Creep It Real

rockFor Halloween, I decided to dress up as a short, neurotic Jewish girl. A brilliant disguise! No one will ever guess it’s me!

In reality, I love Halloween because it reminds me of simpler times and candy and fall and friends and childhood, but I’m too old and tired to participate in most of its supporting activities. Which is depressing, like almost everything.

But I did sport my amazeballs CREEP IT REAL tee, because when else can I legitimately wear such a thing in public? And I had the Munsters’ theme song stuck in my head all day. And I composed this brief and silly blog post after seeing Mama Kat’s Halloween-themed “This or That” questionnaire.

Candy: chocolate or fruit-flavored?
I take candy very seriously, so I need some additional information in order to properly answer this. Like, is said chocolate a Zagnut or Zero Bar? If so, gag me with a spoon and fork over the cherry-flavored shit. Also, is it basic American chocolate (good) or fancy ass 200% cacao dark chocolate flavored with saffron, sea salt, or anything else you’d buy at a Moroccan spice market (totally inappropriate)? Assuming it’s not one of these aforementioned confectionery abominations, I’d obviously go with chocolate. But I certainly wouldn’t kick a few Skittles or those cute little packs of two Starbursts out of bed.

Witches or vampires?
Given my Eastern European roots and love of a deep red / goth-adjacent lip, I generally feel more comfortable with vampires. Sure, a vampire will probably go in for the kill before the night is over, but some of them are pretty hot, and who doesn’t keep garlic and stakes lying around? Besides, broom flying would definitely give me motion sickness and I’d never be able to fit a cauldron in the apartment. Note: I stand with the Salem witches. #thecrucible

Trick or treat?
My friend told me about an office prank in which an employee sneaks into his boss’s office, hides a few raw shrimp in the base of the desk chair, then waits with bated breath for the untraceable stench of rotting shellfish to start driving the boss crazy. I find this hilarious, but I’d still go with treat.

Halloween party or scary movie?
This is a tough one. It really depends on the party’s location, host, and guest list, and on the movie. Please say “Human Centipede,” please say “Human Centipede …”

Skeletons or zombies?
Skeletons, because it’s always wise for someone who frequently dispenses medical advice to brush up on human anatomy.

Trick-or-treating or handing out candy?
Why would I give away candy when I could be given candy?

Hay ride or corn maze?
Hay ride, because I’m lazy and it’s less claustrophobic.

Bats or black cats?
Black cats, because they’re awesome, I have one as an aunt, and also, everyone knows that bats=rabies.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN, ALL! CHOOSE YOUR CANDY WISELY!

Advertisements
Creep It Real

Imperfect 10

TheWorst

There’s nothing to get excited about anymore. Except Liz Lemon.

When I was young and stoopid(er than I am now), it seemed daily life was full of poignant things to write about. By hand, in college-ruled notebooks. Would I barf from eating those Pringles so soon after returning from Friendly’s? Was I the only person on earth whose hair was immune to Elnett? What would happen when Jan and Lew noticed I had added a third hole to my left earlobe? Did Doc Martens come in size 5 1/2? Whhhhhhhhhy did that douche who sat behind me in English class not love me, and why did I care? You see. Material a-plenty.

Now it’s not so easy. I don’t even know why, because I basically worry about the adult version of the same things. But this blog is dusty. The novel I’ll never finish has been 40 mediocre pages long for two years. I keep reminding myself that the actors I’ve mentally cast in the big screen adaptation are about to age out of their theoretical roles, but I’m still mentally paralyzed. Besides, now that I’ve moved from notebooks to bloggery, it’s all public – and anything I’d logically think to write about would cause a hefty number of people to file restraining orders and/or stop speaking to me. So in desperation, as you may know, I sometimes turn to the interweb and the array of writing prompts it offers, from places like Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop.

Among her latest batch of prompts was this one: “List 10 things that make you feel excited.”

What is this word, “excited?” You mean excited like, “agitated?” Excited like, “I’m so excited with rage that Imma* punch you in the balls?” What else COULD it mean?

What’s that? Some people actually get excited about GOOD things?!  Come on. You don’t expect me to believe that load of crap do you? I mean please. That’s absurd. Clearly I need to move on to the next prompt. 

That one turned out to be, “You know you’re a mom when …”

Okay then. 

My eyes went back to the first prompt and suddenly the bold words of one Barney Stinson came into my head: “Challenge accepted.”

So can I do it?

