August 30, 2004

my left foot

A rather unfortunate incident befell me on the downtown R train on Saturday. I realize that by telling this story, I'm going to get crazy traffic as the result of some fucked-up search terms but I'll deal. I relayed this story to Jess and she did a quick mental inventory of all the weird New York stories she's heard and said, "You win." Are you ready?

I boarded the Brooklyn-bound train at Cortlandt Street for a rather short hop to Court Street. A very clean-cut young man got on at Rector Street and sat diagonally from me. Beyond the usual brief once-over, we paid each other no mind.

The train pulled into Whitehall Street and the doors opened and closed. The young man arose from his seat and headed toward the doors to exit even though they had already shut. I assumed he spaced out and missed his stop and was just standing there calculating how to minimize embarrassment and return to his seat without much fanfare. It's happened to me, I admit, and I know it's a bit humiliating. I thought he'd follow standard procedure and sheepishly return to his seat until the next stop.

I thought wrong.

I can't quite say he did the polar opposite of the expected behavior because, well... he just didn't, okay? Instead, he knelt down on the subway floor and struck a pose somewhat reminiscent of downward-facing dog. Normally I pay this sort of thing no mind but then he got on all fours and started sniffing the floor and under the seats like a bloodhound.

So I ruled out yoga.

Given the current climate in the city, I thought maybe he was looking for the best place to plant his explosives. The thought left my mind as quickly as it entered and I turned my head and gazed out the window at the black nothingness of the subway tunnel. My stop was next and I was not about to make eye contact with the crazy insane sniffing man if I could help it.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw that he was now flat on the ground and slithering dangerously close to me. He looked up at me with a really creepy smile on his face. I considered getting up and moving but instead, I stayed put and mentally plotted just how I was going to haul ass off that train and out of the station the minute the doors opened. In my pretend scenario, I think I may have even executed a few potent karate punches and kicks to the face, ribs and groin respectively. I'm quite the bad ass in my imagination, you see.

And then he touched one of the toes on my left foot. My head snapped in his direction and I said firmly, "Don't touch me, please." And again, he flashed his creepy smile. I'm not easily frightened but this sent a chill down my spine. I looked the other way and counted down the seconds until this hellish ride was over.

And then, all of a sudden, he lunged at my feet burying his head into my left foot while sniffing and kissing my toes!!!!!!!!!

Yes, you read that right.

I screamed and kicked and grabbed his head by the ears to pry him off. He held his ground while I tried to shake free from his suction-like grip. I looked to my left and saw two men and yelled for help. They came running to my defense and yanked the toe sniffer off me just as the doors opened. I quickly thanked them and jumped off the train.

I looked back and he was still lying on the floor of the subway car looking up with that creepy smile on his face. I yelled, "YOU FUCKING FREAK!" before the doors closed and ran upstairs. I saw a cop and proceeded to tell him what happened. Naturally, I prefaced the story with, "You are NOT going to believe this!" The train was long gone so there was no way to catch him. Besides, I'm sure if I took this to court, a defense lawyer would argue that my feet were asking for it since they were "parading around half-naked in a [really cute] pair of black leather flip-flops [from Banana Republic] complete with a shade of pink nail polish reserved for floozies and trollops [Revlon: Blushed, in case you're interested.]"

For the time being, my feet will remain incognito. Yesterday, I wore my "Polish Man Sandals" to the protest. They're thick-soled with a brown oiled-leather upper. I call them that because if worn with black socks, pleated shorts and a wife beater, I could easily resemble the Polish men in my old neighborhood. With that said, the sandals are cute but just not in the way to set off perverts or heterosexual men. They also offer comprehensive coverage similar to the toe-engulfing mules I'm sporting today.

I've never quite understood foot fetishes. Feet really hold no appeal for me. Even when pedicured and well-groomed, they are a rather unsightly appendage, in my humble opinion. Although, I'm rethinking mine now. Are mine unusually attractive as far as feet go? Did my ten little piggies cause this seemingly normal young man to do the unthinkable? Or would he have buried his face in any old pair of feet, regardless if they were clean or really gnarly? Good questions all.

