Archive for February, 2006

Love Not Love

February 26, 2006

I don’t believe in love. That’s the first thing you have to know about me. I just don’t. I think love is a social construct created to explain our need to be physically intimate with people and not appear as socially defunct by being alone. I mean come on, do the math. Do you really believe there is one person for everyone else in the entire world? Given the statistical diversity and population spread, why does everyone’s soulmate seem to live in the same town as they do? Who’s to say that these people couldn’t live 3,000 miles away, never meant to cross our path and even perhaps be of a different generation. I don’t get love. I don’t get the preternatural fascination we have with it and why we choose to define our lives around searching for it.

It makes me sad sometimes to realize that I’m the type of person who will always be alone. I accept it, but at the same time when a mysterious copy of Modern Bride makes its way into my post box, I do feel a tinge of sadness. I look at the dresses and wish one day I could feel like a princess, like the people in that magazine, just for one day-then I remember love is just a convenience not an actuality.

Sometimes though…

When I got off the subway the other evening after work, when it was springtime in the winter and the temperature soared above to twice what it should be, I saw something. This something might be called the l-word, and in some ways although I know it won’t happen to me, it gave me a little bit of hope, a sign that love may actually exist in this world. This man, probably over 50 not in the best shape was walking around midtown east with who I assumed was his wife. Suddenly he stopped, put his hands on her shoulders then cupping her face. He then did the most shocking things I’ve seen in NYC, he took off his shoes and gave them to his wife-her feet in obvious pain even from my standpoint from wearing 5? stillettos in a mistaken attempt to merge fashion with functionality. Any man that would dredge around on a nyc sidewalk in barefeet just so his wife could be comfortable must love her immensely. I mean, the spirilla, the streptoccacca, the man-eating flesh virus left from human urination exposed to his poor feet, just so his wife could be comfortable. If that’s not sacrifice and selflessness than I don’t know what is.

Is that love? Exposing one self to pain, discomfort, and future loss of toe just so another can be happy, or is it a pre-emptive strike of self preservation to keep one’s sanity when obvious fashion conflicted wife begins nagging and moaning in two seconds from the obvious blisters that will form from her “Camping heels?? I don’t know. Maybe it is love and that makes me all the more sad. Alone and tough I know I’ll always be, but sometimes I want to be weak, just so someone can be tough for me.

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Calling in my points

February 26, 2006

Glenn (name changed to protect the innocent) from my main 9-5 is in a community play version of This Life. Martin’s in a community play version of anything every freaking month. He stresses, he freaks, he makes everyone at the office go and cheer on these horrible productions by guilt and manipulation. He’s a gay jewish single 47 year old, he’s good at it.

This time he’s playing the main character. He’s an invalid in bed. The whole play is him not moving in a bed. Kill me now.

I can’t go. I would honestly kill myself or gauge something out. I rather have four endoscopies in a row rather than see this production. He’s a nice guy but I already have to sit for an hour week and listen to him stress about his three non-relationship relationships EACH WEEK. Every week it’s the same. It’s like being forced to watch the same episode of the Brady Bunch where Greg keeps wearing the Tiki and bad stuff happens to him in Hawaii and he doesn’t catch on. He’s not sure if this guy is his boyfriend or just a guy he is dating, He’s not sure if the guy he’s sleeping with is the one because he splatters water when washing out his toothbrush. I hear it all, every detail, every same story, every freaking week.

I think this therefore exempts me from going to see him in a bed just talking. I see that at work. I pay attention to him at work. This should be a time to let others experience his voice. However, unfortunately life doesn’t seem to work this way. My inability to appear mean and disinterested means an obligation to go and be interested, more so than anyone else. That’s what the laws of etiquette and courtesy state.

I however am bucking the trend. I’m not going. Antisocial me is calling in all the points I get for being his sounding board on his love life. That buys me a free pass. I’m breaking convention. I’m staying home.

Old Man at the Diner

February 23, 2006

Scrambled Eggs, toast, bacon and juice. That’s what he gets everyday, the old man who sits at the third table in the window at the diner on the corner of my block. I see him every morning in his sweater vest, hair neatly combed, shoes polished and news paper folded next to him on the table. Every day he sits there alone and eats the same breakfast. His Usual. That’s how he probably orders it.

