Thursday, July 29, 2010

Speechless...Well, Not Really

I like to think of myself as having a thick skin. Yes, there's a lot of really really bad stuff out there in the world, but I find little of it truly surprises me. And when it comes down to it, if I'm not surprised, I can't really be all that up in arms. After all, my Hobbesian view of the world anticipates truly bad stuff and considers it normal. But once in a while, something gets through and after reading the incriminating piece, I stand up from the computer and actually pace, feeling tears of rage well up in my eyes and the tiny particles of idealism I have left rupture.

And this one almost didn't reach me, a fact that my conspiratorial side is going to repress because it's not germane to the story, though I find it interesting that this didn't warrant a passing mention in the paper of record.

Read this. (Think the folks at the Guardian are a bunch of dirty pinkos? Fine, read this.)

No. Really. Read this. READ IT!


Then come back.




Now for the only important part of this case. The only part it seems both parties agree on: there was sex and it wasn't forced.

She says it. He says it. There was consensual sex.

After the fact, when she discovered he wasn't what she thought he was, it somehow morphed into non-consensual sex. The kind that sends people to actual prison where they can experience the gamut of non-consensual sex.

Now, before you reverse the ethnic makeups of this story and decide whether or not you think this argument would hold water then, please try, as I am DESPERATELY TRYING TO DO, to think about examples where race or ethnicity have nothing to do with it and ponder the validity of the following claims. It was rape because afterward I learned he was:


an a$$hole

a scientologist

a vegetarian

a meat-eater

a wwf fan

a bmw owner

a republican

a communist

in love with someone else


missing a toe

missing a kidney

not a member of mensa

not a graduate of an ivy

not a doctor

an undertaker

a gas station attendant

your best friend's ex-boyfriend from high school

Yeah. I'm done. This list could literally go on forever.

And before we get all high and mighty that this kind of nonsense would never happen here in our land of the free, let's make sure we truly believe it (he didn't tell me he was muslim/an illegal immmigrant/in favor of Obama's socialist policies). Cause I can't say with any assurance that I couldn't see some judge, somewhere in our great country pronouncing the same verdict which, while striking a vomit-inducing blow against equal rights SIMULTANEOUSLY weakens the definition of rape and, when the blowback comes, will negatively affect the actual victims of rape.

Rape is serious. And perilously open to interpretation. After all, if you punch someone in the face and later on that person discovers something about you he doesn't like or realizes he had one too many drinks, the punch doesn't suddenly become attempted murder. And as pissed off as I am at this woman and this judge, I am equally pissed off at women's groups who, in order to preserve the rights of actual rape victims, blindly side with any woman who changes her mind after sex and chooses to call what happened rape. Bad decisions are not actionable offenses. And, for all parties concerned, consensual sex after a 10-minute discussion in a convenience store is a bad decision. Women who don't own up to their own bad decisions shouldn't complain when they're not treated equally in other environments; after all, they just said they couldn't be held responsible for their decisions - they made themselves unequal.

Frankly, I don't even know what to do with this information. Yes, there's a lot of horror out there, but I expect most of it. In war, there will be war crimes. It doesn't make them any prettier, but it doesn't shock me to learn of them. This: a woman accusing a man (and a judge convicting him) of rape because she later discovered she wasn't keen on his ethnicity? Never saw it coming. Cannot even conceive of it. Which is my fault and naivete. But, jeez, what do I do now that I have this information? It turns out I bitch and moan and conceivably make myself ineligible for any job in the future that would find my opinions on this matter questionable.

I can only hope that when the dust clears, Saber Kushour has the mother of all civil cases against, well, anyone involved in his prosecution. After all, that's the American way!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I Hate Kate

This is, of course, patently untrue. I love Kate. I love her like the little sister the boy would never let me dress him up as. I love her like the prettiest doll in my collection, the one I give all the nice clothes to. I love her greatly.

But she's not good for your wallet, that Kate.

Kate is the in-the-knowingest person I know which might not be saying much, but I would wager she is the in-the-knowingest person most people know. And yet Kate has timeless style. It doesn't hurt that she's simply gorgeous and looks good in everything and even when her hair looks like shit it still looks good.

However, Kate has a knack for introducing a person to needless things that fast become needful. For years, or at least since Giorgio and 7th grade, I wore men's Fahrenheit cologne. I know that now that seems frankly awful, and, frankly, when I smell it on someone else, I have to suppress a gag or two, but at the time it seemed like a good idea (see also Zima). I wore it throughout college and might have worn it still today had Kate not taken me to Barney's that one time in 1999. Damn you, Kate!

Now I am madly addicted and totally loyal to Creed's Neroli Sauvage (but don't buy me any now, I have 3/4 of a fresh bottle). What's the problem? you ask. Well, do a quick google search. Better yet, I will. And if you don't use it over the course of, say, 5 years, it does go bad. I don't actually know what perfume costs, I just know this feels expensive. Very expensive. And now, of course, very necessary.

