Archive for August, 2010


Tuesday, August 31st, 2010


It always takes someone like me – okay, it takes me – to cut through the swaths of illusion and delusion and point out what some of you may be thinking; what others of you know but are too polite to say. That’s okay. I’ll take the fall.

Bethenny Frankel, ye of too many words and too many products to endorse, here’s the skinny – (pun intended) – you are not a real New York housewife. You are as much a “real” housewife of New York City as I am a “real” astronaut of NASA. In fact, up until you got knocked up and married after-the-fact, you weren’t a “housewife” at all. Three seasons of “The Real Housewives of New York City,” and no one noticed this. Except me. Actually, when you look at the Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of “housewife” – a married woman in charge of a household – the only actual real housewife on that show was Countess Lu Ann de Lesseps’ Hispanic maid, Rosie. Props, Rosie. Remember when you went on vacation and “the Countess” was so proud that she actually mopped a floor, all by herself?

So Bethenny Frankel, I feel you owe us. Big time. And not with bullshit Skinny Girl Margaritas. For some of us, at least, tequila and lime juice are not the fifth food group. For some of us, there are evening activities other than cocktail parties, faux-book signings, and standing in front of “signage,” (my new favorite word), on a well-worn red carpet, having our photos taken by paparazzi Kathy Griffin wouldn’t pose for.

For some of us, the Upper East Side is not the “capital” of New York City. And then, lucky for the Upper East Side, as your popularity grew, you moved “downtown” and helped to further pollute lower Manhattan. Once an area that was home to artists and immigrants, now home to investment bankers, sons and daughters of investment bankers, some of who now define themselves as “artists,” but would sooner cut off an ear than not live within walking distance to Food Emporium. But, it’s not too late, Bethenny – you can still become a bona fide, authentic, real housewife of New York City. Here’s what you will need and/or need to do:

Buy a shopping cart. This is not unlike a McLaren stroller but for groceries and such, instead of babies whose mommies gained less weight during 9 months of pregnancy than a goldfish does on flake-food. The shopping cart is something one uses when one does one’s own food shopping, by walking up and down aisles in actual supermarkets in New York City. Unlike your index fingers, which work so well when it comes to punching in your Fresh Direct order online, or that clothy-hempy reusable, sustainable, bag that you proudly take out at Whole Foods and hold up like an obstetrician who’s just delivered a baby to let everyone know that you’re “green,” a shopping cart is the real housewife of New York City’s SUV.

Get a MetroCard – No, this is not an admission ticket to the Temple of Dendur Rhinoplasty Fundraiser at the Metropolitan Museum. It’s a plastic card but – wait! – don’t get too excited. You can’t really charge anything on it. You can’t run a tab at Avenue or Provocateur. You can’t get a facial at Bliss and they don’t take “the Metrocard” at Bendel’s. It’s a card that you use to ride the buses and subways of New York. You remember buses and subways, don’t you, Bethenny? They came right before taxi cabs and car services, and way before personal drivers and Escalade limos.

Become more self-reliant. Real houswives don’t have nannies and personal assistants and assistants to personal assistants. Real housewives don’t have doggie psychologists. Pet “psychologists, along with “personal shoppers” and “frogurt” are three compelling reasons for Third World countries to hate us.

Find friends with normal names. “Bethenny” is pushing the envelope, but real New York housewives do not have friends named “The Countess,” or D-list couple friends who make one name out of two. “Bennifer” was nauseating, as is “Brangelina.” “Silex” is just desperate. Real New York housewives have friends named “Debbie” and “Leslie” and “Fran.” Yes, they could have a friend named, “Jill.” But, all things considered, they’d probably rather not…

Get a reality check. Real New York housewives, particularly those over the age of 19 and certainly those within 5 years of peri-menopause, do not refer to their friends as “the girls.” “The girls” are the ones who go to grammar school, who shop for school supplies every September, who have playdates and sleep-overs.

