What the WHAT? Two blog posts in a mere nine days?! That’s right peeps. At Mama Kat’s prompting, I have created and shall now share a list of 10 random and totally useful things I know how to do. Don’t be intimidated.
One: At the risk of sounding politically incorrect, I can sit Indian-style, then stand and walk on my pretzel-ed knees. How not at all creepy! Editor’s Update: My sister, Jamie, has informed me that the proper, 21st-century term for the position I’m describing above is “criss-cross applesauce.”
Two: Since buck-toothed third grade, when I accidentally memorized a poster Mrs. Snow hung on our classroom wall, I have been able to name all U.S. presidents in order of appearance. Millard Fillmore is my favorite name on the list.
Three: I can read the Russian and Hebrew alphabets (sort of). Nyet, I do not understand what I’m reading.
Four: Call it trivial, but I can identify the innards of any chocolate from a Russell Stover assortment. Trust me, you’ll appreciate it when I save you from picking the weird strawberry nougat.
Five: Along those lines, I am a dessert sommelier. Tell me your entree and I will tell you the complementary confection.
Six: In just a few minutes, I can compose an “alphabetical poem.” What in THE hell is an alphabetical poem, you may be asking? I will tell you. Or should I say, “Ah. Be calm.” It is a poem whose first word starts with an A, second with a B, third with a C, and so on through Z. You can see one example of my freakdom at the end of this post about Conan O’Brien.
Seven: I cannot address the physics involved, but it’s somehow possible to bake chicken in a brown bag without burning down your apartment. I learned how to do this in Philadelphia, when the very feisty Lil – whom I refer to as “the Unsinkable Molly Brown” – came to visit Dave and Rob from Oklahoma. Note: the brown bag can’t have any ink on it, unless you like colored chicken and scrubbing your oven.
Eight: I am excellent at recognizing B-list actors (aka “the guy from …/the chick from …”) or former child stars in supporting TV roles. Usually, they’re playing suspects on Law & Order and judges on The Good Wife.
Nine: If you are having a conversation remotely within my hearing range, I’m listening. Even if I appear to be deeply engrossed in my own. I call it a throw-back to my days as an enterprising young journalist. Keith calls it proof that I’m nosy.
Ten: Upon adopting a new stuffed animal, I’m able to immediately sense and start channeling his/her personality and voice. Come to my abode and I will introduce you to Milty the nervous, nearsighted moose who communicates by nodding, shaking or scratching his bulbous head. There’s also Rodney, the alcoholic reindeer; Horsie, the Texan womanizer who fears being washed in a pillowcase, as his tag suggests; and of course Piggy, the innocent little swine who never quite gets her words right. She thinks investment bankers get a “Jonas” every year (Nick, Joe …) and that The Letter T is a “clog.”
Once again, may thanks to Mama Kat for her continued inspiration and motivation.
My own father – a physician and man of science who spends his days treating critically ill patients at a world-renowned medical center – could not pick a pasta strainer out of a kitchenware line-up and would rather buy a whole new set of unmentionables than figure out how to do laundry. Once and only once did Lew do the grocery shopping when we were little (at the Kings in Garwood). Needless to say, we left with $100 worth of Pringles, Chips Ahoy, Tastykakes, Cookie Crisp cereal and bubble gum-flavored Kissing Potion, a very delicious rollerball lip gloss. Most. Awesome. Supermarket. Trip. Ever.
In short, Lew is a great man who is not such a great help to my mother. As such, I witnessed — on many a childhood weekend — a meltdown during Jan’s Saturday morning cleaning process. I would start to hear angry but unintelligible muttering whilst eating my bowl of Honeycombs. The volume would increase and Jan would start naming random New Jersey countrymen who didn’t get their hands in hot water because they were pritzas. (Pronounced “preet-zuhs.” I don’t know what this Yiddish word really means, but Jan and Grandma Ethel used it as a derogatory term for women who were thin, pretty and/or rich). Soon she’d be full-fledged yelling about the lack of help she had around the house, referring to herself as “Tillie the Toiler.” Meanwhile, “Tillie the Toiler” was actually a smokin’ hot cartoon office worker and part-time model who, according to Wikipedia, had no trouble finding men to escort her around town. Some would argue that Tillie was even a pritza.
