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Category Archives: the vanity report

Okay, this post is not really filled with any such tips. But seeing  as how I was going to make a renewed commitment to posting, and I had not posted anything in a while, I’m tapping away and hopefully putting together a coherent string of words that you may find useful in your life, or make you laugh, or think, “I could do better than this moron”, and start your own writing endeavor, whether it’s the secret history of your hometown that’s never been told, a journal detailing your ideas for not-yet-named-by-popular-culture sexual positions, or your own blog read by dozens of people a month, then, well, starting with this run-on-sentence was totally worth it.

In other words, this is the equivalent of that thing Sean Connery told the basketball star and budding writer extraordinaire in “Finding Forrester”. In that movie, he encouraged the kid to prime the pump creatively by simply tapping away at the typewriter without thinking. Even if it meant plagiarizing the first few lines of a magazine article, which helped lead to the movie’s rousing finale where said basketball star, accused of plagiarizing, is rescued by the reclusive James Bond, er, William Forrester, during a prep school tribunal of some sort.

And for sitting through this so far, you’ve earned it. Just go ahead and skip to about the 1:25 mark:

Anyway, it’s not really the wintertime that brings about this ennui that in effect, freezes my blog, it’s work. For those who don’t know, this is my busy time of the year, and although I am working fewer hours this year, actually working at work, full speed the whole time I’m there sometimes leaves me bereft of ideas for when I get home.  But this year, I said I would fight through it, instead of making excuses. Except I’ve been making excuses.

But enough about process. What can I tell you of interest these days? Well, uh, um…nothing really. I’ve been selected to participate in a mock trial at work. I’m sure it would be mad interesting if I was actually a lawyer. What made it worse was that a fellow participant told me what he thinks the case will be, and it’s supposed to be boring as all-get out. No massively great courtroom moments like…

No, I can’t handle the truth: I’ll be bored to death, but breakfast and lunch are free, so I’ll do it.  Heck, I’d settle for that episode of Benson where Benson, acting as his own lawyer, cross-examined himself on the witness stand. Or when the trial ends, and his comic foil, Clayton, is awarded one dollar in damages, Clayton says “It’s like a slap in the face.” Benson then says, “Then here’s ten dollars. Slap yourself silly.”

The only other notable thing for the new year is that I cut my hair, which was turning into something that was not quite dreadlocks, but not quite an Afro. It was like a dreadmullet. It’s a good thing I picked what appears to be the worst winter in years to finally cut my hair. But hey, it’s probably what got me selected for the mock trial.

To paraphrase DMX, I’ve gone on long enough, time to stop being greedy. Thanks for tuning in.

I am not much of a shopper. At all. Some people like shopping, making an event of it, a delightful way to spend the day. Some of these people are dudes. Some of these people are even straight dudes. (One of my best friends is one of these men.) I am not.

 

But sometimes, it just has to be done. Especially when you have a hole in your shoe. And everyone hates your emergency winter coat. And you need gloves. And you cut your uncombed but fascinating locks to sport a closely cropped haircut. So all these forces combined and forced me out of my office and into the streets to buy things. Oh, how I dreaded the thought. And today’s shopping experience did everything to live down to the hype.

 

My expectations, by the way, for any shopping trip are much like my expectations for hooking up with someone I know I really shouldn’t. Yeah, I need it and I want it, and I have to have it more than I care to admit, but it’s going to feel far too long, and I am going to be so relieved when it’s over and I can get the hell out of there.

 

Armed with my debit card, a grim determination that “Hey, at least I’m not at work,” and sheer necessity as it rained lightly in the streets of New York (meaning my socks were getting wet and therefore, I was possibly courting some sort of disease or newfound respiratory infection), I headed out of work and headed downtown.

 

First and foremost, the shoe situation had to be rectified, if only because nothing is worse than wet, stank socks when you take them off. I don’t like to see my feet, let alone smell them, thank you very much. So I headed to the same place where I got my last pair of shoes for work, two years ago,  DSW Shoe Warehouse on 14th Street. If you want as low-stress a shopping experience as possible when shopping shoes, this is it. No salesmen, no sullen teens in referee outfits, and waiting for someone to come back just to tell you “No, sir, we don’t have a size 13. But you can get this shoe in 12 or get these really ugly shoes that look even uglier at size 13.” The stock is right below the model, so you can register you disappointment quickly, without waiting, and move on. Eventually I settled on these

 

myshoe

 

Kenneth Cole boots that were simple, brown, and most importantly, without laces. I have never been good at tying my shoes, for whatever reason, and after three decades, I have given up. There was a short line, I paid, and other than the horrific techno song that constantly plays in the hallway, it was a pleasant shopping experience.

