Lame Adventure 419: The B Word

The b word I have in mind is birthday. Mine occurred on Sunday. This is the first birthday in forever that I am physically fit. On December 30th, I stopped eating like a starving hog and started riding a spin bike for 40 minutes four days a week. I’ve been a barnacle to my diet and exercise routine. As a result, I’ve shed a dozen pounds, went down a pant size and rediscovered my waistline. When I glimpse myself naked in the mirror my immediate thought is no longer:

Me: Ugh, I’ve gotta do something about that.

Now that I’ve returned to being lean, I wonder:

Me: Why are you still single?

Another dividend of de-flabbing is that I have much more energy and I feel much less cranky. On Saturday, I was walking down my block when I encountered a squirrel. We made meaningful eye contact. I dug my hand into my pocket. The squirrel looked hopeful. I took out my iPhone. The squirrel realized that I was a useless source for treats, scampered under a shrub and dug out a snack from its stash. The critter then hopped onto a ledge and struck a pose.

Last critter photographed at 54.

Last cute critter photograph at 54.

I snapped a shot. A woman approached:

Woman: What’s he eating?

The Old Me: How the hell do I know? Do I look like a squirrel-ologist?

Now that I’m mellow I’ve muted my snark. If she was lesbian and we had chemistry, this could have been a brilliant way to meet: bonding over a charming rodent nibbling God-knows-what.

As for my birthday, I’m not big on celebrating, but I appreciate low-key acknowledgment. My friends and family know that I’m not into gifts. My bud, Coco, once remarked in sheer exasperation:

Coco: You’re the hardest person in the world to get a black tee shirt for.

I welcome cards and my annual birthday cake at The Grind. This year, I wanted a pie, specifically an apple pie. My boss, Elspeth, opened her wallet, and my colleague, Godsend, ordered the exact pie I craved: crumb topped from Billy’s Bakery. Billy’s is known for their cakes, but note this fellow pie enthusiasts: Billy’s crumb topped apple pie is superb.

Birthday pie.

Birthday pie.

My birthday wouldn’t be complete without attending the theater with Milton. This weekend, we saw two plays on Broadway. As I power slept on Saturday he rose at daybreak to wait in line for $29 rush seat tickets to The Velocity of Autumn, a one act play starring Estelle Parsons and Stephen Spinella.

Pre-theater crowd waiting to enter.

Pre-theater crowd waiting to enter.

It’s a very moving, unsentimental story about a middle age son trying to talk his elderly mother out of blowing up her Brooklyn brownstone with one hundred Molotov cocktails she has scattered throughout her home in defiance of his siblings demand that she enter assisted living. It is not a comedy, but it is packed with hilarious jokes. It strikes many chords about aging whether you’re 85 or 55.

86-year-old Estelle Parsons delivered a knockout performance as the mother. She was nominated for the Best Actress Tony award last week. Ticket sales were slow so the producers closed the show on Sunday. Because time was running out to see it, Milton hightailed to the Booth Theatre’s box office in pursuit of the cheap seats. He scored third row orchestra, but was warned that they were partial view, proving the new adage that skinflints can’t be choosers. When we got to our row C seats that hugged the theater’s wall, Milton gasped in terror:

Milton: What an angle!

Angle.

Angle.

Fortunately, when the curtain lifted, the view was good. Milton declared:

Milton: I would gladly pay $29 to see every show on Broadway from this seat.

Stephen Spinella and Estelle Parson at curtain call.

Stephen Spinella and Estelle Parsons at curtain call.

On Sunday, my birthday proper, we saw Of Mice and Men starring James Franco and Chris O’Dowd. We bought those tickets in January. The theater was packed with young women, many probably attending a Broadway play for the first time. But they behaved. No one screamed or threw her underwear at the leading men.

Pre-theater crowd entering the Longacre Theater.

Pre-theater crowd outside the Longacre Theater.

