Blogger legend Beckeye and I felt sorry for Chelene who, due to a nasty cold, had to miss this week's East Coast Blogger Conference. To make her feel better, I am providing this play-by-play of last night's activities.
5:35 pm: I arrive home from work and call my sister-in-law Ruby to arrange travel into the city. I advise her to take her own car since Poor George and I may be visiting Pyramid Club after the ABBA party and she may not want to stay out that late. Ruby complains, loudly. Just to get her off my back I agree to give her a ride and let her drive the car home, leaving me to take a cab.
5:45 pm: I shower and shave, nicking my neck in the process. Charming.
6:00 pm: I dress for the evening, regretting that I own nothing flashy or tacky enough to wear to a disco party. I briefly recall having discarded from George's wardrobe some old plum colored jeans and a hideous colored shirt that might have suited the occasion.
6:15 pm: I get into the car and head over to pick up Ruby.
6:18 pm: Ruby gets into the car and begins talking.
6:20 pm: I tune Ruby out.
6:50 pm: We arrive at McDougal & West 4th Street and discover a parking spot right on the corner in front of a large SUV.
6:51 pm: I pull into the space and discover my bumper hangs just a few inches over the crosswalk. I become annoyed.
6:52 pm: Owner of SUV appears and starts admonishing me not to get anywhere near his bumper. I seethe inside.
6:53 pm: Owner of SUV agrees to back up five feet to allow me room to park. I feel grateful until he again warns me not to touch his bumper. I am overcome by a desire to get out of the car and punch him, but I refrain.
6:54 pm: Ruby orders me to pull my car closer toward the curb. I try to reposition but have to dodge half a dozen stupid NYU pedestrians while cringing in fear that I might get too close to the SUV.
6:56 pm: Ruby tells me for the fifth time that I'm 5 inches from the curb and I should really be 2 or 3 inches. I ask Ruby to verify the position of my front bumper but she ignores me.
6:59 pm: After various requests to Ruby to verify front bumper positioning I yell "FINE, I WILL GET OUT OF THE CAR AND DO IT MYSELF!!" I verify that I am no longer overhanging the cross walk. I become pleased with myself.
7:00 pm: Ruby tells me again to pull in closer. I opt to ignore her.
7:03 pm: We arrive at AMA for our 7:00 pm reservation. The rest of the party is not there.
7:04 pm: We are seated at our table and Ruby says "let's get you a cocktail to calm you down. You're getting hyper." I reply that she was really annoying while I was trying to park the car. Ruby looks hurt.
7:08 pm: My cocktail arrives. I heave a sigh of relief as I take a sip.
ALCOHOL CONSUMED: One large gin gimlet
7:20 pm: The rest of the party arrives. Poor George orders a bottle of wine.
8:20 pm: We are enjoying a wonderful dinner. Stanley and I have sweetbreads, Poor George has pasta, Ruby has quail, Pauline has fish. Poor George orders a second bottle of wine, much more tasty (and expensive) than the first. We opt not to care because we are filthy rich.
ALCOHOL CONSUMED: Approximately three or maybe four glasses of red wine.
9:07 pm: To avoid an embarrassing Asian arm-wrestle over the check, I go to the back of the restaurant and pay for dinner in private.
9:10 pm: Stanley learns of my secret pay-the-check scheme and practically throws his brother to the ground in an attempt to cram cash into George's pocket, causing a larger commotion than would have occurred if we would have simply arm wrestled over the check. The maitre d' approaches cautiously to ask if everything is ok.
9:17 pm: En route back to the car Stanley and George engage in a private conversation on the topic of why Ruby has to be invited to our outings, since she ruins things with her annoying personality. I am cited as the reason she often comes along, due to my "soft spot" for her. Silence ensues.
9:26 pm: We reach the car where I retrieve my cell phone and George and Ruby stash some personal belongings. We bid "good night" to Stan and Pauline.
9:30 pm: I retrieve a voice mail message from Beckeye who is concerned about the strange looks she is getting at the gas station as she fills up her car while wearing a 70s disco outfit. I admire her preparedness.
