On: Target

29 June, 2010

My office is on a prime block in Chelsea, just around the corner from the City’s first – and now positively humbled – Whole Foods. As such, the sidewalks below are often dotted with eager young folks, each sporting a colorful t-shirt bearing the name of some universally sympathetic charity (saving animals, feeding children, restoring the planet, and the like), preying on those city dwellers who clearly embrace some notion of Bleeding-Heart-ism, as evident by their willingness to pay for overpriced organic groceries. Thus, my daily jaunts in and out of the office – on my way in, lunch break, Diet Coke break, on my way home – are marked by a game of Sidewalk Chicken, where not only must I avoid the chatty, smiling good-doers-for-an-hourly-wage-+commission, but I also must dodge my fellow pedestrians, engaged in the same game.

Last week, I noticed that among the young men and women making a difference with their name-tags and clipboards, there stood a positively adorable gentleman, with longish, wavy brown hair, a chiclet white smile, something of an Abercrombie-model physique, and – well – he was simply very attractive.

Must deny impulse to take a second glance, or – horrors! – to smile, lest I be sucked in to his charitable scheme.

As I rode the elevator up to my office a few minutes later, I contemplated the blog I would write about my clear conflict: how to resist this most wonderful specimen for the sake and preservation of my practically non-existant wallet? (I should clarify that my policies on charity are:  a) I will give to the charities I choose to, on my own time, and b) I will give to those charities once I no longer have to work 2 jobs to make ends meet.)  As I became wrapped up in the variety of work-related and non-work related tasks on my plate, the would-be blog entry fell to the wayside.

Over the next few days, however, in my comings and goings, I kept an eye out not just for any colorful t-shirt and clipboard, but for the one attached to the hottie volunteer.  Of course, I had every intention on ignoring him the way I ignore all of them, but just seeing him, I thought, might make my day a little brighter.

Last night, I left my office in the usual rush in order to make it to class at 6:00pm (hooray for a cross-town bus!  boo for it’s reliability!)  As I walked, I kept my sunglasses (otherwise known as Invisibility Specs) firmly planted on my face, looked burdened by my many heavy bags (not really an act), and ramped up my general hustle to prove that I was short on time.  The sidewalk along Seventh Avenue was surprisingly scarce for an early evening, and so I saw him from down the block – this time, wearing a navy blue t-shirt, khaki cargo shorts, I’m sure a leather and/or hemp bracelet and/or necklace, with a leucite clipboard wedged into his left fist.  A broad smile spread across his face; he crouched down a bit and began a funny little dance (which would have looked plumb ridiculous had anyone else done it; but when he did, it seemed charming and cute).  Surely, there was someone walking behind me who had engaged him.  I kept my abstractly-bemused-decidedly-non-curmudgeon smile in place and waited for him to address Phantom Pedestrian Behind Me.

But he didn’t.  His smile – an orthodontist’s wet dream – was for me.

I think I blushed.

He turned to follow my path and jovially asked “Hey, do you have a minute for …?”

I had to cut him off. “I’m sorry, I’m running late for class.”  I smiled widely, but kept walking, to prove my point.

He reached his arm out, towards my shoulder, then pulled me closer to him…

…to keep me from walking into the woman in a motorized wheelchair who was exiting Whole Foods.

Whoops.

“What class?” he asked, as he lifted his hand, going in for a low-five.

I smiled to overcome being so flustered at the near-wheelchair-toppling and held out my palm.  “Typography,” I replied.

He brought his hand down.  Low-five, indeed.

“A graphic designer!” he exclaimed, as he squeezed my hand.

“Trying to be.”  Another attempt to widen my smile.

My turn to squeeze his hand.  “Next time,” I said.

“Next time,” he repeated, as we let go.  “You promise?”

“I promise.”

I glanced over my shoulder; saw my path was free from motorized wheelchairs and the like, and threw one more smile over my shoulder towards him as I skipped down the block.  I held the smile, in case he could somehow see, in case he called me back, as I breezed down to 23rd Street.  My cheeks felt hot, but I blamed the summer sun.

