Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Boy Oh Boy Oh Boy

Let’s get adolescent for a minute.

I've never been a girl who wrote about guys because I never actually had anything to say about guys, and that's because I’ve never been the kind of girl who guys paid attention to. This isn’t, like, me trying to wangle an emotional pity fuck from the entire internet—it’s just a straight-up fact that boys didn’t Talk to me with a capital T until last year and I know that this has a lot to do with the way I looked. Aside from the extra eighty pounds I was ever so gracefully carting around my midsection like the world's least appealing tutu, I made a lot of bad decisions. With regard to my head. While packing some shit into boxes the other night I found a disk of old pictures from my freshman and sophomore years of college and Christ, it was just like yelling at the screen when Buffalo Bill shuts off the lights and has his hand right next to Jodie Foster’s face. HE’S RIGHT THERE!

Or, in my case: EYEBROWS! YOU SHOULD HAVE TWO! Or: YOUR HAIRSTYLE IS WALKING THE VERY FUCKING THIN LINE BETWEEN HIPPIE AND SISTER-WIFE!

But, anyway, the last year has been really different and not always in a good way, but different in and of itself is sometimes good enough. Case in point: last night Jes and I went out for our usual Tuesday night beery bro-down and after our first round the bartender came over. “Someone wants to buy you guys drinks,” he said. “Who is it?” I asked. “Jesus Christ,” he said. “Now what do you want?”

We accepted the drinks because, you know, we’re broke (and apparently too weirded out by the Cary Grantishness of the move to think to order anything better than the same crappy Black Label/Evan Williams combo we usually get). We drank them braced for awkward conversation, but it never came. No one ever claimed the mystery drinks. I had my suspicion it was two guys lurking from the other side of the bar, but they put their coats on and left before the bartender had even set down our drinks. So, if it was them, that was the stupidest investment ever made.

Someone did come over and talk to Jes a little later, but he was definitely just talking to Jes and it would’ve been weird for that guy to have bought us both drinks. And, also, if that's the case, fuck your third-wheel sympathy beer, dick. Not that I won't drink it, but still.

My point is that prior to about a year ago, I wouldn't have even been in a bar where dudes were sending drinks, even pity ones. Or, okay, even better example: last night a pitbull visiting the bar got excited and knocked me onto my ass on the sidewalk. This weirdo rushed to my aid (already a departure from how things used to be) and, as he helped me up, whispered in my ear, "Don't worry, you looked hot falling down." I wish he had been joking.

Jes and I wound up eating fries in a 24-hour bagel shop and scaring the hell out of the cute guy who works behind the counter. He made the mistake of getting into our conversation about the dumb guys we've been dealing with of late, and once the floodgates were open all he could do was stand there, listen, and make that "Hoooooooooo!" noise the audience on America's Funniest Home Videos uses to accompany a shot to the balls.

My life thus far with dudes boils down to series of punchlines so stupid you don’t even need the rest of the story. Some highlights:

“Dude hit me up when you don’t have work and we can get it on.” [Via text, DUDE.]
“I’m gonna get you PREGNANT.” [This was in public.]
“You should gain thirty pounds and call me.” [Only me. Only I would get that.]
“Are you a dude? Whatever, it’s cool if you are.” [Not in jest.]
“You look like Kennedy from MTV,” as a prelude to, “Wanna make out?” [And that worked.]

I'm not sure what my point really is beyond hey, have things been a shitstorm lately because I am basically a thirteen year old girl when it comes to guys. When you grow up a girl who never assumes guys like her because guys do not like actually like her, the interest of even the most terrible guy is kind of an adventure. In the very short time any guys have been at all interested in me, I've been more entertained than upset by the sheer idiocy of the situations I manage to get myself into with guys who never cease to fabulously disappoint.

