Time Machine

I had a birthday recently. I’m too much of a narcissist to reveal my age but let’s just say if I were a piece of fruit or a loaf of bread I’d be well past my fresh-until date and I’d be in some bin or landfill. It’s a round number and I’m taking it hard. I don’t like it. I’ve been young and now I’m old. Young is so much better.

Here’s 12 years flashing before my eyes. The Warhols are the same and she recreated the daft look on her face but everything else has changed. I seem to stand upright in the older pic. I’ve developed a slump. It’s the weight of years.



March 2, 1994

I called Margaret to arrange a time and place to meet. Some dude with a deep voice answered and said, “She’s in shower.” Not in *the* shower. She’s in shower. I assumed it was her overprotective brother. She said he’s in the Russian mob but I’m pretty sure she’s joking. I said, “Okay, have her call me back.” I waited a couple of hours. No call. So I called back. Deep voice answered and handed her the phone.

“Hi, Margaret.”
“Yes? What do you want?” Mind you, SHE asked ME to call HER.
“Ummm…do you still want to get together tomorrow?”
“You and your brother are charming.”
“Is that all you wanted?” And hung up.

Cindy and Hedy came over to borrow my table for a dinner party. I was kind of rude to them but they invited me anyway. When I got home that night there was a message from Margaret. “That wasn’t my brother. That was my ex-boyfriend. I didn’t want him overhearing our conversation.” She called the next morning. I listened to her fumfer an apology, didn’t say a word and hung up. She called again tonight. I picked up the phone and heard, “Don’t hang up!” I said, “Who is this?” “Margaret!” I hung up. Oswaldo said I shouldn’t act like that but I don’t want to hear from her again.

Someone tagged the front of our building. People who think graffiti is an art form don’t live with it. They live on quiet, well-lit streets. 95% of graffiti is garbage. It’s vandalism. The small percentage that’s valid gets covered up almost immediately.

I shouldn’t have moved here. There are junkies everywhere. Some homeless bum takes a crap in the vestibule almost every night and Peter has to clean it up in the morning. Last weekend someone spit a gigantic gob of mucus on the elevator wall. It looked like it came from a species other than human.

Jack Nicholson just got an award. He’s on TV blubbering. He’s saying his work is dangerous because he gives his life to it. Jesus Christ, Jack, you make a lot of money to play pretend. Get a grip.

I just heard four or five gunshots. Now, sirens. I hate this dump. It’s turning me into a racist.

[Note: In January of 2018 two apartments on the same floor I lived on were combined, gutted and restored. The buyer paid $2,200,000 plus design and construction costs. Things change.]


Taken Friday, July 12th, 9:30 p.m. in Hell’s Kitchen. Of course.

29 thoughts on “Time Machine

  1. You look fitter than you did 12 years ago – or at least thinner! You look fine. I keep warning people about ‘0’ birthdays. I still haven’t recovered from my last one and that’s well in the past.
    I kind of think Margaret deserved the cold shoulder.

  2. Happy Birthday, you old so-and-so. If it’s any consolation, I assumed until you told me otherwise that we were roughly the same age and that you were simply more sophisticated. I was half right.

  3. You don’t appear to be slumped. I think you’re being too hard on yourself. Happy Birthday. And, remember to enjoy today because tomorrow you will be older still …

    Margaret’s “ex-boyfriend”? Probably not. I think you were right to walk away, so to speak. You felt her apology was evasive because it was evasive.

    • Perhaps I’m feeling l little slumpy because of Father Time breathing down my neck. He’s the annoying sort but there he is. Thanks for your sage advice. I will take it to heart.

      I think it actually was her boyfriend. She was trying to shake him but he wouldn’t leave. I didn’t want any part of that. I had my own drama.

  4. I love that your daughter put on the same expression. I’m finally moving out after 18 years. You go where you can afford, sometimes you get stuck there. Literally round the corner the houses are three times the price of mine. Down the road they are five, six or seven times the price.

    • She’s a chip off the old block. Repeating the expression was her idea. I don’t know where it all comes from. Moving out today is way, way tougher than when I was young. It requires a lot more cash. Back in the day you could still be broke and make it. I wouldn’t know how to go about it today. Find a way.

