December 3, 2004
Our first reading! It was at an orthodox synagogue on W.
179th St., an open mike night for women. I figured it would
be a professional albeit religious crowd but I knew something
was terribly wrong when the woman in charge was tittering,
“The rebbetzin’s coming, the rebbetzin’s
coming!” Lucky me; the rabbi’s wife is attending
and I’ve chosen a selection that includes the word
“dildo.” Good thing I didn’t go for the
piece on Mom and Dad’s Passover tradition of four-legged
underwear (pg. 130 for the uninitiated).
I asked Hannah, the woman running the show if I should
delete the word and she said, “Well, I don’t
think she’ll know the meaning of it, but your call.”
So I did a quick rewrite and cleaned it all up, but the
rest of the piece was a diatribe on Mom’s cooking
which I figured which be just as offensive.
Every other performer was a religious woman with a guitar
lamenting her unmarried status at age 21. At my age, it’s
a death knell not to be a grandmother. I got out of there
as quickly as possible because I was going to kill myself
if I had to eavesdrop on one more conversation that included
a Sabbath chicken recipe. But before I could the rebbetzin
grabbed my arm and told me she loved my reading, that she
too has defrosted cakes that have been in the freezer since
the CroMagnon age. My first convert to the Lederman bawdy
brand of humor; 999,999 more to go.
December 4, 2004
Why don’t the corner fruit men ever eat their own
December 5, 2004
I ran into Stan, this guy I know from the gym who’s
a film producer. He was sitting outside the laundromat next
to the Chickenshack on a metal chair twiddling his thumbs.
This guy has produced films with celebrities, had major
theatrical releases and won an award at Sundance. What’s
he doing here, washing his own clothes, and at three in
the afternoon on a Wednesday no less? I stopped to chat
with him and he says he’s waiting for the good dryer
on the left because that one heats up hotter plus you get
an extra five minutes for your quarter. I always thought
I would know I’d made it in this city when I could
send my laundry out and have it delivered. Didn’t
seem like too lofty a goal but now I guess I might have
to revise that dream until I win the Pulitzer.
December 6, 2004
I went to a Publisher’s Publicity Association luncheon
at the Helmsley today (which, to my dismay was a “make
your own turkey sandwich” affair. Waiters in full
regalia handed you a piece of bread on which you were to
slap on your own mustard and grab a hunk of turkey from
a mound of meat). The meeting was comprised of a panel of
editors from the major women’s magazines like Cosmo
and Glamour and 400 or so publicists picking their brains
on how to get attention for their books. I, with no regard
for decorum of course, swarm the stage and assault the editorial
panel with our book cover and an excerpt. You do what it
takes, even though I nearly had a fist fight with the head
of the PPA who practically told me to leave. Hey, whatever
gets publicity. When they opened the floor to Q&A I
asked the editors if they’ve ever covered a self-published
book. There was a dead silence until the Glamour editor
sheepishly admitted to one. Amy Fisher’s book. That’s
just great. You have to have an affair with a guy, shoot
his wife in the face and go to prison to have any literary
value these days.
I was so demoralized when I left that I went jeans shopping
at a sample sale in Soho. Crazy mobs of women stampeding
for cheap Seven jeans. It was like Pomplona and I saw a
quick flash of my headstone: “At least she got the
A pockets.” I must have tried on 400 pairs of jeans
in the span of two hours. I sweat right through my cashmere
sweater. But my butt looked good in a couple, and as long
as my butt looks good all is right in the world. I left
without buying anything, but my spirits were lifted.
December 15, 2004
My love for animals was temporarily derailed by a mouse.
Not just any mouse. A New York City mouse. A mouse with
attitude. Who frequents Barneys. And has a personal trainer.
One who knows the benefits of a rent stabilized apartment.
He emerged from behind a chair and sauntered into the kitchen.
He sashayed. I would have been no less surprised if a strange
man had stood up behind my chair and wandered into the kitchen.
I sat frozen on my couch as the mouse poked his head, excuse
me, his snout, around the threshold of my kitchen, looked
at me with a “screw you” attitude and moseyed
back into the room.
