The life and times of an ethnically ambiguous little lady.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Fortune cookie says...

I'm going on vacation to china for 18 days! And I'm very excited.

I'm hoping I don't kill my family in the process (my parents and brother are going with me). At least we won't quite be able to fall into the "stupid American" category as my dad speaks some Mandarin. That's right, the man learned the language in the army. During the Vietnam war. In language school. He's a badass. He said he'll probably be the only one in the country who will be speaking chinese with a Philadelphia accent. I have to agree.

I've also noticed that every single thing I've bought in preparation for this trip is made in China. It makes me wonder what's actually over there that I can't get here. Then again, at least I'll be able to buy right from the underage worker, so it makes me feel good to be able to cut out the middle man.

And of course, there's always the food issue. My mother is having a chinese friend of hers make a sign for me that says in Chinese "Please do not put nuts in food. I can die." Whenever we go to a restaurant I'm supposed to hold it up and cry a little, like I'm holding up my numbers for a prison mug shot.

And a friend of mine told me something interesting about the cuisine. "So here's the thing," she whispered conspiratorally. "My friend went to China last year and told me that they put peanuts in the food, so be careful."

"Oh, thanks for letting me know but I can actually eat peanuts."

"Not peanuts," she said, "penis. The put it in a lot of the food."

"B'scuse me?"

When I told another friend about this story, she asked "Well, are they animal or human?"

What ridiculousness is that? Like if a line cook messes up in the restaurant he becomes a eunich? Guess we'll have to see. I just hope I can get through the 18 hour flight without jumping to freedom...

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Crazy Quotas

It's been a strange week. I did a show in Bath, PA, this past weekend, where we were greeted by a perky woman wearing what looked to be a shower cap imprinted with musical notes. The venue, known as Brenda and Jerry's Entertainment Center, actually employed security who promptly relinquished their posts once the show started to watch. I've never felt so safe, though I'm not sure what they had to secure.

I've also been dog sitting an adorable Jack Russell all week named Mr. Lucky. He doesn't bark, doesn't bite and I'm smitten. Now the question is how to keep him forever without having to move and/or put a hit out on his very lovely owner. And I'm even more suprised my landlord hasn't picked up his scent yet, being that she is a bitch, and complained but that's definitely a good thing.

And lastly, it took me an hour to get from midtown manhattan to the east village last night, a trip that should only take about 20 minutes. First it started to pour like I've never seen. It was some kind of tropical storm that I and those around me, stuck under an awning together, could only stare at in wonder as we got soaked. Although now I'm starting to doubt myself because no one else seems to have seen it.

Then I had to take a different train because the one I wanted was out of service due to the heat. Apparently, the New York subway system has never dealt with heat before. Who knew? And when I finally plunked my soaked ass into a subway seat, a guy asked me for the time and then shared with me that I have "a pretty face but he sees some pain there."

I was like "thanks, but I'm all good."

And then he started talking about jesus. And I proceeded to switch cars. And the stop after I did that, everyone else in the car switched, too. Guess they also all had their share of crazy for the day.

Thursday, July 13, 2006


So I did another comedic reading last night which was lots of fun. The theme? Prom. Gotta love reliving the old days, especially when you invite some friends from high school to watch your mortification onstage.

Without further ado:

“No, really, I like love sex,” he said.

“Okay, Dave, maybe after the prom. Now’s not really a good time,” I explained uncomfortably.

How did I get myself in this situation? I wasn’t even going to go to prom. Well, that’s not exactly true. I had asked Greg, a guy I’d had a crush on for years. He had apparently already asked someone else to go and was waiting for her reply. Then she turned him down, probably because she already had a boyfriend, which was common knowledge. And then, instead of asking me, he proceeded to ask two other girls to prom, both of whom also had boyfriends, and who turned him down one after another. I really know how to pick them. Don’t worry, though, he got his just desserts, now he’s a doctor. Hello, loser. Sigh.

“You know, dad, I just don’t think I’m going to go,” I said, after I’d heard that the third girl Greg had asked had turned him down. “Who needs all that pomp and losing their virginity in the back of a limo anyway.”

“Are you kidding, honey? You have to go to prom. It was so much fun,” he said, sounding like a teenage girl as he bounded off. He emerged several minutes later with a photograph; there he was, same black mustache and bountiful black hair, with the addition of delightfully long muttonchops. Oh, and a plaid tuxedo, paired with a shirt so ruffled it looked like he stole it from a pirate. (Yeah, it was in fashion at the time. Or so he says.) Even better, he was standing next to a huge white El Dorado convertible, with his date Susan Greenberg. And she had picked him up, because it was her car. To anyone else, this picture would be blackmail.

