No, not the Pierce Brosnan & Julianne Moore movie. You’ve heard it before in period pieces, “Around the mysteries of the female psyche lies a veil which is best left undisturbed.” Man, have I seen Little Women one time too many. Well lean in, I’m going to let you in on a secret, way better than even Victoria’s. I’m whispering so pay attention as the veil lifts. Pheromones are bullshite. Upon learning about them, I was first in line at the cosmetic counter. You can buy perfume laced with pheromones; natural chemical scents the body produces to attract the opposite seex. I was ready and eager to attract a man, panting like Linus when he sees his leash. Thanks to Linus, really, the marketing spin on pheromones has been exposed to me. See, Linus is a disaster bean of a dog. I love him to death, but he’s quite, ahem, boisterous. So, upon a landlord threat of vacating my “too loud” dog and me out of our upper west side apartment, I did what any mother would do. I ran to the pet store and pleaded with the saleswoman, “Please, give me anything to calm him down and make him stop barking.” Drugs, shocks, sprays… just don’t make me give up my apartment (for which I’ve spent too long picking out the perfect shades of paint). She handed me a box mid-sentence. In it contained a plug-in air freshener. “No, see, you’ve got it quite wrong. He doesn’t smell. He’s too LOUD.” I say raising my voice. I need to calm down now too. She shakes her head, and points to the words on the box “Calming Pheromones.” I assume you know by now; the plug-in was superfluous. What a hoax. It didn’t calm him down, not even for a second. But it did get me to thinking, is there anything at all to this pheromone business? I mean, dogs smell one another’s asses, get right up in there and inhale a mass of pheromones. There’s a lesson in there for attracting a mate… it’s too gross to not have a lesson it. Sure, the padded bra, garters, and drum-tight pants help. But you might as well go for it. Dab some vagina behind your ears. Spread it around on any of your pressure points. Forget the vanilla and pumpkin pie scent. Who wants to smell of licorice? You want seex, smell like it. Just don’t do it around your dog.
You’ve got to wear black; I can do that. You’ve got to show up on time; okay, now you’re asking a lot. Though I can always get ready in that I-want-a-girl-that-doesn’t-take-forever-to-get-ready kinda way. Well, sorta. “Dinner in the Dark” at Suba on a Tuesday night enticed me like peacokc feathers. For $90, I got a 5-course meal, unlimited wine, and a glass of champagne with my dessert…and I couldn’t see any of it. In a well-lit lounge, I sat pecking away at my Sauvignon Blanc with my friend Chris until a voice sliced through the mingling with instructions. I was led to the windowless room downstairs (just after pleading with the host not to sit me beside the man who was hitting on me at the bar). Your eyes do not adjust. A phantom hand guides you to your seat, helping you feel where your water and wine glasses are. The wait staff wears night vision goggles. Oh yes, they really do. You can’t see anything. How wonderfully mysterious and delicious. I loved it. Since I was a food critic for 4 years, I knew everything I was eating right down to the thyme. Roasted peppers, crepes, truffled potatoes, puff pastry, all scooped into my mouth with my hands. Doesn’t everything taste better in the dark, with your hands? I should eat this way more often. See what Chris had to say about the night >>
“How are ya dare?” He asks thick as he raises his beer. “I’m good, and you?” Up until now it’s polite. “Fine. Fine.” He shakes his head. He has a thick scar beneath his lips. “You’re Irish, huh?” I ask while trying to get the bartender’s attention. “Das right.” “So you’ve got foreskin then, huh?” “Goodness gracious, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Where’d a gerl like you get a mouth like dat?” He has put his beer down and now sucks foam off his cleanly shaven lip, as if he’s savoring food from a moustache. “Oh so I’m right den huh pops?” I do my best to mimic his accent. “Who da hell you callin’ pops. And I’ll ave you know, you don’t sound like an Irish. Stick to that redhead chicky voice of yers.” “So, you’re uncircumsized then huh?” “I’m natural. Das what I am, dearie.” He