Sunday, May 31, 2009
I'm the guy who was sitting in back of you last night at the Academy of Music for the Savoy Opera Company's production of The Pirates of Penzance. You probably don't remember me, but I remember you.
What I remember vividly was you screwing around on your fucking Blackberries. During the overture. It's funny-- Sullivan didn't compose many of the overtures himself, usually leaving that task to colleagues like Alfred Cellier, who arranged the Pirates overture. Do you know why Sullivan didn't compose many of the overtures himself? Because of inconsiderate, shitnecked little fucktitties like you.
Sullivan was extremely dismayed after opening night of Yeomen of the Guard. He took great pains to compose a beautiful, soaring overture-- and the audience talked all the way through it. He swore that he would never compose another overture himself again. Of course, he also was always swearing that he would never work with Gilbert again. And again. And again. And he always did. And he wrote two more overtures himself, for the Gondoliers and The Grand Duke. And I'm sure people talked all through those, too.
People like you.
You see, people have been rude dicklicks in every century. They've always found ways to be self-important little tadgers, but now cellphones make it so much easier to be an asshole in a dark theatre. The iridescent glow from your screens are so distracting and so obnoxious.
I realize that you must be extremely important, you waifish, slightly intoxicated blonde tramp with your metrosexual husband thing. An on-call neurovascular surgeon, perhaps? The mayor of Seattle in for a visit? A CIA operative? Or maybe you're General David Patraeus after undergoing a covert gender reassignment procedure.
But you're probably just an asshole.
Did you like how, after the overture concluded, I made it a point to clap extremely loudly and extremely close to your left ear? That's my passive/aggressive way of saying,
"Hi. I'd like to bury your Blackberry inside your cerebellum."
You're lucky it was me and not my hotblooded, Israeli father sitting behind you, or he would have killed you with a Mossad tactical maneuver that involves the rapid insertion of a big, hairy thumb into the back of your skull.
It's funny-- I was outraged at paying $50.00 for a theatre ticket, but I did it anyway because a friend of mine was in this show, and I love Gilbert & Sullivan like I love little else. I thought that, by paying $50.00 for a seat that I had paid for my right to witness this show in relative freedom for annoyances or disruptions. You paid $50.00 for a theatre ticket, and you believe that paying this amount gave you the right to behave like a total asshole-- snickering at your texts and private, very loudly whispered jokes all through the first act. You obviously wanted to be somewhere else, and that was clearly indicated by the fact that you and your annoying companions left at intermission.
I realize that you're too uncultured to appreciate Sullivan's music and that you're too stupid to understand any of Gilbert's humor anyway, so it's just as well that you buggered off to go get even more drunk at some ridiculous hipster bar where you pay way too much for drinks you don't even like and drunktext your soulless, vapid friends who don't care about you.
You had no business being at that show. You weren't socially awkward or wearing a bowtie, you didn't have buck-teeth or a back-parting or seersucker trousers or saddle-shoes. Gilbert & Sullivan is clearly not your speed. And I'm glad you realized that early, so that my wife and I could enjoy Act II-- the entrance of the delightfully timid constables, the clever device of invoking Queen Victoria's name, the delightful plot contrivance and the most ingenius paradox.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
In elementary, middle and high school, my preferred method of failure was to take a math test. This simple action almost effortlessly and nearly always resulted in a failure. Once, in ninth grade, I received a math test back with a single digit score: a striking, red "8."
Me: "What's that?"
Mr. Costango: "That's your score."
Me: "What's it out of?"
Mr. Costango: "Um, 100."
In real life, there are no more tests, at least, not ones on which teachers write red single-digit numbers. Now there are just tasks, at which we either succeed, soaring high above the clouds, floating seemingly on adrenaline alone-- or we nosedive into the ground, our faces and our pride immolated in a blazing haze of fire and gasoline.
Usually, I squeak by my daily tasks scoring anywhere from a B+ to a C-. I rarely ever get an F, and, sometimes, usually when I'm trying to be sweet or romantic with Mrs. Apron, I get dangerously close to an A. My wife likes to say that I get extremely intelligent and have an inordinate number of good ideas on the weekend. This weekend, though, it is not looking that way.
Although it's only Saturday afternoon, this weekend I'm treading water and peeing in the pool somewhere around an F-.
Yesterday, which I count as part of the weekend, I took off from work early to drive to New York City to see a friend of mine perform a one man show that he had been working on for around a year, a show that I helped mentor him through the writing process, a show that was intensely personal, as I suppose all one man shows are. I also managed to squeeze in a delectable sushi dinner with Dave, which was nice. And raw. And gay. I also, however, wanted to shove one more little errand into this haphazardly-planned NYC mini-trip:
I wanted to drop off a bouquet of flowers at a bereaved police precinct.
As many of you know, I, for well over a decade, have been an ardent law enforcement advocate. I support the police however and whenever and wherever I can. When a police officer gets shot, I try to spare some coinage for his family, especially if it's a young family. I drop off copies of my book to the struggling department or district house. I write letters to parole boards to keep cop-killers where they belong: on ice. I write editorials to newspapers and letters to politicians and I am a general pain-in-the-ass.
Two nights ago, a young police officer in Harlem was getting off work and he saw some dude breaking into his car. Though he wasn't in uniform, he grabbed his gun and chased the scumbag down the street. Three undercover officers saw him running after a guy with a gun, and they shot him twice, killing him. The officer who died in the hail of bullets was black, the officer who shot him was white. I'm not even going to touch all that here-- it's not why I'm writing this. Maybe that'll be for another day.
Friendly-fire incidents are always deeply tragic, because they destroy many lives and the guilt an officer must live with after he shoots a fellow officer is oftentimes insurmountable.
I asked Dave if we had time to deliver a bouquet of white roses to the Harlem police precinct that had just lost the officer.
"Sure," he said. "We'll make it work."
To say that two well-dressed, bearded Jewish guys (one wearing a fedora and carrying a bouquet of white roses) stood out like two herpes-covered penises in Harlem is an understatement. But I wanted to do the right thing. As we approached the precinct house, there were six news vans from various stations outside, setting up cameras and doing sound tests. Dave stayed outside and Blackberried. I went in alone, with my white roses.
At the front desk, there was a muscle-ridden, very red Irish cop with tats on both arms dealing with a Hispanic gentleman as best he could. The Hispanic gentleman was trying to hand him two crumpled papers.
Hispanic Gentleman: This.
Irish Cop: "This" what?!
Hispanic Gentleman: This.
Irish Cop: What? What is it? What are you trying to do?
Hispanic Gentleman (insistently, motioning with the papers): This.
Irish Cop: Oh, Jesus. What?! What is that? Give me that! (Grabs the papers.) What is this? This is a photocopy of your driver's license? I don't want this! I can't even take this. Why are you giving this to me?
Hispanic Gentleman: Si.
Irish Cop: Look, just sit down, okay?
Hispanic Gentleman: Espanol?
Irish Cop: No. No way. No Espanol. Sit down.
Hispanic Gentleman (giving him the other piece of paper): This.
Irish Cop: I don't want that. That's our address. I know where you are. You're here. Just sit down. (Looking at me in exasperation.) Can I help you?
Me: These are for the precinct.
Irish Cop: What for?
(Pause. I stared at him.)
Me: Um, what for? For your loss? How about that?
Irish Cop: Oh! Oh. Oh, God. I'm sorry. Listen, I'm sorry. We, um-- we have to be a little wary, you understand. You know?
(Another officer came over.)
Other Cop: We're very sorry, sir. He wasn't trying to be facetious. It's just that.... the officer who died didn't work here. This wasn't his precinct.
Irish Cop: The officer who shot him worked here. The deceased officer was from another precinct. On 101st street, if you want to bring these there.
Me: Oh. Great. Well, I'm kind of pressed for time so, why don't you guys just keep them. You could use them too, I guess.
Other Cop: Yeah, we're all goin' through it. Thank you, sir. For real, thank you.
After the play, I tried to navigate the New York City subway system. I wound up taking a cab back to my car.
Today, I tried to get leaf bags. I came home with no leaf bags.
Today, I tried to get black touch-up paint for my car. I went to one dealership, they had none. They were kind enough to call another dealership, who checked on their computer. They had some. I drove to the other dealership. Turns out they didn't have any either. See, in computerland, they had one bottle. In real life, they didn't have any.
Welcome back to high school math.
Friday, May 29, 2009
Gene: You swear an awful lot.