“I don’t know, dad. I don’t have anyone to go with. I just feel stupid.”

“It’s about being with your friends, honey. And you have plenty of time, someone will ask you.” When did my father start sounding like a self-help article in Seventeen? “And please, none of that sex talk. Don’t think I didn’t hear that little virginity quip of yours.”

Now, a lot of the time, my father is right. Granted, a lot of the time he’s wrong, too—like the time a swarm of bees flew up his bellbottoms in high school but he refused to take them off because there were girls around. I mean, we all know that safety comes before etiquette—but he’s got good intuition.

And he was half right. I did end up feeling stupid, but at least I got a date.

I was at a party and I happened to be in the bathroom when I heard a knock on the door.

“Someone’s in here,” I yelled.

“Hey, Emily, want to go to garble, garble, garble…” a male voice said.


“Want to go to garble, garble with me?”



“Hold on a second,” I said, as I flushed the toilet. I opened the door and there stood Dave, with a big bashful smile on his face. The rest of the party also happened to have heard the exchange and was waiting for my response. So much for conducting this exchange in private. Pride is so overrated anyway.

“Are you for real?” I said, looking up at him.

“Yeah. It will be fun. We’ll just hang out.”

“Okay. Sound good.” And everyone shrugged, smiled, and the party continued.

It wasn’t exactly the romantical exchange seen in teen movies, but it would do. And our collective friends were very pleased. Dave and I were each the “fun, quirky friend” of our groups, so they assumed we would provide the entertainment for the night. Nice to know this would be a working gig. Dave and I continued to joke around and as the prom grew closer, and I was actually getting kind of excited for the event.

As his group of friends and mine were all going with each other, it wasn’t hard getting together the limo. I found a dress I loved, along with eighteen different kinds of girdles and other accoutrement to get that pseudo-hourglass figure, though in retrospect it made me look more like a misshapen pear. I got my hair did, my toesies done, and I was styling.

Dave came to my door and I looked up at him in all his glory. He cleaned up pretty well. My mother, after greeting Dave, scooted us together for pictures. That was when we hit our first snafu. Dave is 6”4. I’m 5”0 in the morning (cause you know, gravity kicks in). Even with four inch heels, all our pictures together had to either be taken vertically or down the street.

Then we got together with all our friends for early boozing. It was then that I noticed that every single one of my friends had chosen to wear a black dress. Like the virgin I was, I had chosen white, cause that’s how I roll. And since I was the shortest, I was in the middle of all the pictures. So now, all my prom pictures looked like wedding pictures. Or rather, a wedding picture in front of a funeral. Lovely.

We finally climbed into our limo for the ride to downtown Philadelphia to the convention center. We talked and giggled like the giddy teenagers we were. Once we got to prom, we quickly acclimated and got in line for pictures. It was then that Dave started to make me a bit uncomfortable.

“You know, Emily, I really like sex.”

“Thanks for sharing, Dave,” I said, unwilling to make eye contact.

“No, really, I like love sex,” he said more forcefully.

“Okay, Dave, maybe after the prom. Now’s not really a good time,” I explained.

“No, seriously. I am a huge fan of sex.”

“Dave, you’re really freaking me out.”

And that’s when he did the unthinkable. He looked me straight in the eye and ripped open his shirt. But my date was no superman. Burned into his very red chest in big white letters, was the word SEX.
[Now, a side note. It is customary at my school to go down the shore the day before the prom to hang out, cause trouble, and get a little color.] Dave had actually taken the time to write “sex” in sunscreen, and then lie out in the sun until it was so much more then a fleeting thought.

I looked at him and realized, I could fall in love with this man-child. I mean, who else would be willing to go so far for a joke? He could be the Elaine May to my Mike Nichols.

“You don’t think you’re planning on covering that up for our pictures, do you? Cause that has to be on display,” I said.

And then Dave got all shy and closed it up, but he’d shown his true colors.

Luckily for me, as the weekend wore on, and we all got more and more drunk, Dave’s “SEX” made more and more appearances, as memorialized in our pictures. Dave’s sex on the bar. Dave’s sex on the beach. We all hung out, reminisced, and I almost got thrown out of the hotel for smoking pot in the bathroom. It was all like a Judy Blume book.

And while some people may have lost their virginity that weekend, I was reassured to know that Dave and his sex were almost always by my side. Just in a friendly way.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

B'scuse me, indeed!

I've been in quite a few debates over the years as to whether boys and girls can be friends. I've come to the conclusion that it's very possible.

Sure, it helps if one or both of you are in a relationship. Or if you've smooched in the past so it would just be recyling. Or if one of you has a hump, bad teeth, and/or an extra nipple to keep things platonic. (By the way, when I was little, I thought the word was plutonic. I'm a genius). But sometimes, there's just nothing there.

