Thursday, February 28, 2008

Yes, there ARE poets in New Rochelle! And they are reckless drivers!

As if delivered from the gods, TWO of my questions (#1 and #14) from yesterday's post have already been answered. All it took was five bucks to get to the root of this one, folks.

First of all, although I usually tromp the hellish wind tunnel past the Trump Plaza to and from the New Rochelle train station, I just couldn't do it tonight. For about the second time since I've lived here, I decided to take a cab home.

As those of you who do this regularly already know, the cab drivers here are willing to pack in a couple of extra passengers and deliver them one by one to their homes, school-bus style, charging each what a ride straight to his or her home would have cost.

I jumped into the front seat of a cab already occupied by two passengers in the back. The driver roared off while I fumbled for the seat belt, which was stuck fast.

"Aw, don't worry about that," he said. "I got insurance!" He immediately pulled right into the path of a car, which honked and swerved out of the way. Insurance? I continued to "worry" with unusual fervor about the seat belt until it was secure.

Meanwhile, we were driving over half of New Ro to deliver the first passenger. As he whipped around on her street, he suddenly announced that the gas tank was on "red line empty." It began beeping ominously.

"I can make it!" he shrieked. "Let's keep going!"

"If you run outta gas," said the woman from the back. "I will be I-rate!"

"Me too!" I chirped. We were steadily getting farther away from my home and walking was now an impossible prospect.

He dithered about it for a while, driving erratically about the city, while the indicator beeped.

"Get gas NOW!" said the other passenger.

"Aw, maybe I stop and get some gas. You ladies like that Hillary Clinton?"

"I prefer Barack Obama," I said, and the other passenger agreed.

"But she is a woman. You're not sticking with your kind?" he said, aghast that we would so betray our gender. "She's got all that experience in the White House!"

"Grrr," I said. Other Passenger and I both explained our reasons for supporting Obama. Cab driver still clearly regarded us as traitors to femalekind. Meanwhile, he pulled wildly into the "Jesus King of Kings" gas station on North Avenue. This station is all about delivering Jesus with your fossil fuels, and is covered with bumper stickers that shout "Repent America!" But the best thing about it is that right across the street we have the MACKADOCIOUS Hair Salon. You have not lived until you get your bangs trimmed at a place called MACKADOCIOUS.

We waited while the driver filled the tank. Then he roared off in his wild way, yammering about Hillary's qualifications the whole time. "She's a woman! She's powerful! She's got the stuff! etc. etc." We were unmoved.

After he dropped off the other passenger, made two illegal turns, and shot the wrong way up a one-way street on the way to my house, my cab driver then informed me that he is a published poet!

I think that he has been inspired by our fair city, eh? Sky scrappers, indeed!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

My Top 15 Questions About New Ro

Now that my blog is being featured on The Larchmont Loop, a great local resource for news and information, I am on the prowl for New Ro scoops. As a chronicler of all that is weird in this little hamlet of 72,182 souls, I find my curiosity piqued by the following 15 questions. I shall not rest until I have pick-axed my way to the truth of each!

1. Are New Ro drivers, like the proverbial "mass-holes," really worse than others in Westchester? Or does the city attract horn-thumping fools like a magnet?
2. Is Sound Shore hospital really a medieval fright-fest, where women wander the halls like wraiths desperately looking for a bite to eat, and the emergency room has a layer of filth an inch thick? Or are these just scare stories meant to keep kiddies from leaping dangerously off high places and needing stitches?
3. Is Donald Trump embarrassed yet?
4. Why do people, when driving up the Post Road through Larchmont, discreetly hang onto their fast-food wrappers and old bottles--only to toss them wantonly out the window as soon as they cross the New Rochelle border?
5. Were there just as many geese pooing like crazy on the grass at Glen Island when it was home to Big Bands and was an elite destination for hip New Yorkers in the 30s?
6. Will there be lots of geese also pooing at the brand-new Echo Bay waterfront development when it is finally finished in 2044?
7. How many car dealerships can I hit with a pellet gun from my attic window?
8. Is it really a good idea for people in my neighborhood to hang their undergarments out on the line to give them that clean, springtime scent?
9. What's up with that Wykagyl area? Every time I drive through there it seems like people are on their way to worship the Lord. Are there any "bad guys" there?
10. Will I ever meet anyone who is member of the incongruous-looking, swollen beach clubs down on Davenport Avenue? Will they invite me to one of their parties? Will I get to swim in a pool? Will the other members like me? Will I want to write a very snarky blog entry about the experience afterward?
11. Have the Huguenots finally escaped persecution, or do they feel peeved about the food wrappers and offal mentioned in Item # 4?
12. What retail stores will go into New Roc City to replace the arcade? Will there be a "Chess King"? How about a "Dress Barn"? I like stores that refer to "barns." They make me feel womanly, and hungry for a snack.
13. Dude, who moves out from Manhattan to live in the Trump Plaza?
14. What goes on in the Poet's Corner on Main Street? Are there poets in this town? Do they write poetry with titles such as "Sweet Avalon, on the Sound"?
15. If I begin to use a thick parody of a French accent whenever I speak the name "New Rochelle," will the town take on a new "coolness" and European je ne sais quoi?