So I was overjoyed when, for Christmas (Christmakah, whatever) Kate got me a gift certificate to a nail salon that specializes in some weird-ass gel stuff that's supposed to be better for your nails than polish blah blah blah. Not only do I rarely have my nails painted (because my lifestyle: cooking, knitting, etc.) is not conducive to maintaining a manicure, but also because such a uselessly trendy thing couldn't possibly be my bag.

When we went together a couple of weeks ago, it just got better. These women were charging upper class ladies of Manhattan upwards of $60 bucks to manicure their nails in, I'm not kidding, polyurethane. Also known as sealant. Also known as the stuff you can buy a gallon of at Home Depot for 8 bucks. Do you know how many nails you can paint with a gallon of anything. I half-giggled through the entire manicure because I thought it was such a gas that women were lining up to fork over 2x and more the cost of a regular manicure to have their nails painted by glorified contractors.



You see it's now been two full weeks. I have: knit, made 360 chocolates, washed countless dishes, stuck my hands in raw chicken parts, gardened, fumbled with pointy parts on my shoes, you name it. I have done all the things that generally render my manicure hideous in a matter of hours. Well, my polyurethane nails? Yes, obviously, they're perfect. Not a scratch, not a dent, nothing. Initially I was going to have them take off the polish (oh, did I forget this tidbit? They CHARGE YOU $20 TO REMOVE THE POLYURETHANE!) before the wedding I'm going to this weekend, but hell if they don't look just fine.

This is an awful conundrum. The reason I don't paint my nails is that it's not worth the trouble. But, while the polyurethaning process takes an ungodly amount of time, it really effing works! And yet I think I would sooner shoot myself in the face than spend $60 to have my nails painted and then $20 to have them unpainted (though I think if you do both at the same visit i.e. unpaint then repaint, it only costs $70. Only.) and that's without the tip. Do I really need to tip $12 on this? On the rare occasions I do get a manicure it costs $10 for which I am all too pleased to leave 20% - here that $12 ONLY COVERS the tip.

And yet, my nails look so so nice painted. And this is worry-free paint. I'm going to see what, if any, horrid damage the stuff does to my nails once it's removed before making any major lifestyle modifications but, damn you, Kate, you've done it again!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Taking Stock of the Things I Can't Do

My mother has been on vacation since last Monday (yes, my father has too), and her absence, though certainly not debilitating, has caused me to take a cold hard look at the things I'll miss, not most, but most unusually, when one day, far in the future, she takes the Great Vacation. My mom and I have a very close relationship. Aside from approximately years 13-14 where unladylike words were hurled, my mom and I have always had a very close relationship. Mostly cause my mom doesn't suck. While the if-it-makes-you-happy philosophy of parenting may have contributed to the fact that neither I nor my brother is a neurosurgeon, it did keep family strife down to a minimum even when, say, said progeny was caught: smoking and drinking at bar mitzvahs, improperly using school computers, failing out of college, etc. Again, though, no neurosurgeons.

But what I lack in medical acumen has more than been made up for in actually liking my mother and liking to spend time with her. Witness our trips to the USQ greenmarket most weeks and you'll see we're not like the mother/daughter paradigm so oft portrayed on television. I think it stems from an utter and complete lack of competition between us. Possibly helped by the fact that my mother is a tall slender Italian-speaking bikram yoga practitioner, and I am a busty scuba diving bibliophile couch potato.

And my mom's pretty nice too. I mean, when I think of the things I would have asked her to do for me in just this past week....well, those things are both embarrassing and worthy of sharing.

I don't iron.


I don't know if we even own an iron.

Once or twice I've seen devoted partner iron over the years. Not a pretty picture.

Ironing seems to take a very very very long time especially considering how little one needs to pay SOMEONE ELSE to iron. Also, I own a lot of things that don't wrinkle. Those that do generally go to the dry cleaner's or are worn wrinkled. However, with this whole knitting thing, sometimes things need to be ironed so that I can determine if they fit/look right. On these occasions (and only these - I don't stop by my parents' apartment with an armful of shirts needing ironing), I ask my mom to do it for me. Am I really going to have to learn to iron before she dies?

Also, my mother is an expert at what I call not-letting-the-man-screw-you-out-of-15-cents-worth-of-toothpaste. This is a woman who can get the last gram of any substance out of whatever container it was once in. She cuts open plastic containers like it's a holy mission and, using a complicated collection of scoops, paddles, and sticks, gets out the last bit of whatever it was thereby depriving Big Plastic Packaging of its wasteful delight. Ordinarily I find this behavior odd at best, and other things besides. But I recently started experimenting with some hair crap I saw on TV and this stuff is not cheap (likely, it is not expensive either, more that if I ordinarily pay 15-18 bucks for shampoo and conditioner and now I pay 30 bucks for this fancy stuff, I consider that expensive). It also comes in a pump bottle, the least efficient of plastic dispensers. Naturally, there's about 1.5 inches of the glop in the bottom of the bottle that won't come out with the pump and is also kind of persnickety about coming out when I upend the bottle and whack it against my open palm. So now I kind of want mom to come home so I can bring her my bottle and have her mine for the last (literally) shower's worth. After all - that might be worth 60 cents.

Of course, there is a price to pay for this: my mother isn't exactly what you'd call computer proficient. Guess which child she calls to ask about her "why won't it click" problems?