shakes his head affirmative, as if he’s convincing himself of something. “Yeah, girls don’t really know what to do with all that excess. It gets in the way ya know.” “Jesus, gerl, you know I could show ya. ” Now he’s looking at me. “I’m not a daft cow ya know. I’m just tellin’ ya.” I’m back to mimicking; accents are too contagious. “I mean, if we’re jerkin’ ya off, do we push it all down or bring it along fer the ride? Nevermind when we go down on ya. That’s just bloody hell.” My accent has turned from Irish to British. “Some mouth on you. I’ve got the mind to take a bar of soap on ya.” “You know, you’re right. I think I do smell.” I hurry off to the ladies room to smell my pits. I know he wasn’t insinuating that I smelled. (Whenever someone mentions washing a mouth out with soap, I think The Christmas Story and poor Ralphy sitting with Ivory soap as a tongue.) My pits were powder fresh. But something was wrong; it was my shoulder. Someone smelly must have leaned against me and spilled their onion drippings. I was not a roast. Thankfully, I’m always armed with an atomizer of Creed’s Fleur de The Rose Bulgarie (my signature scent). Though, maybe my nose was playing tricks. I needed backup. Upon returning from the bathroom, I ask the Irishman to smell me. “What kinda crazy gotten inta ya gerl.” “Oh come on smell my shoulder; I’m fcuking jumpy aren’t I?” “Jumpy?” “Yeah, jumpy. That’s right.” He cautiously leans in for a sniff. “Yeah, gerl you’re somethin’ ripe.” “Fuck, I knew it.” I spray the perfume on my shoulder. “For fcuk’s sake gerl, you’re gettin’ it in me pint.” His hand flutters then rests atop his Guinness glass. “Well some friend you are, not telling me I stink.” “Doesn’t bother me ya know. I’ve got thick skin, remember?” Touché.
I’ve already had chicken soup for breakfast. Now I need an iced grande skim caramel macchiato to get me through the rest of the day. Of course, I’m not allowed to have either on my nazi diet, but it’s a weekday, so it doesn’t really count. It might be gray outside; but I haven’t left, or showered, or done anything besides heat the soup. My neck hurts from writing all day. Last night I went to The Bitter End because I could. It’s one of the reasons you move to Manhattan: to go to Bitchy Bingo night at Lips or the oldschool kind at Tortilla Flats, Trivia Nights at The Slipper Room, Board Game Night at Sugar, Movieoke at The Den, and the Poetry Slam at The Nuyorican Poets Cafe. Freshman year of college was the last time I ventured to Bleeker Street, where they didn’t care about your I.D. And now, ten years later, I’m back on Bleeker, at The Bitter End fighting for a table with a view. Common Rotation hopped on stage, nerdy and buzzing with the energy of yeast. They did a lot of head bopping. I soon learned their fan base originated from Buffy The Vampire Slayer. I don’t think I need to say much more about the bopping. Jim Bianco began to sing next; he was Robert De Niro in a hat. I didn’t recognize him. I was actually checking out his clothes, thinking would I ever date a guy who wore striped brown pants with two shirts and a hat, and then I heard his name. Wait; I know him. Jimmy Bianco sang Run Around Sue at our middle school variety show; all the girls of Willets Road School swooned. Brother to Dana Bianco, friend of Hillary Cohen (one of my best friends since fourth grade), Jimmy recognized me. “Hey you went to my high school” He says smiling into the microphone. I shake my head affirmative. “Did we ever..?” I shake my head no, laughing. And that got me thinking about Zack Cohen, Hillary’s brother, who was on the original “Average Joe.” And no, I didn’t have seex with him either. Zack and Jimmy were buddies, and as I watched Jim Bianco up there, I was having a hard time finding a difference between him and Zack. In my mind, those two were best friends who finish one another’s sentences, and I forget which memory belongs to whom. When I went to Hillary’s to “play” which involved calling boys, I remember Zack trying to wrestle us. Wrestling is still foreplay. Unless of course you’re thinking WWF. It’s nice running into people who knew you when, even though you were coming into your own, you were probably more YOU than you are now. Overall, Nostalgia Lane has some nice divots, despite the few bitter endings.