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Oh! Dyslexic Goats!

When I was in high school, my best friend and I became very interested in two things:

1. Rodents
2. Root vegetables (and also cruciferous vegetables, such as the cabbage)

It has occurred to me in recent years that these obsessions were, perhaps, a bit strange. I do not use the word "obsessions" lightly. We were deeply, religiously, and pathologically obsessed with rodents and unattractive veggies. The more empurpled, lumpish, slitty-eyed, and fanged the better.

The rodent category included such creatures as chinchillas, marmots, marmosets, ferrets, bunnies, weasels, and squirrels--with the occasional bird or odd animal (vulture, auk, elk) thrown in for fun. As for root vegetables, we were highly intrigued by turnips, rutabagas, parsnips, and beets--with the occasional fruit product (kumquat, banana) also thrown in for laughs.

In our discussions, we imagined that the rodents and the veggies would breed with one another to produce an uber-race of bizarre fiends. The Supreme Leader of the rodent-veggie race was a being called Lumpen. He was a giant rabbit with a wart under one eye, carroty red hair, and horrid sharp fangs. He didn't walk, he "lumped" about. He made strange noises such as "Bok, bok, bok!" He crept around people's gardens at night and growled menacingly. (I must confess that the inspiration for Lumpen was a particularly annoying high school teacher who happened to be red-headed and to have a small wart under one eye.)

One had to merely mention a turnip, stoat, or weasel to send my friend and I into an apoplexy of laughter. Once I made my friend piddle her pants by impersonating a cabbage, and how it might sound if poked with a stick and angered. (Another time I caused her to piddle when I impersonated Skeletor, ruler of all Eternia, but that's another story.)

At a time when most girls were fascinated with Revlon, curling irons, and footwear, we were making up songs and doggerel about rodents and rutabagas. One simple verse went like this:

20 rotten rutabagas sitting in a row
100 weasels in a vat
Stab me with a crow!

Our mythology grew and began to reach epic proportions. We drew sketches of "attack weasels" and turnips with piggy eyes and teeth in the margins of our notebooks, called ourselves "The Ferret Force" (teamed with a third peculiar girl who grew to share our obsession), and shot each other feral, toothy glances across the schoolroom. The panoply of veggie marauders and their rodent minions grew to include an evil carrot, some demon-like potatoes with dangling "eyes" that stuck out like swords, and hell-ferrets who launched themselves from cliffs to sink their fangs into the unwary. (The "unwary" were usually sketches of fellow students who we didn't care for.) We eventually had notebooks filled with this stuff, as well as bags of loose pages and hidden passed notes. We should have become cartoonists, but we were too stupid.

Now, looking back on that, it reminds me of something from another era--a story my mother might tell of her fun with "school chums" growing up in New Jersey. How they all wrapped dental floss around their noses and turned them tomato red, how they dressed up in costume and pretended to be pirates, or the time she trimmed off her eyelashes in the hopes they'd grow back lusher. A charming time, when silliness reigned and girls giggled for hours in their rooms without getting in a wit of trouble.