Monday, July 26, 2010


I remember on my first trip to Atlantic City, David A. gave our group $10 to put on the roulette wheel - I think number 32. We did and, amazingly enough, he won. $350 bucks. Which, amazingly, we gave to him. Needless to say, no future roulette single number bet has ended the same for me which is why I don't consider betting on roulette a sound gamble.

But I know what the limit is for a bet as potentially foolhardy as that roulette bet is: $20. I am, generally speaking, willing to throw away $20 for the chance that it wasn't thrown away. Let me explain.

Vanilla beans are expensive. $2-$5 a bean expensive. Even if you are, say, a popular restaurant owned by a famous chef, you're still paying about $.60 per bean. Companies outdo each other in the marketing departments trying to dream up new copy to justify the price of vanilla, but in the end, you still wince as you cut into one for something as pedestrian as vanilla ice cream or pound cake. So, about five years ago, I asked the internet to help. And help the internet did. It found me a company that had at least gone to the trouble of getting SSL who was selling vanilla beans: 100 of them for $20. So, one of four things could happen: 1. The company takes my money and I never see anything in return; 2. Something arrives in the mail, but it isn't a vanilla bean, it's probably a monkey turd; 3. It's a vanilla bean all right, but it tastes like ashtray; 4. Through some blip in the universe, these people have found a way to sell me a vanilla bean for $.20.

It was 4. I STILL HAVE some of those beans (though I think now they're a little too brittle for delicate application). I was swimming in beans. I made vanilla extract with tons of beans and then because I had so much vanilla extract, I started handing it out as gifts with, you guessed it, a vanilla bean tied to the side of the glass. I don't know how these people did it and I don't much care. It was a $20 gamble that paid off huge.

Which is why this morning when I was sniffing around for some yarn for an upcoming project and I found said yarn, albeit in a discontinued color, for 1/5 the retail price, I bought it. The company wanted $20. Now, it is possible I'll never see the yarn, or the yarn will have goat's blood on it, or some other such calamity. But it was worth $20 to find out. Because if it's legit, I've saved myself $80 on this project. And if it isn't, I guess I'll make up the difference on my next order of vanilla.

Friday, July 23, 2010


When travel was a luxury available to few, the travel experience was luxurious. Many earnest backpackers get to Europe armed with their rail passes only to discover that while the train may get them from Amsterdam to Venice quickly, it won't look like an Agatha Christie novel. The train is merely the conveyance that gets passengers from point A to point B. As the nostalgia for olden times train travel grows, so to does the market for recreations of the old train carriages and experiences. These experiences are generally out of reach for the average person, regardless of how much the idea might interest her.

And while in recent years business-class only airlines have come and gone and talk of charters and fractional ownership arise, the average person who just would prefer that her ride from Dallas to Chicago not resemble a Calcutta (Kolkata - I never remember which is currently correct) bus ride is simply out of luck.

Sort of.

For years I heard the praises sung for Westchester Airport and I turned up my nose. Please. An airport need be able to service non-stops to Tokyo or it simply doesn't count. How quaint, your tiny airport can chauffeur you all to the Vineyard for the weekend. That sort of thing. That was, until I flew from Westchester Airport.

Now it is true, if you want to fly a distance of greater than say, 1500 miles, you should not fly out of Westchester. And frequently our journeys are greater than 1500 miles, but when we went to Miami and were able to take a 10 minute cab ride to the airport, allowing us to leave our house 1 hour and 10 minutes before takeoff; when we realized there were only, maybe 500 other people at the airport facilitating quick check-in and security; when I realized that owing to the tiny size of the airport, the planes would be smaller and therefore sit only two across; well, let's just say my opinion changed. Dramatically.

Flying out of Westchester Airport is the closest the average Joe (and by average Joe I guess I mean average Westchester/Fairfield average) can get to easy flying. I take no responsibility for the return trip (dear god, Fort Lauderdale, could you be a less pleasant airport?), but that outbound leg? Pretty damn near perfect.

When we were in Egypt, we both remarked on the absolutely wondrous airport in Sharm el Sheikh which only caters to tourists and is therefore spotless, efficient, and designed to inconvenience you as little as possible. While older, and therefore not as state of the art, Westchester Airport reminds me of this. Which is why I was absolutely delighted, when booking tickets last night, to discover that for precisely $0 more, we could fly to Charlotte, NC from Westchester as opposed to LaGuardia. It actually means we save money as the round trip cab from our house will be so far less than the cost of parking our car at Laguardia. So we make money on the deal and it's delightful.

So I apologize, Westchester County Airport, for all the times I turned my nose up at your provincialness. I'll have to schlep to JFK or Newark for the big trips, but I'll be checking you first for all the small ones!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Olden Times Must Have Sucked

And by olden times, I mean 20 years ago when homes didn't have internet.