And I have a problem when people say that they don't need any more friends. Granted, for some reason, that seems to bring to mind an image of people rounding up friends like cattle. But I've always loved meeting new people. My friends in college used to joke when I'd disappear for a few hours because it would usually mean that I'd met someone interesting and we hit it off.

"Did you have a good conversation? " they'd ask. (And no, conversation doesn't mean nookie.)

So with all this in mind, I was very suprised by an email I received recently.

You see, I ran into a guy last week that I went to camp with. I had actually run into the guy a few years before, but thought he was living in Florida. (See "Strange Encounters of the Underground Kind" for that exchange.) This time he was having dinner with a lovely lady and I said hi, and we talked briefly, and I introduced him to my friend. Then we parted ways and that was that.

The next day, I found that the guy had not only found me online, but he had emailed me. After the basic chatter he wrote:

"Do you want to go out for a drink sometime? I noticed you introduced the guy last night as your "friend" not as your "boyfriend"..."

Which was true, because they guy is my friend.

So I promptly emailed him back and let him know that I have a very lovely boyfriend, but I'd love to catch up.

His response shocked me. (And keep in mind I've lived in New York for a few years, so it takes a lot.)

First he thanked me for being honest. Then he said he didn't think it would be such a good idea because he didn't think my boyfriend would appreciate it. I thought it was very considerate of him to worry about the state of my relationship.

Then he hit me with the doozy, writing:

"If there's no possibility that this would eventually lead to sex, I'm really not interested. Sorry. I don't need any more friends. That's just how guys are. Good luck with everything."


And insert witty retort here.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

What's so precious, anyway?

July 4th has a lot of meaning for me. Not only is it the holiday of binge eating and drinking, not only do we get to see fireworks--one of my favorite things--but it's also my parent's anniversary. And this year marked their 30th.

My parents were married on July 4, 1976. Their invitations look like the Declaration of Independence, signed at the bottom by each of their parents. I find this to be both adorable and corny. Some people use these adjectives for me as well, so perhaps the apple does not fall far from the proverbial tree.

Due to the fact my parents never corrected me, I thought the fireworks that take place every July 4th were in honor of them. It took me a while to realize—and by a while, I mean 20 years--that there was no way my parents knew all of Philadelphia, not to mention those citizens of every other city in the USA, who also have fireworks.

As this year marked a big anniversary for my parents and they haven't killed each other yet (quite the achievement), I threw them a surprise party with the help of my grandmother and brother. This turned out to be ridiculous amounts of work, the climax of all this being the day before the party when I came home to Philly early to get things together.

I woke up Saturday morning, not sure if I was drunk or hungover from the night before. This is what happens when you meet your friend’s boyfriend who befriends you with conversation and free drinks. This continues to happen when you go to the club your brother works at after and he then gives you more drinks. This also apparently causes you to hit your boyfriend across the face repeatedly because he doesn't want to dance and then wake up at 7:30 AM in bed fully dressed, dying for water.

Anyway, I get on the bus Saturday and head home. I spend the whole trip trying to get comfortable and sleep as my seat won't recline. Then the bus breaks down. Then I want to cry. My grandmother doesn't have a cell phone so I can't call her. The conversation on the bus then turns to whether it's possible for an entire busload of people to try and hitchhike. This conversation took place in both English and Spanish for our bilingual pleasure. Finally, the bus driver managed to work his magic and we get to Philly only an hour late.

My grandmother, thankfully, is there and we spend four hours trying to get all the last minute errands done. That’s a lot of minutes. She drove because we were using her car. She's 85. It was a little scary. Whenever she's not sure which way she wants to turn, she moves into the middle of both lanes and slows down. When I yelled at her for doing it the forth time she explained she was "thinking." I explained to her that the other cars were decided and she was going to kill me. It was not until later in the car ride when we had plants and a cake in the backseat that she declared she should probably "drive carefully because she has precious cargo." Apparently granddaughters don't count.

After all the errands--which included me doing a face plant as I tried to run up the stairs with my arms full of flowers (hey, get it? face plant? urgh.)--she then drove me back to the bus station so my parents could "pick me up." Or at least think they did.

According to my mother, she only had an inkling about the party. Her clue? I straightened my hair. That's right. The fact that I looked nice made her think I was up to something. Always good for the self esteem.

Then, in the car on the way to the restaurant for the party, my grandmother pointed out that I looked pretty and "did I know I had a few gray hairs?" she said, giggling.

All in all, the party went off really well, my parents were happy, and my mom shared with me that "I was still in the will."

Now if only I could find a filter for my family.