10 Non-Everyday Things That Fill Me With a Faint Hint of Excitement

  1. The first hot day of summer and the first cold day of winter, because they mean a new season and a new atmosphere are upon us, and that today will be at least a tiny bit different from yesterday.
  2. Similarly, the promise of a massive blizzard that may result in the office closing, for its novelty and reminder of youth. And because junk food eaten in extreme weather conditions doesn’t count. Nor does junk food eaten after extreme weather conditions because it would be a terrible travesty to let it go to waste. Or, for that matter, junk food eaten before extreme weather conditions to make sure it’s safe for consumption.
  3. A jam-packed schedule of urban adventures with the Communettes (or as millennials might say, “my squad”), to destinations including but not limited to Russian nightclubs (whence comes the name “Communettes”); burlesque supper clubs (my burlesque name, in case you were wondering, is Andromeda Muscle Strain); ancient bath houses; nail art emporia; Tim Burton-themed bars; circus side shows (see Item 5); and other not-as-sordid-as-they-sound locales. You know who you are, Communettes. Come back to me!
  4. Duran Duran concerts, because nothing is more life-affirming than singing and dancing like an asshole to Rio live while you ogle an aging but gorgeous bass player.
  5. The Coney Island Circus Sideshow, because one of the snakes there makes me feel real loved and I myself love the smell of lighter fluid in the morning. (That’s a fire eating/Apocalypse Now joke and I find it hilarious.) Also, very few things compare to the sight of stomach slime glistening on a freshly swallowed sword.
  6. The virgin wear of new boots, lipstick, or jeans, all of which will be perfect for approximately 36 hours, at which point someone else will walk by wearing a version that is “better” in some way that can’t be articulated
  7. Canine hugs
  8. Reunions/visits/trips with people I love but haven’t seen in eons (most notably my lil sis, my Texans, my aforementioned Communettes)
  9. A completely empty New York Times crossword puzzle on a page that’s in pristine condition, paired with Wite-Out and a satisfying rollerball pen. Similarly, a brand new pack of multi-colored Sharpies/Flair pens/smelly markers.
  10. The exact moment of touch down on the runway at a new airport. But only that one moment, because a nanosecond later, panic sets in about whether or not it’s safe to drink the water wherever I’ve just landed.
  11. AND A BONUS NUMBER 11 … FINISHING THIS BLOG POST!

*Please note first-ever use of “Imma,” perhaps incorrectly. 

 

 

Imperfect 10

My Tragic Micro Fiction Challenge

Mag Glass
This shit is tiny.

I don’t usually have the attention span or intellect for any of the fiction (or non-fiction, for that matter) in the New Yorker. Plus, I’m threatened by the success of its writers. Plus, I have Netflix. But over the summer I did find this “tragic micro fiction” column quite chuckle-worthy.  Now, I may be too stoopid to understand what the term really means, but I personally interpret “tragic micro fiction” as shrunken stories – written with dramatic flair – about day-to-day annoyances that are minor on the scale of things but can still drive you bat shit crazy. Someone posted about the column this week and reminded me of its greatness. So, unable to think of anything else to write about here, I attempted to craft my own tragic micro fiction, based on “micro tragedies” that have befallen my friends and me over the years. Note: names have been changed to protect the guilty. 

He was very cute and they seemed to hit it off. Then he ordered kale.

Lynn was intrigued to see seven missed calls from the same number. It was a telemarketer.

The injury was too severe; there was nothing more they could do. Nicky Rabbit was going to lose his leg.

A local family reported him missing after he failed to return home. Last seen at show-and-tell, the pink teddy bear’s body was never recovered.

The boots were on sale, but came only in whole sizes.

Was it really melasma, she wondered? Or did she need to start tweezing in better light?

She attempted to show off her Spanish skills by asking the delivery man his name. Pedro was startled to hear her profess her love for him.

Aileen noticed too late that her new glasses were adorned with a tiny Peanuts logo at the left temple.

In reality, only certain LensCrafters could actually custom craft your eyeglasses in about an hour.

It was all starting to make sense: the green jelly bean was spearmint, not lime.

Evidence suggested someone had eaten corn the night before.

Karen couldn’t see out of her left eye, and the stabbing pain was unbearable. The side of her face was covered in a black soot-like substance. If only she hadn’t poked herself with the mascara wand.

The office candy bowl was filled to the top with grape Jolly Ranchers and three fun-sized Twix wrappers.

And Susan knew at that moment she would never eat creamy Italian dressing again.

Melanie asked for a trim. The hairstylist heard “chin-length bob.”

She had wanted her name, in German class, to be “Sabine.” Frau Schickelheimer assigned her “Hildegard.”

For Thanksgiving, Stacey asked her mother to bring cheese and crackers. Later, she wrapped the untouched seven-layer bean dip in tin foil.

Suddenly, she remembered that Chicago was an hour behind New York.

Outerwear was the one category not eligible for free two-day shipping.

Liz smiled at the famous screenwriter who was settling into his airplane seat, then made her way back to the last row in Coach.

