Archive for the ‘Me & Mine’ Category

Those of you who know me and read my nuggets of wit and wisdom on facebook are all too aware that I have little to no patience for oblivious and self important text messagers plodding along on public sidewalks, paying no attention to anyone or anything else and forcing the rest of us to play an involuntary game of Marco Polo or Blindman’s Bluff.  I am also easily annoyed by people who feel the need to inflict their banal cell phone conversations upon the rest of us at a publicly unacceptable volume in places like bars, busses, subways, coffee shops and doctors offices.  You know, the rest of us don’t need to hear your break up. your anger toward your children or significant other…In fact, there is little to nothing that you’re saying on your Samsung life-support system that the rest if us need or want to hear. 
Thanks to my friend Ralph, I have come up with a positive and hopefully effective counter tactic for this behavior. Ralph just turned 90 years old, and I count my accessibility to his wit and wisdom among my many blessings.
So, from now on I shall open up whatever book I am reading at the moment, start to read and plow into whatever texter is hogging the sidewalk without bothering to look up and share with the rest of us.  Upon impact I will look up at them and apologize. “I’m SO very sorry, I wasn’t paying attention to where I was going or what I was doing, and on a busy sidewalk no less.  Will you please forgive me?”
For those inflicting their conversation on the rest of us, I will simply crack open my book and start reading aloud…in an ever so slightly irritating and unacceptable volume.  When they inevitably stop and glare at me, I will again apologize.  “Oh, I’m sorry, you didn’t really want to listen to me rambling on did you?  Sorry, I will bring it down to a volume that doesn’t bother others.”  The only trouble with this is that I have a good voice and great taste in reading material,  so people might actually want me to continue reading them a story.
It’s great to have found a positive and non violent solution to this issue.

God’s Questionable Sense of Humor

Posted: May 24, 2014 by S. Trevor Swenson in General, Life, Me & Mine
God has a funny sense of humor.  Ever had a friend who laughs when you’re getting pissed off about something, or at some small yet entertaining misfortune?  That’s my relationship with Heavy G…The Almighty. 
I left home for the second day in a row, slightly late for work…Only 5-10 minutes, but late nonetheless. Now I am generally a prompt person and prompt people take being on time rather seriously.  I have internal nightmares of my employers discussing my termination for being late 2 days in a row.  For those of you who are kind enough to read my blog regularly a lot of this will seem familiar to you, so please bear with me.
I arrived at Dunkin Donuts as I was running too late for my ever important second cough of cuppy.  Inevitably I got the DD’s staff member with the lazy eye and the severe case of coffee order dyslexia.  The name on her tag is “Minuti”  which in her native India means “Vengeful Goddess of Incompetence”
Me: “Hi.. Small…coffee,  a little milk  and two Splenda” I said clearly, and enunciated the important bits.  I don’t know why I bother.
She looked up at me…or perhaps to the woman to my left given her lazy eye’s direction and got every…single…part…of my coffee order wrong.
“Large coffee, cream and 3 sugars” she told the staff member serving the hot joe.
“N-o-o-o-o” I said emphatically. I repeated my order and afterwards muttered “You know…the same thing I have been ordering from you for over 7 years”
I’ll spare you the 5 minutes of getting my difficult coffee order to resemble what I wanted.  My friend Ruprecht has a theory that they see me approaching daily and perform the Marx Brothers routine on purpose.  At this point I wouldn’t be surprised.
I boarded my train and according to the clock in the car I was 6 minutes late….OK…this is acceptable.
Sure enough Heavy G was conspiring with Mr Murphy, that fun fellow with that funny law.  The station I get off at to work to work is 49th St.  There was an announcement at the station before this that my train would be “Going Express” and “Skipping 49th St station”   OK.  I exited at 57th and waited.  5 minutes later another train pulled into the station and I boarded it.  “This train will be making express stops…the next stop will be Times Sq-42nd St”.  I exited again.   Four more trains…the same thing.  I started to become dubious.
Finally I boarded a train which announced “Next Stop….49th St”   Now we’re cooking with gas.   The doors closed and an announcement came over the intercom…you guessed it….”We will be bypassing 49th street due to signal problems”  Well, now I was committed to a trip to the ninth ring of Hell…42nd St.
I saw as we passed by 49th street station that HUNDREDS of people were awaiting a train to come their way.  It made me wish that there was some kind of …oh I don’t know..some kind of futuristic “tele-phonic” device to “call” the station at 49th street and make an announcement to the commuters waiting there that they might want to make other arrangements.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we had that kind of technology at our disposal?  If only…
I got to Times Sq Station and luckily the MTA ( Metropolitan Transit Authority) was all over this situation with over 50 employees standing around in hard hats and orange vests looking annoyed and doing…bupkis .
Oh God…you silly motherfucker.

