The Canned Kind

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.

Photo by Nicole Argento (fellow Jersey Girl) of Warrior Heart ( and Nomad-Chic (

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
  • Pinkberry
  • 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)
  • TV
  • Wine
  • 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
  • Piperlime
  • Books
  • Hershey’s
  • Wite-Out pens and the NYT crossword puzzle
  • Slimy cranberry sauce that maintains the shape of the can it came in
  • The blogosphere



Sometimes a Banana …

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.

Sometimes a Banana …

It’s the Bed, Stupid

There are few things more annoying than suffering from perma-insomnia when the person who shares your bed can fall asleep a mere nanosecond after pillow contact.  I’m not pointing the finger (Keith), I’m not accusing anyone (Keith), I’m not naming names (Keith). I’m just sayin’ …

I don’t remember a stretch of time when it was easy for me to fall asleep.  Jan will happily tell you what a “poor” sleeper I was as a baby.  I couldn’t sleep when I was a Brownie.  I couldn’t sleep when I had mono. I couldn’t sleep under the influence of Ambien or Xanax.  The one disease I don’t worry about? African Sleeping Sickness.

What’s that? The tsetse fly, you say? Oh. I actually have worried about that. Sorry.

Every now and then, I’ll go through a rare and brief “sleep easy” week or two, but sooner or later, the insomnia returns with a vengeance. I’ve always just blamed it on the unfortunate combination of anxiety, sensory overload, genetics, and a touch of fatal familial insomnia.  But lately, another, more sinister possibility has occurred to me.

What if it is not anxiety, sensory overload, genetics or FFI at all but rather …wait for it … the very piece of furniture meant to provide hours of quality respite and restorative slumber ? What if it’s really … [insert menacing thunder and organ music] THE BED ITSELF?

When I met Keith, he had just bought a Tempur-Pedic.  Admittedly, I don’t know a lot about beds or mattresses, so I’m about as qualified to assess them as Peter Griffin is to judge fine wines.  In my entire life, I have personally selected my own just once – right before I moved to New York, at a big A&S sale in Paramus. And at the time, the options were much simpler: hard, medium or soft. There were  no –pedics and no –foams. If it was a fancy Nancy bed you desired, you ordered the Craftmatic by toll-free phone call after seeing its commercial on TV in the wee hours of the night. So in 2008, what I did know was that I liked my beds not too soft and not too hard; that the Heavenly Westin bed was indeed heavenly; that a freakish number of mattress brand names started with the letter “S”;  and that the Tempur-Pedic was the alleged be-all/end-all of sleep-related wares. It changed people’s lives. It brought the gift of good rest.

Except to me. I got a rock.  

It's not you, it's me. Or maybe it's you.

I just didn’t get it. The Tempur-Pedic felt really firm and really high and refused to mold to my body. But since I’ve been a “poor sleeper” all my life, it never really occurred to me that the bed had anything to do with my inability to slumber. And pretty soon, I stopped thinking about it. I had too many other things to obsess over. 

But for the past few months, my insomnia has been worse than usual.  You could argue that this has to do with general malaise and getting married and stress at work and fear of the future.  But I’ve become hyper-aware of the bed as I lie awake. And let me tell you: that freakin’ bed isn’t blameless in this scenario.

But what’s the answer? Keith thinks the Tempur-Pedic is the greatest invention since the Barca Lounger.  He spent a lot of money on it, not that long ago. It’s not the kind of thing you just replace every few months. Plus, he’s so flexible about home furnishings; I could never ask him to sacrifice the one thing in the apartment he really does care about.  And really, who knows what, if any, difference the mattress is making?

I’m at a loss. It’s unlikely that I’ll “accidentally” misplace a queen mattress.  It’s also not the kind of thing I can really I throw out “by mistake.”  (Not that I ever did such things of course…) So I started researching stop-gap measures.  There’s the classic egg crate, of course, as well as something called a “convoluted” mattress pad (available on; a “baffle box;”  a Cuddleewe; and a “SuperSnooze,” among others. For some reason, the names of these products make me chuckle heartily but just don’t scream out “EIGHT UNINTERRUPTED HOURS OF BLISSFUL Z’s.”