Were we dorks? Quite possibly. Ah, but we were slutty, drunken dorks! In addition to beets and stoats, we also liked boys and beers. In between assignations with both, we penned poetry like this:

Brussels sprouts wearing wigs.
Hyperactive stoats!
Fanatical ferrets in pea soup.
Oh! Dyslexic goats!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

I Bagged Me a Good One

The last four times I have been to Stop 'n' Shop I have had the good fortune to have as my bag lady none other than Shuffles, our peculiar cabbage-faced neighbor. (Our affluent neighborhood welcomes those from all walks of life. It is home to the butcher, baker, barber, cab driver, ice-cream truck driver, mail carrier, illegal multi-family slumlord, limo driver, envelope-stuffer, bottle collector, and one lonely guy in a suit.)

Shuffles is perhaps our most recognizable character, with her jet-black wiggy locks and her thick black eyeliner. And, of course, her manner of shuffling right down the middle of the street. But as a bagger at the grocery store she has no equal. Not only does she bag with tenderness and extra-special care (taking note not to squish the fragile raspberries and the delicate bread loaf), but she actually sorts the food by type. That's right. I got home and realized that one bag contained only wheat products, another fruit, another frozen, and another dairy. And she does all this AND protects the food. She is a miracle of efficiency.

This week I turned into the checkout line and there she was again, waiting to do the job she does best. She looked at me with her big, owlish eyes. The cashier started ringing my food through. But suddenly, everything came to a halt. The cashier stopped the conveyer belt and held up a small bottle of Saffron.

"Do you realize that this spice costs 16 dollars and 99 cents?" she said, somewhat accusingly.

"Um, yes, I know."

"Do you...still want it?"

"I need it for a recipe."

Both the cashier and Shuffles gazed at me with blank, uncomprehending stares. Several seconds passed without anyone stirring an inch. Shuffles' left eyebrow raised almost imperceptibly.

"Are you sure you want it?" asked the cashier. "It costs 16 dollars and 99 cents."

"Yes, I'll go for it," I said lightly.

They both shrugged as if to suggest that this extravagant purchase would soon bring ruin upon my family. Its rare and bitter taste, redolent with money ill-spent and for foul purpose, would make our meal turn to ash in our mouths. The cashier sighed loudly and rang it through. (I wonder if this sort of thing happens at the Scarsdale Balducci's?)

I felt compelled to say something. "Well, it had better be tasty!" I said sternly. No one smiled.

Shuffles gazed at me as she dropped the Saffron into the last bag. "I know where you live," her mournful eyes seemed to plead. "And you cannot and must not buy this spice."

The Saffron was very good.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

You smell dat smell?

Herewith, the most inane conversation I've yet heard between two children under age five. (This occurred while both were riding in a car on what was neither a highway nor a parkway, but a rural country road.)

Younger son: I smell sumfink. You smell dat smell?
Elder son: Dat is the highway dat you smell.
Younger son: No. I smell da parkway, not the highway!
Elder son: No, I am the one who smells the parkway. YOU smell the highway.
Younger son: No! YOU smell the highway. I smell da paaaahhhkway!
Elder son: No, I smell the parkway!
Younger son: I smell the parkway. You smell the highway!
Elder son: I smell the parkway! I always smell the parkway when we go on trips like this!
Younger son: No you do not. You do not smell the parkway. You smell the highway.
Elder son: YOU smell the highway!
Younger son: I am smelling the parkway right now, you!
Elder son: Oh, you give me a break right now!
Younger son: NO, YOU give me a break right now!
Elder son: I have had enough of this. Give me a break, all you people!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

A beautiful diamond pendant from Kay Jewelers

I really believe that nothing says "I love you" like a beautiful diamond pendant from Kay Jewelers. That's why my husband is going to head right out to the nearest Kay Jewelers, write out a check for $99.99, and get me one of those pendants.

It's shaped like a heart, because hearts mean "love." And see the tiny diamonds embedded in it? Every one of those diamonds is like a precious teardrop of happiness for the years we have spent together, the sons I have borne, and the dishes we have each washed so that our beloved spouse did not have to suffer "dishpan hands."

Do you know how I know my husband plans to acquire this pendant for me on this very day--the day when lovers everywhere express their heartfelt love in the form of pendants that cost $99.99? When we were snuggled close the other night, watching American Idol and holding hands, a commercial came on for Kay Jewelers! And they showed this pendant! When I realized it cost $99.99, I hung my head, and two lonely tears fell from my eyes. Surely this lovely thing was much, much too dear. But then my husband turned to me and asked gently, "Do you want one of those, honey?"