Day Off

Posted: May 24, 2014 by S. Trevor Swenson in General, Home, Life, Me & Mine

 

Today was my day off…and it was a good one. One important factor involved in this was that my best friend  ( The World Famous Gow) was in town visitinv  I slept late with my BFF; The Gow and my cat Bella and leisurely drank two cups of coffee while thinking about how to squander the day.  Staring me in the face in my chamber of filth was a pile of laundry that the EPA was stating to take an interest in.  “I need to do fluffy-foldy today,” I told The Gow, and she was game to help me, which is one of the reasons I adore her so much.  The Gow wanted Indian food.  During her visits to NYC I have turned her on to both Thai and Indian cuisine.  For a person who has a low spice tolerance, she is quite the trooper about trying new things. We had a quick huddle and decided to have Indian food ( “and get your own Nan bread…” the Gow informed me prior to ordering) delivered.
I called our local Curry Castle and managed to refrain from doing my Ghandi impression while ordering lunch… Having an unamused restaurant host or waiter blow his nose in my chicken vindaloo isn’t worth the poor-impulse-control-and-slightly-racist chuckle.   I shoved my laundry into two machines.  For once I didn’t overstuff the washers.  Sometimes I jam so many clothes into a washing machine that they came out dry after the wash cycle.  I even separated my whites and colors as Bella decided last week that an expensive white bed-spread was a great place to ralph up a hairball.  Thanks Kitty.
My roommate came home with a Toys R Us bag in tow as I was heading out to throw my wash into the dryer. My eyes lit up immediately and I asked hopefully, ” Didja get me a toy?  Huh?  Huh?  didja?”  She smiled and answered in the negative.  She had bought a toy for her nephew in Brazil when she visits next month. I smiled back muttering “Fuck your nephew you selfish cunt” and stomped off to the laundramat. I wanted a toy goddamnit. Luckily the Indian food arrived after I got home and we had an amazing meal. We’d ordered lamb, lamb, chicken and two nan breads.  One for each of us.  Gow picked up one of the nans and smelled it exclaiming “Whew!!”  “Is that the garlic nan I ordered”  She said “yes” and sure enough it smelled so strong of garlic that I had no doubt there were Counts in Transylvania who were reaching for the air freshener.  The meal was delicious.
After lunch we ran back to the Laundromat and folded everything up neat as a pin.  The Gow was of the opinion that my standard procedure of washing my laundry and dumping it on my bed afterwards is not particularly conducive to a tidy bedroom.  “But, it’s clean” I explained. “Honey, you exhaust me” she replied with a patient sigh for the first of what would surely be hundreds of times during her visit.  I smiled and said “I know”
We fluffed and folded everything while I pointed out various articles from the Scotty Collection and made commentary about which were my favorites. “Like these undies”….”I don’t like these…can’t wait til they wear out”.   Gow smiled and nodded much in the fashion of a parent or guardian indulging the non-stop ramblings of a small child.
After laundry and lunchie came the day off tradition of the afternoon nap….and it was good.

No One Cares

Posted: January 26, 2014 by S. Trevor Swenson in General, Life, Me & Mine, You & Yours
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
Really, no one is listening to The Conversation you're having.

Really, no one is listening to The Conversation you’re having.

We probably wouldn’t worry about what other people think of us if we could know how seldom they do- Olin Miller

A few years ago while I was being tested in college for Attention Deficit Disorder and other learning disabilities, my mother sent me a book with the above quote in it. The book was called The Most Brilliant Thoughts Of All Time ( In two lines or less ) The reason she sent the book was because I think she started to recall my attention level as a child and teen, and the many difficulties it caused she and I. Being a romantic I like to think that she felt a little bad about the years of fights and dramedy that were a result of my inability to focus, pay attention or…Oh there’s my remote control…. Oooooo… a Happy Days marathon…that sounds promising…. That Fonzie is such a card…Now ,where were we?

