July 28, 2004

strange days, indeed

Did you ever have one of those days when weird things seem to be magnetically attracted to you? No matter which way you look, there's something strange to be seen -- odd occurrences to the left accompanied by crazy-assed shit to the right. My morning definitely started out that way. While I was waiting to cross Atlantic Avenue this morning on my way to the subway, I heard a car violently beep its horn. I turned my head to follow the ruckus and I saw a woman wandering in traffic. I think she stepped off the curb to see if the bus was coming but somewhere within those five feet, she lost her bearings and all sense, apparently. She turned her back on the speeding traffic and was nearly flattened. A car horn honked and she jumped about 10 feet in the air and then slapped her hand down on the hood to show her displeasure. I've given drivers the stink eye myself but this woman was totally at fault. However, I do applaud her effective projection of "mutha fucka" so early in the morning. So clear and resonant! I'll curse before noon but the effectiveness is usually compromised by my fatigue and gravelly morning voice.

On the same corner, a young man holding a cane started shadow boxing with equal amounts of piss and vinegar behind each punch. I think the cane was more like a weapon or fashion accessory instead of a walking aid because he did not wobble or falter once during his elaborate sequence of punches. I was glad to be on the opposite corner because I envisioned him practicing martial arts with it next. I fear he was touched.

Oddly enough, the subway trip was rather uneventful. Actually, there could have been a streaking madwoman onboard, a robbery and a massive brawl for all I knew. Give me a seat and a fresh Daily News, and I'm dead to the world. My observation skills dip dramatically.

When I got into Manhattan, I decided to swing by the deli outside of my building to get a big-ass cup o' coffee and a cinnamon raisin bagel. I placed my order and stood dutifully on my side of the deli case while it was prepared. I heard a "whap!" and then a sliding noise. I looked down at my feet and what did I see but a piece of well-done toast mere inches from my shoe. I don't know where it came from. The deli is designed in such a way that I have to stand on my tippy toes (I'm 5'8") when leaning over the counter to retrieve my bagel from the employee. I highly doubt it cleared the counter based on the height. I also didn't see anything fly through the air. It would seem like the toast slid underneath the deli case but it's flush with the floor, I think. There's no room underneath it. And no one employed there seemed alarmed or confused that the piece of toast about to be buttered went astray. Health concerns aside, I'm really impressed with the spring mechanism in that toaster. I always have to fish my toast out with a utensil. I need to make note of the brand tomorrow.

July 17, 2004

the first in a long line of niece stories

I've got a 4-year-old niece. Even though she's the light of my life and the reason behind many a smile on my face, I will readily admit that the girl is a punk. She's quite cheeky and very spoiled. But she's also got almond-shaped green eyes, long eyelashes, strawberry blonde hair and an outrageous set of dimples. That little girl can infuriate me one moment and then completely melt me the next.

She sits on my lap facing me and tries to make sense of the curls sprouting from my scalp. She likes to pull on the corkscrew ones and say, "Boing!" when they spring back into shape. This cracks her up. Sometimes she messes around with my hair so much that she pulls the curl right out. This disappoints her and she asks me to make it curly again as if I can just wiggle my nose or snap my fingers to make it happen. She doesn't understand that I'd have to wash it, apply product, let it dry a bit, add more product, let it dry some more and then crunch some more product into it to get the spiraling effect. Passage of time and procedures make no sense to her.

The girl has quite a reputation for saying some howlingly funny things. We could tell from the smile that snuck across her infant face any time she peed in her diaper that she was going to be a character. Months later when she was of Zweiback-eating age, she was being videotaped by my oldest sister (the mother) as she munched on a cookie. Proud of her snack, she mashed it into a clenched fist and held it up to the camera. Thanks to slippery fingers and sheer physics, one finger popped out. Guess which one? There is actual footage of my niece flipping off my sister at a very early age. It's priceless.

The niece tends to pick up a phrase or a word and then, like most children, will run it into the ground. My younger sister (not the mother) often forgets about this and will inadvertently introduce slang or other inappropriate sayings into this child's vocabulary. I believe the younger sister playfully patted the niece's diapered bum a few years ago and said, "Look at this big booty."

