Monday, May 31, 2004

James and I got into the following debate: given a thousand dollars, would you spend the money on that Zillion Dollar Fritata lobster and caviar omelette they serve at the Parker Meridien hotel (Norma dares you to expense them — you might have to finance them or something) or on a pair of designer socks? I say omelette, James says socks.

James reasons as follows. There are certain people in the world who are, shall we say, impressed with the superficial things in life. And although James isn't quite one of them, he certainly resonates with them, browsing in Hugo Boss and Brooks Brothers, all metrosexualled up in the clubs. After all, he wants to go into the fashion industry.... Anyway, James figures that, damn, he'll be da shit in these fashionista cliques if he wears thousand dollar designer-label socks or, better yet, thousand dollar underwear. It's not just about keeping up with the Joneses, or the Versaces or Armanis or Yamamotos — it's about out-doing those snooty bastards and forcing them to respect you playing their own game. The more outrageous, the more it offends those of us who are reasonable, who were never blessed with a silver spoon, the more you win from those pricks.

And I concur. Imagine, you're sitting at lunch with, say, your loquacious, arrogant next-door neighbor (no bitterness... well, alright, some bitterness) and he's talking about his favorite topic — himself — and in the middle of one of his interminable sentences, I mention, "I was at Norma's, at the Parker Meridien, for breakfast and I had this omelette with homard lobster and topped with ten ounces of Sevruga caviar. Set me back a grand, too. But you were saying something... about your own insecurities, if I was reading you correctly." That'd shut him up.

For about ten minutes.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

Last night, I had another one of my trademark bizarre dreams — I dreamt that "pickleball" somehow became a professional sport. For those of you not familiar with pickleball, it's a game we played in high school gym class that was essentially the deformed child of an unholy union between tennis and ping-pong. There were many, many good reasons to take pickleball as your gym elective, not the least of which being that it wasn't "advanced weight training," otherwise known as "weight training," seeing as how our school did not offer beginner weight training or intermediate weight training. Also, pickleball was taught by Ms. Panko or Ms. Kesting, who, unlike the rest of the physical education at our high school, both (a) were capable of feeling empathy for their fellow human beings and (b) were not morbidly and ironically obese.

I mean, seriously, if our plane crash-landed in the Andes, our whole gym class could survive for a week off Mr. Butz's love handles. You could fit three of me inside Miss Pantano and still have room for Ian Bonner's overgrown ego! What the hell business did these people have telling me to get fit? (Note, fellow senior-year gym-classers, not one word about "Sally"...)

Back to my dream, I was visiting the high school, feeling invincible thanks to the fact that I've graduated from the wretched institutions of education and the school no longer exercises its vile power over me. (Uh... right... that's not why I'm in therapy or anything.) So, I walk into the gym and for some reason, I join a game of pickleball with a bunch of little sophomores who don't really seem to be getting the concept of the game. Rather than hitting the ball over the net, they spend most of their time crowding each other. Meanwhile, I keep whacking the official pickleball (it's just a wiffleball) out of bounds with my powerful yellow table tennis paddle, and naturally our team loses. I blame the sophomores. But, but, but here's the kicker: the five-minute bell rings and I just walk out of the gym — no getting changed, no having to hang out in the locker room cause having a bunch of sweaty boys loose in the hallways is just an invitation to trouble — I'm free to do what I want.

Not that I didn't pretty much do whatever I wanted back when I was actually in high school, but now that I'm a graduate, the school can't even try to control me.

And I'm walking through the halls again and who do I run into but Miss Young. We both scream like little girls, except in her case, it's socially appropriate. Then I wake up, realize that Miss Young is probably still lost somewhere in the New Hampshire wilderness, and I'm starting another crappy day before six in the morning.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Cheese Stick Update

New fact: cheese dough + refrigerator + time = intractable cheese rock. There's twelve dollars that would be down the drain if we had a garbage disposal. (Actually, it went down the drain anyway.)

