Monthly Archives: August 2011

Lame Adventure 225: Impulse Purchase

If I were inclined to access my inner weasel, I would blame Hurricane Irene holding me hostage in my apartment for almost the entirety of last weekend combined with the public transit shut down for my subsequent erratic behavior this week.  What did I do that was erratic?  I impulsively purchased a three pack of goat’s milk soap for $5.79 (excluding sales tax).  Every so often I walk into a store and it’s my turn to be bitten by that nasty little money-sucker, the impulse-shopping bug.  I’ll admit it, I don’t think Irene was a factor at all.

I had purposely gone to my grocer’s (Fairway on the Upper West Side) organic food department to purchase a tube of desperately needed toothpaste.  My preferred brand is Tom’s of Maine Whole Care Peppermint Gel.  Fairway sells this toothpaste for $3.99, a very good price for this product with its ever-inflating cost off-setting its ever-shrinking tube size (one of my pet peeves along with the announcement “new packaging” since that almost always means the consumer is paying more for less).  Before I entered the toothpaste aisle my eye caught the site of the friendly-faced goat on the soap’s wrapper.  If a three pack of soap could talk, I could almost hear it calling me by name.

Hi Chump!

This soap mesmerized me as much as porn surely intrigues a prison inmate.  I simply could not stop staring at that goat.  To fellow shoppers I must have looked either hypnotized or stoned, but I was neither (I like to think).

Quickly, I snapped out of my trance, went to the toothpaste aisle, and grabbed a tube, but before I could take my place in the checkout line, I could not control the urge to return to the goat’s milk soap section.  Possibly I was considering how much I enjoy eating goat milk cheese.  Being extremely lactose intolerant, I avoid cheeses made with cow’s milk unless they’re so sharp they taste like barbed wire.

This soap is so special it even impairs judgment.

When I noticed that this soap is available in my favorite fragrance, unscented, for people like me with extra sensitive pelts; that sealed the deal.  I entered the store only intending to buy just a single tube of toothpaste at the cheapest price I can find and exited with both that toothpaste and a three pack of soap made from the milk of a barnyard animal selling to the tune of almost $6.

I just hope this soap will be kinder to me than the juicer I impulsively purchased seven years ago, five years before I was diagnosed with esophagitis, gastritis and a hiatal hernia, prompting my gastroenterologist to advise me to delete all citrus beverages from my diet immediately since they were searing a hole the size of a dinner plate through my guts.

I did that to you?

Eventually, I will pass the juicer onto one of my friends.  Do I have any takers amongst the three most likely candidates – Martini Max, my sidekick, Greg, or you, Albee?  I might even toss in a bar of goat’s milk soap to sweeten the deal if one of you agrees to haul that suicide machine out of my sanctum sanctorum.

Lame Adventure 224: Post Hurricane Irene BOREDOM

I slept soundly as Hurricane Irene took Manhattan or did she?  It seems that all 5,912 skyscrapers are continuing to stand tall, nor did Irene knock the Empire State Building off its axis.

Downed leaves and two twigs on the Upper West Side.

Coco, who resides near the lower Manhattan evacuation zone, told me that she got up several times during the night to look out the window, all the while wondering:

Coco:  Where the hell’s Irene?

Coco told me that she never once had to make use of a single glow stick.  She does not believe in flashlights.  I suggested that she light one in her bathroom:

Me:  It’s pretty dark in there.

I once had an issue with finding the light switch.

When I woke eleven-ish this morning, I turned on my TV.  The reporters who had been on air since Saturday sounded a bit hoarse, especially channel 7’s Jim Dolan.  They were reporting about flooding in the outer boroughs and New Jersey, but nothing sounded monumentally catastrophic to me.  Of course, if I owned a house without flood insurance, and it got flooded, I’d be completely out of my mind.  Instead, what has me most upset is that mass transit remains out of service, so in many respects the city is paralyzed.  Businesses remain shut down, there’s no place to go, and not much to do.  New York must be taking a bath economically this weekend.

Salumeria Rosi closed -- a restaurant that's normally packed.

MTA is not up and running.

Coco:  This weekend’s a total bust!

Me:  No kidding.  No one can get anywhere.

Car-less and bus-less Upper Broadway.

Since I’m the cash-poor half of our equation, I considered suggesting she find a taxi and get to the Upper West Side to hang out with me, but what are we going to do?  We’re two feral creatures, we don’t sip tea, we don’t do embroidery, we don’t play cards, even though a few years ago, a very cool arty acquaintance gave me a pack of Frida Kahlo playing cards.  Yet, I’m not in the mood to let Coco kick my ass playing poker with my Frida Kahlo playing cards.

Frida playing cards -- have yet to open pack.

Movie theaters are closed, and so are the restaurants we like, including the Magnolia bakery.  Coco suggested that if her boyfriend were in Magnolia at the same time as Milton, and there was only a single slice of Hummingbird cake left, she could envision them fighting it out.  Apparently, her guy is as insane as Milton over that cake.  Coco reported that our favorite watering hole in her hood (I am forbidden to reveal its name) was boarded up and The White Horse, a tavern we like, is also closed.

