When a Man Likes a Woman*

*With apologies to Percy Sledge.

I was scheduled to meet my pal, Jane, at an Irish/Manhattan after-work watering hole. I’ve known her for many, many years and we like to drink. She almost married a friend of mine. Personally, I think she dodged a bullet. We hang out as often as we can. I cannot tell you how liberating it is to go out drinking with a girl and have absolutely no sexual tension in the room to distract and muck things up. We’ve never had any sparks between us and because of that or, perhaps, despite it, we’ve become the bestest of pals. It’s a very satisfying friendship. She’s got her husband. I’ve got Mrs. Wife. No problems! It’s great! Hombres, if you can pull it off, I highly recommend it. You can say stuff to a girl you’re not trying to seduce that you can’t say to your guy friends or to a girl who you would like to seduce.

She’s a news editor at one of the major networks and is often sent to far-off, sometimes exotic, locals. It’s almost always in relation to some kind of disaster, so she’s got great stories to tell, although she complains about the constant travel. My work is so boring compared to hers.

The nature of her work often results in last-minute cancellations because she needs to chase a story. It happened a few nights ago. Since I was granted the night off and it was such a pretty evening, instead of rushing back to New Jersey, I went down to the World Financial Center at the southern tip of Manhattan to hear some music. During the summer months, there are dozens of outdoor free concerts littered all over New York. I saw blues musician Angelo M and his trio. It was very satisfying. I love watching an accomplished guitarist play up close. I like to see his fingers dance on the fretboard.

Here are some random shots I took of the World Financial Center. Just to compare/contrast, here’s what the big glass Atrium looked like immediately after 9/11. What a mess!

wfcI’m happy to report that it’s been restored to its original grandeur. I hope you’re looking at these through a nice, big, bright monitor.

wfc4The construction project peeking out in the center is the new Freedom Tower. Christ, I hate that name. It’s too jingoistic for my tastes. It reminds me too much of Freedom Fries. But it’s an architectural home run. Wait ’till you see it.


Bonus pic with lovely contrasting angles.

wfc2While listening to the music, I bought a couple of tacos and a bottle of beer. Delicioso! I ate them at a little table under a tree, Hudson River to my back, blues solos in front of me. They gave me one of those little packets with a cloth wipe inside for clean-up. I flipped it over and was shocked to see this:

packetDirections?! Is there someone out there who doesn’t realize you need to open the packet and remove the moist towelette? Are they rubbing the packet on their hands wondering why they’re not getting any cleaner? I’ll bet this wrapper edict was a mandate handed down by some desk monkey in Compliance.
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Ad from last week’s Sunday New York Times Book Review:

Two HOT Summer Reads!
Contracts in the Real World (Stories of Popular Contracts and Why They Matter)
The Essays of Warren Buffett: Lessons for Corporate America

My God. I think they’re serious.

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Can anyone tell me why my dog likes to roll in feces? What abhorrent behavior! It sickens me a little bit. I keep telling you…cats, cats, cats is the way to go.

Black heart

For, lo, these past 14 years, my mother- and father-in-law have, basically, tolerated my existence. They see that I adore their daughter and love their granddaughters more than life itself and for that I get a pass. They’re pleasant enough to me. We have an amicable relationship. But I’m fairly certain that if, God forbid, anything ever happened to Mrs. Wife and I, not only would I never hear from them again, they’d probably take me to court and litigate to get their name back. [For recent arrivals, I took her name when we got married.]

In the beginning…

I never asked my father-in-law for permission to marry Mrs. Wife. The thought never occurred to me! Who the hell asks for permission anymore?! (Actually, my brother-in-law did, that boy scout. I’d love to resent him for it but he’s one of the nicest, funniest people I’ve ever met so I can’t.). They are olde world traditionalists and it rubbed them the wrong way. A tone was set that hasn’t changed much over the years. I tend to walk on egg shells around them. I probably always will. It’s exhausting. In my defense, my mother-in-law was recently lamenting the fact that because of a demographic shift here in the U.S., there are now more minority babies being born than white babies. So there‘s that to take into consideration.

They came over on Father’s Day for dinner. All I wanted was for everything to be perfect. I wanted the food to be perfect. I wanted the conversation to be pleasant. I wanted The Daughters to display perfect table manners (no picking up food with their hands!) and I wanted the dog to leave them the hell alone. (My mother-in-law doesn’t like dogs.) It’s nearly impossible to pull off perfection, particularly  when you’re as deeply flawed an individual as I am.