This quote stuck out as I had been pondering a piece titled “No One Cares”, which coincidentally is remarkably similar to the essay I’m typing up at this very moment. I became inspired to write this as a result of my anger and frustration toward a couple of regulars who drink in the bar where I am employed. When people frustrate us, yet we are unable to confront them for various reasons; (we work with them, we work for them, they are bigger than we are,they’re attractive and might sleep with us, they have a badge and gun, they are elderly, they are small children…the list goes on and on) we often spend a great deal of time thinking about what we’d like to say to them if the dynamic of the situation were somehow different. As a bartender,like anyone who’s job it is to deal with a rude and disrespectful general public, I have to contend with a fair number of assholes regularly. In the interest of building and maintaining customers and keeping my job, I have to find ways to hold my tongue, paste a smile on my face and interact with these people. I must find a way to do so in a reasonably pleasant and professional manner. So, I find myself rehearsing in my mind various cutting remarks that would make them flee from the watering hole in shame, or apologize to me and hand me hundreds or thousands of dollars in retroactive tips, or commit suicide. Keep in mind, I can’t really utter these well rehearsed and justly deserved dressing downs. Chances are it wouldn’t do any good. People don’t change after a stern talking to like in TV shows and movies…regardless of how clever, true and deserving the dressing down might be. Plus, I’d probably get in trouble and possibly lose my job. To put it bluntly and succinctly, we all have to take bites of the shit sandwich that is life.

One of the aforementioned customers is a rather dour man who never tips. Tips are my livelihood, and are therefore extremely important to me. They are yet another reason why I try to refrain from having verbal meltdowns with customers. Adding to the frustration of this customer’s stiffing me daily is his personal and socio-political philosophy, He is a self described Marxist. This is a man who goes on and on ( and on) about the plight of the working man. He obviously fancies himself some kind of working class hero. Now it has been a while since I have read Marx and Engels The Communist Manifesto, but I don’t recall the chapter on gratuities and the running dog capitalist waiters and bartenders who suppress the proletariat and keep them down. Like most tipped workers, I am also taxed on my gratuities…This means if and when I am not tipped, I am essentially paying to serve people drinks.

NoTip

In addition to being stiffed daily by this man as I pour pint after pint of Guinness for him, I resent his slight air of smugness about his never tipping me. It’s almost as if he believes that he is doing something noble and virtuous by screwing me. Furthermore, he probably feels superior to me and more enlightened that I simply can’t grasp his strict policy of not tipping for services rendered. Of course, this is the general attitude of tipped workers whenever they encounter cheap, petty and trifling customers. We have a long memory of who doesn’t tip us.

The particular telling off of this man that I go over and over again in my mind would be to point out that no one, repeat, No one gives a shit about his political theories. No one, repeat No one discusses at great length, or any length for that matter what a working class hero he is. Despite what he may think, No One Cares.

Now these sorts of statements could potentially cut a person to the bone. It also made me realize something . 99% of us have strong perceptions and beliefs that are immensely important..but only to us. Again, No One Cares.

Just like Trotsky-Tipless, I have strong perceptions of myself that are varying degrees of truth, fiction and everything in-between. However, with very few exceptions, No one really gives a damn. Now this is not a pity trip. It’s simple reality. I’m just as guilty of this apathy. Hell, as a former punk rocker, a current New Yorker and lifelong cynic…I’m probably more apathetic than the average bear. If ‘No One Cares” can be said about most people, then I would somehow manage to care less. It’s a warped point of pride with me. Probably similar to the point of pride I imagine Mr Persona- Non- Gratuity has about being a cheap bastard.

Perhaps this inane little observation goes much further than I ever could have imagined. Maybe, just maybe it’s a huge part in the very meaning of life. Is it possible that getting others to care about us or issues is the key to happiness, health, wealth and self actualization? It is also interesting to note that even people who are deemed interesting or important to care about by the media often fall victim to the curse of “No One Cares”. Isn’t it safe to say that many of us roll our eyes at the daily and hourly reportings on Justin Bieber, Kanye West, Professional Athletes, The Kardasians and their ilk? And what is our first and most primal reaction to them? That’s right. “Who Cares?”