No greeting card purchases today!

The only diner in my neighborhood that is open gave me such extreme stomach issues the one time I ate there sixteen years ago, I remain convinced that if we ate there now we’d both be signing our death warrants.

<shudder>

We could hang in my apartment; I have hundreds of DVD’s but a crummy TV.  Coco has a great TV, but no DVD player.  My place is cramped and my bathroom light won’t shut off.  It’s been on non-stop since Saturday.  Coco asked me

Coco:  What’s going on with your bathroom light?

Me:  It still won’t shut off and it will probably stay on until Tuesday since no one can probably get here to fix it until then.

Of course, I would rather it not shut off than not turn on.

Perpetully burning bathroom light.

So I’m doing what many cabin fever suffering New Yorkers are doing right now – walking around their neighborhoods and shooting several post-Irene pictures.  Later, I’ll probably take a nap.

Unhappy pigeon away from the flock.

The flock hanging out in Riverside Park.

Riverside Park closed (but not to pigeons).

Eleanor Roosevelt statue pondering the Hurricane Irene hubbub, or maybe not.

Fallen branch outside Riverside Park.

Fallen branch closer (crossed street after taking that shot).

Trash left by neighborhood moron atop upturned trash can.

Fallen tree branch stuffed into trash can by neighborhood saint.

Delivery bike that survived Irene.

Unimpressed 4-month-old Paco, the neighborhood Norwich Terrier, wondering, "What's the big deal?"

Lame Adventure 223: Anticipating Hurricane Irene

Hurricane Irene has yet to arrive, it is getting breezy outside my apartment’s window, but most people seem to have gotten the memo – streets are quiet and roads are empty.  My core group of dearest friends and I are predominantly safe (for now).

Tree outside my window that could possibly kill me if it uproots, crashes through my window and I fail to dive into my bathroom fast enough.

Even though we all share a degree of cynicism about Irene taking on Gotham City and the tristate area, no one seems too inclined to do anything too ridiculous.  This excludes my cabin fever suffering Friend From Jersey, Martini Max, who has already made an impulse purchase, specifically this poster of Theda Bara circa 1915.

Theda Bara tearing her hair out for Max. Still from her lost film called "Sin."

He intends to hang it over his TV.  Did I mention that Max is divorced?

Milton is nestled in his Upper East Side apartment with plenty of staples and some massive dessert he waxed about poetically.  While waiting for Irene we discussed our New York Film Festival ticket buying strategy for an hour.  We’re very dull that way.

My sidekick, Greg, is housebound in Brooklyn.  From his texts I’m under the impression that he’s feeling a tad grumpy.

Lola, who also resides in Brooklyn, was evacuated, but she’s made the best of a bad situation.  She’s with her boyfriend in Manhattan, taking it easy.  When I last spoke to her she said he was cooking.  What a guy.

Albee has extended his visit to California until Tuesday.

Ling texted me that she is about three hours away from the city.  On Friday Coco asked me:

Coco:  Where’s Ling?

Me:  At a wedding in Toronto.

Coco:  Oh!  Who got married?

Me:  Lowell’s [editorial comment: Ling’s guy] parents next-door neighbors’ brother’s son.

In response to that response Coco’s eyes glazed over.  Hopefully, Ling will make it back before the heavy rain starts to fall and the wind picks up.

This morning, I took some pictures of unusual sites on the Upper West Side.  Both Fairway and Trader Joe’s closed early.

Eerie site: empty fruit bins outside the Upper West Side's Fairway.

Eerier site: the store that is open every day, closed.

A Guy About My Age (GAMA or JERK) with the physique of a noodle tossed an out of body fit at the burly-direct-descendant-of-Thor-bouncer standing guard outside Fairway’s closed doors.

GAMA or JERK: Why close the store?  This is ridiculous!  The subways are running until noon!

Note:  It’s after 11 am.

Burly Bouncer:  You should have gotten here earlier.  The store’s closed.

GAMA or JERK sneers at the Bouncer, a sneer about as threatening as a Chihuahua’s sneeze.  The Bouncer returns the gaze that I translated as:

Bouncer’s Gaze:  Sucks to be you fool.

I took these other pictures in my neighborhood.

Closed Trader Joe's at 72nd Street and Broadway.

Typical TJ's cheeriness. Why I prefer to shop at jaded Fairway.

Baffled tourists trying to figure out how to escape the city reading a subway map.

MTA poster announcing mass transit closing.

One of the last 1 local subway trains entering 72nd Street station.

FedEx making deliveries.

Time Warner cable is there; but when I need them, they're always nowhere to be found. Grrrrr.

My sister, Dovima, has texted me that our 84-year-old father out on the West Coast would rather talk to me on Sunday, during the heart of Irene possibly pummeling Manhattan into oblivion and knocking out my cell phone service.  He is busy watching sports on TV tonight.   I texted her back to tell him to call me next week.