Mice aside, I live in a world of dogs. People are invisible
to me on the street; I look from one dog to the next. While
other might size up people’s attractiveness or notice
a nice pair of shoes, I look at tails, spots and coats and
I love them all. The dachshunds named Stephanie and the
pugs called Preston on Upper East Side. I even met the odd
Richard who was getting groomed for his bark mitzvah, a
catered affair honoring your beloved pooch’s passage
out of puppyhood into a happy life of humping.
I brought my dog Stella to my therapy session last week.
My shrink has a little sty of a room in Midtown rather than
a posh Upper West Side location and she offered me a discounted
rate if I pay in cash. (Honesty is not really a quality
I value in a therapist.) You might call her unprofessional
because she allows animals in her office and wears sweatpants
to work; I just say down to earth. So I bring Stella in
and plop her down on my lap in a sitting position facing
the doc. My head ducked behind hers, I gesture with her
paws and, feigning my best dog voice, say, “Doctor,
please help me. I have this obsession with licking my crotch.”
If there’s ever a drug for people like me, I’m
first in line. No FDA approval needed, skip the clinical
trials, just shoot me up.
We left out session at rush hour, crossing in front of
Grand Central Station. Stella has a penchant for pooping
on a street rather than an avenue (it affords a little more
privacy) and smack in the middle of 42nd St she gets the
urge. When that happens my little princess transforms into
a 250 pound linebacker, soldered to the ground. No amount
of traffic will move her. The oncoming cars have a red light
so I think we can buy a minute, but then Stella whips out
a newspaper and starts reading, idly pawing through the
pages. Seconds tick by and I see the opposite light turn
yellow. Across the street there is a line of people waiting
for the bus, all staring at me fascinated by how this scene
will play out. I palm the bag to scoop. I look at them.
I turn to the poop. I glimpse back at them—all twenty
seven people are transfixed. I glance towards the traffic
which is now heading our way and raise my hand with the
universal sign for stop, except I have a yellow plastic
bag on my hand so I’m communicating nothing more than
“Look, I have a yellow plastic bag on my hand!”
I look back at the people and raise my shoulders in the
universal signal for “what are you gonna do?”
and all 54 shoulders shrug back unison as we scamper to
the curb while a bus plows over Stella’s little package.
I wouldn’t give her up for anything. She’s
my muffin. My munchkin. Lambkins. Bella pie. Booboo. Bumpkin.
Li’l buns. Monster. Honey doll. Garbage girl. Stinky
one. Big ears. Hairy bear. Sweet pea. Piglet.
Sometimes I play this game…ask myself if would I
engage in some risky activity for a sum of money. For instance,
would I walk down the aisle of my parent’s synagogue
naked, for $10,000? Yes. $1,000? Yes. I would also do it
for a piece of chicken. If I was sitting in the middle seat
on an airplane and had a blanket over my lap, would I put
my hands in my pants and go to town for $20,000? Why not,
what would happen? The person next to me could ring the
call bell and the stewardess would come (at which point
I’d probably be done because I’m soo gooood),
but what would the passenger say? That he thought I was
playing with my peepee? And what would she do, call the
FAA? Force an emergency landing? But at the end of the game,
there is no amount of money could sway me do anything that
could risk losing Stella.
December 17, 2004
This morning while I was walking Stella she playfully lunged
towards a tiny white dog for a little rumble but the owner
had a conniption. She violently yanked her dog away (she
probably didn’t want Stella to get Fifi dirty after
her $80 Upper East Side bath), and called me a fucking bitch.
By the way, there’s a salon here that has a webcam
so you can watch your precious pooch as she gets bathed
and clipped. OK, I do have a little separation anxiety when
I leave her there, but I can withstand the hour apart. I
think the camera should actually be for her: See Stella,
here I am, wandering around the apartment in my sweatpants
doing nothing. Look at your ball waiting for you. Now watch
me sit on the toilet….I asked them how to log on and
they told me it’s password protected, so I asked for
the code. It changes every day, they said, you have to request
it the day you come. Makes sense—I can just see some
pervert in front of his computer saying, “Come on
Stella, that’s it, show me your belly. I want to see
those nipples, all six of them….”
Anyway, I then went to do an errand by bike and this guy
nearly opens his door right into me in the middle of traffic.
