The life and times of an ethnically ambiguous little lady.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Coffee and Compliments

I need something to start my engine in the morning. Sometimes it's the frustration of waiting for the train or the sense of impending doom if I oversleep, but more consistently it's a cup of coffee. So when something gets in the way of my morning beverage, I get flustered.

I usually get my coffee from the coffee truck in front of my office. Recently, however, there has been a changing of hands and a very nice guy of indistinguishable Arab accent has taken over. He's been here two weeks now and he's gotten kind of well, familiar.

"Good morning, beautiful lady. What can I get you, my sweetheart?" has been his recent greeting. I usually just smile and order a coffee. I don't bat my eyes. I don't forget to put on a shirt or have my cleavage out for a show. Just to be clear, I'm friendly but there's no flirting going on on this side of the truck.

As the week has worn on he has taken to sharing more with me. "I am you say....certifiable masseuse! You should come over for free massage!" This comment after I ask for, well, a cup of coffee.

Last Friday he forced a donut into my bag after asking if I have a boyfriend. When I told him I was, indeed, off the market he replied with: "No! You? Really? It can't be! You will change your mind and come to me. Here is donut!" As if the donut would cause me to see clearly.

Now don't get me wrong: I like a compliment like any girl, assuming it's not too nasty or from a stranger. (Or from a nasty stranger. Or from a homeless guy trying to get money. Or from someone's dad.) But if you're going to try to banter with me, at least let me have my cup of coffee first.

So I did something the other day I didn't think I had in me. I cheated.

I walked right past his truck to a coffee place across the street and he totally caught me. I heard him yelling "Hey! Hey! Where you going, pretty lady!" Now, in my own not-so-self-absorbed defense, I don't always turn around when someone says something like that. I mean, there are a lot of pretty ladies in this town, but I had a feeling it might be me he was calling. In response, I just squared my shoulders and kept walking. Sometimes you just have to use tough love.

After getting the coffee, I had to walk right past his truck, which is directly in front of my office. "What's in your bag?" he called out, looking hurt.

And I actually felt bad. So I had to lie. "I was in the mood for a cappuccino this morning; otherwise I would have come to you!"

And just like that our relationship changed. I had broken the trust. And when I got my coffee from him this morning it just wasn't the same. His "how are you doing, my sweetheart?" sounded sad.

Maybe it's time to switch to hot chocolate.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Tuesdays with Morrie, I mean, Saturday with Joyce

There comes a time in every relationship when you have to take the next step. You know, to take all those stories about growing up and go right to the source. So this weekend, after much discussion, I met my boyfriend's mother.

I had been wanting to meet her before we even started dating because I'd heard so much about her. Elon has more then a few jokes about his mother and I was curious to see where the character stops and the real woman begins.

But there was some apprehension on my part, too. He's an only child. She is a single mother. I've seen the Nature Channel. I know how protective those mama bears are over their cubs! Not to mention that he's black and I'm apparently the white devil. Joyous.

So on Saturday Elon and I got on the bus that went from my apartment in Greenpoint through Wiliamsburg, Bed Stuy where he grew up, and finally, Crown Heights. It was kind of like getting a scenic little tour of his childhood, but I could see him getting more pensive the closer we got to her house. And he started humming an old black spiritual which added an interesting soundtrack.

We got to her apartment and as soon as she greeted me I saw the resemblance. Elon may be many things, but adopted is definitely not one of them. I got a big hug and thrown right into her bosom. There are worse places to be. And as soon as I heard her laugh, I knew they had spent some time together.

We finally decided on sushi for dinner. She had trouble with the chopsticks so he gave her a lesson which was slightly adorable. We talked about my boyfriend growing up, and how she has kicked more then a few asses in her time to protect her son, proper language, and the American way. Nothing like telling a small girl about all the ass whopping you've done to make her quake in her boots a bit. But like the little Pit bull I've been described to be, I held my ground. I also found out my boyfriend was a smartass growing up. For some reason, I’m not surprised.

The conversation was interesting. I always felt I had to be two steps ahead as his mother is prone to making this very pensive face where you can't figure out if she's about to be mad or break into laughter. As a result, I felt like for everything I said, I had to have a joke and a save prepared. It was like a Choose Your Own Adventure conversation.

