Email spam is a way of the world these days. At least 30% of my inbox represents solicitations and suggestions from people looking to help me increase my penis size, melt away unwanted pounds sans lifting a weight and sell me discounted Propecia and Prozac. I really hope that no market research was done to determine that my email address would be a good place to drop off some spam. If so, I am apparently a small penised, balding man who could stand to shed some weight. No wonder Prozac is being suggested to me.
Usually I don’t read through my spam mail. Click. Delete. Yes, I am sure I want to delete it. But today is really slow. Forty-eight percent of the workforce took the entire week off and the other forty-eight percent took today off to extend the holiday weekend. That leaves exactly three people in my office. We keep to ourselves, pretending to be working while instead perusing the net for entertainment. I am still sorting through my inbox.
When I stumbled across an email touting the Body Bouncer as “The biggest new toy since the vibrator,” I stopped short of deleting and stared in wonderment. It wasn’t the claim of being better than a battery operated toy that sent me pondering the concept. I know that is a fallacy. It was the drawings that dotted the email that had me curious. The styling of the Body Bouncer is pretty much lazy woman on top with well hung man beneath. She sits on a hammock like stool with a hole in the middle and he lies below, his enormous pecker aiming up.
I consider myself rather open minded in the bedroom, although the back door is still an exit only. Any man who wishes to challenge me on this perspective is more than welcome to personally experience it as an entry door first to prove me wrong. That has always worked like a charm to squelch further debate or negotiating. Other than the backdoor, I am pretty much willing to consider all requests.
When images of the Body Bouncer started loading, it was hard not to break into hysterics. Is woman on top so torturous for the man that he needs to have her suspended above, thereby relieving him of her weight? Are there any men out there who are so well hung that they need an additional six inches of space before nearing mere penetration? And if so, I can be reached at 215-555-7979. I am not sure if I’d be up for an encounter but I’d sure be interested in seeing your Ripley’s Believe It Or Not manhood.
I am a strong advocate of toys in the bedroom. I know of many women who have been sexually liberated once they were able to go from zero to “Oh” with the help of a toy. I won’t name names but you know who you are, ladies. But has the bedroom become a place of laziness? Is sex better when you barely touch your partner?
I clicked delete and confirmed my desire to do away with the Body Bouncer. I think I’ll stick to the old fashioned bedroom toys. Unless, of course, the Body Bouncer would help me further tone my abs, thighs and buttocks. Those silly advertisers. If they had only thought to promote the product as a sex toy with a weight loss benefit! You’d see women around the world agreeing to buy one. Heck, even QVC would probably promote it as the Item of the Day. Tack on a free set of weights and you just might have a top seller. Look out Gazelle!
Wednesday, December 28, 2005
I had a date last week. It was actually a nice date. There was laughter, conversation and good food, three things that always make a nice time a great time. I was relaxed and enjoying myself until I felt stumped by a question.
“So, tell me about your dreams?” he asked.
I have no idea what my expression disclosed but on the inside I was confused. Was he asking about what images filled my head during my most recent REM sleep? If so, I was in trouble. It was a clouded and confused encounter with a coworker who is sometimes so dumb I question how it is exactly that he has survived life this long without getting electrocuted. Nice but not the sharpest pencil in the drawer. I asked Date how he defined “dream” in the construct of his sentence and told me to just run with it.
“I want to be a successful writer. Not successful in the sense that I derive gratification from my words making sense but successful in the sense that you can find my work not only on the shelf at Barnes & Noble but maybe even on one of those display tables that clutter the main artery.”
I listened to my answer as I spoke the words and liked what I was saying. It was one hundred percent true. Since Todd bought me a laptop, I’ve been spending more and more time pondering how to segue my life from an insurance gal to a literary gal. I started a Blog just to dust off the writing cobwebs. Otherwise, my path to publishing has been slow.
Date asked what I was doing besides writing my Blog to get to my end point. It’s a logical question. A football team doesn’t step onto the field without a running pattern spelled out. Otherwise, you end up resembling my eighth grade basketball team with every player simply running for the ball.
I fumbled out an answer but honestly hadn’t gotten to the point of moving forward. Until starting my Blog, I’ve never written with the intention of others reading it. My inner critic had me convinced that people were just being polite when they complimented my writing the same way I am with girls who just got a really bad haircut or are sporting a new sweater in a putrid and unflattering color. “You look great,” I’d say with an ear to ear smile. Sometimes I’d even toss in a “seriously” to emphasize false sincerity.