9:37 pm: I retrieve a text message from my friend Shania who was going to come but ended up puncturing her foot on a nail or something. I make no attempt to see if she is OK. George offers that she is probably lying to get out of the party.
9:42 pm: My friend Shelly calls to see where we are because she has arrived at the party on her own and is being circled by a lecherous looking blond guy. I assure her we will be there very soon.
9:48 pm: George lectures Ruby about the need to stop embarrassing him by talking non-stop. Ruby does not hear the lecture because she is talking about something else.
9:52 pm: We arrive at the club and are told to stand in line outside for a few minutes.
9:54 pm: I text Shelly inside to tell her to stash up some free drinks for us before the open bar closes at 10:00. Shelly doesn't notice my message and does not order us any drinks.
10:05 pm: We enter the club. Shelly is standing near the bar trying to ignore the lecherous blond guy who is still staring at her. We hug.
10:07 pm: I order two gin & tonics and a glass of water. The bill is $18. I decide we will be drinking $5 Carslbad beers for the rest of the evening.
10:15 pm: We make our way to the back of the club and congregate at a table near the dance floor. Ruby sits down next to a handsome gentleman and then proceeds to whisper to Shelly that the man has a strange, pungent odor. Shelly looks at me questioningly.
10:18 pm: We are told to move away from the table because it has been reserved for certain VIP guests.
10:25 pm: Beckeye arrives, dressed in a gold lamé halter top, leg warmers and approximately three ounces of blue eyeshadow. Her hair is feathered in an attractive style that vaguely suggests "key party."
10:38 pm: George complains loudly that there is not enough ABBA music playing, and scorns the random assortment of 70s pop coming from the DJ's booth.
11:07 pm: Ruby looks like she's about to pass out, and George reluctantly offers to drive her home. She accepts, and George bids us a good evening with an underlying "I'm going to kill you, CP!" tone.
11:29 pm: The gals and I continue to dance and gawk at the odd assortment of party guests, which includes a disco dancing 70+ year old couple and a bonafide giant who is close to eight feet tall. We start wondering whatever happened to the guy who played Lerch on "The Addams Family."
11:47 pm: I offer to buy Beckeye a drink, and she requests an Amstel. I inform her she will be drinking Carlsbad because it's a Swedish party and it's on sale.
11:59 pm: Shelly suggests we ditch the ABBA party and head over to Club Pyramid. We agree.
ALCOHOL CONSUMED: One Gin & Tonic, two Carlsbad beers
12:07 am: We cab over to the East Village and enter Club Pyramid. I am the only one not carded at the door.
12:15 am: I buy small 5 oz. plastic cups of beer for Beckeye and me. I do not bother asking Beckeye if she would like anything else. Shelly disappears into the dance floor in search of her friends.
12:19 am: Beckeye graciously accepts her drink, assuring me that she really does like the taste of flat, room-temperature beer.
12:25 am: We join Shelly and her "gays" on the dance floor. We start dancing to "Thriller." Shelly regales us with tales of having played "Zombie Number 3" in her grade-school remake of the video. I feel old.
12:32 am: The DJ heats up with a well thought out playlist of popular 80s songs, and we get into a serious dance groove with Shelly and her Gays.
1:17 am: We are still dancing, and I scream "they are killing me with these songs!" every time another great oldie starts up. I pontificate on the fact that 80s pop music is more danceable and more fun than 70s disco. No one is listening to me.
1:28 am: I exit the dance floor and buy two more beers.
1:32 am: I return to the dance floor and empty the better part of a cup of tepid beer onto Beckeye's arm. She thanks me and keeps dancing.
1:39 am: As the first few bars of "Our Lips are Sealed" start up, Shelly asks me what group it is. I chastise her severely, then dance like crazy.
1:47 am: Beckeye complains about the noted lack of "Duran Duran" songs and suggests we take a break. I follow her off the dance floor and buy two more beers while she excuses herself to the ladies' room.
