Archive for February, 2010


Thursday, February 25th, 2010


For those of you unfamiliar, this is a general term for telling me more – much more – about your personal life than I really want to know.  For example, chances are that if I’m not interested enough in a hobby to take it up myself, I’m probably not interested in experiencing it
vicariously.  I have made a conscious effort in my lifetime to know less about golf than I do about astrophysics, so the fact that you’re “under-par,” “over-par,” or par-boiled are all of equal interest to me. I don’t want to know the details of your physical ailments, household purchases, your kids’ achievements.  Now that my daughter is grown and I don’t have to accompany her on play dates, I don’t have to listen to you.  I don’t care what your Brandon got on his SATs, and, may I remind you, that that was only after the Kaplan course, a private tutor and three attempts?  I didn’t like your daughter Megan during those few years my daughter had a lapse of  judgment and befriended her – the fact that she got into Wesleyan is, as far as I’m concerned, Wesleyan’s problem.

I guess what’s key here is for you to understand our relationship.  Are we best friends?  My guess is no, particularly if you tell me, without my asking, anything about your sex life. The truth is, I don’t want to picture you having sex ever.  Not even when you were young and
relatively attractive, (and I’m being kind).  So if someone in your household is taking Viagra, or using self-heating KY jelly, this is really more – much more – than I want to know.  Maybe you need to ask yourself why you feel the need to share information that’s embarrassing or boring even to you? Perhaps it’s because most people will just feign interest, nod politely grin.  I won’t.  I will either yawn right in your face or walk away.  This is not just some “writer’s” device to end this piece.  Next time you see me at a party or on the street, see how eager you will be to run up to me to tell me you just got your SCUBA license or your grandchild can read at seventeen months.  You will be tempted, but you will know better.  Tough love.  It works.


Monday, February 22nd, 2010


Are you coming from a garage sale?  Scavenger hunt?  Opening a fruit stand?  Redeeming cans?  Do you need the nickel that much?  There are a finite number of reasons to be running around the city with 27 shopping bags strangling your wrists and few of them are pretty. Be they generic, orange and plastic or glossy, paper and designer, it is unwise to invite comparison between oneself and a pack-mule climbing the High Sierras toting supplies and tools over difficult terrain.

Is your life that spontaneous, that devil-may-care that you’ve no idea when you leave your apartment in the morning where life might take you and what you might acquire during the day?  What if just this once, you didn’t give in to your OCD impulses and passed up the stop at CVS to load up on all those items you don’t really need?  500 nine-inch foam plates for $1.99 isn’t quite the bargain it appears to be when you have to lug them around with you all day.  No one really needs Bar-B-Q Soy Chips, and you know the combination shampoo/conditioner is on sale because even if it was free, it would still make your hair feel greasy no matter how many minutes you stood under the shower to wash it out.  Small paper shopping bags, be they from Prada or Chanel or Gucci or Fendi are impressive only if inside the bags is merchandise from these stores, and not-so-much when the bag is used to transport your egg salad sandwich from home to the office.  The Great Depression was over almost a century ago – you don’t need to buy fruits and vegetables from street pushcarts. Bing cherries and grape tomatoes bagged by vendors wearing Artful Dodger fingerless gloves, who look like they haven’t bathed since the Treaty of Versailles was signed, aren’t quite the bargain they might initially appear to be.  And no – you don’t get extra points for carrying canvas tote bags that tell the world how ecologically conscious you are.   When resting your jam-packed natural hemp “Whole Foods” food sack against the thigh of the person whose misfortune it is to be seated next to you on a bus or subway, he’s not so much thinking how committed you must be to saving the planet as he is in how much better the planet would be if only you had taken a taxi.


Friday, February 19th, 2010

Following CELL PHONE ABUSE comes…


Are you a von Trapp?  A mountaineer?  On a Teen Tour through Europe?  If you are shaking your head then you, as a responsible adult, have absolutely no business wearing a backpack.  First, from a fashion point of view, the backpack is not a good look.  Here’s a little secret – the backpack never was and never will be a “cool” accessory.  It hits the same level on the Dorkometer as the fanny-pack.  Only one small difference.  The fanny-pack is capable of hurting me only aesthetically and visually.  Your backpack,mister, (or ms.), is a whole other story.  It is a weapon.  You probably don’t realize this because you apparently carry in this backpack either every hardcover book you own,
or several bricks, which accounts for the fact that every time you turn a nano-inch in any direction and smack into me, there’s so much space between your body and your backpack, you’ve no idea you’ve just fractured my third rib.   But I’m so glad that you have both hands free,one, undoubtedly, to hold your bottle of Smart Water.