My first year of college, I took a course titled, “The Fantastic in Literature” not realizing what fantastic contextually meant. I thought great; fantastic reads, thinking John Irving, David Sedaris, Mona Simpson. Sounds brilliant. Smart. Giddyup. The course, of course, was not fantasticterrific, but comprised of stories with ghosts, spirits, and a host of make believe. Pixie dust. Okay, I’ll concede to science fiction, and you all know by now, I’m not a science fiction girl. I mean, I might like strategy games, but I’m definitely not into deadly moon fungus from lunar ice caves. The class focused on fantastic representations of the body, from the ornate and corpulent to the laconic and anorexic. When I wrote a paper titled Trenchcoat Weather, I focused on fact rather than the fantastic found in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. When you’ve nothing nice to say (even about a book), you restrict your remarks to the weather. And so I did. Most of us think of Frankenstein and think green pallor and bolts, stiff arms of a sleepwalker, a spooky wedding of sorts. Maybe for a second, Gene Wilder. So when I read the book, and learned Frankenstein was a doctor, well, you might as well tell me Dracula isn’t a vampire. In my essay, I contend Dr. Frankenstein’s perception of the natural elements in the novel, is at its essence a creative one, for he manages to steer these conceptions around himself; Frankenstein believes that the elements are there to reflect his emotions. This noble war in the sky elevated my spirits; I clasped my hands and exclaimed aloud, “William, dear angel! This is thy funeral, this thy dirge!” As I said these words, I perceived in the gloom a figure which stole from behind a clump of trees near me; I stood fixed, gazing intently; I could not be mistaken (Mary Shelley). Dr. Frankenstein assumes the natural elements react to the particulars of his every day life. He even goes as far as to declare aloud, while looking up to the heavens, that his brother’s funeral is taking place through the natural elements’ participation in a “noble war.” Well you know what? I’m right there with the guy. Maybe it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, but some days, I believe the weather is what is to commiserate with me. I don’t follow the weather, watch it on the ones, or even open my window when choosing my wardrobe, so I’m usually inappropriately dressed. Toting a camera in the rain, heels in the snow, a ski jacket on an unusually warm one. Best is when it’s freezing out, but the apartment heat is unbearable. Enter the miniskirt in sleet scenario. The sun wrinkles me; the clouds take a piss on my head. But like my feelings, thankfully, the weather is temperamental.
From Bliss to The Baggot Inn. It sounds like a seexual position, but really it was my Thursday night. Began the evening at Bliss so I could hang with Brian, Mike, Matt and my long lost Gary. Gary and I no longer work together, but we’ll always work together. I love that guy. Then, I headed down to The Baggot in a big way. Everything about The Baggot Inn was a downer. Even to think about it now, I get a pit in my stomach. I went to hear Tony strum his pain with his finger. I wasn’t anticipating getting the finger. But I think we made up. Geez, why do men get offended when women say all men are assholes. I mean, duh. (Please, no comments about how you’re not all assholes. I’m not in the mood.) God, I love the acoustic guitar. Once I pay my taxes, and finish all my photographs, and publish the novel, and get around to the blank canvases lining my apartment, I’m going to take up acoustic guitar. Because girls can rock out too; I just don’t like the idea of calluses. I don’t know if I ever felt as alone as I did last night. I didn’t get what I wanted. At least I got to sleep with Linus, even if he did have gas.