…   …   …   …   …   …

Now, of course, I am still faced with a dilemma:  I have promised to engage, rather than politely (or impolitely) ignore him the next time I pass.   But I still have no interest in donating money to whatever cause he may be hawking that day. What to do?  What if one of his Volunteer Colleagues approaches me before he has a chance?  Can I still wear my No-Charity-On-The-Street scowl for his peers?

I won’t avoid him, won’t blow him off next time.   I feel, if nothing else, I owe him for helping me avoid tripping over the old and infirm woman in the wheelchair.  I’ll give him a minute of my time, but not a dime of my money.   Which is more valuable to him in the end?, I pose to you.  Even if I just get a few minutes alone with that smile, I’d consider it charity for me.

Besides, I could get a hell of a movie deal out of it if he asks for a date.

*

Advertisements

Summer Reading

8 June, 2010

What literary trends are filling the minds of young women in New York?   As recently seen clutched in the hands of City denizens, there’s more to the library than “Twilight” and Dragon Tattoos…

  • On the subway this past weekend, a woman walked on reading a paperback of “Homo Thugs.”  At last!  I’ve finally found someone who’s just starting the series… I’ve seen two people reading “Homo Thugs II” in the past few months, and was disappointed that I had never seen the original.  My fellow subway rider was seemingly engrossed in the rather thick book, so I could only sneak surreptitious glances at the awkward cover image.
    • As I wrote the above bit, I decided to Google “Homo Thugs II” to see if there was a subtitle that I was missing, something along the lines of “Homo Thugs II: Thugz in Tha Citay” or, of course, “Homo Thugs II: Electric Boogaloo.”  While I found no such subtitle, I did come across a mind-bending definition of the phrase, courtesy of UrbanDictionary:  “Homo Thug:  someone who is both gay and a thug.”  Wonderful.  Just in case you didn’t know what “homo” meant.  This is why the masses should not be responsible for research material.
      • In performing my Google search, a gotta-love-’em Google “smart” banner ad popped up along side my search results:

        My prayers have been answered.

        My prayers have been answered.

      • I’m forced to wonder if stipulating “Gay Homo” implies something of a double-negative, and thus would those just be straight thugs (although I know they’re not)… or is it more of an exponential concept, wherein a Gay Homo is doubly Gay, as compared to either just “gay” or just “homo.”  Perhaps this ad is for people who have not read the Urban Dictionary definition, and do not know that homo (in this context, of course) actually ‘means’ gay.
        • Sorry to disappoint, but no, I did not click on the link, for fear of what would come up while I’m at work.  But please… feel free.  Godspeed, Gay Homo Thugs.
  • While walking back to my office today after my customary Diet Coke Break (found a crappy bodega selling it at $1.25 for a 20 oz. bottle in Chelsea!  Hallelujah!), I passed a woman clutching a book, and tried to glimpse the title.  I saw the first part of the title “Why Men Love…” but couldn’t make out the rest.  I quickened my pace to try to figure out what pearls of wisdom this woman was learning about the gender from Mars.  While the first three words of the title were written in a black serif font (very Times New Roman), the following word was obscured by her hand, but I could see was done in what looked like a fairly standard (read = ugly) handwriting font, in bright red.  I made out a “t” in the center of the word, and what looked like an “h.”  The word ended in an “s.”  Yes!  I had figured it out.  Of course.

    They have mommy-issues?

    What I really wanted to know was:  was this avid reader trying to figure out why men didn’t love her (assuming she is not a bitch), or learning how to be a bitch, so that she can find a man to love her?   Was she a Doormat or a Dreamgirl?