He’s a comfort, something that I check on every morning. Make sure that the Old Man is there. I don’t know why he intrigues me so, but his regular patronage of the same table and the same meal is a comfort for me.

The diner often times makes me sad. All the people sitting at the tables in the window, all with someone, friends, family, smiling and laughing, makes me feel quite alone. He however is my steadying force.

I make up stories about this old man. His life. What he’s thinking. What he plans to do with his day. Sometimes he is this widowed old sod who after years of his wife cooking him the same breakfast before he went to work, now has to resort to going to the diner for his breakfast before he returns home alone to continue reading his paper and listening to the radio. Other times, he just someone who has lived alone all his life, too busy in his work to seek anyone out, and this is the only way he feels he can connect with others, by observing them at their tables. Oddly enough, most of the tales I spin about him have this morose romantic quality to them. He just seems like someone who has lived some sort of tragic life. Maybe that’s because he eats alone every day and orders the same thing, maybe it’s just because I’m alone and that’s how I feel sometimes.

I got worried once. He went missing from his normal spot for almost a week. Did something happen? Was he ill? Did he die? Did he suddenly decide forget this, I’m moving to Florida and leaving chilly New York far behind? I worried. I stressed. He wasn’t there at the third table in the window at the diner on the corner of my block anymore. I became all out of sorts. Then miraculously he returned: scrambled eggs, toast, bacon and juice. All was right with the world.

He must have had a cold I thought. Perhaps, his daughter had a kid and he went to visit her for a bit.

I don’t know. I don’t know even why I’m so taken with him. All I know is that it made me feel safe when I saw him at his table with his usual this morning, and that’s the only reason I feel like I can make it through one more day, tough times and all.

Fun? Fun? There’s no fun in a toy store!

February 20, 2006

Just a note about the FAO Fun Police.

Mr. Weeble Wobble, the assistant manager from hell, is the Fun Police, the PooPooing Po-Po. If he sees fun, it’s his sole mission, his reason d’etre, his singular goal, to squelch, smother, and defeat it.

“Keep that frown upside down? is his refrain.

Now, that would be all well and good in most places of work, but you see this is FAO Schwarz, the epitome of toy stores. It’s like telling everyone in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory to go on a diet and promote lettuce tasting chocolate. It doesn’t make sense.

Most people who work on the demo team are out of work actors. Very creative people who have decided waiting tables just doesn’t give them the creative freedom to pursue their art. You have Cesar who has a comedy show that runs every several weeks, there’s Chris who is crazier and quick-witted than your average bear, there’s Annie from Oklahoma, Micah who can attract any person to him with his ambiguously gay over the top acting, and all the other cast and crew.

Today, someone brought out the Hummer boom box to demonstrate the sound and power. Out bounced some classic Sugar Poppin’ Daddies and we all started to dance. All of a sudden it’s 6 of us dancing around, gathering a crowd with kids joining in and dancing with us. Parents are laughing, taking photos, people outside are pointing through the windows and making their way to the entrance, and most of all the atmosphere of the store was on fire. Then Beeker, the Weeble Wobble walked by with his clipboard.

He steps in the middle of our dance circle. “Tessa I need you back at the Illustory. Annie, get the party room ready/ and you…I don’t know what you should be on, but you’re here to work and you’re disturbing these customers.? Um…alright then there Steve, I’ll get back to holding my book which doesn’t create any interest and staring into space, and these customers that were having fun and actually being driven to buy things will just walkabout, browse, and walk out.

In an instant, the levity and ambiance of imaginary reality was sucked out of the second floor like I would suppose a vampire instantly sucks all the blood from its victim.