Soon the time came for me to go to the bathroom. I had been dreading this. As I returned to the table, they looked quickly at me and their laughter ceased.

"What were you talking about?" I asked innocently.
"Go on, tell her, baby," his mother said.
"Tell her what?" Elon responded, with a little smile.
"Don't make me tell her myself," his mother said, her voice gaining that authoritative mother tone.

Turns out they were talking about me. His mother said that she liked me because I stick up for myself. I guess instead of preparing her baby for a strong black woman he got a strong white one instead. Course, my people just call it sassy.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Treadmill Travesty, part II

So where were we? Right, me falling off gym equipment. Sigh.

My parents drive me to the hospital and I remember wondering if I'm wearing clean underwear. Cause that’s my biggest concern. But whatever, not like I’m going to find me a love interest.

We get to the hospital and the waiting begins. Up until this time I had felt no pain, just confusion at how I managed to get myself into this situation. The nurse at the front desk finds my plight to be hilarious. Apparently she's never seen such bloody artwork before. I found myself secretly wishing that she'd fall off a treadmill. Then I realized, as she was a big woman, that she probably doesn't get on one of those very often. Then I felt guilty for thinking all this. Ah, the mind of a passive aggressive.

After 45 minutes of waiting around and starting to notice the pain that was my 0pen knee, I got in to see a doctor. X-Rays determined that there was no muscle damage, it was just the problem of my knee muscle being complete exposed. [Too graphic? I guess you can use this as a cautionary tale].

In comes the doctor. He was very friendly and upbeat considering the hour, and quite hairy. Ah, probably one of my Jewish brethren. He takes one look at my knee and says "Don't worry. I've taken up quilting. You'll look good as new."

Good lord. Then my mother whispers rather loudly in my ear. “He’s cute, Em, and a doctor…want me to give him your number?”

My mother, ever the pimp. And yes, please give him my number if there’s Vicadin involved. And if he can tear himself away from my unshaven legs. I answer sarcastically, "Why don't you see if he is wearing a ring first?”

She not so subtly looks down at his hand. "No ring!" She shouts.

I don't know if the doctor was deaf or just kind, but he pretended not to hear any of the conversation.

Another 45 minutes later, I'm all sewn up. It took 20 stitches to close up that war wound. Then I needed to get my crutches. The nurse, or shall I say murse, was quite a good-looking specimen. But as I watched him reducing the crutches to my pint size, my Napoleon complex kicked in and I guess I looked sad.

"Don't worry," he said. "You'll get your growth spurt soon. How old are you, fifteen?"

Now, I know as a lady I should be flattered. But when an attractive dude thinks you’re young enough to be jailbait, it seriously hurts your pickup chances. Not to mention, I was 21, people! So I grabbed my crutches and hobbled off, waiting for my newly secured Vicadin to kick in.

And I was on those very crutches and an immobilizer for weeks. It was no fun, though I did master the one-legged booty shake. And sure, some people have great stories about their ridiculous scars--saving people from burning buildings, crawling out of a mineshaft, falling off the balcony where they were having sex. I don't have that. All I have is a scar in the shape of a smiley face.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Treadmill Travesty, Part I

Some experiences shape who we are. Other experiences do that and bring our knee modeling career to a screeching halt. This is that story.

Everyone has fears. Some people it’s biological warfare or getting hit by a car. I’m deathly afraid of treadmills. That’s what happens when you fall off. You try watching TV and running on an incline. It ain't easy!

It happened when I was 21 at my parent’s house home for spring break. After midnight seemed like a good time to work out. Then again, maybe I'm not as coordinated as I thought. Maybe I was still a little hung-over from the night before. Maybe I should wear a helmet when I do any kind of athletic activity. After all, my mother has been known to fall up a step (yes, just one) and give herself a black eye. And it was a step in our house. So obviously the coordination issues are genetic.