 

Next, it was on to Burlington Coat Factory on Sixth Avenue near 23rd Street to get a coat I could be proud of. Now I had been there a couple of weeks ago, but that was to buy a different sort of coat. This winter is shaping up to be a brutal one in the Northeast, so I thought it might be a good idea to get something simple, cheap and warm. Sure, it would definitely not be styling, but as my mom and other moms have said, “You’re not going to a fashion show.” So I bought a big gray, ugly coat with a hood. It’ll keep you warm and dry, that’s for sure. What it won’t do is get good reviews, as I had to endure shots of all sorts from many of my alleged friends.

As my friend Rod put it, “You look like you’re wearing your father’s coat.” A legitimate criticism, since it is probably two sizes too big from a fit standpoint. “He looks like he’s going to rob us,” another one, is just plain mean.

 

Well, the plan was to get a more stylish coat in a couple of weeks, as the big gray monster everyone hates is really only supposed to busted out for truly brutal winter’s days. So I went back to the scene of the crime hoping to get a reasonably priced three-quarter overcoat. I didn’t like what I saw at all; the prices seemed a bit steep, even by Burlington standards. I was about to give up on the three-quarter coats and was looking halfheartedly at the shorter ones when somehow, buried amongst the short coats was a pretty decently priced Joseph Abboud number! I couldn’t believe it was sitting there in the wrong spot; I felt lucky, as I looked around for any George Costanza-types hoping to hide the coat and get the deal. Not like I knew if there was a deal, all I knew was that I liked the coat, the style that I wanted and it was cheaper than the standard $120 most of those coats cost. I tried on my $80 find and was pleased to see that if fit perfectly. (a major mistake made with the gray coat. Yes, I hate shopping so much I don’t even like to try things on if I can avoid it, even if it makes sense.) With little time to waste, I headed for the register.

 

But here’s where you find out how much you really want to save money: the price for finding a nice bargain coat at Burlington Coat Factory is the line. No matter what time of year it is you can count on:

1.     It will be too warm. Somehow.

2.     You will be stuck behind some lady who insists on looking at the accessories like pantyhose, knockoff handbags, and cologne stolen—ahem, procured from Caesars Palace, while trying to keep her place in line.

3.     A ghetto-fabulous family full of screaming kids

4.     A couple who can’t stop kissing because the guy finally gave up and has allowed his lady to dress him

5.     Just when you get close to hearing the magic words “Please step forward to register number….”, some fool will get into a pricing dispute with the staff, and for some reason, instead of one manager handling it, all the other cashiers will slow down what they are doing to get involved and rectify the situation. I mean, it’s great that they’re unified and all, but shouldn’t someone be, you know, in charge?

 

Finally, though, I was able to get out of there. But surprisingly, they had an incredible lack of accessories, leaving me completely without a scarf, a hat, and some gloves. I could try to go without them, I guess. But years of nagging from women of all ages going “Where is your hat?” and “Where are your gloves?” may have finally gotten to me. (However, I’ll never cave in to the question, “Where is your underwar?” Never!) So, it was over to  Filene’s Basement for some accessories. I got a hat that I will use to keep warm and not to be styling. Because people don’t wear hats anymore. That was accompanied by new gloves and, a far less festive scarf than my current one.

 

This trip would not have been all that noteworthy if not for the line at Filene’s, where some kid kept ramming herself into the bag with the new shoes. Her mother kept imploring her not to be rude, yet the kid kept running into my bag, then looking up at me dumbfounded that the bag was there, as if it wasn’t the first three times she did. I told the mom that it wasn’t a big deal.

 

Only because what I really wanted to tell the mom was that maybe her kid didn’t have a politeness problem, that maybe her kid might be suffering some sort of developmental problem, and that the kid might need help. Okay, I would not have been so nice, and influenced by the movie “Tropic Thunder”, the words “full retard” might have come out. And that, kids, is why they say discretion is the better part of valor.