Richard: You're fuckin-aye right!
Gene (imitating Richard): Fuckin-aye! Something bothers you, fuck it! Your wife leaves you? Fuck her! Boss fires you? Hey, fuck it, right!? Fuckin' fuck! Fuck 'em!
Richard: You're fuckin' right!
Gene: Do you know that it's a blessing to be able to do that? I can't do it! You're a lucky guy-- I can't do it!
Richard: Well fuckin' change!
Gene: It's not that easy.
Gene Wilder's character who, by the way, is deaf, is right: it's not that easy. It's not that easy to change. It's not that easy to let negativity and acrimony roll off your back like a drop of sweat. And it's not that easy to be liberal with your lips. But it does feel good.
I love to profanity. Most of you bastards who've been hanging around here for a while know this about me, and you're obviously okay with it, or you wouldn't be frequenting this establishment. If you don't like it, you're more than welcome, of course, to fuck off.
My mother-in-law doesn't swear, and it doesn't particularly thrill or please her when other people do, and this is, in large degree why she has never been invited to read my blog. Before I first met Mrs. Apron's mother, I was warned of her no cussin' disposition and I initially bristled at Mrs. Apron's request that I govern my tongue judiciously when in her presence.
"But swearing is a pretty intrinsic part of who I am," I said, "why should I have to change who I am to suit someone else?"
"Because you love and respect me, and I'm asking you to."
Ah. Game and match to Mrs. Apron.
I didn't realize how extreme my future mother-in-law's displeasure of cursing went until I was at their house one day and her husband announced that he was going to the backyard, armed with at least a dozen plastic bags to "pick up dog shit."
"ARTHUR," she screamed shrilly from the kitchen, "the word is POOPIE!"
Of course it is.
Like every twentysomething, I blame my parents for my zealous use of profanity. Well, I blame my two older sisters, too. Our reparte was littered with obscenities from a very early start. It probably began with a class of jest my eldest sister was fond of called "Little Johnny Jokes." Little Johnny was a bad, bad boy who was always starting up trouble. I don't really remember any of the jokes in their entirety, but they always ended with some authority figure kicking the shit out of him. I remember, in one of the jokes, Little Johnny had just come downstairs in the morning and his mother asked him what he wanted for breakfast. I believe he answered,
"I'll have some fuckin' cornflakes."
"And his mother kicked the shit out of him," my sister said, howling, "BAM, BOOM, CRASH, ALL ACROSS THE WALL!"
My sister and I would collapse in heaps of hysteria and then, the next day, I would repeat these jokes to my second grade friends at recess.
My parents not only allowed this behavior to take place, but they were pretty entertained by us, and, by the time I was in middle school, our dinner conversations were frequently peppered with profanations as adjectives, such as, "my fucking homework" instead of "my very challenging homework" or "my Goddamn teacher" as opposed to "my diligent, hardworking, unionized teacher."
My father's stories from work routinely involved obscenity, and, being Israeli, his use of swear words, especially when excited and animated, always made for riotous family dinner memories, like the time someone outbid him on a contract and my father said he wanted to "kick him fuck up the wall."
For decades, his catchphrase was, "I mean, what am I'm? Fuckin' crazy here?"
When we were quite young, my father capitulated to our requests for a home computing device and came home with a defecatory-colored Commodore 64. Not exactly what we had in mind, but what the hell did we know? Would an Atari have been better? I don't know. At least this had a keyboard-- not that we knew how to type back then. Anyway, my sister and I were sitting downstairs reading the Sunday Comics and eating "Frosted Mini-Wheats" while my father was upstairs, struggling for hours to put the thing together, probably covered in wires and reading Japanese instructions. Finally, he'd had it:
"What the fuck!" he screamed down the stairs. "Hey! Stupid! Jerk! Get the fuck up here and help me already!"
My sister and I nearly burst our goddamn guts. We probably laughed for fifteen minutes straight. To this day, we still debate about which one of us was "stupid" and which one was "jerk." I'm pretty sure I know.
A year later, we were all at the beach, sharing a wonderful family summer. I had a cold, but was on the mend. My sisters and I asked if we could go for a walk on the beach. "Fine," my parents said, "just don't let your brother go in the water, he's still not feeling well."
Of course I went in the water. We were maybe thirty feet from my parents, who were sunbathing on a packed New Jersey beach. They saw the drips of water coming from my hair, and my father went absolutely ballistic.
"WHAT ARE YOU, FUCKIN' STUPID??!!!!" he roared at my oldest sister as bemused onlookers turned their heads in our direction. "JESUS FUCKIN' CHRIST! WE TELL YOU ONE FUCKIN' THING AND YOU RETARD CAN'T EVEN DO IT! YOU FUCKIN' MORON!"
Was my sister embarrassed by this public lambast? Was she reduced to hot, anguished tears by this very public, very obscene and very loud attack by our father? Mmm, not really. My sister's reaction? Hysterial peels of laughter.
"Fuck you!" was her guffaw-ridden retort.
Bam boom crash: all across the wall.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
I've never really been moved to do anything about this, it's just kind of a fact. I'm well aware of the fact that what we look like and how we dress and groom ourselves (or not) conveys messages to the people with whom we interact and meet. These people then make judgments about us, and that's not necessarily fabulous, but it is what it is. That's what people do.
You do it too, snarkypoo.
I'm a big offender in this area. I encountered a woman today who is approximately 5'10" and weighs probably in the neighborhood of 200 pounds. She's built, essentially, like an assemblyline product. She was wearing a pair of skin-tight black pants, asspants, really-- the kind that sororisluts wear to keggers so that fratococks can easily find a warm, happy home during grinding sessions--and I swear to you these pants revealed portions of her anatomy that I did not care to see. Forget cameltoe, we're talking walrusfoot. I was petrified, and thankful that there were no children around.
I judged this woman instantly. And, you know what? She deserved it.
Others judge me, and that's okay, too. I've recently come under fire from peers for my propensity to overdress. I work at a small non-profit and, every day, I come into work in a shirt and tie. Now, I own approximately eighty-seven ties, so why wouldn't I trot those fuckers out on a regular basis? It would be a waste if I didn't. They're all colorful-- except for the one reserved for funerals and visits with local clergy-- and some of them sport whimsical scenes, like one rabbit slowly devouring thirty carrots, pigs wearing little sweaters and custom-made appliqued penguins courtesy of Mrs. Apron. My penchant for formality and my love of nice clothes is well-known amongst my long-time friends and associates, but some people just have to say something.
Him: "So, do you ever, like, wear jeans or sweats?"
I then proceeded to tell the story of the girl I dated in college who tried to change me (bad idea, ladies) by "strongly encouraging" me to purchase a pair of jeans at Express for Men at a cost of $68.00 a pair, and how I hated and resented her for not appreciating me for who I was and then, after we had broken up, I stuffed the jeans in a drawer and never wore them again. This is the same girl who nagged me and nagged me to attend a formal dance with her our senior year and, after I finally capitulated and spent however much I spent on a rented tuxedo, she looked at me in it, smiled wanely and said, "You're going to look so handsome when you can afford clothes fit you."
I've been thinking recently about this blog, and about its look, and about what that look says about me. I've been in the blogging world for almost a year now, and I've seen a fair amount of blogs, and I respect and admire people who know html (or give frequent blowjobs to people who do) and thus have eye-catching, beautiful blogs that are lavish in design, liberal in their use of color and/or attractive aesthetic elements.
That said, though, I kind of like My Masonic Apron the way it is. I'm not visually artistic in any way, shape, or form. Even my "Hangman" stick-figures look like they were done by a four-year-old with special needs. Therefore, I think that a visually arresting blog with my pseudonym on it would kind of be a bit of a misrepresentation of me-- kind of like an avatar of me holding a camera up to my own face, implying that I'm, like, a photographer or something.
I'm a writer, and, as such, I feel that the focus of this blog should be the writing. I don't want to get distracted and I kind of don't want you to get distracted, too. Sure, every now and then I'm tempted to spruce up the place a little bit, to make pretty like, but it passes because I remember that this is a place for the written word to take the forefront and that, really, I'm rather a plain type of fellow. Give me a white shirt and a cutesy tie and that's who I am. I like that you come here and read even though it's hardly the most glamorous IP address on the web.
I like that.
I like you, too.
Even though I do, I'd probably judge you by your appearance, but I'm sure you'd reciprocate.
Also last night:
Her: "I just wanted to tell you that the beard's really not working for you."