In the days since my night out with Date, I’ve been really busy. But I’ve somehow managed to make time to contemplate my future. The “Writing” folder in my Favorites has grown from two links to twenty. I printed out the Bennington Non-Resident MFA in Creative Writing application. I noted the online class schedule for both the Gotham Writer’s Workshop and The Writer’s Room, two reputable if not prestigious New York programs. I also reviewed the Temple University Masters program in creative writing. It might not have the recognition of Bennington but it is half the cost, more accessible and still has some very impressive professors.
I haven’t heard from Date. I think I will. I hope I will. If someone can somehow inspire me to get off my ass and start finding a way to make my dream a reality, well, that is pretty darn good person to have in your arsenal. And who knows, he may even be a good kisser.
Thursday, December 22, 2005
Every so often, I get in a rut and seek out some guidance. I recently found myself standing in the middle of a Barnes & Noble Self-Help section not once, not twice but three times. It was like being suddenly transported back to sixth grade. With Dr. Phil to my left and Dr. Ruth to my right, I relived the same paranoia experienced twenty-one years earlier as I approached the pharmacy counter clutching a big box of Super Duper Tampax tampons and another box of winged pads, the latest introduction to feminine protection clearly designed by a man who hates women. I don’t know many people in my neighborhood but I was paralyzed amongst all those books, certain a really cute boy would catch me in the act.
I initially tried to go the online route for my self-help interests. The internet is ideal for the purchase of sex toys and self-help books, two things in life that most people are too insecure to openly buy in public but inevitably want and or need.
Though I’ve mentally and emotionally come a long way since my youth, I am a work in progress. Now feels like as good a time as any to make some adjustments. Personal growth is one of those things that you have to want to experience to successfully conquer. Wanting to get your head straight doesn’t come along very often. It’s like those random moments in time when you feel inspired to work out. Today I am going to get on that treadmill. Oh heck, I am going to do it tomorrow too. The theme to Chariot’s Fire plays in the background as I visualize my legs in motion.
One time, when the exercise inspiration struck, I ordered a product off the television. It wasn’t my proudest moment in time. I had spent many a random Saturday morning sprawled on my sofa in wrinkled pajamas, clutching a bowl of Lucky Charms and skim milk while watching an infomercial of other women melting away the pounds and with a smile, no less. Feel the burn. You can do it. Tighten your fanny. I was so excited to get started that I had the product shipped overnight. You have to strike when the iron is hot.
I searched the internet for books that might help me straighten out a kink or two. An hour later, my online shopping cart was loaded up with three books and the new Jamie Cullum CD. Then I got impatient. I wanted everything for my pending weekend travels. No, I needed these things for my travels. I did the unthinkable and wrote down the book information and then I went over to my local Barnes & Noble.
I scanned the shelves three times over and came up empty handed. I took a deep breath, strolled over to the help desk and waited for assistance. There was only one person ahead of me and no one behind me so I felt safe. Then a line formed. To help out, another employee stopped over. He happened to be one of those who spoke in a voice much louder than necessary and much louder than appropriate for the library like setting of a Barnes & Noble. If you wanted to share a secret, this wasn’t your guy. I toyed with giving up and walking away but I stuck to my guns.
“Conquer Your Inner Negative Voice isn’t in stock but if you really need it soon, I can order it for you. Oh wait, the store two towns over might have it. Let me call.”
While my initial reaction to his loudspeaker announcement intended for me but provided to the rest of the store was unsettling, I realized I shouldn’t be embarrassed. Wanting to become a better person is admirable. And if the complete strangers behind me were going to be judgmental assholes about it, well, they could go fuck themselves. Perhaps an anger management book would have been a good idea to add to my list?
Barnes & Noble didn’t have the book at the other location either. Mr. Loud Speaker again offered to order one and he also suggested that I still might want to swing by the other store. He wasn’t convinced they actually checked the shelves. He meant well and that was all that mattered.
“Thanks so much for your help and have a great night!” I said. I turned on my heels, headed for the door and smiled the whole way. I even made eye contact with some of the people lined up behind me. Apparently I can skip the chapter about being self conscious.
