's only appropriate.
Kate's Joint 58 Avenue B
Taylor's 175 Second Avenue
This morning, at the end of my run, I passed by a fruit vendor who was starting to set out his stuff for the day. He had the usual array, and was arranging apples in an orderly fashion. They looked like kids being corralled in the school yard. And in keeping with the attitude of kids, one of the apples decided to rebel and escaped onto Fifth Avenue by the curb.
Once apart from the others, though, it didn't look or act so tough. Indeed, it looked lonely and forlorn. Panic-stricken. The vendor peered over the fence/partition separating him and the sidewalk from the apple and the street, and, realizing he wouldn't be able to reach the apple, waved his hand at it in dismissal. But it was clear he still wanted the apple to join the rest of the class.
I was already past them at this point, and just about to turn the corner toward my building. That apple's going to be sauce! I thought. I couldn't let that happen, and I knew I would be thinking about it all day if I didn't do something. I couldn't go about my day knowing I'd done nothing to rescue it.
I turned around and ran back, entered Fifth Avenue at a crosswalk, ran down the street, picked up the apple, and handed it to the vendor over the railing. He smiled and thanked me, and I smiled and told him he was welcome.
He had an accent and appeared to be Middle Eastern, so as I handed him the apple, which was, yes, a big one, I felt like I was handing him some sort of symbolic torch, welcoming him to New York City, or forging bonds that Peace Talks just haven't managed to seal. (And no, none of my thoughts turned to Adam and Eve and that whole apple business.)
See, Big World Leaders? I thought. This is the way it works. This is the way it should be!
And just as I was thinking this, I was struck by a taxi driven by a man of Middle Eastern descent, and he zoomed down Fifth Avenue without so much as stopping! My pelvis is crushed in six places, but the good news is, I saved an apple!
Lest you think I restricted my food intake to poached tofu after Friday afternoon's debauchery, in keeping with the detox I'd planned, please allow me to demonstrate that I really don't believe in asceticism or in "making up" on one day for any sins I may have committed on another. I know this seems quite radical, given that tomorrow is indeed Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, but you're just going to have to make peace with that yourself. God (with full "o" intact) knows I have.
Yesterday the DOG and I had lunch at Village Mingala, a Burmese place I'd been meaning to try for quite some time. Over the past few months, I've become Ms. East Village, and can't seem to get enough of it. The Upper West Side is starting to get jealous, but that's just the way things go, I suppose. And besides, I believe it's important to mingala as much as you possibly can.
Although it was only 12:30 p.m., we ordered as if we were having dinner. I don't do lunch specials, because I always feel like I'm being cheated. Like I'm at a matinée and not getting a performance with all the heart and gusto of the Saturday night show.
Now, if you'll follow along on your on-screen menu, which should be in a separate window on your computer (see, I do care about making things easier for you), I will list what we ordered, by number and name for even more ease of reference:
We also had the Fresh Green Papaya Spicy Salad (T12), but the photo isn't even marginally usable, and I don't want to embarrass T12 by showing it as anything less than its spectacular self. However, the owner of the restaurant has promised to call me the next time someone orders this dish, so I can dash over to get a better shot before it even reaches that diner's table. Talk about service!
You may notice that the Prawn with Asparagus plate lacks asparagus. The DOG and I didn't even notice until early this evening, when I was going through my photos and remembering, in grainy black and white slow motion, the details of our lunch. In all fairness, the menu description does contain a caveat, i.e. "(seasonal)", so we did not call the owner to complain many hours after the fact. (Besides, I can't complain given his willingness to call me about the papaya salad 'n' all, right?) (Right.)
So there you have it. A lunch most delicious, and, I think you'll agree, nice-lookin'!
Of the three Burmese restaurants I've gone to in this city and I think there are only three this one is my favorite. But to be fair, I should return to the other two again and this one again. Just to be fair. Not to be a glutton, of course. No. Because that's wrong and sinful!
Ahh, the concert. A marvelous time, really. A rockin' time, I'd say, if I were inclined to say things like "a rockin' time".
Michael Stipes's energy was amazing and infectious. Indeed, from the first beat, the oversized ass of the chick next to me was up and out of its seat, bouncing perilously close to my face in rhythmic fashion. This leaden lump, who before the show looked as if she was attached to her seat by a force of gravity equal to that she'd experience on a neutron star, bounded out of her seat with such force that I was actually repelled. In more ways than one. (Aside: Check this out. Yes, the link is safe for work. Unless your boss thinks gravity is pornographic. The only offensive material contained in that link is the word "Uranus". Someone should really sit that planet down and advise it to seriously consider changing its name.)