You know what, though? It's kind of nice to be the kind of person that people feel comfortable enough around to be honest with. They're not afraid I'm going to get offended or pissed, or cry, or pull out a Tec-9 and shoot them in the face. All I'm going to do is write about it in my basic, stripped-down, no-frills, roll-up-windows kinda blog.
If you don't recognize her name, you will. She fabricated some cockamamie story (by the way, let's bring back the word "cockamamie." We can do it.) about being involved in a minor traffic accident and then being abducted with her 9-year-old daughter by two black men and stuffed in the trunk of a 1990s Cadillac. She made a "frantic-sounding" call to 911 from the trunk of the car reporting the abduction. An Amber Alert was issued.
But, strangely enough, when police found her SUV, there was absolutely no body damage to it. Hmpf. And airport security cameras at Philly International showed Sweeten and her daughter going through metal detectors before boarding a plane to Florida, mysteriously unaccompanied by two African-American gentlemen.
Bitchcakes was arrested yesterday at a Disney resort.
I know it's kind of Monday-morning quarterbacking to say that I knew this was bullshit when I first heard the initial reports on the news early yesterday morning, but I knew this was bullshit when I first heard the initial reports on the news early yesterday morning. None of it made any sense at all. Listen: if you ram some Philly homies' Caddy and start mouthing off, they're not going to waste time tying you and your daughter up and stuffing you in their trunk-- they're just going to shoot you in the fucking face. Come on. This is Philadelphia, not Sicily. People only get stuffed into the trunks of Cadillacs in mob movies.
The sad thing is, this piece of Bucks County white trash had to go and blame the brothas in her ficticious tale. It's always the brothas, you know? Can't you deranged, delusional people pick on some other minority group for a change?
"Oh my God! Police? Yes-- help! I was just abducted by three Serbian nationals wearing ski parkas and New Balance sneakers!"
Now that's more like it. Blame the Serbs. No, no-- blame the Libyans. After all-- those motherfuckers mowed down Doc Brown. Who knows what they'd do to you?
Do you remember the Runaway Bride from a couple years back? The chick who looked like a deer caught in a pair of Halogens? In 2005, Jennifer Carol Wilbanks got cold tootsies and disappeared, sparking a nationwide manhunt and speculation that her fiancee had killed her. Even though Wilbanks was nuttier than a chippendale dancer convention, she at least had the class and the creativity to claim that she had been kidnapped (and sexually assaulted, mind you) by a Hispanic male and a white woman. Now that's racial equality and harmony!
But this case is pretty much an abberation. Most people who feign abductions and criminal attacks against their personage make the ubiquitous and frankly lazy claim that "a black guy did it." And who'd really question that? Of course a black guy did it. Who makes up the overwhelming percentage of the prison population? It's a shame, really, because black guys have enough problems. I mean, sadly, plenty of black guys commit actual crimes. They certainly don't need the added burden of being accused of committing imaginary crimes, too. I mean, remember Tom Robinson from "To Kill a Mockingbird?" All he was trying to do was earn a nickel for bustin' up this here chiffarobe, and look what happened to him.
Thanks, Mayella Violet Ewell.
I remember a case in 1990. Prosecutor Sam Asbell put in an emergency call stating that two African-American males tried to ambush and assassinate him. When police arrived, they found his car riddled with bullet holes. It was soon discovered that Asbell fabricated the entire incident, shooting up the car himself. He's now a practicing attorney, which should make everyone feel good. And he'll probably be suing me soon.
But I'll win. I'll just say that I didn't actually write this post.
Some black guy did it.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Yesterday, my father finally went in to a local "surgical suite" (which almost sounds inviting, doesn't it?) to have an object removed from his lower left leg.
When I say "object" it's because a.) I don't yet know exactly what it was, in terms of proper medical terminology and b.) there's really no other way to succinctly describe it. This thing developed approximately three years ago, and my father, who is good at ignoring things that have the potential to inconvenience him, ignored it as it started out looking like a pimple, and then a boil, and then a clementine.
My father, who is Israeli and is, consequently, a VHB (Very Hairy Bastard) had another one of these things on his back which my mother made the mistake of lancing one evening when I guess both of them were bored and Masterpiece Theatre was a repeat. It got severely infected and my father developed MRSA, a life-threatening staph infection that requires massive doses of antibiotics and regular visits from Jehovah's Witnesses. He recovered, but the wise decision was made to put the kabash on any other at-home surgery surrounding the Titleist on his leg.
This object on my father's leg has been the source of constant joking in our family since it grew to a jokeable size around a year-and-a-half or so ago.
"Dad, I didn't know you were hiding a Volkswagen Beetle inside your leg-- that's pretty cool."
"Hey, do you think you've got an underdeveloped twin in there?"
"Oh, so that's where my old Super-Ball went."
"Jesus, Dad-- why didn't you tell us your leg was pregnant?"
And so on and so on.
My father would take it all in stride, laughing amiably and responding with his trademark line,
"I'm seeing Dr. Rose about it in a couple weeks."
My father first started this line in 2006. After about a year, I was convinced that "Dr. Rose" didn't actually exist, and he was just some figment of my father's imagination that he employed to placate us when we would bring up the golf-cart-sized growth on his leg.
"Seriously," I said one night at their house for dinner, "I can't eat with that thing in the room."
"Honey," my mother said, "please shut up and eat your chicken. Daddy's seeing Dr. Rose about it next week."
Fast forward to yesterday. It was the big day. We were all finally saying goodbye to this adopted member of the family. I felt kind of sad in a way. We had never even bothered to name it. I think, had I been on my game enough to provide it with a monkier it would have been "Burton."
I called my father on the phone after the procedure had been completed.
"I'm fine, I'm fine," he said jovially. "I'm great. The only thing that hurt was the fuckin' Novacaine shot. After that, it was great. Listen, I'm not trying to be a big man and say, 'Oh, it didn't hurt,' but, really, it was great. Mummy, what a nice place it was! Like getting surgery in the living room. Actually, I think it was even smaller than our living room. But very nice. Fucking comfortable chairs and sofas, tables. Like a living room with big lights. And you can go in and get a soda, you know. You don't have to sign in with some ugly nurse and go up to the fourth floor, fifth floor-- make you all nervous. Not like a shitty hospital with old fuckin' people-- men in gowns, women in gowns-- disgusting. This was very nice. Very convenient, too. Right in Devon, you know. Across the street from the Whole Foods."
You'd think he was doing a commercial for this place, if it wasn't for the profanity.
I called my mother last night to see how my father was doing.
"He's a tough patient, your Daddy" she said.
"I know. So how'd it go really?" I asked.
"He told me all about it afterwards. He told me that, when Dr. Rose saw it he cringed and said, 'Jesus, that's really big.' And Daddy told him he'd better wear goggles when he cuts it open and Dr. Rose just laughed, but, when he cut into it, Daddy said the thing exploded all over Dr. Rose's face. Daddy said, 'See?! I told you you should have worn goggles!' And Dr. Rose said, 'Oh, it's okay, I have glasses on.' He was very explicit."
Earlier in the week, when my sister and I were joking about the impending procedure (the prescription for the surgery had been up on my parents' refrigerator for at least two months, so we could all count down the days) I said that the operating room would probably resemble the audience at a Gallagher comedy routine, with curious med students and onlookers cowering under plastic tarps as they get showered with a tsunami of cyst juice. She cracked up and then we both got quiet, realizing how old we are for being able to reference Gallagher.
Today, I went into the hospital at the bumslice of dawn to get vial after vial of blood taken. My cardiologist sent me there after my stress echocardiogram in order to get my cholesterol and other levels checked. He wasn't pleased that my good cholesterol levels were low from a blood test I had done three years ago. The blood lab opens at 7am, but my father, who routinely gets bloodwork done for his own cholesterol, advised me to buck the system.
"Mummy-- listen. When you go for your bloodwork, get there at around 6:15. That way, chick-chack, you're the first one there and you'll be done faster. Don't sit around and wait with those old fucks, okay? Just get there quick, write your name down on the sign-in sheet and then, boom, at 7, it's you!"
He told me that, sometimes, he gets there so early all the lights are off and there's nobody at the reception desk, and there's no sign in sheet. I asked what the fuck do I do if I get there and that happens to me.
"No problem," he said, "do what I do?"
"What's that," I asked, "do you stick the fucking needle in your own arm and leave the blood all over the table for them?"
