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Category Archives: clothing

My sister’s pretty brilliant although she seems to express herself best via excellent grades and artwork or exorbitant melodrama. She’s been a theater kid for at least a decade, so her life has to be excessively dramatic or something. When I last saw her in person, she was between flights and nervous breakdowns. Hyperbole aside, she gave me this little gem: “You can always tell who’s American in Europe because they have labels all over them.” Perhaps her insight might come as no surprise considering that she’s not only a theater kid, but the costume kid within the theater department.

But for me, that was a hell of an insight. I thought about it and I realized that not only was she right, but I’ve recently been trying to wear stuff that doesn’t even have a label on it. It’s not just a style decision for the sake of not wearing labels, but it’s kind of because I can’t afford it on my own and because I don’t really give a shit.

Sure, brands like Ralph Lauren, Hermes or Brooks Brothers make some excellent products that will withstand the tests of time, but it doesn’t make any sense for me to buy their stuff right now–particularly while I’m still employed by a company that covers my clothes in dust, sweat, lotions, creams and glitter.  So I might have a cool label on that I can’t afford, but I wouldn’t really be proving anything to anyone besides the fact that my choice in clothes would indicate taste but not practicality. I would feel like a walking example of an idiot.

I see high school kids come into the store with Gucci bags, shoes and glasses–I’ve seen all of those things get ruined in the store, too. Besides the obvious, what status do high school kids really have to prove? The JanSport won’t hold books like a Gucci bag will?

I think it’s why boots are in right now: most boots don’t have labels on them, get the job done and can have literally any shape and accentuate the goods. Perhaps the only exception is Uggs, but those are named for the sound of disgust, so they don’t really count. The point is that I see boots in New York all the time and the women wearing them look great even though I can’t tell where they’re buying their boots. All I see is a woman who looks prepared for the weather and in control–sexy.

Consider this: most of my clothes are Old Navy. Their stuff is always on sale. My pea coat was $30 there. That thing has probably saved my life a couple of times and it cost $30. It doesn’t have a single visible label on it. And my jeans are like prostitutes: I don’t think a pair costing anything more than $35 has ever even touched my ass.1 The beanie I wear all the time in winter was $3 at Target. I’m not sure there’s a dress shirt in my wardrobe that wasn’t bought on sale. T-shirts never more than $20: I have a tee that cost the price of a box of Oreo Double Stuff plus Shipping and Handling.

And I look fucking great. I mean, I might be a little overweight but my clothes make me look good. Winter is far and away my favorite season because I get to layer everything from cardigans to jackets to sweater vests. I would be lying if I told you they were all non-brand name, but they are rarely bought without a sale tag on them. If I buy something, I buy it because I like how it looks, not because it has a label covering my chest.

For Thanksgiving 2009, my sister and I were in Amsterdam. We were walking around, trying to get out of the drizzle and heading toward better dinner and nightlife options. We were stopped by a couple walking the opposite direction. They asked us directions and, since we were traveling via map ourselves, we showed them where we were and how they should get to where they wanted to be. The woman looked at me and said, “You mean you’re not from here?” I laughed, explained we were simply tourists and let them go on their way. Without effort or brand names, I got mistaken for a European and I would much rather be associated with European fashion than some of the bullshit I see every day.

One of the problems with being a visual learner, when it comes to fashion, is being able to recognize the majority of the labels and patterns. I get it, you have a lot of money–but I’m not impressed. I frequently assume people who have to show of their labels are generally douche bags. Sometimes, though, there is the rare man who can pull of having a million obnoxious labels on–and that man is usually gay.

On everyone else, it looks like just another stupid fucking American who doesn’t know how to do anything but throw money away on flashy shit they doesn’t need.

1. Of course this is an exaggeration: I never let prostitutes touch my ass.

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Just like last year—since telling you made me do it, too—I’ll be posting my resolutions.