Just eat your food. There is no need to Instagram it first.

Just eat your food. There is no need to Instagram it first.

Other people’s favorite hobby seems to involve a shift in focus from “No One Cares” to a “You shouldn’t care about that, but rather focus on this”. Often these people are well meaning and trying to garner interest and awareness in worthy causes…. or perhaps more accurately, causes they feel strongly about. We’ve all met these people. You’ll be cheerfully discussing something or someone, and they will tut tut and inform you of something infinitely more important.

In my refraining from going off on the working class zero who never tips me, I have started to focus on things that are important to or about me that fall securely into the “No One Cares” file. I’m a writer, or at least that’s what I tell women I’m trying to impress. The fact of the matter is that. A: I have never been published. B: I have a blog that approximately 4 people read with any regularity and C: Being a writer isn’t all that impressive, unique or interesting. You can’t swing a dead wino in NYC and not hit someone who thinks they’re a writer. So, just as my never-tipping regular feels that he is somehow a noble and fascinating warrior of the proletariat…nobody gives a shit about my literary observations of cell phone etiquette or how people who try to get 12 items through a 10 items or less line at the supermarket should be tried and executed for crimes against humanity.

“No One Cares” for all it’s apathy can be a very powerful thing. People take medications and go to therapy because of “No One Cares”. People go on shooting rampages, and even commit or attempt suicide because of those three, single syllable words. What is a major cause of suicide? The very perception that no one cares. There are even “Cry for help” suicides which is the tragic, yet desperate attempt to get others to give a flying fuck, if only for a little while.

Technology has been driven by “No One Cares” predating recorded history. I’d be willing to bet that it took all of 30 seconds for some Neanderthal hipster to roll their eyes and say “Whatev’s” after a fellow caveman drew some stick men and stick animals in the Lascaux caves in France. Haters gonna hate.

Twitter. The ultimate (currently) in “Pay Attention To Me” narcissism. But can’t we safely say that 99.7% of tweets fall under that “Who cares” category. I know on a very personal level that I only pay attention to ” I plan to have sex with Scott Swenson” tweets from Dolly Parton. Interestingly, while researching Ms Dolly’s twitter account for this piece I found out thatshe had a fender bender on Oct 21st of last year, she was fine and was resting comfortably at home when she tweeted this. I’m guessing she was spared serious injury by “airbags” Nyuk Nyuk.

The genius or geniuses who created Twitter were very aware of human nature and how so many of us are under the misconception that we have something of note to say that the rest of the world gives a damn about.

nobody-cares

Twitter was invented because so many are think others care about what we’re thinking or doing… unaware of how few really give a damn. I don’t tweet. I’m not part of the Twitterverse ( even that term makes me want to vomit), but I can safely say that if I was, there are very few bits of info from others that I’d stop and pay attention to….alien abduction, Armageddon and the aforementioned Ms Parton wanting a booty call from yours truly.

So, although I am fairly certain that very few people care about what I say, even fewer care about what I write, and no one cares about what I think…I just want to say, that the world would be a much better place if we’d put a little more effort into caring…and we can start by caring more about MY writing, getting my contact info to Dolly Parton and leaving me better tips.

Hearing Voices

Posted: January 2, 2014 by S. Trevor Swenson in Me & Mine
Tags: , , , , , , ,
High Ang . . . ZIETY

High Ang . . . ZIETY

Years ago, I went to see my first psychiatrist regarding an unacceptable level of anxiety in my life. I had been having panic attacks with more and more frequency, and it was starting to affect the overall quality of my life. “Panic Attack” or “Anxiety Attack” are the common parlance, although I prefer the terminology from my grandmother’s time, “Having fits or spells”. One simply can’t go to a modern MD with a case of “The Fits” anymore. It does sound better when I’m in the midst of having one and someone asks what’s wrong, why am I hyperventilating and twitching…I just stammer. “Don’t mind me; I’m just having one of my spells.”