So, anyway, my choice of clothing was sort of determined for me, even though I was leaning not toward the ensemble I'd briefly described yesterday but toward all black (a huge departure for me) because that's what "T" was going to wear, and we like to act like one of those cloying couples who call each other by pet names. You see, my jeans were sporting the teeniest of tiny holes by the crotch, which didn't please the DOG one tiny bit. Even though the hole couldn't provide E-Z access to even the most miniature of potential invaders, he still insisted I change. So like the dutiful teenager I am, I heeded his command.
After I turn 40 (on the 26th), I'll pierce my nose and rebel!
The concert was great. Large crowds always beg me to just sit back and observe and hate, and I did do my fair share of that. One of the thoughts that kept coming back to me was the cliché about how easily united people are by something as simple as music. Another thought, which washed over me as I surveyed the crowd, bathed in green light that made the bouncing heads look like peas simmering in a pot, involved brainwashing and the willingness of people to be led by an icon. I only let my mind wander so far as to imagine the entire audience as skeletons, all grinning the skeleton grin as their loosely jointed bones bounced and jangled to the beat of the music, and then all collapsing into a huge disjointed heap of tangled tibias, mandibles, and the like.
It was then that I decided to live in and for the moment and start rockin' a little. So I rocked somewhat, never quite reaching the point of rolling. It wasn't until the end of the show, when Michael Stipe, by then shirtless and standing atop a small platform onstage with his arms extended and his face turned up toward the brilliant white light, made me think of skeletons again, and how much he looked like one, and how he, in 100 years, will be just another collection of bones among if not atop the heap.
Tonight I'm going to the R.E.M. concert at Madison Square Garden with my lovely friend "T". I haven't been to a concert of the rock 'n' roll variety since ... well ... I can't even remember. I think it was Bob Dylan about ten years ago. And before that, it was either Genesis or The Moody Blues. Who knows.
And lest you think I'm really out of touch, I've been to other concerts, too, including Yes ("in the round", where I fell asleep because I'm a square, man) and a big extravaganza that featured Journey, The Tubes, Bryan Adams, and John Cougar before he reMellencamped. (Shut up. It was 1983.)
Yeah, I'm really with it.
Oh, and of course there was Fleetwood Mac, my first concert, which I attended with my parents, my then best friend Debbie, and Debbie's parents. The parents stayed in the seats to smoke pot, and sent Debbie and me down to the floor, where we, 13 years old and in our best Qiana shirts, promptly got our asses felt up (oh god, that term) by a pair of 15-year-old boys.
"Mine's touching my ass!" I said to Debbie, trying to whisper above the music and clamor.
"So's mine!" she said.
"I'm not moving!" I said.
I guarantee that tonight my date won't be touching my ass that way, since he likes the boys and not the girls. I will feel like I am missing out, I'm sure. If I suffered from extremely low self esteem, that might pose a problem, but it doesn't. There is a problem, but it has nothing to do with ass-grasping.
The problem is this: What the fuck do I wear? Jeans? Is that what the kids are wearing to rock 'n' roll concerts these days? Jeans, black T-shirt, black boots, "vintage" German army jacket*? Or should I be making myself an off-the-shoulder rock star T-shirt, complete with lace-up sides and a carefully ragged neckline and cut-off arms?
Please help me. I'm about ready to resort to Qiana.
* No, I don't have a problem wearing it, as a Jew; I have a German Shepherd too, that's how subversive and well-adjusted I am.
So, anyway, where were we?
Oh yes. When last we met, six and a half hours ago, I was about to take a nap. And I did. I think. I'm not too sure. I don't remember. I don't think I dreamed, and I don't remember waking up. This can only mean one thing: I was comatose. It was all very While You Were Sleeping. (When I came out of the coma, I was married to Sandra Bullock, so really, all's well that ends well or something. Even though that's not the way the movie itself plays out.) ("I can't believe she SPOILED it for us!")
But that doesn't explain what I did this afternoon, does it? No. And there really isn't any explanation, either. There is no "story". Nothing with a moral or a meaning or a rhyme and/or reason. There isn't even a whimsical anecdote. This is just an excuse to show you my lunch, really. Before I ate it, of course. (Because believe me, there was indeed the chance my lunch would show itself after the fact as well. But I wouldn't photograph that. No. Remember: I only like pretty things!)
When I devised my plan this morning, it sounded like a very good idea. I’d go to Kiev, order pierogies and potato pancakes (small orders), and survive the double dose of fried food without so much as a whimper from my stomach. I’d burst with Eastern European pride, I would, and, once home again, settle comfortably in front of my computer to write all about it. Well, such was not to be. Eight hours later, I’m barely settled and certainly not comfortably, and bursting all right, but not with pride. And my stomach? Full-blown wailing!
Check out the artillery that did the damage!
And of course it didn't stop there. Nyet. I had to sweeten the deal with a large prune hamentasch from Moishe's. I didn't take its photo, but it looked remarkably similar to the one I showed you earlier this year. Except less suggestive.