While I'm not into it, I don't judge those who like to nibble, suck, sniff or partake in any other activity involving feet. Whatever creams your Twinkie, dudes. But with that said, I firmly believe that there is a time and a place for said foot play. You know, maybe NOT on the R train or any other form of mass transit, for example. I also think it's important that the owner of the toes be a willing participant in the event. Call me overly sensitive but I'm not fond of the idea of a stranger's lips cupped around my unsuspecting toes. Haven't you heard of asking first? What would Miss Manners think? Unless, you know, Emily Post is into that sort of thing...

>> Update! The dude was caught!

>> Click here for yet another tale of an underground fixation with my feet

August 25, 2004

i'm here and, like, totally queer and stuff

Because I like to rail against the norm and defy convention, I rarely say, "Why yes, I am a lesbian," if asked. Similarly, when instigating the revelation, I seldom make a straight-forward, emphatic declaration about my sexual orientation. Instead, I like to mix it up a bit. Not out of shame, mind you, but rather because of my natural tendency to be a complete and total jackass. So now, I present to you, ways I have revealed or further illustrated that I'm a big ol' dyke:

1. I'm a big ol' dyke. (Other variations include: I'm a big ol' lesbo; big ol' queerbait; big ol' gaylord; big ol' rug muncher, etc.)

2. I played ridiculous amounts of softball growing up and attended the Lilith Fair. Do the math.

3. Dick? Yeah, not so much.

4. Boys are cute and all, but well, so is a puppy. Doesn't mean I want to fuck it.

5. I brake for boobies.

6. Dude, I'm like totally gay or whatever.

7. I'm one of ::looks left then right and whispers:: "the gays."

8. Yeah about that whole penis thing... could you not come near me with it?

9. Oh fuck it, who am I kidding? The "he" in this scenario has a vagina. It's a girl, okay?

10. I'm a lover o' the ladies... you know, a skirt chaser. In other words, I love me some o' that pootie tang.

August 23, 2004

high art

I spent most of yesterday hanging out with The Adorable 4-Year-Old Niece. In an effort to lengthen her attention span and break her addiction to TV, the whole family has been trying to encourage her to engage in other activities. It's starting to work because I caught her sitting by herself coloring in her Clifford coloring book. For once, she didn't feel the need to talk over people while performing attention-getting dances or a striptease. Oh yes, she's already resorting to clothing removal and flashing to get noticed. This does not bode well for the future. Girls Gone Wild, anyone?

I can't pass up a kid with a coloring book so I joined my niece on the floor and we got to work. Unfortunately, she scribbled over EVERY page in her coloring book and I just can't work under those conditions so I grabbed some blank paper instead. I love to draw but sadly, I don't have the time to do it anymore. It felt good to bust out the paper, markers and crayons while spending quality time with the niece. I asked her if she had any requests. One of these days, I WILL learn the lesson that this is a BIG mistake. Rarely do kids want a picture of a cat or a balloon or something. They want entire landscapes with their favorite characters engaged in epic battles or attending some extravagant gala complete with a horse-drawn carriage. And they want it done in 5 minutes. I can usually reason with them and manage their expectations slightly. If they push back too much, they get a half-assed smiley face or a sorry-looking dog with "WOOF!" in a dialogue bubble coming out of its mouth.

The niece requested I draw a picture of her and her two friends on a ride at Hershey Park. She recently went there and hasn't shut up about it since. According to her, the ride she wanted me to draw was a sled of some sort. I couldn't even imagine what that ride might look like so I said fuck it (to myself, of course) and drew her and her friends in the front car of a roller coaster. A few hours later, her mother was able to translate that the niece meant the Himalaya. I'm sorry but I've been on the Himalaya elsewhere and "sled" is not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of that ride. In my experience, it's been a high-speed, gyrating hangout for screaming guidos.

The niece had an issue with it at first but she came around. But not before she corrected me on her seating position. She was sitting in the middle, not on the end as I had envisioned her. She also told me that she didn't own anything resembling the tank top with a daisy on it that I had clothed her in. She questioned every pencil stroke and disagreed with most every decision. She could not wrap her brain around the shortcut technique I used to draw the people in the cars in the background. I kind of cheated and just made them out of circles for the heads and sticks at a 45-degree angle for arms. I must say that arms were raised in a joyful "WHOOOOOOOOOOO!" gesture and they looked quite happy. The effect, in my opinion, worked.