My path to psychiatry began with a tiny boo-boo under my index fingers nail. I didn’t think it was a big deal. It was painful and being located on a very popular digit, it made life awkward…but it wasn’t oozing puss or smelling of eau de gangrene.  Upon seeing the boo-boo, my co-worker and friend Matthew told me I should see a doctor. He’d experienced a similar injury before, and it had turned septic and nasty. Plus going to the doctor was a good way for me to skip out of an uneventful day at work. At the time, I actually had a real job with medical insurance and paid time off, so I left work early and went to see a very nice doctor about said boo boo. He gave me a couple of owchie shots in the finger which wasn’t one of life’s great treats, clipped the nail, drained the wound and bandaged me up. Then he wrote me a prescription for enough pain killers to keep the Mexican Coast guard high for a month. As I said, I liked this doctor, which is rare for me. I don’t generally like doctors, nurses, hospitals and medical procedures regardless of how minor they might be. I read an article once which stated simply and beautifully …”Why don’t people like doctors?” “Well, in addition to keeping you waiting around for hours in waiting rooms and in your underwear on butcher paper, they can be smug, do painful things to you, and finally they have a unique ability to deliver VERY bad news.” Like many patients, I pulled a “While I’m here doc…” as our visit was coming to an end and I confided in him that I was having panic attacks. He listened to me, asked me a few questions and then he prescribed a medication instructing me to follow up in a couple weeks and let him know if it had helped.

The medication worked on the panic attacks, but gave me vivid and disturbing dreams. I was getting cranky at work after waking up suddenly from dreams of being chased by lobsters dressed like Liberace singing “Who’s making love you your old lady?” So, when I followed up with the nice GP, he suggested I see a psychiatrist that he knew who would be better suited for medications and problems of my sort. So I made an appointment with Dr. Yakov Greenstein (How cliché is that name? Was Dr. Inkblot McFreud already taken?)

Dr. G was a nice enough man, albeit a caricature of a psychiatrist….Tweed Jacket, beard, glasses, yarmulke, mandatory Van Gogh prints adorning his office walls…

Now, it is S.O.P for a psychiatrist to ask new patients a series of questions; A psychiatric evaluation of sorts.

“Have you thought about hurting other people?”
You mean besides telemarketers and people selling religion door to door? No.

“Have you thought about hurting yourself?”
Um, does a chest waxing and a Brazilian count?

And finally..:

“Are you hearing voices?”

I thought I had given the correct answers on questions one and two, but on question three, I couldn’t help myself. Poor impulse control and trying to be funny have gotten me in trouble before. I smiled my best Cheshire-Cat grin and replied… “Yes, I hear voices, but they only tell me to do ‘good things’.” Dr. G looked at me with a totally blank expression before making a small note in my file. One would think that psychiatrists and proctologists would have better senses of humor. Guess not.

Because of changing insurance companies and networks, I have had to see 3 different psychiatrists over the years, and have luckily found a medication that helps with my anxiety. Every single Shrinky-Dink has asked me the same line of questions, and fortunately I have learned to curb my wise-assery until they got to know me, and my ummm unique sense of humor first. But today while walking around Midtown Manhattan, something dawned on me.

We all hear voices. At least I’m hoping we all do, and that I’m not all alone here. According to my best friend I am a “Special Little Snowflake”, but I certainly don’t want to be the only person not living in a puzzle factory who hears voices.

How many times have we heard the expression “I can just hear so-and-so-saying such-and-such?” Well, friends…that’s hearing voices. Ever stopped someone short from lecturing or bawling you out with a raised hand of capitulation and an “I know..I know…” That’s because we know what they’re thinking and what they’re going to say. We already heard their voice. My mother died a year and a half ago, and I have cried a million tears and know there are a million more to come…but I can still hear her voice…clear as day saying “Nice boy” when I do something, well… nice…and I can still hear her disapproving of me, lecturing me, her laughter and what she’d say to our many private little jokes. I hope I never stop hearing my mother’s voice. Besides some photographs, her extensive Rubber Ducky collection and my memories, it’s all I have left.

Before you tear up at this picture of poignancy…I also have far too many Norman Bates moments.

Mom’s Voice: “Well it’s no wonder you can’t find your keys in that pig sty you’re living in.”
Me: “Not now Ma…”

Mom’s Voice: “I’m just saying that you feel better when you clean your room, now you’re going to be late for work.”
Me: “Ma, seriously…not helping.”