In 2010, I resolve to:

  • Learn how to play at least one Robert Johnson song—and more scales.
  • Complain less and compliment more—particularly girls. It’s easy to compliment a dude, but complimenting girls is more difficult but also more rewarding when executed correctly.
  • “I will wear a tie when I don’t have to.”–Esquire, Vol. 153, No. 1
  • Continue fixing my life: 1. by exploring my neighborhood more. 2. by procrastinating less and writing, reading and playing guitar more 3. by doing things I love more often (see point 2). 4.  by drinking less coffee and getting more sleep. 5. by doing touristy shit, even if I can’t find a teammate. 6. by running. That is, I resolve to continue running because, even if it’s an hour of pain, the other 23 hours feel good. Also, I also may not see any of the effects but all my friends certainly seem to.
  • Go on “coffee dates” more. Or rather, “coffee meetings.” It’s not to date girls, but rather to stay in practice for those days when I do meet girls I want to date.

So I’ve been reading this self-help book and I don’t think there’s anything more difficult than helping yourself. It’s easy to admit that considering how it’s working and all, but telling you which book I’m reading is actually far more difficult.

Over a week ago, I went out and bought a bracelet like my mom’s been trying to get me to since high school. I was terrified I was going to be ridiculed for decorating my wrist with something that serves no purpose. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve worn anklets and bracelets before, but usually they said something–for years I kept making “I love boobies” bracelets because it was something I supported (PUN!). And I say, “kept making,” because they kept breaking during lacrosse practice and games (SAVE! Awww, broken anklet. Loss). I also had some from Abercrombie & Fitch that my mom spent like $25 on only to have them break because they were poorly constructed (“I know! We’ll use a bead as the latch!” Dumbasses). I also had one of those sailor’s bracelets that reminded me of my aunt’s house on Cape Cod. But it always smelled terrible because I couldn’t take it off. Sweat, soap, shampoo, vinegar, pretty much anything I got on my hands stayed on my bracelet. The sailor’s bracelet was also a complete anachronism; it’s a New England thing and I lived in Texas.

Regardless, I was a little terrified I was going to get criticized for wearing man jewelery and yet absolutely no one has said a word about it. No one. It turns out everyone is far more worried about how they look or whatever else is on their mind than about something wrapped around my wrist.

I also had an epiphany that had its roots back on Tuesday. I slept 11 hours before work and was still tired when I got in. I know this happens a lot when I’ve overslept, but as the day went on, I felt pretty amazing. I didn’t get a headache or decide to get coffee with my lunch.  And yet, the soundtrack around me was starting to sound like I’d heard it before: “I’m tired.” “I’m hungry.” “I can’t feel anything below my hips.” “I need a coffee.” “I drank too much.” “I’m tired, too.” “I want a sandwich but I’m fasting.” Different shades of the same thing. Beyond that, I don’t know why I need to know about it–I don’t think I can make you sleep, eat, drink or work. All I can control is me. It made me think back to Buddhism 101: the world is suffering.  I realized that all these complaints are sort of our way of conveying how we’re still alive. “I’m suffering, thus I am part of the world.”

Fucking crazy, right? But suffering for the sake of suffering feels terrible. Have you ever noticed how sometimes conversations are simply an attempt to relate to one another in the only terms you both understand?

1: “I’m tired.”
2: “I only slept for 4 hours last night.”
1: “My baby woke me up every 30 minutes.”
2: “I have a headache now because I’m hungover.”

When talking about how much suffering everyone has, sometimes it starts to feel like a battle to be suffering most. But what’s the point? None of this can be fixed by talking about it–take some ibuprofen or grab a coffee or a nap or take this as a lesson and schedule more time for sleep tomorrow.

At any rate, I donated blood after work that day and by the time I was in bed, I was showing the first signs of a cold. My personal theory is being down a pint of blood and amongst a bunch of sick employees and cramped subways was severely detrimental to my immune system. I have no proof, but I was very sick and poorly rested for Wednesday and yet I got into a conversation with another girl who apparently has “severe allergies.” I’m allergic to everything airborne except ragweed and the way I felt Wednesday was nothing compared to having a headache and a runny nose. And yet, we still got into this whole escalation of symptoms that ended with me pulling the trump card: “About every thirty minutes I feel like I’m going to throw up.” Though true and allowing me to secure the victory, I had to take another water break and reconsider: “So what? I’ll get better and her prescription will be refilled soon. We both wasted our time arguing when we could have been doing something productive and/or enjoyable. In the scope of the world, this is jack shit. No one cares. My body may be in a lot of pain, but pain is totally relative and my body, even if sick, is in pretty damn fine shape. (High Triglycerides be damned! I love sugar and beer!)” I even went to the gym that night. (Sorry, whoever came in after me: you’re sick and you got it from me.)