I cooked a London broil on the grill. I’ve done this dozens of times. It’s not that hard. But I looked at this thick piece of meat, it looked back at me, and I knew it was going to be a fight to the death. I slapped that motherfucker on the grill and it just would not cook properly. I weighed my options; serve a dried up, burnt hunk of shoe leather or serve a piece of road kill.

All the side dishes were ready so I took it into the kitchen and carved that bad boy up. I wouldn’t say it was raw necessarily, but it wasn’t done. But once you carve into a piece of meat, you can’t put it back on the grill. You’ll torch it. I threw a childish hissy fit directed at my bride, who did nothing whatsoever to deserve it. I put it on a platter and marched out to the patio. Judgment Day.

Outside, the dog was being a puppy. She’s only, what?, seven months old? What can you expect? Running around in circles, under the table, jumping up and being a pain in the ass. When I sat down to eat, I was stewing in my raw meat juices and trying to watch every word that came out of my mouth.

The dog, about 25 feet away, started digging a hole in my grass. Dogs are genetically predisposed to dig. They can‘t help themselves. But I don’t want my yard torn up and yelling “STOP!“ didn’t do the trick so I lost my cool, took off my flip-flop and tossed it at her.

I have no athleticism. ZERO. I have, literally, never played a game of basketball, football or baseball in my life. I never learned how and no one bothered to teach me. I used to bowl a decent game but not anymore. (Does that even count? Bowling?) When I throw, I look like someone having an epileptic fit.

That damn flip-flop sailed across the yard and connected with laser, pinpoint accuracy. Best throw of my life. The dog yelped. I didn’t hurt her, but it sure scared the hell out of her. My beautiful 10-Year Old Daughter, whom I would give up my rotten life for, burst into tears. I hurt her dog. What a man I was (am). She got up from the table and ran into the house weeping. Mother- and father-in-law saw the whole sordid episode. Dinner and a show.

Then I felt it. It landed like a rouge wave wrecking the shoreline. It came from the dawn of time, through wars, petulance and across scorched earth that reeked of sulfur. It laid waste to civilizations sparing no innocents. Down to New Jersey and from the other side of the patio table where my in-laws sat: hatred. White, hot, hatred.

Of course, I apologized. Since then, the dog, my daughter and wife seem to have forgiven me. Daughter and dog run up to me when I walk in the door from work at night. Mrs. Wife still has dinner waiting for me on the table. But at night when I lie awake in bed staring into the dark, I am haunted by these images. I will be for the rest of my days. What kind of monster throws a flip-flop at a little girl’s dog and makes her cry? Happy Father’s Day, asshole.

Don’t call me daughter
not fit to.
The picture kept
will remind me.

P.S. The meat continued to cook while I carved it and it was actually not that bad. Of course.

Cool cat, looking for a kitty

Take a look at this hot mess:

hotThere’s no heat like midtown Manhattan heat. The glass skyscrapers reflect the sunlight down onto the sidewalk and cook your ass. Underground, the air conditioned subways suck all the hot air out of the cars, expel it into the stations and back out onto the street. If you walk over a sidewalk grate as a train is pulling into a station, you’ll be treated to a blast of hot air up your pant leg (or skirt). Add generous gulps of bus and taxi exhaust and, dammit, you feel alive. On my lunch hour, I’m going to Central Park to watch the carriage horses pass out onto 59th Street.

The only remedy is this…

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It’s summer intern season here at the financial institution I work at. I love the summer interns. They’re so bright and enthusiastic. They radiate life and youth. Up to this point, their whole world has been the vacuum of academia. They have zero real-world experience. Perhaps a summer job here or there, but nothing relevant. We were showing off a certain piece of software’s more efficient properties to one eager, red suspendered, young buck and he excitedly said, “That is so money!” He used “money” as an adjective. It made my molars grind but I didn’t say anything. He could end up being my boss one day.

There’s a specific type of young gun who makes it through the vetting process and is selected to intern. They’re excellent students from top-tier schools who, for the most part, have never heard the word “no.” They’ve never suffered a broken heart. And I’m not talking about a twee, adolescent, Hallmark greeting card college romance. (True! Love! Always!) I mean an adult hay-maker, like a divorce or wayward spouse. They’ve never experienced a significant personal or professional setback. Life’s been grand! I’m cordial but I don’t say much to them. I wouldn’t want to spoil any of the surprises that are just around the corner.

