Wednesday, December 9, 2009

NYC: The Crack Cocaine of Christmas Connoisseurs

It starts out slow enough. Halloween, another pretty well-celebrated event in New York City, just eeks by and the preparations begin. In the doorways, pumpkins fade to wreaths, firs, and holly. In the parks, naked trees arise overnight. A few bars start stringing lights. A few streets and storefronts as well. A somewhat subtle beginning. But then comes Thanksgiving - and once that passes, all bets are off.

Suddenly, the bars are aflood with lights and rife with decor of every description. Bells and nutcrackers and angels and ornaments and santas and gingerbread men and snowflakes and holiday music everywhere you go, growing every day. Some bars go so overboard that you cannot see an inch of ceiling. The Rockefeller Center and Bryant Park Tree Lightings occur, caroling events are held throughout the city, the christmas parties begin. Oh, the sadness of being Jewish or Muslim at a time like this! Talk about missing the boat!

December begins and there are "holiday walks" through the city to see the world-renowned department store windows, the buildings flash their lights and sing christmas music on a loop to passerbys, trees go on sale on every street corner throughout the city, car-sized christmas ornaments appear in the middle of corporate plazas, seasonal christmas markets spring up in the squares, proffering hot apple cider and gluehwein. It is literally impossible to be a bah humbug and live here... unless of course you refuse to leave your matchbox-sized apartment for two months.

It is genuinely magical in the city this time of year, a true holiday high. Come one come all christmas lovers to the City to get your fix! (And please god let them not do Valentine's Day this way!)

Ginger Kick

Of late, while everyone else’s lives become gentrified, mine seems to have become gingerfied. Not only in the way you die your hair ginger or spice up your life by taking risks--although I’ve done both of those as well--I’m talking about being surrounded by all things ginger. It all started with a simple but standout martini at Jade Bar by the name of Ginger Fig. (It ended that night after three.) All of a sudden, it was as if I’d opened my eyes to ginger for the first time. This isn’t true of course, being a fan of homemade carrot ginger soup, having been on a spice tour in Zanzibar, and so on, but it was different this time. It meant more. I needed it. From then on, every drink I ordered had to have ginger in it, dressings, soups, juices, anything for ginger – I was an addict. Then it exploded beyond the spice, beyond the root. Next thing I know, I’m going to Prague with Jeff and Virginia, known by friends as Ginger. While there, we see the Dancing House, a building designed by Frank Gehry that was originally named Fred and Ginger, as it resembles the dancing couple. Most recently, Fred and Ginger was one of the couples themes in my studio photography class. What could it all mean, I ask? What is the lesson to be learned from ginger? And why ginger exactly? Am I fated to marry someone named Roger? Well, your guess is as good as mine. Although the secrets of ginger have yet to reveal themselves, I’m keeping my eyes wide open to each and every sign. Maybe they’re leading me somewhere good. Meanwhile, the journey’s half the fun!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Public displays of expectoration

When did people (besides truck drivers) decide it was acceptable behavior to spit in public?! This has always been a pet peeve of mine and, down south in redneck country, it’s more common than I care to admit. But I did not expect it to be more common still in New York City! It’s even equal opportunity, with the women spitting in the street as much as the men! Unabashedly! Please - blow your nose loudly next to me, let your dog piss on every surface in sight, fart, I don’t care - just do not hock up a lugie in my path. It is Revolting with a capital R and you should be ashamed of yourself.


As you may or may not know, “dating” these days doesn’t often involve physical speech. It’s become a series of one-line, usually deplorably spelled, text messages such as “Hey, wat’s up?”, punctuated by the occasional in-person meeting. This apparently reduces the amount of time invested in a new person and the amount of accountability you have toward the person if you meet someone else or decide to just blow them off. I mean all you know about them anyway is that “Things are good” and that they’ve “Been busy” – easy to take or leave, right?

Well, the stranger phenomenon I have encountered in NYC is the ease with which these guys will feign what I like to call “text affection”. Many of the guys I’ve met here like to sign their texts with X O X O or some variation thereof within the first couple of back-and-forths! Last time I checked, virtual strangers don’t merit hugs and kisses. But I guess that makes me and my friends who agree on this point “emoti-prudes”. We are not willing to give away valuable X-Os to just any guy we meet! What are we, text whores?! You wish, guy I met once drunk in a bar. Do you think that if you are immediately text affectionate, I will physically put out once our relationship gets to the stage of forming 10 complete sentences?! Think again. You may get a winky face out of me (usually because I am making a joke at your expense and find the whole situation fairly ridiculous), but do not expect virtual hugs and kisses until we have had several dinners and at least two real hugs and kisses. If that makes me an emoti-prude, so be it! One of us has to have a little class.

Avoiding the ex

The most utilitarian thing about NYC is the luxury it offers of never having to bump into the ex at the bar because, unlike where you come from, there are more than half a dozen decent bars in operation at once. In fact, there are so many bars at your disposal, you could bar hop with every guy you make it past the texting stage and actually out on a date with, and you’d still never have to go to the same place twice. Don’t underestimate the value of this, even you married people! Nothing quite mixes like alcohol and seeing someone for whom you have unresolved or angry feelings - this is almost always a winning combination. I cannot count the number of times I have inadvertently caused a scene because some asshole killed my buzz. Of course, this risk increases the more exes you have, and the casualties worsen in direct proportion to the amount of alcohol you have consumed. The other side effect is that, often, these little run-ins impel you to drink even more and that can lead to a myriad of additional problems, for example, meeting your next future ex. Best to just move to NYC now and keep a running list of all of the bars you’ve been to with a date and, thus, expended forever. Walk a block and repeat.