The whole thing was most unfortunate.
But I was used to it, and assumed that all households functioned like this. So when Keith and I moved in together, I was shocked to learn I was wrong: not all men drove their wives to faux Tillie the Toilerhood. If I start emptying the dishwasher, Keith feels guilty and immediately comes to help. Sometimes he even does it before I get out of bed. He also does his own laundry, irons from time to time and assists with fitted sheet folding. And by far the most helpful contribution Keith makes is food shopping. He says he finds it satisfying. I give him a list, he adds to it as needed, then heads to the store and calls me if he has any questions. Rather cutely, he then presents me with the groceries and eagerly waits for me to approve his purchases, which I always do.
Last week, one of the items on the list was iceberg lettuce. When I took it out of the bag, it felt really heavy and was so big I had to clear a shelf in the refrigerator to accommodate it. Keith looked very proud. The next eve, I went to prepare our salad. The lettuce was freakishly hard to cut. Its leaves seemed thick and rubbery and as I struggled to get the knife through them, the mysterious scent of Brussels sprouts wafted up to my nose. At first, I attributed the cutting difficulty to a sudden onset palsy that was obviously causing me to lose muscle control. The smell had to be a side effect – didn’t stroke survivors report experiencing strange aro… wait a minute. This wasn’t palsy. This was CABBAGE!
Frick on a leafy green stick.
I jumped away from the counter immediately, afraid that even the slightest contact with it would cause global thermo-gastrointestinal disaster.
Keith apologized profusely, but I told him it was an honest mistake and not to worry. Iceberg and cabbage bear an uncanny resemblance and really, only a seasoned shopper and vegetable-chopper would easily recognize the difference. Frozen green beans to the rescue.
This week, I put zucchini on the list. Keith handed me the bag, which also seemed heavier than it should have. A quick look inside revealed what appeared to be three ginormous … and purple … zucchini. Or, as you might know them, EGGPLANT.
There would be no roasted zucchini with olive oil and breadcrumbs for dinner that night. I knew Keith would feel terrible if I told him, but I also knew he’d feel bad if I just left the purple “zucchini” I’d requested rotting in the refrigerator. So I did what any good wife would do. I made a lifetime supply of mediocre eggplant parmesan. And baba ganoush. And ratatouille (sans zucchini).
Keith is an amazing husband (especially for letting me make fun of him in this post) and never, ever causes me to refer to myself as Tillie the Toiler or to anyone else as a pritza. But no man is perfect – and clearly, he needs a bit of tutelage in the produce department. Perhaps I am at fault here – perhaps I failed him by not preparing him better for the world of supermarketry.
I am off to enroll him in Edible Vegetation 101.
Ladies and gentlemen, I direct you to the delightful blog Happy Family Travels, where my guest post was featured on February 7th! No spoilers – you’ll have to check it out. My thanks to Ronnie for inviting me to do this – such an honor!
The time has come to admit that I am clearly the laziest blogger in the entire blogosphere. If it’s any consolation, I blog constantly in my head. Did that console you? It did not, in fact, console me. I quote the great Liz Lemon when I say, “Blurgh.”
But, the time has also come for me to share my annual ”year in words” post, featuring keywords that represent the last 12 months. This list is not at all comprehensive, and I apologize in advance for anyone or anything I may have omitted/blocked out. 2012 was not the most stellar of years for me or many of the people I care about, and as such, I don’t have a big problem bidding it adieu. But it was not without its highlights — most notably this:
Here’s to a happier, healthier and easier 2013.