So I ask you, loyal and random readers, what in THE hell am I supposed to do?

It’s the Bed, Stupid

Just Say No

As you probably know from previous posts, I love and respect all god’s chocolate. I do not discriminate based on color (milk v. dark), nationality (Swiss v. American), name (Russell Stover v. Godiva) or point of origin (CVS/Walgreen’s v. Vosges/Maison du Chocolat).

But there is one place I draw the line: at the spice rack. I think I understand “Lost” better than I understand the concept of pairing chocolate with “seasonings” like chili pepper, saffron, cardamom, and rosemary.  There’s chocolate, and then there’s crap you buy at open-air bazaars on the streets of Morocco. And ya don’t mix ‘em. This is a policy to which I should have stuck earlier this week.

My coworker (let’s call him “Kyle”) came up to my desk and began unwrapping a very thin chocolate bar covered in delicate foil. He broke off three squares and handed them to me, which would have been a lovely gesture were it not for one teensy detail:  this was no ordinary chocolate. This was marmite chocolate. I’d seen “Kyle” post about a gift of marmite chocolate on Facebook, but I’d assumed he was kidding.  He wasn’t.

Now, marmite is something that I had previously never tried but somehow just knew was vile. Perhaps it was the word’s resemblance to both “varmint” (and subsequently “vomit”) as well as “termite.” Perhaps I’d been turned against it by Cousin Vegemite, made famous in New Jersey by Men at Work and “The Land Down Under.”   But I’d once been foie gras-averse too. Maybe marmite was worth trying?

Don't be fooled by its innocent exterior

I took the tiniest possible bite of the first square. What followed reminded me of Willy Wonka’s meal replacement gum – the one responsible for Violet Beauregarde’s demise-by-three-course meal.  Course One of this freakish chocolate was a strong, bitter taste reminiscent of espresso. That quickly morphed into a yeasty, raw bread dough sensation. Finally, I felt like I was eating a piece of very dark chocolate at the same time as a tablespoon of onion powder and a clove of minced garlic. And long after I’d swallowed, I continued to feel that way. I assure you: it is not a good feeling.

The marmite chocolate packaging told us we would find a “hint of marmite indulgence” inside. I am lead to believe that the manufacturer and I have different definitions of “indulgence.”

I think the British chef quoted in this article from the Daily Mail sums it up best when he describes the taste: “…deeply nauseating.”

Just Say No

A 2010 Word Collage

It  is customary on this day to look forward, and to do a lot of resolving.  I, however, am going rogue. I’ve decided, on this New Year’s Day, to look backwards at 2010. As such, I’ve created a “word collage,” a personal tag cloud of the things that I did, ate, wore, loved, thought about, wrote about, cried about, worried about, obsessed over, and/or was generally touched by.  