The spice of life is bullshite. It’s an excuse for men to spread their seed, and for women to be treated to the best restaurants 6 nights a week. Because even god took a day of rest, probably to get her nails done. The variety pack had to be invented by a man. Why elect only one cereal, no matter how good it is? Variety packs are for cowards. And we’ve all been cowards, or maybe some of us haven’t really found our favorite cereal yet. Sometimes though, you worry you’re missing something real and deep because you haven’t compromised and learned to make someone else happy. You haven’t discovered responsible, accountable, and loyal within yourself. Would you be reckless with someone else’s heart? So you stay in the wrong relationship because at least it’s practice. Training wheels. I’ve been in love with ideas, games, and conversations. Then you grow up and make practical safe choices, like a white button-down and A-line-skirt, because you have a closet full of nothing to wear with the tags still on. Everything is compromise; there is no perfect. I mean, we all have baggage, it’s about finding matching luggage. So you find it waiting for you on life’s big conveyor belt. It suits you. Now you have someone safe under your arm. They meet your needs, up until a point—the point will come later. See, they bring you matzoh ball soup, and buy you new toilet paper (the good kind) before you knew you were running low. And they offer you their French fries because they think your diet sucks. They find your to-do list, and do some for you, even the tampons. You can talk about anything; and even better, you really trust them. They love you 100% for you, even your bitten nails and cellulite. They don’t care about your crowd, your salary, your diction, or your rack. Okay, they care about your rack, but they walk your dog and whisper I love you right before you’re really asleep. And they’re smart and witty, charming, and good. The kind of good we all want, the safe kind. They won’t hurt you; you’ve found your soft place to fall. Now you’ve got everything that should make you ecstatic… but you’re soul is restless. Something’s missing; it should feel messier. Even entertaining the idea of someone new should feel wrong. But you do it, repeatedly, especially when things are good and easy. It’s human nature to take things for granted: our health and especially people. But you always hold your own cell phone, and you tuck business cards in your back pocket just incase. There’s something more out there. You remember that something when you recall the beginnings of things. Spring fever. There’s banter and fierce eye contact; you remember how they touched you. You bite your lower lip more. My god, you’re onto something. Your favorite colors are brighter. Well snap out of it. It’s not any indication of what’s right for you; it’s familiarity. That excitement and thrill is usually just you caught up in you, doing what you do best… Drama Majer. It’s pathologic; it explains your habits. But it feels good and exciting, so it has to be right. Except the last time you felt this it was all wrong. How do you know when to trust your inner compass? When is a spark really just a synapse? And bullshite, happiness is digital; you can flip a switch. It’s all a journey, and the torment is part of it all, and it’s all delicious. And it drips and sticks like honey. Love is a fcuking mess. But you learn, and you teach yourself to love with napkins and handiwipes because that’s what grown ups do.
Museum and zoo dates are daunting; there’s too much to judge. At the museum, if he’s too slow, or wants headphones, or even worse, wants to visit the ancient musical instrument room, I’m going to be annoyed before the date even begins. The affected furled brow and nod, the sawhorse analysis stance: all signs point to no. But I like you, so now there’s pressure to be interesting. I’ll put on my glasses. I don’t care how it was made or its political implications, its breakthrough in a movement. I just want to look at it and see if there’s a story, or better yet, maybe I just want to ignore it. I can’t stand people who can’t ignore art. They use maps and make double knots. Relax. My favorite painting in the MET is by Joan Mitchell; see, even the art I like sounds like chick rock. Too many judgments. I told you. Then there’s the pressure of the zoo because if you like the reptiles or birds and I like the monkeys and sea lions, I’m already thinking about destiny and how, sorry, bird man, you can’t be mine. Good dates involve fondue or an acoustic guitar. I might just fall in love. It’s my weakness, like cleavage and thigh highs do it for men. Afternoon dates rival evenings. They consist of walks. In the fall, you’re outside the MET; the slanted glass wall is your backdrop. It smells wet and of roasted nuts and hope; you hear things in the leaves. You see leashes and couples and it has just rained so the bark is darker, and the leaves