Keith ▪ Buddy & Judy ▪ Impudent Oyster ▪ P. Corn ▪ Chatham Gables Inn ▪ Dennis Port ▪ NCIS ▪ Mystic Pizza ▪ caucus ▪ teeth ▪ crud ▪ diabetes ▪ The Marriage Plot ▪ Jeffrey Eugenides ▪ Coup de Coeur ▪ C. Miggs ▪ Chinchilly ▪ 2WW ▪ Hong Kong ▪ Snookie Monster ▪ the right cookie ▪ Blue Ivy ▪ Sleepytime ▪ Trayvon ▪ Clomiphene ▪ Joe Pa ▪ Whitney Houston ▪ Dr. Laura ▪ Jon Hamm! ▪ Boy Bait ▪ Janna ▪ Murray Hill ▪ Loren ▪ Mad Men ▪ Jamie ▪ LA ▪ Black Angus ▪ DFW twisters ▪ red jeans ▪ Hunger Games ▪ Brooklyn ▪ Ana & Dylan ▪ IMAX ▪ Digital Wish ▪ Ma’am bracelets ▪ Whitney ▪ OPI Red ▪ antagonist protocol ▪ Palazzo ▪ Mike Wallace ▪ bronchitis ▪ yoga ▪ Edgemont ▪ Intel ▪ Dr. McGS ▪ 50 Shades of Grey ▪ Red Lights Ahead … Where? ▪ Acuity ▪ tulips ▪ George Jetson ▪ Labyrinth ▪ 30 Rock ▪ 40 ▪ peonies ▪ roses ▪ Reese’s ▪ Twix ▪ Tootsie Rolls ▪ Kooba ▪ Cole Haan ▪ Rebecca Minkoff ▪ Sugar Sweet Sunshine ▪ two ▪ Il Cantinori ▪ Frankfurt ▪ Uva ▪ cream blazer ▪ bar mitzvah ▪ L’Occitane ▪ verbena ▪ Damask ▪ BFN ▪ Tan Mom ▪ Jess ▪ Rach ▪ Dinky ▪ Princeton ▪ The Mentalist ▪ Red John ▪ Delancey ▪ Googa Mooga ▪ Facebook IPO ▪ Jr. ▪ Google Docs ▪ CoMindWork ▪ Paris ▪ London ▪ sleepover ▪ cauliflower ▪ Blue Bloods ▪ cherry vanilla ▪ Beryl ▪ Kutsher’s ▪ Citarella ▪ slurpies ▪ gladiators ▪ DL 1961 ▪ cinch-waist ▪ Haven ▪ Cute as a Button ▪ Something beautiful you can truly own ▪ Chagas ▪ juniper ▪ Diamond Jubilee ▪ circus afro circus afro ▪ Daisy May’s ▪ chemosis ▪ Dallas ▪ ISTE ▪ Android ▪ strawberry ▪ Belgian beer ▪ Allyson ▪ polar bodies ▪ amoeba ▪ Arlandria ▪ Microsoft ▪ Nora Ephron ▪ Vigamox ▪ Point Lookout ▪ MOTW ▪ Obamacare ▪ Thygeson’s ▪ Jules ▪ Parker ▪ Ernest Borgnine ▪ Certain Girls ▪ what the what? ▪ Nicole ▪ nashi blossom ▪ Ana ▪ Grover’s ▪ Long Branch ▪ Olympics ▪ Fierce 5 ▪ barf ▪ pneumoperitoneum ▪ #notimpressed ▪ Mekenna ▪ K. Puss & R. Patz ▪ Phillipe ▪ Audrey ▪ Fun ▪ dailies ▪ Call Me, Maybe ▪ Fantastic LA ▪ Dena ▪ In N Out ▪ Kate’s ▪ Stanley’s ▪ Lady Vengeance ▪ Kitson ▪ Polo Lounge ▪ Dan ▪ the Houghs ▪ the Carradines ▪ Mastros ▪ butter cake ▪ Paradise Cove ▪ Stoner Hassid ▪ Duke’s ▪ the ‘bu ▪ Piggy ▪ Eastern Europe ▪ closing bell ▪ Dave & Rob ▪ Worth & Jason ▪ US Open ▪ Bourne ▪ Milkbite ▪ Romney ▪ RNC ▪ DNC ▪ Java ▪ Mixer ▪ Punky Brewster ▪ CNN ▪ VP ▪ #blogwell ▪ Simon Baker ▪ Libya ▪ Gangnam style▪ Josh ▪ SNL ▪ Rachel Bilson ▪ 70 ▪ watch ▪ Cassie ▪ Ger-manicure by OPI ▪ Ferraro’s! ▪ Stella & Dot ▪ Montclair ▪ Ollie ▪ The Pleasure Groove ▪ John Taylor!!! ▪ Turn It On ▪ Dreaming ▪ Sound of Thunder ▪ Argo ▪ Instagram ▪ Miami ▪ Tiffanie & Michael ▪ Sandy ▪ Zuma ▪ Restore the Shore ▪ Obama ▪ spat ▪ Petraeus ▪ Paula Broadwell ▪ Israel ▪ One Direction ▪ Brussels sprouts ▪ Defending Jacob ▪ Manila ▪ Hong Kong II ▪ 12/2/12 ▪ royal baby ▪ chopstickery ▪ “Weeeell” ▪ Kalydeco ▪ Frida Koala ▪ supertyphoon! ▪ Breaking Dawn II ▪ El Camino ▪ Aviary ▪ Slauw-tuh ▪ 90th Street ▪ Grace Paley ▪ Schnipper’s ▪ diverticulitis ▪ America ▪ Paul Rudd ▪ ZJTN ▪ Atlanta ▪ Alex ▪ Ella Jane ▪ Newtown ▪ Laura Mercier ▪ Richard Engel ▪ fiscal cliff ▪ ICE ▪ Mayapocalypse ▪ Jo Malone ▪ Dyker Heights ▪ Mama Rao ▪ PSNP ▪ Chrismukkah ▪ Baby Uh-yive ▪ Alexis Bittar ▪ Not Fade Away ▪ Keith ▪ Jan & Lew ▪ Ma’am Jr. ▪ CD ▪ NB ▪ RB ▪ RS ▪ JD ▪ LPAK (Palmie) ▪ Ma’am Sr. ▪ KH ▪ WFBF ▪ RC ▪ LA ▪ JB (Twin!) ▪ DB ▪ CO ▪ AP ▪ EL ▪ TB ▪ KL ▪ LS (Nana)▪ C. Miggs ▪ AG ▪ MPC ▪ APC ▪ SP ▪ MF ▪ PG ▪ El Diño ▪ Stella ▪ Normal will never be amazing ▪ 2013 …
In response to Mama Kat’s Thanksgiving-themed Weekly Writing Prompt – and to remind myself – I’m going to tell you what I’m thankful for this year. Of course this will prove extremely helpful to you the next time someone stops you in the Kroger’s or Piggly Wiggly produce aisle and asks, “Say, do you happen to know what the fabulously talented proprietress of The Letter T is thankful for?”
One of the things I’m thankful for is that my immediate family and close friends survived Hurricane Sandy largely unscathed, albeit in the dark and without cable for cruel stretches of time. But a virtual moment of silence for everyone who was not as lucky. For the lives and livelihoods that were blown away in this freak superstorm. And for the fallen icons of the Jersey Shore. The boardwalks of Seaside Heights (or as we called it, “Sleazeside”) and Point Pleasant were repulsively seedy and endlessly comforting at the same time. I never understood how that was possible, but somehow the tackiness and the grit were part of the appeal – along with the smells of greasy food and Hawaiian Tropic. Slightly creepy carousel music. Saltwater taffy. Old school signs. Wife-beater tanks and giant gold crosses. Tattoos. Skee ball. Our roots. I am thankful I am from New Jersey.
Things I am also thankful for:
- Keith, Jan and Lew, Jamie, my cousins, and my family-in-law
- Being able to spend Thanksgiving with the aforementioned peeps
- Old friends and new friends, in MA, CT, NY, NJ, MD, TX and Germany (sniff sniff)
- Ollie, Howie and Lulu
- Our stuffed kids
- Surviving that freak eye infection, only having to have corneal scrapings once, wearing contacts again and freedom from amoeba
- Being able to live in New York
- The fact that in New York, anyone can get married
- Not having to live in Michigan
- Little blue pills and little white pills
- That Cavaricci’s are no longer in style
- The flat-iron
- Peanut butter
- The interweb and social media
- Not having the interweb and social media in high school
- My job, my co-workers and being allowed to wear jeans every day
- The lack of Ebola on the North American continent … so far …
- Snoopy, Charlie Brown and co.