Keith ♦ Kings Carriage House ♦ bad hair cut ♦ irritable bowel ♦ earthquake ♦ Bernie ♦ Naomi ♦ blog ♦ Sandra Bullock ♦ SNL ♦ The Blind Side Hunters ♦ Nicole ♦ Buddakan ♦ Austin ♦ icy Dallas ♦ Charlie Wilson ♦ L! H! L! ♦ Limelight ♦ Midnight in Moscow ♦ strata ♦ jeggings ♦ Thirteen Plus 1 ♦ half pipe ♦ Vancouver ♦ Artisinal ♦ Philly ♦ Facebook ♦ page A3 ♦ March 27 ♦ Picholine ♦ West Elm ♦ iPad ♦ The Good Wife ♦ Splendid ♦ Featured Movie app ♦ press release ♦ Icy Hot ♦ Modern Family ♦ HTML ♦ undereye circles ♦ Trader Joe’s ♦ Meet the Press ♦ Reid ♦ rhinovirus ♦ Singapore ♦ Stella ♦ Doris ♦ Norman ♦ Google ♦ Vienna ♦ F21 ♦ New Jersey ♦ Sugar Sweet Sunshine ♦ Piggy ♦ the POP ♦ volcano ♦ Iron Man II ♦ Chase ♦  Jan ♦ keyword ♦ Viand ♦ Twilight ♦ Betty White ♦ peanut butter ♦ World Cup ♦ Vampire Weekend ♦ Muse ♦ Cee-Lo ♦ Pinkleberry ♦ Dennis Hopper ♦ Rue McClanahan ♦ Juliet ♦ Fightin’ Blue Hens ♦ T-Bags ♦ oil ♦ Denver ♦ Tibetan singing bowl ♦ urban swim club ♦ Parker ♦ 1 train ♦ census ♦ Jane ♦ Long Beach ♦ Zappos ♦ pool party ♦ Long Branch ♦ Snooki ♦ Aroma Cafe ♦ Allyson & Eric ♦ Feena ♦ keratin ♦ Italian festival ♦ Kardashian ♦ Spike Mike ♦ Matt Bernson ♦ Gilt Groupe ♦ The Town ♦ Snoopy  ♦ You Don’t Know Jacques ♦ Outsourced ♦ Cereal ♦ SEO ♦ Houlihan skinny cargo ♦ Dave & Rob ♦ black & tan ♦ littles ♦ Kiki ♦ Palmie ♦ Karen ♦ bubble umbrella ♦ Penelope ♦ The Kids are Alright ♦ Raviolistein ♦ Lillet ♦ Ella ♦ Ma’am ♦ California ♦ Ollie ♦ Mad Men ♦ Dr. Faye ♦ 1965 ♦ eve of destruction ♦ miners ♦ AL special ♦ Eataly ♦ Universal Life ♦ Jon Hamm ♦ BBIM ♦ wedding ♦ mossad ♦ Light My Sapphire ♦ Claire ♦ Son Cubano ♦ tiara ♦ gym ♦ HeLa  cells ♦ Brooks Bros. ♦ Offsides ♦ insomnia ♦ angular chelitis ♦ Diet Pepsi ♦ Conan ♦ Obama ♦ Cuomo ♦ Shy Ronnie ♦ Frye ♦ Liam ♦ cupcake bar ♦ Lucky’s ♦ Kate & William ♦ 1990 ♦  ingrown eyelash ♦ dandruff ♦ St. Thomas ♦ Mystique  ♦ coconut rum ♦ liquid sunshine ♦ Hullo, diner? ♦ Criminal Minds ♦ family ♦ SILs  ♦ Issa ♦ JL ♦ Kings of Leon ♦ Rotting nails ♦ December 2 ♦ pigs in blankets ♦ December 4 ♦ Style ♦ melasma ♦ Axis ♦ Scalpacin ♦ Cookie Monster ♦ Chrismukkah bush ♦ Crate & Barrel ♦ oy to the world ♦ Dyker Heights ♦ tablet ♦ cross-body bag ♦ Mark Zuckerberg ♦ blizzard ♦ trademark ♦ snow saucer ♦ unknown ♦ Let It Be ♦ 2011  

A 2010 Word Collage

52 Posts and Nothing’s On

Last year, I vowed to blog at least once a week in 2010.  EPIC FAIL.

After most of the other epic fails in my life – rollerblading, purple eyeliner, waterslides, making chocolate mousse and working at a publicly traded company just to name a few – I gave up.  Really, it was the right thing to do in those cases.  But this time, I am going to try again.  And WordPress has kindly offered to help me with encouragement, ideas and prompts via

As the WordPress sample post on this topic says, “I know it won’t be easy, but it might be fun, inspiring, awesome and wonderful.” 

Hmm. Ya think? I’m suspicious. But let’s go with it.  

The sample post also says, “If you already read my blog, I hope you’ll encourage me with comments and likes, and good will along the way.”