Stop with the tantrums. Before you were a household name, when you were still doing anything to become famous, (yes, I remember you as the also-ran on Martha Stewart’s version of Donald Trump’s “The Apprentice), you probably had a better tolerance level for some of the “little problems” we all must face in our everyday lives. Real housewives, even before they become real “housewives,” do not get as upset at the thought of possibly not being able to wed at the Four Seasons restaurant as a Hurricane Katrina victim might have watching his house float away. You are not a “celebrity” because you get married at The Four Seasons. Especially with those in-laws. You are not a “celebrity” because you are on a first-name basis with the manager of The Four Seasons. I am sure that the seafood and steaks and chops purveyors are also on a first-name basis with the manager of The Four Seasons. Stop acting like a spoiled baby when you have better things to do. Like raise a spoiled baby.

Accept. Real New York housewives accept the fact that, if they aren’t gifted actors or painters or musicians or writers or directors, then perhaps they just aren’t going to be celebrities. You are not a bestselling author. Charles Dickens wrote. Ernest Hemingway wrote. Emily Dickinson wrote. Eventually, after millions of people read and cherished their work, they became “bestselling” authors. Do not, even if “The Skinny Girl’s Guide to the Galaxy and Beyond,” stays on the New York Times bestseller list for a century, think for even one nano-second, of yourself as an author. You are a car wreck that everyone turned around to watch and now that they know your name, they will buy your luggage tags. This does not make you a writer. This makes you a novelty. And yes, the word “novelty” contains the word “novel,” which is a book, which is probably why you are confused and think of yourself as an “author.” Think of yourself as a novelty act. Think of other novelty acts – ventriloquists, fire-eaters, plate spinners. There’s a reason Saul Bellow was never on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Stop the “shtick.” Real New York City housewives don’t do “shtick.” They are too busy working and raising families and doing laundry and picking up their own dry-cleaning and having mammograms and paying minimum balances on their Visa cards to have more one-liners than a Comedy Central Roast. It’s only a matter of time before, “I just flew in from East Hampton and boy, are my tanned arms tired,” or “Take my husband. Please.” No thanks. I’d rather my last name be “Goebbels” than “Hoppy.”

Stop spinning off. Real housewives don’t spin off everything they do into another half-hour of garbage to show in between commercials. And, if you must, which is pretty apparent, at least come up with a better name for your next spin-off. Or at least a grammatically correct one. “Bettheny Getting Married?” Why was that a question? As the entire season centered on such self-indulgent crap as you meeting your in-laws, you shopping for a wedding gown, you shopping for wedding bands, you hiring a wedding planner, you whining about wedding guests and centerpieces and venues, clearly this was a declarative statement. “Bettheny Getting Married.” Maybe even, “Bettheny Getting Married and Spending More on Flower Arrangements Than the People of Appalachia Earn in a Decade.” Exclamation point. And look – yet another opportunity to expand your brand – Skinny Girl Moonshine. I’m sure someone will drink to that.


Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

It’s almost Labor Day. That’s right. The summer is almost over. The long days. The hot nights. Summer breezes. Summer romances. Baseball. Or the New York Mets. You decide. Soon the days will become cooler, shorter, the rich and the desperate will return from the Hamptons and the same people who complained about the heat and the humidity will soon complain about the cold and the wind.

But for those of you who dread the winter, who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder, (yes it’s in your head, not any more of a real disorder than Bettheny Frankel is a “real” housewife), – I‘ll indulge you. I’m s-a-d for you. But I’m happy for me because I love the cold weather; I love it when it gets dark early. And I’d like to enjoy the falling leaves and the change of seasons. But let’s face it. Really. It’s in your hands…

* Don’t ask me “How was your summer?” What could I possibly answer? “Oh, it was great! How was yours?”? Then I have to listen and pretend to care. Because here’s the thing of it – I’m not interested in a bike tour through Tuscany unless I’m riding the bike. Spent August in Bar Harbor? I didn’t. Couldn’t get away at all? Sucks for you. Other than “Could I write you a check?” or “Would you like my Yankee play-off tickets?” don’t feel like you have to ask me questions just because we haven’t seen each other for a few months. I’d prefer the awkward silence.

* Don’t tell me that you “summered” anywhere. Nouns are not verbs. Even if you want them to be.

