Tag Archives: first world problems

Lame Adventure 449: It’s the Most Familiar Time of the Year

New Year's Day hangover balloons.

New Year’s Day hangover balloons.

Sixteen hours into January 1, 2015, my holiday season officially entered the ether and the most familiar time of the year resumed. This happened when I encountered my first asshat of the New Year: a chap about my age at my go-to supermarket, Fairway. Fairway is a place where, a few years earlier on another New Year’s Day, the toes of my right foot were nearly severed by a girl not much taller than a walking stick burning rubber on a scooter in the produce section. Apparently, that moppet, with parental approval, was training to compete in the Dakar Rally via the broccoli bin. My market could serve double duty all year round as the Asshat Convention Center of America, or ACCA for short.

Fast forward to the ACCA around 4pm on New Year’s Day 2015. I am patiently waiting my turn in a cue of fellow shoppers to grab a hand basket. The man in front of me takes his hand basket that contains some detritus left behind by previous users of that basket. There is a trashcan nearby at the store’s entrance, but Mr. Asshat upends the trash from his basket into mine.

Me: Was that necessary?

Mr. Asshat looks back at me and cringes, possibly flashbacking on his nagging mother. I swipe out the detritus and dump it in the trashcan he chose to ignore. Sufficiently humiliated, he mumbles an apology before scampering down an aisle in a failed effort to turn invisible. But, I appreciated his civility, unlike the last asshat I encountered in the Old Year: a woman half my age reeking attitude.

She crossed my path on another reliable source of suffering: the New York City subway system. This episode in the series, Meet the Asshat, occurred on my second-to-last train ride before embarking on a two-week hiatus from The Grind.

Ms. Asshat was sitting on the crowded 1 local during the morning rush hour with her legs crossed, determined to give anyone near her the boot.

Shin kicker's boot.

Shin kicker’s boot.

Unlike Mr. Asshat in Fairway, my subway riding survival instinct warned that this was a Code Red Asshat, i.e., someone with the potential to detonate. Don’t provoke her. I got lucky and scored a seat allowing me to escape her foot follies. Everyone else near her came close to getting it in the shin. Her nasty expression screamed f-bomb. Fellow riders shared my cautious vibe and were mute around this volatile asshat. There are times when New Yorkers know to zip the lip.

Days later, I was in mellow mode visiting kith and kin in the San Francisco Bay Area. While in Sausalito with my best friend from college, BatPat, we strolled through a neighborhood of storybook-style houseboats docked on calm waters.

Mini mansions in idyllic Waldo Harbor.

Mini mansions in idyllic Waldo Harbor.

Many of these whimsical vessels belong to artists and writers.

Tim Burton-esqe style houseboat from behind.

Tim Burton-esqe style houseboat from behind.

Tim Burton-esque style boat from the front-ish.

Tim Burton-esque style boat from the front-ish.

I flashed on ditching the steady stream of petty irritations that are such a key ingredient in big city life in exchange for the tranquility of a floating nest and the camaraderie of courteous neighbors with cool cats.

Super cool houseboat cat Bow.

Super cool houseboat cat Bow.

Bow's super cool houseboat home.

Bow’s super cool houseboat home.

But whom am I kidding? Within a month, or an hour, my blunt force trauma temperament would surface and I could be the resident asshat in Shangri-la.

In front of my home, this bombshell might be active.

In front of my home, this bombshell might be active.

I am allergic to cats, I can’t swim and my astrological sign should be Seasick. I can do mellow by the shot glass, but my personality is frantic by the barrel.

Cool in principle but not for me.

The Neversail Ark: cool in principle but not for me.

Shortly after I returned from my California getaway, I was briskly walking down my block on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. It was five in the afternoon, a time of day that looks exactly like ten at night in winter, when I found myself doing a double take on what else? A sweating package identified as fresh chicken.

Re-gift chicken.

Re-gift chicken.

I don’t know what gave me the willies more: knowing that I reside in close proximity to a New York City asshat who re-gifts fowl, or later that evening, when I went out again and saw that there had been a taker. A few years ago, New York City was besieged with a bedbug epidemic. Have we graduated to salmonella sharing in 2015? Meanwhile, a New Year has dawned once again replete with a new crop of New York City asshats. The time of the year may no longer be the most wonderful, but it is certainly back to being the most familiar.

Asshat New Yorker-style Christmas tree disposal.

Asshat New Yorker-style Christmas tree disposal.

Advertisements

Lame Adventure 423: Chew on This

Recently, I traveled to the land of my living ancestors: San Francisco. For much of the week before I left Manhattan, I diligently prepared for my getaway. I thoroughly cleaned my sanctum sanctorum, did laundry and made sure all of my bills were paid. I had even placed my Father’s Day card in my duffel bag weeks in advance, so there was no way I would forget to take it.