- Cookie Monster and Grover
- Hydroquinine pads (sayonara, melasma!)
- The expression “but other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?”
- The coffee cart man on 23rd between 5th and 6th (except when he runs out of half-and-half)
- My “Dr. Laura”
- The kind of liquid eyeliner that comes in an easy-to-apply magic marker-type pen
- The chance to meet John Taylor and realize a childhood dream
- Trader Joe’s
- Wite-Out pens and the NYT crossword puzzle
- Slimy cranberry sauce that maintains the shape of the can it came in
- The blogosphere
BIG FAT HAPPY THANKSGIVING, THREE PEOPLE WHO READ THIS BLOG!
For review, please see Sunday’s post.
Greetings from “some day!”
After learning that place-holders would not be allowed at the book signing — i.e., no paying unemployed friends to stand in line so you could sleep late and then roll in at 11 — Rachana realized it didn’t make sense for her to come in from NJ. Between this, the crack-of-dawn rising, the four+ hours of line-waiting with strangers, and the possibility of crushing disappointment, I really wasn’t sure I could do this anymore. But I kept hearing my dad’s words … Some day … on the street in New York … and I knew I had to try.
Armed with an Olive & Bette tote bag containing non-perishable rations and my finest Duran Duran memorabilia, some with original scotch tape and mauve wallpaper fibers, I headed across town. On 54th Street, nothing looked out of the ordinary — I had been expecting a squatter’s village and tents. That was a good sign. Inside, there was no line to buy the book – “In the Pleasure Groove” (favorably reviewed by the HuffPo, I might add) – either. Upstairs, a kindly older woman escorted me to the end of the line and told me I was roughly number 40. SCORE! If I could deal with four hours of mind-numbing boredom, I would almost certainly make it to the front of the line.
Very weirdly, the time passed quickly and pleasantly. I made myself comfortable in the aisle where they’d stuck me (Personal Growth). I enjoyed a nice cup of coffee and mediocre bagel, I became BFFs with ladies in front and in back of me, and Barnes & Noble had curated a special Duran Duran soundtrack for the occasion. The camaraderie was incredible! We spelled each other for bathroom breaks. We shared iPhone chargers and Tide pens and hand sanitizer. I killed a stink bug that had waddled out from under “IBS for Dummies,” accidentally spraying one of the other “Duranies.” We passed around our BOP and Tiger Beat and 16 posters. We told stories about the 80s and assessed the various girlfriends of Simon Le Bon and John. We talked about why we loved them and why we still loved them. We talked about our favorite albums and videos and the stupid things we used to think. We talked about the different times we’d seen them live, what it was like being 12 and how, in some places that shall remain nameless
Scotch Plains, a girl was a traitor to Bon Jovi and could get thrown in locker for loving Duran Duran. My modern-day friends cheered me on via Facebook and text message.
You can do eeeet! You can do eeeet!
Exactly at 12:30 we heard the front of the line start screaming and I knew that “some day” had come. Up until that point I had been a mix of excited and sad (about lost youth and how much time had passed since the first time I heard “Rio” on the way to school in 5th grade). As the line moved along, I realized there was a pretty good chance I would puke, pass out, or lose the power of speech. My hands were shaking too hard to take pictures and I tried desperately to think up something hilarious to say to him.
Then I could see him and then I was in front of him! He was gorgeous and smiling and felt like an old friend I hadn’t seen in eons. This is how the conversation I’d dreamed about for 30 years went down:
JT: Hi Traci, how are you?
Me: The only thing I can think to say to you right now is ‘Holy Fucking Shit.’
Me talking very fast and trying to squeeze a lifetime of chit-chat into 10 seconds: I have two books for you to sign but I also brought some potentially horrifying stuff from my personal collection I know it’s a little creepy this has been in my family for 30 years it actually hung on my bedroom wall you can see the tape.