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
A woman in her twenties will maintain a diligent record, at least in her head, of her sexual partners. Culturally we’re instructed to keep that number to a minimum. When that same woman enters her thirties, she’s lost track and doesn’t even bother to keep a tab. It isn’t to say she's suddenly morphed from a rather pure damsel to outright slut. Let's face it, ladies. If you enter your third decade solo, it’s fair to assume you've probably broken into the double digits. Plus, you have more important things to stress about like whether the Moschino pencil skirt you splurged on will still fit after you recover from the breakup induced famine. Oh heck. You look fabulous for the time being and you can always fall back on it as an incentive to start calorie counting again. At least Moschino holds its value and can be sold at the nearby consignment shop.
I can easily name my number one and number two sexual partners. Everyone should at least be able to name number one, regardless of your gender. I also can easily name the last two men I’ve bedded. But looking back on the ten years since giving in on sexual promiscuity, I can’t quite recall the men in between. Sort of.
There are two men in particular that I probably will never forget. Not because those were wild nights of passionate and animalistic sex. No. Quite the opposite. It’s more because they had to be two of the worst sexual encounters. Ever. Both were men who had chased me and though I flirted back I never gave in because it just didn’t feel right. I should have followed my gut. When you crave some human touch and a non-battery induced moan, well, gut and good judgment sometimes go right out the window.
The first guy was a charmer. He opened doors, always rose from the table whenever you left or returned, walked on the street side of the sidewalk and would never think twice about entering through any doorway before a woman. He was a good enough kisser. So on a really horny night, I went over to his place and started making some purr-fect moves. After a few minutes of missionary, he was passed out snoring. I then went home to finish what he never started, something I should have done from the get go. It was so bad that after that mistake, when someone asked how many guys I’d been with, my response was a solid 4 1/2. I’d admit to penetration but wasn’t going to be penalized for it.
Then came the other guy to round out my fraction. We’d gone on a few dates many years before. I nicknamed him Seinfeld because he was Jewish, brunette and had shtick like nothing I’d ever seen. To his defense, when I bailed on date number five feigning illness, I received flowers from him the next day wishing me well. I felt badly but not badly enough to subject myself to date number six.
Over the years, I’d randomly bump into Seinfeld. We crossed paths at a bar or on JDate, two places where single Jewish people can be found during the hunting phase. We’d chat, maybe even make a plan. Usually nothing panned out. Then, the night before my 28th birthday, he invited me out to dinner. To minimalize the ridiculousness sitting across the table from me, I started pounding drinks. The highlight of the conversation was him babbling about being lactose intolerant. I'll have another Cosmo, please.
Next thing I know, I drunkenly let my hormones get the better of me. I clearly hadn’t learned anything from my first 1/2. I can sum up this encounter with one piece of dialogue.
Seinfeld: “I’m going to cum.”
Me: [In my head] You’re in me?
Seinfeld: I want you to cum too.
Me: [In my head] Well, you’re going to have to do more than make a verbal request.
Me: Moan. Moan. Moan. Oh yeah. Right there. Moan. Moan.
I tried to stay there that night because I was still buzzed and it was three in the morning. Even with all the effort I put into sleeping, I got up at four and drove home. I had to do it in the darkness of Seinfeld’s neurotic version of night with windows triple covered to block light and even the alarm clock stashed in a bedside table to avoid the invasive glare of digital numbers. I dressed by the light of his VCR’s clock. When I got home, I realized I had one sock and my underwear on inside out.
With that mistake, my number rounded off to an even five. More importantly, I finally learned my lesson. Two halves may make a whole but it's inevitaby a whole lot of nothing, even if you long ago stopped counting numbers.
Thursday, December 15, 2005
Jake treated me to a Sandra Bernhard, Broadway production in 1998. For ninety minutes straight, I laughed to the point of tears. She is brash, honest and unapologetic. What is not to love? In the years since, I’d randomly plug her name into Ticketmaster searches hoping to catch a performance but always came up empty handed. That is until a month ago.