Last night during our power outage (rain, falling trees, trees hit power lines (which I have no idea why they build UNDER trees), power goes out, children sweat in bed while eating low-fat Carvel), devoted partner and I had one of those senseless factual disagreements that, during times of peak power performance, are solved in a matter of moments. I said that a 'ger' was the Mongolian tent, he said it was a 'yurt.' Obviously this was influenced by a conversation about the travels of Edney. Devoted partner said he had never heard of this 'ger' I mentioned, which I thought odd since devoted partner has heard of EVERYTHING. And, because of the lack of power, we had to wait until morning to discover which of us was right. For the other geeks out there, we both were: yurt is the generic name of the structure; ger is what the Mongolians call yurts.

And, dear readers, this sort of thing happens a lot. Especially on long car trips, of which we will be taking a couple in the next several weeks. Devoted partner's blackberry gets sporadic reception in the middle of Manhattan, so I am not sure it can be relied upon to solve epic disagreements about vocabulary or the proper way to address an admiral on shore in the midst of moose and/or banjo country, and my iToy is a) mostly broken (unless you don't think using 1/3 of the screen where the keyboard sits is a problem) and b) only wi-fi anyway, making it useless in the aforementioned places.

I know the lore is that the Guinness Book of World Records was started so that bar fights could be settled quickly and unequivocally, but it's a pretty bulky book that has become so milquetoast in recent years, that it hardly qualifies as even vaguely interesting. I'm starting to wonder if the only solution is silence in the car and/or Harry Potter books on tape (how can you argue facts when you're listening to a book of total fabrication?).

In the meantime, I can be cheerful because power was restored at 6:00am this morning, necessitating only one night in the damp hot dark.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Service Takes More Than Smiling

I freely admit that I have felt a little rageful lately. I could blame the weather as I did yesterday or simply admit that if my default position is rage, it will, from time to time, escape my well-meaning oppression. In preparation to detox once again, I feel it necessary to give a little vent to smooth the way. And I will not be talking about cellular communications.

I think I am a little more sensitive than the average person when it comes to service because my brother is in the service industry. I have seen him on more than one occasion chastise an employee for minor infractions but in a jocular way. The result is, through his efforts and the tone he sets for his workplace, a finely oiled machine of good service. So it's not like it's a difficult thing to accomplish. I would venture to say that, for the most part, restaurant service in Manhattan is of a high standard. This is necessary since the diner in Manhattan has literally thousands of choices and restaurants would like you to choose them again and again. I feel, however, that all places of business that rely on people paying them for goods and services (so all businesses) should make it a point to encourage lots and lots of repeat business yet, sadly, few do.

Smaller boutiques suffer the most. Whether due to inexperienced employees and owners (in the case of independent vanity shops) or due to the misguided notion that cache is doled out based on how poorly one can treat one's customers (in the case of high-fashion), there are a wealth of small stores that simply do not know how to make money more than once. The disclaimer I would like to make here is personal: I have extreme difficulty, after repeated polite suggestions, saying a definitive 'no' without it being, well, rageful; if I have demonstrated through words and body language in a polite society way that I am not interested in something, I find it very difficult to, when pressed, not say something to the effect of, "you retarded cow, I said no about a million times. Are you effing deaf?" This is my problem and I continue to work on it. In the meantime, however, as I have been searching mostly in vain for a knitting store I wish to return to, I offer some advice to current and future owners of craft stores:

1. Your genius pattern designer who looks and acts like one of Nikita Kruschev's mistresses? She should be in the back not speaking to or looking at anyone. She's scary. And pokes at newcomers' projects with a finger that says, "in Communist Russia you would be shot for making such abomination." This does not inspire repeat business, nor does it make me think, "gee, she's right. I'm total crap. I'm so glad I know this now."

2. New customers should not be immediately encouraged to buy your most expensive product in place of the type of product they inquired about. When I walk into Tiffany's and express an interest in a, say, $500 silver bracelet, the salesperson NEVER suggests that, instead, I might be interested in the diamond and ruby encrusted gauntlet for $72,000. Assume until told differently that I did not come into your store to purchase beaded endangered yeti cashmere for the tank top I intend to wear to the beach. In fact, let's go one step further: only I should mention the word cashmere; when you suggest it, you seem like a money-grubbing [expletive deleted].

3. It's nice that you have a coterie of loyal customers. I like walking into a shop and seeing people happily knitting away at the table. But if those people look up at newcomers and make faces like they just stepped in shit, it doesn't help new customers feel welcome. Similarly, if you are sitting with your existing customers and don't so much as raise your head and smile when I walk in, it is highly unlikely I will become one of your loyal customers.

4. If you can't satisfactorily help me make the plain black sweater I'm interested in, it is not logical to assume that instead I would like to make a fuchsia, orange, and green horizontal striped sweater instead. When you are explicitly told this information, do not view it as a challenge: it's not that I want you to convince me that I really, deep down, want that monstrosity, it's that I want a black sweater. This is an instance where going to any department store would be instructive. When there are no more size 12 black silk v-neck dresses, the salesperson, if he or she is being helpful, will generally steer me to other a) black, b) silk, or c) v-neck dresses, and generally in a similar or similarly neutral hue; he or she will not, in the absence of the size 12 v-neck, lead me to the pink victorian lace high-necked ruffle and pleats ballgown. Since clearly that wouldn't be a good replacement for the black v-neck.