He didn’t even apologize and in a fit of bike rage
I did a side karate kick and slammed his door shut. That’s
when he called me a fucking cunt. No, if I was really a
fucking cunt I wouldn’t have waited for him to take
his hand out of the door. He was an older Irish guy though,
so when he said “fuck” it rhymed with “book”
and “cunt” sounded like the zunt in gezundheit.
So my first response was “Huh?” but then after
a few seconds I got it.
It’s only noon and I’ve already been called
a fucking bitch and a fucking cunt. Hopefully my day will
December 25, 2004
I hate Santa. And gifts and shopping and trees. I hate
Jesus. So do you go home for Hanukah, people ask. Do you
go home for President's Day, I respond. There was some miracle
in a temple after Moses parted the oil and gave birth to
twin tablets after 40 years in the desert. Or something.
It doesn't matter; the outcome is always the same. Suffering,
the more the better. And if you can mask suffering as celebration,
an even bigger mitzvah will be bestowed.
The tradition continues during Chanukah. You people get
gifts in socks. We just get the socks. My mother sent me
$18 dollars this year with a card: Didn't know which socks
to get you, buy some you like. (The "18" is a
form of numerology in which the Hebrew letters in the word
"Life" add up to 18. A birthday present will net
you $54, $72 if it's a big year. I'm beginning to hate Life.)
That whole "ooh, eight nights of gifts"--just
eight evenings of anguish hoping that each one will bring
a bigger better gift. It never does. We got one five dollar
present a night for eight nights, made even cheaper by the
fact that all three of us were given the same bulk gifts.
Mittens, a box of pencils. With our names engraved on them
if we were good that year. If we were bad, we got the same
You've got the eggnog, the fruitcake. We get those gold
coins containing what they call chocolate but what we really
know is my mother's brown goulash frozen into little round
turds. You sing Holy Night. We sing Oy Chanukah oy Chanukah
a yomtov a sheiner a lustiger a frelecher, nito noch azoiner.
And the ever popular Tzindt on Likhtelekh. Try gathering
around the piano and singing that without eggnog.
You wish for snow. I wish for my mother to shut the hell
up. My goal: eat enough latkes to keep her quiet but not
enough to please her. Those are potatoes fried in oil except
the Jews don't use oil because it's expensive and therefore
saved for miracles in temples. We use Crisco, the stuff
that can bond potatoes or fuse the space shuttle. Our eight
stubby candles dissolve into pathetic piles of wax while
your tree burns bright. I curse your tree, set my dreidl
on fire and hurl it into your tinsel. Die you fir.
December 25, 2004
Just got two Christmas day calls from old friends so I
may have to soften a bit. The first was from my Matt who
wakes me up at 10am, leaving a message that he’s tip
toeing down the stairs to sneak a peak at the gifts and
that if I’m interested, there’s a Rocky and
Bullwinkle Christmas cartoon special on tv. This guy is
37, but take him back to his parents’ house and I
bet he’s wearing pajamas with feet.
I met Matt my first year in college and we’ve been
friends ever since. He moved to New Jersey a year before
I came to New York and was your typical beer swigging, poker
playing dude. Then he had a string of bad luck; he lost
his job and wasn’t able to find another so me moved
back in with his parents in a tiny blue collar town upstate.
Lots of beer drinking there too…with guys who like
to pack a few away before going out and killing their dinner.
Quite conservative and religious folks as you might expect,
and out of nowhere Matt becomes this raging Christian. Suddenly
homosexuality and abortion are the roots of all evil; every
crack addicted baby born to an unwed fifteen year old is
a gift of god. I can only take so much preaching and finally
said, “Hey Matt, how about all that premarital fornicating
you’ve done with your girlfriend of seven years?”
That shut him up for a second. “I’ve repented,”
he responded. I get it, you can basically do whatever you
want as long as you feel badly about it. Guess I got to
him because suddenly now he’s engaged. Except, get
this, they’ve moved in together. So now he’s
not just sinning occasionally, he’s living in sin.
I called him on that too, and he tells me he’s decided
not having sex again till they get married in a year. That’s
like a man saying he won’t leave the socks on the
floor. It’s biologically impossible.
