Beards. Enough.

28 February, 2009

Guys with beards.  I’m over them.

Not the guys themselves, necessarily, but the trend of young guys sporting mildly ironic beards has got to stop.  There’s just too many of them, lurking, around every corner, waiting to confuse me, torment me, and just generally annoy me.

Please.   Shave.  It’s enough already.  Genug shayne.


Brooklyn Follies (I)

22 February, 2009

Three brandy-new reasons why j’adore living in the best borough:


Local bar.  Two girls, new to the neighborhood, were drinking in my area-advice like freshmen worship a senior.  As I receive a good-bye kiss from the bartender, which invokes wonder and amazement from the freshmen girls, I notice a couple that sits down next to us at the bar.  They’re an attractive couple, but hardly noteworthy otherwise, save for the fact that I dug her earrings.


It’s Valentine’s Day, and I’m riding my bike down Smith Street, when I notice a girl walking at a brisk, but tired pace.  She catches my eye – I dig her earrings.  That’s it!  She’s the girl from the couple at the bar last night.  She’s frowning, dressed in the same clothes as last night, although perhaps her hair is more disheveled.  There she is – doing the walk of shame down Smith Street.  She carries her shame like an enormous umbrella.  She avoids eye contact with anyone, which is a shame, because I would have profoundly enjoyed waving and smiling “Hello.”  I love Brooklyn.

I arrive at Trader Joe’s at noon on a Saturday.   The store is fully stocked and there is no line.  I love Brooklyn.


I’m schmoozing at another bar with a small handful of regulars, including a teamster who actually defines the word “Teamster.”  His longish hair is disheveled, his fingers stubby, you can watch the beers he drinks and drinks work their way directly to his belly, and he bemoans the long hours he works as he excitedely tell you about blowing stuff up on a set for a living.  This night, it’s late, perhaps even he’s had one beer too many.  He starts to nod off at the bar, his head bobbing up and down like a confused pigeon.  The bartender finally wakes him and encourages him to go home.  Instead, the teamster goes outside to smoke – cigarette or joint? – and he returns to the bar a few minutes later to order another drink.  Really?, we all ask, including Nic the bartender, who actually vocalizes these concerns.  Dude, you just fell asleep, here, at the bar.   Teamster apologizes:

Sorry for falling into the arms of Orpheus.


Can’t a guy get a second wind?

Later, a girl dances on the bar to the beat of some other drum.

I love Brooklyn.

Every now and then, we receive a welcome reminder of how far we’ve come.  I crave these reminders. I delight in them.

A rather delectable one came last Friday, when, thanks to a friend’s friend, I scored front-row seats to three-count-’em-three fashion shows at New York’s Fashion Week.  I dolled myself up (in über-Vintage handmade by my great-grandmother decades ago, still completely hip, and tall black boots, impossibly hot) and trotted over to Bryant Park, where my Fashion Show virginity cherry was painlessly popped at the Nicole Miller show.  That was followed by two ridiculously strong free fashion show cocktails (on an empty stomach, natch – no food allowed at Fashion Week).  I then drunkenly enjoyed two more shows, placing the clothes I saw into two categories “Would Look Good On Me” and “Pass.”  Somewhere in between show two and three, I had a flashback to myself, age 13, where I wore the same jeans and (gasp) black body suit every…single…day.  (I was convinced that by varying the blazers and vests I wore over them, I would fool everyone.  I now know the opposite was true.)

Oh, I mused, how far I’ve come.

Far from the days of jeans and body suits, far from the days of eyeing cute boys from afar, far from the days of attracting only the 7th grade weirdos…


Later that night; the neighborhood bar I was visiting for the sake of showing off my polished glamor of the evening to the bartender and largely random crowd.  The evening was going well, almost according to plan.  Then approaches: the weirdo.  His look is oddly reminiscent of the 7th grade weirdos of yesteryear.

He starts matter-of-factly, his Bensonhurst, Brooklyn accent dripping off his tongue, with the line “You gotta good face.”

And it gets better from there.  In the three times that he approached me that night, he asked me three times if I was single (my answers ranged from “not really” to “no” to “not at all”), asked me my age three times (and told me his, 27, which I knew from the first time he introduced himself), told me that he’s a good kisser, but more importantly, a good boyfriend, that he has a kid in Jersey City “about a  year and half or so” and invited me more than once to come hang out with him at the local creepy bar.   He told me I was ‘adorable,’ then accused me of blushing at the compliment.  Unfortunately, his blushing-accusation seemed equally as rehearsed as his “you’re adorable” line, and that made it doubly-less-likely that I actually was blushing.  I looked to the aforementioned bartender for verification on the blushing front.  In the dimly-lit bar, he squinted and determined “Maybe a little, but not really, for you.”  Oh, the sneaky lad!