JT views the ancient pictures of himself. He actually puts his hand on the faded posters that Rachana and I bought in 1984 at Baron’s in Westfield.
JT: Wow this stuff is like heirlooms!
Me: I apologize for any New Jersey molecules that might have contaminated you.
JT laughs or at least I remember it that way. Then he signs both books, shakes my hand and says it was nice to meet me. I tell him it was SUCH an honor to meet him.
Downstairs, my new friends and I realized we were starving and bordering on hysterical in a totally mature way, so we headed to Dos Caminos for sangria and guacamole. Then, we parted ways and I returned to the “Ordinary World,” running errands on the rest of my day off and wondering what Keith would want for dinner. Nothing had changed, except that it kind of had.
And now I’m thinking about a conversation between me and my 12-year-old self. I know what she would say and ask. She would want to know if she gets married to someone nice and cute (she does); if she ever gets her braces off (she does, but could use another round); if she will always be friends with Rachana (she will); if she moves to New York (she does); and if she’ll barf at her bat mitzvah (she won’t). She will be impressed that she eats sushi and drinks sangria! She will love finding out that a Gear bag is in her near future. And now of course, I can tell her when she asks that some day, on the street in New York, her dream will come true.
It was the spring of 1984. I was 12, the clothes were Esprit, the hair was bi-leveled, and the night was sultry. (Or maybe it wasn’t. I was in the basement watching Suburban Cablevision for most of it, so I can’t say for sure.) John Taylor, Simon Le Bon and the rest of Duran Duran were the reigning MTV Friday Night Video Champions. It was during this reign that my middle school bestie Rachana and I became obsessed with the band Tiger Beat and BOP used to call “The Fab 5.” Ours was to be an unrequited love story that would span three pathetic decades and media from vinyl to cassettes and CDs to iPhones. Chuckle away. But you will never convince me that “Rio” isn’t one of the greatest masterpieces of all time.
A few years in, Duran Duran paid a visit to Z-100 and listeners were invited to call in with questions. What this really meant, if you were lucky enough to get through, was that for a few seconds, John Taylor and Simon Le Bon would know you existed. So I redialed and redialed and redialed and got only a busy signal. I was devastated. Trying to console me, Lew said, ”You never know. One day, you could just be walking down the street in New York and bump right into them…” And it is those words — that tiny possibility — that still gets me through my darkest days. I don’t know why, but I never got over this obsession. They are my first loves. They taught me nothing I know about eyeliner. And when you have loved something as long as I’ve loved them, even without a shred of personal contact, they kind of become part of your psyche.
Cut to 2012. Rachana and I are 40. The clothes are J. Brand, the hair is flat-ironed, and the night might or might not be sultry. But it doesn’t matter, because John Taylor is signing copies of his new memoir in the city on October 16th. Dressed in our finest skinny jeans, uber-stylie fall tops and shiny new booties, Rachana and I planned to hit the bookstore, experience the nirvana that is John Taylor, capture the whole thing on our iPhones, then enjoy a delightful ladies’ lunch as we analyzed our interactions
For some reason, I pictured this going down at the famed Fifth Avenue bookstore Rizzoli. Rizzoli hasn’t actually been on Fifth Avenue since 1985, and the book signing is really taking place at a non-descript Barnes and Noble in a midly depressing part of town. Tuesday is also supposed to be way too warm for booties. I might have to meet John Taylor in … GASP … ballet flats. Since my other long-running friend, Nicole, lives in Germany, she’s obviously not coming. That feels wrong. Then came the big blow. The signing starts at 12:30. The store is opening at the inhuman hour of 7 am to accommodate the massive line of screaming ninnies expected to show up. Most likely, I was told, those who arrive much later than 7 will never make it to the front of the line. This seemed like the gods of childhood dreams playing a cruel trick on me. Really?! I had to choose between sleep – my most beloved body function – and JOHN TAYLOR? REALLY?! Thankfully, this disaster was averted when Nicole’s sister Rebecca suggested I pay someone to hold our spots in line. I hadn’t known this was a thing, but apparently opera fans do it all the time for tickets. Brilliant!