are glowing orange. You’re in a movie outside yourself, and it’s hard to forget these moments—even how the sidewalk was that day—but you do. Evenings should be jeans intimate. Our conversation feels like we’re kids looking for insects under rocks, grass stained, then building a fort from sheets and blankets, using lamps as anchors. Our conversations would feel like we’ve known each other since then. Definitely fondue, a fireplace, and jeans. Mittens when we arrive, holding hands when we leave. But in the summer, white wine or red sangria somewhere sandy, where we can wear flip-flops and be exhausted and laugh and tell funny stories. Then just stare. Raw bar. Oysters and Riesling. Piano music. I wish Manhattan had real piano bars where people sing along and crumple dollar bills into cokctail napkins then throw them at the pianist, the song request scribbled on the napkin. Finger painting. Moroccan food, sitting Indian style on square pillows, in a private room incase we get sloppy and need to make out. A boat ride. A double-decker. We’d be tourists in Manhattan, and take pictures and begin to speak with European accents because everyone on the bus does. I would get an I LOVE NYC postcard and mail it to you. We’d eat steak and drink wine, and I’d eat too much creamed spinach, but we’d listen to Sinatra, and then we’d dance, right there on the sidewalk, drunk with possibilities, and you’d lead, and dip me, and I’d remember our night as a standard. We’d have one appetizer between the two of us at several restaurants we always wanted to try. We’d restaurant hop our way through Manhattan, and I’d take matches from each place when you weren’t looking, and I’d remember everything. You’d feed me French fries, and we’d eat mussels and drink too much wine, we’d have chocolate soufflé, and you’d let me eat the strawberry garnish. We’d walk to Brooklyn, and then eat pizza, maybe the ice cream. You’d take me to see a band, and then we’d eat ribs and lick and smell our fingers all night. You’d get me drunk and blast Karma Police, on repeat, until I came. I’d be in charge of always buying our ice cream, so if we broke up, Mr. Softee would make you cry, and the pangs of the song would kill your cravings. You’d invite me to be your date for a work function. And you’d be proud and suddenly a little more brilliant and quick. Everyone would laugh a little more and pat your shoulder. And when no one was looking, I’d wipe something from the corner of your mouth, staring up at you. Then I’d mouth, “I love you sloppy.” but no sound would come out, just a smile. We’d hold hands. You’d teach me something new, and I’d think you’re brilliant. You’d become the seexy teacher who knows everything, as if he’s speaking with a British accent, and who is as captivating as a story. And then we’d have seex, and I’d be powerful again. You’d be back in a small wooden chair with a small desk, looking up at me now, in the same…
Everything about the sneak preview of “13 going on 30” was just that—sneaky. It was raining, and I looked too fabulous to stand in it, so I cut the line. Like, duh. Michelle was running on filippina time—gorgeous, but late. So, Smelly and I had to procure a seat for her since the admittance process to the screening was hardcore. Yellow passes collected, green tickets administered. Very grade school. We covertly smuggled in the Philippine goods: enter Michelle. The girls laugh at my suggestion of tissues. “Oh no, not me, I’m way too tough for that crap.” “God you really think we’ll need tissues for this? I mean, it’s Sony not Hallmark.” Yeah, whatever, I got some tissues. In the land of Scratch & Sniff, “13 going on 30” is definitely watermelon. It’s about that boy, the chubby nice one who was just a friend despite all his romantic attempts. He’s the one who, now, when men don’t call or stay out later than promised, you think of fondly as you hug your pillow. Through “13 going on 30” ran a thread of regret; it was pink and satin and perfect. Regret isn’t always a catalyst for change. The movie’s theme was more about growing up and learning to fix your mistakes, rather than stewing in the what ifs and what could’ve beens of regret. As I watched it, I wondered when it would be released on DVD. I had to own it. Now. “13 going on 30” will make you crave cookies and milk, crawling into your parents’ bed, sleepover parties, and watermelon gum. It goes beyond #44 lipgloss, E.G. Smith socks, rubber bracelets, Z. Cavaricci pants, and lace leggings with Keds. The movie is a fuzzy polka dotted heart, which reminds you of the long nights spent wishing you were older. Upon watching it now, you’ll long for roller-skating dates, gobstoppers, Punky Brewster & Silver Spoons, Garbage Pail Kids, florescent tops, rhinestone denim jackets, and young sweet love. The kind where holding hands and kissing was a really big deal—and it makes you realize it still should be. Tissues, you ask. Like, oh my God, duh!