He disappeared for a bit and in my corner of non-creative, creative play promotions, Cesar stood making his magic plastic designs. Magic Plastic is the old school goo you put on a straw and blow to make semi-permanent bubbles. Selling point, now they’re nontoxic! (Damn, now you can’t get high!) Cesar had made a good size bubble and was bouncing it back and forth with a customer. Then, this little boy spiked it directly in Cesar’s face, popping it on his glasses and making this big blue glob stick onto his face and glasses, almost impossible for Cesar to get off. Now, this was quite funny. In one instant Cesar was just standing there hitting a plastic balloon, the next minute he was like a smurf who had his chewing gum stuck over his head. Hilarious. So funny, I actually fell to the ground crying with laughter.

Just then, faster than a speed of light, dundundadunnnnnn Fun Police to the rescue.

“Why are you laughing? Why are you on the ground? Cesar that’s not apart of the approved uniform.? The customers who had gathered to laugh at Cesar’s misfortune and wonder at the classic toy quickly dispersed, putting the magic plastic back on the shelf, not buying any of it. Weeble Wobble noted our having fun on his clipboard.

This went on all day. Poor Alan, demonstrating the wave board would see the Fun Police coming and skate his way as fast he could two floors down to try and avoid the Weeble Wobble. But then, even in the 0.2-second dash down two flights, the Weeble Wobble would be waiting for him clipboard in hand to chastise about something. How did he make it down there so fast? Was it a doppelganger, or was he really such a Man of Misery with the super power to find fun and snuff it out to only let unhappiness and dreariness fill the world? He would make a good super hero in that sense, a comic book character that can only breathe with his mouth open and hates fun. It’s a guaranteed classic right there.

It’s a toy store. When your employees have fun, it creates a mood more conducive to buying toys. I don’t understand the sequoia tree that is permanently lodged up his ass, but perhaps super Tessa, the queen of undermining authority will make an appearance soon.

May the Schwarz be With You

February 19, 2006

“Beached Whale? – SLAM. A partially deflated rubber whale slammed on the floor in front of me.Chris looked at me expectantly and I tried my hardest not to laugh. A horrified look crossed the face of a customer I was talking to at the Comfy Computer, and she picked up her “genius? child and ran off. I laughed. I laughed hard.

“Free Willy? I chimed back.

Chris broke into a soulful clap and dance singing Michael Jackson’s title song to that awful film.

Annie, rushed over joined in our now Michael Jackson soul circle dancing around the deflated whale, humming along with us as we realized we didn’t know the words but but scarily remembered the tune to the song.

Just another day at FAO.

From fathers hiding from their familes in the narrow furniture hallway sitting in pink feathered and sequined chairs under canapés of pink tuille, a mass of long legs peeking out from tiny chairs, to parents trying to convince me their two year olds are too advance for the child’s computer I’m selling since the two year old already has mastered Google and has their own myspace-there’s never a dull day sets in at the FAO Schwarz.

Nothing however beats poor little William. You see, Dr. Frankenstein has nothing on FAO Schwarz. I’m not even referring to the monster children or even worse Upper East Side parents who not only cater to every whinge and moan of their child, and demand the world themselves while chatting on their cell phones. No, up the escalator from the life sized animals, past the big piano that only costs $250k, lay Madame Alexander’s Doll Factory replete with severed doll heads on the wall.

The children choose the skin color, eye color, hair color, and hairstyle of their collectible, customizable, personalizable mini-me. After which we helped construct the doll in a fun process that includes microwaving the doll (not to long or the plastic melts as I learned) to and strapping it into a mascochistic torture restraint device in order to glue hair on. Fun, we promote, at least for future serial killers. But we do it all with a smile, wink, and an attempt to make the doll semi-normal looking. Quite hard when you are giving a two-minute brief on how to make the doll before you are thrust on to the floor as a certified dollologist with years of experience and a degree in doll making.

It’s normal, light skinned, blue eyes, medium blonde funky flip. Latin skin, grey eyes, dark brown playful pony. All little girls with their parents who have convinced that spending $40 on a unique doll will shut them up for 10 minutes, or older women who want to recapture their youth by collecting dolls. That was until little William, a little three-year old boy dressed in tight leather pants, a lambskin coat and a pink scarf wearing nail polish brought in by his grandmother. The Scissor Sisters youngest fan. Grandma decided that it would be oh so cute to have William make a doll. Now the store’s blatant girls ‘section of dolls and arts and crafts divide with boys’ science, math, and cars personally offend me. I think boys and girls should have equal opportunity to play with things. But the Madame Alexander Doll Factory was different. It’s definitely a girl’s girl type of create a girly doll with painted nails and makeup.