"No, honey. I don't. I take a piece of paper out of my pocket, and I write "SIGN IN SHEET" at the top, and I write "Name" and leave a space and, next to it I write "Time of Arrival" and leave a space next to it, and then I write my name, and I write "6:15" next to it and I sit down and read their stupid fuckin' magazines until the bitch gets there. And she comes in, you know, with her coffee and her Dunkin' Donuts fuckin' bagel. By this time, a couple other people have come in and have written their names under mine, and they're all sitting there and she looks at my sheet and she gets real pissed and she goes, "Who did this?" And I smile and I say, "I did. Good morning. I'm first."
And, this morning, so was I.
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
What the hell is Kim Jong Ill playing at? I haven't been this scared of a little guy in a jumpsuit since Richard Simmons.
I'm sorry, K.J.I., but I kind of don't really have room in my psychosis for being scared of being nuked. I'm scared of too many other things. I think, if I were alive during the time of the Cold War, when America lived in constant fear of getting zapped by those Vodka-swilling fur-heads, I would have had to be institutionalized. And being institutionalized in the 1950s, I have no doubt, was not fun. Just ask Chief Bromden.
I will endeavor, though, to eek out a little bit of room in my cluttered, crammed, trembling little brain for the fear of nuclear holocaust, but I'm telling you, North Korea, it isn't going to be easy.
See, I'm already afraid of:
* Getting electrocuted
As a new homeowner of what probably constitutes to most people as "a fixer-upper" this is a very inconvenient fear. Currently, our house has virtually no lightswitch covers. This is the result of a combination of laziness on our part because, after the first floor got painted we just never replaced the switch covers and theft on the part of whoever stripped the first floor of wallpaper-- some of our switch covers just, um, disappeared. Conveniently. There must be a huge black market desire for lightswitch covers-- especially the ones with two slots. Those bastards are just so freaking cool. Because all of our switchplates are uncovered, I know that, one day, I'm going to try to flip on a lightswitch after taking a shower and my boney index finger, instead of hitting the switch, will entrench itself deep within the open caverns of tubes and wires inside the wall and I will be turned Extra Tasty Crispy in about four seconds flat.
I wish I wasn't afraid of getting electrocuted. There are two hideous sconces that need to be replaced in our bedroom. There are lighting issues in the basement. There should be motion-sensing lights outside in the driveway. If I wasn't so afraid of getting shocked, I'd fix all this shit. As it is, I'm happy to get our electrician to do it for me, but he's almost 90 years old and doesn't show up when we schedule appointments. Maybe he's dead.
* Getting baptized
According to published reports and crime statistics, drive-by baptisms are on the rise. Just last week, a 76-year-old woman in Mozambique was accosted by three unidentified men who shoved her head inside a public toilet bowl as they shouted, "You are now one with Christ!" The other day, an undercover Christian posing as a rabbi wearing a fake beard and polystyrene nose tried to baptize a Yeshiva student in a mikvah, but was unsuccessful. Baptisms are beautiful things, but only when perpetrated against the willing. I'm just not ready to accept Christ. Not until he pays me back the $23.76 he owes me from that dinner we were supposed to split at Applebee's.
And those kooky Mormons complicate matters in this arena by insisting on conducting postmortem baptisms on Jews. They say that they've stopped, but, come on.
* Getting tortured
I have dark hair and a beard, so I know that, sooner or later, some jarhead is going to be attaching car battery cables to my nipples in some dark basement. Isn't this fear a nice complement to my fear of electrocution?
* Getting cast in a Japanese instructional video
For any down-on-his-luck actor, this is worse than doing porn, even Japanese porn where the women all make that annoying, high-pitched squeal even though they're getting penetrated by guys whose shafts are as big as a thumbnail. I just don't want to be the businessman sitting at a park bench in some recording studio and have to endure take after take of a young, Japanese schoolgirl coming up to me, clutching her stomach and yelling, "I haba bad kase ob die-ya-ree-yah!"
* Getting old
I don't mind the increasing amounts of fuzz on/in my ears or the prospect of growing bitchtits, but I do fear everything that comes along with getting old like becoming out-of-touch with pop culture, style, trends, technology, comedy, culture, table conversation, logic, and the latest advances in airport security. I also don't want to start smelling like that. Is there something you can wear when you're old to not make you smell like... that?
* Getting taunted
I'm so afraid of being made fun of that I will not, under any circumstances, attend a stand-up comedy event for fear that the individual at the microphone will peer out into the audience, quickly identify me as the most painfully awkward person there, and mercilessly and accurately attack me about everything from my shoes to my haircut to my outwardly obvious array of abberant behaviors. Even when my best friend, Dave, scored a stand-up gig at our college, I refused to attend. And, nearly a decade later, he's still pissed at me.
Unfortunately, I was unable to avoid attending middle school.
* Dying second
Statistically, I'm almost positive that this won't happen. Mrs. Apron's a year younger than me, she's a vegetarian, I'm not, and I routinely send myself over the edge in terms of stress, anxiety, paranoia and obsessive worry. This all bodes for a heart attack or stroke somewhere within the next eight minutes. Death really doesn't frighten me that much, as long as I'm first.
* Getting attacked by the dog
Sure we play rough and he's as gentle as a sedated lamb, sure he lets me stick goopy medication down his ear canal without so much as a flinch. Sure he lets me shove Benadryl down his throat without growling at me. One day, though-- one day I know that, as I'm softly petting him or rubbing his belly he's going to whip around and sink his teeth right into my neck so deeply that he'll probably decapitate me in one fell swoop. Dogs are like that, you know.
* Richard Simmons
I know I kind of addressed this at the very beginning of this post, but it bears repetition. Get the fuck away from me, please. I'd rather get my mung ass baptized a thousand times than be alive and in the same time zone with you.
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Come all ye fat ones,
Memorialize this day.
Eat till you can't see,
My country tis of thee,
The grill is ready for more.
There's kielbasa for you,
There's so much to do,
In honor of the troops.
We've put out old glory,
Though she's faded and whorey,
Because the neighbors have too.
And there's flowers on graves,
And the banner it waves,
But where the hell's the coleslaw?
Friday, May 22, 2009
That, to them, is "close." For me, who hadn't been on a plane until he was 13 years old, and the flight was from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, long enough to inhale three peanuts and watch 1/17th of "Muriel's Wedding," 640 miles seems pretty fucking far away from home to me.
So, when I say that me & the Mrs. are sticking close to home, I mean that we're going to actually be home. In our house. There may be an adventuresome trip to the fabric store or a cafe lunch somewhere in there, but nothing much more than that.
Oh, and a hike.
Yes, we love going hiking, and, weather permitting, we intend to go on a little hike on Memorial Day Monday. I think it's a better way of honoring deceased war heroes than buying a new stove on sale at Home Depot, although we should probably be doing that too before we burn the balls off another batch of cookies.
When Mrs. Apron and I go on a hike, we generally have a short list of things we typically bring with us.
Wait a minute-- what?
Yeah, so, apparently, a new bill was approved by the senate and the house that would permit those entering national parks to carry concealed weapons. So, the next time you're getting ready for that big six-mile trek through the blazed trails of (insert your local National Park's name here) ___________ ________ National Park, don't forget your trusty 9mm when you're packing your Propel Fitness Water and your zip-lock baggies of granola bits. Oh, and don't forget your hollow-point bullets, too.
What the fuck-- are we in a Far Side cartoon? Are the gazelles packing heat now? Do the squirrels in these parks now arm themselves with little Derringers and Saturday Night Specials that we feel the need to wear a sidearm when we take a romantic stroll with our lovies through the woods?
Oh, wait-- I know who we have to protect ourselves from: it's those fucking park rangers. Right? Those corrupt, abusive, minority-hating thugs in their pleated khaki pants and their ten gallon hats. We've got to make sure that Smokey's fuckin' boyz don't violate our civil rights. I mean, why they gotta be hasslin' us, yo? Hey, Roscoe P. Coltrane-- quit gettin' all up on my grill, bitch! Or I'll pop a cap, mothafucka!
And then there's all the aggressive wildlife that spends the sum total of all its time on earth plotting diabolical attacks on unsuspecting human hikers. I mean, I realize that bison are huge, brown, and scary (just like the terrorists!!!) but, do we really have to shoot them if they get too close to us?
Can't we just TASE them?
Happy Memorial Day, you crazy, gunslinging hiking bastards. If you see me & Mrs. Apron in the woods on Monday, please don't shoot us.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Dear Former Vice-President Cheney,
Please shut the fuck up.