Friday, May 28, 2004


One thing that I really missed when I was living in New York was the whole idea of a supermarket. NYC is littered with just-plain "markets," meaning no laser-vision, no super-strength, and generally none of what you're actually looking for. What I was totally unaware of was that during my four years in New York, real supermarkets here in the suburbs have grown to astounding Wal-Mart-sized proportions, and pretty soon they'll come to life and destroy Tokyo unless Godzilla can stop them.

Now, when I came back home, I decided that I was going to learn to cook so that I could throw sweet-ass "Queer Eye" style parties (only not as gay) when I get my own place. That way I'd be popular and I wouldn't have to die alone. My first recipe, the simplest thing that I could find in the book: cheese sticks. They called for a pound of cheese, and even though my family is made up of a bunch of freaks and myself, we didn't happen to have a pound of cheese in our house. So it was time to head to the supermarket.

Remember when the supermarket was just for buying food and maybe the odd package of cat litter or bottle of bleach? Well, apparently the supermarket-shopping populace grew restless with only buying food and household products at the supermarket. That's why they built not just a "Stop and Shop" but a "Super Stop and Shop" at the Watchung Square Mall (which I have to say is like eighty percent parking lot and twenty percent mall). Where else can you get patio furniture, a carton of soy milk, and a home loan under one roof? Besides Wal-Mart, I mean. ←Wal-Mart's evil!

So here's my shopping list: 1 pound cheddar cheese (or other flavorful cheese), 8 oz (1 stick) of butter, a pinch cayenne pepper, coarse salt. We already have two cups of flour at home. All goes well: there's not much of a cheese selection, but I find the cheddar no problem. Butter is naturally way, way, way in the back — I think the supermarket should provide golf carts for the convenience, and fun, of its customers. Cayenne pepper is in the spice aisle, labelled "hot pepper." And salt... when exactly did salt mutate like a virus? There's kosher salt, sea salt, garlic salt, onion salt, garlic and onion salt, Mrs. Dash, celery salt, salt-free salt... what the fuck! Wasn't life confusing enough when all we had to worry about was creamy or chunky peanut butter?

Twelve dollars of food altogether, just for some crappy cheese sticks that, to be honest, I wasn't even really in the mood for. But I get home, I throw the cheese, flour, and butter in the food processor, and promptly make a mess of the kitchen. Mom would be proud. I do, however, come out with something that's a cross between dough and a tumor. It needs to be refrigerated for a day.... more on the cheese stick progress tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

I never liked the YMCA, but it's the closest gym to my house and it's by far the cheapest. I've been going to the Y since before kindergarten, first for the most futile of futile swimming lessons, time-wasting "tumble-tots" gymnastics class in kindergarten, then for befofe-and-after-school day-care, and finally more more more styrofoam heavy swimming lessons. But what I remember most about the Y, aside from that irritating Village People song, was the smell — this sanitized, saccharine, sticky smell reeking of angel shit and chlorine but that I could never really put my finger on. Until today....

It's the odor of children. 8-(

Monday, May 24, 2004

Scary Things

Now Puff Daddy wants to start a political talk show.... Can I ask how much longer we're going to indulge this dickweed's asinine fantasies? It's bad enough we've got to put up with his MTV show, his Broadway role, his restaurant and sweatsuits and perfumes, his constantly reminding us how he's from the ghetto when he really lives in East Hampton next door to Steven Spielberg, and his insipid stage name changes. (I don't care what Sean is calling himself these days; I'm gonna keep calling him what I've always called him -- "that pompous jackass with the girly sparkling earring.") What gets me is how disingenuous he is: pretending he's someone with a talent other than wearing a suit. At least Nelly also has the ability to get himself shot. But back to my original point, do we really need another no-talent charlatan manipulating the retarded American public? I guess on the plus side, it's not like Puffy's constituency actually takes a break from pimping their rides long enough to get to the voting booths.