"Where are the grown ups? How come my mommy's not with us? How come we went on a big kid ride by ourselves?" the niece inquired. I quelled her fears and told her that this picture was set in the future. I assured her that they were all old enough and met the height requirement to go on the ride unattended. If the niece doesn't end up being an art director or critic of some sort, my money is on social work or risk management.

As I began coloring in the picture, she started perking up as the image came to life. She was OVERJOYED when I colored one of the people in the background green to signify that he was on the verge of puking. She also now knows what the word "puke" means, by the way. When I told her that her friend was in the line of vomit fire, you would have thought that I gave her the key to a candy store and told her to run wild. She was in hysterics. I had won her over. She was totally on board with my artistic vision. She carried around the picture for the rest of the day and told everyone about the nauseous guy on the ride and how her friend was going to be covered in puke soon. It's her new favorite story. She no longer is repeating rather tawdry lines from Jimmy Neutron and SpongeBob. Um... score?

A drawing frenzy ensued after this. I tried to make the next exercise a bit more educational. I became overjoyed when she recited the alphabet and wrote down the letters in very mangled handwriting. We sounded out the letters and she gave me a keyword for each which I then illustrated. She came up with apple, banana, cookie, dog, elephant... and then she went off on a tangent about clowns so that ended that little lesson.

The niece HATES clowns. She was taken from a birthday party screaming and shaking because a clown showed up honking a horn. I can't say I blame the kid. Yesterday she decided she needed to put in writing exactly how she feels about clowns. "Make a sign that says 'No clowns allowed!'" I'm all about the anti-clown propaganda so I happily obliged. I began with the nose. She looked uneasy and said nervously and quietly, "I didn't think it was going to be that big." I crumpled up the paper and began again. Once the proper proportions were agreed upon, I got busy. Just as I was finishing up the universal symbol for "no," she had a slight change of heart. "Well, maybe we can make another sign that says, 'Yes, clowns for other kids allowed.'" Okey dokey. I illustrated her flip-flopping stance on two separate signs. She was pleased.

I took a few more requests and then I set out on my own mission: drawing a sandcastle on the beach. I sketched it out using burnt sienna, maive, chestnut and several other colors to get the desired shade and texture of sand. I created a turret and a tower with a hollowed-out window. I was pleased with my progress. The niece said, "You need flags on that!" and began drawing random strokes on my paper. With blue-violet crayon!!! BLUE-VIOLET!!! Or was it violet-blue? No matter, it didn't match! It wasn't in my predetermined color palette. I was pissed. So I leaned over and drew a random line on her egg-octopus-with-creepy-smile man thingy. She didn't like that one bit and protested. Tough noogs is what I had to say to that.

But that's the risk you run when you color with kids. I love to sit down with a box of crayons and a fresh page in a coloring book and just start coloring away. What I don't love is when kids say, "Oh let me help you!" and proceed to deface my otherwise pristine work of art with random scribblings. I know I'm supposed to applaud their dexterity and creativity and all that... but that shit annoys me. I'm at an age where I not only have enough fine motor control to stay within the lines and go all in one direction but I also understand shading, smudging, contour, cross-hatch and other techniques. I don't need some snot-nosed punk messing up my picture.

I have to say that I've gotten quite good at quickly snatching things away fast enough while saying, "No, get your own!" I fully realize I'm supposed to be mature and should set a good example and all that other crap but this is definitely an issue of respecting boundaries and OPP. Today it's someone else's page in a coloring book, tomorrow it's tags on buildings and scratchings on subway car windows. You say neurotic and OCD on my part, I say civic-minded and responsible.

on bridal showers and bad fashion sense

I spent the weekend in New Jersey because I had to attend my sister's bridal shower. The second oldest will be taking the plunge in October. Showers are always boring but when you're assigned to assemble the bow-and-ribbon hat, time sure does fly at one of these things. Glass after glass of sangria also helps.

I made sure the hat was an extra obnoxious-looking bonnet with a tulle train hanging from the back. I considered it payback for all those years of torment at the hands of my older sister. I feel vindicated especially since she had many pictures taken with that ridiculous thing perched on top of her head. That'll teach her to give me Wet Freddies. Mwahahahahahahahaha!