    • Needless to remind you, dear readers, that I have a whole host of issues with this book, based on, for starters, the ridiculous cover design and subtitle.  And that’s before I get started on the content.  (… of which I do not know, but I don’t have to stretch my imagination too far to figure out.)  Seems to me like this should just be combined into one Mega-Volume of Bullshit and Idiocy entitled: “He’s Just Not That Into You, You Crazy Bitch.”  Or perhaps it’d be more accurate as “He’s Just Not That Into You Because You’re Not A Bitch.”
    • I wonder if there’s an equivalent volume out there for men, called “Why Some Crazy Ladies Love Jackasses… and why that still doesn’t make it OK for you to act like one.”
    • I think the same advice goes for either gender and any number of orientations and preferences:  You attract more flies with honey than vinegar.  And while we can argue about the desirability of attracting flies, at least you’ve attracted something.  Yes, I know that Nice Guys (and Gals) tend to Finish Last.  But that, to me, seems hardly like an excuse to act like a Jerk in hopes of Finishing First.
      • Revision:  I take that back.  Yes, go act like a Jerk.  The Jerks and “Bitches” can partner up right away, thus making it infinitely easier for us Nice Gals and Guys to find one another, resting in the safety that the Vinegar-types are off the market.
    • Back to the book:  I do hope the young woman who was reading it finds what she’s looking for.  I just highly doubt that she’ll find it in such a tome.  And if that doesn’t work out…

I suppose it just makes a stronger case for becoming a Homo Thug.

*

On A New York Memory

2 June, 2010

Wherein I recall a vintage New York soundscape.

Growing up in Central Jersey in the 80s, we lived in the plush suburban periphery of New York City. As the product of two very New York parents (themselves the result of Brooklyn, Queens, Brooklyn and Brooklyn parentage), New York’s cultural legacy runs rich in my blood, but as a girl, my cognitive awareness of the city was fueled by what I saw on TV – the Nightly News more than Night Court.  In my mind, the Center of the Universe was a blend of the stories from the news of drugs, rape, murder, homelessness and filth and Adventures in Babysitting, which only mirrored what I believed the entire city to be.

My family maintained a fairly regular tradition of a monthly dinner in Chinatown, and these journeys were eagerly anticipated – not only for the promise of scallion pancakes and cold noodles with sesame sauce, but for the excitement of spending a few precious (and delicious) hours in the city.

I’ve always had a good memory, and have held on to so many moments from those New York Outings.  I remember the magic of the Lincoln Tunnel, anxiously awaiting the tiled indicator between “New Jersey” and “New York,” and the moment when my parents would, technically, be in New York and my sister and I in the backseat would still be in New Jersey.  I remember the looks on my parents’ faces as we circled Mott Street searching for a parking space – my father would always turn down the radio to help him concentrate.  I remember bouncing up and down on my father’s shoulders as we walked towards the restaurant where our friends would be waiting for us, downtown feeling gritty as could be but often bathed in a warm, orange sunset.  I remember shying away from the headless roasted chickens hanging in steamy windows, the intoxicating smell of a hundred restaurants drowning in brown garlic sauce, and the oil that would cling to my fingers as I greedily devoured scallion pancake after scallion pancake.  (My appetite was as healthy as my memory.)

I have two distinct sound memories from these nights; two, that is, not including the laughter of our party’s conversation and banter.  One is awfully specific – we passed an honest-to-goodness New York rocker (or so I thought), walking down the street with a boom-box balanced on his shoulder.  He wore a denim jacket that was no doubt stone and/or acid washed, and I believe he was wearing sunglasses, despite the late hour and darkness.  This moment may have been my very first validation of coolness as (present-day Me is not so proud to admit this, but I remember how excited 6-year-old Me was) his boom-box was playing the first and only cassette tape that my sister and I owned/shared: Starship’s “Knee Deep in the Hoopla” (not that we knew it was called that), and it was blasting the second ‘best’ song on the album: “Sara.”  I tripped over my words as I interrupted any and all conversations our group was having at that moment to brag that we had that song too!  And to think – we heard it in New York City.

But now – on to what inspired this blog post, on to what it’s really about.  There was one other sound that I associated with growing up and Koch’s New York City; music that was as far as you could get from Blondie or The Ramones, or, gratefully, Starship.

It was the slow, soulful wail of a saxophone, moaning long into the New York City night.