Later, I hopped myself up on a slew of pills and went to a networking event where I made a hilarious attempt to open a tab for ginger ales. Hot bartender girl says, “Oh, no. There’s no charge for ginger ales” and I realized I’d never been to a bar and ordered something without alcohol. A little later, the awesome editor and my friend/coworker show up and they make attempts at mingling while I follow them (my throat already hurt enough that I wasn’t ready to yell over Lady Gaga for a business card). My friend is first and foremost, totally awesome, secondly, the kind of girl who, when she gets nervous, speaks more instead of shutting up like the editor and me, and, thirdly, kind of a babe. I’m constantly glad she and I went to school, worked in a group together and developed a healthy platonic friendship because otherwise I probably would have tried to ask her out and then lost a really, really cool friend.

And here’s where the self-improvement book comes into play again: somewhere in it, they describe this practice called “pecking.” You’ve seen every guy you’ve every known do it. Hell, I’ve done it. But it’s–and I don’t know a better way to characterize it–immature. By leaning in to hear what the girl is saying, you’re basically using body language to tell her, “You’re hot. We should bone.”  So we were all circling the room and every time a dude introduced himself, he shook the editors hand, leaned in to catch my friend’s name, and shook my hand. We all have name tags on. If you didn’t hear it, you could just read it, you silly fuck. It was weird, I totally judged every dude we met that night for poorly hitting on my friend in a professional setting. However, I did take thorough pleasure in the little tics they made every time her boyfriend came up (Still want to meet him, he sounds kind of awesome).

So Thursday comes and I’ve slept poorly again, yet I’m working as if I’m not tired–a beautiful thing I cannot explain. Towards the end of the day, the girl working nearby has been complaining since she got in and I think my attempts to avoid engaging her actually made me exhausted. Maybe that and manual labor. I walk to the other cash wrap to give her some “Please shut the fuck up” body language and, to my great surprise, some applicant catches my eye and asks if I’m a manager. That’s literally never happened to me after working in this store for a year and two months. Later the complaining girl actually asks me if I’m a manager. Obviously, I don’t know her that well because she has no idea I’m just a nerd who’s surprisingly strong and making an honest attempt outside of work to never have to work in that store again. Then she tells me that I’m “cute,” that I “look older than 23,” and that I “should have a girlfriend.” I didn’t want to tell her about how that’ll fix itself but the job thing will not, so my focus unreservedly lies in cover letters right now. I also didn’t want to tell her that she wasn’t exactly my type, and that her whole “mother of one” thing doesn’t really work for me (because I already have a hard enough time supporting myself) and that I cannot, for the life of me, remember her name. It’s an R-something. Maybe.

But indulge me a second–I know I’ve made an argument about how no one cares about my suffering in this very post but I need to illustrate a paradox here. I haven’t shaved since September 30th. That’s about a two-week beard, which means this thing is patchy and it’s most likely got mucus chillin’ in the moustache area. My mother, my grandma, my sister and many of my female friends have all told me I look much more attractive without a beard and yet on this day I’m sporting this scruffy little thing that’s not even a full-fledged-man beard. I’m down a pint of blood, alternating between the water fountain and the bathroom every fifteen minutes and emitting a death rattle instead of a cough. My breath mints are Halls and my cologne is Purell and Lysol. I literally told this girl to stop complaining about the work she has to do while at work and she comes back with compliments and undeserved expectations of authority.

So I guess what I’m saying is not that I’m going to start pretending I’m sick all the time but rather that exercising, keeping my minuscule suffering to myself and doing my damndest to radiate positivity is obviously a good thing. Also, this is something I think I’ve known but have simply placed in the back of my mind: I’m an attractive guy. I sound exactly like Stuart Smiley, but I’m pretty sure it’s true. I know I’m not going to be an Abercrombie model or anything, but I am, at the very least, “cute,” something I’ve always chosen to ignore. Getting a date with a cute girl always felt that much better because the underdog surprised everyone–but more importantly, himself–and not only talked to the cute girl but also used his humor to trick her into finding him attractive.