Anyway, when I fell off it made a huge crash. You’d think a loud noise in the middle of the night would wake people up, but not my family. Later, my father told me he didn't hurry down to see what had happened because he thought my brother and I were roughhousing. (A little note of clarification here. I'm about 5 feet. My brother is about 6"4. I'm not kidding and I'm not sure who's adopted. What I do know, is that we don't roughhouse anymore. The closest we get to that is me punching him in the kidney and then running for dear life.)

Regardless, no one was coming to my aid. I was beginning to wonder if I was going to have to call an ambulance to wake up my family, so someone would come down and help a sister out. Finally they make their way down to the basement. My father freaks out. He's running around like a chicken with his head cut off. I'm trying to figure out how to stop from looking at my knee which is open to the muscle. It's not pretty. Then again, either are my very unshaven legs. So generally, to confirm, it was not an attractive sight from my waist down.

Finally my brother and father carry me up the stairs and load me into the car. At this point, it's of course started to snow. I'm beginning to think this must be a sitcom.

And this post is going to get very long, so why don't we continue this tomorrow....

Monday, March 20, 2006

It's murder...

I love going home to Philly to see my parents. And I love bringing friends home with me to see my city. Not to mention that my parents get a kick out of being hosts. I always thought this was safe, because while there are pictures of my childhood around, my parents didn't own a video camera. Thus, I was saved from them capturing my humiliating moments in plays, birthday parties, and my attempts at mastering the toilet. And since I was a particularly precocious child (not like I'm exactly shy now), I think that stuff is better left in the past.

Friday night we were hanging out and looking around the house for a movie to watch amongst the many ’80s movies we'd taped off the TV. All of sudden my father smiles with glee and holds up a videotape.

"I forgot about this!" he said.

The tape was labeled "Murder at Muddleston Manor." You're thinking some kind of Masterpiece Theater flick, right? So was I. That was until they popped it in. And then I saw a group of kids, around 5 and 6, dressed like old maids on a stage.

And then I realized, with horror, that it was a play I had been in. I watched as I sashayed onto the stage, chin jutting out, hips rotating, dressed in a little French maid outfit. In addition, I had a French accent. (Actually, I had an English accent, because I had lived in England until I was 5, mixed with a French accent for the play.) I would say things like "It's out of my 'ands." Like I was Eliza Doolittle.

To say my acting was over the top would be an understatement. In fact, I think porn stars are more subtle. There would be dance numbers and I'd be front in center clapping and singing my heart out. Then I'd realize I was supposed to be on the side, so I'd rush over to the corner with great gusto. There were times when I was supposed to be sweeping, but I think I forgot because I was too busy sighing, looking French, and attempting to put both my hands in my one apron pocket. I had so much blush on my face that I looked like I'd had some kind of allergic reaction.

It was bad. Really bad.

Although I wish I still had that lack of self-consciousness. Cause there's no way I'm getting onstage these days in a French maid outfit. Well, maybe, if you pay me. And I can tell some jokes.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Leaving the driving to us, indeed.

So this weekend I'm heading home to Philly for some fun and catching up with friends. Getting from New York City to Philly is always a pain in the ass. That was, until I discovered Greyhound.

The beauty of Greyhound is they always fill the bus so it's unlikely you'll have two seats to yourself. And let me tell you, that bus fills up with quite the cornucopia of passengers. One time, while waiting for the bus to leave, I was shaken out of my day dreaming to hear "I ain't gotta move over. I ain't here to treat you nice! This is Greyhound and I'm a big girl. So sit down, bitch, or keep it moving." Ah, the sweet sounds of ghetto transit.

There was the time that I sat next to an incredibly, uh, voluptuous woman. The entire ride she prayed out loud on her rosary beads when she was awake, and snored and oozed into my seat when she was not.

There was the time I sat across from a guy I overheard trying to force a little Jesus on his seatmate. Then he spotted me. I had my headphones on and I was reading a book. Apparently that stance says "Hey! Talk to me! I have nothing to do!" Then he told me I look like his cousin Marisol. Obviously a Russian like myself. Then he asked if I spoke any Spanish. Then he offered me a bible as he had a spare. Then I went to the bathroom for 20 minutes and held my breath: it was better taking in toxic fumes then a conversation that painful.