5. I might be coerced, cajoled, shamed, etc. into spending some money at your store even when you have nothing I want. This is clearly my fault for succumbing. However, you can be absolutely positive that it will be the last $60 I ever spend at your store. And I'll probably tell other people about the crappy experience you provided.

Which is why I would now like to say something nice: Katonah Yarn Company in, you guessed it, Katonah, is awesome. I went in there, they didn't have what I needed, I ended up buying a pair of needles and that was it, and they were super super nice about it. Even though it is 30-35 minutes from my house, it is the only yarn store I've been to that I am eager to return to, and will buy yarn from (even at the markup - internet is bad for yarn stores, the undercutting is amazing). The people were nice without following you around suggesting you buy everything your eye lights upon, it was suggested to me that I look online for a yarn they didn't carry before getting them to special order it for me, because it would be cheaper that way. The women in the shop were friendly in an authentic way, and it authentically made me want to spend money there. And if I ever decided to make the beaded endangered yak cashmere shrug, I'll source the material through them!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Willpower Fail

So I have a certain amount of disdain for those who complain about the weather namely because it's neither very interesting nor very original. And I like to be both. Yet this particular breath of summer does have side effects beyond discovering new places on your body with sweat glands.

My tan is suffering because it is simply too hot to go to the beach. Our cuisine is suffering because it is simply too hot to contemplate crafting a lovely meal - I now consider cold cuts to be dinner. We bought a grown-up sized kiddie pool for eff's sake and it's too hot to sit in it!

This is a concern as devoted partner and I have been throwing darts at a map trying to determine if we would like to move somewhere completely different. And since I seem to be a far bigger baby when it comes to snow, all the places our darts have landed, thus far, have been south of here. Which means this delightful, moist airlessness will last longer. I console myself with the knowledge that once removed from the most expensive real estate this side of the Atlantic, we could possibly have a pool (and a dog).

I find myself having unwholesome anthropomorphic thoughts about our central air conditioning - thank god I haven't gone so far as to name it. Intimacy is an idea best achieved in one's mind or after the central air conditioning has set the mood, so to speak. The idea of turning any of the glorious summer produce into preserves, which I love having the rest of the year, is a galling one: I simply don't want to stand over a boiling spluttering pot of fruit mush.

So I have failed my test of not talking (complaining) about the weather. On the bright side, listening to/checking the forecast is totally useless for the next 3-4 weeks - you know exactly what you'll be getting.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Truth About Facebook

At first I resisted. Then I embraced. Then I grew weary. Ah, the cycle of next-gen. There were people I didn't know who wanted to be friends and people I did know with whom I did not want to be friends. The birthday function is good, but it only works if you religiously attend your facebook, which I have not been doing.

Yet good has come from the Book of Faces. This morning brought a wonderful surprise message in my inbox that someone wanted to be friends with me. Someone I wanted to be friends with as well. Someone who was way smarter than I was at tracking a person down (I had spent many a day saying, "you stupid expletive deleted why can't you remember his phone number - you certainly called it enough?"

Terrence was much more than a handsome man in brown shorts, he was my fledgling business's lifeline and a person who frequently saw me in my underwear. That kind of connection dies hard. For three or so years, Terrence was my UPS man. Now you might say to yourself that it's kind of a tenuous relationship, but when your UPS man is the only person you see all day (who isn't trying to sell you drugs), things change. I would feed Terrence my creations (I recall one especially rich dessert he popped into his mouth in one bite and then asked for another), fill him with cold drinks on hot days, and bum him cigarettes when he had run out or was trying not to buy packs so he could cut down. Terrence, from day one, furnished me with his cellphone number and made any number of detours to accommodate me and my silly schedule of packages. Terrence never left incoming packages with the neighbors - he knew better.

Terrence was a friend and then we moved, and we ditched the phones that had his number programmed into memory, and suddenly Terrence was no longer in our lives (he had sweet diminutives for devoted partner as well). I remember when we were in Bonaire realizing that I would have no way of bringing Terrence anything back because I didn't know where he was.

But that all changed this morning when enterprising Terrence found me on Facebook. I haven't yet had the time to stalk through all of his info, but the time is nearing. So while I get innumerable invites to someone's band's gig and a lot of pressure to become a member of Farmville, occasionally this invasive and addictive medium produces what I'm sure it's idealistic founders had hoped: a reconnection between lost friends.

Terrence, if you read this, I owe you a beer.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

I Have Literally Nothing

You've all been really understanding about what I will term my summer malaise. It's simply too hot or beautiful or muggy to think much less think interesting things. My thoughts proceed as follows: I like the beach; I like ice cream; I like central air conditioning; why can't I have a puppy?; devoted partner looks nice; I want to make ice cream and I have all the ingredients but I just can't seem to make it happen; oooh, look at my tomatoes.

With this in mind, and with apologies, I give to you this. The single awesomest video to ever grace youtube and which made me whimper with delight. Totally safe for work!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

A Brief Look at the Men of Greenwich

Devoted partner has been known to say that stereotypes exist for a reason: sometimes they're accurate. As a disliker of stereotypes, I won't regale you with all those that exist for the type of affluent protestants that have traditionally inhabited Fairfield County - especially since I live with and love a traditional inhabitant of Fairfield County for whom only a small number of those jokes apply - but I will say that I have noticed a distinct, shall we say, reservation surrounding the men of Greenwich, Connecticut.