1:53 am: I sit on a bar stool with my two beers and begin talking to one of Shelly's friends. I tell her about the blogs and she asks what we write about. I try to say "I don't know, funny things I guess" but it sounds more like "I dullo, fuddy tings I gezz." I sadly come to the realization that I am plastered.
1:55 am: I attempt to recite a list of everything I had to drink until I realize Shelly's friend has no interest and that the math is too hard anyway.
2:07 am: Shelly's friend says she would like to be able to write like David Sedaris, but is worried that she's not original enough. I try to think of something inspiring to tell her, but all I come up with is an "opportunity cost" question about having sex with Mary-Ann vs. Ginger. I take comfort in the fact that my speech is too slurred for anyone to understand me .
2:11 am: Beckeye reappears and suggests we leave soon. I go back into the dance floor to say "good night" to Shelly and her Gays.
2:14 am: I hug and kiss Shelly as well as all her gays, and then fall face first onto the large platform they are dancing next to. I make a brilliant comeback to the effect of "who puddthis stage here?" Everyone ignores me because I am incoherent.
ALCOHOL CONSUMED: 4 small beers (I drank Beckeye's last one when she didn't return from the ladies' room right away.)
2:18 am: Shelly and her girlfriend follow us out of the club and we all attempt to hail cabs. I end up standing in this bizarre twisted leg position for a brief moment, and nearly fall over backwards. I feel grateful that I didn't break anything.
2:24 am: Beckeye and I walk to 2nd Avenue where we find a cab and ride back to her car. I continue to babble incoherently. Beckeye secretly toys with the idea of ditching me.
2:32 am: We arrive at Beckeye's car, and she lets me in after all. She makes me promise not to blog about some garbage she hadn't had a chance to throw out yet. I agree as long as she agrees not to tell everyone I'm an alcoholic.
2:45 am: We cross the Manhattan Bridge. I need food and decide to ask Beckeye to go with me to Purity Diner for some onion rings.
2:52 am: We get on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and as we approach my exit I realize we missed the Purity Diner. I decide to forget the whole idea.
2:57 am: I deliver explicit instructions on how many stoplights to go through to get to my street, and resume babbling about God knows what. We pass by my street and I continue talking. Beckeye asks if we passed my street and I suggest making a U-turn.
2:59 am: I exit the car and walk up my block. I consider turning around to wave to Beckeye but opt not to risk such a move for fear of falling over.
3:02 am: I enter the apartment and thank my lucky stars George had the good sense to leave a slice of pizza on the counter for me. I repeat my mantra "Georges rock. Everyone should get a George."
3:03 am: I put the pizza in the toaster oven, and fix myself a plate of cookies and a glass of milk.
3:07 am: I remove the pizza from the toaster oven and sit down on the couch to enjoy my treats.
4:48 am: I awake slouched over on the couch with half the slice of pizza on the floor below me. I pick it up and eat it.
4:56 am: I hear George in the bedroom saying "what are you doing out there? Come to bed!" "Ok," I reply, as I lie back down on the couch.
6:53 am: I awake again and finally go to bed.
TOTAL UNITS OF ALCOHOL CONSUMED OVER 8 HOURS: 12 (although the last four beers were very small.)
OVERALL EVALUATION OF CP: Inexperienced light-weight or total sad-sack lush. End result is the same either way.
Needless to say, much of today has been a wash. But now we're getting ready to go out for some Italian comfort food, so all is becoming right with the world again.
And so, Gentle Readers, until our next East Coast Blogger Conference, I will sign off.
Those Chicago bastar---- oops I mean bloggers, don't get to have all the fun with their exclusive little cliquey blogger gatherings. The New Yorkers are taking it back!
NYC area bloggers as well as their friends, loved ones, admirers and creepy stalkers are ALL invited to gather THIS FRIDAY, September 28 for an ABBA party hosted by a bunch of damn Swede bastar----oops I mean people.