* Unless you enjoy watching someone projectile-vomit and/or attempt to pull the skin off of her face, please don’t tell me you “went sailing,” because then I might infer that you know the difference between a “schooner” and a “yawl,” or that you might be adept at rigging, tacking, mast-hoisting. You are not a sailor. You know as much about sailing as I do about vascular surgery. Why not just say, “Even despite the horrible economy, we have so much disposable income and I did get that new Dolce & Gabbana tankini and my husband looks so hot in his yachting cap – (no he doesn’t – he looks like the Skipper from “Gilligan’s Island”), that we hired a ship that came with some really hot, ripped, tan sailor guys who did all the work while we sat on the deck and drank Mojitos.” P.S. — What’s that irregular-shaped mole on your forearm? Next time, leave the cocktail onions, take the SPF 45.

* Don’t refer to Martha’s Vineyard as “the Vineyard,” or Cape Cod as“the Cape,” especially while you are there, unless you enjoy having the locals refer to you as “the douche bag.”

* Here’s a list of those who care that you improved your tennis game this summer:

1. You
2. The tennis pro you pay $300 an hour to, who laughs at the cellulite on the back of your thighs whenever you run to recover a missed tennis ball.
(I left room just in case you can think of anyone else to add. You won’t.)

* If you spent time with your parents, please remember they are your parents. “We spent August with Mother and Father,” means nothing to me. John Updike is dead. “Annie Hall” was a movie. I’m sure you and “Mother and Father,” spent a wonderful August in your khaki pants and Topsiders, playing golf, drinking vodka gimlets and suppressing any sign of human emotion.

* Don’t show me photos of ANYWHERE you’ve been this summer because I will nod out like a junkie in a subway car. There is a certain arrogance in assuming that anyone wants to look at your vacation photos. Nice mountain. Nice beach. I’ve seen the Parthenon. I’ve been to the Coliseum. By force-feeding your vacation photos on me, you’re confirming what I already know – you’re a lousy photographer and I’d rather see Quasimodo smiling in front of Notre Dame Cathedral than you and your family in plaid shorts and “J’taime Paris” t-shirts.

“I love it when everyone leaves the city on the weekends.” No you don’t. You’re angry you barely make enough money to buy a medium Tasti Delite, and spend your Saturdays walking aimlessly through Duane Reade for the free air conditioning.

See you in September ☺


Saturday, August 14th, 2010

You live in New York. You work in New York. In order to get from one to the other and then back again safely, you must spend some time on the streets of New York. Songwriters and poets have romanticized these streets, television and film have made them as familiar to the world as their own backyards. And yet, unless you traverse these mean streets, you just don’t know what’s out there. For shizzy…

When they said “go big or go home,” they were not referring to the size of the giant clear blue jug sitting on your bridge table in the middle of the sidewalk. You are not collecting money to save the world’s children. You are not even collecting money for your own children. I’d feel more inclined to throw a rolled-up buck into that plastic jug if you hollered, “Gimme my crack allowance, biatch!”

When I’m walking on the street, I am coming from someplace, which means I could be tired, or I am walking toward somewhere, which means I’m in a rush. Don’t approach me. Not for any reason. Not if my leg is on fire, there’s a French bulldog on the corner shooting craps. I don’t want to “check it out,” buy your crappy bootleg and/or more probably blank CDs, and don’t shove a Walgreen’s flyer in my face unless you want me to shove my fist in yours. If you see someone who refuses to make eye contact with you and walks so far away from you that she’s practically walking in the windows of the storefronts, take a hint. You’re not that interesting. You’re not that compelling. You are probably the short balding guy from high school who always asked out the statuesque model-type and were shocked when she spit on your head before laughing in your face. Yes there is a time and a place to give up. The time is now and the place is anywhere you see me.

I’m an old-fashioned kind of gal. I like to buy my books in bookstores, not off of some busted-up picnic table. When Barnes and Noble is charging $27.95 for the new E.L. Doctorow novel and you’re selling it for six bucks – well – what’s wrong with this picture? First, I feel like I need a shower just looking at you. Next I’m not used to buying serious literature when it’s stacked up against “Dora the Explorer” bath books, sports socks and vinyl placemats in the shape of the United States. Finally, purchasing literature from someone who doesn’t seem to have read a book since “The Berenstain Bears Get Their First Haircut!” just feels wrong.