Unbeknownst to them, Uber did not serve suburban Trenton.

VIP tickets were still available, but only for American Express cardholders.

Snooping through her boyfriend’s medicine cabinet, Leigh discovered a small bottle of Just for Blondes shampoo. Her hair was brown.

The “special surprise” promised on the children’s menu turned out to be a side of fruit.

One had to be very careful, she reminded herself, to type in the SEARCH field and not the STATUS field when stalking on Facebook.

The lipstick color did not, in fact, look good on everyone.

Some dogs, they learned the hard way, simply could not be trusted on the bed.

Beneath the absurdly cute, fuzzy exterior lurked the dark soul of a canine chew toy serial killer.

But “ankle-length” meant different things to different people.

It became obvious, after a few sips, that this was anything but Diet Coke.

An unsettling crunch in the molar region indicated that the Bit o’Honey was not as fresh as Erica had initially thought.

Perhaps, in the end, she could not do anything she put her mind to.

My Tragic Micro Fiction Challenge

My Archnemesis

Rocky Horror
Dr. Frank N. Furter wears them well, but I  do not.

I recognize this will come as a huge shock to you, but my personality might lean eeeeeeever so slightly towards the obsessive. Just a teeny bit. Really, it’s sometimes alarming hardly a thing at all.

Over the years, I have oft turned that obsessiveness inward (or outward, as the case may be), honing in on one or more physical attribute and then losing sleep over the flaws I perceived said attribute to possess. (I maintain that I am an excellent assessor of attributes, but others may disagree.) Pre-braces, it was my overbite, which earned me the nickname “Bucky.” Starting in 7th grade and still in certain jeans, it was the pear shape of my short legs and their uncanny resemblance to riding jodhpurs like those pictured here.

In high school, college, my 20s, and still on a humid day, it was my hair, aka “the Jewfro” aka the “Rat’s Nest” aka the “Chia Head” aka “Cameron Diaz in Being John Malkovich.” Let me assure you: there are few first world problems more agonizing than being a teenager in New Jersey in the 80s and having hair so thick and Brillo-esque that no hairspray known to man could hold or tame it (see The Hand of Oz).

There was also my nose of illusion – round from the front, rhinoplasty-worthy from the side. The mismatched shape of my eyes, which made them looked slightly crossed. The melasma moustache that caused manicurists all over Manhattan to ask if I might also need a lip wax then mutter something in Korean. The list goes on.

Most recently,  it was my eyebrows. I obsessed over their shape (non-existant); the eight different directions in which they grew; their uneven density from 30+ years of overzealous plucking. I tried tweezing in varied lighting. I tried waxing, threading, brow gel, clear mascara, lip balm, and Vaseline. Once, in a weak moment, I tried black pencil. And it turns out I’m pretty good at recreating Tim Curry’s Rocky Horror look.

Then my savvy friend Carrie told me about a mythical figure who runs a “brow bar” near our office. The woman – let’s call her Olga – styles the brows of many a celebrity, exclusively via old school tweezer. She is known for identifying the exact shape your personal brows are meant to have, and for tending to each patron herself.  Granted, there was some risk involved – most notably, ending up with a 1998 micro-brow or, even worse, half a brow. But still, if a pair of wine-lovin’ morning talk show hosts trusted Olga, how bad could she be? Besides, the obsession was starting to become painful. I could no longer sit back (with my magnifying mirror) and do nothing.

And so, I headed cautiously to the “bar,” a bright, appealing, and surprisingly un-menacing studio with a shabby chic feel. Olga was pleasant, with an indeterminate Eastern European accent and pretty damn good brows. Immediately, she identified exactly the problems I listed above, validating my belief that I am in fact an excellent attribute assessor. I felt virtually nothing as she tweezed strategically – no pain, no twitching, nothing. It was quite remarkable actually.

When she was done, I couldn’t believe what I saw in the mirror. I had significantly less cash, but I had an arch, goddamnit! My brows were fabulous!

For about 18 hours.

Olga had neglected to mention that one needed to remain awake for the entire four-to-six weeks between visits, and it had certainly not occurred to me that sleep would undo her masterpiece. But alas, it did. And no matter how I moved the brow brush, tried to flatten my eyebrows into place, or followed the directions in a series of YouTube videos, I could not get them to look even remotely close to how they’d looked the day before.

Le sigh.

So now, on top of having to obsess about my eyebrows themselves, I have to also obsess about how stupid I was to think I could have normal eyebrows. I think it may be time to move on to my bulbous big toes.

 

 

 

My Archnemesis

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 …

I Am (So Not a Poet)

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.

With Monday’s writing prompts, the guru Mama Kat directed her followers to this nifty template that, when completed, yields an “I Am” poem. What exactly is an “I Am” poem, you ask? Read on!