Starting at 9:00 pm on Friday, come to NYC to meet CP, Poor George, Chelene from Bliss & Bile, Beckeye from The Pop Eye and many more as they drink $5 Carlsbad beers and dance the night away to the sounds of the greatest group of the 1970s (and no Dale, we don't mean Peaches & Herb).
Click here for details, address, directions or to buy a ticket online. (It's $5 more if you buy at the door.)
I have no idea where we'll be, but by this time you've seen enough pictures of Poor George and me on this blog to be able to spot us. Just don't do what Write Procrastinator did and walk right past me if you don't see a Chinese guy nearby; PG and I are not always joined at the hip!
You can also email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to warn me that you'll be coming - that way I can keep an eye out for you.
Most importantly, please don't let CP and Poor George be the only Dancing Queens at this party!
Flip-flop wearers force the world to look at things like this
Dale recently posted an interview with a new blogger friend who allegedly hates Crocs.
Fine, hate Crocs if you must. Personally, I love my Crocs. I don't wear them around town, mind you. I wear them in the house, in the yard, and slip them on if I have to run outside for a limited time (e.g. to take the trash out or down to the corner to buy a quart of milk.)
I do NOT wear them to work, in the office or on public transportation. I basically think of them as glorified slippers.
That being said, I do love my Crocs. They are super comfortable, provide good arch support, have breathing holes for your feet to breathe and they are easy to sanitize for good foot hygiene.
You may think they're ugly, and I would tend to agree, although they seem more kitschy than anything else. And I'm not wearing them for high fashion.
So now that we've said all that, let me just tell you all this one thing so that we can be sure to understand each other:
If you rip on my Crocs, you had BETTER fucking not be a person who wears flip-flops. And if you malign my Crocs while being a flip-flop wearer who actually wears them to work or on the subway or on Manhattan city streets, I may have to kill you.
Flip-flops suck for the following reasons:
They provide no support to your foot whatsoever
They provide no covering or protection so that, God forbid, if you should ever step onto a CROWDED SUBWAY TRAIN OR CITY STREET you will risk getting your toes stepped on. But maybe you would like that because then you get to act like a big baby instead of taking responsibility for your poor choice of footwear
And worst of all, they force the general public to have to look at your dirty and probably diseased feet.
Tell me people, how on earth can THIS:
be more offensive than THIS?
I know some of you wear flip-flops and you do work to keep your feet clean, well manicured and attractive - and for this I thank you. And I will not bother you about it UNLESS YOU MALIGN MY CROCS!
Today, when asked about pricing during a presentation my sales rep and I did for some clients, my sales rep replied that he would get the initial pricing from our finance people and then he would try to "Jew them down."
He actually said this. To our clients.
The only thing that kept me from bitch slapping him later is that he happens to be Jewish. But no matter. There are certain things you don't say in any kind of professional setting, let alone in front of one's clients.
And I believe "Jew them down" would be one of them.
Would somebody please help me get the fuck out of here?
I don't particularly care for 9/11 hype of any kind. While I understand the spirit behind wanting to honor the memory of the fallen victims and heroes of 9/11, I can't help but to feel suspicious of some of the motivations behind all the hoopla. Political motivations, or the motivations of a lot of drama queens trying to feel closer to the tragedy. Human nature either way, but it doesn't mean I have to like it.
Last year was particularly annoying. For months leading up to the big "five-year anniversary," anyone coming within 100 yards of a TV set within the United States was bombarded with gruesome images and ominous reminders that 9/11/06 was going to be some special sort of milestone in post-9/11 US history. As if the pain of burying your loved one is going to feel any different one year, five years or ten years later. I was sick of all the buzz almost even before it began.
I haven't discussed my personal experiences of 9/11 much at all, which is unusual for me as I've always been a big fan of talk therapy. Something's bothering you? Unload to a friend. Get it off your chest. But I find it difficult to talk about any of this stuff. Or especially talking about the death of my nephew in the Iraq war, a direct result of what happened on 9/11. Talking about either of these things doesn't make any of it go away, and doesn't decrease the pain one iota. All it does is make me tear up and try to change the subject or leave the room. It all sucks no matter what you do, so I just try not to do anything.