But no more. Attractive dudes with attractive senses of humor and solid groundings in Buddhism 101 deserve attractive girls (amongst other things that bring said dudes happiness).

YAAARRRR, I’MMMM COMMINNN FOR WHAT BE MINE, WORLD. GIMME FREELANCE COPYEDITING, SONIC GREATNESS AND MONETARY SECURITY POSTHASTE OR YOUR WENCHES SHALL NOT ROAM FREE AND UNMOLESTED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ME RESUME BE SICKER THAN ME!!!!!!11!!!!!!!!

Yep, just hit the wall–I’mma sleep like a newborn baby right quick.

Thank goodness I tried on the pair of khaki pants I did not buy at Old Navy. They almost tricked me into dressing like an old man. Nice try, Old Navy, but I’m not 80 yet. Get the fuck outta here with your pleats.

1. When you enter our store, the names of our competitors shall not touch thy lips. Unless you are proposing a way in which we can prevent losing your business to them.
2. You shall not blaspheme our store…in our store. Sometimes we really don’t like working here, but it still pays the bills, OK? If you don’t think it’s cute, don’t buy it.
3. Remember the Weekend and shop bountifully on it. It’s a recession and the only way we can boost the economy is by shopping in it. (Actually, there are many more ways, but this is the most American way. Are you a terrorist?)
4. Honor your father and mother–they need Christmas gifts.
5. You shall not kill. I have no idea how to clean up bloodstains. I heard Coca-Cola’s acidity prevents the blood from leaving a permanent stain…I feel like it’s just a rumor. The point is, I should never have to sweep up after your rap feud ends. Take it to the West Coast.
6. You shall not commit adultery. For that matter, you shouldn’t have sex in the store at all. PDA would probably be okay, but we can’t be held responsible for sometimes being a little disgusted.
7. You shall not steal. Put it down, put it back, leave the store. Don’t come back.
8. You shall put things back where they came from. Otherwise, we reserve the right to call you any assortment of things behind your back, including: chickenhead, dumbass, idiot, moron, the n-word (reserved only for black retailer-on-black customer crime), scum of the earth, special, etc.
9. There really are no stupid questions. We’re sorry if we smirk a little or if we giggle but it’s usually because we’ve been answering that question all day long. Honestly, it’s better that you’ve asked what you might think to be a stupid question than go up to the register, purchase some XS panties when it’s pretty obvious you ride XL. Ask away.
10. You shall treat the retailers as you would like to be treated. We have to clean up after you, pretend to like you and then help you find things that you’re already staring at. We’re doing our very best not to throw up on you, so please, just ask and don’t rifle. Otherwise, you’re a chickenhead.

I started my day feeling great, which should always be a bad sign. I matched my sweater with my favorite pair of sneakers, my shirt with my tie, my briefcase with my pants, my book with my eyeballs, my iPod with my ears, etc, etc, etc. Just straight feeling amazing, listening to awesome music, goin’ to work. I get into work, get a couple complements, see the boss, realize she’s not doing so well (probably because the CEO kinda wrecked her yesterday). I’m not going to let it get to me this morning because, as usual, I’ve done what was required. I’ve met deadlines, I’ve always conducted my research as specified before she changed her mind and got angry at me. In fact, I’m fairly sure I did very well in the meeting; I remembered information off the top of my head, made jokes and so on.

I sat down at my desk and started doing what I do 50% of the time I’m at work: gchat. A friend of mine was talking about how she fucked up by getting a plane ticket wrong for her boss. She was even scared that she might get fired. I was like, I don’t know, your boss got the ticket fixed, showed up on time and won’t be back in town for a while. I think you’re set. I’ve also heard a rumor that humans, by nature, make mistakes. I even heard some rumor about some dude dying about 2000 years ago so we could make mistakes, even though I’m not sure I subscribe to it.

So then I went to get a better idea of what one of my coworkers needed from me. Then my boss came in and reminded us that we couldn’t wear sneakers. I was all like, “Say what? I remember making jokes with the HR person about how the rules only specify that you have to wear socks.” And then my boss was all like, “Well, that may be the case but you can’t wear sneakers.” So I agreed and said it wouldn’t happen again.