For a smell to stand out among all the smells that permeate the crowded streets of New York, well, that’s impressive. An impossible feat? Close your eyes. Think of a smell just made for the Food Court in Hell. Bourbon Chicken from Ragin’ Cajun? Close. Just worse. Sweeter than cotton candy wrapped in cotton candy dunked in corn syrup, a smell that makes diabetics say, “I have diabetes – yay!” Sugar-coated cashew nuts. I have been on many streets in many neighborhoods at various times of the day and night and have yet to see anyone actually buy these. In fact, I have seen more people buying weed in the middle of the day in mid-town in full view of police officers. A summons and posting a bond vs. a lifetime of ridicule – is there really even a decision involved here?

“Hi – do you like children?” Hmmmm. I’m going to tell you what other people are really thinking but would never say out loud. “I love my own. Those Gap kids can be kind of cute. Ditto those Benneton babies. Oh… you mean starving children? You mean starving third-world children? Like starving third-world children with huge eyes and swollen bellies? And flies flitting about their heads? Sure. They’re fine. I’d like to like them but I don’t really know them. You want me to help them? Those children? Do I look like the type of person who’d give up my Chai Soy Mochachino for a three-year-old Somalian orphan? I mean, I hope I do look like that because I like to appear caring without having to do anything. I have to go now. If you come any closer, I will press charges. I’m – I’m not kidding. So go away. Now.”

You are a white rich college kid who perhaps feels guilty that your parents can send you to a $60,000-a-year college and it’s your first time living in New York and you’re young and idealistic and you want to give back. You can’t. Accept that. What’s that? You can’t? You’re young and idealistic and you know you can make a difference? No you can’t. And here’s why: 1) You can’t “give back” when you’ve pretty much just “taken” your whole life. 2) Harassing me by shouting carbon footprint facts and figures at me is not going to get me to give to Greenpeace and I’m betting that, without glancing down at that smug little clipboard of yours, you don’t even know if it’s Green Peace or Greenpeace or Green Piece and 3) Is that a World Wildlife Federation tote bag on your shoulder? Oh. No. No it’s not. It looks like – why, its a Balenciaga hobo bag, which looks really good with your Marc Jacobs cropped blazer and Christian Louboutin platform pumps. Sell a shoe. Save a whale. Now, don’t you feel better?

Incense sellers – even if you were in a store, with doors and display windows and security detectors, I’d wonder what you were a front for. You are a picnic table laden with stinky oils and incense sticks, and there aren’t enough people on earth who can stand the smell of patchouli oil for you to make a living. NEWS FLASH: It’s not the 1960s and most parents can’t be tricked with the “I’m only burning incense, Ma” line to conceal the fact that they’re sucking down blunts in their bedroom because their parents invented that scam decades ago. Today, most people today can’t make a living with a real job – no way you’re paying rent and a Con Ed bill selling sandalwood and jasmine stink-sticks. How much patchouli oil do you have to sell to buy a limitless MetroCard? When you do, use it and please get on the next available subway car. To Hell. Make that Smelly-Hell.

Don’t ask me for the time, spare change or an “extra” cigarette. I don’t wear a watch, “spare change” is oxymoronic and unless things changed since I stopped smoking years ago, there’s no such thing as an “extra” cigarette. The pack comes with 20. It’s not like the mutant peanut you get once in a while with three nuts in the shell, or “Buy 20 – Get One Free.” No extras. No kidding. No smoke for you.

Mr. Fruit and Vegetable guy – Glad I can buy fresh produce from a cart, but the filth under your fingernails makes me think that either you harvested the crops with your bare hands, or your hands have been places whose natives would never get past U.S. Customs without a full body-cavity search.


Monday, August 2nd, 2010

Once again, I grant you – it’s a tough economy. Jobs are hard to come by. Or, maybe you were partying too much in high school to pursue your dream of being a lawyer or orthodontist or CPA. I am going out on a limb here and guessing that most of us, as kids, didn’t say, “I want to answer questions from irate Time-Warner customers when I grow up! ”It’s a respectable job and I am the last person to judge anyone by what they do or how much money they have. But working with the public, even if it’s not face-to-face, is something you’re either cut out for or you’re not. How to know? Here are some guidelines…