Of course, sometimes it can be a delightful investment. That however, is so rare that when it does happen, you spend half the conversation telling your seatmate, "I'm so glad you're not a weirdo." I sat next to a lovely guy named Gary, and we spent the entire ride chatting about dating, racial relations, and relaying funny stories from our past. I was almost sad to get off the bus.

But for the 1 in 50 wonderful chats you have on the bus, there is more often the freak. I sat next to a large Italian guy named Sal once. Apparently he'd spent the weekend at a Large Encounters convention. What is a Large Encounters convention? Oh, it's a group of lovely plus-size ladies and the dudes that dig them. Sal was not a chubby chaser, he told me, but he friend was so he went along for the ride. "Those girls are a good time. I mean, I wouldn't date them but they're good entertainment." Ever the feminist. Then somehow he began telling me about his ex-fiancée and how his relationship went awry. This was about the point where I'd had enough of Sal. Then the air conditioning cut out and we got stuck in traffic.

Oh, Greyhound. Their slogan should be "pay for the seat, but the entertainment's free."

Monday, March 13, 2006

Old Age + Tag = Black and Blue

Okay, so I realize I'm not that old. Only slighty more then halfway through my twenties, in fact. And I'm okay with that. But while my mind is all good, my body does not seem to be in agreement.

My hair, for instance, is going a little gray. I'm getting those little streaks in front of my ears that makes me worry I soon may resemble Bonnie Raitt. And since I'm growing my hair to donate to Locks of Love--an organization that makes wigs for children with cancer--I'm a little concerned how the child that receives my locks is going to look. I don't want her to look "mature" before her time! Hasn't her life been hard enough?

And then there's the rest of me. I may be able to stop, drop, and roll, but I sure can't get up as fast. As global warming was in full effect this weekend, I took the time to do some frolicking in Central Park. A slew of my college friends were visiting for the weekend and my boyfriend was in tow, so it seemed liked just the right number to start a friendly game of tag. While some of us are still pretty agile, quite a few of us, myself included, managed to take a nice spill or three. And let's not forget the near head-butting collision. And this is a children's game, for crying out loud! When that got old, we turned to a game of Red Light, Green Light. That lasted for about five minutes. And let's not forget the classic game, Throw the Acorns at the Ducks in the Pond. PETA enthusiasts love that. I"m not sure if anyone ended up feeling sore from all that throwing. Lordy.

These days a night of heavy drinking requires three days of recovery. I've completely giving up my crack useage because I just don't have a week to take off every time it comes around, and as I've learned from Whitney Houston, crack is wack.

Worse yet, my old man is showing me up. The man has run like four marathons at this point, the most recent one in his 50s. Seems I didn't get those genetics. At this rate, I just hope I make it to my 30s.

Thursday, March 09, 2006


After all that waiting, I now have a cold. I just don't think that's fair. [insert image of me shaking fist wrathfully at God.]

That's right, I think God has enough time to take out of his busy day to give me a cold....

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Last Comic Left Without Hypothermia

There are some things I think are important to experience once. I did New Year's in Times Square. Sure, I got impaled on a police blockade on the way out, but escaped without any internal damage. I sunbathed topless in France and even managed to stop covering my rack with my hands for five minutes and sport them with pride. And as I apparently have no dignity, I have now done the cattlecall line-up for a reality show.

That's right. I spent from Monday night at 9 PM until Tuesday morning at 11:30 AM waiting in a very long line in front of Caroline's for Last Comic Standing. Around 5 AM I almost gave up. I guess my threshold is right around when you can no longer feel any of your extremities. I talked smack with other comedians and chatted about their respective comedy situations in other cities. I attempted to get a few hours sleep unsuccessfully in my father's old army sleeping bag. I watched the Duane Reade clock as the temperature continued to drop. And of course, I contemplated just freaking going home. It seems the show is called Last Comic Standing because if you can wait in the cold for that long, you very well may be the last comic left in the line that hasn't been struck by hypothermia.

I never expected to get picked, but I figured at the very least I could get some criticism from those in the business. There were some people in the line who seemed pretty confident. They'd done work on the road and have a dick joke that always manages to take down the house. There were a couple guys who hadn't really done comedy before, but had some "skits" they thought were funny. Why they thought it would make sense to try it out after waiting in line for 12 hours instead of at an open mic escapes me. And there were those who had been at comedy for years and really deserved the chance.