Ben Brantley of the New York Times gave this inspired revival a bitchy review. He ridiculously compared James Franco to Yosemite Sam. Milton said that for film stars that had never performed on Broadway, both gave very solid performances. We thought it was entertaining. Furthermore, Milton never once complained about having to climb 51 stairs up to the balcony.

First pigeon photograph at 55.

First crummy pigeon photograph at 55.

This year is off to a great start.

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90 responses to “Lame Adventure 419: The B Word

  1. Happy Birthday to you. Sounds like it was a good weekend.

    Kudos for being earnest about the eating and exercise. The results are speaking to you. Keep it up. It feels good, doesn’t it?

    I see a trend in your pre and post birthday photos. I predict your next big life adventure will be nature photography. You should send a resume to National Geographic this week so you can get a head start.

    Have a great and interesting week.

    Like

    • Thanks Jim. I thought I had captured that pigeon a split second later when it was in mid-flight, but when I looked at my images, my iPhone’s shutter speed was too slow. All I had was asphalt (which I considered posting). Not even the hint of a single flying feather. So much for sending my resume to the National Geographic. Let’s face it, I was born to label tile.

      Like

  2. Congrats on the new fit you and the b’day.

    Like

  3. Happy Birthday to you! It’s pretty amazing to get to “our age” and feel like we’re healthier than ever. Although, that’s not exactly what you said… Still, congratulations, and many more!

    Like

    • Thanks Melanie. Frankly, I never thought I’d live this long. But when I was young, I had nitwit notions of dying young. Now that I’m not young, I’m very okay with sticking around. There are so many plays to see!

      Like

      • Yes, always so much to do.

        My mom died when she was 65 and dad when he was 66 (6 weeks later, thanks folks!) They had particular health issues, but I certainly don’t take the good health for granted.

        Like

  4. Snoring Dog Studio

    Happiest of birthdays, dear V. James Franco “Yosemite Sam”!! Best insult ever. I’m not a fan of Franco, nor of Yosemite Sam. Your birthday eve and proper sounded wonderful. And congrats on the fit you!

    Like

    • So GREAT to hear from you Jean! I realize that James Franco being the embodiment of Where’s Waldo minus the glasses and striped cap can activate the annoy-o-meter. I half-expect to open my apartment door to discover him fixing the leak in my bathroom. But the guy is genuinely talented. He was very good on the boards.

      Like

  5. Happy belated birthday!

    Like

  6. Happy Belated Birthday, V. Sounds like it was a fabulous weekend. Congrats on losing the twelve pounds and that apple pie looks delicious!

    Like

  7. Happy Birthday. You don’t know me. I just like your blog and wanted to wish you well!

    Like

  8. that apple pie looks pretty damn good. I’d say you are off to a great year… 12 pounds is awesome. I am glad to hear the ladies behaved themselves in the theater. They are swoon worthy gentlemen.

    Like

    • We noticed in our row in the balcony that aside from Milton, in the right, left and center sections, there were only three other males of the species. Milton determined that all his fellow gay male Franco-philes were sitting in the orchestra. Predominantly, young women owned the balcony. I hope I can keep those 12 pounds off for the long haul. Having a spin bike at arm’s reach is helpful.

      Like

  9. Happy Birthday, V. Being healthy only wants makes one want to be more healthy. It’s quite the vicious cycle.

    Like

    • Thanks Jeremy! That’s very true. Exercise is addicting and since I’ve come this far with fitness and diet, I don’t want to regress … except maybe for a piece of pie for a special occasion.

      Like

  10. WOW! Happy Birthday to you!!!! Glad to hear you’re feelin’ good, feelin’ strong..

    I can’t believe Franco graduated from NYU, in theater I assume, and it took this long to get on Broadway! A second WOW!

    Like

    • Did he graduate from NYU(seless) Susie? I cannot keep up with all of his academic endeavors, but I don’t think he has a degree in theater. I’m still digesting when he was acting in a soap opera.

      Yeah, I’m feeling good this year. Let’s hope I stay on the cliff.

      Like

  11. Bettielou Wagner

    Happy Birthday!! I enjoy your blog. Thanks for writing it!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Happy Birthday LA Woman – you still rock!