* I didn’t aks you a question any more than you are going to attempt to asneswerr one. We both know that it’s pronounced “ask,” and it’s not like switching around the “s” and the “k” is as Herculean a task as stopping smoking or learning Mandarin, or comprehending anything that comes out of Keith Olbermann’s mouth. I can buy the “it’s a cultural thing,” if you are – I don’t know – nine years old. Once you’ve gotten through, at the very most, the eighth grade, it is no longer a “cultural” thing; it’s an “oppositional” thing. It’s not like you haven’t heard the word “ask” pronounced correctly by teachers, some family members and friends, on film, on television, on the subway, the bus, the street. Do you “baks” in the sun? Do you have several “taks” to get done today? On Halloween, do you wear a “maks”? I don’t thikn so…

* When, merely because I can’t see you and don’t know whether you are in Milwaukee or Manila, and you are extremely rude to me, I might ask you for your name. You think you are smart and particularly clever when you give me only your first name. Then, I ask for a badge number or any other sort of identifying information and you tell me you don’t have to tell me. Then I ask what city you are in and you tell me, “Kentucky.” Then I remind myself that I don’t have to wear a headset all day and I don’t live in “Kentucky” city or state. 1 – me. 0 – you.

* Just because Gateway’s corporate offices are located in South Dakota doesn’t mean that every tech support person coincidentally has a “Wild West” name. Maybe the Apple tech support folks aren’t really “geniuses,” but at least they don’t answer with, “Hi, this is Granny Smith,” or “Gala” or “Golden Delicious. “ I’m a born-and-bred New Yorker, which means I find it ridiculous if your name really is Dakota or Montana or Cody or Cheyenne. Don’t make it so easy for me.

* Why are you asking me, “How are you today?” You want to know this as much as I want to know how old you were when you lost your baby teeth. I have just been through 2 minutes and 18 seconds of an obstacle course of automated questions to get to someone who breathes and has a blood type –how do you think I am?

* “Please listen carefully because our menu has changed” is only appealing if your menu has changed from automated prompts to Northern Italian cuisine.

* Don’t lie to me. “Would you mind holding for a minute?” is a lie. You know it. I know it. At least if you said, “Would you mind holding for 18 minutes and 33 seconds, hearing an automated monotone woman order you to “Please wait,” (beat), “Please wait,” (beat), “Please wait,” and then being disconnected, which you will only realize after hearing several cacophonous beeps, followed by a loud dial-tone,” I’d respect you. I’d still want to travel through the optic fibers or whatever connects me to you and squeeze your neck until you stopped breathing. But I’d respect you.

* When you frustrate me, or are unable to address my problem, I may ask to speak to a supervisor. Please do not insult my considerable intelligence by telling me that you can’t find one or, even better, you don’t have one. You can’t find one because you are doodling or working a WordSearch puzzle book or admiring your French manicured acrylic nail tips while we are talking. If you stopped doing any and/or all of these things, and looked around, I’m betting you’ll find a supervisor. She’s the one who was actually helpful to customers and got promoted and doesn’t have to sit in a row of other customer service reps, wearing a Bluetooth and saying 2500 times a day, “Thank you for calling American Express. How may I help you?” And, unless your last name is Verizon, Macy, or Bed, Bath and Beyond, I’m betting you do have a supervisor. There must be several people between you and the CEO. But wait – maybe you are running the company and that’s why my cable is out/ my electricity bill has tripled for no reason/ the $3,000 cabinet-width refrigerator I just bought keeps my food as cold as my armoire would. I hope I have been of service ☺

* If whatever I ordered or bought from your company was in the condition I’d hoped it would be in, I would not be calling. If I am calling, chances are I am pretty upset.
Chances are, out of every 50,000 calls you get, maybe one idiot calls to say, “ Just wanted to let you know how much I love Sanyo products!” Everyone else is calling because there’s a problem. So, when they get you on the phone, there may not be that “lilt” to their voice; they may not want to engage in idle chatter with you; in fact, they are wondering why they ever ordered that couch from West Elm, that computer from Best Buy, or anything from IKEA. The last thing a disgruntled customer wants to hear from you is, “if you continue to raise your voice and disrespect me, I will have to terminate this call.” Say what? I’m the one who bought the $800 cappuccino maker that makes worse coffee than Sanka and now you want me to talk to you like you’re in first class and I’m the flight attendant? You come over and figure out why my HD TV has less definition than a mound of PlayDough. Then I’ll respect you. Maybe. Probably not. Nah…