I was supposed to usher an off-Broadway play today, but all theaters on and off-Broadway are dark.

Coco lives in the meatpacking district in lower Manhattan, near, but not in an evacuation zone.  The intrepid type, in lieu of a flashlight, she has glow sticks.

Coco's glow sticks.

Donning her Lame Adventures journey(wo)man photographer hat Coco has also emailed me these pictures from downtown.

Brilliant time to be on a cruise in the Hudson River.

Apocalypse approaching?

Lame Adventure 222: The Rejection of Strangers

Strangers entering and exiting the 72nd Street Subway station on Stranger's Day.

If you happened to read Lame Adventure 221, you’re aware that this past Wednesday was the inaugural Stranger’s Day celebration, and I embraced this brand new commemoration with a degree of gusto more commonly reserved for participating in a holy war.  It never occurred to me that while holding a Stranger’s Day greeting card in my paw and politely asking fellow subway riders if they are familiar with The New Yorker, the cartoonist Roz Chast, or if they’d now like a Stranger’s Day card, some would look at me like I was harassing them.  The thought bubble above my head said one word:

My thought bubble:  Yikes!

One woman in her early thirties seemed petrified, so much so that she scared me.  I discussed her with my sidekick, Greg.

Me:  What do you think that was about?

Greg pondered the question.

Greg:  Could she have suffered a flashback to a time when she was brutally raped by a woman that looks just like you, dresses just like you, and was holding a weapon that looked just like a greeting card?

Of the five people I found the nerve to approach on the subway train, three rejected me – the aforementioned woman that literally ran, another woman who looked at me as if I had grown a second head, but the Wall Street businessman in the pink power tie was gracious.  He simply said, “No thanks.”

Of the two people that listened to my pitch and accepted cards, one was a woman around my age (over 40 under death), and a guy in Greg’s 18-34 demographic.  She seemed charmed by the idea and he said, “Thank you.”

Personalized Stranger's Day greeting card note or rantings of a mad woman?

I arrived at work dragging my feet for I was still carrying one card that now seemed as heavy as a boulder.  I conferred with Milton about strategy in an email exchange.

Me: Wow, giving three Stranger’s Day cards out on the commute in is much easier said than done.  Plus I didn’t see anyone reading The New Yorker this morning.  Joy.  Maybe everyone is boycotting it because they’re so horrified by Stranger’s Day?

Milton (donning his Mr. Succinct chapeau): On the subway, people are on their guard for criminals.

We decided I should hand out the last card at Starbuck’s.  I selected the one in the Barnes and Noble at Warren and Greenwich Streets in TriBeCa, primarily because everyone in there is reading so I was confident that whoever I focused on also knows how to write.  I zeroed in on a guy around Greg’s age scrolling through Craigslist postings on a MacBook.  He did not seem scary at all, nor was he and he did not seem to mind accepting that third card.  I left thinking:

Me:  Okay, he’s sitting at a computer in a place with WiFi.  He was willing to accept the card.  I can’t expect any more from him than if he asked me to write his comment on my site for him myself.  Hm, should I have suggested that?

What I have concluded from this experience is that Stranger’s Day is rather strange indeed since it appears that 99.9% of the populace has no idea what it is and they’d prefer not to know more about it.  A more appropriate name to some might be if it were called, “Don’t Approach Me Day.”   Yet, if I had to do it all over again, would I?

Hell no!

Hey, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting a different result.  I might be a bit off my rocker, but I’m definitely not a candidate for a strait jacket … yet.  Still, it was worth trying once, but now I’ll gladly hand the Stranger’s Day baton back to its creator, Roz Chast … hopefully she’ll accept that from me.

Lame Adventure 221: Will You Be My Stranger?

It is August 24th and here it is, the inaugural Stranger’s Day!  This is a brand new holiday first announced on page 73 of the August 15 & 22, 2011 issue of The New Yorker by Roz Chast, the hilarious cartoonist with her inking pen on the pulse of the world.  She’s the mastermind behind Crankster.  (Confidential to Mark Zuckerberg: watch out.)  Stranger’s Day is Roz’s next phenomenon in the making, and I’m determined to do my part to make it very strange indeed.  You ask:

You:  What the hell is Stranger’s Day?

According to Roz, this is the holiday where we acknowledge the billions of random Joes and Joettes out there that we don’t know, don’t care about, that neither know nor care about us!  What symmetry!  What simplicity!  What a middle finger to the oozing sap that’s Valentine’s Day!

As a resounding social networking clod, Stranger’s Day is definitely my kind of holiday.  Last week when I received the Laughter Lovers e-blast from Blake Eskin of The New Yorker (filling in for Bob Mankoff) announcing that Roz had made Stranger’s Day greeting cards available through Café Press for $23.99 for a pack of 20 (bargain rate of $1.1995 per card) or $2.99 each, I thought:

Me:  Sign me up!

Then, I noticed that shipping these cards in time for Stranger’s Day would set me back $31. I next thought:

Me:  Screw that!