And speaking of creepy, ugly things, I found a giant mutant spider when I went to put on my sandals this morning. Naturally, I freaked out and screamed like a little girl, but you have to understand that this was a freaking humongous spider -- maybe two or three inches long, or the size of a mouse, or a Yorkshire terrier. With fangs and spikes. Look, if you saw it, you'd've been scared too, and you would've wanted a hug.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Yesterday I was waiting my turn at the haircutters and I had this revelation. I understood why the rest of the world hates Americans, and why I hate them too. I was sitting in one corner of the pre-haircut area, listening to Lite FM on the radio and watching some little pissy kid run around on a sugar high, and there was, on the mass-produced Ikea-reject love seat in the other corner of the room, the quintessential ugly American. An obese, oily, blotchy lump of flesh one-third-covered in the Wal-Mart clothing line.

It's not that the ugly American is a cheap-ass dirty porker, it's that we're content to be our tubby, stupid selves. Try even imagining Europeans, for example, with Americans' particular flaws: There's no such thing as an obese Brit; they're "portly." Or a greasy Italian; instead, they're "pomaded." And that's not musk you smell on a Frenchman; it's "cologne." Unlike the rest of the world, America seems to breed this "eh, whatever" attitude where "room for improvement" are dirty words. We fall into two camps — those of us who are stick-figurish and complain that our thighs are too fat and those of us whose thighs really, really are too fat but who don't seem to picking up on all the insecurities Vogue and Cosmo and Shape and, uh, O: The Oprah Magazine are shoving onto those of us who don't need them.

So here's my plea to America: You don't have to be perfect, but you do have to get off your corpulent asses and put some goddamn effort into improving yourselves. Now, I've gotta go and find some Stridex pads.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

I graduated from Columbia University and all I got was this lousy education!

And a pen.

Actually, for the record, I got a diploma, two pins, a pen from the company that supplied my college loan, and an "I survived the swim test" beach towel. I kind of wish I weren't such a downtrodden prick that I could believe I'd also nicked a few friends from these four years, but that sort of optimism just isn't a part of my constitution. I certainly didn't believe Dean Quigley when he said we'd continue to make friendships as part of the Columbia family. Horse-phlooey! It's not like I've been making friends from Spiffy High since they put me in a cap and gown and kicked me out into the real world. The whole Fanwood social scene's been pretty much downhill; I'm thankful for the few plateaus.

As it turned out, class day was the perfect culmination to my four years at Columbia, in the most literary sense possible, an unintentional metaphor. In the real world, the celebration was disappointing, even for someone with my low, low expectations. It was about a million degrees out in the sun and I could feel the skin on my neck and ears burning off. There weren't enough chairs out for all the graduates, although the maintenance crew solved that problem at the last minute. I couldn't find my parents in the crowd because, while everyone else's proud family members congregated right up against the procession, my dad — and remember that he's the guy who used to take us to the Fourth of July "Stars and Stripes Forever" concert at the Summit Park and, even though people around us were picnicking and playing Frisbee and catch, he wouldn't let us make a damn sound during the concert — my dad thought it would be improper if the family moved from their seats in the middle of the crowd. He also had his cell phone off, so I couldn't tell him where to look for me, but he did call me as soon as the emcee told everyone to "please be seated."

And then this totally unfamiliar feeling come over me. I was disappointed that I didn't see my family. That never happened before; usually I'm thrilled when those dull freaks are not around, for the reasons described above. But yesterday... maybe it was cause everyone else was finding their, well, maybe "loved ones" isn't quite the correct term. I caught myself scanning the crowd for them (now I know how a Secret Service agent feels) and even standing on my chair hoping to get a better view. No such luck.

Even after I got my name called and I was recessing off the stage, instead of rushing out of their seats to come see me, what do they do? They sit there, in the heat, listening to some fat woman call the names of eight hundred total strangers. Other kids getting hugs and flowers and stuff....