My mother thought it would be a lovely idea to assemble a photo album of the soon-to-be-wed sister from infancy through present day. It was indeed a moving gesture but there's a big chunk in the middle with LOTS of bad hair, untweezed eyebrows and unfortunate 80s and early 90s ensembles... mostly mine. I was not pleased that this album made the rounds from table to table. We were able to view the album the night before under strict orders from the mother that we were not to remove any pictures. That was asking a lot. Oh man, there's one in particular that was beyond horrifying. I'm not going to go into detail but I will say this: bi-level hairdo, Umbro shorts, a Mickey Mouse shirt and a red and black POP Swatch. Imagine, if you will, that wardrobe on me while I was smack-dab in the middle of my gawky, awkward phase. Good God, I was an ugly fuck at that age.

My low self-esteem was well deserved mostly because of my ridiculously bad fashion sense. Those clothing choices were mine and mine alone. I'm going to lay partial blame with my hair stylist at the time because she could have told me that the curly mullet wasn't doing me any favors. Jesus Christ, on the days when the Jolen wore off, I resembled one half of Hall & Oates. Sigh... it's going to take a good few weeks before I can rid myself of the memory of my early teens. And even worse, I've got "Private Eyes" ::clap clap:: stuck in my head now. Looks like today's lunch is going to be a liquid one.

August 17, 2004

the snowsuit

Frank was this really cool older guy from Jersey City who often hung around in my neighborhood. His girlfriend Donna lived around the corner from me and everyone in the neighborhood thought they were just the most awesome couple ever. She had mountains of teased curly hair on her head, caked-on makeup, fuck-me pumps and a fire-engine red Trans Am. I wanted to be Donna. All the younger kids often sat on Donna's front stoop and talked to her and Frank while we nursed our sexual and non-sexual crushes alike. My younger sister and I hung on Frank's every word. One day he told us a joke that we thought was the funniest thing ever. "Hey girls, how do you spell diarrhea?" We attempted to spell it and he stopped us and said, "No. It's D-I-dash-two-farts-and-a-splash!" I didn't think I'd ever stop laughing. I nearly gave myself a case of "the cha" from all that abdominal heaving.

The next day I went shopping with my younger sister, my cousin, my aunt and my mother. For some reason, the younger sister and I thought it would be cool to have full-length snowsuits. Yes, you read that right. I was about 11 and she was 9. I had no business wearing a snowsuit at that age. Yet, I wanted one. The cousin was seriously into hunting so he came along with my aunt to stock up on layered clothing at the factory outlet. I picked out a red snowsuit and the younger sister got an identical one in blue. There was a diamond-shaped patch on the left shoulder with an embroidered skier on it. I felt like Suzy Chapstick with my new ensemble. We were pleased with our purchases and left.

I don't remember why but my mother and aunt had to go back into the store. We were left alone in the car with the cousin who, I might add, could be a real prick when he wanted to be. But he was older and the younger sister and I were always in a bid to make our older siblings and cousins think we were cool. So the sister said to him, "Hey, do you know how to spell diarrhea?" I didn't want to be left out so I joined in and we squealed and laughed our way through the punchline. We saw the aunt and the mother approaching and quickly squelched the raucous giggling and swore the cousin to secrecy since our mother did not like that kind of talk. In our family, getting caught telling a joke with the word "fart" in it was just as damning as getting caught snorting a pound of coke. In my mother's eyes, the two crimes were equal in severity.

The car doors opened and the aunt and the mother immediately asked us what we were up to. The younger sister and I were as thick as thieves and were used to forming a united front. "Nothing!" we chimed in unison. I looked over towards the cousin and saw the evil glimmer in his eye. I knew we were doomed. He said through a wicked grin, "Guess what joke I just learned?" My sister and I looked panic-stricken. We begged and pleaded with our eyes for him to shut up. But with much pleasure and gusto, he repeated word-for-word our new favorite joke. My mother was incensed because not only were her two wee girls dealing in crude jokes, but she was made to look bad in front of her gossipy sister-in-law. She said, "I have a good mind to march you back into that store and return those snowsuits!" NOOOOOOOOOOOOO! We protested, apologized and groveled profusely and the mother soon relented. We did get a severe talking to when we got home though but the snowsuits were at least safe.