Then, I resumed crunching numbers at my desk and fighting a coma until a light bulb blew out over my head.  It dawned on me that maybe the kindred needy spirits of Café Press would cut me a break on shipping if I praised them all out of proportion on my blog.  I phoned Café Press’s call center in Mississippi and I got through to Synetra the Wonderful.  Following is an edited version of our exchange.

Synetra:  Café Press.  This is Synetra.

Me:  Hi, are you familiar with the Stranger’s Day cards on your web site?

Synetra:  No ma’am.

Me:  Are you familiar with the cartoonist Roz Chast?

Synetra:  No ma’am.

Me:  Are you familiar with The New Yorker magazine?  It’s been around since 1925, it remains very popular and it’s still profitable.

[Editorial comment: okay maybe there was some leading the witness there.]

Synetra:  I think I’ve heard of them, ma’am.

Omitted: ten minutes of back and forth exchange primarily filled with nine minutes of shameless begging from me for three single cards at a radically reduced shipping rate.  Fast forward to the conclusion of the conversation:

Synetra:  When your order ships, the $31 in shipping charges will be deleted, ma’am.

Café Press and Synetra the Wonderful, you rock!

The cards arrived on Monday and as I held them in my sweaty little paw, I was overcome with nausea.  Hey, I now have to exit my comfort zone and select three strangers to be my stranger.  <gulp>  Who will I select?  My criteria:

  1. Someone that does not look like they’re carrying a concealed weapon.
  1. Someone that does not look like they’ll yell at me or beat me up.
  1. Someone that smells good or is unscented.
  1. Someone that is not wearing a tee shirt with the caption, “I’m not hung over but my mouth tastes like a brewery.”
  1. Someone that looks like they know how to read (preferably The New Yorker).
  1. And of course, someone I don’t know that doesn’t know me that I’ll never see again.

If you were one of my three strangers, how strange was this?  If you take the time to comment here, remember to mention your code word so I know that you are you and not someone that thinks they can punk me.  If I threw up a little when I handed you your card, I hope it was not on your attire, and I apologize profusely.

Will any of these chosen Strangers respond?

 

Lame Adventure 220: Vespa Worship

In exactly one month and a day, on September 23rd at 5:05 AM EDT, the fall equinox will arrive and summer 2011 will officially end.  Even though I much prefer early and mid-fall to the more sweltering days in summer when I feel boiled alive, I always suffer melancholy once the days start to grow shorter.  My sidekick, Greg, just feels remorse that women will be wearing more clothing.

An aspect of warmer weather that I love is seeing the many Vespas that end their hibernation.  I seem to notice more Vespas in the city every year, and I think this iconic scooter is the go-to summertime cycle in New York, and possibly other major US cities.  Last winter, one of the more haunting sights in my Upper West Side neighborhood was this rampant case of Vespa neglect.

Heartbreaking.

I wanted to rescue this poor little scooter parked next door to my laundromat or at least shelter it with a covering.  Every time I walked past it I could practically hear it shiver.

As the days grew longer I noticed more cyclists (scooterists?) tooling around town on these classically designed sexy little Italian machines manufactured by Piaggio.  I also noticed many parked in the street in cheery shades.

Barbie's Raspberry flavored Vespa.

Electric Blue Vespa with big accesories.

Parking ticket accessory Electric Blue Vespa owner would probably prefer not to have.

Rear view orange Vespa with black chrome protection bar.

Vespas in any color, bright or dark, are always a very welcome sight to me, unlike the 45-year-old yutz channeling his (or her) inner nine-year-old riding a razor scooter down the street.

None of my friends nor does anyone in my family have a Vespa, but in the early 2000’s when I worked in TV news, I had a colleague who dated a guy that rode one that was mint green. Whenever she talked about him she referred to him as Vespa.

Mint Green Vespa, but not Vespa's actual Vespa.

A few years ago, I ran into him on the 1 train.  He remembered me, but I could not recall his actual name.  I resisted the urge to ask:

Me: Why are you riding the subway?  What happened to your Vespa, Vespa?

My current colleague, Darkness, told me that he’s considering getting a Vespa.  He urged me to visit the Vespa boutique on Crosby Street in Soho.

This must be the place.

Ramp out front is not for wheelchair accessability, but to wheel out Vespas. Youths also love to ride their skateboards over it.

I took his advice and stopped by on a recent Saturday afternoon.  Vespa Soho is a Vespa lover’s paradise.

Pick a shiny color.

Pick a matte color.

Make a statement with red.

Dan, Vespa Soho’s Sales Manager, told me that Piaggio halted Vespa sales in the US market in 1985 due to our raised emission standards which were stricter than Europe’s.  Eventually Europe raised their standards, and Piaggio’s improvements to Vespa’s technology met the Environmental Protection Agency’s standards, clearing the way for the Vespa to return to the US in 2001.

Dan told me that the high-end Vespa, the 300, has a top speed of 80 miles per hour, and it can be driven on the expressway.  It averages 70 miles per gallon.  Depending on style selection, it can cost between $7,200 and $8,200.