Mom’s Voice: “Just look at this place, socks everywhere…underwear…I hope you don’t have any girls over with your apartment looking like that. Did I raise you to be such a slob?”
Me: “Shut Up, Shut Up SHUT UP!!!!”

Now I may be a fool, but I am not such a fool as to ignore the fact that there are people out there who hear voices that plague them with very bad and destructive advice. I once met an outpatient schizophrenic while walking on the beach in Florida. She was a young black girl who came up to me while I was out for my walk, and just started a conversation. I think she was a little lonely. She almost immediately confided in me that she was taking medication because she had been hearing voices. I talked with her for a little while. I wasn’t scared of her, even though schizophrenics can be dangerous. She seemed more sad than anything, and lonely too as I have said.

I still think about that girl from time to time. I hope she’s OK. OK, like me…hearing voices that only tell her to do good things.

I was glad the girl was on a medication that was helping her. The quality of mental health care isn’t always up to snuff here in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Whopper. I wonder if anyone has ever said: “The meds seem to be working doctor. I still hear voices, but now they speak Spanish and I only understand every third word.”

My dear friend Pamela J is a psych nurse. I’m blessed with lots of close friends who have interesting jobs. Pam the psych nurse, Fred the Marine to name two, and I enjoy talking to them about their jobs. For further research I decided to call and ask Pamela J about hearing voices and how serious, common and or benign it was. “Well, do you argue with the voices and more importantly, how often do they win the arguments?” One of the Pamela’s duties is to do “intakes” for psych patients who are similar to a psychiatrist’s evaluation without the tweed jacket and Van Gogh prints. She’s an incredibly patient and kind-hearted person, while at the same time having an extremely astute BS meter and low BS threshold. The first part of this equation would explain our lengthy friendship. As for the BS, my only guess is that my particular variety of BS doesn’t step on her dress as much as others. I can imagine she’s quite good at her job, although she has confided in me on a few occasions that she felt the psych gig has diminished the skill set she learned in nursing school. She’d rather be working with Doctors Without Borders or such agencies as she’s quite adventurous. Instead, she has to tell drug addicts 5 or 6 times an hour “No, you get your methadone at 6pm…not 5:35” followed by “No, you get your methadone at 6pm…not 5:40. No, blah, blah blah 5:45, blah blah 5:50, and blah 5:55”. You get the idea. I often tease Pamela that I plan to take a vacation at one of the facilities where she is employed. She counters with gleefully administering Thorazine as well as shock treatments, and that a cruise to the Bahamas might be a better choice for me.

Pamela has given me some great first hand insight into various psychiatric conditions. “The only ones I don’t like are the borderlines.” (Borderline Personality Disorder) Pamela, like many in her profession has developed a healthy detachment. She works hard, tries to help, but doesn’t beat herself up over those she can’t. She once told me something interesting that I never knew about paranoid schizophrenics…that they often naturally get in touch or perhaps more accurately, come back in touch with reality after a certain amount of time has passed. Maybe the voices they hear stop, or they realize the voices are self-manufactured. I hope my voices don’t abandon me completely.

I’d get lonely.

Fra-Gee-Lay. Must be Italian

Fra-Gee-Lay. Must be Italian

During one of my many whining sessions over the phone with my late mother, she once told me; “You know, I have noticed you are very easily slighted. I can be that way too, but it’s really not a great way to go through life.” She was right. Of course, (I never told her this. Rule number one in the Parent/Child instruction book is “Never admit when they are right.”) I am, and I have always been, hypersensitive and it’s not an endearing quality or a particularly pleasant way to live. Add to this my raging generalized anxiety disorder, my exceptional creativity and a newish technology (social media) for my insecurities to work out with, and we have a recipe for a fairly miserable online existence to couple my everyday fairly miserable existence. Trust me, my many insecurities and various neurosis’ don’t need to work out… they are already jacked like a Gold’s Gym Steroid Queen.

I’m not going to bash Facebook like I did cell phones in a recent post because I use Facebook on a daily basis. FB has been wonderful for reconnecting with old friends and staying in touch with others. It also allows for me to post clever, poignant and funny little one-liners, creating a facade of depth, decency, a soul and many other positive qualities that I pretend to possess.