Despite my desire to shun all things 9/11, I did allow myself to be drawn into the 2,996 Project where 2,996 different bloggers, of which I was one, researched and wrote a tribute to one 9/11 victim. It seemed like an interesting endeavor, and something I could do quietly in the privacy of my bedroom with my laptop computer. No need for a lot of fanfare. I enjoyed writing about my "victim," Geoffrey Thomas Campbell and I was glad to have a chance to ---I don't know, do something. I heard from several people who knew Geoffrey, and it made me feel good to know they were touched by my tribute as well as to receive their thanks.
I posted my tribute to Geoffrey late at night on September 10, and then as any egotistical blogger would do, got up in the morning and went straight to my blog to see if there were any comments. There were quite a few left by other 2,996 bloggers, and so I felt compelled to link to their respective blogs to read their tributes and leave comments of my own.
I got quite caught up in this little project, and soon noticed it was close to 9:30 - meaning I was late for work. No matter, I thought, I didn't have anything incredibly important going on in the office except for a client meeting later that morning. I took my time, showered and got dressed. I made it to the subway around 10:30 or so, which was kind of nice as the morning rush had already well passed. I sat down with my New York Times and settled in for my 45 minute ride into Manhattan.
The New York Times was rather odd that day. A lot of full page remembrance ads from large corporations and other companies based in New York, commemorating the five-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. The train was very quiet, and I recall getting stuck on one of the ads. It was mostly white space, with small black lettering. So stark that I couldn't look away.
After about 20 minutes we came to the Manhattan Bridge, which my usual morning train crosses. Riding across the bridge is always my favorite part of the commute, especially when it's a nice sunny day, as 9/11/2006 was. I enjoy feeling the train emerge from the dark subterranean tunnel into the natural outdoor light, and often I'll stop reading the paper and just enjoy looking out the window.
This day was strange, though. I looked over at lower Manhattan and just thought about the towers. I thought about the morning that George rode that same train and watched the towers on fire as he made his way to work. I thought about what people must have been thinking. I thought about the people who were on that train who knew people in the towers. What that ride must have been like.
Then I started thinking about my own personal 9/11 trauma.
I had flown from New York to DC on the morning of 9/11/2001. I was completing law school at Georgetown, but was only living in DC three or four days a week, generally spending Friday through Monday home in Brooklyn with George. I had stayed in New York late on Monday September 10th because I had job interviews--- so I decided to fly down to DC on Tuesday morning rather than taking the train on Monday evening as was my usual habit. I figured I could get to DC in time for my 9:00 tax class and all would be fine.
I landed in DC around 8:00 am, and rode the Metro from National Airport to the Georgetown Law campus which is about four blocks from the Capitol. I don't recall exactly what I did - I think I went right to my classroom to finish up that day's reading. Pretty soon it was very close to 9:00 am and there was no one coming into the classroom. Strange. But I was glad for the make-up time because I was behind on the reading.
At about 9:45 I was sick of reading my boring tax law textbook, so I decided to go ask around about my missing classmates - I figured the class had been canceled and I hadn't been informed. (As an aside, that is what happened; the professor had canceled the class on Monday night, but the registrar's office somehow neglected to leave me a phone message as they usually do in that circumstance.)
I walked down to the lower level of the school building and saw a huge crowd of students hovering around a TV set in the small dining area. I approached and asked a young woman what was going on.
"Two planes crashed into the World Trade Center, and another one bombed the Pentagon. They think it's terrorists." Her face looked ashen as she said this.
"What???" I exclaimed. The World Trade Center was one thing - and terrible of course - but the PENTAGON? Someone bombed the PENTAGON? I felt my insides start to churn.
"Are we at war??? What is going on?"
"I don't know." She started to cry and ducked into the chapel room in the middle of that floor. I proceeded into the TV lounge to join the crowd.