I actually know I can count on you for that. And I hope I do the same for you.

I'm good enough, I'm smart enough ...

To motivate all of us, and following in the footsteps of the great Stuart Smalley, I have come up with my own blogging mantra. I expect to see it plastered on magnets, beer cozies and tote bags very soon.

The blog is the future. The blog is hope. The blog is the way.  Candy is good.

It’s got a nice ring to it, no? Happy 2011, happy blogging!

52 Posts and Nothing’s On

Dream Wedding

This is NOT my sister's peeper, but you get the idea.

It was bound to happen sooner or later – and I’m actually shocked it took this long. But last night – with less than two months to go – I finally had my first wedding anxiety dream.

As my loyal readers know, anxiety dreams in general are no stranger to my sleep life. They strike at least once a week in one of two genres: Bathroom or School. For details, please see Dream On (March 2010).  Last night’s dream better not have been the pilot episode of a third genre, as it was the kind that cast its “scurry” (translation: scary) aura in such a way that I could feel the creepiness lurking in the air all day. 

The wedding was scheduled to start in half an hour. We had missed the photo shoot but would still have to pay for it, I still didn’t have any make-up on, and my hair was flat on one side and in frizzed out Jewfro mode on the other. The make-up person was, however, hard at work painting the face of my sister, the maid of honor. And the palette she was using featured lime green eye shadow, with frosty bubble gum pink lipstick.  Jan told me  not to complain and to leave my sister alone.

 Frick on a drag queen’ed stick.

Desperate to get things back on schedule, Dream Me tried to call the event manager, but she was nowhere to be found. The resort’s main number took me in circles and/or disconnected me, and her cell phone went straight to voicemail.

Dream Me left a message along these lines, in a super-nice voice: “Hi, I am SO sorry to bother you … hope all is well. Just trying to get in touch because we’re getting married in half an hour …”

Restlessly, I walked around a bit more in my (wrinkled and stained) white sundress. There were 100 uninvited guests (we’re expecting about 20) perusing an array of hors d’oeuvres that did NOT include pigs ‘n’ blankets (the worst part of the dream).  No one we had actually invited was there, but the guests included people Jan hates; people I used to work with eight jobs ago in 1996; a distant friend wearing a fedora and giant aviator sunglasses with an oversized blazer; and a morph of Don Draper and a frat boy from college named Ira.  

I had forgotten to pack the decorative glass that Keith would break at the end of the ceremony in Jewish fashion, so that was out. It did not occur to Dream Me that it could have been substituted with ANY glass. My future BIL (I’m not naming names) lost the wedding rings he was in charge of holding.

I had also forgotten to secure something “borrowed” or “blue,” and so the hotel spa asked if I wanted to wear the disposable blue paper unmentionables usually reserved for those undergoing bikini waxes and fake baking. I did not. Even though Dream Me attempted to self-soothe and pretend it was not a big deal, this made her/me very anxious.


Amid all this, Dream Me had to pee like a racehorse. But, as is always the case in my dreams, there was no viable relief option. Every facility within the five-star resort was filthy, had no doors and/or was occupied by mean high school girls. You’d think with the money we’re spending, said resort would cough up a decent crappair, but no. So Dream Me went with the least of all evils, a toilette that was clean but stood about six feet high and required a stepladder to access. Let’s just say that did not go well.


So now, the morning after this “dream wedding,” I am feeling a bit torn.  I very much hope the dream was not a psychic vision of any kind.  The impact of a wedding devoid of a usable bathroom and a tray of pigs ‘n’ blankets could be devastating. But in a way, I’m feeling a little relieved that my null-worry period seems to have come to an end.

I know, you’d think I would have been thrilled to be so carefree.  But in the immortal words of the French political thinker Alexis de Toqueville (shout out to my friend Lisa, whose life and thesis were briefly ruined by said French political thinker)  improving conditions lead to unrest.  And so I worried that I wasn’t worried. I worried I was forgetting to worry about something, but I didn’t know what. And then I had to worry about not knowing what to worry about. And then I worried about things that weren’t even remotely issues, because I was desperate to worry. It was worrisome indeed.  As is this post, no?