Even so, I'm not trying to say one of those reductive, "All guys are stupid!" things, because that's actually the opposite of what I think. It's just that--okay, if my love life is a passing circus train, I've only gotten to the car full of clowns. The thing that is so frustrating is I know that the circus is actually full of lion tamers and acrobats and fire-eaters and trapeze artists and a ringmaster in a tophat and tails I haven't yet seen.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Anthony Works it the Grocery Store / Saving His Pennies for Someday

There’s nothing worse than helping a friend move and there’s nothing more boring than hearing someone talk about moving, but I don’t care and I intend to fill the next few days with both. If someone so much as breathes in a way that sounds sympathetic to my moving plight, I’m roping them into hauling my dresser up two flights of stairs. And I am going to talk nonstop about boxes and duct tape and furniture and cleaning my baseboards (which have somehow gotten dusty beyond the realm of dust possibility) until I get upset enough to need to sit down on the floor, wrapped in a blanket, eating sesame tofu and watching therapeutic doses of Flight of the Conchords.

I’ve lived in my apartment for almost two and a half years. That’s plenty of time to fill up two floors and a backyard with unfathomable amounts of crap I thought I might want to keep, in addition to the lifetime’s worth of stuff I’ve been hauling around since I was a kid. I have this hunch that I may end up one of those old women who likes to scrapbook because of my stupid tendency to keep anything even remotely nostalgic for anticipated bouts of future nostalgia, even though I only look at these things when I’m angry I have to put them into new boxes. This time I’ve thrown away a lot, despite the objections of my inner packrat: my PSAT scores (BUT WHAT IF YOU NEED TO PROVE YOU QUALIFIED AS A NATIONAL MERIT SCHOLAR IN THE LATE NINETIES?!) , collections of poems written between eighth and tenth grade (BUT WHAT IF YOU’RE A SECRET GENIUS AND THEY WANT TO POSTHUMOUSLY PUBLISH YOU LIKE ANNE FRANK?!) and several empty jewelry boxes shaped like treasure chests (BUT WHAT IF YOU FIND DUBLOONS?!).

The list goes on. Empty bottles of Southern Comfort consumed on good nights and kept like Emmy awards on my bookshelf. Earrings. My ears don’t even have holes anymore. Birthday cards. Shit I’ve bought at dollar stores just because, like those growing fish or baby barrettes and Jesus candles. All on the curb.

This is a big move. It's one I'm excited about, and it's one that needs to happen for finacial reasons (there is actually a reason why I drink on Tuesday nights when the PBR is free), and it's dumb to live in my neighborhood when I spend hours and hours every week taking the stupid F to the stupider G because everything I do is up there. I’ve lived in my part of Brooklyn since 2005 and with Brad that whole time, so it’s extremely weird to have keys, right now, in my pocket, shiny ones, that open an apartment off the L train, and that my bedroom is next to Jes’s now.

I’m trying not to get nostalgic about the whole thing, which is what all this removal of garbage is about, but I did kind of sob while taking down the Christmas tree, throwing it in a deluxe black trash bag and realizing we’re going to have to split up the ornaments for good.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

My Support Ribbon Will Be Scarlet

You can carry all kinds of diseases that have no physical manifestation. Aside from mental illnesses like schizophrenia, whose characteristic disembodied voices are audible only from inside the patient's skull, there are things like chlamydia. Women can have chlamydia forever without ever knowing. (I don’t have it—that’s not the horribly confessional turn this is taking, don’t worry.)

Or leprosy, even. You could live for ten years without a clue you're one big fleshy time bomb of decay until your nose started rotting off.

I don’t have that either. My secret sickness is nameless. I’m wondering if I can make it my eponymous syndrome since I’m both the discoverer and a sufferer. I’m thinking kathburculosis, or kathynemia, or something similarly medical-sounding yet pizzazzy. My disease is both extremely low in incidence (apparently just me, actually) and pathogenically mysterious. There is no known cure. It is not contagious. There are no outward symptoms until I am placed in the correct circumstances for a flare-up, and this only happens at one of two bars in Williamsburg that shall not be named lest the lecherous decide to prey on my feeble condition.

I will be talking to a dude. Things will seem normal. Things will persist for hours and, perhaps, even get slightly exciting; the whole “Oh wait a minute, does this dude like me? I think this dude likes me!” song and dance is probably my favorite shit in the world. Things are fun! Things are promising! Things may have progressed in any number of amorous directions! But then every time, every single time, my itis or my osis or whatever kicks in and I cannot avoid the following:

Me: “Blah blah blah blah blah.”
Guy: “Blah blah. Blah, my girlfriend, blah blah blah.”