Perhaps the best thing I can say about backpack wearers is that you are just a tad less annoying than those adults who opt for the wheelie backpack. Are you going to be late for class?  What could you possibly have to transport on a daily basis that would require, pretty much, luggage?  You figure that one out.  No, really.  Start now.


Sunday, February 14th, 2010


New York City is often at the forefront of setting trends, of introducing to the rest of the country what’s hip, what’s “yesterday,” what might be tomorrow.  It’s a city, some say, where anything goes.  Well, not quite.  New York is also a city of rules and sometimes it feels as if there are too many.  Don’t park here, don’t park there, don’t even think about parking there.  Pick up after your dog, pick up after yourself.  Don’t smoke, don’t loiter, don’t talk at the movies. No eating, no radio playing, no littering. Wait on line until you’re called.  No, not that line, the l  o  n  g  one.  Many would argue that so many rules are unwieldy, not to mention a possible infringement on basic human rights.

Okay.  I’m willing to compromise.  But, I counter, can there ever be TOO MANY RULES when there are so many infractions yet to be addressed?  Perhaps there are some ridiculous regulations we’re forced to follow in this fair city, so here’s the deal. I’m willing.  So here’s the deal — I’ll forego the transfats in my Krispie Cremes, gladly pay a $200 ticket for double- parking in a school zone, near a fire hydrant in a driveway, pick up after my dog and yours,  if only there were legislation against the following…


I know that it’s tempting to want to use something you get seemingly for free, (unlimited nights and weekends), or feel compelled to use because you’re paying for it anyway, (1,000 monthly minutes), but talking on your cell phone because it’s there is not unlike eating seven
tubs of potato salad just because it’s an all-you-can-eat buffet.  Listen, I don’t care if you Krazy-Glue that cell phone to your ear, as long as you’re in the privacy of your own home.  It’s when you take it out into my space that it becomes problematic.  The only thing worse than having to listen to an inane, self-involved, narcissistic conversation between two people in a public place would have to be listening to half of that conversation.   Here.  You try it:

SETTING:  Inside of a crowded bus, rush-hour, midtown Manhattan.  You sit across from me.  My cell phone rings to the tune of “Rainy Days and Mondays Always Get Me Down.”  I answer my phone.  Loudly.

ME:  Hello?

(and you have no idea whom)

ME:  I will not!

PERSON ON OTHER END OF LINE:________________

ME:  I didn’t take it.  It must be in your gym bag.

PERSON ON OTHER END OF LINE: ________________

ME: What blood?

OTHER PERSON:____________________________

ME:  Do you think those pants make me look fat?

OTHER PERSON:____________________________

ME:  I’m not sure.  It’s like the difference between Pouilly Fuisse and Pouilly Fume – who really knows?

OTHER PERSON:_________________________________

ME:  Placenta privia?  Who’d have guessed?

OTHER PERSON: ____________________________________

ME:  No – you have to wrap the garlic in tin foil and grill it – then it just slips out, all mushy and delish!

You now take your I-Pod and turn the volume up as high as it goes.  My voice is louder and we’re still 31 blocks from your stop.

THE END.   (If only…)

Lest there be any misunderstanding between us at all, here’s the thing of it – I’m not interested in your life.  Sure, I know. Sometimes life can be boring. Especially yours.  Sometimes, you have time to kill.  I know I’m asking a lot, but here’s a unique idea – the next time
you’re on a long bus or train ride, read a book, read a magazine, occupy yourself with one of those pathetic little electronic Solitaire games, for Christ’s sake, but don’t subject me to your whiny and/or loud and/or droning voice on a cell phone.  Taking a long walk?  See if you can do it without a headset that makes you look like a commodities trader or time-share telemarketer. How about – and I can see your eyes rolling now —  just walking and – I don’t know – thinking. That’s right.  Use the time to think. Think about how dull your life is instead of sharing it with everyone within hearing range.

Cell phones are fine when something comes up – you’re going to be late, you need directions, there’s a real emergency.  “My leg is on fire,” is a real emergency.  “If you get home before me, defrost the baby lamb chops,” is not.


Wednesday, February 10th, 2010


Okay.  Starbucks puts a tip cup right in your face, forcing you deal with the dual emotions of extreme guilt (because both the workers and the customers behind you are watching to see if you’ll toss the change into the tip jar), and boiling anger because tipping someone after
they’ve already taken six bucks for a 30-cent cup of coffee is like tipping the salesperson who just sold you a Lexus.  But tipping in a fine New York City restaurant?  A whole other story.  Here’s a guide, a barometer I always use when dining out in one of New York’s better restaurants:


This is New York, not Los Angeles.  If anyone holds his hands out offering to take your keys and park your car, you have as much chance of seeing your car again as Anne Boleyn does of finding her head.


