Why I love the gym

I was feeling blue and out-of-sorts these past days.  I know that a work-out, even a short one, lifts my mood, so I made sure to pack the necessaries and dash there right after work.

I saw SOB (sister of blogger) there, which is always a treat.

So, there we are — SOB is reading and I am sweating on elliptical machines next to each other.  Very companionable but not necessarily chatty.  I see SOB wipe her face with a towel, but she is just seeing if I am paying attention. SOB does the least she can do at the gym and therefore not enough to work up anything resembling perspiration.

A man comes up to our machines and starts sniffing.  I think, uh oh, there’s a blog entry coming. . . .

I am watching him and I start to sniff, too.  Does someone or something stink?  Do I stink?  He starts talking to me.  OF COURSE, he starts talking to me, because of the S-shaped magnet (S for schmuck) embedded in my forehead that always draws these people to me.

He says that he is allergic to perfume and is relieved that we don’t wear perfume.  In fact, he says, he could tell before he came over because we didn’t look like people who would wear perfume.  I think, is that good or bad?  Is that a compliment or a swipe?  Do SOB and I look too low-maintenance to wear perfume?  Do we look like we don’t take care of our appearance?  Could it be our effortlessly dorky gym attire?

Then the Sniffer tells me that there are men in the locker room who put on cologne before working out.  He believes they read some propaganda about how our natural odors are not good for us.  Now, he is talking crazy talk but I think he is trying to strike up an acquaintance.   Oy.

In deference to SOB, I do not encourage further conversation because he could have been scary crazy (rather than slightly off and socially incompetent) and I want to protect my sister.  Had I been alone, I would have NEEDED to probe more deeply to make a diagnosis.

I have a feeling there will be other opportunities at the gym to talk to the Sniffer.

Reading the fine print

POB (partner of blogger) and I have barely enough time in a day to do anything for us — you all know the drill.  It is a typical day in the life of two working parents.  So we buy everything we can online, at the craziest hours.  POB needed sports bra and I needed underwear.  So, we bought the necessaries on http://www.jockey.com.

All was good.  We received the package with a lovely envelope . . .

that opened to reveal a discount certificate:

But it also revealed that our underwear was packet with extra care by Bob:

EEEEEEEEEEwwwwww.  Bob packed our underwear with EXTRA CARE?  Somethings you just don’t need to know.

Orlando — Mundo Bizarro

I was in Orlando, FL, for a month these last few days.  It felt like the End of Days.

First, swarms of insects that are called “Love Bugs”.  Why? Because they are always in pairs, attached at their rear ends.  Ok, I need to ask that again, but the answer is weird.  Why?


I don’t know why insects attached at their butts would be called Love Bugs.  Maybe, “Push Me Pull You” after the Dr. Seuss creature.  Or, Fred and Ginger, since one of the insects does everything the other one does, only backwards (but probably not in heels).

The Love Bugs SWARMED-the-place-it-was-so-gross.  And they looked wasp-like and menacing even though they apparently don’t bite.  There was no place to sit without swatting away battalions of them.

Here is another crazy thing.  Adults are dressed head-to-toe in Disney wear.  Even the Mickey Mouse ears.  Middle-aged people walking around with those things on, even though their own children are not.  I guess if you are at the Disney attractions, a person (not I, because I am the living, breathing Grinch) could get caught up into it.  But we were in a hotel conference center that was not near the Disney attractions.  Still, I saw Mouseketeers of every age.

I can’t show a picture of the Mouseketeers wearing their Mouseket-ears, but imagine Annette Funicello but not cute, pretty or young.

I am sooooo happy to be home.

Sunday night dinner chez nous

Further reinforcing my hypothesis that older people progressively allocate more time to traveling and invariably arrive early, our fathers came for 6pm dinner at 4:30pm, which coincides with the time-honored “early bird” hour.  Which makes one wonder whether restaurateurs named, rather than caused, the phenomenon.