Later I was walking to get a TPS Report or a printout and I saw one of the HR ladies. I was like, “Hey, does the dress code have stuff about sneakers on it?” She was nice at this point and said, “Yeah, you can’t wear sneakers and you have to wear business attire appropriate shoes.” When I said, “Right, but I don’t remember seeing anything on the dress code I signed about shoes, so I’ll be up later to look at the stuff I’ve signed.” I guess she heard, “Hey, I’m a fucking retard,” because she rolls her eyes and goes, “No, you can’t wear sneakers.” Of course I was like, “Yeah, no, I understand, I was just hoping to see my paperwork when I’m done for the day.” So we parted ways and I tried to figure out why she looked like I’d chopped up dead fish and left them on her desk (i.e., why she looked so disgusted). I guess she heard “Hey pretty lady, I’mma come harass you in a sexual manner later because I’m looking for a way out of this shit job where I’m constantly fighting my boss about whether or not I get to wear sneakers.”

Next thing I know, my boss is calling me into her office because the Head HR lady wants to have a meeting. I mean, I’m sure you understand what happened–blah blah blah can’t wear blah blah blah won’t happen again blah blah blah oh yeah, you did say business shoes blah blah blah…etc–but the thing that, in retrospect, shocked me the most was that my boss made a point to specifically disassociate herself from me. The HR lady was even like, “Ok, I have to go now” and my boss still took time to scold me again and shift any possible blame that could land on her onto me.

Then my boss and I had a big meeting where I had to explain why I decided to ask HR about HR things. (I guess she thought I went over her head to make her look bad, even though I just really wanted to make sure I hadn’t forgotten any other rules, maybe something like “Employees must wear underwear. Going commando is strictly–STRICTLY–prohibited.”) Also, she revealed that the main HR lady had initially come down to “release” me. Because I guess when you work freelance, they can “release” you at their will. I mean, I may not help sell words for a living, but “release” is really only helping the conscience of the person doing the firing. Then Victoria’s Secret prevented an aneurysm by forcing the meeting to end so I could finish my work for the day and so I could leave the office. I took particular pleasure in relaxing while folding panties to reflect and I’d like to share some valuable lessons I learned with you:

When I run the magazine industry, I will:
1. Stand up for the people who make me look good–even and especially when they fuck up. We know they fucked up. They know they fucked up. Shit has to go on, otherwise we’re going to fuck up more.
2. Will hire as few freelancers as possible. Because when you’re a freelancer, you can get fired for messing up just one time. So freelancers are supposed to be robots. And I don’t like robots (because perfection is not human). Unless they’re Daft Punk.
3. Double-check the work of my subordinates, but still respect them.
4. Repeat myself as little as possible because I know how annoying it is not to be trusted by your boss.
5. Organize everything. Everything.
6. Allow sweet fucking sneakers at work.

Yeah, so I woke up Saturday morning and I was more dehydrated than I’d ever been after playing a summer game of lacrosse in the South (more to come in this department as we go along). I told some of my co-workers this afternoon that I’d broken my liver.

That’s a) not possible and b) not true because all I had was moonshine in my apartment and a White Russian (insert your own “Why not a Black Russian? Racist.” joke here. My response to all is, “Not Funny. Heard it already.”) at a bar. While we’re talking about that, the bartender was a dude dressed as a girl who danced only when Madonna played, giggled at me for ordering a White Russian, asked for an ID even though you have to present an ID to get into just about any bar in NYC–particularly on a Friday night Halloween–, put a cherry in it and charged me $11 dollars for it. Never before has my favorite cocktail been so gay. To be fair, it was half Kahlua, half vodka and a dash of milk. Well played, man-girl (Madonna?).

Anyway, I think the reason my night was so good was because of how terrible my day was. I was sick, full of coffee, Sudafed and not nearly enough sleep. That was actually the situation that had been compounding for the whole week. The office is incredibly business-oriented, so no one wore a costume except me. My costume was basically my business-attire, so it’s kind of cheating, but I still felt like the odd man out. When I was leaving, I told someone to have a Happy Halloween and she looked at me like I had just threatened to hide ratoncide in the deli-style buns of her ham’n’swiss. It’s a hard way to experience your favorite day of the year.