As soon as I learned that Sandra Bernhard was on tour and hitting a Philadelphia venue, I dropped everything I was doing. There was no time to waste if I was going to secure tickets. But when I went to the venue’s website to check out a seating chart, I couldn’t find Sandra Bernhard listed. Anywhere. I reread the calendar and in the super fine print finally found her name. She was an opening act for Cyndi Lauper. Not sure what to expect or whether I’d ever find someone willing to see the performance, I clicked away and bought two tickets. Worst case scenario, I’d bribe a friend.
December of 1984 marked perhaps one of the best Hanukkahs of all time. Much better than 1982 when I received a hardback book of Greek Myths and a new dictionary. My mom took my frown as a cue and redeemed herself in 1984. I not only tore open a box to reveal my very first Swatch, an unreadable but super hip timepiece, but I also received my very own copy of Cyndi Lauper’s breakout cassette, She's So Unusual. I strapped on my Swatch and disappeared to my bedroom to listen to Girls Just Wanna Have Fun over and over.
In my Esprit wardrobe and black jelly bracelets, the kind also sported by such fashionistas as Madonna and Rick Schroeder (aka, The Ricker), I couldn’t directly relate to Ms. Lauper but her music was pure genius. You just wanted to get up and dance around the room. Maybe the orange hair and blue bustier were extreme attempts at being different but I welcomed Cyndi-with-a-Y into my life with open arms.
Over the years, I purchased additional Lauper releases. If I saw her on Letterman warbling a recent hit, I’d add it to my to-buy list and snag a copy the next time I ended up wandering the music aisles of the local Best Buy. I liked what I heard but never thought twice about actually taking in a live performance.
Last night, I settled in next to Hope at the Keswick theatre. The crowd was an odd bunch, ranging in age and attire. The woman next to me was more masculine than my last boyfriend and was sporting a scent that was one part cat pee, one part cigarette smoke, one part patchouli and one part disinfectant. I relayed this observation to Hope and then asked if she wanted to switch seats. Surprisingly, she said no.
Sandra Bernhard was nowhere near as spectacular as her polished Broadway performance but I laughed enough to justify the ticket. Then Cyndi Lauper took the floor. Her petite frame topped with bleached blonde hair bounced across the stage as she belted out the lyrics. By the third song, she was shoeless and hanging out in the aisles. Her energy was contagious. Even the Mary two rows up was excitedly flailing his arms about during She Bop. For the grand finale, the crowd was treated to a roaring rendition of Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. Hope and I got to our feet, danced away in the square foot of space provided and sang along just like I had many years before in my pink bedroom. We knocked hips, sang to each other and giggled our way to the last note. I’ve already decided that I’ll never miss another Cyndi Lauper show. And based on Hope’s response, I have a permanent partner in She Bop crime.
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
It was Christmas day of 1995 and my parents had accepted an invitation to head over to another family’s house for dinner. It was a celebration for the two dads, Jewish men somehow blessed or perhaps cursed with December 25th birthdays.
I wasn’t all that excited about the pending feast. The other family had one son, D, who always looked disheveled and homeless and one daughter, B, who was exactly one year behind me at GFS. She was quirky, quiet and more than just a little left of center. We didn’t spend much time together even though we’d known each other since diapers. The three things about B that I remember most vividly are being jealous of her Barbie townhouse, jointly singing off key along to Paul Simon’s Me and Julio Down By The Schoolyard when she gave me a ride home one school day, and sitting across from the now shell of her that Christmas dinner. It was the last time I ever saw B.
In 1994, cowardly thugs robbed an exceptionally gifted Penn graduate student. Mo had all of five dollars to offer and he didn’t fight the aggressive advances from unknowns. The attackers beat the defenseless student for no real reason other than that they could. They retreated when a cop car neared and then returned to shoot him, the bullet passing through both his lung and heart. He died instantly. Mo was B’s fiancé and her one and only love.
It sounds so cliché but when Mo died, B did as well. Shortly after his death, the once quirky and artsy girl I knew retreated into a sadness I’d never seen before. The only thing that got her from sunrise to sunrise was the need she felt to be present at the criminal trial of the captured killers. She sat front row and center day in and day out.
I followed along but always felt awkward in her presence. She was fragile, though apparently strong enough to withstand an “accidental” backwards fall off the second story balcony at her parent’s home. Family and friends rallied and tried to find a silver lining. It’s near impossible to twist an unnecessary death into a positive. Trust me, I tried.