A few weeks later we had a significant snowfall. The younger sister and I were thrilled to put on our snowsuits and go out and play without getting all cold and soggy. We weren't out the door 10 minutes before someone made fun of our outfits. I wanted no part of mine anymore. After lunch I tried going out with my old jacket and pants but my mother ordered me back inside to put the snowsuit on. The younger sister was equally pissed to be wearing such an obvious target for ridicule. What were we thinking when we asked for these?!?! At least that time when we convinced the mother in the supermarket that we liked Kix, we were able pawn off the cereal on the two older sisters when we realized that it wasn't all sweet and sugary. Otherwise, what's the point of eating it? But we were stuck in this case. A snowsuit is not edible. We not only hounded our mother to buy these things but we even rescued them when they were nearly taken from us!!!

I don't know if there were two more miserable-looking kids out there on the snow piles. I had to wear it a few more times before I outgrew it but I did try repeatedly to ditch it. But the mother wouldn't allow it. It didn't occur to me then but the younger sister and I should have just banded together and said, "Hey ma! How do you spell diarrhea?"

August 14, 2004

things i've pondered in front of the tv this morning while drinking my chock full o' nuts

:: I have a serious problem with the resident parenting expert on NY1. At the first sign of a Shelley Goldberg segment, I clench my fists, grit my teeth and feel my blood pressure rise. This woman's unbridled enthusiasm for finger puppets and acoustic sing-alongs may very well put me in the hospital with hypertension or an aneurysm. I react with more alarm to her than I do the news about the faltering economy or Al Qaeda's latest threat. Those of you in the viewing area know what I'm talking about. The rest of you... just pray that they don't syndicate her.

:: Boiling Points on MTV might very well be my new favorite non-HBO* show. I thought Extreme Makeover: Home Edition was going to wear that crown but I've decided that harassing people is far more entertaining than charitable home improvement. I'm amazed at the patience threshold on some of these people. I'd be disqualified in less than 30 seconds... and later arrested for aggravated assault. *Favorite HBO show is Da Ali G Show. That maniacal cackling you sometimes hear is just little ol' me reacting to Borat. This show is so worth the asthma attack I inevitably have.

:: Is it just me or does the movie Tommy really suck? The Who = kick-ass. The album = brilliant. Broadway show several years back = stunning. The movie = crap. I love Ann-Margret but she terrifies me in this film. The flailing around in the baked beans and then humping that long pillow? Not attractive, Ann. Ew. I need to go watch an Elvis movie to restore her luster.

:: Cable television gets A LOT of mileage out of the 1993 film Hocus Pocus. What sort of backroom deal was made stipulating that this movie must replace The Beastmaster, Kindergarten Cop and Twins as standard weekend filler? Just curious how this is determined. If it involves Bette Midler and a hummer, don't tell me.

:: Anthony Sullivan has me thoroughly convinced that I need the One Sweep broom. After I tackle the problem of dirt and hair trapped in the carpet fibers, I need to set my sights on ridding my studio of "positively-charged allergens" with the help of The Sharper Image's Ionic Breeze Quadra.

:: And lastly, is it really necessary for weather people to give live reports while standing outside in a hurricane? What purpose does this serve exactly? I really don't need to see a drenched reporter wearing a yellow slicker clinging to a tree for dear life to understand the impact of a hurricane. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that most of us watching already know what heavy winds and rain look like. Seriously, weather people of the world, you can stand in front of a radar map in the safety of a studio and tell us about the massive storm. No one will think you're a pussy. I promise.

August 11, 2004

long before the fcc...

Here's another journal entry from my younger days. I think I was in my very early 20s when I wrote this. I was living at home and clearly frustrated with what I perceived as a stifling environment lacking in freedom of creative expression. Man, I wish that was my biggest "problem" now.

I have learned the painful lesson that unless a film is rated G by the Motion Picture Association of America, comes with the seal of approval from some conservative watch-dog group and has had repeated airings on The Family Channel (all requirements must be met to be considered), do not -- I repeat -- DO NOT watch it in the company of parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents or even older siblings who have mistakenly assumed the role of "back-up parent." The latter will tell if you watch something not on the approved list. Trust me on this.