At my retail job, the dress code is just as strict and the costumes were just as disappointing. When I walked in and asked one of my friends what her costume was, she said, “I’m you.” We laughed a little and I said, “Well, you’ve definitely got to work on your 5 O’Clock shadow, but other than that, it’s pretty good.”

But back to that morning–at one point, I was attempting to remove a staple from a incorrectly-stapled collection of papers and, since I don’t have a staple remover, the staple dug itself into the tip of the pointer finger on my right hand. About 4 hours later while retailing it up, I was sorting through those tags that set off the alarms when you steal everything I’ve been working on for the last two hours, when the pin dug itself under the fingernail on the same finger. The good news is, no arteries appear to have been severed, but the bad news is, I now understand why the Vietnamese used to stick bamboo shoots under fingernails as a form of torture back in the ’70s. Typing, the least difficult exercise known to man, is now very, very difficult. Fuck you, “Y!”

Beyond physical damage, I sustained a fair amount of mental damage while at the office. I finished everything on my “To Do List” (more to come in this department as we go along) and went to update my boss. She told me she was looking forward to it, but that she was busy at the moment. When I asked if I should start some more tasks that could easily be inferred from the indications of the “To Do List,” she told me not to start them. She assured me she’d be ready in 10 minutes and, when she got back to me an hour and a half later, I’d sent an email to my dad detailing how I felt “like a fourth grader; Nap! Now you can’t because you don’t have your mat…but don’t go get it!”

We had a meeting where everyone was pissed off the entire time and our boss basically just scolded us for not listening to her, even though every time she gives us directions, she comes back an hour later to tell us that what we have done is wrong because she’s just changed the directions. She gets pissed we didn’t know these directions would change. So, she basically told us to anticipate that, on every project, she would change her mind and that we should be able to read it. When I got out of the meeting to head off to the world of retail, panties and jokes about regional managers (“She’s a fucking bitch.”), I sent an email to the researcher who was working remotely with a subject line that read, “that meeting.” The body consisted solely of, “was like watching a porn without sex scenes; terrible dialogue and everybody involved already knew where it was leading (in this case, next week, not the bedroom).”

So I left, deposited the check (“Yeah, sure! Can’t wait to see you next week!”) and got on the subway again.

Alright, that about does it, let’s skip all the retail and beyond the third subway trip. Got home, made coffee and ate dinner: Mac’n’Cheese Spirals. Too good. This must be the beginning of a good night, but also a stretch in cognitive abilities in retrospect. It turns out the roommate has gotten a bottle of Moonshine for free at work, but we have ice and no idea what something that tastes like bubblegum could mix with. We christen her, “The Bazooka Joe.” (The recipe’s pretty labor intensive, be careful: 1. Catdaddy, 2. Ice.)

So our mutual friends are in town and I have college friends that are in town, too. We get off the subway, urinate in the Union Square Starbucks–like half of Lower Manhattan–and attempt to find my friends. On the way, my roommate proceeds to get, approximately, 117 compliments on his costume. I, on the other hand, receive no recognition for my Stay-At-Home-Dad costume (more to come in this department as we go along) and I begin to assume that everyone thinks I’m Rene Magritte. Updates with my friends from college reveal that S_____’s in a bar on 23rd (9 blocks north), Co______’s not going to tell me what her plans are because she hasn’t saved my phone number and thus does not know who this is and Ca____’s in a McDonald’s on 6th and 16th with other friends from college. The police won’t let us go North, so we decide to wait for them to head South. They get caught in the parade and head North. We stand on the corner while my roommate gets more compliments and a discussion from a girl in a dress with a picture of Freud around her neck (Freudian Slip).

Discussion over and abandoned on this suddenly large island, we decide to head South to our favorite cheap bar. On our way, the roommate makes a “your kind” joke that is intended as ironic racism, but is interpreted as racism. It’d been ten minutes of healthy, hilarious conversation until this misstep, at which point we part ways with the young lady who took offense. We are both sad but persevere and get to the bar. Once there, I greet a random friend from college, attempt to order beverages but can’t get to the bar because everyone else in Lower Manhattan knows this place is cheap too so we leave. We stand on the street corner and wonder what we will do for the rest of the night.