 

I finally escaped the child and paid for my goods and I was done. The problem was, in the course of going to these three stores, I had failed to take care of an urgent personal need. That’s right, I really, really, really needed to pee. I drink a lot of water, tea, and apple juice at work. A lot. It takes quite a desire to get shopping over with as quickly as possible for me to not pee for a solid 2 1/2 hours. I can’t sit through movies that long without being dehydrated. Holding it in whilst dealing with annoying people and carrying three bags is another matter entirely.

 

The problem with that was, when I walked out of Filene’s, I had to pee badly. I remembered that the Bed, Bath, and Beyond upstairs had a decent public restroom, but I wasn’t sure how obvious it would be that I had no intention of being a paying customer. This was a bad time to find out that the Barnes and Noble on Sixth had closed. Long a public urination staple, it was no more, as the printed word apparently continues to die. So, left with few options, I headed for the McDonald’s. I knew the bathroom would be open, and I also knew there was no way I was not going to walk out of there without eating. The convenience was too great, not to mention the obviousness of my presence with three bags of burden shuffling through the store. They knew of my existence, and they would be watchful of my exit. After all, the bathroom says “customers only.” I didn’t want my precious new shoes getting taken away as collateral for bathroom use.

 

So I had an Angus Mushroom and Swiss meal with the sweet tea.

 

So tonight, as I make frequent trips to the bathroom and occasionally wonder if that weird sensation inside my chest is either a heart attack or a stroke, I can justify my poor nutritional decision on one thing: shopping. For some people, it’s a great way to spend the day, a productive means to express their beings, their spirit, and their identity through consumerism. For the rest of us, we may like the stuff we bought and can’t wait to wear it tomorrow, but we’re so glad the process is over.

1.  An average posting rate of  four times a week.

2. Continuing to build on last year’s gym usage in my efforts to move toward looking more and more like an emaciated hipster.

3. More fiction! I like making stuff up.

4. Keep the room cleaner.

5. To have better than a fifty percent rate of asking New York sports figures to be fired. (see previous post.)

6. Get a new job. It’s tough in this economy, but so is going through the motions five times a week.

7. More original photography.

8. Keep being staggeringly awesome. (or loathsome, depending on your view of things.)

Happy New Year.

I got an email from PayPal reminding me that I have a positive balance in my account. How nice! A casual reminder that I once did actually make money from writing on the internet! What a quaint notion in these economic times.

I felt so good that I felt free to ignore all the advertising offers to spend my positive balance.

So, waiting for me on Facebook today:

1. Hey, one of my junior high school pals found me and wants to have a reunion with other kids in our class! Oh, great, awesome! I always wondered what the old crew from the Bronx was up to! Not really. I don’t want to know who’s lives went well, whose lives got fucked up, who went to jail (I don’t want to be an asshole, but I am from the Bronx), and who is already a grandparent.

What can I say. I didn’t really have a crew then. I don’t know really know how I feel about prople I knew from junior high. I’m not sure any good can come of it. I was well-known, but that was mostly for being the nerdy smart kid, not a role you really want in the Bronx. In a way, it was good, because I learned that just because people may look just like you, doesn’t mean they are like you, you know what I mean? (Ask John McCain if you need a clarification.) So in a way, it helped me look to broaden my horizons. On the other hand the taunting, the jokes, the social anxiety, and the realization that my life might have gone a little smoother if my parents had come from a Spanish-speaking country is all pretty frustrating. Sorry if you’re confused by this readers, but the combination of social strata, race, and language in the Bronx is a lot more complex than many of you will ever know, or realize.

So I have mad mixed feelings about seeing people from junior high. I hope many of them are doing well, really. But I’m not sure I want to relive old wounds, either.

Well, just when you think it can’t get worse…

2. Pubes! Some pictures from a summer house in 2006 are on there, and while I think I am somewhat vindicated (I always told you she pulled my pants down!) I don’t think anything can prepare you for seeing your pubes in living color. It’s not the whole package, mercifully, but…ah, I dunno.

And I thought those dating service ads were annoying…

I was reading this New Republic piece about the disparity in male to female ratio in modern-day China, an unintended consequence of the the one-child-per-family law, where, unfortunately families, desirous of males, who can carry on the family name, often aborted or, outright killed female babies.

That of course, is very sad, callous, and speaks ill of humanity on a major level. But, I know what you’re wondering: How did this article affect Well Whiskey Friday?

Nice segue, right?

There was one line in the piece, written by Mara Hvistendahl, that said, “Eternally single men, by extension, maintain high levels of testosterone–a recipe for violent civil unrest.” This quote followed cited a study that men’s testostrone levels drop once they become married.