The most popular model for the average New York City slicker is the 150.  Its top speed is 60 miles per hour, it gets the same 70 miles per gallon gas mileage as the 300 model, but costs between $5,200 and $6,400.

There is an economy model, the 50.  It has a smaller engine and a top speed of 40 miles per hour and sells for $4000.  It gets 100 miles per gallon.

All three models have the same size gas tank, 2.3 gallons.

In order to drive a Vespa, you need a motorcycle license and you must obey the same driving rules that pertain to cars.

Dan said that the darker colors are the most popular in New York all year round, but he’s noticed that lighter colors tend to sell better when the weather is warmer.  This did not surprise me since black is the most popular clothing color out here twelve months of the year.

Basic Black Vespa.

Maroon Vespa with serious windshield.

Chocolate lover's brown Vespa.

I asked Dan what can be done to prevent the scratches and dents I so often notice on the rear panel covering the back tire.

Dents on left side.

Scratches on right side.

They sell an accessory, chrome bars protection, but Dan insisted that a common sense way to prevent this problem is to avoid parking behind an Enormous Vehicle that can crunch the Vespa since it is completely invisible to the Enormous Vehicle Driver.

Red Vespa with chrome bar protection parked where motorist can see it.

Brilliantly parked Vespa at a distance from Mini Cooper.

Living on the edge Vespa asking to get crunched by SUV.

To hell and back Vespa tempting fate once again.

Dan insisted that the Vespa can be a year-round mode of transport in the city.  He pointed out that in winter we’re not blanketed with snow all season long.  He did admit that this past winter was unusually snowy, but most of the time, we get a dump of snow, it melts after three or four days, the streets are clear again, and the Vespa rider can resume riding.  I thought:

Me (thinking):  Yeah, but that rider better be dressed for the Arctic.

If I had a Vespa, I’d be more inclined to ride mine in spring, summer and fall.  I see it as a romantic getaway vehicle I could hop on at day’s start and end.  Of course I would ride it all over the city on weekends.  I’d breeze past motorists stuck in traffic as I make my escape from the monotony.  Feeling exhilarated I imagine myself singing my favorite Broadway show tunes horrifically off-key at the top of my lungs.  Although I could ignore the bugs splattering me in the glasses, the possibility of swallowing a live bee whole while belting out a sustained note in my rendition of Cole Porter’s “You’re the Top” made me return to reality.  Pictured below is the Vespa best meant for me.  <sigh>

Pathetic.

Lame Adventure 219: The (Not) Chosen

A lovely-sounding children’s book called “The Snowy Day” is celebrating its fiftieth anniversary edition.  One of the reasons this book is such a landmark is that when it was first published in 1962, the child-protagonist was a black boy.  What would seem ho hum today was very progressive during the height of the Civil Rights era.  Milton and I shared the following email exchange:

Me: Did you ever read this when you were a kid? Since it didn’t snow in SF [I was born and raised in uber-liberal San Francisco; the most prefect place in the world to grow up], it wasn’t on my radar.

Milton: I didn’t read much as a kid. I was already favoring film.

If I recall correctly Milton nagged his mother into taking him to see Ingmar Bergman’s Cries and Whispers when he was barely ten.  A buttinsky felt compelled to warn Milton’s Mother that this film was not suitable for a child.

Milton’s Mother:  Seeing this is his idea!

Yet, this post is not about Milton’s precociousness. Recently, the boy that grew into the man that’s film-obsessed, received an invitation to attend an audience test screening of a “major motion picture” that will be released in fall. He was allowed to take a guest so I scored that seat.

Our precious ducats.

Following the screening, we would have to fill out a questionnaire and there would be a focus group discussion. The film is a romantic drama featuring a legend.  Possibly we signed our death warrants when we scrawled our signatures on a disclaimer vowing that we would not spill one ounce of our guts about this film, but I will go out on a limb and say we were extremely impressed with the lead that played the legend (my D-cup nose smells Academy Award nomination all over this performance).  Hopefully nothing bad will happen to us, such as Harvey Weinstein showing up on our doorsteps brandishing a baseball bat.  When the film opens, I will recommend it to my friends and family, and I doubt I will suffer the backlash I endured when I crowed enthusiastically about another Brothers Weinstein release back in the days of Miramax called Bad Santa, coincidentally my favorite holiday film.

Back to our test screening, Milton told me to arrive at the theater, the AMC Loews Lincoln Square multiplex on the Upper West Side, early to ensure a good place in line.  We arrived so early that the line did not exist.  A line was quickly organized and we were among the first in it.  We had a relatively short wait outside before being ushered into the theater.  Milton decided we should sit on the aisle, something we seldom do.  This was a mistake for it turned out that people could only enter and exit on our side of the row.  This forced us to get up and sit down at least sixty times and that got old quickly.  In fact, it was never young.

Organizers equipped with clipboards, conferred in sotto voce tones with one another as they sized up the audience in their quest to screen members for the focus group.  People around us were screened and selected, but we were shunned.  As Milton was trying to determine what made the selection committee choose others and exclude us I suggested:

Me: Blacks and Jews need not apply?