A few weeks after that Christmas birthday dinner, I got word that B killed herself. There were a few versions of what exactly happened but the one I heard more than once is the one I am sticking with. She drove over to an empty parking lot late in the night and shot herself in her heart. I knew her well enough to know that this tragic mimicking of her lover’s death was probably more truth than fiction.
After the funeral, the mom gave me some of B’s jewelry. She wanted me to have something to remember her by. I kept it all in a small, white, nondescript, cardboard, jewelry box and stashed it in my dresser. In all honesty, the hammered silver bracelet and earrings with little pearls are pretty and totally in the style of B but elicit no memories. In fact, I can’t recall ever seeing her wearing any of it. But every time I hear Paul Simon’s Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard, I am taken back to her smiling face and tone deaf singing. It is that melody that I remember B by, even almost ten years after her death.
Thursday, December 08, 2005
I have no idea what it’s like to be the older sibling. It’s just me and Leslie and she came first by five years. In life, you’re always taught to strive to be number one but I think being the first born pretty much sucks. Leslie may or may not agree but I wouldn’t trade second place for anything.
The first child is always subjected to intense parental involvement. Rules are tighter. I can vividly recall pulling on my shoes, crawling into the front seat of my mom’s faux, wood paneled, station wagon and going over to some random house. Leslie had told my mom that she was going to a friend’s but conveniently left out the part about no parents being home. Why I was invited to go along on the bust is beyond me but it was so much fun turning to Leslie on the trip back home and saying, “you are in so much trouble.”
My senior year of high school, I went to a party a classmate was having. I even identified my destination to my mom when I headed out the door. She told me to have a good time and went back to reviewing the latest issue of Architectural Digest. By eleven o’clock, I gave up and made my way home. My mom asked what I was doing back so early. She even went so far as to suggest I get back in my car and return to the party. When I told her everyone was drunk, high or both, she accused me of being judgmental and suggested I be more open minded. Leslie was punished for drinking coca-cola at an un-chaperoned party, meanwhile I was being pushed to experiment with narcotics.
I’m not sure what kind of curfew Leslie was subjected to but I do know that it was nowhere near as liberal as my nonexistent curfew. Not once was I told to be home by X time or else. I’d head out the door announcing an expected return and that was that. A friend, also the second child of two, and I went to a dance club for ages 16 and up out in King of Prussia. When we left, we erroneously reversed my dad’s directions used to find the club and eventually arrived in Delaware. At 2AM, we pulled over at a Wilmington Wawa and called each of our parents to let them know we had gotten lost and were on our way. In our attempt to be responsible children, we were both surprised to find that our parents were sound asleep right up until answering our calls. Other than a “drive safe” warning, nothing else was ever said.
It makes sense that a parent would be overly protective of a first born. It took me forty-eight hours before I was confident enough to hold Anders as a newborn. All of my babysitting history meant nothing in the present. What if I didn’t burp him enough and he projectile spit all over his Petit Bateau onsie and the Ralph Lauren leather sofa? Worse yet, what if I over burped him and his head fell off? Then came Olivia. the first time I officially met Olivia, I immediately picked her up and barely put her back down right up until leaving for the airport. When her head bobbed, I let out a playful “oopsy” instead of a scared crapless “oh shit” followed with a silent prayer to God that I hadn’t permanently done damage. I guess there’s no changing human nature.
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
When I turned thirty, I officially accepted the fact that I might never find a special someone to marry and maybe even share in the joys of picking up after children and shedless dogs. It wasn’t a bitter conclusion. Life was good. I enjoyed spending time with friends. But more importantly, I really started to enjoy the selfish existence of singleness.
The middle of the bed is ideal for a restful sleep and you can’t be in the middle of the bed when you've invited someone to lie down next to you. I also prefer my boring ivory but soft as butter sheets tucked in bounce-that-quarter-high tight. There is a method to my bed linen madness, right up to the length of flat sheet left untucked on the right side for ease of entry and exit. It works perfectly for me, party of one.
There's something liberating about never closing the bathroom door, an act that is always acceptable when solo. You don’t suffer from a sense of confinement when you can easily peer out into the hallway. You also don't suffer from steamy shower induced head rushes. I prefer the open door policy when it comes to the bathroom.