Flirting is a skill which, like bike riding, is easy enough to have its basics remembered after a period of disuse, but which requires practice to attain former levels of proficiency. As a member of a devoted partnership, I flirt less than I used to. See also: I don't work in a big office where men and women freely speak with one another. Therefore, I will freely admit that my flirting skills are experiencing a state of atrophy and, as such, sometimes remembered devices of flirtation will escape at less than opportune moments. Still, I consider such lapses my psyche's way of letting me know that it thinks I should flirt more lest the skill escape me completely.

I ride the train with a dizzying number of well-kempt (if oft poor-mannered) gentlemen daily. These men would, in another environment, be considered my wheelhouse. Since an early age, I did exceptionally well flirting with the over-40 crowd. But there's something about these suburban men that I don't quite grok. The very few conversations I have had on the train (itself a bit of an anomaly) have been of the "I'm looking at the floor" variety, smile-less, and conducted with all the finesse of a demolition. I once joked with a female acquaintance when we had entered a popular bar that, no matter what, the oldest guy in the room would be the one who eventually tried to chat me up. Thirty minutes later, the joke was a prophecy. So what is it about these older gents that prevents chattiness? I need the practice.

Then take this past Saturday. Devoted partner and I were at Whole Foods being very domestic and shopping for the week. Since every man in Greenwich on a Saturday morning is wearing a Polo shirt and there are a finite number of colors of Polo shirt, it wasn't long before I turned to a complete stranger at the meat counter to inquire which meat looked best to him. Before I could manage the question, however, I noticed that it was not devoted partner, but another be-Polo-ed gent. I smiled and said (perhaps with less grace than I would have in peak form), "I was about to ask you which kebab you preferred and then I realized I'm not going home with you." Ok, not my best, but certainly cute enough for 9:30am on a Saturday. The look on this poor man's face made me think that I had said something far closer to: "I'd like for us to worship satan and then carnally know one another." I didn't even get a smile.

And I'll admit, it does a little damage to a girl's self-esteem. I've been paying more attention to grooming and hygiene - a slightly embarrassed smile isn't too much to want in return; or a chuckle. I don't want to assert definitively that the men of Manhattan are one way and the men of Greenwich are another, so I'm asking you, gentlemen, to cut a girl a break. Who knows, you might enjoy flirting with me at the checkout line from time to time.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Dream Was Sweet While It Lasted

For a couple glorious days I imagined training my Molosser to eat people on the train who spoke too loudly on their cellphones, playing frisbee in the surf, and snuggling by the tv, but it was not meant to be. At least not this year. While the landlady was enthusiastic about our paying her more in rent when we renew our lease, she was far less enthusiastic about our having a dog. In hindsight, she would have done better to ask for the increase before I asked for the dog. Knowing the dog was an impossibility did shut my pocketbook rather tightly. We said we'd give her rate of inflation rounded to the nearest $50.

So, for now, I will content myself as I have for years accosting other people's dogs. Case in point, when I got on the train this morning there was a rather large cocker spaniel that needed playing with. His owner said she welcomed my attentions since her household had just acquired a kitten which was getting the lion's share of petting. Happy to oblige, I pet the hell out of her dog. The dog was really into it too, going so far as to jump up and lick my face in gratitude (this is why I don't wear a lot of makeup).

Dogs really are wonderful creatures. While basking in the temporary unconditional love of the spaniel, I hardly noticed the train passengers who generally make my skin crawl (ok, I did note the woman who huffed exasperatedly at the train conductor when he asked for her ticket - didn't he see she was ON THE PHONE?). Dogs are transporting experiences.

And of all the misgivings, fears, anxieties, etc. I have about the possibility of starting a human family one day, precisely zero of them are felt vis a vis the raising of a dog. And I think I've located the cause: dogs are puppies for far less time than humans are puppies. Yes, raising a puppy is hard work - for 6-9 months. And even during those 6-9 months you can get the dog to use the bathroom where you want, feed itself from its bowl, and ambulate. During this time, you can also teach the dog to catch a frisbee - something your human puppy will need at least 6 years to achieve. Can I work up a little mistiness from time to time over the vision of devoted partner playing catch with our human spawn? Sure. I'm not a monster. But then I think of all the effort that goes into getting to the point where I can witness that movie of the week moment and I suddenly find myself exhausted and not a little bit resentful. Not so with the dog.

But for now, it seems, both playing catch daydreams will remain daydreams and poor Matt will be the recipient of my whimpering and longing glances as I molest his charming dogs with all my pent up love.

Still, much like our daydreams of winning the lottery, we had a good deal of fun planning for our future dog. Maybe next year.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Giving In To Temptation

Just a housekeeping note: did anyone understand one word Stephen Colbert's guest said last night? Not only did I find his thesis the opposite of cogent and so incredibly convoluted, but he was a really poor representative of whatever it was he was talking about. Here's what I understood: poor people should make noise about their poverty while, somehow, not making the noise rich people don't like that poor people are in the habit of making any way like street noise. Just wondering if anyone else got something out of that four minutes.