Then I’ll immediately have to place the period on the sentence of our interaction and go home and go straight to bed. Or else take two shots and call one of my friends in the morning with the news that, yet again, I was enjoying the scenery so much I didn’t notice I was wandering onto the adulterous side of the street.

They say to starve a fever and feed a cold, but there isn’t much folksy advice for dudesareweirdtoyoumonia. For lack of a better explanation, I’ve chosen to believe it’s a germ that causes only guys with girlfriends to get the appeal of my devastating and legendary beauty, my razor wit, my understated charm, and—above all—my ladylike manners. And while there is some formerly Catholic segment of my brain that screams, “Be grateful anyone likes it!” and “GUILT GUILT GUILT GUILT GUILT for even talking to that guy!” there’s a more rational lobe that would like to find a cure. There’s got to be some antibiotic or inhaler or injection or poultice that’ll make me feel less like a silver medal with boobs. Or a jerk. Or a jerk who’s kind of pissed off because yet another shady guy was about it without bothering to let me know they weren’t supposed to be.

The kicker is that there’s no lack of cool guys without girlfriends who I legitimately like. Off the top of my head, I can come up with at least three who I think about with a preteen intensity, who I legitimately enjoy speaking to and who are not morally bound to keep it to the “just bros” level. These are pointless crushes that range in duration from years to, like, a couple days, but until I’m on the receiving end of a medical breakthrough I’m not sure there’s any way to get them interested without them getting hitched first.

In the meantime, I think I’ll just go to work, go home and dose myself with this medicinal mix I’ve concocted that’s 1 part 30 Rock, 2 parts hot and sour soup, 1/2 part Jim Beam if shit gets rough, and 3 parts the couch. It probably won’t cure anything, but it’s a decent way to spend a Thursday.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Two Line Pop Songs

I have this position on pop songs that’s grown more vehement over the years, to the point at which I think it’s reached credo/philosophy proportions. I fundamentally believe that the optimum length for a pop song (and I affirm that basically everything that doesn’t require a tuxedo and a conductor is a pop song) is approximately two minutes and thirty seconds, and that anything after that just needs a brutal editor. Someone told me or I read somewhere (meaning this is a fact I’m probably making up) that songs recorded on vinyl used to be short because of the physical limitations of the format. Regardless of whether that’s true or not, when you listen to girl groups or old Beatles everything is all hook, a one-two jab of verse-chorus, then maybe an uppercut of a bridge and you’re out.

I don’t want your five minute guitar solos and I definitely don’t want sixty years of na, na, na NAnaNA NA. Two-minutes and thirty seconds is all you should get to say what you have to say, and if you can’t do it I’m taking out my red pen and you’re never getting your last verse back.

Because, okay, really? What is anyone ever yapping about in pop music that can’t be said in thirty seconds, let alone five times that? I love you, I miss you, I hate you, things rule, things blow, let’s fuck. The end. See how many words that took? FIFTEEN. Have you ever had to sit around and listen to someone talk about any of those things interrupted? And, if so, didn’t you want to swallow a razor blade right around the 2:30 mark?

Last night on the train I was listening to the Neil Young Sugar Mountain – Live at Canterbury House album and, of course, my favorite song by far is “Birds.” It clocks in at just over two minutes which is awesome, considering “The Last Trip to Tulsa” is over eight. Anyway, I like this song and it’s really pretty and sad and short…and you can strain it down to two sentiments: I love you. It’s over. Which gave me the idea: can you write a two-line pop song and have it be reasonably emotionally complete?

Yes. Let me show you them. Since I’m not a musician beyond knowing how to play the Peanuts theme on the piano, I’ve just written the lyrics.

In Fair Verona Where We Lay Our Scene
I’m over here with him, you’re over there with her,
You should be over here with me. Goddammit.

Read the Paper or Make a Move
I saw you on the subway and we didn’t say a word.
But you kind of looked at me. Love? Or boredom?

The Breaks
Dude, I really like you, but you don’t like me at all.
Isn’t that some shit? Isn’t that the shit.

Everybody Do the Brown Liquor
I think we’re breaking up. Yup, we’re breaking up!
I’m bummed about it. The rest of this song’s about whiskey.
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