I don’t know about other Jewish families, but the first dinner after the Yom Kippur holy day involves comparing Yiskor books (books of remembrance for those who have died) and book plate honors (having someone’s name put in a prayerbook) from the various synagogues to which various members attend.  It is a morbid combination of “Bingo”, “Wheel of [Mis]Fortune” and “Celebrity Match-ups”.  I like to think of it as “Did You Remember to Name that Dead Person?

My dad was upset that he forgot to list POB’s (partner of blogger’s) mom (z”l).  I said, “Don’t worry.  You’ll remember next year, Dad.  We had her covered.”

I mentioned that we also covered several uncles and cousins and he mentioned a few we forgot and also the grandparents.  Oooooh.  Darn!!!  Missed that!  Harumph. We need to have a huge list for next year, even if the dollars pile up (wait, you thought it was free?).

But we had a book plate put in a prayerbook for Dad’s 90th birthday.  SCORE!!!  (POB is sooooo awesome.)

POB’s father and our son were watching the football games.  The other Jews shrugged and then started to talk about concussions and debilitating diseases, as a way of showing interest in the football game.

Then SOB (sister of blogger) wanted to take out the old family pictures so we can mount them on poster board for my Dad’s birthday party.  We all got a little teary-eyed about how young and vibrant everyone looked and how most are now gone.

So, to recap:  we have talked about death, destruction and death again.  Just what Jews need to work up an appetite.

POB made a delicious dinner, over which we discussed the importance of building that Islamic Cultural Center right where they planned it and argued about the meaning of life, chaos theory and the mysteries of the universe.  It got rather heated when we were contrasting a Jewish, G-d-centric approach that assumes that actions have meaning and can cause change versus the view that most of what we do doesn’t amount to a hill of beans.  I ventured that, while I am not so sure that I believe the former, if I in fact believed the latter, then what’s the point and POB should just get my life insurance.  At that point, POB’s father then asked, “how much?” in a very oddly interested tone.  My brother-in-law (the bird nerd from other entries), quietly advised me not to go anywhere alone with my father-in-law.  All this while I was choking over the salad course.

Dessert brought calm to the table as we talked about the Million Moderate March on October 30th and exhorted our TV-challenged relatives to tune into Jon Stewart on the web.  (I could not speak to Stephen Colbert, because I remember him when he was really a right wing-nut at Dartmouth.)

So, death, destruction, death, religion & chaos, politics and comedy.  Another excellent family dinner with the extended family.

Our day today

POB (partner of blogger) had a great idea this morning — go to Governor’s Island for a picnic.  Governor’s Island is a decommissioned military base island in New York harbor (right next to Ellis Island and Liberty Island) that has been turned into a park and fairground.  It is an easy subway ride followed by a ferry ride.  Ok, “easy” refers only to the directness of the route.  When on the subway or in line for the ferry, a person is subject to the sea of surrounding humanity and their insipid conversations.  (For the record, our (i.e., this blogger community) conversations are never insipid — too revealing? Maybe. But insipid? Never.)

First, there was a more-unsteady-than-elderly lady for whom POB gave up her seat.  (I was already standing.) POB asked if she wanted a seat and the woman turned to her friend and said, in a cartoonishly nasal voice, “Oh, see!! A seat opened up!!”  Poof, like, magic.  Really?  No, because a well-mannered person got up (in contradistinction to the mopes and slouches around us).  Her friend started to talk about food processing in a loud, screeching voice.

What the woman said was important and true — that if you saw how fast food is made, you would never eat it again and that most processing is bad for humans in both nutrition and the environment — but did we need to hear it in outrageous volume with a holier-than-thou tone at 11am on a holiday weekend?  And, just across the aisle, a scary-looking, tattooed dad with a beer gut (who was playing with his child by pretending to strangle him — really) was giving the child huge helpings of Pepperidge Farm flavor-blasted gold fish (hmmm, salt, chemically reconstructed “cheese” and polysorbate 60, anyone?).  Our son loves them, too, and we know we are going to a special place in hell for parents who let their kids eat this junk.  None of the kale or broccoli or grass-fed beef that our son eats will save us from this punishment.