Hearts and flowers-free sentiment.

Hearts and flowers-free sentiment.

As sentimental as I get.

As sentimental as I get.

The pre-planning for my trip went spectacularly. I even remembered to get gum.

Gum is an issue with me. I am not a gum chewer. I don’t like the taste and I think that chewing it plays Russian roulette with my dental work. But, I always chew gum during take off and landing because the plane’s cabin pressure wreaks havoc with my ears. One of the consequences of not being an aggressive gum chewer is forgetting to pick up gum. As a passive gum chewer I often have to purchase it at the airport and pay more. This time, not only did I remember to pick up gum in advance, I considered where to get it.

Instead of going to my neighborhood everything store, Duane Reade, I decided I would try the guy at my corner newsstand. I was in the mood to bargain. His selection is vast. Instantly, I was overwhelmed. I knew I would prefer a minty flavor, but when I started reading the ingredients, it all looked like a nauseating concoction of chemicals. I have been eating predominantly organic all year to compliment my fitness routine. I didn’t want to put any of this crap in my mouth, but I had no choice due to my ear situation. So, I relented and decided to go with original flavor Trident.

Newstand Seller: A dollar fifty.

Me: Really? Are all of these a dollar fifty?

He pointed at a few packs of bubble gum.

Newstand Seller: These are a dollar.

Me: Well, that’s a drag. I don’t chew bubble gum. In fact, I don’t chew any gum. I’m just getting it because I’m flying on a plane.

I put the Trident back. He reached down and handed me a pack of Stride Sugarfree Sweet Peppermint flavor.

Stride.

Stride.

Newstand Seller: You can have this one for a dollar.

I bought the bargain pack of Stride that reeked of mint and headed over to the laundromat to fold my clothes. As I’m folding I start thinking about my pack of bargain gum. I realize that I’m so unfamiliar with Stride, in my head I’m referring to it as Strive. As I am securing my socks (none went missing this load; I felt victorious over the machine), I wondered:

Me: Did he sell me that pack of Strive for less because it’s made in China? Could a key ingredient be lead?

Suddenly, I feared deplaning with incubating stage three tongue cancer. Is it conceivable that I’ll say hello to my sister upon arrival and goodbye to my sex life upon return?

It appears that Mondelez Global LLC manufactures Stride in East Hanover, New Jersey. Even though every ingredient sounds straight out of a mad scientist’s laboratory, Stride has its own Wikipedia page, which eases my mind considerably.

Ugh.

Ugh.

That makes no sense since Ebola, phenylalanine, and possibly one of my ancestors, (the) Village Idiot, have their own entries, too.

About phenylalanine, that’s in my pack of Stride. But why? It’s an amino acid that’s found naturally in breast milk, but unnaturally in gum for complicated reasons that almost make my head explode. One thing I know for certain: I am not going to put Stride in my pie-hole.

Hey look, a pigeon was on the ferry to Angel Island!

Hey look, a pigeon was on the ferry to Angel Island!

Angel Island with (possibly) pigeon-free sailboats in foreground.

Angel Island with (possibly) pigeon-free sailboats in foreground.

So, I visit the organic department of my market, Fairway, where I unload $2.38 on two packs of made-in-Rhode Island Glee Gum. It’s aspartame free with no artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners or preservatives and “made with Chicle for rainforest conservation”. Excluding the “resinous glaze, beeswax and carnauba wax”, coupled with the sky-high probability that Glee Gum is a frontrunner in the Department of Tooth Decay, it seems like a safe alternative to the oral deathtrap that is Stride. After balking about paying a dollar fifty for a pack of Trident, I end up paying $3.38 total for three packs of gum to chew on the plane.

Glee gum with little guy who does not look glum like purchaser.

Glee Gum with happy dancing little guy who does not look glum like Glee Gum purchaser.

Appropriately, I have no idea what I did with that pack of Stride. Hopefully, it did not fall behind a chair and is now in the process of burning a mint-scented hole in my carpet.

Thurber the family dog, "Your gum problems are so first world."

Thurber the family dog, “Your gum problems are so first world.”

Lame Adventure 412: The Deodorant Debacle

Some chase storms, some chase skirts, Adele sings a song where she’s chasing pavements (I have no idea what that’s about), and earlier this month, I was chasing deodorant. It started when I noticed a week after I purchased my preferred brand, Mitchum women’s unscented sensitive skin variety, that I had forgotten that I had tucked away deep in my wallet a seventy-five cents off coupon for my next purchase of this product at Duane Reade.

The coupon that started this madness.

The coupon that started this madness.