I don't know if anybody's told you yet or not, but your party lost. Not only did they lose, they lost big time. The party that flourishes in times of paranoia and fear, the party that works consistently to marginalize, restrict, and oppose minorities, creativity, freedom of independent thought, social rights and equality lost-- and it to a black man!
So, here's my question: why aren't you shutting the fuck up?
I hear you're giving a speech today about terrorism and shit-- one of the Republican Party's favorite topic of conversation, sandwiched somewhere in between lots of rights for gun owners and no rights for homosexuals. My question is: does anybody care? Does anybody want to take time out of their morning or afternoon or whenever the hell you're speaking to watch you try to scare us with fears of being overtaken by a bunch of shrieking brown people?
Chens, seriously-- the only thing that scares people is your frightening, grimacing scowl that you wear like it's perpetual Halloween. You make grown-ups cry with that shit. Put it away, please.
And shut the fuck up.
Most politicians who fuck up royally and fail to garner even 20% popularity ratings from the American public crawl under a rock somewhere in middle America and write a book about how nobody understands them that nobody reads. Why don't you go do that? And, while you're at it, you can shut the fuck up, too. Unless you're on your book tour that nobody cares about.
Dickydoos, you're very fond of saying things that aren't true, and we Americans have enough people slinging horseshit in our faces-- we kind of don't need it from you, too. You love getting your shiny asshead on television to tell people that America didn't torture anybody under your watch. That's an unbelievable lie, so please be so good as to shut the fuck up. You also love telling everybody that the policies of the Bush administration were (I love using the past-tense when mentioning that unfortunate period in our history) single-handedly responsible for the fact that there were no major terrorist incidents on American soil after 9/11.
Doodledick, have you ever heard of the fallacy of false causation?
Well, look it up, and then please shut the fuck up about that, too.
When my mother sees you on "Meet the Press" or something, she shudders. Oftentimes, she'll give the television screen the finger and refer to you as "a Nazi." Now, I'm pretty sure you're not a Nazi, but I know how my mother feels. You are definitely an asshole, and, like assholes, when you open up, it stinks.
Please stop making my mother shudder and stop stinking up the place with your malodorous perversions, lies, and mouthy-farts.
So go write your book, go clean your gun, and then, after your snack and your brandy night-cap, please switch off the light, turn down the A/C, set the alarm for tomorrow, and shut the fuck up.
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
My father loves to raise eyebrows with his vulgar commentary on the latest abuse scandal in the Catholic church.
"You know why that John Paul was always walking around bent over, right?"
"No, Dad. Why?"
"Because he always had a little boy under that dress of his, giving him a fundle."
Dad, in that quaint, Israeli way of his, pronounces the word "fundling," but we all know it's pronounced "fondling." And we all know it's disgusting and ickie and gross, but we can't help laughing, especially when he calls it "fundling" or makes reference to "the Catholic tussies."
Of course, there's nothing funny about the report issued today by the commission charged with investigating the systemic sexual, physical and emotional abuses perpetrated by Catholic priests, nuns and other officials at reformatories, schools, workhouses and orphanages from the 1930s to the 1990s in Ireland. For those of you who came here today looking for a laugh-- um, go enjoy the My Masonic Apron archives or a repeat of "Maude."
Tens of thousands of victims. Decades of unmanaged and unprosecuted abuse. Countless lives shattered and needlessly fucked up at the devious and deviant hands of people protected by the sanctimonious untouchability of God's shroud. I know very well that my father knows how to pronounce the word "fondling" and I think his reluctance to call it what it is stems from his very real abhorrence of the deeds-- he'd rather make light of it. For too many years and too many decades, the Catholic Church has also not come clean and called it what it is, but for a very different reason. It's only a crime if you identify it as such. If you conceal, if you lie,if you shift blame, if you apologize for the perpetrator, if you castigate the victim instead of the predator, well, then, you're just letting the molesting machine roll along on its merry little way, aren't you?
Well, God bless.
Religion, like Tylenol, is great if it's used correctly. If it's abused, also like Tylenol, well, then you're in trouble. I very much doubt that there's a Hell, but, if there is, I hope there's an especially hot and fucked up place for those who misuse their religious authority to torture young children.
They like to say that we're all made in God's image, but I don't think so. It's pretty hard to conceive of a God who would make men who are then ordained as His servants who then participate in these thoroughly ungodly acts. Kinda pokes a hole in that cozy little belief structure, doesn't it?
The fact that the Irish government was complicitous in covering up these immensely and powerfully awful deeds is a revolting stain upon that society. This is what happens when faith and government are, for lack of a more tasteful term, in bed together. Then again, seperation of Church and State hasn't done too much to ameliorate clergy scandals in this country.
The report fails to name names of abusers, because of a legal injunction from The Christian Brothers, one of the entities that ran many of the reformatories, whose hands are quite obviously stained with sickness and guilt-- otherwise, why the lawsuit? Without names, there can be no justice. It is impossible for any commission or any government or any church to give back these victims their childhoods, their innocence, or their dignity. The very least they deserve and are entitled to is justice.
I doubt they'll get it, though. After all, they're no children of God, right? They're just sons and daughters of the workhouse-- bastards and whores all.
People use religion for a lot of nefarious activities. Some people use it to sell you shit you don't need: like icons of Mary to nail up all over your house, or gold stars of David to wear around your neck. Some people use it to shame you for simply being human and making life's little mistakes that we're all supposed to make. Some people use it to compel you to behave, to walk the straight and narrow, to scare you shitless so you don't speak up or speak out. And some use it so they can fuck trembling, fearful young boys in the rectory when nobody's looking, and be certain of their victims' silence. After all, Hell awaits and, if that's not frightening enough, there's always the Hell on earth that comes as part and parcel of being a victim of rape, abuse and torture.
The Jews believe that God is there and that God sees everything, but I'm not so sure. If He is there, and if He does see everything, then I don't think He deserves that capitalization after all.
In May of 2007, Mrs. Apron and I celebrated our marriage in Bali, Indonesia.
We called it our "Balimoon."
It's hard for me now to even believe it happened, but there is plenty of photographic evidence to prove that it did.
Like all poor twentysomethings, (at the time, I was making $11.00-an-hour as an EMT, and my cute new wife was a graduate student), who want to do something extraordinary, we took incredible advantage of the kindness and comparative wealth of our parents. Specifically in this instance, her parents. More specifically, their frequent flyer miles. If we hadn't, the trip would have cost us approximately $9,000 in airfare, and, instead of having a Balimoon, we would have ended up having a Trentonmoon.
Mrs. Apron desperately wanted to go to Bali, almost exclusively because of her deep love of Balinese gamelan music, a percussive, rhythmic, beautiful music that Mrs. Apron played in ensembles in Pittsburgh and in Rochester, New York. Ever flexible in the heady days of our courtship and engagement, I agreed to go to Bali.
Before I ever looked at a map.
Bali is very far away from Pennsylvania, for those of you who are geographical nitwits like me. It's fucking very far, people. The first time I actually realized where it was, I distinctly felt a slight lump in my throat, and other one near my testicles. It wasn't cancer, though. I had it checked.
I can remember sitting in the back of ambulance #402, my partner doing his architecture homework in the driver's seat, the radio sitting on the stretcher and being on the phone with our travel agent trying to schedule the trip to and from Bali.
"Well, we can get you from Philadelphia to Bangkok, or JFK to Vietnam, but that flight would have to leave a day earlier, and you would miss your connecting flight to Jakarta. There's another option, of course, but you don't want to go through Russia..."
My head was spinning. What the fuck was this guy talking about? I didn't want to go to any of these places, let alone Bali. I mean, I was sure it was going to be beautiful and worth it and there would be sex when we got there and everything but, wasn't there a direct flight from here to there and an injection I could receive so I could sleep through the whole thing?
Alas, there was not.
We flew out from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C. We had less than forty minutes to board a plane to Japan. Then one to Jakarta. Then one to Bali. On the way back, it was Bali to Singapore, then Amsterdam, then Philadelphia. This, friends, is what happens when you use frequent flyer miles in an effort to circumnavitage the globe.
There was a big clusterfuck in the airport at Jakarta. I don't remember exactly what the problem was, my wife probably will-- I have little head for details, but they weren't crazy about letting us on the plane from Jakarta to Bali. So they didn't. We missed our flight, diminishing our chances at experiencing Bali and cross-time-zone nookie.