The next few minutes are a total blur to me now; I was just trying to comprehend what was happening. I remember thinking it all had to be a mistake. Something must have gone haywire with the air traffic control signals which was causing the pilots to crash. Or some crazy shit like that. I just couldn't believe we were being attacked.
Then the towers started falling down, and people were screaming and crying.
"They said the Capitol is next! We have to get out of here!" I heard someone say.
"But where are we going to go?"
"There isn't anywhere safer. Just everyone stay put." It was starting to feel like pandemonium. I couldn't look at the TV any more so I decided to pace around the floor when I ran into my friend, Father Alexei, the campus priest. He looked like he was going to have some kind of fit, and he grabbed me into a big hug. I felt numb.
"Well this just brings Bosnia and Lebanon and Israel right home to us, doesn't it?" he said. I followed him into the chapel because I didn't know what else to do. Students all around were kneeling in prayer, most of them crying.
We all thought it was the end. That any minute the bombs were going to start dropping.
I sat down just to be quiet for a few minutes and started thinking about George. I knew George usually took the train that goes over the bridge, but that is an express train. What if he didn't feel like switching to the express train that morning? What if he had decided to stay on the local train, the one that goes right under the World Trade Center? It wouldn't be unthinkable for him to do that.
And what about Mindy? She was in New York that day for a client meeting. Her meeting was originally supposed to be in the WTC, but she had told me the day before they had switched the location to midtown. But what if something happened and they switched it back? Could she have been in one of the towers?
And on & on & on. Not to mention that I was fully prepared for all hell to break loose on Capitol Hill.
I started to panic.
I was an officer in the law school's gay & lesbian student organization, which gave me unlimited access to our little office on that floor of the law school building. (Being a member of an oppressed minority group does have its advantages.) So I decided to go hang out in the office where there was a couch and a phone.
When I used my code to open the door lock I discovered about five other students already in there, all making panicked phone calls to their loved ones. "I think we should rent a car and get out of the city" one guy said. I can see why people say it's important not to panic in an emergency; it spreads so easily. That one panicky sentence out of his mouth threw me into another tailspin of intense worry. People are running all over crying, talking about needing to flee to the countryside. This is war. This is seriously fucked up.
Eventually I got my turn at the phone, which I used to make teary calls to George and Mindy. They both thought I was crying because I was so worried about them - which I was, of course. I just don't think either one of them ever understood just how much I thought our entire world was coming to an end, though. At the moment I left those messages I thought it was probably "good-bye" for all three of us.
Next call was to my sister. She picked up the phone so nonchalantly.
"Hi! How's my favorite little brother?"
"You don't have the TV on, do you?"
"We're being attacked. New York and DC are under attack."
"WHAT?" She shrieked. I heard her flick on the television, at which point she started gasping. "I can't believe this! What on earth is happening?"
Then I lost it.
"I'm stuck down here on Capitol Hill and they say we're next and George was probably on the subway and he could have been on the train that goes under the towers and I don't know where he is!!!!" I was bawling now. Being no stranger to familial hysterics, Marg snapped into nurse mode.
"Deary, George is fine, I know he is. Now give me all the different phone numbers where you guys can be reached, or other people who he might call to let them know he's OK. I'll help you find him."
"OK. I have to go. I love you." I thought it could have been our last conversation.
I stayed in the office for the next several hours with a few of my law school friends who eventually showed up, which was a great comfort at that point. Every 20 minutes or so one of us would venture out into the TV lounge to see if there were any updates.
After three hours with no more extreme calamities (save for the horrible Pennsylvania plane crash of course) we started to calm down, figuring nothing more was going to happen that day. My friends invited me to come home with them, but I decided I wanted to get to my room in Silver Spring, Maryland, and start thinking about how I was going to get back to New York to find George.
Luckily, I knew he was alive at this point because we had both had the good sense to call my cousin out in California to let him know we were OK and to ask for his help in finding each other.