And why DO men need to sit so wide that they take up nearly two seats?  I note that the smaller the shoe size of the man, the wider he sits.  Is this some psychological melodrama playing out?

Fast-forward to the line waiting to get back on the ferry to Manhattan.  A group of women and one man was behind us.  The man, who was overweight, and a bitchy effete garden gnome, was commenting to women passersby, “hey, do you think you could have tighter clothing?” or “do you think you could be any fatter?”  All I wanted to say to him was, “come out of the closet and stop being bitter with baggage”.  But I didn’t.  I could take him down in a minute.  The women, however, would lay me out.  One of the women had a son who was going to grow up to be the bully of his neighborhood.  He dropped a juice carton on the street and someone picked it up and handed it to her and said, “I think your child dropped this.”  I thought it was an elegant way to force the woman to deal with the litter.  She got all huffy, with heavy hip and neck action, saying to her friends, “the baby drops this and he gives it to me?” Ok, who else?  She is his mother for G-d’s sakes.  And the baby?  BABY?  Try 6 years-old, going on 12.  And mean.

Too much humanity.  I wanted to take a private water taxi followed by a cab.  I couldn’t handle any more.  But we did continue on the public transportation route.  On the subway, three 20-somethings were talking and POB and I were transfixed by the car wrecks that were their conversations and their outfits.  One was falling out of her skimpy outfit and had used eyebrow pencil to highlight her auburn eyebrows into a Groucho Marx effect.  I think she thought I was admiring her instead of not being able to take my eyes off this mobile crashing unit, so when she got off, she shimmied at me and smiled.  I was sooooooo grossed out I could barely breathe.

I took to my bed for a nap.  Oh, I forgot, once you get to Governor’s Island, it is perfectly lovely.

Blogcation Year 2, Day 2 — The Shopping Expedition

We actually shopped on the first day out.  The King Kullen which is sooooo big (by NYC standards) that it could be its own Congressional voting district.  I have this image of someone being interviewed on CNN with the caption, “Representative [John Q. Public] [(D)/(R)] — King Kullen, NY”. But I digress, clearly.

POB (partner of blogger) determined that I should be in charge of stupid purchases, since she had the master list of all that we needed. How does one live up to that standard?  How many stupid purchases could there be in a supermarket.  Ok, let’s assume that I am not going to buy pet food for a non-existent pet.  Let’s assume that I am only looking for comestibles, as one would generally find in a supermarket.

Still, I was overwhelmed by the choices for stupid purchases:

Here is the cheesoid (the cheese equivalent of a factoid), complete with aerosol canister that is bad for the environment.

Then there is the life time supply of cheese balls (really? really), that contains no natural anything so it can survive any number of natural and unnatural disasters.

Then there is enough Reddi-Whip for dessert for the entire world.  (This is actually a red herring.  I have seen more in my sister’s fridge.)

In POB’s defense, I went in search of insane food stuffs (or quasi-food stuffs) to purchase.  Some were more gross than these, but I think the managers of the King Kullen thought I was taking pictures for the competition and I had to stop.

I was especially taken with the colors of frosting on the “home-made” cupcakes.  Those colors require lab scientists to intervene in the natural order and produce them.  So, I guess the quotes around “home made” are meant to tell us that these are home made only if you live in a lab.

So, what food stuff was my “stupid purchase”?  I am not telling.  All I know is that there is no expiration date on it.

Really? Are ya kiddin’ me?

New York City is my home town.

Native New Yorkers (and those nearly native because they’ve lived here so long) abide by some neighborly rules.  For example:

  • Help tourists with directions.
  • Ask a blind person if he or she would like assistance (but never ask if he or she “needs” assistance).
  • Look the other way when your neighbor is sneaking a cigarette around the corner.
  • Always go to the green grocer on your own block because that is the store that stays open and keeps the neighborhood buzzing and safe at late hours.

New York City is ruined by those who come here thinking that New York is so anonymous that they can give way to their worst or selfish impulses with impunity.