Milton emitted a low growl.

I think we were excluded because we both wear glasses and reek of the egg-heady scent of membership — Film Society of Lincoln Center, Independent Feature Project, (before my salary was cut) Film Forum.  The selection committee probably said about us:

Selection Committee:  How the hell did those two film geeks get in here?  They’re exactly the types that would pay to see this when it opens!

The theater filled quickly.  It was announced that the screening could start half an hour early.  As the audience applauded that welcome decision, a Plush Young Woman angled down our row so once again we had to stand to let a person through.  Reaching his breaking point, Milton groaned loudly:

Milton:  Oh, my Lord!

This drew Milton to the Plush Young Woman’s attention.

Plush Young Woman:  I don’t have my ticket to reenter the theater.  Can I have yours?

Milton’s response:

Not very subtle.

Since she was only partially stupid, she read his body language.

Fortunately, the film was entertaining.  After filling out the exhausting questionnaire, I was tired and in no mood to stay another half hour to participate in a focus group had we been chosen.  Milton shared that opinion, so possibly the organizers did not choose us because they determined we might snore during the discussion.

Lame Adventure 218: Mystery Hat

Over the weekend before the torrential rains came, I was heading out to volunteer usher an Off-Broadway play when I saw an incongruous sight on the fencepost outside my modest abode.

Is that what I think it is?

It inspired an inner dialogue.

Me (asking myself):  Is that a hat?

Me (answering myself):  No, it’s a Frisbee, you moron.

I inspected it closer and touched it gingerly, as my childhood fear of cooties collided with my adult terror of bed bugs.   As soon as I entered the theater I rocketed into the restroom and washed my hands with such vigor, I could have easily performed surgery as well as hand out Playbills.

See me, feel me, touch me.

Back to the hat, when I peeked under the brim I saw that it was unlined fur felt, size 7 1/8 and made in the USA, but the manufacturer was unidentified.  Basically, it was a cheap hat, unlike the rabbit fur felt fedora, coincidentally the color of Bugs Bunny, which I purchased for a king’s ransom at Worth & Worth on West 57th Street half a lifetime ago.

Quality fedora made from Bugs Bunny fur.

I wore that hat for two or three years throughout the fall and winter seasons.  Although it was an extremely well crafted and lovely chapeau, I looked like the consummate idiot in it.  A then-skinny twerp with a big nose in a big hat — not the most winning combination.  Also, I felt guilty about wearing bunny.  Humiliation eventually dawned on me and I donated my hat to charity.

Returning to the mystery hat blowing in the gentle breeze on the fencepost, I wondered, “How did it get there?”  Did the tenant that was in the process of moving out leave it there intentionally?  I envisioned this snippet of a scene in the play staged non-stop inside my head as She and He exit the building:

He:  Are you really taking that ghastly hat with you?

She: Of course, silly, it’s my trademark.

He rolls his eyes.  She notices and gets defensive.

She:  What’s your problem with my hat?

He:  It makes you look fat.

In warp-speed that hat lands on the fencepost.  I suppose I should add that He is gay.

Or, possibly one of the movers from Mad Men Movers was wearing that hat when they arrived to move the tenant out?  When the most Don Draper-ish of the movers started sweating profusely within a nano-second of heavy lifting, he left it on the fencepost.  Then, he noticed a dish noticing him; he completely forgot about his hat and pursued her as his colleagues completed the move.

A third case scenario could be that someone had the same epiphany I had about my fedora many years ago. They caught a glimpse of their reflection, realized they looked like a Bogey-worshiping nerd, and they hung it on the fencepost when no one was looking.

"Take my advice, Kid, do yourself a favor and lose the hat."

When I returned home, the mystery hat was gone.  Where did it go?  I don’t know, but it didn’t blow into the garden.  Possibly someone with no fear of cooties or bed bugs is wearing it right now.  It was replaced with a pile of the usual former tenant detritus denied a ticket to ride to the next location.

Usual Tenant Detritus -- bring back the hat!

Lame Adventure 217: Inevitable Destiny

Following a Thursday evening of imbibing so much after work sake with my pal, Coco, that I was hallucinating entire scenes from Akira Kuwosawa films and hearing Puccini arias from Madama Butterfly playing on the imaginary iPod in my head (I vaguely remember calling her “Coco San”),  I returned home sheets and pillow cases to the wind around midnight.  Once inside my sanctum sanctorum, I charged my cell phone, took a shower, went to bed and instantly entered a coma.  At 4:39 in the morning I woke remembering that the charge was surely completed and indeed it was.  I loathe being an energy hog.  When I disconnected my phone from the charger, I thought something about my phone’s face looked funny, but I could not determine what that was.  I passed out again, and woke at 9:15 feeling refreshed this Saturday morning.

Unfortunately, today is actually Friday, and I am supposed to be at work at nine.

Me (outraged): How did this happen?

I picked up my cell phone, looked at the face again and realized that I had neglected to switch it from silent to normal.  What had looked so funny to me about my phone at 4:39 in the morning was seeing that it was still on silent, and the vibrate icon was visible.