"Oh, no," I cried, but surely he could see that I wanted one more than all the riches of the Earth. For what is more sweet and desirous than a Kay pendant? He gave a little smile that told me all I needed to know. The pendant would be mine, and soon. My lady friends would gnaw their own spleens with envy, and the pendant would bring me joys unknown to pathetic, single women who cannot afford $99.99 and would be too shamed to be seen shopping for their own jewelry prior to a National Holiday like Valentine's Day.

I expect my pendant to arrive shortly. I hope it comes in one of those Kay boxes, and that a single red rose is placed beside it when my beloved husband hands it over. Then he might say something like "Every kiss begins with Kay." And then kiss me! I [heart] Valentine's day sooooo much!

Then, when I give birth in the spring, I await this lovely piece. Because nothing makes 14 1/2 grueling hours of labor more tolerable than knowing that, at the end of it all, this tasteful necklace will be dangling between my engorged, painful breasts as I nod sleeplessly over a squalling infant.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

McCain's Pet Gnome

Okay, you are 72 years old and your possible/presumed opponent in the campaign for the Presidency is 46 years old--the greatest age difference in presidential history. At your victory rally for the Potomac Primaries, do you:

a. Surround yourself with cheering, buoyant crowds
b. Speak with passion and enthusiasm
c. Choose a gnome and two towering, cadaverous old men to accompany you on the podium during your speech

After both Obama and McCain carried their primaries tonight, the difference in their rallies was palpable. Obama's crowd, while it no doubt contained a few of the old and stooped, radiated hope and energy. The enthusiasm was crackling. Placards were waved. People jumped about.

Then there was McCain. Speaking rather somberly, he was flanked by two old dudes in excreable ties, both of whom looked miserable and constipated. In the background, a woman who was no more than a rag, a bone, and a hank of hair kept squinting at the camera and clapping feverishly. Over McCain's right shoulder peeped what appeared to be a gender-neutral gnome with frosted, greyish hair. Repeatedly, the gnome bobbed and weaved so as not to have its line of vision blocked by McCain's body, but it was hopeless. The gnome was to be denied, and all that could be seen of it was the glimmer of its small eyes. Unfortunately, there was little for the gnome to see anyway—the one shot of the crowd made it look like coffee hour at the retirement home.

The two elderly male attendants to McCain's immediate left and right not only made the poor man look terribly short, but had the air of ominous spectres about to accompany him off to the Dying Place against his will. "Yes," their somber faces attested, "We will listen to your speech, but it will not find favor with us, old man." I expected the lights to darken and someone to rattle sheets of metal offstage to mimic thunder. Then, perhaps, the woman would have rent her garments, and the gnome would have started capering and gibbering weird predictions about the upcoming presidential race.

Maybe it is just me, but if I were old and my opponent had really white teeth and big ears, and was known to be a favorite among the young, I would strongly avoid the presence of extras from The Seventh Seal (yes, they were alive then) at my rallies. Maybe I would stack the podium with a few college kids, a woman who did not look like a wizened rat, and some fellows under 70 who were shorter than me. Just a thought!

Monday, February 11, 2008

My Son Danced With a Clown

A recent study from London shows that "clowns are universally disliked by children." This does not surprise me in the least. After my own dreadful experience in the Ob/Gyn Clown Ward, I am convinced that clowns are downright creepy. Nobody likes 'em! Except for, apparently, my eldest son.

I recently attended a children's event at which the clown pictured above was billed as the entertainment. She had been requested not to show up in white face paint because that was deemed too scary for the little ones. Nevertheless, the moment she skipped in, microphone in hand, one child started screaming as if he'd been bitten by the Devil. His father beat a hasty retreat while hot tears flew with dynamic, horizontal force out of the child's eyes. And this was before the clown had even started her act!

My own kids stared at her with round eyes, but did not seem fazed by her shrieky voice or floppy tam o' shanter. They watched with apparent interest her shoddy magic tricks and did not wince when the feedback from the mike sent chills up parental spines.

