A Baller New Year’s

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Hi there, Parachute Jump.

A quote from the comedic goddess Janeane Garofalo: “I prefer to see the dark side of things. The glass is always half empty. And cracked. And I just cut my lip on it. And chipped a tooth.” Preach. That pretty much sums up my view of life in general, but New Year’s Eve in particular.

I am not, nor have I ever been, a fan of New Year’s or its accoutrements. I hate the pressure it brings to do “something” big. I hate most of the options that define “something.” I hate revelers and being reminded of the fact that, due to faulty wiring, I myself am incapable of reveling in anything but my own snark. But most of all, I hate staring time in the face.

Those last 10 seconds of the year – the tortuous downward slide of the crystal ball – kill me. I find it physically and mentally uncomfortable to just stare helplessly as another year disintegrates. For me, it’s like a “my-whole-life-flashed-before-me” experience, and all I want to do is reach into my head, grab a few memories, and make them the now.

What, I ask you, is so mesmerizing about a ginormous crystal-covered sphere that, at any other time, would be mistaken for a light fixture in the kind of uber-tacky suburban wedding venue that advertises on TV? Why is it appealing to watch the present slip away and know you can’t stop it? I can only assume that normal people get caught up in the excitement. That they feel hope for the future and the amazing things it might have in store for them. And I guess I can understand how, if a given year dealt you a particularly shitty hand, you might welcome its demise. But still. I, not being normal, feel dread for the future and the horrible things it might have in store. I feel sadness and loss about all the things I said I would do, didn’t do, and probably never will do. About every New Year’s Eve of yore. About getting older, and getting further away from childhood and the point in life at which there were still good possibilities. For all my failures and weaknesses. For all the things I wish were different but can’t be. The glass is always half empty. Sometimes I’m not even sure there IS a glass. But there’s always a fucking ball. And it’s horrible.

So whenever it’s remotely feasible, I stay home on New Year’s Eve and avert my eyes from the torture of the evil orb. And I do my absolute best to suck in any would-be reveler who’s part of my immediate circle to this December 31st miasma.

But 2015 saw the birth of one of my favorite obsessions (see Angels, Demons and Bloodsuckers): Coney Island, a magical land of benevolent creepiness at the end of the subway line. It is a piece of old New York whose quirky goodness I try to support however I can. A few weeks ago, it came to my attention that an official New Year’s Eve soiree was taking place at the very home of my beloved Circus Sideshow.  Going would mean helping a great cause, and the evening promised performance art, a laser light show, fire-breathing, Mermaid Pilsner a-plenty, relatively clean bathrooms, and a certain destined-for-greatness (and also possibly esophageal rupture) sword swallower. Plus, Marie, a local artist, neighborhood expert, and all-around great person I know from my days as a cub reporter, would be there. But wait! There’s more! There would be NO. BALL. Repeat. There would be NO BALL.

Sword swallower NO BALL, you say? A ball-less New Year’s Eve?! Tell me more, I’m intrigued. The call of the 11224 wild overpowered my hatred of New Year’s Eve and my ridonculously understanding husband obliged. The shows were amazing and exactly the way they should be: packed with F-bombs, lighter fluid, tattoos, 8-pound swords, jokes about dirty underwear and ecstasy, and the perfect amount of camp. Hashtag #creeptastic. The backdrop at midnight was epic – fireworks on one of the world’s most famous boardwalks; the illuminated Parachute Jump, North Star of southern Brooklyn; the smell of popcorn and cold air; the ladies Marie introduced us to so we didn’t look like friendless looz-airs.

Please don’t spread this around. I have a rep to maintain. But I think I accidentally reveled a little bit.

Behind us on the boardwalk were Coney Island’s historic rides, the landmarked Deno’s Wonder Wheel and the iconic wooden roller coaster known to most as the Cyclone and to me as the Certain-Puke-o-Rama. I was 100% confident I would never experience either of them, because I hate roller coasters and rides and pretty much everything. But I said that about New Year’s Eve too, so now … I’m only 90% sure.