As far as I’m concerned, unless you’re out on the high seas, there’s a raging storm and your life is in his hands, to hell with the captain.  Let him get a real job.


That’s not a rented tux he’s wearing and if he can afford that, he can live without my dollar. I don’t know what he does that would warrant a tip.  If you’re taking my order and bringing me my dinner, if you refill my coffee cup without my having to do a sports stadium “wave” to get your attention, fine – I’m willing to throw in an extra 15-20%, because that’s called a “waiter.” Stand around and look like the father of the Bar Mitzvah boy and expect a tip for that?  Not even a savings bond.  Mazel Tov.


A wide field here.  I know waiters rely largely on tips to make a living, and I’m happy to contribute here as long as, and the list is quite long, my waiter refrains from:

* asking ‘How are WE tonight?”  We are fine and don’t particularly feel like engaging in banter with the kitchen staff.  It may just me, but I’m a tad put off by anyone as comfortable asking “How’d you like that steak?” as, “Where’d you get that tan?”

*attempting to entertain me. I’m there to eat, not  listen to bad jokes. The only person interested in knowing that you played Sandy in your junior college’s production of “Grease” is your mom and even she will be tempted to filet you if she has to listen to “You’re the One That I Want” one more time.

*disappearing after he takes my order. The contempt I have for David Blaine is boundless, but at least I’m not waiting for him to bring me my Chicken Caesar salad.

*blaming me because he hates his job. Don’t roll your eyes just because I ask for ketchup, or I tell you the creamer is empty. The absence of exasperating sighs would also be much appreciated – after all, I wasn’t the one  who encouraged you to major in art history.

*rattling off the “Specials of the Day” as though you were giving me the stops between Grand Central and Hartford, Connecticut.  I’m not retaining any of the information anyway – I’m blanking out – if there were aquiz on those “specials,” I’d only get credit for spelling
my name right.  Maybe. I’m way too intimidated to ask you to repeat the list, and we both know I’m going with something off the printed menu. I’m not impressed that you can memorize five appetizers, four entrees and six desserts –actually I’m kind of perplexed that you’re able to do that yet can’t remember that I asked for my salad with dressing on the side.


If they suggest a wine from New Zealand, or reference anything from the film “Sideways,” they get nothing.  Lucky for us, most sommeliers remain silent, reason to tip them handsomely.


Unless you truly enjoy being treated like someone out of a Dickens novel by the rest of the restaurant staff, it’s imperative to check your coat and tip the attendant.  No one buys the “I’ll hold onto my coat – I get cold” line – you might as well just say, “I’m too cheap to spend the buck so I’ll layer my coat on my lap like a filo dough pastry.”  Go ahead.  Check it.  Besides, how could you not feel sorry for anyone who earns her living out of a closet?


A real moral dilemma unless you can justify paying as much for one paper towel as I would a whole roll of Bounty.

OH NO YOU’RE NOT….WEARING THAT PART 347,987,384,000,000,000,000

Sunday, February 7th, 2010


Not even acceptable if you are trying to hide figure flaws.  Guess what?  Everyone knows because you’re wearing a poncho.   “But I like ponchos!” you whine.  Ask yourself some rather important questions: “Am I a Peruvian Indian?”  and  “When was the last time I wore an article of clothing where it was difficult to tell the front from the back?”  Finally, please remember that if ponchos added a touch of
class to anything, they wouldn’t be selling them at Old Navy.


If you are over twelve years old, there is nothing at Claire’s accessories that will enhance your sense of style. Headbands?  Uh…no.  Faux pearls?  Faux pas.  “Hello Kitty” wallet?  Good-bye, dignity.   But, you counter, the stuff is cheap and fun and, in the right light, the cubic zirconia studs look almost real.  No they don’t.  Not even in no light.  Not even to Stevie Wonder.  You have as much business shopping for yourself at Claire’s as you do serving Lunchables at a cocktail party.


New York sophisticates do not get tattoos or body piercings that are visible to the passing stranger.  Teenagers get tattoos and body piercings, as do strippers, two groups of people whose analytical skills and life choices you do not want to emulate.  If you were foolish
enough or high enough  do to weird things to your body years ago, please try to cover it up when on the streets of New York, particularly if you are over 25 years old. The Chinese characters you had tattooed on your wrist don’t really say, “Harmony” or “peace” or “yin/yang.”  They say “Hot and Sour Soup,” and every Chinese take-out delivery guy that’s come to your door leaves not only with a tip but a good laugh. Other than one per ear lobe, body piercings are not a good look. Luckily, if left alone, most pierced holes close up eventually, though if you had a nose ring or eyebrow stud, you are probably accustomed by now to people confusing it with a carcinoma.  A special word to middle-aged men – only certain gay men, rock/rap stars, and a handful of professional basketball players can carry off a pierced ear or two.  In other words, if your name is Gary, if you work for the city, if you are 52, you look as good in earrings as you do in that Hawaiian shirt.