Some older folks pride themselves on being really hip and therefore will unabashedly watch the Spice Channel with the whole family in tow. Most families, however, possess that normal, healthy relationship where both sides squirm in embarrassment if even the most benign of sexual references is made.

This relationship existed in my family -- very much so in fact, perhaps too much so. Maybe it was being raised in a British household where things are not as openly discussed that made me and my sisters so uneasy about certain things.

Culture was certainly a factor since at some of my American friends' very old fashioned and religious households, things like menstruation were discussed quite openly during dinner conversation. Imagine the look of shock and horror on my face as my friend's sister clutched her stomach while announcing in mixed company, "Oh, I have such bad cramps!"

This was my inner dialogue when I heard that: "She said cramps in front of her father?!?!?! My father doesn't even know what a period is... I don't think... No! He doesn't! He doesn't get it so how he could possibly know? He thinks those things in the cabinet under the bathroom sink are just another tool in his four daughters' daily make-up regimen. For all he knows, they apply and remove make-up, kind of like a long, absorbent cotton ball. He still hasn't figured out what the shorter tube-like ones are for though. He just lumps them into that category of other things he cannot explain like diffusers, hot rollers and the loofah sponge."

Yeah, we were a pretty uptight bunch. Given that, you can imagine the climate in my house when an R-rated, or even PG-13 film was watched in the company of my parents. I must have had masochistic tendencies as a child -- no, scratch that -- I KNOW I actively sought to inflict pain, embarrassment and humiliation on myself on a frequent basis. In addition to a million other doozies that I willingly clothed myself in, why else would I wear Velcro sneakers with gray parachute pants, and a gray and white pinstriped Jordache blouse complete with a little pinstriped bow tie that attached to the top button, that no matter how hard I tried would not sit straight on my collar?!

But I digress, why else would I choose to watch a film that I knew contained language and adult situations with parents unless I wanted to experience severe discomfort? For reasons beyond my comprehension, I watched movies with the parents that I had already seen with my friends in the theater knowing fine well what decadence awaited. I figured that I could "suddenly have to go to the bathroom" when things started heating up or just cough really loudly during a profane verbal onslaught.

During Fatal Attraction, I took so many pee breaks that my mother was ready to rush me to a specialist for some sort of kidney ailment. Sometimes I couldn't make it out of the room fast enough and I would get caught up in the traffic jam as my other sisters would join me in making a mad dash for the exit. Other times, I guess when I was feeling brazen, I would blindly sit myself down in front of a risqué film (meaning it was not pre-screened by any of my sisters and it did not have the word "Disney" anywhere in the title.)

It was always interesting to see what inane topic of conversation my mother would launch into at the beginning of what looked like a possible sex scene. She would begin discussing the price of produce at Shop-Rite or how the rug needed a steam cleaning. I would sense the dirty scene coming too and would pray that the director would let it fade to black and just leave it to our imaginations. I even hoped that the VCR would suddenly chew up the tape.

During my mother's drivel, my father would begin picking at his nails and twiddling his thumbs while the rest of us just tried to ride out the scene. You see, getting up in the middle of it or during some dirty dialogue would tip my parents off that we actually knew about -- and understood -- what was going on. By this time we thought we had perfected our innocent acts and made it seem that for all we knew, we were ordered out of a catalog or something.

In addition to the pontificating about how the movies of yesteryear had such good stories "without all the rubbish," my parents would make that "tsk" noise whenever an offending scene or bad word popped up. You know the one -- the one made with the tongue and the roof of the mouth that when done once expresses displeasure; when done in quick succession, it can be used in lieu of "Oh what a shame."

Now I try to avoid watching any television shows, films or even potentially embarrassing commercials in the presence of my parents if I can help it. It's not easy though because my mother possesses the uncanny knack of being able to walk into a room during what could be the one and only bad part in the whole film. The whole movie could be relatively clean but my mother will appear right at the one moment of indiscretion where the protagonist gives into temptation because the female lead has just flashed her breasts for reasons that have nothing to do with the plot.

