31 October 2007

A Small Medium at Large

Ah, Halloween.

Weeks of pre-holiday costume creativity and a load of free candy. Who dreamed up this festival, and can I thank him? Actually, I imagine it was probably a her, due to the copious amounts of chocolate involved.

Since it falls on a Wednesday this year, Frenchy and I have been sort of blah about actual partying--we're not organized enough to plan something last weekend, and apparently it's lame to do a post-Halloween event. Meh.

But the ambiguity has proved useful in another way, affording us an extended window during which to play our favorite seasonal guessing game, "Halloween or Hipster?" Here is our corner of Brooklyn, the hipster reigns supreme, with trucker hats, tshirts from the late seventies/early eighties and skinny jeans to shake a multitude of sticks at. Sometimes the getups get so overboard they're ironical. Or would that be so ironical they're overboard?

Anyway, at Halloween the line between costume and everydaywear in the Billyburg gets blurred, and as we sip a coffee or walk down Bedford, we point out passersby and try to figure out if they're dressed up for the holiday or simply out'n'about. It's harder than you'd think! (Unfortunately I have no photo evidence. You'll just have to take my word for it, or take the L train someday. Then you'll understand.)

Eschewing the present (see: lack of party this year) notable Halloweens in the past have featured kids running through my college dorm, collecting candy like the little monsters they're dressed up to be. One year, I noticed the kids were remarkably silent, and all scratched their chins before running on to the next door. "How rude," I thought. "Back in my day, we said thank you before leaving a house, or our mamas would whup us." (NDLR: not really. But look disapprovingly, and perhaps subtract some of our precious takings.)

Finally it hit me that these were the kids from the deaf school down the street, and that they were indeed saying "thanks" in ASL. Duuuhh!

Moving further back to my own trick-or-treating days....in St. Louis we seem to have a tradition that the rest of the country doesn't. Before getting a piece of candy, you have to "deserve" it by telling a joke, usually a bad pun or knock-knock. You know, typical kid stuff. "How do you make a handkerchief dance? Put a little booger in it!" (Digression: when I graduated to opening the door and handing out the candy, I amused myself by guessing the punch lines of the kids' jokes, and watching their faces as I ruined their joke. I know. I'm going to pay for it in chocolate karma.)

In St. Louis we think this tradition is totally normal, and it's a rite of passage to go off to college and realize that no other city does it. I always justified it by figuring that it was the "trick" part of trick-or-treat, although I subsequently ran into a snag in explaining the "or." Perhaps I thought it was the late 20th-century version of stealing watermelons, or throwing sacks of flour à la Tootie in Meet Me in St. Louis. You collected jokes for weeks beforehand, and carefully planned which houses you were going to use which jokes at, because you couldn't possibly tell the same joke at each door. If you went with your sisters or a group of friends, before ringing each doorbell, you discussed and traded rights to jokes: "Okay, this time I get to tell the pirate ghost one, and you can do the doctor and his patient walk into a bar one. Okay? Got it?"

Yes, I was organized even back then. Get over it.

Most of my jokes were terrible, but there's one that still makes me smile each time I tell it. Are you ready? Are you prepared for the brilliance?

What do you call a petite fortuneteller who's escaped from jail?

17 October 2007


Why do some people feel the urge to comment on utter strangers' facial expressions? I was hurrying to meet Frenchy for lunch today (he had a client downtown) nine blocks away, and on the way a (rather rotund and somewhat greasy) man peers at me. He cocks his head to one side and says "You should really try smiling." (This is not the first time this has happened to me, so it must Be Me. But I digress.)

WTF? I do not know this man from Ted Koppel. I'm surprised I even registered that he was talking to me, as I barrelled past him. Who made him the Chief Smile Officer?

Furthermore, why is a young female obligated to smile when walking down the street. Or even have a pleasant expression? I had just come from work, where I squint at a screen all day. When I pass through the glass doors, my face relaxes. It is at repose. It doesn't want to be messed with, or told what to wear.