"Next one. Very sorry."
Well, "next one" came in and went-- we could watch the planes coming and wenting from the open-air gate. People got on, people got off. Bye-bye, plane! Every twenty minutes or so, an Indonesian person in a uniform jacket would walk in and stare at us. Clusters of Indonesians in uniform shirts would cluster around a single phone, talking, staring at us, even pointing at us.
"Yes, they're the ones with SARS," I'm sure they were saying. "The short one with big boobies and the tall Woody Allen. Take them as prisoners."
Now, I don't like flying. And I like it even less when there are complications. My wife was flipping out, but eventually she resigned herself to the probable conclusion that we were not going to Bali, and that we were going to have to live in Jakarta for the rest of our lives because, apparently, we were un-planeworthy. She laid down on a bench in the airport and put my hat over her face, wanting to shut out the world. I stood up and walked over to the edge of the gate so I could watch the action on the tarmac.
You're not going to believe what I saw.
Around five police officers or army officers, I really couldn't tell you which, were standing on the tarmac of this pinkydinky airport. There was a huge plane, sitting at the gate. The police officers were systematically searching, and I mean patting down, like on COPS, the flight crew and the flight attendants before permitting them to enter the plane. The captain and co-captain of the plane were standing there, on the tarmac, with their arms fully extended outward and their legs shoulder-width apart as they were being felt up by big, scary guys with guns.
And I thought, hmpf. Why do they feel the need to do that to the flight crew? And, if there really is a need to do that to the flight crew, then I'm very scared. And, if there is a need to do that to the flight crew, then surely there's a need to do that to all the passengers. And, if there is a need to do that to the flight crew and all the passengers, then I am very, very scared.
I've always been very, very.... very scared of plane crashes and air disasters. In an effort to master my childhood fear of airplane accidents, I obsessed over news coverage of the PAN-AM Flight 103 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988. I gathered my mother, father, my two sisters, and my sister's friend who had the misfortune to be spending some time at our house on that particuar day, into the living room for a funeral service for the Lockerbie victims. I had a CASIO keyboard set to pipe organ mode on which I played a slow dirge. I had ten "victims" of the disaster (Playmobil action figures wrapped individually in a tissue) all lined up, as the real victims were on the news footage my parents *ahem* allowed me to watch continuously. The living room victims were carefully loaded into a 1/24 scale model hearse (that I had spraypainted gold, for some reason-- Saturday Night Fever hearse?) and that concluded the service for the Playmobil figurines. Therapy sessions should have began the very next morning, but I just went to school.
So, my fear of perishing in an airline disaster/terror attack/explosion has deep roots, and the sight of airline crews being methodically searched on the tarmac of a country that has 18 different Wikipedia pages devoted to air disasters was somewhat disconcerting to me. But I didn't have much time to think about it, as a mustachioed, swarthy man in a Garuda Airlines short-sleeve uniform shirt came sauntering up to me.
"Sir, you flight is ready. Come please. Quickly please."
I pointed to the plane just outside.
"It's not that one, is it?"
I grabbed my wife's hand and held it tightly as we followed this man down two flights of stairs until, oh my fucking God, we were actually on the tarmac. A silly little jitney truck came barreling up to us at a high rate of speed.
"In please," said the small mustache man.
We got in and the fucking thing went racing across the tarmac, headed towards a Garuda Indonesia plane off in the distance.
"We will make it," the lunatic driving assured us, grinning. I wondered if he had been searched yet today.
We did make it, both on the plane and to Bali, though this flight from Jakarta to Bali encountered heavy turbulence that even had normal people freaked out and letting out gasps and even a shriek or two. For my part, I wanted to die with dignity. I just held onto my beloved's hand with a force that probably turned most of its bones to a cocaine-like consistency.
"Okay, you're actually hurting me now."
I wanted to say, "What's the difference? When this thing explodes, the sudden change in air pressure is going to make the gasses inside our bodies expand to four times their normal volume, causing our lungs to swell and then collapse."
But I didn't. I just loosened my grip. A little.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
I wistfully remember my old blog's 100th blogday. And 200th. And 300th. I snuffed that bastard out at 336 posts, and it still pains me. But what is anonymous blogging when it ceases to be anonymous?
Oh, right-- a threat to one's way-of-life.
After I killed the old blog, I got very depressed. Mrs. Apron got even more depressed, I think and, even though I created My Masonic Apron that very same day, even though I made a clear statement that I was not going to wave bye-byes to the blogging world, there was a definite fear that I would not return with the same resolve I had from June-March.
And, you know what? I probably haven't.
I am thrilled, though, to have a dedicated emsemble of readers who, apparently, don't care about that or just haven't noticed. Thanks, buddieboos!
These blogs are funny little things, aren't they? In the old days of philosophy and pointless masturbation, we used to wonder "Why am I here?" When bloggers get all philosophical and meta, we wonder, "Why are you here?" Seriously-- with so many other blogs out there in the universe, what brings you here? I mean, there aren't even any YouTube clips to watch. I should probably look into that. But I won't.
Anywhoo, in the tradition of my blogdays of yore, instead of needlessly pontificating and getting all smushy about life and blogging and the momentousness of the blogday event before us, I'll just do what I normally do on here: lift up my masonic apron for all's y'alls to get a good, strong whiff and a tasteless peek.
"Surprise: You're The Asshole!"
I had to pop into Genaurdi's supermarket this morning, because I promised Mrs. Apron I would. If you can't keep your promise to your wife, especially such a banal and easily accomplished promise, than you're pretty much a totally useless fuckhead.
(Remind me of that, will you, the next time I forget that peeing in the shower is inappropriate for someone with two advanced degrees and the correct number of chromosomes.)
I went in there prior to heading in for work and I raced around like a madman, fearing I would be late for work, only to later arrive at work 1/2-an-hour early. I was in and out of the supermarket in 7 minutes, probably a record, and, if not, close. As I tromped through the prepared food section, I paused for approximately five-or-so-seconds to catch an Asian man involved in a heated debate with the obese, Asian woman behind the sushi counter.
"Just tell me," the customer implored, "Do you use long-grain rice or not? Also-- what is your process for making the tempura? I want to know what kind of oils you use. Okay? O-i-l." He sounded out the word for her very clearly and very loudly, just in case she happened to be retarded, deaf and/or made of wood-chips.
Wow, I thought as I passed by this very unusual exchange, you, sir, are a fucking asshole. What, exactly, do you hope to gain by berating the unfortunate, lumpy, pock-marked behemoth who has the misfortune to prepare sushi for arrogant bastards like you in exchange for $6.00/hr and a ten minute pee-pee/psychotic meltdown prevention break? What do you really want to know? "You make sushi like mamasan?" No, needledick. Of course she doesn't. Because she doesn't love you. Only mamasan love you. Long time. Now go buy a fucking sandwich like everybody else and leave this poor potatosack-shaped woman alone. Really, it's your fault for buying the food of your own culture at a supermarket. What do you expect? Do you think I would buy falafel from Shoprite? No. I mean, I don't eat that shit anyway. I hate chickpeas.
After buying my six groceries, I found that I had time to go run the groceries home to the refrigerator before work instead of leaving them in the car to spoil in the 70 degree sun, which was fortunate, because spoiling the groceries kind of defeats the points you score from remembering to go to the market and remembering not to step on the dog's face while he sleeps. On my way home, I was in back of a McCandless Home Heating gas truck (and if I had seen the truck number, I would have posted it here, you bastard) that was driving approximately seven miles-per-hour. He made a left turn, and I did the same behind him and, at the corner, he put on his hazard lights and stopped at the curb. Well, half of my car's ass was hanging in the middle of the intersection, as I was in mid-turn behind the fucker. So, I checked and then I drove around him. A van was coming down the street from the other way, but he was going extremely slow and I had ample time to pass the parked gas truck. As I passed him, he stuck his scruffy head out the window, pointed at the slowly-approaching van and screamed,
"WHAT DO YOU THINK I PULLED OVER FOR, YOU FUCKING ASSHOLE!"
If I had more time, bigger balls, a loaded Glock, or life insurance, I would have slammed on the brakes and shouted back,
"MAYBE TO MAKE A FUCKING GAS DELIVERY AT THE HOUSE ON THE CORNER, YOU SHIT-FACED, HALF-WITTED SISTER-FUCK!"