Duane Reade is a very popular store here in New York City, with over 250 locations, about sixty percent in Manhattan, or one approximately every ten feet north, south, east or west.

Duane Reade store with old logo.

Duane Reade store with old logo.

For many, including me, they are our go-to pharmacy, a place for health and beauty needs, pet toys, paper products, light bulbs, beer and even, in recent years, sushi. I’ve never eaten their sushi, but I can personally attest that their selection of craft beer on tap is quite good. Duane Reade is such a significant part of the New York City landscape that back in the Nineties when my former significant other, Voom, was a corporate speechwriter for the brokerage firm, Dean Witter, her great aunt blathered to her friends that her grand-niece worked at Duane Reade.

Duane Reade store with new logo.

Duane Reade store with new logo.

I noticed that my coupon was due to expire on the tenth of March. In the infinity of my naiveté I thought:

Me: Oh good, I have plenty of time.

One night on my way home from The Grind, I stopped off at the Duane Reade closest to my sanctum sanctorum to replenish my deodorant. Unfortunately, that night, they were low on all Mitchum for women products.

Plenty of space for my brand of wetness protection.

Plenty of space for my brand of wetness protection.

Something else I noticed was that Mitchum’s packaging has changed. The new packaging is promoting 48-hour protection and something called “oxygen odor control technology” that ominously “fights odor before it starts”. What does that even mean? Is my deodorant now psychic? Why reformulate a product that was working perfectly fine? I shower daily and I apply deodorant daily. Is it really necessary for me to slather my armpits with a chemical shield that is going to stop odor and wetness for two days straight? If this is even possible, is whatever in that shield safe? I suddenly had this terrifying vision of my sensitive skin reacting adversely to this ridiculously long lasting product leaving me with deep, gaping wounds in the area of my body that formerly housed my armpits. If I am going to request time off from The Grind, I would prefer it is for vacation, not for undergoing emergency hospitalization.

I also noticed that Mitchum is not the only brand of women’s deodorant shilling 48-hour protection. Their competition has gotten on the 48-hour protection bandwagon, too.

Secret Outlast: outlast what, common sense about what's healthy?

Secret Outlast: outlast what, common sense about what’s safe for one’s skin?

Buy Degree's 48-hour protection and go to the Grammy's feeling confident about not needing to reapply your deodorant for two days.

Buy Degree’s 48-hour protection and go to the Grammy awards feeling confident about not needing to reapply your deodorant for two days.

Who decided that 48-hour protection is what the consumer wants, much less needs? I certainly was not asked my opinion, but in case anyone is listening: I think this is an idea as ban-worthy as asbestos, DDT and if the stars ever align properly, the Kardashians.

The next evening, I again visited my near-by Duane Reade’s deodorant aisle. The Mitchum stock had been fully replenished with reformulated 48-hour protection products, but I did not see any that were unscented and for sensitive skin.

This sucks.

This sucks.

Over the weekend, I had to run an errand down to West 55th Street. I decided that I would visit every Duane Reade for twenty blocks in search of my deodorant. On this hunt, I found many things.

Looky here, it's 6 1/2 Avenue!

Look here, it’s 6 1/2 Avenue!

A yellow trash bag floating between skyscrapers.

A yellow trash bag floating between skyscrapers.

Same yellow trash bag landed.

Same yellow trash bag landed.

New York City sewer cover made in India.

New York City sewer cover made in India.

The one thing I did not find was a single tube of Mitchum women’s unscented sensitive skin deodorant in a single Duane Reade. This was discombobulating.

Truly discombobulating.

Truly discombobulating.

Not to mention irritating. My coupon was going to expire the next day.

Sculpture illustrating my level of irritation.

Sculpture illustrating my level of irritation.

I expanded my search to the many Duane Reades located uptown. Again, not a single store had my deodorant. Finally, completely crazed and disoriented after scouring the deodorant aisles of countless Duane Reades blanketing the West Side of Manhattan, I entered Price Wise on Broadway at 85th Street.

Price Wise here I come!

Price Wise here I come!

Like Duane Reade, Price Wise is another if you can think of it, they probably have it store. Price Wise was the place where my hunt for the holy grail of deodorants had finally ended in success.

Center stage on the shelf!

Center stage on the shelf!

Cue a chorus of voices singing:

Chorus of Voices: Hallelujah!

I remembered that I also needed a box of tissues. I brought my purchases to the cashier. The total came to $5.75. I thought:

Me: Sweet!

I handed over my seventy-five cents off coupon and reached into my wallet for a five. The clerk looked at me and frowned. She spoke sympathetically:

Price Wise Clerk: I’m sorry, honey, this coupon is only good at Duane Reade.

Yes, I felt dumber than this box of rocks.

I felt dumber than this box of rocks.