William and his grandmother struggled between the fair and Latin skin doll with brown eyes to match William’s. After choosing the Latin skin doll to reflect his slightly tanned tone, I’m sure that was applied from a can given how fake tanned his grandmother was, next came the hairstyle design. Black was a given. Now the closest to his short-cropped top was the Mop Top Bop, a bowl hair cut typical of young girls haircuts. But that didn’t do for Grandma. His hair isn’t straight she informed me. Then turning to William “What would you like your hair to be like when you get older?? He chose the crazy corkscrews, corkscrew twists on top of the head evident of longer girly locks tied up in a funky type of style.

I, slightly phased at this point, decide that this isn’t going to be a normal doll making. I debated between referring to the doll as her or him, since this doll was supposed to look like William, but was very evidently a girl doll. “What do you want to name your doll?? I said in the process of twisting the legs in, deciding on the gender-neutral description of doll over him or her. Grandma replied “Willameena, that’s what you like for later right William.?

Pause. It became evident. Grandma wasn’t a female empowerment equal opportunitist. No, grandma has already decided that William, age three, will become Willameena and is using this doll as a mechanism to help him comprehend his future self. Every fiber of my being was trying not to look shocked and I tried to shoot discreet “OMG? looks to the two girls at the register that were already blatantly gossiping behind hands covering their mouths. Quickly I finished the doll with the trademark wink and smile and decided that indeed maybe Dr. Frankenstein’s laboratory wasn’t truly a reference to the dolls, but to the parents or grandparents who raised their children here on the Upper East Side.

Regretting Regrets

February 18, 2006

Regrets. Everyone tells you not to live your life amassing regrets but I seem to have a collection that rivals my father’s stamp collection. I looked at my parents growing up, and they weren’t happy. Money problems. Marriage problems. Their life just wasn’t what they wanted. My mother, wanted to be a journalist, ended up as a nurse and gave that up to be a fulltime mother. My father, in the navy, wanted to be the big time sales guy, ended up filing for bankruptcy after being duped by his business partner.

At first, I didn’t have regrets. Freshman year at school, I was voted the most outgoing freshman not just in my dorm, but in the band, the Stanford Band. The same band that got suspended for mocking the potato famine and the pope on the field during the football game against Notre Dame. The same band that made me drop trou and moon a stadium full of people. I was the craziest freshman. No regrets. Living life 110 mph.

Then I finally got diagnosed. Everything changed. My life came to a sudden halt. I didn’t go out anymore. I became depressed. I stopped living. Invites went unanswered. Regrets began to litter my doorstep.

I thought things would get better after college. I got a job in the government working on classified stuff. That was cool Alias cool. I began an experimental trial for treatment of my illness. I thought this would fix me. This would put an end to all my regrets. If I got through the next 18 months, I would never live life all bundled up in a cocoon again. I lied. Not just to myself but to life.

I met this terrific guy backstage at the Bonnaroo Music Festival. I was running sound and acting as a camera assistant for the official DVD and festival film. He was in a band. A pretty well known band. I was eating lunch with guys I had seen on MTV and they dug me. I flirted, laughed, and go to see Trey Anastasio backstage in the VIP area. I liked him, he liked me. It was too good to be true. I was off of treatment and it had been successful so there was no reason for me not to go for it. But then it came knocking another regret at my door.

He had to go on tour but emailed and called me religiously, making plans to hang out when he returned to New York. But then he came and I was no where to be found. I ran away because I was scared. I didn’t know how to live anymore and that regret that came knocking got added to my collection. I never talked to him again, ignoring every communication from him. I see him on tv from time to time and I want to explain what happened, but I can’t. Another regret has already laid down to rest at my feet.