I barely slept a wink that night. I left my radio tuned to NPR because I wanted to know right away if anything else happened. This meant being forced to listen to the same gruesome newscast all night long. Over and over they kept playing the voice of a woman on the street who was screaming "they're jumping out the windows! People are jumping out the windows! Oh my God!"
The trains were running again the following morning, so I got myself on an Amtrak Acela back to New York. It took an unbelievably long time because of all the dramas and delays getting into the city. Hours and hours later the train finally pulled into Penn Station under Madison Square Garden.
And this is the memory I just can't shake.
I had just exited the car of the train and was making my way to the subway tunnels when I noticed that every inch of every wall was covered, completely plastered with "Missing Person" posters. Makeshift posters with photos and magic markers, people as desperate as I had been to find George, but who weren't as lucky as I was to have my loved one still alive. People who had watched the towers collapse, knowing their loved ones were inside. People who already knew the truth, but who needed so badly to hang on to any small shred of hope.
I didn't return to DC for another week; I couldn't bear to leave George alone up here. Everything was just so bizarre. An eerie quiet in the streets, with such a sad heaviness in the air. And the smell. It was just awful, as we live just downwind from lower Manhattan, across the water. Sometimes the odor was so strong I wondered if we should be wearing some sort of face mask to avoid breathing in the dust and fumes. One time it got so bad it actually woke me up in the middle of the night, and I rushed to turn on the TV just to make sure nothing new was happening.
After about three days of non-stop 9/11 talk (even though we weren't yet calling it "9/11") I just kind of shut down from it all. I didn't want to hear any more stories about where people were and what they were doing when they heard and who they called etc. etc. Listening to any of that just brought me back to that awful place when I thought George was crushed in the subway and the bombs were about to drop on the Capitol. It was a place I didn't want to be any more.
So, any time the TV started talking about the attacks, I switched the channel. I stopped reading the newspapers. I averted my eyes whenever I encountered a wall of "missing person" posters - which was pretty much anywhere you went in public. After about a week my friend Stephanie and I were talking and she blurted out "I wish they would take all those posters down. What, do they think these people are just wandering around the city?"
Every now and again I would notice some "pre-attack" poster or advertisement featuring the World Trade Center, which just seemed so bizarre - and unbelievably sad. One day I was on the subway and was noticing all the "old" posters with pictures of the WTC. I just stared and stared at one of them for so long that I missed my stop and had to turn around. I felt like a zombie. I think everyone in New York did.
Which brings us back to my subway ride to work on September 11, 2006. The big five-year anniversary. As I looked out the window at where the towers used to stand and thought about the sheer horror of that day, the image of those "missing person" posters creeped up on me. I felt myself go short of breath, and I sat down, closing my eyes. Nothing but miles and miles of posters. "Last seen 9/11/2001. Worked the breakfast shift at 'Windows on the World.' If you have any information about this person, please call (212) 555-1234."
All those people. All those people.
I started tearing up, which I really didn't want to do on a public subway train. But the harder I tried not to, the more the tears just forced themselves out.
All those people. All those posters with all those people.
I started sobbing. The gentleman across the aisle looked over at me, so I just turned my head.
Pretty soon we were back in the tunnel coming into lower Manhattan. We approached our first stop and I was still crying.
"Ok, this is getting ridiculous," I thought. I have cried many times before, and it's usually a somewhat cathartic experience. A release of pent up emotion. But this was starting to feel different. I really didn't want to be crying, and I really really wanted to stop. But I couldn't.
After about the third stop in Manhattan I was starting to freak out with the crying thing. "What is wrong with me? Something must be wrong with me or I wouldn't be in a non-stop crying fit!" Of course, the best thing to do in any emotionally tenuous situation is to panic and allow the whole thing to snowball. I'm really good at that.
"I have to be at my client's in 45 minutes. And I'm a mess. What am I going to do?"
I decided just to pack it in and go home. But I didn't have my cell phone! OK, so I'll use the pay phone. But wait, I have no change! It's OK, I'll just call our 800 number and speak to my boss. She'll call my client for me. But what is our 800 number?