Half the time by my mother's reaction, you would think that I wrote, directed and starred in the damn thing. She held me personally responsible for the content. Hey, if I couldn't make it work in my favor in school, i.e. being able to copy an Emily Dickinson poem out of a book and pass it off as my own like Blaire Warner did in The Facts of Life, then how come suddenly I could take credit for someone else's screenplay, acting and direction?

This type of parent roams in packs and hangs out with like-minded caregivers. A lot of my friends had parents who were exactly the same way. We bonded over this shared misery. The parental pressure was so bad at times that some of us went to great lengths to squelch any form of potentially offensive artistic expression. Back in the day, one of my friends knew exactly when to lift the needle off the record player so his parents couldn't hear the naughty bits of "Greased Lightning." During the "I fuck me" scene in The Silence of the Lambs, another friend decided to try to press mute at the appropriate time so that her parents wouldn't hear the dreaded F-word. Too bad she managed to silence everything but the actual F-word. The only thing that emanated from the speaker was "Fuck... fuck... fuck." The switchboards at the networks would be lit up like a Christmas tree if it was her job to bleep out bad words.

I, on the other hand, was a bit more successful in my venture. Sitting in the back seat of the car, I was able to roll up a magazine, lean over in between the driver and passenger seats and push the preset button to change the station when the familiar opening bars of George Michael's "I Want Your Sex" came on. Chicky chicky doink doink...

It wasn't always like this you see. My parents were careful about what they let us watch but they gave us a bit of freedom (namely in the form of a TV and stereo in the bedroom). We were thrilled that we could finally watch the forbidden Three's Company! I could watch a full episode of Dallas without getting kicked out of the room! Then I had to go and screw it up. It wasn't on purpose though. I had NO idea that the subject matter of Cheap Trick's "She's Tight" was sexual in nature. I specifically remember it popping into my head while I was in the car with my mother. It was a catchy wee ditty so I sang it out loud and bopped along in the seat quite happily. The mother was not amused especially when she found out that I learned it on MTV.

On a different occasion, I had a few questions about sex after watching Saturday night television unattended. The plot just didn't make sense to me so I asked the parents the next day at our weekly Sunday "fry" after Mass. I still recall the sound of forks dropping on plates. My mother hissed, "Where did you hear that?!" "The Love Boat," I innocently replied. Needless to say I wasn't allowed to watch Captain Stubing and company anymore. But even with these restrictions, the censorship in my home was not nearly as bad as the Happy Days ban in my brother-in-law's family. The reasoning? Fonzie was a "womanizer."

Personally, I think that gives Henry Winkler far too much credit. Regarding my parents and their attempts to distance me from all things racy in film and television: Um yeah, it totally backfired. I am now Time Warner Cable's bitch. I've got HBO and Showtime. I pay the extra money for In Demand so that I can replay all the naughty bits and fast-forward through the boring character development and plot stuff. Next up, Cinemax!

August 09, 2004

sidewalks of new york

Despite my short temper, I can usually keep my shit together on the overly-crowded streets of New York City. I get annoyed and will curse and complain but I mostly keep my frustration to a minimum. In this city, you have to or you'll go absolutely insane. Coping mechanisms are key. I find that playing certain soundtracks in my head helps to keep my sense of humor in check. For example, when waiting to cross a street and faced with a large crowd on the opposite corner, I say to myself, "Hut, hut, hike!" when it's clear to walk. It makes the ensuing scrum that much more tolerable if I pretend I'm trying to break through to the endzone. I just have to remember not to get carried away and tackle someone or spike my messenger bag.

Furthermore, if I imagine that basketball court sneaker squeaking sound when I have to stop short and change direction, it helps in dealing with the tourists guilty of committing heinous walking crimes. David Letterman had a bit where he'd train a camera on a certain intersection and when the pedestrians walked, he'd announce their progress as if it was a horse race. This is a fun little game to play too. I've won the Triple Crown several times over just so you know. While some people are into meditation or yoga to help them cope, I make like Walter Mitty and just imagine my way to better mental health.