But we were going to talk about temptation. If your name rhymes with "gamey," you are well versed in the brand of temptation that strikes around July 4th. The temptation that says one need not have an expansive estate to enjoy the good life; that a blender is sometimes the only accoutrement one needs to be sated; that repetitive tasks become more interesting the more one uses the blender and enjoys what it produces.

For many years the people whose names rhyme with "gamey" enjoyed turning devoted partner's parents' lovely, staid, appropriate Greenwich colonial into a strawberry flavored and colored redneck's dream. For 2-3 glorious days we mixed up strawberry daiquiris and played epic games of "asshole."

In a kiddie pool.

Now you may scoff, but until you've tried it you don't even know. Armed with a wooden salad bowl that served as our floating discard pile and actually armed with an air rifle to protect our pool from pigeons and deer, we took the July 4th bull by the horns and got it massively pissed on girldrinks.

Now 1/2 of "gamey" has moved on and gotten married and while the other 1/2 of "gamey" did partake in some nostalgic pink drinks with us the other month, it isn't the same. It's like trying to recapture magic moments.

Or is it?

You see, on Sunday, after sweating through about 50 minutes on the miserable beach, devoted partner and I were ready to throw maturity to the wind. We entered Target with a plan. We exited Target with a 30 dollar ENORMOUS kiddie pool and some light up rubber duckies (sadly made in China and not all that sturdy).

So Monday found us in our pool, playing gin into a wooden salad bowl (until devoted partner accidentally got water in the bowl which was an accident even though he hates gin), and grilling up burgers and dogs.

I'll admit, "gamey," it wasn't the same, but it was pretty darn good. We hope to lure you and your new additions back sooner rather than later.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Time Has (Maybe) Come

For those advanced mathematicians out there, it will come as not surprise that we are coming up to our one-year suburban anniversary. Like all anniversaries, this one is allowing us to take stock and plan for the future. I, for one, would like peacock colored sheets and drapes, and possibly some form of ottoman cum table for the living room; the latter is on devoted partner's list as well. But Matt, of excellent frienddom and New Jersey Beer Company, has yet again insinuated his canine companions into my heart in a way that has it pitter pattering in ways most annoying to, for example, devoted partner-types.

When we moved in to the house, we knew there was a no pet policy. Now that we've been here a year and have, I think, demonstrated what upstanding responsible adults we are, I think there might be some wiggle room. So we're going to ask. I give us about a 40% chance of success in getting our landlady to agree and then a 50% chance of agreeing to have and properly selecting our first dog. So, mathpeople, that's an overall 20%. Devoted partner would probably like me to take this opportunity to point out that this is real math, not Yelena math. In Yelena math world that number would represent the total percentage of n puppies I would adopt - also known as 1 in 5 puppies. But here we're talking about real math.

Also in the no-surprises-here category is the fact that I have already commenced puppy browsing. After always getting all misty-eyed about a puppy, our last trip to the North Shore Animal League got me seriously thinking about adopting a dog, not a puppy. First of all, the tugging-at-heartstrings factor is strong with me. The puppies are easy to find homes for, not so the dogs. Also, with luck, we could find an adult dog that was surrendered to a shelter by a family who moved or couldn't take care of him as opposed to one found on the highway gnawing at the carcass of a rusted out Volvo. Yes, we want a big dog, but I'm becoming more amenable to medium-sized dogs as well. Witness my finds and share you preferences! (And if you are Matt, this is not an invitation for YOU to adopt more dogs. Unless they are brewmasters.)

In the medium-sized dog category we have the always beautiful doberman. I really like the brown ones and I like them with their natural ears. Devoted partner disagrees. I'd have to find out more about what kind of growth was removed from Raven's back since we're not really looking to adopt a dog whose health problems will bankrupt us. Also, Raven is a mad stupid name. We'd be changing that immediately.

I don't know what this thing is, regardless of the site telling me it MIGHT be a mastiff/viszla. I do know that the vacant look on his face is very very appealing. He seems ready to unconditionally love me and please me and, frankly, I chose a smart devoted partner; do I really need a smart dog?

Francois (name acceptance pending) has that "who's a good boy" thing going for him. I think he would enjoy playing stick, frisbee, tennis ball, and other exciting games of that ilk. I think he could also be convinced into trying some of those games in conjunction with lake. But, as with pretty much any pit, I'd want to hang out with him for a while before making any decision.

Now for some larger dogs. This dog, whose name will also be changed as I would no sooner name a big red dog Clifford than I would name a chocolate labrador Hershey, is completely different from the type of dog I usually go for. He's leaner through the chest and shoulders, seems relaxed and not interested in eating my neighbors, and doesn't really have that badass gene. Still, something about him was immediately fascinating to me. He screamed out, "I'd be a really easy first dog to have." And I have to agree with him.

Now the rottweiler has always held an infinitely special place in my heart. I simply love them and they match all of my clothing. I think I would look tremendously sexy walking a rottweiler and also tremendously intimidating. Gracie could keep her name. Gracie is a great name for a rottweiler. Now she doesn't have the super-intimidating look that I always imagined of my rottweiler, but I still think she and I will be able to achieve the proper look with some practice.