 

 

 

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A Baller New Year’s

#Shudder

SM Logos

Sometimes, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for people who have not blogged in more than two years to take to their keyboards. And I have decided that I can no longer sit silently by as more and more of my friends, Romans, and countrymen fall prey to shudder-inducing, unoriginal expressions as they compose their vapid social media posts. It is my ethical responsibility to return to the Letter T and comment on this scourge.

Let me first say that you’d have a lot of trouble finding a bigger, more addicted social media junkie than me. I spend a truly alarming amount of time going down dark Facebook holes. You may not know me, but I sure know you. And your best friend from high school. And your ex-girlfriend. And her new boyfriend. Who, weirdly, is friends with my dentist’s daughter’s fiance. So no, I’m not pointing fingers at anyone merely for their use of these sites. It’s a sad reality. But for the love of GOD people, if you’re going to be a chronic poster there, post good shit. I want to be cool and hip and popular as much as the next guy, but for the good of the nation and society as a whole I implore you: stop propagating moronic hashtags and asshole expressions like these!!!

#squad: What kind of #squad are we talking about here? Death? Firing? Cheerleading? Rescue? If you must use this one, have the decency to qualify it. Otherwise I’ll have to assume you mean “Idiot Squad.”

Artsy photo of airplane wing to inform the world of your travels: Are you the unwitting protagonist in a reenactment of the famous William Shatner Twilight Zone episode “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet?” Is there a gremlin on that wing you just hashtag-no-filtered? If not, a simple “I just sat down on a big old jet airliner” will suffice.

An open letter to…: This implies there is such a thing as a closed letter. Please compose one of those instead.

#fordays: Lip gloss for days. Bikinis for days. Rosé for days. Or, in English, “I seem to have acquired a great number of lip glosses;” “Note that I am packing several bikinis for my beach vacation;” “I very much enjoy a nice glass of Rosé.”

My boo/My bae: I would comment, but my body is too contorted from cringing. I guess I can’t even, which brings me to my next point.

Can’t even:  Can’t even WHAT?! Can’t even COMPLETE A DAMN SENTENCE?!

On fleek: What exactly does this mean? What’s a fleek? Do I want to be fleek? It is so weird to me, in fact, that I will allow you to use it in my company if you do so ironically.

#nomnom: Only if you are furry, blue, googly-eyed, unable to properly use pronouns and surviving on a diet of cookies is it at all acceptable to use this hashtag.

This guy/This girl: Again, this guy/this girl WHAT? Do you not know the name of the person you’re so excited to pose with?

Birthday love letters to toddlers: Your kid is two and will never see this post. He or she can’t read, write, log on to Facebook, crap in a toilet, or POSSIBLY exhibit any of the traits you’re claiming he or she has.

What happens next will shock you: I doubt it. The only thing that would shock me is if what happens next actually shocks me. Thank you, Ron, for pointing out the absurdity here.

#blessed: When I see this in my feed, I feel  #cursed. And also #nauseous.

Posts about your dog: Just kidding. These are 1000% acceptable and encouraged. Unless of course your dog is part of a #squad; #blessed; has #Snausagesfordays; or is sensitive, thoughtful, smart, and intuitive at the age of eight weeks.

#Shudder

Instaweek

Since the written word continues to fail me (and because the wise and talented Mama Kat told me to), I have selected a series of (unremarkable) Instagram photos that represent highlights of the past week. What is remarkable is the fact that it took me five pathetic years to figure out how to add multiple images in a given post.

Special thanks to the lovely C. Migs; the high-larious real live author Choi Division; my super-sharp Duane Reade umbrella; Keith; Jan and Lew; the kindly waitstaff at the Waverly Inn; the bartender at Arthur’s; my SIL Christine; Delman shoes; and Citizens of Humanity.

Please see below and don’t hesitate to get in touch should you have any questions about Sr. Cojones. I know I sure as hell do.

Instaweek

But Can You Do THIS?

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.” 

Well hullo there, Millard
Well hullo there, Millard

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.

From left: Horsie, Rodney, Milty and Piggy
From left: Horsie, Rodney, Milty and Piggy

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. 

But Can You Do THIS?

You Say Tomato …

My husband, the produce expert (left) with recent acquisition
My husband, the produce expert (left) with recent acquisition

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.

Le sigh.

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.

You Say Tomato …