But if there's one issue that I do not have a sense of humor about, it's the whole door holding thing. Specifically, I'm referring to when I'm exiting and I hold the door for the person after me and they just breeze right past without holding it for the next person. So help me God, I will grab the next person who does this by the head and slam said door on it repeatedly. This really chaps my ass because I'm not content to just chalk it up to rudeness. I must overanalyze the behavior of the perpetrator to find out why I, of all people, was treated like a doorstop. In an instant, it becomes a sociological dissertation on class warfare, discrimination based on appearance, sexism, etc. Oh yeah, I'm a real barrel of laughs when this happens. Ain't persecution complexes fun?!?

August 06, 2004

biting monkey, horny kitty

I adore my dear friend Jess for reasons too numerous to list. I will say that each day I find new cause to be happy about our friendship. Why just the other day we laughed maniacally about the cranky toddler-biting monkey. It matters not that the child was exposed to potential diseases and perhaps traumatized for life -- that shit is funny.

Yesterday, Jess did me a major solid. I had "Secret Lovers" by Atlantic Starr stuck in my head and for some reason, I feel compelled to sing these trapped songs to her via IM (a cry for help, perhaps?) Usually she indulges me but because of the ghastly song choice, she immediately replied, "Ew. Zip it." And voila! I was cured. Step back, Jonas Salk!

Today's reason to dig Jess: Who else can approach the taboo subject of humping cats with such aplomb?!?! Well done, Jess. Well done.

August 05, 2004

on vending machine etiquette and petty larceny

I'm dying for a Diet Coke and perhaps some salty potato chips. I just walked by the pantry to get some but the man is there filling the vending machine. I took one look at him and kept walking. What is the social rule for this? Is it okay to disturb him and make a purchase while he's stuffing candy in the machine? I know that I don't like it when people watch me work so my tendency is to slink away and let others do their job in peace. I used to do the same thing with the postal carrier -- I waited until he or she was a few doors down before I went to retrieve the mail. It doesn't really apply anymore since I live in apartment building and have never even seen the mailman but if I do bump into him or her, I'm sure I'll wait a certain amount of time before unlocking my mailbox.

Social retardation aside, I also wanted to avoid the vending machine guy because my coworkers and I pillaged the machine a couple of weeks back. He forgot to lock it and well... there was looting. I know it's wrong but I have to say that stolen Reese's Peanut Butter Cups taste a lot better than paid-for ones. Mmm...stolen candy. I'm tempted to go back there and pick the lock...

August 04, 2004

the cause of today's asthma attack

Both Jess and I find it supremely funny that a boy was bitten by a monkey, of all things, in a Key Food, of all places. I nearly pissed myself on the subway yesterday as I read the story in the paper. I was not the least bit surprised to discover that Jess found humor in this as well. Today, she recaps some of the unintentionally funny reporting in NYC's two top tabloids. Fellow asthmatics, get your albuterol ready. I certainly needed a drag on the inhaler after reading this compilation.

Update!! Lachlan over at My So-Called Blog has written a very funny piece on the chomping monkey as well. She quotes an article where the term "rogue monkey" is used. HA HA HA HA! I nearly tinkled in my drawers all over again. I'm putting that on my list of possible names should I ever start a band. "Ladies and gentlemen, please give a warm round of applause to... Rogue Monkey!"

August 02, 2004

mum's messages, part deux

The Mother often calls and leaves messages on my machine to inform/remind me of upcoming events, birthdays, holy days of obligation, tax deadlines, impending inclement weather, etc. It's the typical motherly thing to do but my mom's phrasing and inflection set her apart from the pack. She puts on her official phone voice as if she was calling Immigration to inquire about the status of her citizenship application. Her Scottish accent sounds really thick on my digital answering machine so, even though the subject matter is often grim, it still makes me laugh. Tonight's message:
Um, yes, hello. It's Mum. It's about half-past seven P.M. Just calling to see how you ar(rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr)e. [Ed. note: The Mother and especially the Father pronounce this letter quite amusingly.]

I just want you to... you know... um... I think you should be veeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrry vigilant and be on the lookout for suspicious things. Okay, now. Right, please call me back. Bye bye now. BEEP!
I think my mom and Amy's mom need to get together and have brunch so that they can swap tips on the most effective ways to scare the shit out of their offspring, how to lay down a proper guilt trip and administer frequent doses of shame and embarrassment... with love and panache, of course.