To be perfectly honest, I’m not completely sure if this memory truly mine, or if, too, belongs to the movies and television shows of my youth.  Was not every low-angle shot of a desolate and dirty midtown street accompanied by the wail of a lonesome sax?  Surely.  But somewhere in the recesses of my long and twisted recollection lies the soundtrack to those evenings in New York City as a child, and that soundtrack consists of a low cacophony of languages underscoring the whoosh of cars and far away sirens.  The prominent sound, though, was that of the saxophone, which felt to me like a cry out to the lost souls I imagined roamed the city, uniting the disparate and displaced, the wayward and the worried, those who were still awake it hear it’s howl.

All of this was easily delegated to the corners of my mind, stowed away in my memory with the smell of my grandparent’s old house and the feel of bunnysleepers against my young skin.

Until this afternoon.

This afternoon, I left my office in search of liquid salvation, that sweet ambrosia called Diet Coke.  I walked outside and squinted against the bright June sun and breathed in the warm, heavy air.  Then I heard it – as out of place as a 25 year old memory, yet just as desperate: the whine of a solo saxophone, played by a man who seemed just retro as the tune he played.  In a white tank top tucked into red shorts, a long ponytail pulled at the base of head and a pair of cheap sunglasses wrapped around his head, this man played notes from that long-ago score as few passersby dropped spare change into a neon green case propped up on the sidewalk.

Instantly, I was forced to reconcile present-day awareness – a bustling Chelsea block, the middle of my lackluster workday – with this sound that came straight out of the 80s, out of the place in my brain that lives next to “We Built This City,” and out of nights filled with General Tso’s chicken and Häagen-Dazs.  I circled the block, taking in the fresh if thick air, and the saxophone’s notes followed me, linking my tedious day with an ancient memory of carefree nights.  It was so  glaringly incongruous, yet no one else seemed moved by this, the sound that was as vintage as the high-waisted jeans that have unfortunately come back in fashion.

Once back in my office, through the half-assed windows that let in the winter draft, the sax wafted in, although muted, and filled my afternoon with a strange nostalgia, for a far-away part of my childhood, resurrected by the sound of a New York that I never really knew.

It’d be hypocritical for me to say that look down on all subway eating.  I’ve been known to enjoy a granola bar or banana in transit every now and then (wrappers and peels, of course, come with me until I find a trash can).

But the recent offenses that I’ve witnessed lately are entirely inexcusable.

Exhibit A:   A curvaceous woman eating – nay – sucking on BBQ chicken wings.  With dipping sauce.  Her D-cup boobs dangled out of a one-piece jumpsuit halter-top meant for Bs at the very most.  The smell was overwhelmingly nauseating.  There is one place for the smell of BBQ wings, and that is at a bar.  A mile underground on a closed subway car is absolutely inappropriate.  And the slurping suckle as she ingested every last ounce of flesh and sauce from the bone is not a sound that will soon be forgotten, most tragically.

Exhibit B:  Subway cars are subway cars.  Nail salons are nail salons.  Just as you would never enter a manicurist’s hoping it would take you to Coney Island, similarly, you should never enter a subway with the intent of trimming your nails.  This is the most heinous of subway offenses, the one punishable, if you ask me, by public flogging at least.  I’ve found that the East Broadway crowd on the F train is the most common perpetrator, if you know what I mean (lest this blog be considered ethnically insensitive).  Nails on a chalk-board is as tranquil as waves on a beach compared to the blood-curdling CLIP CLIP CLIP of these deranged riders.  At least twice, I’ve had to move myself to the other end of a subway car, or switch cars altogether, to avoid losing my lunch due to the horrendous noise.

Exhibit C:  The loud and foul-mouthed butch who sat next to me on the subway yesterday, sucking the sunflower seeds dry before spit-spit-spitting them out – ptooey! ptooey! – onto the floor of the subway car.  If she were a big fat Israeli man, and we were in Tel Aviv, I would have less of a case, since I would obviously be the only person not sucking and spitting sunflower seeds.  But we were on the A train, and her sunflower discards were coming awfully close to my sandaled feet.  And – again – the noise, the horrible noise!  Sucking through her teeth when she wasn’t busy cursing the fact that she would have to walk to her destination if she chose to smoke a cigarette.  She put an unlit cigarette into her mouth before the train pulled into the station; but that didn’t stop her from pulling those godforsaken sunflower seeds out of her hoodie pocket and popping them in, then popping them out.   I got home and needed to shower.