But I didn't have either of those four aforementioned items, so I just kept on driving. Yet another example of someone thinking they were doing the right thing by calling someone out on a wrong, only to commit a larger, more obscene wrong. You may have thought I was the asshole, but, surprise, you're the asshole!
Then, later on in the day, I saw a cadre of fat, slovenly, pimply adolescents horsing around at a playground and I thought, "Gee, it's 10:30am: you numbtitties should be in school. 'Cause nothing makes you look more like an asshole than being fifteen, playing around on a swingset in the middle of the morning, while 3 and 4 year olds with their parents can only look on, dejected and bemused, wondering if that's what they'll become.
Used to be, the only people who knew I was sick were my mother, my doctor, and the unfortunate gentleman whom I coughed and schnazzed on while waiting in line at the Post Office.
Speaking of coughing and schnazzing, I've been doing a lot of that lately. As I write this blog, actually. I hate to see our brand new flat screen monitor getting speckled with my piggie sickie sputum dots, but my boney little fingers can only cover so much of my fat fucking trap. I've been expectorating recently thick, gray/green gloopy objects that have the consistency of Polaner All-Fruit left out in the sun for six weeks.
This recent infectious episode has brought to mind an unfortunate time in my earlier days when I undertook the dubious habit of smoking cigars. Now, I don't drink alcohol, and I never have, and I don't do drugs, and I never have (though I was, up until today, on three different antibiotics, which some might argue would constitute pharmacological abuse) and I like to smugly contend that I have never bowed to peer-pressure but, really, I have.
Come on, gloat.
Back in high school, a good friend of mine and I had just been to see Saving Private Ryan, easily the least funny Tom Hanks movie since "The 'Burbs." Seeing the film filled my dear, blonde friend with an overwhelming sense of American pride. It filled me with an overwhelming desire to vomit profusely and/or never sleep again. As we sat on his parents' porch in the middle of the night, he must have noticed my anxious and diaphoretic state, keen observer that he was.
"I'll be right back."
"Where are you going?" I asked, semi-panicked that the Nazis would storm the porch and annihilate me if I were left alone.
"I'll just be a second. I'm going to bring you something that will relax you," he said, disappearing into the house.
I was uncomfortable. I knew whatever he was going to come back outside with was going to be weird. I was worried it was going to be pot. Everyone tried to get everyone to smoke pot in high school, and I was already a junior and nobody had tried to force it on me yet-- so this must be it, I thought. On the other hand, I had a latent suspicion that this friend of mine was gay... A lightning quick image flashed through my mind of him gliding back onto the porch wearing nothing but a grin and half-open silk kimono, holding a pastry bag filled with ricotta cheese.
Fortunately, he returned fully clothed holding a large zip-lock bag containing two cigars. The whole Monica Lewinsky thing hadn't happened yet, so I was no longer worried about sexual misadventures.
"These are really good," he claimed. "And nothing is more relaxing than a good cigar."
"Really?" I said with my budding skepticism. "Even more relaxing than a blowjob?"
I have no idea why I asked that. It would be years before I would know what one felt like. Besides, the goal was supposed to be decreasing sexual tension.
"Yeah, actually, they are."
Definitely gay, I decided.
"It's fine if you don't want to try, but I'm going to have one," he said, chopping off the tip like an overzealous rabbi at a briss.
I watched him in profile as he lit the thing and as his lips puffed away at it. He seemed to know what he was doing. Then again, in high school, lots of us seem to know what we're doing. Take driving, for instance. I don't think I actually knew what I was doing behind the wheel of a car until I was twenty-three. Maybe even later.
My friend settled into the porch chair, slid down an inch, and closed his eyes, the cigar resting lazily in his mouth. If he got any cozier, he would have undoubtedly caught fire.
"Awright, you sonofabitch. Cut me one," I said, craving a relaxed, semi-altered state that would get the images of young mens' limbs and necks being blown up all over Normandy Beach.
And so began and ended my first cigar. I walked home, fell into bed and slept deeply and lusciously-- for a long, long time. It was a blissful sleep, devoid of any of the nightmares, anxieties, borderline perversions or paranoid hallucinations that plagued my rest from age 7 on upwards. I slept, as they say, like the dead, only without the smell. It was, in a word, beautiful.
Then, I woke up, went to the bathroom, and rhythmically hacked up green mung globules for half a fucking hour.
I smoked maybe thirty cigars from age seventeen to age twenty-three. During that time, I was convinced on at least three different occasions that I was suffering from oral cancer. I wasn't, of course. I was biting my inner cheek in my sleep, leaving gross wounds in there. Another time, I had taken up the bagpipe chanter and developed a blister-like growth on my lower inner lip from pursing and blowing so hard. These were all diagnosed by physicians whom I visited, telling all of them I was "a smoker."
"Well, how often do you smoke?"
"Um... I don't know. I smoke a cigar maybe once every three or four months."
"That really doesn't qualify you as a smoker, sir," one of them said to me.
Great, I thought. What the hell do I have to do to get some recognition for my sins around here: put my mouth on the tailpipe of a 1970s Mercedes 300-D for a month straight?
My sophomore year of college, my girlfriend at the time brought me home to meet her thoroughly disturbed parents. The mother had purchased me, in honor of my birthday, a humidor filled with high-quality cigars and two butane Colibri lighters.
"Use them in good health," she snorted.
I stopped smoking cigars when I was twenty-two and was training to enter the police academy. Seemed like a logical time to quit-- even if I didn't really qualify as a smoker anyway.
Monday, May 18, 2009
Thanks, Bob Villa, Norm, and all you other smug, competent, flannel-shirt-wearing bastards.
Stores like Home Depot rejoice in the regained American pride of doing tasks and chores with nothing but a little of your own ingenuity, time, and elbow grease. Lowes sling its arms around our shoulders in a very chummy, cloying way and say, "Let's build something together." Hmm... let's not. Lowes, why don't you go build something with my independent general contractor?
I want to be all DIY-y, but I'm just not sure I'm cut out for that kind of lifestyle. Most toolbelts just don't stay up around my pointy hips.
You see, you never know what kind of a homeowner you're going to be until you are one. When you're a tenant, you call the landlord for every little thing that goes wrong, because that's what your ridiculous rent entitles you to do. That's what you, as a tenant, are programmed to do. You had that motherfucker on speed-dial, back when there was such a thing. You called him when the faucet leaked, or it didn't. You called him when the windows were too tight to close, or open. You called him when the lock was busted or the mold poked through the paint. You called him when you found the mouse floating face-down in the toilet and when you found the pencil drawing of a slightly deformed male genitalia on the closet wall.
You called him, and it was good.
Now that you own a house, there is no landlord. There is just a big, ookie bank. And they won't come fix your clogged drains, even if you call them and ask nicely.
This weekend, I DIY'd our hedges, and, less successfully, replaced a missing piece of wood cabinetry in our kitchen. Halfway through the cabinetry debacle, almost in tears, I pined ruefully for almost any one of the landlords from my younger, more carefree days.
"It's a poor carpenter who blames his tools," someone said to me, on a totally unrelated subject.
"Hey! I just did that this weekend," I replied, entertained by the coincidence.
He looked at me with disapproval.
"Well, there you go."
See? He knows I'm basically good for nothing. And he doesn't even know the half of it.
I tried to replace that piece of wood in the kitchen for almost an hour-and-a-half. I was up on the counter, on my knees, flakes and shards of wood falling in my hair and in my eyes, crouched like a melting pretzel, my back up against the double oven fidgeting with screws that were getting stripped, switching back and forth between a screw gun and a drill bit-- both of which I blamed for my abysmal failure.
I guess my friend who made that comment about blaming your tools is right. I mean, don't guys who can't get it up blame their tools?
My DIY misery really approximated impotence. I was so angry at myself for not being able to perform a simple rudimentary task that people have been doing for eons (screwing fucking brackets into pieces of wood). I mean, I realize that being Jewish is a distinct handicap in these situations-- we as a people haven't assembled anything ourselves since the pyramids-- but I wanted desperately to rise above the stereotypes and the genetic disposition to succeed, mostly so my wife wouldn't think she was married to the human equivalent of a cup of Jell-o.
I ultimately gave up. The piece of wood, instead of being held together with 16 screws and four brackets is now gingerly and tenuously clinging to its base by two brackets and five screws, two of them half in.
Like most things I do in life, it's good enough.
The hedges, though... The hedges look fucking great.
I mean "patient."