Mish mash mosh

There’s a lot of mush slopping around inside my head but none of it feels worthy of fleshing out for an individual post. On Abbey Road, The Beatles took several half-finished song fragments and turned them into what is now considered a medley masterpiece. I’m going to co-opt that idea and maybe make one halfway entertaining post out of a bunch of flotsam and jetsam.

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Is there a handy guy or gal out there who can give me some painting tips? Why is this always happening to me?

11photo(6)201401WHY IS IT that when I pull off the painter’s masking tape, it takes some of the paint with it? I wait 24 hours until it’s dry but it still happens every single time.

11photo(7)201401I thought this shit was supposed to be super non-adhesive to prevent this sort of thing from happening? I always end up with a lot of extra touch-up work when any normal handy guy or gal would be done. It’s annoying.
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Rooting for the New York Yankees to win is like rooting for Goldman Sachs to post record profits in the third quarter.

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Do you remember the Wantologist nonsense from the previous post? Well, here’s another winning profession courtesy of, once again, the idiot features editor of The New York Times.

Lynsey Stone [already the “unique” spelling of her first name tells me what direction we’re headed in] has morphed from ordinary photographer to a Birth Photographer. A Birth Photographer will rush to the hospital when a woman has dilated six centimeters. There’s a growing demand to capture the blessed moment when the baby first appears and share those photos (where else?) on Facebook. The photos have to have artistic merit. Mere snapshots are inadequate.

A woman in Long Beach, California shelled out $1,895 to have the birth of her child documented. Quoteth her: “That moment when both my husband and I look to see what the sex is? That’s something that I want to see happen.” Can you imagine being married to that? The Birth Photographer interviewed spoke of “Divas” who insist that their faces be depicted from certain flattering angles.

I remember when I was in the delivery room when Daughter #2 arrived. During the labor, I whispered gently into Mrs. Wife’s ear, “You’re doing great. Breath.” She looked over to me and said, “Will you shut up!?” No diva, she!

Foolishness in black and white

The New York Times recently published an article by Alice Randall, who is an educator at Vandervilt, claiming that “four out of five black women are seriously overweight” because, among other reasons, it’s “a part of black culture” to be fat. It’s a conscious choice they make. She claims that many black men worry that their women’s weight will drop below 200 pounds.

They’re also making a political statement. A “…fat black woman can be a rounded opposite of the fit black slave.” Their fatness is “an explicit political statement and active political resistance.”

To her credit, she goes on to say that the black community is in crisis and that weight reduction needs to be made a priority. But I am aghast at this foolish intellectualization of the problem. Only an academic would come up with this kind of dizzy, misguided logic. I’m going to take a walk down to the Fulton Mall in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, and ask the fattest black woman I can find if she’s worried that losing weight will remind her of slavery.

The quasi-liberal in me is squirming at my keyboard. I’ve been conditioned to feel that any criticism of the black community equates to racism. Here in New York, you can be the most ardent supporter of Israel (Which I am. It’s the only true Democracy in the middle east) but if you hazard to suggest that, perhaps, the West Bank land grab isn’t in anyone’s best interest, you’re made to feel like an anti-Semite. Pretty clever.

The EXACT SAME DAY, the Times printed an article about Katherine Ziegler, who is a Wantologist. Do you know what Wantology is? Wantology is a new psychological practice that therapists and life coaches apply to help their patients figure out what they want in life. Through this miracle of science, “Dr.” Ziegler was able to help one of her clients figure out that she wanted a bigger house.

The whole idea of a life coach has always made me kind of snicker, and this Wantology scam is the cherry on top. Do you know who has the disposable income and free time to employ life coaches and Wantologists? Wealthy, white, navel-gazers on the upper east side who have it so soft and easy that they can afford the luxury of introspection. Can you imagine things going so well that you got the blues because you couldn’t figure out what you wanted in life? Personally, I’m too busy trying to insure that the mortgage gets paid on time. Once again, the Times distinguishes itself.

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This canine has stolen my daughters away from me. I still don’t have any warm feelings towards her, but I’m trying.