If I were Dante,  chicken-wing slut would share a cirlce of hell with the a-holes that endlessly clip their nails on the subway.  In this level of hell, the nail-clippers would all have chicken claws, no opposable thumbs to operate a nail-trimming device, and the walking Hooters would be trapped in an over-sized t-shirt, forced to munch on nail-clippings, with nary a pot of dipping sauce in sight.  All of this would take place under a shower of sunflower seed shells, being eternally spat out by the sunflower seed bandit, who would be drowning in a pool of BBQ dipping sauce and cigarette smoke.

If only…

A few weeks ago, a regular customer at the bakery, more distracted than usual, asked me if I agreed that there is something seriously messed up with the New York dating scene.  Indeed, I agreed, wholeheartedly.  He inquired further – what irked me most about it?  Eeeek.  Where to start?  I immediately spewed out words and sentence fragments that I hoped began to communicate my feelings – “Casual” “Too picky” “Not picky enough.”  “Emotionally unavailable” “Expectations” “Too many people” “No one worthwhile” “Double standards” “He never even asked for my number!” “$*&@^÷¡*(@)!!!!!!!”

I mused on the topic for weeks, until a frustrating blip of an incident last week brought the true number one answer of that question to light:  These days, there is absolutely no precedence for closure.

No matter if the relationship lasts for one night or four months, not only do we covet that strange, innocuous zone of “seeing each other,” (which is singles-speak for “not serious enough that we ever have to discuss what we’re doing together”), but we also rely on the safety of the widespread societal acceptance that when we want things to end, we’ll just disappear and hope the other party gets the hint.  There is no explanation, no faux-apology, no “it’s not you, it’s me” – it’s just a slow death of a flame that had barely grown up from a spark.

I’ll be the first one to admit that – as early as 7th grade and as recently as six months ago – I’ve been guilty of occasionally avoiding closure at any and all costs.  By ending something, we’re forced to address that there was something there to end, and, sometimes, it’s just easier to instead treat our indiscretions as bygones… In fact, it may just be simpler to rename this part of dating “The Ellipsis Phase,” as it’s only a fragment of a relationship that ends without any definitive punctuation.

More often than not, The Ellipsis Phase can only be defined as such once it’s lost beyond repair.  Prior to that, if we’re on the losing side, we hold out hope that what’s a ‘casual relationship’ now actually may turn into something more significant, something more real. Then… nothing.  Then… the slow realization that although the story has seemingly ended, the book is filled with endless blank pages, waiting and waiting and waiting for The End which will never come.

I like to tell myself that this is some kind of Urban Devolution – that the dating game used to be more respectable, even One Night Stands bore more integrity than they do now.  But earlier this week, I watched the movie “John and Mary,” a film from 1969 starring Dustin Hoffman and Mia Farrow, as strangers who spend the day after their one night stand together.  Back then, it was touted as “Not Your Mother’s Love Story!…,” a scandalous must-see.  In 2009, I watched it with a nostalgic eye, envious of the days when a relationship with real, live feelings could actually evolve from a casual encounter.  (Not that I have proof this ever happened – but between the movie and my own romantic imagination, I like to think it did, once…)  In the film, the pair is headed for the wishy-washy “let’s pretend this never happened” fate that often befalls random one-night encounters, but (spoiler alert!) neither party is content to let their oh-so-short-lived relationship fizzle out.  But it’s the frantic, panicked racing through the streets of New York that Dustin Hoffman’s character John goes through, regretting that he let Mia’s character walk out the door without so much as getting her name, that tells me, here on my couch today, that for decades, men and women have been driven to such frustration because we’re practically conditioned to let these indiscretions fall by the wayside without a second thought.