So that was that. Oh, and there were dogs too, today, who you can see in my Dogabout gallery!
Tomorrow: Detox. Rehab. Tofu. Steamed.
This afternoon was all about spuds 'n' pups. Lunch was a two-fisted punch of potato paradise (pierogies and potato pancakes!) that rendered me nearly comatose. Somewhere along the way I managed to snap photos of several pooches without barking maniacally, but that's only because I was afraid that if I opened my mouth too far, potatoes would just tumble out onto the sidewalk. And that's really not very nice or pretty. (Or safe!)
So anyway, stay tuned. Photos are imminent. But right now a nap is more of a priority. (I know you think that keeping you up-to-date on my doings is my main obligation and raison d'être, but you are mistaken.)
Remember "Hungry Jew"?
Well, thankfully he doesn't remember me. Or didn't recognize me yesterday when he was so close to where my friend "L" and I sat in a Starbucks on the Upper West Side. (Yes, the same Starbucks whose employees acted like I asked for "freshly let infant's blood, type AB please" instead of soy milk in June.) (Yes, I need a beating for hanging out in a Starbucks. But that's an issue for another time.)
It was odd to see him out of context. Not sitting on a corner with his sign and his dog by his side, or sleeping in an alcove on Broadway, or standing beside his cart somewhere around 19th or 20th Street no farther west than Fifth Avenue. So to see him on West 67th Street, walking with his dog and pushing a shopping cart, he looked like every other dirty man wearing filthy shorts and a yarmulke on his way home for lunch at his comfortable brownstone.
"Oh my god, I can't believe he's all the way up here," I said to L.
"Who? Where?" she asked.
I directed her attention to 67th Street, just beyond the big glass window and the side entrance to Starbucks. To the man and his dog and shopping cart heading to the corner of 67th and Columbus. I quickly related my association with him.
She turned around to look outside, and said, "What? Is he wearing a yarmulke?" Because you know, ladies, don't you, how difficult it is to nab a nice Jewish boy here in a city full of ineligibles. She was just about ready to leave our table and dash out the door and down 67th Street, when he came in to Starbucks and saved her the trouble. He stopped not six feet from our table.
"Oh, I can't look," I said as I sneaked a peek. "I don't want him to see me, I don't want him to see me." I sort of ducked my head and untucked my hair from behind my left ear and let it fall across my face.
Contrary to the other times when I'd seen him, when he looked relatively normal (if you looked beyond the dirty shorts and general filth), this time he looked like the homeless person he is. The dirty shorts and general filth were intact, but the good humor was not. Right away I could see he was clearly off his rocker or "meds". Or maybe he just needed caffeine.
He just stood there for a beat, silently. I thought perhaps he was deciding if he should approach our table and ask me to buy him something. I was hoping he wouldn't want me to order something humiliating, like a grande tall venti caramel frappuccino latte mocha L-Dopa with an extra shot.
He took a deep breath, puffed out his chest, and yelled, "WAKE UP, STARBUCKS!!!" at the top of his lungs and from the bottom of his heart and liver and pancreas and everything else. The floor and counters shook, and the Equal I'd just placed in my iced coffee stirred itself from the impact and swirled down into my cup to hide.
Everyone, of course, turned to look. Several people tittered. Some laughed. Others sat and stood in stunned silence. This was the Upper West Side, after all, far from all the crazies (except for Regis and Kelly across the street at ABC, of course). L and I just stared at each other, and I think one of us sort of whispered/whined, "Oh no." The other of us may have muttered, "Oh fuck."
The metronome beat out three counts, and then David (that's the homeless guy's name) yelled, "I'M GAY!!!"
And ran out to his dog and shopping cart to a round of applause and laughter.
It was so disappointing for L. Because with his first outburst, she thought she'd finally found the Jewish entertainer of her dreams, a man fit to meet mama. But with his second, she knew that although he was a member of the "tribe", he was on the other "team".
What a shanda.
So it's October. The month of my birth. The month whose name is most likely to be used for hilarious advertising or other nefarious purposes, i.e. Rocktober (for rock 'n' roll or geology buffs), Cocktober (for porn lovers), Hocktober (for pawn lovers), Pocktober (for acne admirers), Stocktober (for broth or Wall Street wizards), Frocktober (for dress devotees), Jocktober (for sports fans), Socktober (for hosiery enthusiasts), Smocktober (for caftan zealots), Woktober (for stir-fry fiends), and Schlocktober (for kitsch aficionados). And, of course, Oktoberfest. Among many many others too numerous and cumbersome to list. (Please feel free to not send me your suggestions.)
So, anyway, for what it's worth (approximately 42 kopeks) ... Happy October!
P.S. Please consult my Amazon Wish List for suggestions on what to get me for my birthday.
P.P.S. You'll find the link to my Wish List right under the one to my "About" page.