Later, the bartender and I decided that being told that you “gotta good face” is one of the best things one might be lucky enough to hear – if it comes from the right person.  Sadly, our drunk, repetitive friend was no such person.  If the eyebrow ring didn’t do it, maybe the kid he kinda forgot about did.  Or the bad breath. Or the fear that he might follow me home.


Saturday night.  Valentine’s Day.  After a dinner party with single friends and copious – nay, obnoxious – amounts of wine, a friend takes me with her to the fancy chi-chi cocktail bar du saîson, where she (nice and intoxicated) pushes her way through a crowd of three guys, eager to get in and drop too much money on girls who don’t give a shit about them.  Once inside, I take in the dark room, carved out in a sort of nouveau medieval stone with bottles of colored glass lining the tall shelves behind the bar, at which bartenders regularly ignite various libations on fire – for effect? for taste?  for the spectacle of it?  The place is packed, magically, with only two people.  The Guy and The Girl.

The Guy: his meticulously kept neatly-messy hair, his sports coat, his collared shirt, his last visit to the gym struggling to show on his face.  His smirk.  The awkward martini glass balancing in his sweaty grip, his mental note to ask for it in a “short” glass next time, because he doesn’t know to call it a rocks glass.  His fashionable watch may be the sexiest thing about him, but it certainly doesn’t work to distinguish him.

And The Girl: her hair straightened to a Barbie-esque flatness; it is unnatural and unforgiving and does its best to maintain that straight line all the way down her body, with the obvious exception at her chest, which she modestly displays.  Her leather clutch is tucked firmly under an armpit, her mouth is drawn in a firm line as she sizes up her identically outfitted competition in the room.  She shuffles in her heels and tight skirt, her eyes dart, waiting to find someone to smile at.  Her martini glass also rests on her sticky fist, the $15 pink liquid inside potent enough to get her to the point of oblivion she hopes to arrive at.

I take in the various incarnations of The Guy and The Girl around me.  My short brown bob is tied back in a vintage, leopard print scarf (courtesy of my companion), which lets my bangs hang mysteriously down past my eyes.  I’m wearing a purple sweater with pink fur trim, underneath which is a black tube top with embroidered flowers and a pink bow.  I wear a designer faux-fur skirt in bright pink, black fishnets and black knee-length boots.  On my lips is my signature crimson, accented with a pink shimmer to better compliment the outfit.

And before I fully realize that I’m surrounded by all the people I used to envy but never once actually wanted to be, I pass a Guy (distinguishable by his light-colored sports coat) who, without stopping, looks me in the eye and says “You look like a million bucks.”

Oh, I laugh, infinitely pleased. I laugh to myself, to The Guy and The Girl, to the weirdos from Bensonhurst and the bartender.    How far I’ve come…

The Syndicate

18 February, 2009

In 1995, an awkward fifteen-year-old sits at a long, white cafeteria table in an anonymous New Jersey high school.  On blue recycled notebook paper, she writes a letter to a friend who lives about five towns away; in these days before email or cell phones, the letter is really just an exaggerated note, written over the course of many periods and lunches. The letter says nothing of substance, merely updates on stupid assignments and irritating peers.  It speaks of the days when high school will be over and done with, although the skepticism that that day will ever arrive is obvious.  It gushes with musings on the older boy that they both know and dream of dating, whatever that means.  The letter radiates the hope that better times are to  come.

A boy approaches her.  He, too, is awkward, but confident enough to talk to her – they are friends, but he does not hide the fact that he wishes her to be more.  She reminds him of the fact that he has a girlfriend; he shrugs it off as a formality.  He is amused by her non-flirtatious flirtatiousness.  The fact that she has no idea how much she charms him only heightens his crush.  He smiles and seats himself next to her and takes a look at letter she’s written, laden with doodles and fancy lettering.  He takes the paper and her pen.  In the top margin of the page, he writes:

“Please help.  Mandy’s life is playing like a TV sitcom, and we’re in fear of syndication.”

The letter was never mailed, it remains in a box somewhere in my old room in parents’ house.  The words, written by a boy who  later claimed I broke his heart, and whom I have not seen nor heard from since high school graduation, have resonated with me for all these years, yet only recently did I really begin to understand how they might apply; not to my mundane, teenager’s-life of 1995, but of my life now, as a single woman in her late 20’s, living the dream in Brooklyn, trying to enjoy the ups and downs of the inherent drama of this life, all while keeping Nielsen and his ratings goons at bay.  It’s not easy.  But if I can keep the stories entertaining and maintain a cohesive and intriguing narrative, maybe, just maybe, we’ll keep ourselves off basic cable for one more season.