  5. Hello, stranger! Pretty sure I’m not the only one who’s missed your posts. 🙂

    Birthdays? Pff. I think mothers probably remember them, but I have sometimes forgotten mine!You’re still looking good even at a “serious 0”

    • We never spoke again. I know how to ice someone out. I did it to my dad so a pipsqueak like Margaret wasn’t a problem. I think I was unfair to her. But I had so many issues. I didn’t need hers as well.

  6. Happy Belated Birthday. I remember when I turned 50, I thought I only had 5 more good active years. That was 20 years ago. The pic is priceless. I have several pics that are 55 years different from the very same exact spot. So keep taking those exact pics. You bought new threads, but it looks like you made the daughter wear the same jeans! You did the right thing with Margaret, keep your dignity, its the only thing we have left before we start losing control of our bodily functions.

    • Thanks for your good wishes. Love the jeans quip. I’ll pass that along to her and credit you. I often wonder what happened to poor Margaret. It really was her boyfriend and she was trying to shake him off. But I wanted no part of it. Life is complicated and scary enough without getting between those two.

  7. Happy birthday.

    I didn’t add the exclamation point above because it takes too much effort to even type excitedly at my advanced age. Hell, I pulled my shoulder last year opening a window and it still friggin hurts. Official medical diagnosis? I’m “getting old”. Been in physical therapy for a month now. Good times. I’m working on a post about getting old and it’s just so depressing I gave up halfway through.

    That all being said, the GOOD thing about getting old is not giving even half a shit about what people think anymore. I blurt stuff out all the time, damn the consequences. It’s freeing. (wait a sec–I was always like that…) Anyway, enjoyed this post very much. It warmed the deepest reaches of my withered ‘almost-half-a-century-old’ heart.

    • My hearing is going. I thought it was due to my young Rock and roll lifestyle. Went to a specialist. The diagnoses: old age. That’s not sexy. Nobody wants an old, hard of hearing man.

      *Almost* half a cent? Ha. What an amateur. I remember a half cent. Those were the days.

  8. I read this yesterday, and last night I had a dream that you found a great apartment in NYC for us to share. Two bedrooms, and $1000 each. As if that exists!

    I have a great picture of my kid in front of the Warhol exhibit at MoMA. I guess everybody does?
    Happy birthday! You haven’t changed from one picture to the next.

    • A two bedroom apartment for $2000 a month is a dream! When I was on Clinton Street I was in a rent controlled palace. Two bedrooms, 950 Sq ft for $550/mo. No lie. But junkies and crime all around me. Thanks for the flattering comment but I’ve changed considerably between those pics.

  9. Listen up – 30 is the new 20 so you’re good for a decade or two yet 😉 Besides, you’ve hardly aged in those two shots.

    Happy Birthday, M.

    Margaret – the one that got away. Thank God.

    Change – it’s the only thing you can rely on.

  10. Although it appears that NYC apartments age better than their tenants, at least judging by the rate their prices go up, you don’t look anywhere close to landfill either. 🙂

  11. Happy birthday (belated), I think you look better now than you did in the photo from ten years ago, not even remotely slumpy.

    You probably did the right thing with Margaret, it’s all too easy to get tangled up in other people’s messes when you’re that young.

  12. Well done you require Margaret. That takes guts. I’ve ended up being walked over by girls because I am too needy and have hopes which will never be realised.

    My girls are starting out in the world now, and yes, it was so much easier when I flew the nest. They were incredulous yesterday when I told them that in 1981 when I left home, you could sign on at the dole office and get your rent paid and a small living allowance. Maybe we were born at the right time after all. Happy birthday !

  13. Happy 60th!!! or am i off on that? if you’re only 50 then we’re a lot closer in age than i thought, i mean we could have been underage drinking at the Rampant Lion together back in the day or waiting in line for a pita pizza at the late night joint across the parking lot, the name of course is forgotten, hell you may have even stumbled over on of the many empty bottles of grape Mad Dog i left in the parking lot… and someday on your way to Clevo you should really check out the Warhol her in Yinerville, you’d dig it, right now they have a Kim Gordon thing going on, want to check it out but summer time keeps me running.

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