More difficult than pinpointing this lack of closure as a problematic issue is trying to figure out why it happens, why we allow it to happen, and any possible solutions.  Is it cowardice that keeps us from talking to one another?  Is it shame?  Or is it some twisted form of kindness, wherein we fool ourselves that rather than risk hurting the other person’s feelings, we’ll just let this thing run its course… Of course, that’s just our own veiled fear that it sucks to break it to someone “thanks, but no thanks,” and so we return to ‘cowardice.’  We hide behind that ellipsis, as the relationship trails off into love story never-never-land; banished into romantic purgatory.

I’ve often wondered if there is some kind of karmic balance to the number of times I’ve noncommittally left the door to a relationship open, hoping it will disappear and waste away sooner rather than later versus the number of times I’ve been left, frustrated, wondering “Why, why, what the hell happened there?!  I thought things were going great!” versus then the number of times I’ve sighed with relief that, clearly, neither of us were that willing to put forth the effort to keep the fledgling ‘relationship’ alive.  We are each capable of hurting someone to the same degree that we’ve been hurt, but this seemingly wide-spread acceptance of “who needs closure?” manages to take the sting out of hurting someone else while pouring some nice kosher salt on the wound caused by the disinterested party.

I’d love to bring closure to this entry to embarking on some kind of campaign to make communication acceptable again, to take the stigma out of conversation.  Realistically, though, the best I can hope for is that I’ll be more mindful of whoever I’m trying to let down “easy,” and maybe even go so far as to tell them the truth (gasp!) and end things properly.  And perhaps in cosmic return, there will be men out there who will let me close, once and for all, the stories and chapters of Them + Me.  Or, maybe, there will be  that one story that does not close, but, rather than ending in a hurt and confused …? grows into a profound and lovely !

The Lullaby of Brooklyn

20 April, 2009

“You wanna be a man, yeah, you doin’ a real good job, muthafuckah.”

To my friends who live beyond the five boroughs, Brooklyn is a dangerous place to live, the fodder of nightly news items, Spike Lee’s early films, the Beastie Boys and Crown Heights Riots.  To me, and to most of my friends who live within New York City, my tree-lined Brooklyn block is homey and quiet, as brownstones link arms with brownstones and Italian families with overdone religious paraphernalia in their gardens mix with recent down-to-earth, relatively new imports like me.  My neighborhood bears the character of it’s old school Mafia heritage while boasting the charm of a village within a city.

Enter The Drama: my next-door neighbor, who’s suspicious activities and dealings in angry piece-meal Spanglish intimate that perhaps its not just the Italians who control shady business around here.  Oh, how my poor neighbor longs to be Mafioso! From his backyard (which backs on my kitchen), I hear him spitting out covert instructions in his hybrid language; I know he rarely leaves the house; I hear his dogs howling from within on a daily basis; I see his wife, constantly taking long, sad walks while avoiding eye contact; I hear his son? tenant? daughter’s boyfriend? who lives in his basement thump god-awful music that reverberates through the concrete walls that we share. Sometimes, it seems as though my neighbor goes to greater lengths to make sure everyone around here knows that he’s up to no go, rather than to hide whatever likely-illegal activity he’s participating in.

Last night was no exception to this, as, for the second time in about a year, an expletive-laden, explosive argument burst through his front door and out into the garden at about 3:00 am.  Who he was fighting with I do not know, but given the threats that came spewing from his lips (and the silence of his opponent), I can only guess it was someone who had ‘deeply’ wronged him.  My sleep was delayed further by the banging of garbage cans, the smashing of bottles to be yielded as weapons, more f-bombs than The Sopranos ever cared to use, and threats that “if you don’t get your goddamn face out of my fucking sight, I’m gonna call the fucking cops and you’re gonna be a fucking deadman.”

I was afraid to open my curtains and get a visual on the live show taking place not 20 feet away from where I sleep.  Even after the victim of my neighbor’s wrath had surely fled into the night, said neighbor continued pacing and grumbling in his front  yard.  My favorite moment was when he called the cops (not very Mafia, I know) and reported, in a faux-gentility that The Simpsons‘ Fat Tony would be proud of, that the ‘perpetrator’ had absconded with some trivial piece of personal property and, therefore, should be hunted down, drawn and quartered.