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
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.

I Am (So Not a Poet)

NBC Order

First of all, I promised I’d dedicate this post to Keith, who goes to sleep much earlier than I do and is quite cute. 

I also must admit that I am double-fisting between WordPress and the last NBC episode of Medium (which will reappear on CBS this fall). It’s not right, I know. But I desperately need to find out the fate of the du Bois family and Allison’s brain tumor. I also desperately need to share this brief tale, as there will never be a more appropriate occasion. 

Side note/spoiler alert: the tumor is benign, but Allison is in a coma after suffering a stroke during surgery. 

A little more than 15 years ago, in the frigid winter of 1994, I was a college senior in baggy, used Levi’s, dark brown lipstick and Doc Martens.  I had spent the last four years surrounded by short, stocky, dark-haired, middle class Jewish boys in backwards baseball caps who wanted no part of me. (I’ve always suspected things would have gone a different way if my boobs had been more reminiscent of a Hungarian shtetl peasant’s, but what can ya do?) The unrequited loves of my college life had graduated the year before, and I lacked diversion. I couldn’t stand being there anymore but was terrified of the real world, I lived with the knowledge that Jan thought I was fat, I couldn’t sleep, I was depressed, and my friends had had it with me. Good times. 

But there was one lone light in my life. We met during a bout of insomnia, when I turned on the little pink TV my grandma had scored when she opened a checking account. He made me laugh. He introduced me to people I’d never otherwise have met. He was an underdog, just like me. Physically, he couldn’t have looked more different from the people around me. He was nine years older than me, 6’4, with red hair, freckles and pasty skin. He was, as someone famous once said, the least Jewish-looking person you could imagine. But he’d gone to Harvard, he was the son of a doctor and a lawyer, and his little brother had gone to the prom with my friend Lauren. 

The not-so-little talk show host who could
The not-so-little talk show host who could

His name was Conan O’Brien, and I seemed to be the only person in the world who thought he was funny. Rumors of cancellation swirled around me, and I felt a certain kinship — he was the celebrity equivalent of me. Smart, lovable and misunderstood. He just needed more time! People mocked me when I told them I found his wit chuckle-worthy, much as they mocked me at the height of my Duran Duran obsession. On our spring break that year, Kiki, Wendy, Jen, Lisa and I were fortunate enough to attend a Late Night taping. I was very concerned beforehand that we wouldn’t be able to get tickets. The NBC page laughed when I expressed this concern and told me they’d been PAYING people to sit in the studio audience and clap on cue.

In June of that year I went again, and this time, actually got to shake hands with and talk to the giant comedic genius. 

“I went to school in Boston too,” I said, sure that he’d find this FASCINATING and a sign of our soulmate-hood. 

This prompted Conan to ask me if I was Irish, and I wondered briefly how someone who’d gone to Harvard could look at ME and pose such a silly question. 

The first and only thing I could think to say was this: “No, but I use Irish Spring soap.”

Hey, it’s better than what I said to Pete Sampras

Not surprisingly, this did not compel him to get down on one knee and propose.

“You’re my idol,” I blurted out.

And even Conan himself could only reply with, “Please. Let’s not get crazy here.” 

No one thought he’d make it.  But I believed in him. I knew he could do it. And tonight, Conan O’Brien has become the 5th host of the Tonight Show — the loftiest position in post-prime time television. This is one small step for a dork, and one giant step for dork-kind. I’m kvellin’ like Magellin’. 

But you should know that in addition to feeling certain I’d one day be an O’Brien, I also fantasized about being discovered by Conan. So I decided to send him some of my brilliantly comedic writing samples. Except  of course  that I had none, so I had to be crafty. 

Andy Richter, Sidekick Extraordinaire
Andy Richter, Sidekick Extraordinaire

There was no time to develop full-fledged sketches or sit-com scripts; I’d have to convey my unparalleled genius some other way.   I remembered a brain game I’d once played at camp.  It involved the penning of a poem or song containing 26 words, in alphabetical order.  The fate of my comedy writing career lay with this gem of a plan, executed with a Macintosh SE and dot matrix printer, late one night in Waltham, MA.  I think we all know what the fate of my comedy writing career turned out to be.  But this, ladies and gentlemen, is my 1994 alphabetical Ode to Conan —  mailed to Rockefeller Center, signed for by someone in the mailroom and never seen again until right this minute. 

At Banter, Conan’s Deft. Educated Finely, Graduated Harvard. Imparts Jokes. Kismet! Letterman Moves, Now O’Brien Presides. Quipping Richter, Sidekick. Throw Us, Very Witty Xanthrocroid, Your  Zeal. 

NBC Order