Lacking a better alternative, I decided to go into the office with the hope that I would stop crying by the time I got there. By this time I had been crying so long and so hard that I was kind of doing that panting/gasping kind of thing which would have made people think I was crazy if it hadn't been for my smart business casual outfit.
I started considering whom I could talk to in the office in the event I couldn't stop crying. It was not going to be a pleasant decision.
I did the gasping sob thing all the way up 44th street until just the point where I had to turn the corner onto 5th Avenue, where my office is. And suddenly I regained my composure, or at least well enough to fumble in my briefcase for a pair of sunglasses and pack of Kleenex. But no more sobbing.
I went up the elevator and zoomed past our receptionist with a very quick "good morning!" Thankfully, hardly anyone was around and I was able to make it all the way to my cube without having to see or speak to anyone. I immediately called my client and begged off sick.
"Wow, I hope you feel better. You sound awful."
"I know, I really need to go home to bed. Thanks for understanding."
The thought of returning to our neighborhood of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn was more than I could handle. Bay Ridge had just about the highest concentration of 9/11 victims of anywhere in the city. It felt like a very sad place, and I didn't want to be sad.
I called George.
"Will you come to the city and get me?"
"Oh, aren't you feeling well?"
"No, I'm OK. But I'd just like to spend the day with you."
"Awww!" He made a sweet noise, the kind he makes when he gets the warm fuzzies over me. "What do you want to do?"
"I don't care. Have lunch, maybe. Just come, please."
Welcome to the latest installment of the Mama Gin Files.
In tonight's episode, it is Labor Day weekend and Georgie is away on a fishing trip, leaving CP alone to fend off ten consecutive Mama Gin visits in the space of half an hour.
Enjoy as Mama Gin engages CP in her familiar discussion of why Georgie no get marry have baby. Additionally, watch CP try to clear up Mama Gin's confusion as to why nobody take garbagey out. Includes some dialogue in Chinese.
A full transcript is provided below for your enhanced viewing pleasure.
MAMA GIN: I go play horsey. A lot of different girl...get the children, get the baby. At the racey track, there are two girl tell me "I likey you son." But Georgie not answer me.
COASTER PUNCHMAN: So at the race track there were two ladies who told you they like Georgie?
CP: Who told you they like Georgie?
MG: She say "I likey you son." Maybe she know Georgie.
MG: (speaking Chinese.)
CP: I don't speak that much Chinese.
CP: I don't speak that much Chinese. (In Chinese): I'm an American person.
MG: Georgie don't likey Chinesey?
CP: No, he likes Chinese. But you were talking Chinese and I didn't understand you. I don't know what you were saying.
MG: I don't know where he go.
CP: He went fishing, I told you. He went fishing.
CP: He went fishing.
MG: Where he go tonight?
CP: He went fishing. He left this morning and he'll be back tomorrow.
MG: He go to friend housey?
CP: Yes, he went to friend's housey.
MG: He go to friend housey?
CP: Friend housey.
MG: He go to friend housey sleep and he come tomorrow?
CP: He'll come tomorrow, yes.
MG: I don't know...tomorrow what day? I don't know what day today.
CP: Today is Sunday. He'll come back tomorrow. Tomorrow is Monday.
MG: Tomorrow Monday?
MG: Today nobody take the garbagey out.
CP: No, because tomorrow is a holiday. Tomorrow is Labor Day.
MG: Oh....I thought today Sunday, how come nobody take the garbagey go out? All no more garbagey. I not take garbagey, right? I don't know Sunday or Monday. You know I sleep only me, nobody talka to me. I don't know.
I am Coaster Punchman and you have just entered my world. I rule it with an iron fist, so if you're looking for First Amendment protection, you will not find it here. I have a now deceased crazy Chinese mother-in-law, and sometimes I wear Crocs around the house. I don't like flip-flops or Mormons. I'm also a cyberstalker by trade -- so I could look up all sorts of random shit about you if I wanted, but I probably won't because I'm pretty lazy.