Dream Wedding

My Brush With Grossness

Years ago, I sat in a dentist’s chair in that minty purgatory between X-rays and tooth cleaning. As I waited, I heard a kindly nurse reassuring a young patient in the hallway.

“Don’t worry. It happens all the time. Just sit down, take a few deep breaths, and we’ll try again,” she said gently.

That is so sad.  A cute little girl or boy must have gotten scared and had a meltdown! Aw. Poor thing. I hope he/she gets a shiny red toothbrush as a parting gift.

But as the nurse passed by, I could see that the cute little girl or boy had a strangely familiar shock of gray hair.  And while he/she was cute, he/she was actually not that little … in fact, he/she was actually … Lew!, my very own father, who was there for his check-up as well.

You might be chuckling to yourself.  And I might be as well, were it not for the fact that I too am absolutely petrified of the dentist. Gyno? No prob. Big needles? I’m there. Eye doctor? Bring on the dilating drops. But send me a card with a big fat cartoon mouth that says I’m due for my bi-annual cleaning and I am paraylzed with fear. Make no mistake — this is not Seinfeldian anti-dentite-ism. This is pure terror.

Maybe it’s because of the Great Tooth Break Incident on the cold hard blacktop of my elementary school in 1983.  Maybe it’s because the kids called me “Bucky” for most of the 70s. Maybe it’s genetic and I caught it from Lew.  I don’t know. What I do know is that in a few hours,  I’ll be in flouridated hell. And as such, I have spent the better part of the last week not being able to breathe.

My current dentist also treats about five of my co-workers, has a pleasant Australian accent and is very nice as dentists go. But he remains a dentist. And frankly, I think he may be a sadist. About six months ago, whilst biting my very strong thumbnail, I chipped a wedge off my lower right front tooth.  Dr. Down Under fixed it, but then a few weeks ago, the bonding fell off for no apparent reason. I’m no expert, but I don’t think this should happen. The bonding on my upper left front tooth, after all — applied after the aforementioned Great Tooth Break Incident – has lasted for more than three decades . I am not entirely convinced he didn’t mis-apply the bonding  on purpose, just to bring me back into his lair, just to torture me.

This is the kind of (crazy?)thought that impending dentist appointments spark. You see what we’re dealing with here. So you can understand why I am vigilant about my oral hygiene. The more I do on my own, the less chance there is of nightmarish problems arising, and the less time I have to spend in The Chair.

Not everyone understands this. Yesterday, a girl from the office down the hall entered the bathroom while I was brushing my teeth.  The look on her face suggested that she’d actually stumbled upon a giraffe washing his hind legs in the sink.  She began asking me a litany of questions, none of which I could answer without drooling. As she headed into one of the stalls, she said, in a slightly menacing tone, “Wow. That is really something.  You know, I’m gonna start doing it too. F.Y.I.”

Good to know.  I guess if she HAD seen a giraffe washing its hind legs, she’d start doing that too.

Even Keith, to whom I feel comfortable revealing 99 percent of my innermost fears, thoughts and obsessions, was a little startled to find out the following  quirk.

This weekend, we spent the night in the homeland after a surprise birthday party for Keith’s older brother.  As I was getting into bed, exhausted from my one vodka tonic, I saw Keith standing on the border of the bathroom and the bedroom, foaming at the mouth.

[Insert toothpasty voice] “Is yow toofbwush bwoo wiff wubbew bwistles?”

My heart began racing.

“Yesssssss … why????????”

Keith held up Exhibit A. “I fink dis is yow toofbwush. Sowwy!”

I tried to be extra cheery as I said, “Oh! Don’t be silly. My toothbrush is … [throw up a little in my mouth] … your toothbrush.”