Distracted for a moment, I turned to speak to another parent. When I turned back, I saw a sight that made my jaw drop. My older child had run out and taken up position right next to the clown, and together--like an old, well-seasoned team of vaudeville actors--they were doing a lively version of the "chicken dance." The one that they do at weddings? Yes, that humiliation. I had seen it performed by an immediate relative only once before. It was not a sight I had wished to see again.

But there he was, flapping his "wings" and shaking his "tailfeathers." He had obviously positioned himself thus to be closer to the clown, maybe elbowing aside a couple of other kids to get there. And he was looking up at her with a googly mixture of awe, admiration, and love. Good god! I have never been prouder. Finally, my son had shown that he was not only fearless--daring to tread where other children wept and soiled themselves--but he was ready to enter into American life as a proud little conformist. He had danced with the clown. He had touched the stars.

Friday, February 8, 2008

My iPhone Virtual Keyboard Sucketh

I got an iPhone for Christmas and I do simply love it--its sleekness, its clean and lovely icons, its ability to deliver web pages and such. But I must take exception with its awful little keyboard. Not only does it make typing difficult (poke-poke-poke with one finger has been the only way I can master even a simple message), but it has an infuriating spelling corrector like a friend with a hearing disability who tells bad jokes. If you don't check carefully or you make a typo, every space return can bring you nonsensical results.

This is particularly offensive with the shorthand I try to use to avoid typing on the wretched thing. So:

sux = six
enuf = emu
shld = shod
new ro = new to
flee = foe

A hypothetical intended sentence: "New Ro sucks. Enough already! We should flee."
The result: "New to six. Emu already. We shod foe."

Messages also become truncated because it takes so long to type them. Therefore, a simple message like "on train" could lead to all sorts of misunderstandings. No "XO"? No "love"?

Supposedly you can use your thumbs to type on this sorry excuse for a keyboard. It's like trying to dial a phone using a hotdog. Good luck! I continue to use my right forefinger in a vain, lame attempt to communicate.

But for receipt, nothing beats this phone.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Valentines for Hillary?

I was out to dinner tonight with 5 people and we were struggling--each of us--to come up with even one, lone soul among all our New York friends and acquaintances who is a FAN and supporter of Hillary Clinton. No one could. Not one person. Then I realized that yes, I did know someone! A colleague at work. She likes Hillary, all right. But wait a minute...even she told me this very morning that she voted for Obama. The perfidy of it! Hillary's one known fan, a defector.

Yes, Hillary carried the state of NY, but in my numerous travels I have still not met one individual who likes her, nor one person who says that they voted for her. So, am I simply traveling in unusual circles? Are all the people I know similarly out-of-touch with the cadre of Hillary supporters that no doubt lurks behind every potted plant, in every coffee shop? So where are these people who are voting for Hillary? And more important, who are they?

Yes, older women--right. How much older? Are we talking severely doddering? Cane users? Lumpy, frumpy women of an uncertain age? Wig-wearing bed wetters? Soon enough I'll be "older" myself, but a few years on me won't make her crocodile tears seem suddenly charming.

Hispanics--right. See my friend Jack's comment on that phenomenon. Are there others? Aha! Maybe Bottle Gertie, the old crone who rambles up my street on recycling day with her shopping cart, looking for goodies. Both older and Hispanic! I'll wager her last tooth she likes Hillary. I'll bet Bottle Joe does, too. He's a man, but he looks like he'd like a "Vote Hillary" sweatshirt if I handed one to him.

Everyone I know, however, loathes her. Everyone they know also loathes her. So what's up? Have we been the victims of some cruel space-time ripple that has upended a bunch of southern yokels up here on voting day--who choose "Clinton" in the voting booth because the name "Obama" reminds them of that naughty, turban-headed Moooslim who knocked down our buildings? (The same lumpen swine who probably think "Barack" is another bomb-worthy country with WMDs hidden in the veggie patch and a swarthy leader at its helm.)

If you LOVE Hillary with a capital L, give-her-a-valentine, bumper sticker your arse with her face, bake a crumpet for her campaign kind of way, then please, write to me. I would like to say I know at least one person in the whole wretched state who carries a torch for the woman. At which point I will begin to expound upon Obama's massive ears (he can HEAR you, people!) and hopefully sway you to change your opinion.

As far as the rest of the country goes, I do know one woman in Vermont who likes Hillary. Everyone else I know across the whole massive nation loathes her.