I use to live life for life and now I live life just to live and pass time. I didn’t become my parents like I feared I would, I became even worse. Regrets are stacked higher than the Empire State Building, but I can’t seem to stop adding to the construction of my tower, locking me in, locking others out.

To the left of normal

February 17, 2006

I have a friend whose dad is a Catholic priest. No really. And she’s not adopted, illegitimate, or been? mishandled? inappropriately either. Her dad and mother got their marriage annulled due to his calling to the higher order, and now she’s the daughter of a priest.

Apparently there’s a whole bunch of offspring of priests. Some of them probably are along the veins of the Pope John XII, who like slept with his father’s mistress and his niece (and also castrated a deacon) and had enough illegitimate children to repopulate China, but then there are probably the whole annulled kids, we really exist and are legitimate population too. Her mother is a hippie who “remarried? in the forest. Really her step-dad and mom did some ‘shrooms in the forest, he passed her an old key chain ring and there you go marriage made in bliss. I don’t quite get how any of this works, but she is surprisingly normal. Well I mean she’s not a mentalist and is as normal as can be if your dad is a catholic priest and you mom is a hippie who got high in the forest on’ shrooms and declared herself married by power of the key chain ring. She’s got a proper job and everything. Her boyfriend is a bit dodgy. She met him on the internet and for some reason, he has this q-ball bald head but a fumanchu facial growth thing going on. Seems perfectly nice, but again, bald head, fumanchu facial hair. Makes me wonder if he just woke up one day and decided that not only was he going to shave his head but he was going to grow some ridiculous facial hair in order to make himself a candidate for that i-banking job.

All this drama in her life and yet she is probably the most rational, sane, grounded person out there. Sure, she loves Bill Nye and recently went into morning upon his announcement of marriage, but aside from a few quirks, no Bridget Jones type drama. I however, who probably had a more normal childhood, however am completely living in a David E. Kelly Dramedy replete with a chorus line who performs random choreographed numbers for me on the weekends (Seriously, try working part-time with out of work actors and you can see any broadway show condensed down into five minutes for free on call). On one hand my life seems fairly normal and the people in it surprisingly sane, but I on the other hand run just outside of that lane of normalcy. I don’t middle, I just either have drama, comedy, or both.

It makes me wonder what goes into the cosmic cards to make someone have a balanced life, despite their background, and others who should have become the dullest of the dull have so much randomness and chaos? Did I somehow squish some cosmic cockroach and this is the gods of karma way of getting back at me?

Olympics ver. 2010- a scary world

February 17, 2006

My boss just announced that he wants to be on the 2010 US Olympic Curling Team. He has never curled, never shown an interest in sports-except lifting his beer to his face while watching the NY Giants- but has now officially decided to join a curling club.

His qualifications, he once played shuffleboard at summer camp 30-odd years ago and was pretty good. Plus, about 12 years ago he was interviewed on the Today show for the “from the crowd” segment because his cousin was on the Italian hockey team. Legend he was. Great on air personality. So great, I’ve seen that clip a hundred times and now he’s putting it on dvd so he can show his new baby son that when he gets older. The poor kid. That’s the equivalent to having to sit and watch vacation slide shows for the rest of his life. Makes me want to liberate the wee thing before the video montage starts.

But back to curling, Bossman’s a shoe-in I tell you.
I tried to play along asking him, what would he rather be, a let-er go-er or a sweeper?

“A let-er goer,” he replied, “they are the true masters and get all the glory.”

I replied that it would be harder to get on the Olympic team as a let-er goer as there is just one, there are more sweepers so statistically you’d have a better shot.

“No,” he replied, “there can be only one and I will be that one.”

“Will you,” I replied, “given that there is already ‘the one’ on the Olympic team and unless he pulls a groin muscle he’ll probably remain that way.”

“Oh, he has nothing on my posing,” he replied-followed by muscling up on the floor in a let-er goer position. Scary sight. Think he may have pulled a groin muscle in the process.
What could I do but photoshop a pic of his head onto a curling let-er goer, tape it to his computer while he was at lunch, and then leave early before he got back citing my tummy feeling a wee bit poor.