So there were the customary speeches. Here's a rule for making a speech: put your mouth up to the fucking microphone, or else no one will be able to hear you! Jeez! Apparently our guest speaker, Tony Kushner CC '78, gave an amazing speech, but I couldn't make out one damn word of it. I did, however, get to hear our valedictorian Jacob, the same Jacob who I called an "intellectual masturbator" in one of my e-mails from the first week of school, the same Jacob who suggested a "no put-downs" ground rule at our freshman orientation sexual assault ice-breaker and I wanted to say "That's the stupidest thing I ever heard" in response but didn't, I got to hear every last cliche and platitude out of his mouth. And then this other totally unfamiliar feeling came over me: "Why can't you just enjoy this?"

Maybe because it was just unenjoyable. I mean, no one else I talked to enjoyed class day either. Maybe some things just suck ass.

You know what would've improved class day? If those cicadas all spontaneously flew out of the ground and celebrated our graduation in song, then went off to mate. It would be like fireworks, except with giant horny bugs. It would be even more like fireworks if all the cicadas exploded on cue.

Monday, May 17, 2004


I'll tell you, nothing good ever happens after one in the morning. The frat boys are drunk, Conan's got his crappy guests on, or you're at the Crane Club and you spot the cute girl you like letting herself get felt up by some other loser white boy whose only dance move — besides playing with her tits, that is — is this half-cocked spastic fist-pump that went out with roller skates and disco. I think there ought to be a law: not that straight white guys aren't allowed to dance in clubs, but each white guy should be given an eighteen square inch area on the dance floor, and if his arm or foot should move outside his boundary, I ought to be allowed to shoot him. This would turn the club from a total grope-fest to a scene of order and civility, with the occassional murderous gunshot.

Music makes people do weird things that they'd never ever do in silence, like dancing or letting some loser dipshit simulate fucking her from behind or use cell phone text messaging. It's like everybody's so sick of the troubles of normal communication, talking, using their own words, they just blast some horny rapper as loud as possible and reduce their need for human interaction to the bare minimums — drinking and screwing. These rappers, who, I should mention, are such freaking disgusting human beings that there's no way they'd ever be able to get bitches to sit, stay, heel, and fetch — let alone women — were it not for their otherwise pointless ability to rhyme and buy bling-bling... these rappers just order the dance floor around. "Put'chur handz in da air!" or "Slappem wit' ur dick!" or whatever. Personally, I resent being bossed around by my music, but since everyone else is a sheep, they don't seem to mind. What we need is a rapper who tells everybody to "Stand still and shut the fuck up already!" Then, "Keep the conversation to a dull roar and if a really sweet but shy guy asks you to dance, don't lie and say you're tired, cause maybe, just maybe, you don't know what you're missing, okay?"

And maybe the rapper could throw in something about a hug or a peck on the cheek, just to make God smile.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Graduation Etiquette

Something strange happens to your mind as you get older. For some bizarre reason, when you hit middle age, all of a sudden any manner of stupid, pointless ceremony takes on a grave new importance. Case in point: Columbia's class day, which is the day when they — and by "they," I mean someone whose life is apparently much more valuable than mine — call the names of all the graduating students. One by one, we each walk up on stage when the almighty calls us, and we shake the president's hand or the dean's hand or a trustee's hand or, for all I know, it could be Pauly Shore's hand. I believe at a normal school, this is when that somebody would hand me my degree, but to be honest, shaking a thousand hands is more than enough work for him, and we pick up our degrees the next day.

In case you haven't fully grasped this, here's the situation from the senescents' point of view. The old people are sitting in the audience, listening to the names of a thousand strangers, like a veterans' memorial, waiting for one so they can duly applaud. (Ten to one some college bureaucrat asks them to hold their applause till the end.) From my point of view, I'm listening to the class president or valedictorian or some other monstrously arrogant prick dweeb fawning over a thousand people I don't even like, and I have to smile and pretend to be happy while inside I'm convinced that if God existed, some people would be getting hit by lightning bolts.