I relaxed into slumber knowing that surely it’s not the last time an altercation like this is bound to happen, but at least tonight’s drama had ended without a bodybag, and with nary a police siren’s flashing lights in sight.

“F” stands for …

25 March, 2009

Brooklyn’s beloved old F Train means a lot of things to a lot of people.   For several years, while I was living at the 15th Street/Prospect Park stop, near Bartel Pritchard Square (which is really a circle), “F” stood for “FUCKING F TRAIN!!!” commonly overheard – and grumbled – as I would walk home 6 blocks and 2 avenues whenever the train felt like running local, which was fairly often.

My subsequent move to Carroll Gardens and, I believe, a ramped up effort on the part of the Metropoloitan Transit Authority, led me to have a kinder opinion of the dear old F train, which, like a friend you’ve known too long to fight with, holds a sentimental and almost-warm place in my heart.

Imagine the overwhelming mess of feelings, then, when, last night, a brand-spankin’ shiny new F train came rolling in to the Carroll Street station, it’s red LCD “F” shining like a beacon into the age of modernity.  The yellow fluorescent lights of yesterday’s F train was replaced by the white/blue glow of technology, complimented by a multicolored LCD map of where we are going and how long it will take us to get there.  Our derrières took in the smooth gray plastic seats.  The lack of screeching wheels was nearly deafening. Sensory overload.  New F train, I thought.  I feel like I do not know you at all.

Today, though, I can’t shake the old adage of If it ain’t broke… out of my head, despite all of my angry head-shaking.  The timing of the MTA this morning to vote for an absolutely obscene fare-hike, arriving as early as June 1, couldn’t be more insulting.

Like a pusher to a new junkie, a bully to a weakling, a boss to an underling:

“You liked that new train, didn’t you,” the MTA barks to F train riders.  “It made you feel comfortable, informed, safe and secure, didn’t it?”

“Well…” we hesitantly mutter, huddled masses in nervous unison.

“You were riding the train of the future; who wouldn’t like that?”

“I didn’t really mind the old -“

“HUSH!” the MTA growls.  “The future comes at a PRICE.  You must PAY for the LUXURY of an LCD display.  Those doors don’t close by themselves, you know.”

“BUT THERE WAS NOTHING WRONG WITH THE OLD F TRAIN!” we courageously shout.  “Sure the colors were outmoded and the ride was noisy.  But what of scratched, graffitied windows?  The yellow and orange seats held our tushes securely in place everytime the train pitched forward or back, the yellowed, dirtied lights brought a strange comfort once you got used to them.  The garbled conductor’s announcements provided challenges and required keen observation skills.  AND WE LOVED IT FOR WHAT IT WAS!  Your new trains and your fare-hike won’t get rid of the raspy-voiced electric guitarist who only appears on the days you have a headache, nor will it make the journey up from the center of the earth at 63rd & Lexington any more bearable.”

“I DEMAND $2.50 JUST FOR THE MENTION OF MY BEAUTIFUL LEXINGTON AVENUE STATION!” is all the MTA can reply.

“IF WE HAD ENOUGH MONEY TO STOMACH YOUR FARE-HIKES, MTA, WE WOULD TAKE AN F’ING CAB!!!” the angry horde hurls back.

‘F’ may now stand for new-Fangled and Fancy, but MTA means only one thing:

Making Transportation an Abomination*.

Spring is coming; I got a bicycle and two good legs.  Boycotts don’t get sweeter than the feel of wind through your helmet and a strong body ready to kick ass.

* = other “one things” that MTA could stand for include  Making Transit unAffordable.  Messing up Trains At any cost.  Any other acronym ideas?  Please comment!

What was so wrong with the old F trains?
What was so wrong with the old F trains?

vs.

The New F Train Glides Into the Station - my camera phone tries to keep up.
The New F Train Glides Into the Station – my camera phone tries to keep up.

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…

CUT TO:

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.

CUT TO:

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…