Before even asking her name, men in the Mandarin Oriental New York Hotel MObar talk about living on 5th Avenue, but only between excursions. “See, I love the warmth.” He means between her thighs; she thinks South Beach. He writes big ideas on napkins, communicating in squares, pushing clever paper like plastic pieces in a Cracker Jack box game. You’ve got your heart on your sleeve; he’s got his initials. Well, it’s rare to find real in a New York where the wine is $14 a glass, the lighting is scarce, and all the boys are necked out in Hermes… and occasionally Zegna. But only if he’s in a suit because Zegna neckties are all about the suit. But you knew that. Okay, no you didn’t. When another man approaches Ms. Wow-I-love-your-watch-what-exactly-do-you-do-for-a-living, Mr. Hermes Monogram man rises to the challenge like foam. “May I offer you both a drink?” He looks into his eyes; it feels like war. So she has a boyfriend, but please, every attractive woman in this city is attached. Boyfriends are not deterrents; they’re accessories.
I had to keep checking the foil packet to recount the remaining pills. With all this crying, I was certain it had to be PMS. I’m in a theatre filled with women, weekend relief dads, and gobs of girls. Third grade girls, chomping popcorn despite their orthodontists, show one another their new sneakers, kicking their feet in anticipation of “Jersey Girl.” Girls with small earrings, thin long hair swept into ponytails, sit on their booster seats squealing. Before the movie begins, I ask the eight year old beside me to please watch my things as I run to the ladies room. “Oh sure. No prob.” No prob from an eight year old at a PG-13 film. I return with tissues, a necessity for a chick flick of this magnitude. The music twinkles, the light dims, everyone shushes everyone else. A quarter of the way through “Jersey Girl” I had to share my tissues with little miss no prob. Why do all women crowd theatres for mediocre linear movies? Why bother with the god-you-already-know-exactly-what’s-going-to-happen flicks? Lean in, I’m going to tell you. The strory arc of “Jersey Girl” isn’t surprising; how much it touched me was. See, women cry because we can relate to what’s going on, or more likely because we desperately want to. We want those lives where eyes lock and acoustic music replaces all doubts. He gives the girl that look, the one every girl wants someone to have just for her, like a name. And when we see it on screen, we hold our breaths a little. Anything evoking a memory you thought was only special to you, but then you realize, wow, it was special to him too. Enter the tears. He noticed. He remembered. Then they start in with the music. It’s not about what’s happening on screen; it’s about what we want in our own lives. It’s our heart up there. Jersey Girl will make you cry, in the way you want. View the trailer >> Now, I can’t wait for Raising Helen, 13 going on 30, Mean Girls and Laws of Attraction to make me cry some more.
I’ve been weeping during movies, even the previews, and I can’t go anywhere near Central Park. Pregnant ladies, fathers pushing strollers, a little girl with a balloon tied wrist, families huddle on picnic blankets, a boy tests training wheels. Friends jog and gossip. New lovers lick each other in violet shadows beneath ancient trees. This weather makes me feel alone. Where’s the rain? Everything living runs from the rain… I wish it would. I would stand drenched and smile into clouds. I’m wearing lament, buttoned it on like a shirt. I’m not sad; ironically, maybe that’s why I’m crying. It makes me feel alive. Though, I’ll tell ya this, my face can’t take the saline. If you cry, laugh, and think every day you’re doing something right. I heard that once, and I really believe it. Call me drama. Go ahead. I know. Yes, I worry my life isn’t charting the right course. I worry I talk too much, or I’m too confident, or too self-doubting. I worry about contradicting myself, about being messy and unsure. I fear I won’t make my dreams happen, that I won’t have the courage, or the strength. I worry I am going to die alone. Then the tears stain everything, leaving rings, like the insides of ancient trees.