Yet with so many of the details unraveling, I started to question the whole thing. Assuming we even make it to the front of the line, it will take him two seconds to sign his name. Photos might not even be allowed, and if they are, I’m entirely confident I’ll look grotesque and cross-eyed in mine. There is no possible combination of words we could conjure to leave any kind of impression in that situation. He probably won’t even look up.
But what really concerns me is the end of the fantasy. What if he’s a total douche bag? What if he looks like a sad, washed up Happy Ending Sundae Story? I don’t want to meet that version of him. I want to meet him in 1984. I am so used to looking forward to this - how will I feel when I have to look back instead? When the thing I’ve waited for all these years has happened, will I be happy about it? Is it better to have the hope than the memory? Is this a really bad idea?
Maybe. But fuck it. We’re meeting John Taylor on Tuesday!!!
When you’ve lived in New York as long as I have, you start to build up a sort of weirdness tolerance. As time goes by and you move from one overpriced shoebox to another, it takes more and more weirdness to impress you. Eventually, things that used to make you shudder strike you as totally normal. Elderly man with a long, gray ponytail wearing fishnets and a housecoat on the bus? I’ve seen weirder. Seemingly upscale lady carrying a discarded crappair down 77th Street? Meh. At this point, it is only the seriously bizarre that even registers with you.
Now I don’t know if this counts as “seriously bizarre,” but it was pretty hard not to notice. Is that a banana on your subway platform or are you just happy to see me?
As I noted on Facebook earlier today, I have a few theories that might explain what a random banana is doing here.
- Theory 1: As my dear and swell friend Rich suggested, it occurred to me too that this was the equivalent of the collegiate “sock on the doorknob” code. Perhaps the closet/utility room behind this door is actually the shared domicile of two MTA employees, two rats, or one of each. When one of them brings a slutty date home – be it rodent or human – he or she hangs a banana on the door and the roommate – be it rodent or human – knows not to enter. Things this doesn’t explain: why a banana instead of the classic sock? Why is there a banana hook on the door in the first place? Who put accommodations for two grown MTA employees, two grown rats, or one of each on the subway platform? And more important, is this place rent-controlled? Unlikely.
- Theory 2: For obvious reasons, “banana” is the international sign for some kind of lurid sex practice. Unbeknownst to dorks like me, there are hundreds of 1 train commuters who secretly engage in this lurid sex practice but struggle to find like-minded partners and have nowhere to go. Clearly, a filthy utility room underground is the perfect spot for whatever this practice may be. Nothing screams “discrete” and “erotic” like the New York City subway. When these poor, isolated souls see the banana on their way in to work, they know their days are about to get a whole lot better. Less unlikely, but still not so likely.
- Theory 3: The city is running a public art project but hasn’t publicized it. The banana is some bullshitter’s take on dadaism. Possible, but doubtful.
- Theory 4: Someone is conducting a psychological experiment (possibly for a new reality tv show) on hidden camera. What kind of hilarity will ensue when the average New Yorker sees … a BANANA? I prove to be a fascinating subject as I stare at it then take an iPhone picture of it. Possible.
- Theory 5: Someone riding the subway has an extra banana in his/her bag and decides to hang it on the door in case a homeless, hungry person (or rat) wanders by in search of food. Probably.
My relationship with lunettes goes back to 5th grade, when a boy in my class saw me squinting at the chalkboard and told me I might need glasses. I was utterly appalled, of course. The teacher had obviously written “HO CNEWIHG GUM,” and really, what business did a kid who wore “husky” jeans have calling anyone else near-sighted? The gall!
But I was nearsighted. And after years of increased glasses wearage, I got contacts, which I wore without incident until June. Then, a freak eye problem forced me to spend the long, hot summer in glasses. I don’t want to brag or anything, but for a while “they” thought I might have the worst eye infection known to man. It was horrendous and the tale could fill another blog post, but for now I’ll just say that I consider a piece of protozoan trash called acanthamoeba to be my micro-archnemesis.