This goes on for three interminable hours, and to put that in perspective, the Daytime Emmy awards only go on for two and a half. I thought, "Hey, why don't I bring a book? At least that way I won't have to pay attention." I told my parents (always a mistake) and they looked at me as if I told them I was going to walk on stage and tear the still-beating heart out of President Bollinger's chest cavity, pour mustard on it, and eat it in front of the whole senior class. I might still bring a book, but needless to say, I didn't get their blessing. I'm just glad I didn't suggest bringing my Game Boy.

And this is the difference between a rational twenty-two year old and an Old Person. I don't see what the big deal is, and they think that my reading will ruin the entire commencement ceremony. (I probably have the advantage here thinking that there's pretty much nothing I can do that will make commencement worse than it already is.) Their petulance is goddamn frustrating, especially when I can make this money-back guarantee: there will be some jackass graduating this year who when his name is called is gonna get up on stage and raise the roof or do a cartwheel or do something else phenominally retarded that he saw Snoop Dogg do in a video — and I also guarantee it's gonna be a white kid acting like his brain just spent the past year in a self-tanning booth — and all of the other football-playing vodka-drinking slut-fucking fart-lighting morons graduating with me are gonna cheer for him.... and if I bring a book it'll ruin the ceremony???? Please.

I should've gone to an all-girls school, like Mom wanted me to go to Smith.

Addendum: I was going to read Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections at class day, but then I realized that I'd have to get up on stage and I might not be able to get back to my seat to retrieve the book. So, new plan: I'm gonna class up the ceremony by bringing a copy of the National Enquirer and a copy of Weekly World News, reading about Oprah's weight and five-headed martians attacking Kansas.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

"Administrative assistant" my ass! The job is "secretary." Don't try to sex it up. It ain't working.

Friday, May 14, 2004

Mysterious Blue Liquid vs. The Game

Once again, I hate my Y-chromosome. It comes with so, so many irritating social obligations — holding doors open, carrying packages, pulling out her chair at the dinner table — and none is worse than the perpetual need to be masculine, especially when God thought it would be funny to give you the chromosomes but not the growth hormone to make that possible. This is why we go to the gym, make dirty jokes, and watch those retarded "Jackass" spin-offs. (Well, there's also the suppressed homoeroticism inherent in close male friendships, but we'll talk about that some other time.) Which is all well and good until there comes the time to put your metrosexuality on display; right now, I'm writing sappy graduation notes to my friends at college.

The first step is to make a list of questionable words — that is, words that might make me seem either gay or horny or both. This eliminates words and phrases like "sweet," "such a good friend," and "wonderful." Not to mention that there's no way I can sign my notes with the l-word (that would be "love," for those of you with dirty minds) even though all of my girl friends coolly sign their most mundane e-mails with that word. The problem is that these happy-graduation notes are supposed to be sentimental, histrionic, and even holding a dash of that drunken ain't-you-so-beautiful-honey romanticism that society says I ought to eschew as a guy.

I guess the alternative isn't that much better. It's a trade-off between magazines with articles about bulking up and magazines with articles about slimming down, or commercials showing cotton absorbing some mysterious blue liquid versus commercials asking me whether I need to get back in the game. Maybe if we're lucky, in our future lives, God will reincarnate all of us as hermaphrodites.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

It just hit me: Jerry Orbach is going to be leaving "Law and Order" on the very same day as my graduation. I'm not sure I'll be able to bear it. Although, to be honest, I'm kind of surprised that Jerry Orbach is still alive in the first place.


I guess I'll take some deep breaths and I'll be okay, as long as Sam Waterston doesn't leave to do more of those T. Rowe Price commercials.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

The F-word

With you, friend is a four-letter word.