Visible vibrate icon at lower left corner of phone's screen.

In the sober hour of 9:15 in the morning, I found myself feeling highly un-amused.  I returned my phone to the normal prompt and its alarm, set for 7:30 on weekdays, was determined to have the last laugh in this matter.  It started blasting at 9:16.

I wanted to retaliate by firing it across the room, but since it doubles as my main source of telecommunication, I went the non-violent route and only killed the alarm.  I emailed my boss, Elsbeth, who is on hiatus until Labor Day, and next called my friend and colleague, Ling, and explained the situation to her.  Tearing a page from my phone’s playbook, she was amused.  I told her I was not coming in and would take a vacation day.

Me:  Please transfer me to Edith.

Edith is a member of the Accounting staff that works closely with me.

Ling:  Do you want Coco?

I stifle a sake-flavored belch.

Me:  God, no.

After explaining the situation to Edith, I text my sidekick, Greg, though I am certain that Ling the Responsible acted as the messenger on my behalf.

Me: Not so much hung over as overslept b/c I 4got 2 put my phone on normal when I returned home last nite so alarm didn’t ring & I didn’t realize it until 9:15. Joy.

Greg: Oh well.  Enjoy the day off!

Me: Yeah, by default.

Greg: It was inevitable destiny.

The last person of importance in my life I contact about this matter is the one I most dread … Coco.  Whether or not Ling or Greg have informed her about my absence, I am certain that the tuning fork in her gym rat body instinctively knows I am missing in action.  As the dedicated showroom manager who would walk over hot coals barefoot with a family of live mongooses strapped to her back to get to work, I know that although she has had significantly less sleep than me, and her head is pounding as if a jackhammer smashing through concrete was embedded inside her skull, she is faking it perfectly while sitting on her marble throne reciting the following mantra through gleaming white gritted teeth:

Coco:  I hate that wuss, I hate that wuss, I hate that wuss.

I write her a 2,000-word epistle of explanation that lightheartedly concludes with Greg’s “inevitable destiny” observation. Coco responds with two words:

Coco: You suck.

I email her back:

Me:  Thanks Buddy!

I don’t hear from her again.

Moments later, I check this blog’s page views for the day.  25 thus far.  Eh.  I decide that this is a good day to publish another post, but I’m not sure what number of adventure I’m at so I check my site again.  I also notice that I’ve just had 29 more page views in about 29 seconds.

Me (thinking):  Huh, that’s odd.  Did something break at WordPress?

People start commenting and liking my Lame Adventure 216, when Milton and I attended the Alexander McQueen exhibit on its final day of viewing.  Erica, a goddess at WordPress, emails me:

Congrats! Your post (http://lameadventures.wordpress.com/2011/08/08/lame-adventure-216-savage-waiting/) has been promoted to Freshly Pressed on the WordPress.com home page.

You’re now part of an elite group!

Freshly pressed queens for a day!

Considering that the only other glimmer of recognition that I’ve won in my entire life was a Little Richard comeback album, The Rill Thing, from a radio station call-in contest when I was a kid; a record that could not be given away back then. How do I know this?  The radio station asked me if I wanted more than one copy.  I asked my mother:

Me (excited): Mom, they say I can have as many copies as I want of Little Richard’s comeback record!  How many do we want?

Mom (barking mad): We don’t even want the one you won!  Hang up the phone!

Good record, terrible font.

Editorial comment: The Rill Thing is a highly underrated quite good record, and it’s still available on both iTunes and Amazon.

I feel so honored to have infiltrated the Freshly Pressed group.  It’s a wonderful way to encounter so many of my fellow bloggers who have visited my site and have in turn, introduced me to theirs.   I wish I could thank all of you personally with sake and Little Richard downloads … but that’s not going to happen.  Yet, I’m so glad that it was “inevitable destiny” that I take this day off on Lame Adventures busiest day ever.  I feel almost as weepy as Miss America.

Lame Adventure 216: Savage Waiting

Savage Beauty, the Alexander McQueen retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art has closed.  This past Sunday was the exhibit’s final day.  According to The New York Times:

“The exhibition attracted more than 650,000 visitors since it opened on May 4, and 15,000 on Saturday [August 6] alone. It is among the 10 most visited shows in the museum’s history, and the most popular special exhibition ever at the Costume Institute, which is housed at the museum.”

Two of my closest friends, Coco the Fashionista, and Ling the Graphics Designer, had already seen it.  They both gave it solid rave reviews.  The previous Thursday I emailed Milton that I was thinking about doing the unthinkable, forego my usual Sunday power sleeping, and rise at 7 am to get to the Met by 9 am, “Are you interested in joining me?”  Milton emailed me back, “I’d do it.”