Then our mutual friend walks by (easily the most crucial “then” in this essay. But, again, that insight only comes from knowing where this night goes way in advance). I grab her by the shirt sleeve and start yelling. Everyone else is right behind her. It’s E____ (front runner), C____, D____ and her boyfriend G___ and, finally, two new girls. S________ and A__ are Peter Pan and something I’ve forgotten, respectively, as well as crazy sexy. I initially think, “Hey, this S_______ is pretty cute and she’s very funny, but that A__ seems to want nothing to do with me. What a shame; she’s rather cute, too.”

But then, for some reason, A__ decides I’m Todd Palin. I think it was because I told her I was a Stay-At-Home-Dad, but really have no idea why. She and I start waltzing to whatever-the-hell-bar-it-was-we-went-to-that-night, the whole while speaking like we’d just tag-teamed a polar bear with CO2 emissions, hanging chads, shotguns and hunting knives. I later realize she looks like Kristen Wiig and come that much closer to never seeing my heart again. If my memory serves, at one point I decided I loved her so much that I bit the side of her face. Like a nibble, not really like a, “Hey, gotcha face, ya bleedin!” bite. The things you’ll do when you’re dancing in the street. Or in a bar.

We left (and waltzed again. If you saw a guy and a girl being totally and obnoxiously metropolitan by waltzing on a street on a Friday, I’m sorry I ruined your night) and had to split ways (Uptown and Brooklyn are surprisingly far apart; also, N.B my dating habits) but while we were talking and waiting for the subway, I met a man who’d been recruited by and played for Butler and later got drafted by the MLL. He confessed that he’d done my weight in blow, probably two times over. I told him that was just another one of the reasons I’d quit, but that didn’t stop him from giving me his phone number so I could play some lax.

We transferred trains to get back home but–surprise!–had to wait for the other train for a while. So we talked and examined my costume. I had the Enchanted DVD in my pocket, a bag of cough drops and some Sudafed (really for me, but also) just in case the kids get sick, two condoms in case the wife gets frisky (she is extremely powerful and does not tolerate mistakes), keys to the Minivan and a Moleskine with a checklist, schedule and notes in it. The writing got increasingly sloppy as you moved your way towards the end, but I have transcribed it for you below:

  • Friday Night Movie Night (not done)
  • Empty trash (check)
  • Clean toilet (nope)
  • Schedule minivan check-up (check)
  • PTA Meeting Agenda (check)
  • Schedule dinner with the wife (nyet)
  • Pick up Tommy 2:30 Sally 2:45 (check)
  • Burp Jimbo at (no): 10AM (check), 2PM (check), 6PM (check), 10PM (negatory)
  • [chicken scratch] Call the mistress, tell her to fuck off (no check)

The schedule said:

10/31: bake a pie
11/13: Minivan to JiffyLube
11/14: 4PM tie pick-up
11/20: get bag of Starbucks wholebean for the wife
11/4: resubscribe to The New York Times

Tommy wear contacts [someone had the audacity to accuse Tommy’s goaltending inabilities on his not wearing his glasses in the goal, so I made a note to tell him later to wear his contacts]

The Soccer Schedule said:
Soccer
10/20: Tommy: The Bandits, 4PM
11/4: Sally: Cowgirls, 3PM
11/5: Tommy: Bandits, 6PM
11/14: Sally: CGs, 4PM
11/17: Tom-boy: Goal for Bandits–defense for the Tigers’ defense pretty strong.

Other notes from that night said:
2. alcohols
In love w/E___’s friends.
[phone number and name for dude who loves coke and lax]

We all agreed that #2 made absolutely no sense and moved on. Then we got on the subway, got off the subway, went our own ways, and I wrote the post below.

Lessons learned: Moonshine is a good reason for Nascar to exist,  but the connection’s not strong enough anymore for me to want to watch left turns. Biting is never a good idea. Showing up at the stock room is oddly reassuring after a day at the office. My pointer finger is a piece of shit right now. I like redheads. Even more so when they want to waltz. I still don’t want to do coke. Halloween remains one of the most hallowed of holidays for me. I like “South” as a direction in general. I still like my friends.