    Like

  13. Happy Birthday, V! Pie from Billy’s Bakery is an excellent choice for a birthday celebration. I used to go for red velvet cake from Cake Man Raven but sadly they were closed by the health department. So you know…
    Now I’m up for a great place in Brooklyn known as 4 and 20 Blackbirds. (Salted caramel apple pie). My birthday is the end of the month and that’s exactly how I think I’ll celebrate. 🙂

    Like

    • Salted caramel apple pie sounds delicious, Jackie! Do you eat it warm and a la mode? That’s how I used to love my apple pie, but I can’t do that anymore unless I want to rocket to the nearest ER. I just checked out 4 and 20 Blackbirds on the web. Wow! I’m drooling!

      Like

  14. Ditto on the Happy Birthday! And congrats on the de-flabbing. Good for you!

    Like

  15. Happy birthday! Glad the squirrel posed for you- isn’t mother nature grand?
    And congrats on the fitness- nothing’s better than “looking as good as you feel”!

    Like

    • Thanks Dorothy! That squirrel was one cooperative critter, but maybe it sensed that I’ve posted other photogenic squirrel pictures on this site before so it had a good feeling about me. Being twelve pounds lighter is a very welcome feeling.

      Like

  16. Happy Birthday V! Glad to hear you had a great bday weekend. And congrats on the fitness.. your story is motivating me to get back into shape myself! =) I hope to catch up soon!

    Btw – the pie looks amazing! Yum yum

    Like

    • Ling!!!!!!!! Hey Buddy!!!!!!!!!!! Milton and I had an excellent weekend.

      You’ve hit the pause button on doing hot yoga? I like the fact that all I have to do is climb out of bed and up on my bike: fitness made easy.

      The pie was excellent and there was enough for you and Lowell! Yes, let’s catch up “off-site” soon.

      Like

  17. Have a very Happy Birthday! I don’t consider this belated – birthday wishes are acceptable for a good week either side of the actual day. If we lived closer I’d have baked you a cake!

    Like

    • That works for me, the idea of birthday wishes bleeding well into the week, Terri. If only we lived near each other, your baking skills blow me away. I’m still thinking about your amazing looking holiday cookies. It’s to the benefit of my weight loss that I’m nowhere near those!

      Like

  18. Happy birthday wishes to you! The beginning of your post made me all inspired to get my butt (and gut) in gear – kudos to you for all of your dedication. However, that apple pie pic also derailed me a bit, as that’s all I can think about. So maybe I’ll pie first, shed some pounds second.

    Like

    • Thanks! Before I started exercising regularly, it was the holiday season, Sarah. I indulged. So, definitely pie first (Sarah-style, garnished with parsley, right?) and pounds second.

      Like

  19. Happy Birthday Hottie! It sounds like a good one and a good year to you!

    Like

  20. Happy Birthday V….

    Your celebrating sounds great!

    R.

    Like

  21. Happy Birthday V!! Sounds as if this year is off to a great start for you and two plays PLUS apple pie–what an extravaganza. My birthday is this Friday. (I believe I remember us both being Tauruses — is that the plural of Taurus) and though I can be as stubborn as my sign, I’m loyal as hell to a friend. Are you that way too? And woe, the person that crosses a Taurus woman. Just sayin.’

    But this is about you and Happy, happy Belated Birthday. I’m blowing horns and singing the song for you. 😀

    Like

    • Hey Brig, your birthday is the same as my playwright bud, Albee! Happy birthday to you four days in advance. I never put much thought into astrology, but it is true about the loyalty program, anyone who crosses me about my family or posse, it’s goodbye. I think I hear the horns, or maybe it’s just the natural ringing in my ears.

      Like

  22. Happy birthday and congratulations on getting fit.

    Like

  23. Happy Birthday! Yay for great angles and slim waistlines. I’m gaining weight all of a sudden, and it feels yucky. Anyway, you have inspired me. I was happy to hear that Milton didn’t complain about the steps. That pie did look scrumptious!