Until then, I had never minded and actually enjoyed wearing glasses occasionally. I have two moderately funky pairs – one black and Ray-Ban, one tortoiseshell and Prada – that seemed socially acceptable to me. But after a few days of forced glasses-wear, I fell into a deep malaise. It was one thing to wear glasses when it was your own choice – when you yourself decided to give your eyes a break, when you yourself wanted to pose as a hipster while viewing an indie movie. It was entirely another when you had no say in the matter, when an amoeba might or might not be feasting on your cornea.
Glasses in winter are also different from glasses in summer. Pair them with a chunky sweater and boots, and you’re instantly a stylie magazine editor, screenwriter or art gallery director. Pair them with a flowy sundress or halter top and jean shorts, and you’re just plain dorky. Walk down the street in February, no problem. Walk down the street in July and endure your glasses sliding down your nose on a trail of sweat. Or fogging up from the 200% humidity.
I wore glasses to the beach, barbecues, sceney restaurants, a black-tie wedding, and yoga (please do not try this at home). I was forced to blow-dry my hair when I might otherwise have gone wavy, because I couldn’t risk adding another layer of doofiness to my already handicapped appearance.
I knew things could be 1,000 times worse, but I couldn’t snap out of the malaise. I had no idea how long the eye infection would linger, and with no choice but glasses, I started to feel a way I hadn’t felt since high school: different from everyone else and separate from the rest of the world. Surely everyone else was relaxed, at peace, and enjoying the summer. I was wearing glasses and sitting in the eye doctor’s office every other day. I had to cancel a trip to see my sister because of this thing. The glasses I had once been proud of selecting without two or three fashion consults no longer seemed funky but instead ginormous and cartoony. I expected to look in the mirror one day and see a plastic schnozz and Groucho moustache in the reflection. The mere blurry sight of their cases when I got out of the shower was repulsive and depressing.
I’m not sure why the whole thing bothered me so much. Maybe it was pure vanity. Maybe it was the disruption of my normal routine. Or maybe it was because the glasses were a constant reminder that something wasn’t right. I don’t know, but I felt awful, and like the world was out of whack.
Four times a week, then once a week, then once a month, I returned to the corneal specialist praying that I’d get the go-ahead to ditch the glasses. Finally — FINALLY! — I did. My co-workers cheered when I walked in wearing eyeliner and contacts. I couldn’t have been happier. It didn’t matter that I quickly realized how much better my vision was in glasses. Or that I’d noticed a lot fewer tension headaches during the null-contact phase. I would endure the slightly fuzzy computer screen and sensation that an elephant was sitting on my forehead for a sense of normalcy and the ability to wear my non-prescription Wayfarer sunglasses again.
As is common after an ordeal, I learned a valuable lesson that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. I know, I know – you’re reading with baited breath for the pearl of wisdom I’m about to reveal. What deep insight have I gained from my brush with dendritic corneal ulcers? What new perspective do I have now that I’ve stared into the eyes of the
devil amoeba? I’ll tell you. Here it is. Are you ready?
I don’t care how itchy your eyes are. I don’t care how sausage-like your upper lids are. I don’t care that thick tears are pouring down your check and you’re not crying. Word to the wise: never go to the eye doctor.
Please do not be alarmed if, when you click on the links within this post, you suddenly hear the irksome music of a Philadelphia cream cheese commercial.
There were a lot of different ways this could have gone – hilarious, melodramatic, flowery, rhyming – but I didn’t think too much about my answers. I just filled in the template with the first things that came to mind, then did some minor linguistic plastic surgery.
Thank you again, Mama Kat, for your inspiration!
I am funny but anxious.
I wonder why I am wired this way.
I hear a cherry ice cream smile.
I see where I went wrong.
I want to live without the doom cloud stalking me.
I am funny but anxious.
I pretend I am the much-applauded guest of a late night talk show host.
I feel an amoeba crawling in my eye.
I touch the past, one of the few things I can always reach.
I worry about losing the people I love.
I cry when I think about what might happen and also what might not happen.
I am funny but anxious.
I understand the appeal of other places.
I say most things are not that simple.
I dream there is no clean bathroom.
I try to be nice.
I hope someone discovers the untapped brilliance that is me.
I am funny but anxious.