Every morning, I get out of the shower, slip into intimates, toss my hair up in a towel turban, crawl onto the sofa with freshly lotioned limbs and flip between Soledad, Diane and Katie. My moisturizer gets absorbed and the clutter in my mind momentarily subsides. Some people start the day with coffee. I start mine with a turban and remote control.
Then I met Todd. It wasn’t supposed to be a relationship of note. The first thought that crossed my mind as he appeared from around a corner flailing an arm hello was that I could easily bench press him. I prefer to date men who wear jeans I can fit into, something that isn't all that challenging to meet. That date turned out to be my longest one ever. It lasted just under twelve hours in a lackluster city (Baltimore) on a cold and snowy Saturday. Unexpectedly having a boyfriend meant making some changes.
I immediately and begrudgingly forfeited not only the middle of the bed but almost 80% of the mattress surface area. Todd was a snuggler. I spent the better part of the nighttime hanging out on the farthest edge of the bed escaping his clutches. It took a few months to adjust to bumping up against someone else in the middle of the night and, more importantly, not being pissed off about it. Eventually, curling to the edge of the bed felt more normal than odd. Sometimes I even lingered in his arms.
Though bodily functions are merely human nature, I’ve never been comfortable with the men in my life fully aware of them. I quickly adjusted the bathroom door habit. I also made Todd turn on the TV really loudly and prayed the imaginary force field around the doorway would keep him out. Either it worked or he let me believe it did. My actions soon became habit and I started closing the door even when no one else was around.
As for my morning turban ritual, some habits die hard. Todd never understood why I needed to rest after taking a shower, an act that should in and of itself be relaxing to begin with. I tried to explain it a few times but gave up. Every so often, he’d do an exaggerated impersonation of me resulting in an uncontrollable fit of laughter.
Getting back to single life was an adjustment. I’ve finally migrated back to the center of the bed and I once again pee with the bathroom door open. And while I’ve enjoyed returning to old, selfish behaviors, I now know better than I did before. I’d rather tweak them a little for the sake of being able to stretch my leg out in the morning and brush it up against the warm skin of a man next to me. I’m still comfortable with the idea of being solo. The difference is that now I understand better that it’s more fun to be part of a team, edge of the untucked bed and all.
Thursday, December 01, 2005
“Blinded by the light. Wrapped up like a douche, another runner in the night.”
“Everyone knows that the word isn’t douche. The word is deuce,” my friend corrected.
Let me get something straight. I will never sing that lyric with the word deuce. First off, it isn’t nearly as fun to sing. Secondly, deuce makes no more sense than douche. How exactly does something get wrapped up like a deuce? Anyone out there who can define deuce as it pertains to this tune wins a drink on me.
There are so many songs out there that have indecipherable lyrics. Sometimes the problem is simply not being able to understand the words as they’re drawn out across three notes and butting up against a piano, guitar and drum set.
Leslie and I grew up on the disco tunes of the Bee Gees. Our parents even took disco lessons, though that experience backfired. My dad complimented a woman from our synagogue on her husband’s moves and she had no idea what he was talking about. Turns out the guy was doing a little dance and making a little love with another woman.
The Bee Gees have been singing soprano for decades now. But it wasn’t until a year ago that I learned the correct lyrics to one of my favorite songs. Leslie and I were singing along and suddenly we were singing different words to the same refrain. I paused and suddenly realized that she had it right and I had it way wrong. Unlike the douche song, adjusting the words just a little bit to Love You Inside and Out took a confusing sentence and made it not only coherent but borderline romantic.
The one songwriter who makes beautiful music that I never ever can understand, either while playing it aloud or while reading the actual lyric booklet, is Tori Amos. I’ve always thought that girl was an odd bird. I’m just too unsettled watching her glare into the camera as she writhes across the piano bench while practically sucking on the microphone. Nonetheless, I will never turn off A Sorta Fairytale. Same goes for Taxi Ride andSleeps with Butterflies. I listen to those songs and for once in my life can relate to those people in the world who are moved by opera. I can’t understand a friggin word but I’m still paralyzed by the delicate sounds brushing past my ears.
Whether it’s Tori Amos up on the 101, Maurice Gibb staying alive or Manfred Mann being blinded by the light, I’m singing along. In my car. Loudly. Even with the windows down and sunroof open. And I’m sticking to the lyrics that work best, according to me.