The article goes on to try and describe the possible social implications of having a society with a disproportionate number of men who will not find wives. (Hey ladies, you want a guy who’ll be grateful to have you and treat you like the precious diamond that you are: Get a guy from China!) But, being (somewhat) slightly self-involved, I couldn’t help but think: “So, if I don’t get married soon, I’ll just stay like this? Have I waited too long?”

While I maintain that I’m pretty sure I’ve never met the right woman, I’ve never really, overly desired to get married. I just think I lack that certain overarching need for constant companionship in general that extends to having a wife, and possibly kids. I don’t think it’s anything against having a wife, as much as I just need my space pretty often. Heck, I’m writing this at a remote location just to avoid my roommates.

But, I thought that, at some point, the testosterone would kind of wear down as I got older, and domestic life would sort of appeal to me. Recent events seem to be pointing to otherwise, as I make indefensible romantic decisions and cause massive trouble for myself.  So, is there a point of no return?

On the other hand, the idea that you lose testosterone as soon as you get married the way a car loses resale value as soon as you drive it off the lot isn’t going to entice a lot of bachelors to go get married. It’s one thing to say that marriage softens and civilizes a man. It’s another thing to say that you physically lose testosterone by getting married. That is just no good. I’m sure some right-wing family group that isn’t giving money to John McCain can donate some of that scratch to disprove it.

A while ago, I wrote on my old blog about “the old bachelor” problem for older single people, who , set in their ways, become even more picky about finding a mate, compounding their less-likely-to-settle-down status. But that was about just being used to living your life a certain way. I never said anything about staying in a constant state of high testosterone. If the human body is going to add that to the equation, there may be no hope out there.

I can’t have enough blogs to ignore, I say. Now I am also at…this concoction. But that hardly means this is dead. This just means I’m at home and delusional. I predict a little more drunkenness and self-absorption over there, especially since I am likely at work.

Well, the first sign of age has come to Well Whiskey Friday…namely, I was walking up Third Avenue on my way to work Monday morning when, all of a sudden, my back muscles, apparently, tired of carrying my slouching body, screamed out in pain and left me walking around pretty gingerly for the rest of the day.

The only way for my back not to hurt at this point is to walk straight, with my shoulders pinned back. 

I suppose in some sense, that’s a good thing, because slouching sends the wrong message to society and kind of negates any advantages you get from lifting weights looks-wise. On the other hand, I am not used to walking straight all the time, so I don’t do it all the time. Hence, I have spent most nights this week holed up in my bedroom with the AC on. 

So, is this a sign of aging, or has my back decided to take over my body in order for me to straighten up and fly right? Maybe next it’ll force me to sit still long enough to think about my future. Or come up with useful ways to get dates. My back appears to be an ambitious and motivated creature.

Ow! Caught slouching again….

 

Well, I didn’t think there would be much of a weekend recap, but seeing as how I missed a visit to the parents and this week’s Triviotic recovering from this weekend’s activities, I guess a belated one is in order.

First and foremost, I went into this weekend broke, as I overspent on Memorial Day weekend. Since it was the weekend after, and I was still weary from some the previous weekend’s shenanigans, I thought it would be a good time to take a break and go underground.

As pencil magnate and college football analyst Lee Corso would say, “Not so fast, my friend.”

First, I had forgotten that Friday was Midwesterner’sbirthday and that he was throwing down at Barcade. Since Barcade is within walking distance of my house, it would have been inexcusable not to at least show up. Essentially sober for the evening, I managed to have a very good time (believe it or not, some us of CAN do it), and watch the birthday boy, among others, get drunk.

I got home at a reasonable hour and thought I would be hunkering down Saturday night to watch the Yankees game and the network premiere of Kimbo Slice. Little did I know that I would draw a Community Chest card saying “Bank Error in your Favor. Please collect $40, advance to nearest railroad.” Okay, not precisely what happened. Alice magically found $40 that she owed me from October if I came out to drink with her and the boys in Park Slope. Well, How could I turn that down? Sure you were denied a running diary about my first serious attempt to watch mixed martial arts, featuring such gems as:

“What’s the deal with all the dudes in scissor positions rolling around on the ground? Seems kind of gay.”

“These female MMA fighters aren’t that hot, but somehow, it’s kinda really hot.”