It was on. The niece used it incessantly after that. She would even hunch over and wiggle her backside while singing, "Shake your booty! Shake your booty! Shake your booty!" It seemed harmless enough at first but she almost tripped a waitress in a restaurant when she sprang from her seat and began her floor show. Our fellow diners looked on with reactions ranging from amusement to concern to horror. Now that I think about it, that waitress got served. Ha ha ha.

On another occasion, the younger sister and my father were having a conversation in the dining room. The niece wanted attention so she began talking over them at full volume. The younger sister said to the niece, "We're going to get you a muzzle!" The niece then turned to my father and said, "Pop Pop, you need a muzzle!" There was laughter and prodding to go into the kitchen to tell Granny what Pop Pop needed. So the niece set forth to deliver this news to my mother. Everyone waited to hear the bit about the muzzle. The niece blurted out, "Pop Pop needs booty!" Oh dear. I don't even think my mother understood the context of it. She just thought my niece was being scatological once again. I laughed hysterically when I first heard the story and then I quickly sobered up and said, "Hey, how does Dad know what that means?" That was a bit disturbing. After some thought, we decided that he secretly watches MTV and other youth-oriented programming but quickly changes the channel when someone enters the room.

The niece is now hung up on poop -- as a noun, verb, adjective, you name it. Recently she went a bit retro and trotted out her old act. She was watching one of her videos and was perplexed at the mention of DNA. She asked her mother about its meaning. My sister punted the question to the younger sister who is in the medical field. The younger sister fielded it and began a kid-friendly explanation of DNA. She told the niece that it was the stuff inside of her that made her different from everyone else. It made her HER and all that jazz. The niece absorbed this information and said, "Oh, it's what makes your booty smell?"

Can I just say that it's really hard to discourage poopie talk when the lecture is delivered through stifled laughter, smirking and a shit-eating grin (pun intended)?!?! Fortunately I didn't have to handle that little episode. When it's my turn to be the disciplinarian, I try to do the right thing with my niece but it's hard. Is it wrong that I'm a little bit proud of her burgeoning inappropriate sense of humor?

July 01, 2004

the accused

Today for lunch I bought a nice, steaming large cup of cream of broccoli soup from Hale & Hearty. I heart H&H. I keep them in business. But the aroma of today's selection was quite pungent. I was transporting the soup back to my office and the smell immediately filled the confined space of the elevator in the short trip from the lobby to the 4th floor.

In other words, the elevator was a moving Dutch oven, so to speak.

A woman on the elevator looked at me disapprovingly because, I'm guessing, she thought the smell was coming from my nether regions as opposed to the bag I was holding.

What do you say? "I realize it smells like a fart in here but that was so NOT me. It's the broccoli, ma'am, the broccoli."

Had I been feeling a bit mischievous, I may very well have gotten into the whole "Whoever smelt it dealt it" debate but then again, she could have countered with, "Whoever denied it supplied it" and then where would I be? "Oh yeah, well whoever... um... uh... JUST SHUT UP!"

False accusations of farting are following me today. I just went to the ladies room to do my afternoon tinkle and as I was crouching, my sandal-clad foot slid forward on the tile.

These tiles are those small, slightly raised cubes with really grungy grout in between them. The bathroom is ancient and its acoustics lend for some unfortunate echoing. Luckily for me, I can't poop at work. I physically cannot do it. I rarely do it outside of my home. It's a hang up I have but not a bad one, I might add.

Other people's digestive schedules dictate that they visit the can during work hours and I feel sorry for them. I can feel the tension in the air when they're already mid-poop and others enter the bathroom. I know they're hoping we'll just hurry up and get the hell out so they can finish in peace and solitude. I respect that and try to accommodate them.

But my point is, any noises and sound effects that blare from my stall are fake. Like today's experience -- as I was saying, my sandal scooted forward on the tile making a rather unfortunate, flatulent noise. I was mortified. I wanted to yell, "It was my shoe!"

I even tried making the noise deliberately several more times in the hopes that my coworkers would realize that the noise was not man-made. There was a pooper several stalls down so she was probably relieved that someone deflected the attention from her drop off. I feel like I did her a favor or something. My good deed for the day is done.