But in fact, my toothbrush is not your toothbrush. If it is your toothbrush, it is no longer mine. And Keith knew it.  He was definitely a smidge hurt by my refusal to use the toothbrush in question once he’d used it. But there just no way. It was damaged goods.

Now I ask you, friends, Roman, countrymen and Colgate users: am I crazy (in this case)?  Or is it just plain gross to share a toothbrush – and all the grizzle, green things and gunk that go with it?


My Brush With Grossness

A Wonderful Town

Life is not a cosmopolitan, my friends.

When I lived in Philadelphia, I met an alarming number of people who were convinced that “Sex and the City” was a realistic portrayal of life in New York.

And so to all those who think I spend my days walking the beat in Manolo Blahniks, drinking cosmos and lunching on weekdays with my BFFs, I present to you a real typical day in New York.

Your alarm goes off in the small apartment you pay for with 75 percent of your salary. You are already awake and completely exhausted, having been unable to sleep due to the garbage trucks that made their way up Broadway at intervals reminiscent of the Chinese water torture.  In the shower, you lather up and then realize too late that the building turned the water off at 9 am sharp for “necessary repairs.”  You did not know, until that moment, that water could break. Thankfully, you’re able to get some of the shower gel off using a bottle of Poland Spring and a plant sprayer, which is not at all awkward and does not at all flood your bathroom.

Even though you’ve spent thousands trying to keep up with the (Samantha) Joneses, you have nothing to wear and end up hating your outfit. You head out feeling absolutely revolting, as you weren’t able to wash your hair and your skin is covered in a soapy film that’s causing severe pruritus. The good news is that you wore your new, high-heeled sandals to perk up the outfit you hate. The bad news is that it starts to pour on your way to the subway and you didn’t bring an umbrella. The new sandals, previously quite beautiful, are quickly ruined, and so slippery that you trip – but do not fall – on a crack in the pavement. No one asks if you are okay.  Your foot lands in something you pray is DOG shit.

You have to swipe your wet MetroCard three times before it’s accepted. At the exact moment you walk through the turnstile, the train pulls away. But that’s okay – the platform makes an incredibly comfortable waiting area. There’s absolutely no air, your iPod is dead, a not-so-faint hint of pee lingers in the mist and a talented Mariachi band is giving a free concert.

Twenty minutes later, the next downtown train arrives, so packed that riders have their faces smushed up against the petri dish windows. You’re able to contort yourself into one of the cars, joined by the Mariachi band, but there is even less air inside and the 75-year-old man in glittered tights and a red Speedo just caressed one of your ass cheeks. Halfway between 50th and 42nd Streets, the lights go out and the train stops. You’re about to panic, but then you hear this reassuring message from Charlie Brown’s teacher over the loudspeaker.



After what seems like a smelly eternity, you are moving again. You sigh in relief as you approach your stop, 23rd Street, but the train flies by and doesn’t stop again until 14th Street. Apparently, the MTA has decided this particular train will make express stops only, but didn’t see any reason to inform the passengers.

You are now absurdly late. You race up and down two flights of stairs to get on an uptown train, pretty sure you’re going to pass out. You don’t, but you do come alarmingly close to puking from the sight and stench of the hairy-chinned homeless woman who sits down right next to you even though there are empty seats aplenty.

At last you arrive at 23rd Street, in desperate need of coffee.  It is no longer raining, but the line at Dunkin Donuts is insane. Naturally, the person right in front of you is picking 64 Munchkins one by one and asking probing questions as she goes along.

What part of CHOCOLATE FROSTED do you not understand?! Is jelly filling SUCH a difficult concept to grasp?! And for the love of GOD, just accept that the Boston Kreme Munchkin is a figment of your imagination. No, they did not have it last week.