Instead, we went to a couple of bars and then ended up hanging out at Alice’s to six in the morning. We raided the liquor and among what we found…absinthe. Appropriately named lucid, this left my one of my pals wide awake at six in the morning. I was in decent shape as well, having both woken up late and only drinking mimosas at Alice’s (mitigating the scotch and beer-fest earlier in the evening.). That’s when he was like, let’s hang out on my roof deck and watch the morning over New York! The fact that I thought this was a good idea tells you how drunk I was.

This is the friend that lives in The Greatest Apartment Building Ever.

Soon enough we were on his roof deck, drinking absinthe, enjoying the sun, and having a rather deep conversation about the nature of friendship and its ups and downs. We recently had a dispute when I thought he was pulling a practical joke and he was serious. Let’s just say the end result was people in Point Pleasant, N.J. with nowhere to go. There are a lot worse places to be with nowhere to go, but still. We hashed it out and the morning was quality time well spent. Well, until he couldn’t stay up anymore.

He said he was coming right back, but like a regrettable one-night stand, he had abandoned me. He went into his apartment and never came back. So this fool left me on the roof, with a bottle of absinthe and a glass, ans a beautiful Sunday morning. So I listened to my iPod, took my shirt off, meditated a little…and then passed out.

I woke up to discover that it was 4:30 pm, and there was a little party on the roof. And the residents partying had apparently, kept a little watch over me, this shirtless stranger. They were all relieved to see me finally wake up; it sort of took the party to another level. “He’s alive!” one female exclaimed. Well, I’m sure they held up a mirror under my nose to make sure things were cool.

“Now that you’re awake, you should come party with us,” another told me. Sure. If by party you mean, “stand around in stunned disbelief about the events of the past twenty-four hours and get your bearings.” I partied with them a little, but eventually, I had to put my shirt on and leave. Well, it’s nice to know that even when I am a completely passed out stranger in the middle of your building, I’m still considered friendly, charming, and someone you want to have around. Or the gym must really be paying off even more than I realize.

But did I go straight home? Of course not. Continuing our newest tradition, my roommate and I hit up the Turkey’s Nest in Williamsburg. When ever the Mets and/or Yankees are on ESPN Sunday Night Baseball, it’s now a Nest Night. Although I suspect we might be expanding that group in an excuse to head for the neighborhood’s most wonderfully rowdy bar. I hates me some Red Sox, Angels, and Braves, but somehow that may be mitigated during the summertime and crowd of rowdy kickballers that frequent the joint. Oh, let’s throw the Diamondbacks in there. Not a fan.

But even before that, my favorite summer tradition went down: running into Garden Salad Joe at McCarren Park. It’s not officially summer until I see Joe hanging with his “better” friends at the park. It’s like, Now I know. Summer’s here. For me, this was the official kickoff. You know, last week I was wondering if the group’s wild ride might be over. It still might be. But once again, I realized, for me, the ride is probably not going to end anytime soon. Not with all the random people I know, and the random amounts of money I’m clearly owed, and my ability to win over and charm people even when I’m essentially a sleeping and homeless bum. …so, you don’t stop. Sometimes, you just have to embrace the madness.

 

 

Let’s not dwell on how long it’s been, shall we, and get right to it.

At Key Bar in the East Village, we decided to take seats near the bathroom. As we here hanging out, a woman walked by, sized up BrianVan and may myself and started chatting. The conversation was inconsequential, as no one was interested. She was a bit drunk, and a bit weird. at some point, introductions happened. That’s when she noticed my front teeth.

For those of you who have never seen me, I sport a gap in between my front teeth. A little wider than Letterman’s and Madonna’s, not as big as Michael Strahan’s. It doesn’t bother me as much as it used to, but it can look horrendous in certain photos. It definitely plays better in person, although if I ever ended up on TV, I probably would get it fixed.

Anyway, as soon as I laughed, (at her I assure you, not with her), she said “Oh!”

I was like, “What?”

“I see that thing you have in your mouth.”

I figured it was the gap in my teeth, so I said, “What about it?”

“It means you eat pussy!”

Well, that was the end of the conversation, because I didn’t know what that meant. A year or two ago, some skanky shot girl at a bar said the gap in my front teeth held some sort of secret about my sexual prowess. 

Now look, I’m not saying that I don’t eat pussy, or that you won’t generally get a top-notch effort from me, ladies (a high number of whiskey slushes, wines, and PBR’s notwithstanding), but do I really have to wonder about the message my front teeth are sending? Really?