“Butt-Hurt” is one of my favorite new expressions from the contemporary vernacular. According to another favorite website of mine; Urban Dictionary, Butt-hurt is defined as:

An inappropriately strong negative emotional response from a perceived personal insult. Characterized by strong feelings of shame. Frequently associated with a cessation of communication and overt hostility towards the “aggressor.”

Perfect. I think the reason I like this term is because I have spent so much of my life being butt-hurt. Like a pompous hipster asshat, I can honestly say I was into being butt-hurt before it became main stream. I’ve been butt-hurt regularly since 1975 when my grandmother told me I was sitting too close to the TV, watching my neighbor; Mr. Rogers, and that was why I had to wear glasses. (With the dorky strap that would insure that I wouldn’t lose them, but that I would be beaten up regularly at recess.) I was 5 at the time, so this was probably 2 or 3 years before I started using obscenities and threats of physical violence when addressing my grandmother…But I do remember not speaking to her, until she bribed me later that night with rhubarb pie and ice cream. I’m a big fan of using the silent treatment, which is interesting as I really suck at sticking with it. I fold after the second or third, “OK…what’s up?” As I said I capitulated quickly with the offer of the pie. I was cheap then, and come to think of it…. I’m cheap now too.

Facebook nuance and etiquette is a perfect breeding ground for butt-hurt-ed-ness or is it butt-hurtury?. I routinely pout and sulk over my FB friends not responding quickly enough (or at all) to my many inquiries, greetings and salutations. “I wished you a happy birthday 16 minutes ago and you haven’t thanked me….WTF?” What’s worse is that I know they saw what I wrote, because the little messenger thingy confirms with a little “Seen” followed by the time. “What’s the matter? Too busy to type or text “You too” after I wish you a “Happy St Patrick’s Day”? The time feature allows a truly anal retentive and delicate little flower like myself to determine exactly how long they have been ignoring me. Sometimes they respond just as I was settling into a nice juicy sulk, and I almost resent this. Nothing worse than having one’s butt-hurt interrupted or…um healed? Is that the opposite? Butt-healed? Well if it isn’t, it should be…that’s a great expression too. Remember, if it isn’t an expression yet, you read it here first.

"Yeah, I hath de-friended her this very morn. For she doth believeth that she is all of that."

“Yeah, I hath de-friended her this very morn. For she doth believeth that she is all of that.”

So there is that little nuance of FB. Sending messages on FB is communicating, but it’s a very different type of communication. One cannot just stop talking during a phone conversation. (Like I used to with certain exceptionally long winded family members. For example, If my grandmother started talking about how Aunt Miggie’s piles were giving her trouble lately, I knew I had a 20 minute lapse in our conversation window where I could quietly put down the phone, make a sandwich, trim my toenails or do a crossword puzzle before I had to pick the phone back up and say “Yeah, that must be terrible.” and pretend I had been listening the entire time. I just wonder if other people who are more well-adjusted than I (you know like, pretty much everyone) get upset by this. I hope so. I don’t like being the only neurotic on FB.

Another thing I wonder about in regards to FB is “de-friending” someone. To begin with “De-Friending” sounds frighteningly Orwellian.

“What’s wrong Scott? You look really down.”
“I was just de-friended.”
“Ouch.”
“Yeah.”
“Who was it?”
“Jimmy.”
“Jimmy?”
“Yeah.”
“Jimmy from high school?”
“No, we aren’t Facebook friends.”
“Jimmy from the Starbucks in Union Square?”
“No, Jimmy from the bar.”
“Do I know him?”
“I don’t know,”
“De-friended huh?”
“Yeah. (sigh)”
“Um, you want a hug or something?”