There is an elite group of people who can wear these without encouraging muffled laughter from the rest of us.  Read this list carefully and act accordingly:

1)    four-year olds
2)    teenage girls
3)    bass fishermen
4)    gardeners
5)    anyone wearing a tag around his neck that says, “Please look after this  bear.  Thank you.”


Friday, February 5th, 2010


The only species whose children apply to Dartmouth in utero, PARENTUS CHUTZPAH MAXIMUS seems to thrive in New York City.  Their offspring are superior to yours in every way imaginable, possessed of unbridled self-esteem and more extra-curricular activities than a Carnival Cruise.  This reprehensible group has, over the centuries of careful breeding and natural selection based largely on income and arrogance, evolved into a group immune to the needs, concerns and interests of all other species.  If PARENTUS CHUTZPAH MAXIMUS feels like taking his children to the same five-star restaurant where you’re celebrating your wedding anniversary or job promotion, why should you bedenied the pleasure of hearing little Ashley Nicole recite the names of all the planets over and over again, with Mom chiming in each round, “Now honey, remember – Pluto isn’t a planet anymore!”  And, if Ashley’s younger brother Jackson is happy and he knows it and wants to clap his hands, why shouldn’t he, even if his hands were first up his nostrils and then in his Field Greens and Gravlax salad?  You can always enjoy that $300 bottle of Chateau Cheval Blanc onyour next 50th birthday…

PARENTUS CHUTZPAH MAXIMUS is a hardy lot, and there is little you can do to dissuade them from boarding a city bus or subway with nary a thought of collapsing a stroller or apologizing each time they smack your shin with a diaper bag full of Juicy Juice boxes and Thomas the Tank Engine board books.  Other than berating the soccer coach for not giving their kid enough field time, there’s nothing that PARENTUS CHUTZPAH MAXIMUS enjoys more than making you feel bad about your children.  Anything yours did, his did earlier/better/easier/more skillfully.  Your child drew a tree? His drew the Black Forest.  Yours read all the Harry Potter books?  So did his.  In Mandarin.Much like cats and dogs lacking opposable thumbs,

PARENTUS CHUTZPAH MAXIMUS was born without what other human species refer to as a “moral compass,” thereby making it quite natural for him to, among other tasks, do his child’s homework. In fact, he will not only write the book report, draw the poster of the human circulatory system, construct the diorama of the Pilgrims’ first Thanksgiving, but will also argue with the teacher for a higher grade more vociferously than Clarence Darrow did keeping Leopold off of Death Row. “What’s their problem?” you might wonder.  “Why do they think they’re more important than everyone else?”  Because they do.  They just do.  And not only should you accept this, but embrace it. Because, should PARENTUS CHUTZPAH MAXIMUS go the way of the Dodo Bird and the Woolly Mammoth, the responsibility of raising the next generation to speak to doormen and cleaning women like Pol Pot to a Cambodian peasant could fall to you…


Thursday, February 4th, 2010


Often, in order to market an item that was questionable at best when it first hit the fashion scene, designers and manufacturers always find a new way to sell an old item.  Capri pants, in some form or another have been around since the days of Henry VIII.  Court jesters wore them.  Then, pirates and Pilgrims and Depression Era kids hawking newspapers on the corner.  The only people who look even marginally good in Capri pants are the same people who also look good in dirndl skirts, leggings and tankinis – 5’11” models named “Katya.”  Staying away from any article of clothing that invites the adjective, “jaunty,” can never be a bad move, especially in New York City or any other large metropolitan area.  You may think you look casual in Capri pants, you may think youy look sporty.  But you just look silly.  You just do.


Are you on your way to Yankee Stadium?  You’d better be because otherwise, what’s up with the baseball cap?  Do you think it’s a fashion statement? Correction.  Do you think it’s a wise fashion statement? Then think again. It doesn’t make you look cool and, if you’re a guy over 40, we know you’re wearing it in an attempt to make people think you’re not bald.  You might as well wear a sandwich sign that says, “Male pattern baldness runs in my family.”  At least that will conceal your beer belly.  And women, with the exception perhaps of Minka Kelly – no – you do not look “darling” in a baseball cap. You haven’t looked darling since you were six and in a pinafore dress and Mary Jane shoes. Wash your hair. Ditch the cap.