You do eventually leave with your iced beverage, but you’ve been trapped in there so long that another downpour is in progress. You run into the bodega next door and buy the last flimsy umbrella, which costs $12 and will be completely broken within five minutes. Just as you are about to drop everything you’re toting, you see that a douchebag you once dated, liked and got harshly dissed by is fast approaching. You dodge him, but there’s no chance he didn’t see you in all your drowned rat glory.  There’s also no chance he did see your engagement ring, as it is obscured by the iced coffee, so you have no choice but to assume he assumes you are still pining for him 10 years later.

When you arrive at your office, there is a gaggle of hipsters smoking a foot away from the door, but nary a one offers to open it for you.  To get in, you are forced to hold your umbrella horizontally and place the iced coffee under your chin, only to spill it over the soaking wet white shirt you’re wearing. But that’s okay. It’s always nice when your boss and the publisher of an important trade magazine with whom you are scheduled to meet can see your underwears.

At last, you make it to your desk. You plan to send an email apologizing for being late, but there is no internet connection. Your colleagues can all get online just fine, but you can’t. The IT guy isn’t answering his phone, and you have no more coffee except what is staining your shirt. But you’re in New York, where you can order in Burmese food at 3 in the morning! Why not order a replacement coffee? You do, and a mere hour later you get it – even though you ordered it hot this time, it’s iced by this point and the half-and-half is sitting in curdled swirls at the camel-colored surface.

You are now officially the unwitting protagonist in the 2010 remake of the classic 1972 children’s book “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.” You curse the city. You wonder why you ever complained about living in the Midwest. You miss the ease of Arch Street in the City of Brotherly Love, where your commute was one block on foot and you could run home to use your own private bathroom any time you wanted.  You don’t understand why your parents can’t retire to Florida like normal Jews of their vintage, giving you a warm, easy place to escape. You curse the city again and decide you are just going to sit at your desk forever, rather than go back out into concrete  jungle.

But lunch is inevitable.  When your internet is up and running, your inbox tells you that there are three fabulous sample sales within walking distance. On Twitter you see that the Treats Truck, Cupcake Stop and Joyride Truck are all parked a block or two away.  “Law and Order” is filming across the street, so you catch glimpses of the tasty Jeremy Sisto and also pass by McSteamy and possibly John Mayer.  You can replace your still-wet white top with a more stylie one from your choice of Intermix, BCBG, H&M, Old Navy, Anthropologie, Banana Republic, Gap, Club Monaco, Lucky, Ann Taylor and/or J.Crew. Right on the street, you can buy a $12 necklace to jazz it up and then pick up gourmet hot dogs, sushi, Mexican, Chinese, deli, pizza, Mediterranean, comfort food, French macaroons, Cuban, vegan, kosher, Halal, soup or a smoothie for lunch.  You can hear 10 different languages on your way back to the office.  You can walk to the Metropolitan Pavilion and audition to be an extra in the next “Men in Black” movie (if you’re shorter than 4’10” and are comfortable wearing vintage alien prosthetics).

In your fresh top and new jewels,  you head back to your loft-like office space and catch a glimpse of the Empire State Building.  Just as you are contentedly remembering why you came to the Big Apple 15 years ago and why you  missed it so much when you were gone, a taxi hydroplanes through a muddy puddle, covering your lower half in urban crud. You can’t help but conjure a slightly dejected tutu-clad Carrie Bradshaw in the opening credits of “Sex and the City.”

Perhaps those Scrapple-lovin’ peeps in Philly are righter than you thought.

A Wonderful Town

PB, B & J

It may shock you to hear that there are many things I find morally abhorrent.  I know. I know. I threw you a curve ball there.  Get off the floor and keep reading.  Very high on the list of those things I find morally abhorrent is when “they” invent a new delicacy by molesting a classic.  (See my Sweet and Sour post of April 2008.)