We were well aware that going on the last day of the final weekend was an act of guaranteed masochism bordering on the certifiably insane, but it would also be a very only-in-New-York-thing-to-do since New Yorkers are veteran line waiters.  At this stage in our lives, I am certain that Milton and I have invested the equivalent of at least an entire year of our lives doing nothing more than waiting to enter films, plays, restaurants, exhibits, and standing at box office windows (refer to Lame Adventure 1 for the story of another epic wait).  Yet, we did not anticipate when we both arrived early – he at 8:40 and I at 8:45 (the Met opened the doors at 9:30), that the lines leading down from the front of the museum on the 79th Street side as well as the 83rd Street side would both be so monumentally long, reaching so deep inside Central Park, they nearly snaked through the Upper West Side and into the Hudson River.  Thousands upon thousands of other people had the same idea as Milton and me.  The lines continually grew longer as we inched forward.

Huddled masses not exactly enjoying a day in the park.

Inching closer to entry more than an hour later.

As we approached the home stretch of the line in the sweltering heat around 10 am, I noticed two young women toss water bottles into the trash and confer with each other.  Mind-reader me knew what they were thinking since I could smell the acrid stench of line crashers.  I gave them the hairy eyeball.  They got the message and did not attempt to weasel their way in front of us.  Instead, they cut right behind us in front of a clueless guy whose head was absorbed in his iPad.  I said loudly:

Me:  Great, future tax cheats of America right here.

Milton the Wise reasoned:  Pretty young girls can get away with this sort of thing, but if we or anyone we know tried to do it we’d all get killed.

Cheating duo up front.

Soaked in sweat, we finally entered the museum around 10:40 and purchased our tickets at 10:48 while staring at a sign declaring that the next phase in the wait would be 2 ½ hours.  We stared at that sign expressionless until Milton, who was now starving and getting cranky, groused:

Milton:  These fuckin’ clothes had better get up and spin.

For interim viewing pleasure the Met had us wait in long lines that snaked through galleries displaying ancient artifacts.  We were particularly fond of the Chinese sculptures from the 5th through 8th Centuries.  A guard told us that it was okay to photograph the permanent collection.  To help Milton take his mind off of his hunger, I handed him my camera and he snapped away.

In predominantly good company.

Crowd waiting patiently.

Impressive mural.

Appreciating sculpture while waiting.

I occupied my time working on solving the US debt crisis so we can regain our AAA rating.  I suggested to Milton:

Me: Maybe if we returned these artifacts to China, they’ll forgive some of our debt?

A tourist standing behind us asked Milton:

Tourist:  Are you from out of town?  You’re taking so many pictures.

Milton:  No.  We like taking pictures.

Milton relaxing.

Milton’s dream pasta bowl.

Next leg of epic journey.

Ha! Suckers that just got in!

Ha ha! Sucks to be us!

Ancient artifact conversation piece.

Ancient artifact conversation piece 2, or part of an ancient trend with who-knows-what function, possibly a kinda/sorta inspiration for the bong.

Just as we approached the sign that said we had 30 minutes to go before reaching the McQueen exhibit, we saw a sign warning us that there was no photography beyond that point.  Therefore, we did not photograph any of the impressive Auguste Rodin sculptures.  Our Tourist-friend bleated:

Tourist: Did you see that sign?  Put your camera away!

Milton:  We saw the sign.  We’ve put the camera away.

Milton’s stomach:  ROAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

After enduring nearly four hours of waiting, we gained entry into the McQueen exhibit around 12:35 that afternoon.  The galleries were so densely packed with visitors it was impossible to see everything.  We did notice people taking photographs with their iPhones, and as much as we wanted to follow their lead, we didn’t.  Every so often a McQueen-weary guard would erupt:

Guard: No photography, please!  Put your camera away!

A number of visitors brought their youngsters.  How much can you see in a crowded gallery when you stand barely four feet tall?  A little girl tried to grab one of McQueen’s trademark Armadillo shaped shoes and Milton had to control his knee-jerk desire to lunge at her.

Look. Don’t touch!

He gasped:

Milton: Don’t!

The kid’s mom seemed indifferent to her daughter’s antics.  This exhibit should have been off-limits to small fry under age ten, but at least strollers were banned.   Overall, it was impressively assembled and what we did see of the clothes was in a word, brilliant.  Milton and I may be the two least stylish people we know, but we both recognized McQueen’s amazing artistry or as Milton observed, McQueen not only had the daring to go further than other designers, but he had the ability to do so and do it brilliantly.  I will never look at a feather* the same way again.

*Exception: stray pigeon feather littering the sidewalk.

He told stories with each of his collections and his imagination struck me as so vast.  How tragic that he was compelled to commit suicide at only 40.

Since we played by the Met’s rules and controlled our impulse to sneak photographs, click this link to see a video that the Met has online of the exhibit.

When we exited the Met an hour later, we saw that the lines were still miles long.

Missing sound effect: cash register clanging.

The museum extended their hours to midnight both days of this past weekend.  We were glad that we were able to see this show before it closed.  It was certainly unlike any other exhibit we’ve ever seen, and one truly worthy of a four hour wait and 5+ hours of standing.  Andrew Bolton, the exhibit’s curator, deserves a shout out; he did a great job putting it together.