In the end, I got up (I had delusions of tripping Jennifer Garner-style) to the stage, smiled, and delivered a solid couple of jokes. I got a few laughs from the judges and was told I have a "great presence" and "funny jokes" but "I'm not quite ready." And the sound guy tapped me on my way out and said he liked one of my jokes but couldn't laugh outloud or it would be picked up on his mic.

I can accept not being ready. I wish I knew when I would be. And it's not that it's easy, but sometimes I wish I wanted to be a laywer or a doctor, because at least that way I knew the route. Eventually, I could look at the diploma on the wall and know that I'd paid my dues. Here I am, a few years into comedy and I realize just how far I have to go. And even better, it's not like there's a little comedy fairy that pops up after you've done your ten years of comedy honing to let you know you've arrived.

I also realized that homelessness may not be something I'm very good at. Looking at the people all lined up for the audition from across the street, Caroline's looked more like a soup kitchen then a comedy capital. All in all, it was an experience. Once in a while it's probably good to remind myself just how retardedly difficult a career I've chosen to try and pursue. But then again, nothing's really fun if it's easy, is it?


Thursday, March 02, 2006

Sunburned Titties and Skinny Dipping

It's cold out. It's snowing and the flakes falling are as big as my head. It makes me want to go on vacation somewhere warm and fast. But let's be honest. I'm not going on vacation anytime soon, so better to reminisce about a spring break of my past...

I've done some traveling. I've been very lucky about that. I guess you could even call me an around-the-way girl, ala LL Cool J. But sometimes, its the most ridiculous, as opposed to the most scenic vacations that stick in your memory.

Senior year of college I went on spring break with two of my friends. We went to the bahamas hoping for some sun, cheap fun, and bahama mamas. We got all that and a bag of conch fritters.

On the cruise from Florida to the Bahamas, I fell asleep on the deck of the ship at 9 in the morning. Maybe that was because we got on the ship at like 6:30 AM. Maybe it was because I had already started drinking by 7:30 AM. Or maybe it was because I didn't get to sleep in because there was a waterbug the size of a small trailer home running around our bathroom and my friends thought that I was the perfect candidate to kill it.

Anyway, I digress as usual.

It was overcast on the deck and I was out cold for over an hour. I woke up later to find that I was red as a lobster. So much for a base coat. Over the course of the trip, you could actually tell what day of the vacation it was by the color of my skin as I got more brown.

As soon as I got to the island, I hightailed it to a store to get something with which to cover myself up. A gentleman working at the store noticed me and my cherry-like color. With no attempt at decorum he yelled out:

"Whooeee girl. You got some sunburned titties!"

Thus my nickname for the rest of the trip was born.

When we got to the hotel, we knew we were in a classy place. There was a doorway that was framed by glass. The glass had "glass" written all over it. When I inquired at the front desk as to why, we were told "because people tend to walk into it if they aren't warned."

This was going to be a good trip.

What followed was a great deal of debauchery. But hey, I was young and stupid, right? [Seriously, people, you think I'm going to share stories from the Paris Hilton period of my life? Maybe when you're older. Or a few more blogs in.]

I did, however, have one of my favorite conversations that first night. He was a captain on one of the booze cruises and we began chatting. It was early in the night and I was only on my first bahama mama.

"So, you run a booze cruise? That must be fun." I said, while petting his very adorable dog.

"Yup, it's a good time. I live on my booze cruise boat, too, so I spend a lot of time on the water."

Classy I thought.

"So, what's your name again? And do you want to go skinny dipping?" He asked. All this was said with a huge smile on his face.

That's what I like. A man that takes it slow. I wasn't in much of a dipping mood though; perhaps I was a bit protective of my sun-kissed breasts.

"No, I think, I'll pass," I replied.

"Oh, you must be a virgin," he grumbled, and walked off.

Poor guy didn't know what he was missing. But apparently the equation goes:
Non-harlot behavior + ability to converse = Virgin

And that's some valuable math to know, people.