So now I’ve ticked him off a bit and he says, still
jokingly, “Maybe I shouldn’t invite you to my
wedding. You’ll probably be the one who stands up
and objects when the preacher asks if anyone knows any reasons
why these two shouldn’t marry.”
“I’ll one up you,” I said. I’ll
show up with a baby and yell, “Hey pretty boy, remember
giving me a ride nine months ago in the back of your pick
I tried to neutralize the conversation and asked about
his honeymoon plans. They’re going to the Mexican
Riviera he says, since they’re trying to save money.
The only difference between Mexico and the Mexican Riviera
is that the latter offers you a nicer toilet on which to
spend the many hours you wish you were spending on the beach.
Except they’re going in July when the ocean is worse
than bath water and the humidity makes you want to lie down
and weep so you might catch a breeze as your tears evaporate.
This will be a true test of their marriage—if they
can withstand the heat and negotiate the hotel room toilet,
they have my blessing.
The other call was my old bed buddy Charlie from back in
my twenties. He’s an actor/model and so completely
gorgeous that he’s a freak of nature. Angular jaw
line, strong nose, shock of hair that gently sweeps over
his forehead beckoning you to brush it away. And, most importantly,
this ineffable spark. An elusive quality in his eyes and
his smile that locks you in and make you feel blessed that
he has bestowed it upon you. When he looks at you, it seems
as though he’s never glanced at anyone else but you.
Walking down the street with him was an odd experience—teenage
girls would gawk and women would do double takes, while
I trotted along beside.
We used to have great movie sex—had someone been
watching us they would have been swept away, but it felt
very directed, almost choreographed. As if he was rehearsing
for the real thing. Turn a bit more to the right, lower
your chin a drop, hold that pose, beautiful.
I always thought he would make it to the big screen and
during his love scene with Julia Roberts I’d jump
up in the theater and shout, “I did it with him on
the ferris wheel at Coney Island!” (Well, what else
is there to do when you’re stuck at the top?) Except
he never made it into movies—but his picture is in
frames, those fake ones of cute babies and kids with dogs
that you throw out before putting in your own. I was browsing
through some in a pharmacy one day and there’s Charlie,
flying a kite, looking as handsome as ever in his $4.95
fake wood frame.
So anyway, he calls me Christmas morning. We haven’t
seen each other in years and talked only a handful of times,
so was sweet of him to think of me home alone in my pajamas
writing Christmas rants. We’re chatting away, very
congenial, and then he says, “Now I don’t want
you to take this the wrong way, but…” I have
no clue what’s coming next, but I’m sure it’s
bad. Like, “remember that little sore I had”
bad. And then he says, “but…I love you.”
I tried hard but couldn’t quite stifle the laugh that
came out as a combination grunt, snort and belch. This is
now my favorite line of the year. The most qualified, prohibitive
statement of love I’ve ever received. “I never
see you, rarely speak to you and don’t sleep with
you” kind of love. Which I suppose translates into
“you’re a good person” love, not a “Let’s
open a 401k” love. I guess I’ll take that, even
though the baby Jesus made him do it.
December 28, 2004
My friend Joanne grew up oversees and came to the U.S.
to produce news features for ABC. She has a Masters degree,
speaks 3 languages and teaches cooking classes. She’s
been married and divorced, slept with women and men. This
lady is the most worldly person I know and yesterday, during
this intensely detailed discussion about sex, reveals her
understanding that urine comes out of the vagina. “It’s
a different hole,” I tell her incredulously. “No
it’s not, there’s only one hole,” she
says. Thank god for the internet because I’m not giving
her a demo. Not even with that funnel that allows women
to pee standing up.
January 8, 2005
We’re up on Amazon! Funny how things get cross referenced
one you have an online presence--the book is now on a hair
removal site, actually it’s a site for all hair issues,
from hirsutism to alopecia. There’s a book section
and we're listed with these titles:
Electro-Epilation: A Practical Approach
Electrolysis : Beauty and Confidence Through Permanent Hair
The 2003-2008 World Outlook for Hair Removal Products
21,138 women have visited the hirsutism forum which I peeked
into strictly for marketing purposes. I see a whole new
niche of hairy women.
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