Yep, you guessed it.  I had a run-in or two today.

Some guy sees me waiting for a hypothetical cab that might be free at 6:20pm on a weekday in midtown [hint: chances are better that you won the mega-millions lottery].  I know he sees me.  We make eye contact.

What does he do?  He walks down the block to try beat me out of the still hypothetical, available cab.  Since he is being rude with me, he goes for double and cuts another woman.  The woman then walks further down the block to cut him.  As you can probably tell, in order to get to win this way, one has to be moving further in the exact opposite direction of one’s intended destination.  We are on Sixth Avenue (or the “Avenue of the Americas” to those who arrived in the Big Apple after 1970) which goes north.  These two people are walking further south to get a cab ahead of each other.

I have my righteous indignation going.  Not at the woman; she did not see me.  The guy is the target of my wrath.

Of course, I have to walk a block out of my way (the man and woman were leap-frogging each other for the still hypothetical, available cab).

I catch up to the guy and call him out on his behavior.

He responds in a are-you-for-real look, “it’s New York” with a twang in his accent and a “f”-you shrug.

He did whaaaaaaat? He told ME, ME, a New Yorker for 46 years, what IS and IS NOT New York?  Is he kidding me?

Ok, I lose it.

I say, “Don’t you tell me about the rules of this town. I was born here. Did you ever hear of manners?”  (Actually, the “did you” came out like “didja” and the “ever” came out like “eveh”.  When I am angry, I lose “oo”s and my “r”s.)

The guy shows me the universal hand signal for displeasure.


So, next I go down to the hotter-than-hell subway station, where everyone is letting loose.

And it doesn’t stop even when we are packed on the subway like sardines.

A woman with FABULOUS hair is flipping it all over everyone and my scalp immediately starts to itch from the contact.  No, no lice, but, hey, you never know.

There is a woman who looks TWELVE MONTHS pregnant standing while young people are sitting.

There is the guy who sits “wide” and takes up one and one-half seats and is also hunched forward so that he takes up the standing space in front of him.

A woman is screaming that some man is sweating in her personal space.

I turn to the incredibly pregnant woman and ask in an ordinary subway voice (i.e., yelling) if she would like me to find a seat for her.  She says she is ok in a way that suggests “I can take care of myself and who are you?” but she decides I mean well and smiles.

Someone gets up to get off at the next stop and then people insist that the pregnant woman sit down.

It was just the neighborly thing to do.

Same Time this Year — Urban Jungle

Dejá vu all over again, as a famous ball player (not known for his grammar) once said.

Last year (http://40andoverblog.com/?p=1085), we had a run-in with urban wildlife in our home.  Since it is happening again this year, I believe it now qualifies as an annual event.

Over the weekend, we heard what we thought was chirping and we surmised it had to be coming from our stove’s exhaust vent (it vents outside).  Maybe there was a nest there.  We did not want to disturb the nest, but we did want the birds to know that there is only room for one family in our home, so we put the vent on, which would not hurt them, but make our vent less of a sanctuary.  Maybe they would move on, we thought.  I also called the Bird Nerd, husband of SOB (sister of blogger), who did not understand the urgency of our concern that others lived among us.  You might think he would remember the hysteria of last year.  But noooooooooooooo.  I digress.

The next day, POB (partner of blogger) had a brilliant, yet frightening, realization.  There had to be family of  mice behind our washer/dryer and the babies (as in many) are making that noise.  This all sounded plausible since there is an empty space behind those appliances that our contractors ASSURED us was closed and sealed, but there I go again, digressing.  Birds, I can deal with.  My son likes birds.  SOB married a bird nerd.  A MOUSE — worse, MICE — this I could not handle.

We left for a day out of the city, with the mouse family not far from my thoughts.  We arrived home late so we had a quick dinner at a local restaurant.  I go into the kitchen later for something and there is a teeny, tiny mouse.  I scream, POB screams because I am screaming and our son asks why we are screaming.  “Nothing, sweetie.  Nothing wrong.”  Ok, our son is a smart guy.  If NOTHING were wrong, why exactly would his two moms be shrieking??