In fact, a dirty look is most New Yorkers' public mask, especially the female ones. It can be quite useful, allowing you to pass a gaggle of male loiters catcall-free. It can even save your life; a well-placed dirty look to a driver says "Yes, I know you know I know you saw me, now let me finish crossing the street and everyone can keep his extremities intact." New Yorkers employ the dirty look with gleeful abandon, shooting withering glances right and left, slaying any slow-moving tourist on their path. I particularly enjoy firing off an angry glare while pretending I'm an über-important power executive, on my way to the meeting that will clinch the proverbial multi-million dollar deal, even when I'm just going to buy celery.

So this I say to ye, O Large Oily Man, let a lady scowl in peace! I am not here to serve your viewing pleasure, I have lunch to eat! And strange imaginary scenarios to act out!

16 October 2007


In a nod to complete transparency, I feel I must admit now that the morning following the First Yoga, I am in considerable pain.

15 October 2007


So I've reached a new level of New Yorkitude. I never thought I'd do it. I poked fun at it. I experimented with some forms of it and concluded it was not for me. I secretly derided the legions of girls who did it, and mocked their knit capri pants.

But today, my friends, I did the yoga.

Oh, and it gets better. To do the yoga, I became a yoga member. Not of some gym--any New York yokel can walk into a gym, slap down three hundred bucks, and say they leg press 1200 pounds. No, sir. I joined a holistic spa. This ain't no free weights and disinfectant spray, babe. It's a incense-burning, inner-happiness-seeking, granola-munching haven for hippies.

I feel somewhat out of place.

But never ye mind, I felt out of place in Billyburg when I first moved here, and now I get my kicks out of seeing what these crazy kids are going to wear next. I will get used to it. Perhaps right after I use the sauna, free to members, and only ten dollars for guests.

In the meantime, though, I'm ecstatic. Now I can join the legions of late-twentysomethings who brunch on salmon benedict and commiserate about their Downward Dogs. (Note to self: either find a spot by the mirror and get your Dog right, or move across the room and quit caring.) If I play my cards right, maybe I can get one of those girls to explain the difference between the first three warrior poses, and how to do the tree position without falling. Wobbly ankles will be my yogic downfall.

We spent most of the time "opening" the sides and back, and Shayla's isolation exercises came flooding back to me. I have a lot of flexibility to regain!

Sun salutations all around. And pass the IcyHot.

Things I Am Not Allowed To Write About

1. Anything that Frenchy does
2. The defeat of France by England in the rugby World Cup semi-finals

11 October 2007

It's not like I have sexy hip wordsmithy ideas very often, as proved by my irregular posting. In fact, I post so irregularly I could be a German verb. Take a spin through my archives, you'll see what I mean. So I take my inspiration from where I can, okay?

This evening's post-spiration comes from page 288 of November's Glamour, which showed up in our mailbox today. (Sweet, I just had to refer to the magazine to find the page number, and turned to the right page on the first try!) It's entitled "12 things in life never to take for granted." Which is quite a sexy hip wordsmithy twist on the November chestnut "Things I'm thankful for."

So, ado-less and furthery,

Things I Shouldn't Take For Granted

  • Lady Grey tea when I post--creative juice, with just enough bergamot!

  • A boyfriend that grumbles but caves almost without protest when I ask for a backrub

  • Backrubs (and the warm touch of another human being)

  • Floors that I don't care about so I can keep the window open at night when it rains and listen to the sound

  • Just enough html knowledge to write this ordered list without having to look up the tags

  • Being able to sew, and have my clothes actually fit

  • The J train

  • More books than I can shake a reading list at

  • Just enough adventure in my soul to do crazy things, every once in a while, but not enough to get me seriously in trouble

Not a bad compendium, as compendia go.

05 October 2007

For Mom and Dad

I think I nearly wet myself on this one.

Tee hee!

Reminds me of the years when I used to give people thyme for Secret Santa gifts, because "every working person needs more thyme!"