You see, the problem with college is that even if you're not a women's studies major, you start seeing concepts like "post-modern disenfranchisement" and "objectification sans agency" all around you in your daily life. Or at least I do, probably because it's easier than simply saying to myself, "Self, nobody thinks I'm important." I think that at least mine isn't a unique situation; we all want some kind of esteem from our peers. Some of you get it; I get passed over for homework or a ringing phone or a fishtank. Please stop wondering why I'm bitter.

I've been worrying since freshman year about my post-graduation social life. Mom and Dad have fewer friends than I have vaginas, and Fanwood's never really been networking central for me. Some people, cough cough Justin Ross arrogant bastard ahem, had a monopoly on the geekwad social scene. Come to college, live in a dorm with four-hundred other eighteen to twenty-two year olds, I honestly thought things would be different, that I'd be joined in a community with all my egghead brethren. While the students matriculating at state school would spend their 3:30's in the afternoon looking like shirtless retards outside the "Total Request Live" studio, I'd be sitting in Columbia's perestroika-infected Illuminati sewing circle talking jazz fusion and Ayn Rand and Harlem gentrification over a glass of sherry. I conceived of the sherry as a nice detail, but I guess it was more important than I thought, cause none of that shit actually happened. Most of my college experience involved using my high-speed internet access to masturbate to cyberporn at two in the morning, then miss my nine a.m. class because I didn't get enough sleep. I can't understand why I didn't make more friends.

But now that all the college work is just about over, let's see what kinds of creative excuses people come up with for leaving me by my lonesome writing in a blog that no one except Rian actually reads. (Thank you, Rian.) Parents coming in for the weekend. Or, what the hell, the whole damn week. Okay, that tops me. Real real busy with work. Yup, higher priority than I am. Phone's ringing. That'll trump just about anything. Gotta fertilize the lawn. I'm farther down on the totem pole than that. Sticking my head in the refrigerator....

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Deep, deep sighs...

Last paper ever, finished. I might've thought that after four years of writing those damn things, I would've gotten better at it. Hasn't happened. My final paper was just as scatterbrained and incohesive as the first Lit Hum paper I ever wrote. And with both papers, I spent way too much time fiddling with the font to make it look like I wrote more than I did. Maturity, right?

Truth is, it's kind of bittersweet. I get the distinct feeling that when you're a bona fide grown-up, you don't get to spend much time thinking about Buddhist ethics or the philosophical implications of quantum mechanics or classical genre study. I really had a whole damn lot of stuff to say in college, and I doubt that more than five percent of it got past the anxieties and fears cluttering my brain and into the academic sphere. Good thing I wasn't a communications major. I'm not really sure what I expected from college, but it sure as hell wasn't this: classes with fifty students, some of whom were old enough to be the professor's father; professors who seemed too busy with their own grandiose ideas to be bothered listening to mine; schoolmates... well, who knows about the schoolmates. All I know is that they weren't talking shop with me.

I told Anne — she's the only person I know who won't be a college grad in less than two weeks — to enjoy her papers while she still can. But even that seems a bit sketchy. I think there's something to be said for being able to write Thurman a seven-page single-spaced e-mail in less than a day, while being stuck without a paper topic for weeks and weeks. The eight-page double-spaced paper took four days and innumerable solitaire breaks. I can't help but wonder if all that extra time wasn't devoted to "polishing" the paper with a veneer of professionalism that de-emphasized the actual ideas I was talking about... not to mention the fact that I was talking.

I'd like to say that if I had to do it all over again, I'd do things differently. I'd get to know my professors, show up at their office hours, engage them. I'd speak up in class, I'd join more clubs, I'd talk to the CGND and all the synecdoche I can extrapolate from her. (Those of you who know what I'm talking about know what I'm talking about.) I'd like to say that I'd do all that, but I suppose the real reason the last paper ever is bittersweet is that I know I wouldn't. One time, Harrigan asked me if I thought I'd be happier somewhere else, and I told her I just didn't think it was part of my constitution. We'll see what the future brings, and let's say I have high hopes and high expectations, but not for happiness.