I swear to God, the best thing you can do as a panhandler is make jokes or learn a trade. This black guy (color only necessary for following joke) on the A tonight was making jokes about running for office so he could get a big house. He made some other surprisingly excellent jokes and got like three dollars. That is literally more money I have ever seen given to a homeless person than all the other donations I have ever seen, combined (with the exception of my fiver; see below).

There’s nothing more depressing than someone getting on the subway, setting up a drum, excusing themselves, then banging a beat out to “I’m broke. It ain’t no joke.” I don’t want to give you my money after that, I just want to keep it for myself so I never have to bang a drum and tell people I’m broke. Additionally, if you are so broke how the hell did you get on the subway? I hope to God, for your own sake, you snuck on. According to my calculations, two dollars is approximately two hamburgers at McDonald’s.

I haven’t earned the money I have to give to you. You’re right, I should be inside writing cover letters, but I have friends and an unlimited 31 day Metrocard. I could have interviews on any given day and I have to be prepared to travel at the drop of a hat. Also, if you’re going to “earn” my spare change, I feel like there should be a talent involved; one of my roommates speaks of this mystical group of bums he met who had formed an A Capella group to tour the subway (no, not on the A train. That would be plain silly). That was the day that he finally produced his spare change.

Also, I got panhandled outside my domicile for the first time yesterday. Completely inappropriate. I don’t know if I’ve ever been so uncomfortable.

Guy walks across the street yelling, “Hey! Hey man! Did you get that… Oh, you live next door.”

“I guess so. Is everything OK?”

I’m going to try to paraphrase, because this is the part when he lectured me on being homeless and I’m very uncomfortable reciting all of it. “Said he’d come back….homeless…spare change…long sleeve shirt…I’ll be right over there…No, you don’t understand, you live up there…God bless.”

“No, no. I understand what you’re saying…Ok”

I told him I’d do my best but went back to my room and avoided going downstairs for a while because I was in the middle of doing my laundry and didn’t want him to see me through the front door as I went downstairs with six quarters for the drying machine. Homeless guy….or dry clothes? I might need these for an interview (read: WILL need these).

Even further, one of the things that haunts me the most to this day is this guy I ran into on Manhattan. He basically blocked four of my friends and me and told us he was “completely embarrassed. I’m a grown man. 44 years old.” He had a map in his hands but I was too distraught by how distraught he looked to look at it. Pointing to the map, he said, “I need to get over here so I can pay the remaining $4.24 for my ticket. I’m not a panhandler or anything. I’m 44 years old and completely embarrassed. Can you help me out?” I got out my wallet, looked in it, realized I had nothing smaller than a five, gave it to him and felt kind of OK as he walked off, murmuring with his eyes to the sky, “Oh thank God. Oh thank God…”

To this day, I will never understand if I actually saved that man’s night or was completely gypped out of a decent beer. On the surface I was clearly bamboozled by a brilliant rouse, but what if he was genuinely in need? I guess I was tricked because he didn’t look like he was about to go hit up an opium den or a bar. He looked like a guy who was completely afraid of mammoth Manhattan and I guess I sympathized because I’ve definitely had that day before, too.

I guess the moral of this story is please, please, please, don’t complain about being lost (or, similarly, feeling small in a big place) or make jokes when asking me for money because I’ll totally cave. You’re hurting me just as much as you’re hurting you. I hope.

I just finished Federico Fellini’s Eight 1/2. I had no idea movies could be that epic. I felt like I was reading The Watchmen because I completely got sideswiped; I’ve never experienced something so huge in this medium.

I know I said, in the post about bathroom stalls, that people should read the bible more, but clearly I need to read it, too. I think I missed–at least–fifteen allusions.

I have always heard that 8 1/2 was the attempted magnum opus and that La Dolce Vita was the actual stroke of genius. I found, just as the critics in 8 1/2 did, La Dolce Vita overly sarcastic (strictly in regards to its title) and incredibly pessimistic. On the other hand, 8 1/2 was thoroughly entertaining and the main character seems to have redeemed himself. It was nice to see a main character who could think and feel as well as create a meeting for the two sides of himself. But then again, his wife already left him before the dream sequence began–I can only hope that his final dream sequence, as it was in the beginning, is an indication of the way the rest of his life will traverse.

Either way, Marcello Mastroianni is a complete badass.

So I went to Staples and got a briefcase for $57. Problem solved.