    Like

    • Thanks Amy! I have reached that stage in my development that I can watch my 25-year-old colleague, Godsend, inhale a candy bar and almost feel myself gaining weight from watching. It’s so much easier to gain than to lose, but I highly recommend spin bike riding … and portion control.

      Like

  24. Belated happy birthday! It sounds like your year is off to a banner beginning! I would love to see Estelle Parsons in anything. You and Milton strike me as people who make the most out of living in NYC. Congrats on losing the weight and getting in shape too! Onward! p.s. I’m hoping Julie contacted Judith but so far no word on my end.

    Like

    • Thanks Patricia! Milton and I do our best to make the most of the culture that this great Metropolis has to offer for the least amount of shekels. Julie did not contact J, but everything worked out nicely thanks to the link you gave me to forward to her. She was able to get through to someone before taking off yesterday. Thanks for the referral!

      Like

  25. Lets get it out of the way, happiest of a great start to your personal new year. Why are you single? Do you ask yourself that question? Really, I am thinking you don’t really, you seem to have far to much of a life to really want a change at this stage. Congratulations on feeling healthy and not saying ‘meh’ when you look in the mirror, to me this is the only reason for torturing yourself.

    Love the pie, beautiful. The nature pictures? In New York, I am remain shocked there is still nature. Sounds as though you made the best of opportunities over the weekend, I continue to be envious! Me, I just want to see the Met.

    Like

    • Rest assured Val, you have it right: I value my independence and have no interest in acquiring a ball and chain, but a few (cough) “dates” a month with someone thought-provoking are always welcome. There’s plenty of urban nature in New York. There was a pigeon resting comfortably for a few hours outside on the window sill across from my desk here at The Grind. Then, it stretched and flew away probably in search of brunch and romance. If reincarnation exists, I hope I return as a rock dove. The pigeons of New York live well!

      Like

  26. Shit, I can’t believe I missed your birthday, V! So sorry. Yesterday was Sara’s, so I wasn’t online, but she was really sick, as well, so it sucked all around for her. At any rate, Happy Birthday. I’m gonna follow your good example and be in shape by next year’s birthday!

    Hugs from Ecuador,
    Kathy

    Like

    • I feel for your beloved spouse, Kathy! Tell Sara Happy Birthday for me and let her know that I was sick on my birthday last year. That’s such a drag! Getting back in shape is one of the best birthday presents you can give yourself, alongside new Jack Purcell badminton shoes. Go for it!

      Hugs back from The Big Apple,
      V

      Like

  27. Happy Belated birthday. Sounds like you had a wonderful time. Yes $29 tickets for Broadway woohoo! I’m going to Carnegie on the 20th $25 tickets and I will be in the nosebleed section. I’m going to have to check out Billy’s bakery. The cakes look good.

    Like

  28. First off, a belated Happy Birthday to you. Glad to know you’ve had a wonderful time at JF’s new venture, and had the chance to work out before settling into your seat. Glad to know too that you have nature even on the busy city streets. But do you know now’s peak migratory bird season right there in your city, in Central Park (some 200 species). You should hop over there to take some pics before the birds all fly up north to my neck of the woods for the summer.

    Like

    • I know where to go in Central Park to find the birds, Arti, but the problem is that the shutter speed on my Canon point and shoot as well as my iPhone are arthritic snail slow. I thought I took an “Arti shot” of that pigeon in this post, just as it was taking flight. I can still see its wing span in my iPhone’s frame. It was quite a “hallelujah!” moment for me. But when I looked at my pictures, all I got in that shot was asphalt.

      Like

  29. LOL! I like that… “Arti shot”. Know what’s my secret? Set it on Auto in the Sports Mode. 😉

    Like

    • I just checked out my point and shoot. It doesn’t have a Sports Mode. Grrrrrrrrrrrrr. I know that Milton’s camera does because he’s used that setting when we’ve covered the gay pride parade. It’s a setting that also does an excellent job of capturing guys wearing feathers.

