Friday, December 28, 2007

Just In The Nick of Time, The Feel Good Moment of 2007

From time to time, life hands you little moments where you realize, despite the spilled coffee and the missed subway and the growing inability to digest dairy, that you have it pretty good.

This is not one of those times.

After work yesterday I met up with a friend/colleague at a wine bar in the West Village to discuss business. I arrived first and went through the awkward motions of “the guy who gets there first,” slowly taking off my coat, scoping the room without seeming anxious, generally trying to look less self-conscious than I felt and looking more self-conscious in the process. I sat down at the bar and read the menu as though it was a novel, slowly flipping the pages, devouring the information. Anyone watching me would have thought one of two things: That I was a wine aficionado who was either impressed or concerned with the vintage selection, or I was lost and retarded.

Soon after, my friend showed up. We remained at the bar and exchanged greetings before ordering. My friend, being both a connoisseur and the one paying, managed to order a great bottle of Pinot Nero despite the fact that he is married with kids and doesn’t wear an ascot on a daily basis. He did the thing where he asked me what it tasted like and, being one who likes to impress, I made pretend I was concentrating on the flavors after each sip. Then, as he would spout out a word, I would quickly and softly echo it.

Him: “I taste blackber-.”
Me: “Blackberry . . .”
Him: “-ry and cassi-“
Me: “Cassis . . .”
Him: “-s With a hint of . . .”
Me: “With a hint of . . .”
Him: “Oa-“
Me: Orange.”
Him: “-k.”

We stayed for an hour or so talking shop and when it came time to leave he handed his credit card to the bartender and asked for the bill. She came back moments later with two pieces of paper. “This one is for you,” she said, handing my friend the receipt, “and I’m supposed to give this to you,” she said, handing me a small piece of paper folded in half.

My friend looked at me wide-eyed and let out a small breath of astonishment. “Is someone trying to pick you up?” he asked.

I unfolded the paper and read the top portion:

pick up note top

I was floored. I’ve been hit on before by girls, but never this direct (capital H-O-T?), and never in a place that didn’t have vomit in the urinals and a three-for-one Jagermeister special, let alone a classy establishment where you ordered wine by the name, not just the color.

I quickly scanned the room to see if anyone was watching me read the note. There were two girls sitting straight down the bar from us. Was I correct when I thought I caught the blond on the left giggling at me earlier? Yes, Virginia, I think I was. Beaming with confidence, I looked back down at the bottom portion of the note.

pick up note bottom

My first thought was, “What an unusual name for a girl . . .” before my friend looked over my shoulder and asked, “Does that say Eddie?”

It sunk in.

Me: “Yes . . . it does.”
Him: “Maybe it’s supposed to be Edie?”
Me: “If it is, Edie has an odd way of describing herself to strangers.”
Him: “Ready to go?”
Me: “Yeah, I think so.”

Still, on the subway ride home I found that I was less disappointed than I thought I would be. After all, not only did Eddie find me attractive enough to go out on a limb guessing I was gay (which isn’t that long a limb considering I was sniffing wine and discussing David Sedaris, not to mention the lighting was totally flattering on my new haircut), but Eddie also went out on that limb while I was there with another guy. For all he knew, we could have been on a date, and my date could have been a wine connoisseur/mixed martial arts champion. So even though I was hit on by “Tall and Handsome Eddie” instead of “Has a Vagina Edie”, I guess in the grand scheme I could have it a lot worse and I could have finished off 2007 without ever being solicited by a secret admirer. Here’s to strong finishes. (Not like that, Eddie.)

Happy New Year everyone. See you in ’08.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Step 39.

After finalizing the purchase of The Biggest Mattress in All the Land, the final thing I had to do was arrange for the sale of The Incomparably Small Previously Owned Queen-Sized Mattress. I knew it wouldn’t be hard considering it was a top notch mattress and that unlike Brooke and I some people are still forced to suffer the indignity of a bed smaller than a mid-sized sedan.

I followed the Standardized Rules of Selling Items on Craigslist and sorted the responses to my ad in the following order: Women who wrote coherent emails, women who wrote semi-coherent emails, Men who wrote coherent emails, women who wrote incoherent emails, Men who wrote semi-coherent emails, Foreigners, Men who wrote incoherent emails. Then I began responding. It turns out that the holidays is a tough time to sell a mattress. (You don’t often hear on Christmas morning, “A used mattress! Just what I always wanted!”) I actually made it all the way down the list to “Foreigners,” which culminated in a series of very confusing emails concerning the problematic lack of a “bed holder,” which I assume is another more stupid way of saying “bed frame.”

Disheartened, I decided to take a few days, regroup and repost the ad. Thankfully, the second time around I got a hit in the first email from a nice sounding woman who used punctuation and capitalization and everything. We made an appointment for her to come by and take a look at the mattress one day after work.

On the appointed day, she called saying that she was held up in Manhattan on the Upper East Side purchasing a bed frame from another Craigslister – which I won’t judge, but personally I prefer all my bedding materials to come directly from the sweatshop machine operators hands to mine – so would it be alright if her husband came by to look at it instead? Sure, I thought. Why not. Coherent woman must be married to coherent man, right?

Not so. Half an hour later, a man who I can only describe as “Huh?” approached my front door. If he were more self-aware, he would be ironic, but no such luck; he is genuinely doofusy. He comes in and begins inspecting the mattress. I offer to lay it down in the living room so he can test it out. (Note that this is more for my entertainment than his benefit.) He accepts, and we labor to lay down the mattress in such a way that it avoids the trash can, the Christmas tree and the coffee table. Puppy immediately jumps onto the bed, of course, prompting Doofus to let out a concerned, “Oh no!” as though Puppy’s paws were made of knives and red wine. Brooke holds Puppy back and Doofus lays down. I immediately sit down and type on the computer to prevent from laughing as Doofus rolls around, commenting on the softness, at one point rolling over directly into a low-hanging tree branch.

He then gets up and calls his wife, who says that she is just now leaving Manhattan and wants to come by to see the mattress herself. Brooke immediately shoots me a look, and I decipher it perfectly.

Brooke: “Is Doofus going to stay here until she arrives from the Upper East side? That could take 40 minutes.”
Me: “I don’t know. Can we kick him out?”
Brooke: “I think we can.”
Me: “Let’s suggest the coffee place around the corner.”
Brooke: “OK. Want to fool around later?”
Me: “Yeah, that sounds fun.’
Brooke: “OK, cool.”

He gets off the phone and I immediately, perhaps too quickly, say, “Coffee! It’s good, right around the corner.” Thankfully, he obliges and as he leaves Brooke and I agree that we need to stop selling stuff on Craigslist.

45 minutes later, Doofus returns with his wife. She is very nice; so nice, in fact, that I wondered if maybe Doofus had experienced some sort of head trauma after they married, and she has been too kind to leave him, instead standing by his side hoping that he will one day wake up and be the sort of man she once knew him to be. The two of them lay down on the bed and Puppy looks at me like, “WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON HERE?” After some crafty salesmanship on my part where I highlight the pros of the mattress (“It was so expensive, and everyone loves it”) and pressure them into feeling as though they would be uncool to not buy it, they say they will take it. The wife goes out to the waiting truck driver, leaving me and the husband alone to complete the always awkward money transaction.

The husband counts out a wad of cash and hands it over. I’m trying to act all humble about it, like, “Oh, this is so fortunate! I can’t wait to donate all this money to Darfur!” when Doofus asks me if I have a pen. I think this is odd, but of course he just handed me money so he can have a pen if he wants one. As I am retrieving it from the drawer, I try to figure out what he wants it for. Is he going to stab me with it and make off with the mattress AND the cash? Of all the ways I thought I might go, dying in a Craiglist transaction gone wrong ranks pretty low on my list. The only logical thing I can come up with is that he wants to write something down, like maybe a receipt? So as I hand him the pen I say, ‘Did you want a receipt?”

From across the room I see Brooke shoot me a puzzled look. Even Doofus stares at me confusedly. “A receipt?” he asks. “What good would that do?”

“Yeah, what good would a receipt do?” Brooke echoes, walking over to us now. I immediately realize the stupidity of what I have said, so naturally I try to cover it up with a lie. “Yeah, you know a written receipt. Someone once gave me one when I bought something off Craigslist. You know, just a piece of paper that showed that I paid him the cash and he gave me . . . the rug?”

Brooke is looking at me like she doesn’t even know who I am and Doofus seems even more confused. “But why?” he asks. (“WHY ARE YOU BUYING A USED MATTRESS?” I wanted to respond.) “Would the guy take a return?” Doofus and Brooke laugh at this. “No,” I proudly state, perfectly willing to accept the absurdity of the moment, “I guess he wouldn’t.” Happy to leave the conversation at that, Doofus then repeats, “So do you have a ten?” (Oh, a ten! Like change. Yeah, that seems a lot more plausible than a receipt.)

Just then the mover comes in, a real burly guy who seems bothered by the fact that he isn’t home watching the Spike channel. “Is this the mattress?” he asks. We all look at him. “Yeah, this one,” I assure him, pointing to the mattress on the floor in my living room, and officially remove myself from the situation.

Brooke and I close the door behind them spouting Good luck’s, as though luck had anything to do with it, and move to the front window to watch as Doofus yells at the mover for rubbing the mattress up against the dirty gate. Without taking her eye off the scene, she asks “Did you really get a receipt from someone off Craiglist?”

“Of course not. That would be ridiculous.”

The mover, fed up, puts his side of the mattress down on the wet ground. Doofus simultaneously yells and groans under the weight of trying to lift the mattress himself.

“Yeah. That would be ridiculous.”

Friday, December 21, 2007

A Christmas Memory

I don’t remember the exact moment when my parents told me that Santa Clause doesn’t exist. I assume I was 14 or 15 (I was stubbornly idealistic), and I know that it was my older sister who ruined it for me, although I refuse to hold a grudge because the last thing I would want would be for Santa to come between my me and my sister. That’s not his style.

What I do remember is laying in bed that Christmas Eve, trying hard not to hear my parents shuffling around putting the presents under the tree. This, I concluded, would be the real Christmas killer. Like waking up with your mother’s hand under your pillow stealing your tooth, and the first thing that runs through your head isn’t, “So you’re the tooth fairy?” rather it’s, “My mom works for the tooth fairy?” It’s embarrassing. So as long as I didn’t hear them, I would be fine. I closed my eyes tight, buried myself under the covers, and waited it out.

While I was under there, something dawned on me: If my parents were Santa, who were all the people dressed up as Santa at the mall and on TV? Now, I wasn’t stupid. I knew they weren’t the real Santa. But obviously I thought they worked for the real Santa. But how could that work is my parents were Santa? Did they work for my parents? Is there a whole underground capitalistic system of make-believe holiday icons? Then I imagined the Easter Bunny sitting behind a large mahogany desk smoking a Cohiba, and I got sad. And I fell asleep.

Well . . . now I know. All those Santas out in public asking kids what they want for Christmas? They’re graduates of Santa school. Trained in the art of deception, these men have been taught and tested on how to have little boys and girls sit on their laps, how to make them believe that, like The Secret says, all you have to do if put it out there and it will come back to you. (Unless of course they ask for things like “love.” Because what’s that? Is it a warm bed on a cold night? Is it checking your phone every five minutes for a text message you know isn’t coming? Is it the smell of whiskey on you pillow and the feeling that you’ve made another big mistake? Better to suggest a toy. They won’t let you down.)

Maybe some flunked out. Maybe some were expelled for smoking pot in the bathroom. Maybe the valedictorian and the salutatorian engaged in a vicious battle for student-Santa president; maybe the accusations of inappropriate lap behavior abounded. In any event, this is the childhood dream of Christmas magic has boiled down to – a brief semester of power-point presentation and scantron tests on bearded parlor tricks and candy-caned psychology.

Me? I like to believe that Charles W. Howard, dean of the Charles W. Howard Santa Clause School, was right when he said, "He errors who thinks Santa enters through the chimney. Santa enters through the heart. Unless he is with Mrs. Clause, then he enters through the vagina."

So true.

Merry Christmas, everyone! See you next week.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christmas Wishlist: Volume 3

What: Abandoned baby hedgehogs

Why: Apparently, due to some unseasonably warm weather, the United Kingdom has an abandoned hedgehog epidemic. Back in May, unusually high temperatures led scores of irresponsible hedgehog moms to come out of hibernation early and give birth, scheduling be damned. This led to a surplus of premature baby hedgehogs, who had to be removed from the wild and admitted to the Prickly Ball Farm Hospital for postnatal care. Now, just a few weeks ago, the warm weather has again fouled up the hedgehog’s way of life (damn you, Big Oil!) leading to a scarcity of food. The fledgling hedgehogs, not yet big enough to fight for their meals, were left undernourished going into hibernation season, which would spell trouble when it came time to wake up in Spring, because they would have starved to death.

So the Tiggywinkles Wildlife Hospital (where do they come up with these names?) took in as many of the abandoned hedgehogs as they could and nursed them to health. Here is where I step in.

According to the article in the Daily Mail, the next step for these hedgehogs is to prepare them for the wilderness:

“The animals will gradually be weaned onto solid food and then taught how to fend for themselves before being released back into the wild aged four or five months.

I feel like I’ve already taught Puppy everything I know, but I met him so late in life (he’s already four) that he’s already set in his ways. What I want more than anything is to have an impact on these hedgehogs, to be able to say, “Do you see that hedgehog stabbing that other hedgehog with that dagger? He made that dagger himself. I taught him how.” These hedgehogs got the short end of the stick from the second they were popped out of some unforgiving mother hedgehog’s vagina. No one gave them a chance, and now I want to show them how special they can really be, like Denzel Washington in “The Great Debaters.” Plus, they’re surprisingly cute, aren’t they?!

How: My guess is that Tiggywinkles and Prickly Ball Farm will be happy to have found a home for the little rascals, so there shouldn’t be a problem there. The only problem will be transporting them. I’m not sure exactly how you ship hedgehogs from the UK, although I imagine it would involve one of those containers like when you order steaks online.

Anyway, let’s do this good Christmas deed. Not for the wilderness or global warming activists and certainly not for the UK. But let’s do it for the orphaned hedgehogs. For the holidays.

What would you do if it was one of your own?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

For The Children at the Holidays

On my way home from work today, I ran into a woman standing outside the entrance to the Wall Street subway station asking for money. She was dressed up like a nun, and I say “dressed up” because she was so obviously not a nun. Her costume was authentic enough – black robe, black habit, white trim in the right places, rosary beads around her neck, etc. But her face. It was a face of a killer, or at least of a person marginally active within criminal circles. It was worn and distrustful, and there was anger under the surface. You just knew that this woman wasn’t married to God, and would probably stab Jesus for seat at a poker table.

The worst part though, was that when I walked past her, she looked me in the eye and said (in a voice that would have recalled memories of child abuse had I been a child who was abused), “Sir, we’re collecting money for the children at the holidays.” And I wanted to respond, “No you’re not.” First of all, what children? You expect me to believe that you collect your money in this brass dish (nice touch) and then immediately take it back to some orphanage and spill it out on the floor and the kids take their cut and go buy school textbooks and hot meals? You’ve got to be kidding me.

It’s just such a base level of exploitation. Not of the orphans, but of the holidays. 364 days a year, orphans don’t get a second thought. Unless you’re on “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” or Goldie Hawn is thinking of adopting you, you’re kind of just shit out of luck in the parents department. But then suddenly it’s Christmas and all focus goes on orphans. No parents! No toys! Santa forgot you! And here’s this fake nun capitalizing on the last pure sentiment Christmas has to offer: that you only get presents if you have parents, but your parting gift is something much more special – a life that can only go up from here.

Anyway, I hate this woman, and as I’m walking past ignoring her, imaging all sorts of scenarios where she is suddenly strangling me with her rosary beads, I hear the familiar jingle of change falling into a brass plate behind me. I turn and see The Most Gullible Looking Man Ever (like he would put up an ad on Craigslist saying “Interested in buying a bridge – do you have paypal?”) emptying his pockets into the dish. And while I want to feel bad for him, I suddenly realize that I am shooting him this awful stink-eye. And to everyone else around us, it appears like I’m all pissed because this guy is giving money to the children for the holidays, but really I’m just pissed because that woman is a terrorist and she is winning and she just unleashed a dirty bomb on my Christmas spirit. But this guy, The Most Gullible Looking Man Ever, he’s just radiating happiness. He honestly believes that because of his donation that a child somewhere will have a better Christmas. So in a roundabout way, even though the only kid that’s going to be affected by that money is the one that woman aborts after getting high on meth and banging lots of dudes (and if that’s what she meant by “for the children” then that’s some pretty ballsy false advertising), even still: That guy is feeling the Christmas spirit pretty hard right now. So fuck you, fake nun.* You can’t ruin Christmas after all.

______________________________________
* If you are a real nun, I really do apologize.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Christmas Wishlist: Volume 2

What: Pathway to the Explorers World Cruise – A 106-day, around-the-world excursion on the Queen Victoria, the brand new super-ship from the makers of the Queen Mary 2.

Why: Because the world is the last great frontier. I’ve been to many great places like Pennsylvania and Florida, and I have dipped my toes in majestic waterways from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico, but I refuse to close my mind off to the possibility that there is something else out there: other places that, while not better than New York, may at least be different.

For example, I’ve never eaten Indonesian food. I don’t even know what it is or where to get it. I could probably just order it from www.indonesianfood.com, but that’s part of the problem: The world has gotten so small that no one feels the need to conquer it anymore. Why travel to Auckland, New Zealand when I have “Flight of the Conchords” on season pass? Why go to Hong Kong when I’ve seen Bloodsport twelve times? I even looked up The Strait of Gibraltar on Facebook, and it wasn’t there, which means it isn’t worth seeing anyway.

But 106 days at sea? Living like a pirate? With an eye patch and a bird, shouting things like “AVAST!” and “I’M THE KING OF THE WORLD” (with a pirate accent), but with amenities and toiletries? If nothing else, it’s a 106-day long open bar. If I didn’t return from this trip with a chest of gold and an exotic disease, I would be surprised and disappointed in myself.

How: How much would you pay for that experience? $200,000,000? $300,000,000? Well then won’t you be surprised to learn that ticket prices start at $21,586. That’s over $199,978,414 off the suggested retail price! When you look at it that way, it’s a total bargain. Except that you’re probably sleeping below deck and sharing a bathroom with the workers or people from New Jersey. And you’ll have to shovel coal into a furnace for a few hours every morning.

Or you could just upgrade to a penthouse for the deeply discounted price of $89,604. With that, you get luxurious amenities like a towel warmer and windows. But at the end of the day, can you really put a price tag on the vast endlessness of the horizon? The sun setting over the cusp of the sea? Having definitive proof that the world is round? And most importantly, sharing a truly unique adventure with your best friend in the whole world, that neither of you will forget for the rest of your life?*

(I’m not sure you can. But if I had to hazard a guess, it would be $203,404 – the price of the ship’s grand suite.)

This year’s ultimate gift giving guide will be spread out over the coming weeks. Keep coming back to stay current on all the awesome gifts for you and your family and me this holiday season.

___________________________________
* Actually, Puppy would likely forget the entire trip the second we got home. After all, this is the same dog who once forgot halfway through that he was peeing and put his leg down, only realizing what he had done once he started peeing on himself, at which point he hastily lifted his leg again and looked at my embarrassedly, as though to say, “Duh!”

Monday, December 17, 2007

How to Buy a Mattress in 38 Easy Steps (Part 2)

Step 10. Receive delivery of your mattress. It’s a proud moment. Enjoy it. Little do you know it will only last five minutes.

Step 11. Immediately realize your mistake. Just as the mattress delivery men leave, go into the bedroom and jump on the mattress. Realize you have made a big mistake.

Step 12. Don’t vocalize your mistake, because that makes it real. For some reason, both Brooke and I made pretend we loved it. We laid down on it cooing comforting “oohs” and “ahhs” even while our eyes were saying, “What the fuck is wrong with this mattress?” Finally, while laying there pretending to love it, we had this exchange:

Brooke: (shyly) “Do you think it’s maybe a little hard?”
Me: “It’s like it’s stuffed with rocks!”

Step 13. Make up nonsensical excuses.

“Because our last mattress was so soft, this one only feels harder.”
“It was in the cold truck for so long that it needs to reach room temperature.”
“All mattress need to be broken in.”
“It needs a mattress pad. That will make it less hard.”

Step 14. Do research on the internet (because that fixes everything). This is Brooke’s method of solution for everything. The girl has a knack for finding message boards on every topic imaginable. She once convinced me that a build up of toxins in the digestional tract can lead to headaches and sleeplessness. That led to us getting colonics together on our six month anniversary. I don’t like message boards.

Step 15. Call customer service even though it won’t help. After worrying that maybe we were delivered the wrong mattress, we checked the model number on the all important DO NOT REMOVE UNDER PENALTY OF LAW tag and called Sleepy’s to ask them to read the model number off the bed we had tried in the store. They put Brooke on hold. And never came back. Brooke said something to the effect of, “I’m going to [blank] that [blankity blank] in the [blank].” Even I’m not comfortable printing what she said.

Step 16. Go back to the store and check for yourself. We decided that we needed to take matters into our own hands. We showered (well, I showered and Brooke changed her pants) and went to check for ourselves. Only we decided that we needed extra motivation to make the trip “fun.” So we made it a race against time. Twenty minutes to get off the subway, up into the mall, through the Target to the Sleepys, check the mattress number and get back on the subway. With Jack Bauer-worthy precision, we made it to the platform with a minute to spare. Alas, the subway arrived 30 seconds too late. (Damn you, MTA!)

Step 17. Regroup. The model numbers were the same, so we were convinced that we had made the right choice. Now it was just a matter of the mattress thawing / breaking in / magically transforming into a different mattress.

Step 18. Try to convince yourself that it is OK, even though every time you sit on it you go, “What the fuck is in there, concrete? It’s like sitting on a park bench!”

Step 19. Make pretend you are still deliberating. We would say things like, “I’m 60/40 on the mattress. 60% it sucks, 40% it’s just bad.” Then we’d laugh about it, but cry on the inside.

Step 20. Take it out on each other. Ultimately, it is better to place the blame. Here, we had to get creative. It was Brooke’s fault because she didn’t like my old, soft mattress and she overcompensated. It was my fault because I had that stupid soft mattress in the first place. And maybe if I took out the garbage before letting it stink up the apartment, we wouldn’t be in this position in the first place.

Step 21. Redefine the problem. It turns out we didn’t pick the wrong mattress. We picked the wrong sized mattress. What we really need is a king-size! Well that was silly of us, now we have to return it. And not at all because it feels like the back of a pickup truck.

Step 22. Spend a long, long, long time picking out your second mattress. When we went back to the store and explained everything to our mattress professional, he showed us tons of softer mattresses. The only problem was that we were so psyched out that we couldn’t tell if the mattresses were comfortable or not. We ended up asking each other questions like, “Do I look comfortable?” “If you were me, would you be comfortable? “What is comfort, really?”

Step 23. Pick out your second bed. You’ll know you’ve found the right one when you lay on it and ask the salesman how much it costs and when he tells you, you say, “Now that’s for two mattresses? Or just the one?”

Step 24. Negotiate the price like a stealthy executive.

Him: “This is going to be about double the price.”
Me: “Sounds great!”
Him: “Plus there is a $250 exchange fee.”
Me: “Love it!”

Step 25. Accept your punishment. After signing the new papers, Brooke and I left happy, saying that we made a simple mistake and did the proper thing to correct the situation. So what if we maybe spent a little extra money. There is nothing more valuable than learning from your mistakes.

Step 26. Put a ridiculously positive spin on your punishment. Eventually, you will have a serene moment where you will realize that this is for the best. You had to buy the wrong mattress in order to buy the right one. Even if you’ve never believed in fate before, you believe it was in play here. You will probably tell the story to your friends, concluding with, “Isn’t it crazy how things work out?” And they’ll be like, “So that sucks that you bought the wrong mattress the first time.” Because they don’t get it.

Step 27. Blame someone else for your punishment, but make it like you won because of your ridiculously positive spin. Actually, it turns out we didn’t spend any extra money at all! Because we got the second mattress at a deep discount, which was then applied to the price of the new mattress as well. And we probably wouldn’t have gotten the same discount had we bought that mattress first because it wasn’t included in the sale! I can’t believe Sleepy’s tried to screw us like that. We’re practically geniuses for subverting their evil ways.

Step 28. Make preparations. Now that we were the proud owners of a not-more-expensive-than-the-last-one-we-bought king sized mattress, we needed sheets. We walked over to Target and found 1000 thread count sheets at a deep discount. We’re on a roll today!

Step 29. Don’t pass up on great deals at Target. Seriously, $2.09 for a box of Honey Bunches of Oats? With almonds? FAMILY SIZE?

Step 30. Receive delivery of your second mattress. Try to remain undaunted by the fact that your new king-sized bed is probably the largest thing you’ve ever owned, your 1994 four door Saturn included.

Step 31. Realize that maybe you were wrong again. I can’t overestimate this: A king-sized mattress is HUGE. The sheets that go on it are huge. When I first sat on the edge, my feet didn’t touch the floor. It felt like everything else in the apartment shrank, except the bed, which was growing and taking over. It was so big that now the bedroom door kind of had no where to swing. Which is a problem if you like to use doors in the traditional sense, with their swinging.

Step 32. Do anything in your power to not be wrong again. Since clearly the bed cannot be the problem, because it is perfect in every way, because you could never be wrong about two beds in such a short time span, it must be that everything else around it has become imperfect. What to do with an imperfect door them? Why take it off, of course! Who needs a door?! It’s 2007 for God’s sake!

Step 33. Don’t learn from your mistakes; learn to embrace your mistakes. So what if we moved into a two bedroom apartment so we could have the privacy of separate rooms, only to take down the things that actually provide the privacy? It’s called rolling with the punches. (Side note: Betraying my cool exterior, this entire sequence of events, which happens faster than I can process it (seriously, the door was off the wall in three minutes), is shaking my core beliefs to their very foundation.)

Step 34. Really, really embrace them. After our first night of sleep, we realized that we hated the sheets we bought. But we were such pros at returning stuff that we figured, Why the hell not?

Step 35. Throw money at the problem. Now we needed new sheets. So off to Bed Bath and Beyond we went. And while we were there, we decided to pick up a few other things we needed, like one of everything in the store, including new king sized pillows, and a bed skirt and candles. At one point I put a basket of fake flowers in the cart and when Brooke asked me what I was doing, I just said, “I don’t know.”

Step 36. Like hug the shit out of your mistakes. When you get home and realize that the blue sheets you bought look horrendous in your green room (who knew!), don’t get discouraged. We didn’t. We actually slept in the, woke up the next day, packaged them up and returned them. It got to the point where I could actually repack the sheets just like they come, in those small, plastic pouches.

Step 37. Put on the finishing touches. You don’t need to subscribe to HGTV to know that a heavy curtain makes a great substitute for a bedroom door. (Hence my trip to the racist death store the other day). And with the right sheets finally in place (three tries doesn’t seem excessive, especially in light of taking two tries for the mattress itself), and the right pillows, Brooke and I were ready to enjoy the mattress. Except we were too tired. We agreed to “enjoy” it this weekend, maybe with some light bondage. But you know what’s exciting in the meantime? Sleeping on your side and not kicking the person next to you in bed. It is a new, revolutionary way to sleep. It’s like, they’re there if you want to grope them or ask for a sip of water, but they’re not there when you want to go to sleep. It’s like you’re suddenly living with a hooker. But, you know, nicer.

Step 38. Bask in the glory of your new bed. There’s a saying that goes: “Working is hard; sleeping is easy.” But I don’t think so. You see, you can’t rest until you have worked for something. Like if someone ever killed my mom and I had to seek out vengeance. Would I sleep at night? No. Not until I killed my mom’s killer. It’s the same thing with buying a mattress. I worked for it. And I’ve earned that sleep.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

(We Will Return To Our Regularly Scheduled Programming After This Brief, Racist Message)

On my lunch break today I went to the hardware store to buy some closet pole for another one of Dan & Brooke’s Home Improvement Adventures™. There was a nice Mexican guy who said he would cut the closet pole for me. I told him how long I needed it and he went downstairs. He came back upstairs and handed me two pieces of wood. He said, “You pay for whole thing.” I briefly considered leaving the second length of pole with him, because what the hell am I going to do with it? A man only needs so much closet pole. But somehow I came to the conclusion that it was better to inconvenience myself by carrying a five foot piece of wood home with me than to pay for something only to give it back to the very man who was ripping me off in the first place.

Anyway, I went to the register to pay and on line in front of me was a woman pushing a baby stroller. The guy behind the counter (who happened to be black) was holding up a bundle of rope. “This is the thinnest rope we have,” he told the woman.

“Oh,” she replied, seeming concerned. “I guess I’ll have to take that.” Then: “You could tie that into a noose, right?”

A-WHA?

I quickly looked over my shoulder to see if anyone else had heard it. Could she actually have asked him that? But yes, she must have – because he replies, tentatively, at best, “Sure . . . I think you could.” She then takes the rope from him and BEGINS MAKING A NOOSE.

I’m confused. Is this really happening? Am I in some bad Civil War play? Finally, she hands him the rope back and says, “I’ll take two feet.” He seems happy that the transaction will soon be over, but not before she then asks, “You think that will look authentic, right?” I don’t think I will ever hear the word “authentic” again without remembering the time a white woman asked a black salesman if the rope he was selling her would make for an authentic looking noose.

She finally paid and left. As I went up to the register, I debated whether or not to convey my astonishment to the salesman. I had to decide quick, and in the moment of my indecision on whether to vocalize my feelings or remain silent, a muted harrumph escaped my mouth. Fully dedicated to the interaction now, I followed it up with a look that said, “Can you believe that woman? A noose of all things!” However, I fear the salesman mistook my gesture of harmonious brotherhood as a sigh of indignation. Apparently my “Can you believe that racist woman?” eyes are very similar to my “Can you hurry up, I’m in a rush” eyes. (Who knew?)

The lesson? I don’t think there is one here. Like Abraham Lincoln said, “Sometimes you overpay for closet pole, and that’s just how it is.”

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

How to Buy a Mattress in 38 Easy Steps (Part 1)

When Brooke and I moved in together, we had to decide whose mattress to keep. At first we considered doing it like The Brady Bunch and keeping them all, but once we realized that having a guest bed led to the possibility of having guests, we relented. Brooke’s mattress was a full-sized mattress; mine a queen. So we obviously choose to keep mine and sell hers on Craigslist. This led to one of the most hilarious scenes ever when a couple showed up to buy the mattress and insisted on TESTING IT OUT on our living room floor. I love Craigslist.

The problem with my mattress though is that it is ultra plush. So plush that sometimes I would make pretend I did heroin and I would reenact those scenes in movies where people sit on the edge of the bed, shoot up and then fall backwards onto the mattress because I bet that this is what it feels like – like you are falling deep into a pile of cuddly care Bears who all gather around and rain down their ‘Care Bear stare’ on you like a cumshot of happiness.

Which is great for one person. But add another warm body to the mix and mo plush becomes mo problems. When Brooke and I would both lay on the bed, we would gravitate towards the middle, slipping into what I liked to refer to as “the chasm of love” – which isn’t a vagina euphemism, rather the deep indentation only an ultra plush mattress can provide. At first, this was romantic. It forced us to cuddle. Then, as we started to spend more and more time together and it got to the point where you’re like “I don’t care how perfect your tits are, I don’t want your knee in my stomach tonight,” it became troublesome. Then when we decided to live together and we faced the prospect of cuddling forever, it became dire.

We’ve been saving up money for a couple of months, and finally at the beginning of the month we decided we were ready to buy a bed. Joke’s on us! We were not ready to buy a bed. Not even close. What should have been a simple three step process (shop, buy, deliver), turned into a 38-step (I counted) debacle. So the next time you need a mattress, and you’re looking for something to keep you occupied for a week and a half, follow this method. It’s longer, more expensive, and incredibly inconvenient, but every night when you fall asleep on that mattress you will know that you worked for it.*
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Step 1. Choose a store. Brooke and I pick Sleepy’s, the Mattress Professionals. It is located in Brooklyn in The Atlantic Mall, a.k.a. “The Mall that Capitalism Forgot,” which has about 30 stores, none of which are appealing. Except for Target, which is as appealing as it is repulsive, making it a wash.

Step 2. Schedule your trip. Make sure you take into account outside factors (like the holidays) so that regardless of how awful the mall may be, it will be absolutely packed with people swinging shopping bags full of $10 per dozen boxer shorts from Old Navy. Ideally, now is the time to realize that this process will not be as easy as you thought it would be.

Step 3. Engage a salesperson. This shouldn’t be hard. Once inside Sleepy’s, we are immediately approached by a Certified Sleep Professional™. (We later learn that this moniker is true – in order to be a mattress salesperson you are required to undergo six weeks of training. I imagine if I was in mattress training and Brooke was helping me study for a test:

Brooke: “What are mattresses filled with?”
Me: “Ducks. No, springs! Damn it!”)

Step 4. Become friends with your Mattress Professional. If you get only one sincere piece of advice from this whole story, make it this. Tell him you like his hair, compliment his pants, anything to get on his good side. He decides the price of your mattress. He will also be watching you lay on mattresses for the next hour or so, which is incredibly awkward if there is even a hint of tension in the air.

Step 5. Understand that the first mattress you lay on will not be the right mattress. It will be the very wrong mattress. Your Mattress Professional wants you to lay on an inexpensive, extremely uncomfortable mattress first so that you will get it in your head that you NEED a more expensive mattress. It’ll be like, “Why does this mattress feel so lumpy?” “Oh, it’s full of hypodermic needles. Some new recycling program to lower costs.” Do a token lay-down, but it’s like an at-bat in baseball: You take the first pitch strike, and then the real game begins.

Step 6. Immediately fall in love with the second mattress. In hindsight, this may be where we went wrong. All told, we laid on about four different mattresses over a 20 minute period. As impressive as our economical time management may be, this isn’t exactly the best way to choose a new bed. Think of it like dating: You’re not going to know if you love the girl until you spend at least 15 minutes on top of her.

Step 7. Then choose a more expensive mattress. Once you’ve found a mattress you like, ask what the next step up is “just out of curiosity.” When I did this, the salesman smiled a broad smile. It was like he was a fisherman and I was a trout who jumped onto his boat, and then into his bucket, just to be like, “HEY, WHAT’S GOING ON IN HERE? WHAT’S THIS KNIFE FOR? MAYBE I SHOULD GUT MYSELF?”

Step 8. Pay more than you planned on spending. One of man’s innate tendencies besides survival and dominance is finding a great bargain. For example, I bought a $50 bath mat at Century 21. When I showed it to Brooke, she said, “Why the hell did you spend $50 on a bath mat!?” and I said, “Because it was marked down from $120!” I saw nothing wrong with this argument. Hence, spending more money means nothing as long as it is less money than someone else might pay.

Step 9. Leave the store feeling impressed with yourself. This is very important. This is the feeling you will remember when it all comes crashing down.

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* Or, for an even more interesting experience, buy my old mattress. It’s up for sale on Craigslist, but if you act fast you (you!) can own the cuddly Care Bear bed. I’ll even let you try it out on my living room floor. You can even snuggle on it with Puppy for optimal preciousness.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Q&A Friday!

It seems every year December becomes less and less Christmassy. All week, there have been a gaggle of tourists outside the NY Stock Exchange clogging up the sidewalk. Enter me, a cannonball of under-rested, overstressed fury, barreling my way from the subway to the front door of my office building, straight through the crowd. Last week, a small Asian child took a picture of me as a ducked my head, making like Sonic The Hedgehog through the crowd. I imagine he will show the picture to his friends and they will all laugh about how I need acupuncture or Tai Chi or a happy ending. “Hahaha, Westerners!” Bite me.

Then today I looked up and saw why the crowds have been gathering. The Stock Exchange had put up its annual 65-foot Christmas tree. 65 feet of Norwegian Spruce decorated with multi-colored Christmas balls the size of a newborn’s head, and it took me four days of walking past it to notice. That’s just not right.

So I decided that I am undergoing a Christmas Spirit blitz, starting today. It’s Christmas music all day long (I suggest using this station at Pandora). Then, at lunch, I’m going to Century 21 and buying a snowman figurine to put on my coffee table at home (maybe even a whole set of figurines, which I can place in sexual positions when Brooke isn’t home). I will also buy an advent calendar, preferably one with chocolates in it. On my way back, I’ll drop a few coins in the Salvation Army can and maybe even make eye contact with the homeless guy who smells like urine from 30 feet away. Then I’m buying an eggnog latte and standing in front of that tree for no less than 15 solid minutes, making a mental list of every single fucking thing I love about Christmas. Then I’m finding every clip of Scrooged on the internet and watching them on repeat. I refuse to go another day devoid of Christmas Spirit.

On to the questions.

Dear Dan and Brooke:

I was recently dumped by my fiancé so that he could go live the life of a River Rat, floating down the Colorado. He broke up over the phone and told me he "didn't want to waste the money to drive to my house to tell me in person, because it wouldn't change anything". He also pawned my mountain bike for cash- and then told me he hadn't seen it for awhile...

Here's the dilemma/ question: he left a bunch of shit at my house (e.g. winter boots, coats, suit,). As it is cold here in UTAH, I gave the stuff to a local homeless outreach center. He also left a huge box of pictures and negatives. He is a "writer" (oh, Lord, don't get me started...) and has "written a travel novel that will become the next “On The Road”, these pix are the result of 12 years of photography that he wants included in the novel. QUESTION: should I burn them and tell him 'fuck off' or should I be the better person and return them? Answer soon, please! He’s coming for the pix in 3 weeks!

-Still Going to Hell in SLC

Apparently, I’m not good enough to answer questions solo anymore. So I consulted with Brooke via IM and this is what she came up with:

Brooke (1:14:50 PM): Hmm
Brooke (1:15:09 PM): Scavenger hunt!
Me (1:15:22 PM): Make him work for them?
Brooke (1:15:22 PM): Yes
Brooke (1:15:31 PM): Mail the picture to friends throughout the country
Me (1:15:35 PM): That's pretty genius
Brooke (1:16:01 PM): And then post clues on a website called perplextheex.com or some such thing
Brooke (1:16:07 PM): You'll make tons of money off the idea
Brooke (1:16:20 PM): Readers can offer to receive pics and hide them for you
Brooke (1:16:31 PM): You'll have tons of liquor sponsors
Me (1:16:32 PM): This is almost too good to publish
Brooke (1:16:59 PM): Yeah, but we'll never do anything with the idea. “Lost” comes back on the air in ‘09. We're very busy.

I don’t think Brooke understands how Q&A Fridays work. This seems like an awfully helpful answer. Much better than my first reaction, which included a blowtorch and a bad pun involving “On The Chode.”
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I think I may have had my first gay experience when I masturbated to your blog the other day. Does that make me gay?

I’ve taken a few virginities and turned a few women straight, but never have I turned a man gay. I’m not sure whether to file it in under “conquests” or “misadventures,” but the in fact I am flattered. Now let me relate a little story to you that might help you through your confusion.

When I was young and still believed in Santa, every November I would start trying to be a good person. I figured Santa wasn’t watching us all year long because he was busy with preparations and housework, but that sometime around Halloween he really began working on his naughty/nice list. So I would help my mom around the house and make my bed and not complain when my vegetables touched my mashed potatoes, which, any other month of the year, was totally unacceptable.

Then, every Christmas, like clock-work, I got a pile of presents under the tree. I thought I was a mastermind. “You can’t catch me, Santa. No one can.” When I found out that it was my mom and dad who were buying all the presents, I was shocked. First, because how could they fool someone as smart as me? But more importantly, they were with me ALL YEAR LONG. Through the good and the bad. Yet they still bought me presents? Even though I shot my dart gun at my sister.

My point is, it’s our actions all year long that matter. Not just the desires we concede to during lonely moments of weakness. But in this case, yeah that’s pretty gay what you did. No questions here. Yes, Virginia, You Are Gay.
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Hey Dan

Why are bands, like Linkin Park (My favourite) or maybe they are the only one, coming up with sad, angry, dark songs for their album? It makes me depressed. Help.

Dee

The short answer is, Linkin Park sucks.

But the long answer is much less interesting. Sad, angry, dark songs are a trend in music right now, much like black babies or alpaca ear muffs. Many people will say that music defines the times, but those people probably didn’t study macro-political-economics at Harvard. While the music industry may think it has some sort of influence on popular culture, the fact is pop culture is defined long before we get jiggy with it. Musicians are writing music impressed by years of subconscious cultural influence. (The sole exception is Gloria Estefan’s “The Rhythm is Gonna Get You,” which was recorded at the height of a social, political and economic maelstrom – to this day underground think-tank marvel at its resiliency.)

Anyway, what we’re experiencing in music right now is a response to the lack of oil, the war against terrorism, the conclusion of the Harry Potter series, and global warming. It’s a sad state of affairs, and music cannot help but reflect that. It is a dire state of affairs, and there is only one hope . . .


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How do I get the sales woman here to stop saying "Knock Knock!" with a cheery little smile on her face when she walks into any room? Understand, she is not actually knocking, nor is she even attempting to. She is literally just saying the words "Knock Knock". It makes me want to puke blood.

There is only one surefire way to stop annoying office behavior, and that is to make it so awkward for the other person that they become literally scared and disgusted of themselves to ever perform that action again. It requires some steely nerves on your part to pull it off, but if you can, I promise this woman will never say “knock, knock” again.

Here’s what you do:

The next time she comes to the door and cheerily chirps, “Knock, knock!” look up at her wide-eyed, in complete terror, cower behind your desk and begin sobbing. When she asks you what’s wrong, tell her that when you were young, your uncle molested you. Late at night, after everyone else had gone to sleep, he would tip toe to your door and very quietly he would peek in to see if you were there. And you would hide under the covers, gripped by fear, hoping he would leave. And when she says “knock, knock,” it reminds you of him.

When she asks “Why, because he would say, ‘knock, knock’ before he entered the room?” you reply, “No, because he was really fucking annoying and so are you.”

(Think you’ve got what it takes to have a questions? Email me at redactedblog@gmail.com)