Sadly, this happens all too often nowadays. But one of the few things that has managed to remain pure and good in this world is the peanut butter and jelly sandwich (assuming you do not suffer from a lethal peanut allergy). This is something I have loved and enjoyed several times a week for at least the last 30 years. It’s got protein, it’s got fruit (kind of), it’s got saltiness, it’s got sweetness.  It can be ingested at all standard meal times and any time in between.  It tastes the same as it did in 1977.  The ingredients are still made by the same companies.  Its creation requires no special planning and no culinary skill. You simply ask yourself a few vital questions and you’re good to go. White or wheat? Skippy (if you’re an Annette Funicello fan), Jiff (if you’re a choosy mom), or Peter Pan (if you like salmonella)? Strawberry (if you’re weird) or grape? Desired ratio of PB to J per bite? Triangle or rectangle halves?  Oh and hey, fat America, if you’re too lazy to get up from the couch and prepare your own during “So You Think You Can Dance,” you can still enjoy it. Smuckers sells frozen, pre-made PB & J sandwiches with the crusts already cut off.  Pathetic? Yes. Brilliant, albeit freakishly round? Also yes. (Side note – I am very proud of the fact that I figured out how to add a poll to this post. Please take it when you’re done reading!)

In other words, it ain’t broke, so don’t fix it.

Now, Keith is a man of few issues.  He doesn’t keep track of when he last barfed and he doesn’t stop wearing certain shirts or ties because he associates them with a really bad day at work. He doesn’t lie awake at night having theoretical arguments in his head and it doesn’t offend his sensibilities when plain nougat is replaced with mint nougat or almonds appear where previously there were peanuts.  So it makes sense that he would feel comfortable experimenting with the peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

The other night, we both came home late from work and had an unsatisfying dinner of soup (don’t feel bad – it was posh gazpacho from the upscale market Citarella).  Keith decided he was going to supplement the meal with peanut butter and jelly. I sat at the table picking my cuticles while he prepared said item in the kitchen. It occurred to me that it was taking him a long time, but he’s conscientious, so I assumed he was just spreading the ingredients in a loving manner.  Finally though, I started to hear the sound of a knife against a cutting board. That didn’t add up, so I went to see what was going on.

“We didn’t have any jelly, so I’m making a peanut butter and banana sandwich,” Keith informed me as he applied the top slice of bread (wheat, in case you care).

A tidal wave of guilt and self-loathing came over me. Did we really not have jelly?! I was sure we’d had it a few nights earlier … What kind of person didn’t even keep JELLY in the refrigerator?!

Frick on a high-fructose corn stick.

I should be arrested or at the very least reported to Social Services.  I should change my name to Neglecty McNeglecterstein.

It turns out though, that we did have jelly.  I pulled it off the refrigerator shelf and held it up to Keith (and myself) as proof.

Big fat PHEW.

At this point, I, of course, might have taken my peanut butter and banana sandwich out of the kitchen and eaten it with a hint of disappointment, thinking to myself that jelly just wasn’t in the cards for me that night.  I might have surgically removed the bananas and applied jelly in their stead.  I might even have stashed that sandwich in the refrigerator and made a second one with jelly. I would never, in a million years, have considered doing what Keith did.

He looked at the jelly in my hand. He looked at his peanut butter and banana sandwich, newly cut in half.  He looked back at the jelly. And before I could say, “Care for a frosty glass of milk from cows not treated with RBST?” he was squeezing a thick line of jelly … onto the TOP of each sandwich half.

I was SPEECHLESS.  Peanut butter and jelly, GREAT. Peanut butter and banana, GREAT. Peanut butter AND banana AND jelly … ?!  On TOP of the bread, rather than within it, no less?! It can’t be done! It breaks the laws of nature! It’s just wrong!

But Keith didn’t seem to think so. I stared at him as he enjoyed his creation.

“Is it good?! I mean, is it okay with the … [shudder] … jelly [shudder] …AND the [shudder]… banana?” I asked him.

And again, I would have replied with something along the lines of, “It’s totally gross and I’ll probably puke, but I’ll eat it and then worry about it for a few hours.”

But Keith replied, “Of course. Why not? They’re all friends.”

They are all friends. Sigh.

Editor’s Note: It turns out that JIFF is actually spelled with one F. My apologies!

PB, B & J