Finally, while I didn't find a neo, I did find a bordeaux (who, continuing the list of names I wouldn't give dogs, would not be named anything dumbass like Lafite, Petrus, or Haut-Brion). She's a girl, which I like, and also her smooshie face is pretty darn perfect. She beat out Barney, the mastiff mix, as the representative mastiff of the bunch. I'd pretty much pick her up this afternoon and then spend the rest of her life preventing myself from over-buying her pink, non-sweater, accessories.

These are my pretend-adoptable dogs for the week. I'm actually quite curious which of them you like. And I guess we'll try to talk to our landlady this week or the next to gauge her reaction to our becoming dog owners. Then the only difficult talks we'll be having will be with one another.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Holiday Weekend

Dear Only Cause I Would Give My Life For (see, you didn't think I was a patriot),

Thank you for creating a barbecue/beach/pool holiday risen from the ashes of all the people who died creating you and spending days in airless, probably humid, rooms writing the rules by which you would be governed. I know this isn't the place to judge you for being vague enough that lots of idiots could read you years later and decide that what you really meant to say was no Mexicans and no gays and especially no gay Mexicans, but next time, try to put in a clause or something that says blowhards of the future should not try to craft their ridiculous messages on top of yours.

Thank you for letting me mouth off about a lot of nonsense like cellphones on trains and inefficient cable television providers. Thank you for letting other people mouth off about gay Mexicans. It provides humor and also ensures that I may continue to mouth off about whatever strikes my fancy. And thanks for letting the gay Mexicans that do live have things like due process.

Thanks for fireworks. I guess they are meant to remind us of cannons and other things that go bang, but they're really pretty and they let me hold devoted partner's hand as we look up into the sky and see pretty colors. It's kind of romantic and also kind of nostalgic, remembering the fireworks of past years.

Thanks for the day off. Devoted partner could use it and he's really always quite happy when it comes around. It's true, sometimes I get a little antsy about receiving important mail a day late (catalogs, magazines, bills, mail addressed to other people), but then I remember that if the mailman isn't working, neither am I.

Thanks for my passport that allows me to visit other places and then come back home. I like being away, but I like knowing this is the place I get to come back to. Sure, I could spend some time living elsewhere, but this is home and I wouldn't trade it.

And thanks for giving us a work in progress. Grand experiment indeed. It's nice to know you people didn't think you had all the answers and trusted us, albeit at times naively, to work out the kinks as they cropped up. The outline you provided makes me fairly certain that things will work out in the end, cable news notwithstanding. And planning for evolution of a society is pretty unconventional; admitting you don't, right this second, have all the answers for all time...that's revolutionary.

So while I might not be thinking all of this as I wipe burger grease from my chin, I'm thinking about it now, and I think about it more often than you might imagine. Thinking outside the box, you proved, isn't a vice, and I think the result of your hard work proved it can be most virtuous. You weren't perfect, and neither are we, but I like to think we're all trying.



Thursday, July 1, 2010

Thursday Nopropos

It's that time again. That time when I wonder why, if you intend to not answer your phone, you leave it audible. To the man on the train somewhere behind me this morning who chose to let his voicemail notification beep ceaselessly, you know that tummy trouble Nicaragua gave me? I hope you get it. For a month. I know a lot of you think my Giuliani-esque quality of life mobile phone tirades are, well, tiresome, but it comes down to sheer civility: don't, for lack of effort, be a douche. This goes for the people who have their phones turned up to Headbanger and then wait until the fourth ring to answer. It has also prompted me to select my next phone primarily for the feature where you can choose any sound you want as your ring. This will be mine! Because I am a child. An immature, petulant, vengeful child.

And while we're on children, and commuting, I have some questions for the parents out there: is rush-hour the bestest time to drag all seven of your mewling brood on a train and then ignore them as they literally step on the poor working stiffs who just need to make it into the office? I'm not saying you should all go live on an island, but if you're going to use public facilities, please take a moment to prep your kids in advance that public is different from private and that indoor voices and behavior are not up for debate. This will be greatly helped by your NOT giving your larva copious amounts of sugary junk food while you ride the train. I know it shuts them up, but 4 year-olds do not need Skittles at 9am. EVER.

But your issues' ill-manners are nothing compared to the alarming trend I notice vis a vis their comfort. I am a city girl and until I was a teenager I never got an effin' seat on the train/bus. Seats were for grownups. Who work for a living. I stood from the time I was too big to be on a lap until the time I was as tall as a gronwup. On the subway. When it was crowded. Through the curving track bits. Why is this no longer the case? The number of perfectly able to stand children I see sprawled across subway seats while grownups, some of them frankly old and infirm, stand is enough to make me rethink my subcontinental birth control theories. Children should be the first commuters ousted from seats when the ousting occurs and you parents should be doing the ousting and using it as a valuable teaching moment courtesy of The Rolling Stones: thou canst always gets what thou wantst. You'll thank me later when your overindulged progeny gets to the age of acquisitiveness.'s possible I woke up on the wrong side of the moat this morning.