I met the managing director of this ambulance squad after I had written a scathing editorial in the Philadelphia Daily News about the state of Philadelphia's 911 system, which is pretty poor. I wrote the letter after a woman called 911 complaining of chest pain and shortness of breath. According to national standards, the average response time for an emergency call to 911 should be under 9 minutes. An ambulance showed up at her house 41 minutes later. She was obese, like many patients are, and the crew had a very difficult time getting her out of the house and into the ambulance. Once they had her loaded in, the truck wouldn't start. They called for a second unit, which had to race across town to get there. They arrived in around 3/4 of an hour, too.
Don't be surprised when I tell you that the patient died.
In the editorial, I wrote that the Philadelphia Fire Department, manning 40 ambulances, cannot possibly provide effective and timely service to the 1,447,335 citizens of Philadelphia without assistance, and I suggested that they integrate any number of the almost 50 different private ambulance companies that operate in the city for help when Philly can't respond to calls for help.
This gentleman, the managing director of a private ambulance company, read my editorial and was impressed. He had long been saying the same thing I was saying, and he was happy to find a friend. He asked me to come work for him as a grantwriter. This was last year, and it began my first paid gig as a writer.
The only problem is, I'm not a grantwriter.
In my regular, full-time job, I write grants also. But I'm not a grantwriter. I never learned how to write a grant. Nobody ever told me. I've never been to a grantwriting seminar. I've never read "Grantwriting for Retards" and I've never been formally trained on the ins and outs of writing grants. I've been given advice by successful grantwriters. I've looked at a lot of grants, both successful and unsuccessful, and, by this point in time, I've written probably close to ten full grant applications. I've applied for a total of probably close to $200,000. Let's just say I haven't earned nearly that much for my benefactors' benefit.
I told you: I'm not a grantwriter.
Engaging in professional or even avocational activities for which I am unqualified, untrained or unskilled appears to be a hallmark of my existence. My level of fakery, then, must be pretty good, because people keep trusting me with responsibilities, hiring me for jobs, giving me assignments and casting me in roles when, probably, they shouldn't. In November, I'll be appearing in my fifth Gilbert & Sullivan operetta. I know nothing about singing technique. I've never had a private voice lesson. But I get by, I guess. People keep handing me the keys to Gilbert's Rolls Royce. Don't ask me why.
At age 20, I was hired as an optician in a small eyeglasses store. I didn't even know what an optician was. Was it the doctor? Did I just get hired as an eye doctor as a sophomore in college? Was I going to have to puff air in peoples' eyes and perform surgery on fishook eyelids? Didn't you have to go to school for that? To my relief, I found myself cleaning 300 pair of eyeglasses and the display boards on my first day of work. I eventually sold, repaired, cleaned, and adjusted eyeglasses, checked prescriptions, managed the doctor's appointment book, ordered lenses, cut and grooved lenses (though I never got very good at this), measured bifocal heights and did a lot of other boring stuff like taking out the trash (which I was very good at.) I learned how to do all of this stuff by watching my boss. But I didn't actually know anything. I was faking my way through it.
Then I was hired as a loan officer. Talk about faking it. Amortization schedules? Debt-to-income ratios? Charge-offs? Lending practices? I didn't know what the fuck I was talking about. But I had an office with a big desk, and a computer, and a filing cabinet and a bunch of loan applications that I barely knew what they meant. I was on the phone with banks and they were saying shit to me that was like some alien dialect. I was truly alone in the ocean with this one. But I hung on for a year. Being a phony.
We're all phonies to a certain degree, I suppose. Some more than others of course. People trust us with things and tasks that they probably shouldn't, mostly because they're probably too lazy to go out and look for someone who is actually qualified. Plus, qualified people are much more expensive than unqualified people, aren't they? They demand big bucks for their competence. Us? We're just happy to have a job.
My favorite character from literature is probably Holden Caulfield, not that that should be pretty surprising to any of you who know me well, or even those of you who don't know me well. I love Holden very much, and it depresses me that, if he met me, he probably wouldn't like me half as much as I like him. He'd undoubtedly call me a "phony" but I guess that's okay, because I am. And he is, too, and I guess that's the point. Holden and I have very little tolerance for the world, but, then again, I don't think we're particularly fond of ourselves either.
"My brother D.B.'s a writer and all, and my brother Allie, the one that died, that I told you about, was a wizard. I'm the only really dumb one."
Sunday, May 17, 2009
We were at Kohls yesterday (judge not) shopping for Mrs. Apron. She wanted some summer tops that were appropriate for work. Not that the ones she has already have nipple cut-outs, an arrow pointing down to her crotch, or "Fuck You, Niglet" scrawled on them-- but, being a speech language pathologist, she is bound to dress by the 3 B's rule: no boobs, no butt, no belly. This seems like it would be the dress code for everyone in the working world, except for working girls, but some people need things spelled out for them, like the girl at the bagel store this morning who bent down to get cream cheese and was sporting an unfortunate plumber's crack.
First, since we were at Kohls (you're judging, aren't you?) Mrs. Apron wanted to pick up a bra or two, since she is an unusual size (34-D. Yay, boobies!), and is rather finicky about what product she will permit to sling up the girls. She's partial to Warners products, and she can't deal with underwire. She has such a bastard of a time finding her favorite bras that one year I went out and bought nine of them for her. I'm surprised the National Guard wasn't summoned via the Pervalert Button under the cash register.
"They're not for me," I remember saying stupidly to the matronly, black Kohls employee as she scowled at me as if she were my fourth grade teacher and I had just wet-farted during a math test.
Yesterday, we found exactly two bras that my wife found girlsworthy, so we snapped them up.
"Give them to me," she said as I was absentmindedly clutching them by their hangers, "and I'll spare you the indignity."
"Oh," I said, handing them over, "that's very kind of you."
We wandered over the the Young Miss section or whatever it's called-- Tween Hell-- where my wife is still fortunate enough to be able to shop without looking pathetic and she found several top possibilities. Just prior to entering the fitting room, she turned to me, said "Here" and shoved the two bras back in my hand, and also gave me her purse.
"Um, didn't you recently say something about sparing me indignities?" I asked.
"Oh, right. Here," she said, pointing to a rack of mish-mosh clothing, "put the bras here. This is the unwanted merchandise rack."
I hung the bras up, and stood guard over them as if they were the Bras of the Unknown Soldier. These things were valuable, I couldn't let just any bitch with 34-D titties just grab them and flee. I would fearlessly and zealously attack any woman who tried to abscond with my wife's bras. I would hit her with my wife's purse.
Mrs. Apron gone, dressing and undressing in the fitting room, I was left to my own devices in the distinctly women's section, left to fidget and let my eyes scan merchandise and customers and.... my shoes. I was busily engaged in the admittedly futile endeavor of not looking like a pervert. I couldn't decide whether the fact that I was holding a purse helped or hindered my goal. It probably helped. "Oh, that skinny Jew's holding his purse for his wife who's trying on clothes. How nice." That, I hoped, was what people were thinking as they were looking at me, standing guard by the fitting room discard rack. Those sentiments didn't, however, mirror peoples' facial expressions. I was feeling judged, especially by the older women, one of whom seemed to have her gaze fixed on me, her head cocked a bit as she squinted, trying to figure out whether she knew me from the neighborhood or "America's Most Wanted."
See-- I didn't just need to wait there to ensure that no big boobied patron would steal my wife's special bras, I needed to stay put because Mrs. Apron likes to come out and show each individual piece of clothing to get my perspective. I think this is very flattering, and it makes me feel like a.) my opinions are valid/desired and b.) I'm not the typical American husband who would perhaps offer a grunt if his wife engaged in similar modes of clothes shopping.
If I were the typical American husband, I would
* sit in a chair somewhere in the store and snooze, stare at other women, zone out, text my buds, watch football on my Blackberry, wish I was anywhere else
* be somewhere else.
Since, however, I am not the typical American husband, I do tend to send up a flare in the pervalert department because I am standing around near racks of tank-tops (no pun intended) uncomfortably wondering if people are thinking I'm a pervert.
I mean, I guess I probably am, but that really depends on your definition of "pervert." I wouldn't go to a pet store, buy a hamster, feed him nothing but Vaseline for a week, dress him up in barbie lingerie and put the pictures up on Facebook. I do often imagine what people look like naked, but I think lots of people probably do that.
So, the next time you see a guy hanging around the dressing room of the contradictory gender, stop and ask yourself whether or not this gentleman could just be protecting his wife's tot-hammocks and acting as her fashion consultant before you judge.
Or judge not.