      Like

  30. Happy birthday! Pie for your birthday, what a brilliant idea. I may have to steal it. My bday is later this month. Glad you were able to do what you wanted to do to celebrate. The first production sounds wonderful. And Of Mice and Men is usually a good one. I still cry each time, but I’m a crier.

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  31. Happy Belated Birthday. I wish I had your desire and the self-discipline to become svelte. You are an inspriation to this old Fat Boy. Hey, guess what? Connie and I were actually exposed to Broadway-style theater recently. The Wizard of Oz road show swept into Walton Arts Center and good friend and season ticket holder gave us 2 free passes for row 8. It was fantastic. Congratulations on the apple pie. That’s my favorite too.

    Like

    • Thanks Russell. I had been thinking about getting back in shape for few years but a blunt warning from my gastroenterologist last fall motivated me to quit procrastinating — until after the holidays. No way was I going to practice portion control and exercise then! But after four months of spin bike riding and cooling it with eating like an animal in the woods, I like where I’m at now. Milton loves to sit close when we see a show. It does make a difference. He treated himself to Wicked for his birthday a few years ago. He won a $20 front row lottery seat and was in his bliss. This year for his non-milestone birthday we’re seeing the Broadway musical-comedy Bullets Over Broadway at about the 8th row of the orchestra. We paid Real Money for those seats.

      Like

  32. Cheers again to your birthday weekend … especially because you packed much into your weekend without sacrificing your power sleep!

    Like

  33. Happy belated birthday, LA – sorry I didn’t get to comment sooner. You took a charming photograph for your last one of a critter at 54… when I try, I usually manage to catch the tail.

    Like

  34. The reason you’re so hard to buy a black T-shirt for is ’cause you’re shrinking. Congrats! I know how hard it can be for some people (like me) to lose weight, and therefore how very satisfying it can be when you do it on purpose. It is very empowering to set out to do something and to do it.

    I read the review of “Mice & Men” that you mentioned (mostly because Franco, I think it was, reacted poorly to the review). Of Mice & Men is one of my favorite stories of all time. It’s so subtle and moving and beautiful, and says a lot about what it is to love another human being.

    You say you “are alone,” but I don’t think that’s quite right. I think you mean you don’t have a partner. Someone who has as many cherished people in her life as you have is not “alone.” To some degree I believe love is love. I realize that’s “easy for me to say,” (Solzhenitsyn expresses this well when he asks, ” Can a man who’s warm understand one who’s freezing?”), and I don’t want to sound glib, but I do believe that. Based on what I know about you and your previous girlfriends (admittedly little except that have awesome nicknames), I gather you’re the type of person who would rather be alone than settle for Ms. Not-Right, a quality i find immensely admirable.

    I really do believe that someone’s out there for you and that you’ll find her. I think it’s practically impossible for nice people who love themselves not to end up with another of their kind. I tend to be an optimist, and maybe I’m naive, but it’s worked for me so far. All the best relationships in my life (with one exception) including my wife, have been ones I just stumbled into. The one exception, ironically, was Match.com. She was a really cool chick and we’re still friends. So that’s another resource.

    I hope I don’t come off sounding like Dear Abby, but I think that a lot of people have a lot more going on for themselves, and are a lot more beautiful than maybe they realize sometimes.

    Like

  35. Happy Birthday! Sounds like you had a good one.

    Like

  36. Don’t see my earlier wish for you to have a happy birthday. Possibly typed and didn’t hit post. Anyway. To a fellow double nickel-er I hope you enjoyed the day.

    Like

  37. Holy Crap! Now that I’ve resurfaced from Planet Parent and Catching Up to Life Lane I’m here to say Happy Belated Birthday. Duuuuuuuuuuuude. Had no idea it was your birthday but so glad I caught up with this post and got a glimpse into your evening. Sounds like you had fun. And I know I’m a chocolate lover but that pie sounds pretty tasty to me. Hmmm pie … that sounds like an interesting challenge. But I’m better at pie eating than pie baking. Glad to hear you had a good time 🙂 Sending you some good wishes … really, really, really late, but still sending them.

    Like

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