As our luck would have it, our superintendent is in Europe for another two weeks (note to self: consider a career change), and the exterminators come at the beginning of each month.  So, if you are going to have problems, have them then.  This tough love approach is designed to compel those of us who live in the urban jungle to train our varmints better so as not to upset the schedule of the exterminators or the management company.

Monday morning, the handyman lays down the sticky traps.  These are inhumane and make me sick, but this is the urban jungle and this is my home.  I am frankly terrorized by the potential painful deaths of baby mice, but I keep repeating “the strong eat the weak” as if to make me feel more callous than I am.  Also, I am comforted by the knowledge from experience that mice are too smart to fall for that old peanut butter on the glue trick.

Except later that night, two baby mice do fall for the peanut butter on the glue trick.  (Another got away.) I hear about this when I come home to a dark home and find POB and our son in his room with the door closed, the air conditioning on.

POB very calmly (and without looking up from her magazine) tells me that the two baby mice are on the Glue of Death and that she is perfectly happy never to go to that part of the house again until the handyman comes the next morning to take the “glue-kill” away.

Ok ok ok ok ok ok ok.  Worse than having live mice is having dead mice.  I go down to the doorman who cannot leave the door because there are no maintenance people on duty after 6pm.  He gives me a broom and a dust pan.  He wishes me good luck.  His expression shows he knows that I am a freaked-out pampered urbanite who never thought she would be doing this — mixture of sympathy and smugness that is sooooooo unattractive in the younger generation.

Up I go in the elevator.  I come into the house.  I walk over the radiator.  I use the brush to sliiiiiiiiide the Glue of Death over to the dustpan.  The broom bristles get stuck in the glue.  The glue is eating the broom.  The glue is getting stronger, rendering my ammunition useless.  I step on the edge to hold back the Glue of Death and retrieve the broom, but the Glue of Death has taken my sneaker hostage.  I am desperate to shake off the Glue of Death as the dead and dying mice bob up and down like pawns in a cruel game.

POB gets paper towel and tosses it on the floor.  I think, this is not a game of rock, paper, scissors.  This is a death match with mice, the Glue of Death and me.  But I use the paper towel to extricate my sneaker.

I bring the whole mess down to the doorman and, with the privileges of age, ask him to make this go away.

I come back upstairs, pronounce myself a hero to my family but a serial killer to the mouse community.  I take to my bed without food or drink until POB generously braves the particularly treacherous epicenter of our urban jungle to get fruit and chocolate for us.  She screams, but happily it was only a water bug. (Oy, we are soooooo careful and clean, why is this happening to us?)

I am ready to move to a hermetically sealed compound.

There is a new normal for everything these days

I was sitting on the train and I heard this annoying clicking noise.  I thought someone was cracking chewing gum.  I looked to my immediate left and saw that the woman next to me was clipping her figure nails on top of her backpack so the clippings would fall into the front pocket.  Before I could think to shut my mouth, I gasped a disbelieving “noooooooo!!!”  She looked at me, put her clipper away and took out her file, all the while making sure that everything fell into the front pocket.

So if she cleans up after herself, does it make it ok?  Is this the new normal for behavior in the subway?


Rosy Big Picture; Details, Not So Much

Police officers on horses look so majestic.  (I got this picture from the Internet.)

Also, a little tie with New York’s past.  Also, it is urban legend that being a Mountie is a reward for extraordinary valor.  So, these officers on mount deserve to stand taller than the rest of us.

Yet . . . .

As I was walking to the subway on another hot day, a Mountie passed by and his horse was pooping as they walked along.  I didn’t have time to catch a picture of the Mountie, but here is the goodies left over:

The next day the scene looked slightly better, after some time and a little traffic could run over it.

I bet you are wondering what is on the sidewalk right next to the horse manure.  You are, aren’t you?  Yes, you are.  I know it: