Monday, May 18, 2009

Don’t Get Curried Away

A few of my friends came down from NY this weekend. We went out partying one night at The Clevelander* (which couldn’t be clubbier if it was whacking a baby seal) and my friend Scott proceeded to engage in conversation with a group of Indian women there celebrating a bachelorette party.

The music is loud, of course, so I’m watching him scream into this girl’s ear and her scream into his, but I can’t hear a word they’re saying. All of a sudden, she gets a very confused look on her face. A few minutes later, she kind of drifts away and Scott comes over to me.

Scott: “Well that was awkward.”
Me: “What happened?”
Scott: “I asked here where she was from and she said Al Habama. I asked what part of the country that was in and she kind of looked at me funny and said the south.
Me: “Okay.”
Scott: “So then I’m asking her all these questions about what life is like there and she says she just graduated college and is thinking of moving to Miami. When I told her that must be a pretty far trip, she said it’s only about an hour. That’s what I realized she lived in Alabama, not Al Habama.”

* It’s worth noting that The Clevelander is the same club these same friends and I were at when I got a girl’s phone number on my social security card back in 2001. It’s nice to know that while my friends and I might grow and change, Miami stays the same.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I’m Too Smart to Think of That: Gratuity Beads

This is a new segment on my blog where I highlight someone else’s money making idea and instead of pondering the age old question (Why didn’t I think of that?), I spew unwarranted jealousy and bitterness.

Are awesome things happening to you every day, but instead of giving thanks you just take it for granted? Well guess what: You’re going to die.

According to a recent nonscientific study done by someone who wants you to buy their product, being ungrateful can lessen your quality of life by up to 25 percent.

Think about that. Let’s say you’re awesome. You let the dogs out every day, metaphorically speaking. Your quality of life is 100 percent. But then your real dog, the one you don’t actually have to let out because it’s smart enough to use the doggie door, dies after you accidentally close its head in your car door. Your quality of life goes own 10 percent.

And it turns out your local barista witnessed the whole thing, and in her police report she claims you “intentionally shut the door on the dog’s face.” While the police are filing their report, a local news crew happens by and begins filming a segment which makes it onto the 7:00 news. Suddenly your front lawn is overflowing with PETA supporters carrying signs like DOGS HAVE HEADS, TOO. Your quality of life plummets another 15 percent.”gratuity

The next morning you are called into your boss’s office and fired for all the bad publicity you’ve brought upon the company. That’s minus 30 percent quality of life. Obviously your girlfriend leaves you too, because you have no job, there are PETA protestors living on your lawn, and it was actually her dog you whose head you closed in the car door. There goes another 20 percent.

Add it all up, and your quality of life is down a whopping 75 percent.

So there you are, clinging to a 25 percent quality of life. The only problem is, you’ve never been a appreciative person. You’ve never given thanks. If only you had purchased Gratuity Beads 101. For only $23.99 ($28.43 plus tax and shipping), you could have received a string of 101 glass beads which you could us to count all 100 of your daily blessings (plus “the extra 101st bead to be thankful for the beads themselves”), thus preserving the final 25 percent of your quality of life. But instead, because you never bought the beads, you are a worthless husk of human.

BUT WAIT. It’s not too late. You can still begin to recoup your losses if only you can work past your smug, ungrateful self-centeredness and simply purchase Gratuity Beads 101. In just seven easy steps and one easy payment of $28.43 (velvet carrying pouch included!), Gratuity Beads 101 will unlock the secrets of how to think it’s really great that your turkey sandwich was very delicious and that iced tea is so refreshing on a warm spring day. It won’t be easy, but at this price can you afford not to be thankful you don’t have cancer?

BONUS: They also make for a stylish necklace.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Roundtable Discussion: Is Life Too Short Not To Laugh At Your Own Flatulence?

(Though having nothing to do with the story, I thought this urinal deserved recognition for it’s incredible hanging height. That’s practically sink level. I had to use my tippytoes for Christ’s sake.)

The other night I was reading in bed while Brooke was in the bathroom, when suddenly I heard her start giggling. So when she walked back into the bedroom, I asked, “Did you make a funny fart?” and she replied, very confusedly, so confused that the look on her face bordered on concern that perhaps I had had a stroke and the lack of oxygen to my brain was causing me to speak gibberish, “Did I what?”

I explained that I heard her chuckling in the bathroom, meaning she must have farted and then laughed about it. No, she informed me a little more sternly than necessary, she was in fact brushing her teeth and laughed when she thought of something funny to write for a story she was working on. Then this: “Do you really make yourself giggle from farting loudly on the toilet?” to which I replied, “Well, not just on the toilet . . .” which I don’t think was the answer she was looking for.

It turns out Brooke and I have very differing opinions on (I’ll use the Native American term) passing wind. We both agree on some basic tenets, like there should be no carte blanche. For example, I once dated a girl who refused to sneeze in front of me because she had a deep seeded fear that I would never want to have sex with her again if I saw her “expelling mucus” face. After one of the longer, more tedious and scientifically indubitable conversations of my life, I convinced her that unless she blew snot ON my face, I was cool with her sneezing. Ironically, I subsequently lost all interest in her (sexual and otherwise) when I inadvertently caught her making her orgasm face, the memory of which haunts me to this day.

So no carte blanche. No laissez fart. No rip ‘em if you got ‘em. Like my grandmother always said, there is a time and a place for everything, and just like you should never tip a bell hop before he checks your toilet, so to should you never pass gas in mixed company. Fine.

But, I argue, there is the disturbing truth that farting is inherently funny. Farting is the Ricky Gervais of bodily functions. Situation aside, the mere act of it making noise is a cause for hilarity. Even Freud thinks so, and he’s a pervert.

Case and point (about farting, not Freud): The other night, Brooke and I are making our rounds at a few local events. The first is a party for the opening of a spa, the second is a party for art, and the third and final destination was a Diesel launch party. It’s not like they were launching something cool like a rocket – just a line of perfumes, yet clearly this perfume was of the utmost importance. The event was large, held in a three-story warehouse-style building with custom art on every wall, and bartenders on every floor. It was the typical Miami crowd: a bunch of people you can’t even imagine sharing the same zip code as you.

Brooke and I decide not to stay, but I insist on using the bathroom before leaving. After winding through a maze of backroom corridors, I find the men’s room. I approach the only available urinal, which is the short one. The one made for kids, which must be some sort of mandatory municipal code because as far as I can tell whatever this building is zoned for, it’s definitely not for kids. So I’m kind of bending down, a little bit hunched at the waist just to make sure that my downward trajectory still achieves enough forward arc. To my right is the only other urinal, a normal sized one. Standing at it is a man dressed like the American version of a British author: jeans, black sports coat, striped Oxford – but sloppy. He is wearing thick black framed glasses and scrolling on his Blackberry – mostly with one hand, sometimes with two. Without having to investigate closely, it is evident that he is doing nothing more than standing at a urinal with his fly unzipped. Whether he has peed already or not is a question that I spend a solid ten seconds pondering, not because I’m a pervert but because I haven’t started going yet and if he is planning on finishing up any second now I’d much prefer to simply sidestep over to the normal sized urinal instead of crouching at this one.

Just then, though, I am distracted by the noises coming from the stall to the right of American British author. It’s one of those deluxe-sized stalls (handicapped, I think they’re called) with it’s very own sink and everything. I know this because when I first entered the bathroom, the door to the stall was slightly ajar and I saw a man pulling down his pants, either unaware that the door was open or unaware that some three hundred or so years ago crapping became a private activity.

The first noise isn’t much – some shifting and shimmying, followed by a deep exhale, an audible ahh; like in a comedy movie when someone driving a car narrowly avoids a calamitous crash, lets out a simple sigh, and immediately drives into something much funnier like a pile of manure or an unexpected gang war. But no sooner does everything go quiet, American British author next to me still texting away, me relenting and beginning my process, than something suddenly goes terribly wrong. First a noise. Gas, most likely, but not normal gas. Not a release; an explosion. BAM. “Oh my.” He seems concerned. I am as well, and consider saying something, but really – what to say? Then another: BAM, BLOOM. “Ugh . . . no. No, this – Ohh.” The utterances now are less of concern, more of confusion – the sounds an infant might make if one had the physiological development and psychosocial wherewithal to try to wrap their head around the process of shitting for the very first time.

Then this: “Brother.” Just that word, said with so much disbelief and resignation that I feel in my heart of hearts that I am ear witnessing an existential bowel movement. A flurry of noise and action (“Christ!” “Oh what?” Why…”), but the mood has lightened to such a degree that I can’t help but chuckle a bit – the only problem being that I’m at the kiddie urinal. My margin for error? Small. My errors? Wide. If Grissom from C.S.I. had surveyed the scene, seeing the unfortunate moisture collected atop the urinal, he would have concluded that “something funny happened here.” Meanwhile, American British writer finished up on his Blackberry finished up without ever acknowledging the situation, despite the fact that for a solid 15 seconds this room had reached Rescue 9-1-1 proportions.

I washed up and left before the guy from the stall ever came out, but as I left I did (I had to) look back through the slightly open door. I didn’t see much, but I did see a big ass smile on the guy’s face.

SO . . .

Friday, May 8, 2009

It’s Perfectly Normal for Couples to Use Pet Names

(Last night. In bed. Me: curled up facing away from Brooke, nearly asleep. Brooke rolls over and wraps her arm around me in a cuddling embrace. Immediately, she begins fidgeting: stretching, cracking knuckles, scratching, jostling me about.)

Me: “Cuddling with you is like cuddling with a rabid wolf.”
Brooke: “How would you know?”
Me: “I know wolves, Wolfy.”
Brooke: “Whatever, Sweat Burp1.”
Me: “Really? You’re trying to make Sweat Burp stick? Good luck, Pickles2.”
Brooke: “Don’t get all C.O.M.B.y3 on me.”
Me: “There’s no such word as C.O.M.B.y. You can’t make an acronym an adjective.”
Brooke: “Sure you can.”
Me: “Like A.I.D.S.y?”
Brooke: “Have you seen Tom lately? He been looking a little A.I.D.S.y.”
Me: “That baggy dress looks really A.I.D.S.y on you. Yeah, I guess you’re right.”
Brooke: “Of course I am.”

1 A few nights prior I burped while eating a particularly spicy burrito, thus grossing Brooke out by sweating and burping at the same time.

2 Referencing Brooke’s habit of incessantly picking at her nails.

3 Standing for Cranky Old Man Baby, something Brooke once designated me for complaining about a lack of cookies in the house.

Important Note: That is a picture of a band called AIDS Wolf. What?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Hall of Lame

People always ask me if I run into a lot of celebrities in Miami. Actually, no one asks me that, but I wish they would. It’s one of the few pleasures of living in an area so defined by stardom (and so far removed from reality) that while Brooke and I were lying on the beach yesterday a plane flew overhead towing a banner reading “Q-Tip at Mansion tonight!” meaning the rapper Q-Tip would be at the club Mansion, not that someone was giving away ear swabs at their bay front estate, which is a shame.

That said, the range of celebrities I have run into are B-list at best. Whenever I read the gossip blogs and see pictures of Lindsey Lohan or Heidi Klum on South Beach I can’t help but think that the pictures were actually taken on South Beech – the elaborate soundstage just north of Hollywood designed to replicate south Florida, because if that really is Regis Philbman walking down the street in Miami, how come no one is mugging him?

Still though, I’ve had my run ins, culminating this past weekend when I found myself accidentally watching an ex-90’s boy band member blow out the candles on his birthday cake at a South Beach hotel. It was an event that may have struck me as interesting when I first got here – novel in the way it always is when you sing happy birthday to someone whose face you’ve seen on a CD cover. But by now it was just one more sad event in a long line of celebrity spottings that, much like menstrual spottings, left me feeling more embarrassed than excited.

It started a few months after we’d arrived. Brooke was invited to tour a local hotel she was writing an article about and I decided to go along for the ride. As she wandered the grounds, I lounged poolside taking in the scene. Then I noticed Dennis Rodman standing right next to me. He was drinking a cocktail out of a comically small plastic cup, making me realize that one of the plights of being that large must be how silly certain things look in your hand, like a fork or a baby.

I tried desperately to play it cool, thinking how if I was famous I would want people to respect my privacy and not to fawn all over me in public*. At the same time, when you’re sitting next to someone you watched play basketball on TV for years and years, you can’t just be like, “Oh, hey – didn’t notice your 7-foot black frame there. I was getting a text message from my mom.” I eventually shot him a casual “What’s up” head-nod/smile, to which he responded by staring off into the distance, and left it at that.

Since then, I have encountered the following famous people:

• Dwayne Wade. Brooke and I went to a party thrown by a local magazine that had featured Dwayne Wade on the cover. When we showed up and watched him walk into the club surrounded by a group of friends, Brooke turned to me and asked, “Do you think he’ll perform?” to which I replied, “Like play basketball?” to which she replied with a very confused look, “You mean he’s not a rapper?”

• Deepak Chopra. This was an especially weird one because Chopra was the keynote speaker at an event we attended called Lingerie Miami. Basically it was an outdoor fashion show for fancy underwear, and to kick it all off Chopra gave a speech about the rights of women, presumably those specifically pertaining to the right to seduce your man in a French Maid costume:

Eva Longoria was supposed to be there too, but Brooke and I left early, partly because she was cold and partly because public erections make me uncomfortable.

• Jeffrey Donovan. Burn Notice is one of my favorite TV shows, so when Brooke was out at some party and texted me saying that she just saw him there, I shot back, “SHUT UP. Sleep with him, please.” Which honestly wouldn’t have bothered me because then when I finally got to meet him myself, I’d have a rock solid conversation starter. “Hey, I’m Dan Murphy. You had sex with my girlfriend Brooke. Jewish, busty, drinks like a sailor? So how are things?”

• Alex Rodriguez. This was at a restaurant opening just a few weeks ago, and I have to say: Being on the disabled list with a right hip labrum tear seems like an awful lot of fun. He even got Molly Sims’ phone number at the end of the night, which would have been a lot cooler if instead of it being the end of the night, it was the end of 1998, but whatever.

• Gloria Estefan. Dade county law actually stipulates that you aren’t an official citizen of Miami until you’ve seen Gloria Estefan eating at a low-to-mid priced restaurant.

• Someone who I thought was Paulie from Rocky. I realized it wasn’t him when instead of getting into the back of a cab parked out front of a hotel, he drove it away.

• Enrique Iglesias. Brooke is convinced she saw him get out of a cab in front of a Walgreen’s liquor store the other night. Right after telling me this, she said, “That’s a real person, right?”

• Kevin Bacon. He was performing with his brother’s band at a hotel opening on South Beach. Having seen Footloose more times than I care to admit, and growing up believing that if only the world would dance together we could solve whatever problems may be driving us apart, this should have been way more awesome than it was. He neither sang “Footloose”, nor did the dance, officially dropping him below “Applewood smoked” on my list of favorite bacons.

• Dennis Rodman again. This time I was walking Puppy along a busy street and Rodman was sitting in the back seat of a convertible with the top down. Traffic was moving slowly, so after he passed me the first time, I caught up with him a few feet ahead. We proceeded on like this for long enough that after Puppy pooped right in front of Rodman and I picked it up and threw it in the trash can, I considered making a “swish!” joke.

All of which leads up to this past weekend at the Mondrian Hotel. I was there with Brooke, a few people she knows, and David Barton of David Barton gyms, who is built like a brick shithouse. We’d been invited on a whim and decided “the heck with it!” – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone would still be on TiVo tomorrow.

Suddenly, through the din of the loud dance music, I hear “Happy Birthday” being sung nearby. I ask someone with us whose birthday it is and they say Lance Bass. While causing some sort of inexplicable ire to rise up inside me, I still can’t place the name. Finally it hit me that he was the second most famous member of 'N Sync, and of course this meant that I had to join in singing happy birthday to him, which I did, and when someone sidled up next to me and asked who we were singing for I mispronounced it, “Lance Base,” and went right on singing. He seemed genuinely pleased when we were all done, and as I went back to drinking my free tequila there was only one thought on my mind: I need a better camera phones, preferably one like they have on Gossip Girl because their scandalous pictures always come out perfectly clear.

* This is, of course, untrue. I would want people asking me to sign their faces and offering me their sandwiches just so I could take a bite and hand it back to them and they could keep it in a glass case on their mantle forever.