FB doesn’t tell you that you’ve been de-friended and I think most people aren’t aware of a de-friending right away, unless it is someone you correspond with regularly. I wonder if the executives and developers at FB ever had some kind of butt-hurt management seminar to avoid these kinds of situations. I mean it certainly wouldn’t do to have flashing lights and Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Good Bye by Steam playing when you sign on to FB after a de-friending. (Although in a warped way, that would be kind of cool) De-friending on FB is a little like de-friending in real life in that these people sometimes just phase out of our lives. I tried to find some friends who had suffered from a major de-friend fallout when researching this piece, but no one owned up to having had one. I’m sure it happens. Although the experience probably lacks a certain je ne sais quoi. When a friendship, FB or otherwise, ends, there should be some interesting and dramatic fallout…. some yelling followed by an “I want my Ken Burns Civil War DVDs and my ABBA CD’s back!!!” It’s just not the same, to hover your mouse over the “Friends” box and click them out of your life.

“Oh Screw you, ya creep!”
“Screw Me??? Screw Me?”
“Yeah!”
“Well, if that’s how you feel!”

“Let’s see…here it is…’friends’ … (CLICK) “Well, I certainly told her!”

At this rate, in the next 10 years we will all be breaking up, divorcing, getting fired and colonoscopy results via a swift click of the mouse

(RING) “Excuse me I need to take this….Hello? I see…OK Thanks. Bye.”
“Who was that?”
“My wife…she’s leaving me and running off with our pool-boy; CoCo.”

I admit I have gone on FB purges that would have made Wacky Joe Stalin proud. I have this weird notion that people with over 300 “friends” on any social media site are highly suspect. So occasionally I go through my FB friends and just drop the people I never speak to. What’s really strange about this is that I almost always find a “friend” or three whom I don’t even recall becoming FB buds with. I don’t worry about this too much. These things can happen when one has been known to drink to excess. To date, no one has reached out to appeal a de-friend ruling I have made. Maybe it’s a question of pride. Personally, I would be crushed upon discovering that I had become the victim of a de-friending. Even if it was one of the friends I don’t remember as we became friends while drinking to excess.

Oh, come on, Scott. You can tell me. Just whisper it.

Oh, come on, Scott. You can tell me. Just whisper it.

Sometimes we need to ponder a de-friending. I recently cut my cousin off after serious consideration. He had been posting political rhetoric nonsense on an hourly basis. For the most part I laughed it off, or pointed out where he was wrong. The final straw was when he posted that we need to teach the bible, morality and handgun training in schools. Yeah. There’s a real “What would Jesus do” philosophy. Sorry Cuz. I love you, but I don’t want to get interviewed by Anderson Cooper after the FBI and ATF surround your compound.

“What can you tell me about your cousin Scott?”
“Well, he was my favorite cousin growing up. We played Star Wars and tormented his sister a great deal.”
“Were you Han Solo or Luke Skywalker?”
“I was always Luke Skywalker.”
“That sucks. We had a gay kid in my neighborhood growing up…a boy who didn’t mind being Princess Leia.”
“Hey, we had one of those…we also got a tall wino to play Chewbacca.”
“How did you feel about being Luke Skywalker?”
“Well, it kinda sucked, Anderson. But, I was the blond cousin and he owned a vest, so it seemed a logical conclusion. But, of course, Han is much cooler.”
“I see on his Facebook page he commented that “The Bible and Handguns should be taught in American grammar schools.”
“Yes, sadly that was when I defriended him.”
“Do you think he’s dressed up like Han Solo in his compound?”
“Good question.”

This raises another issue and kindles a small fire of insecurity. When you de-friend someone, and they don’t reach out for an explanation, do you begin to wonder if they really give a rat’s ass? How dare this person whom you have no further interest in interacting with not flip out when they discover your little social nugget of rejection. I have to say, upon further reflection, it must be rough being a junior or senior high school student during the Facebook era. Back when I was an adolescent (an actual adolescent and not the 42 year old I am today with an adolescent’s mentality) we had to go to the mall for rejection that was more up close and personal. It was the 80s and things were tougher back then. Speaking of junior and senior high school, I can’t begin to imagine what it must be like to be a young student during the Facebook era. Kids today are really proficient with computers and I shudder to think of the cyber bullying potential. It’s interesting that I have reconnected with lots of people from high school that I frankly never interacted with back then. As adults they say nice things to me “You always cracked me up.” No I didn’t. I wasn’t that funny. In fact, you never spoke to me in high school. Sadly, I can understand why adolescents are committing suicide as a result of cyber and Facebook bullying. Just thinking about what complete and utter bastards my friends and I were in high school. I could easily see us creating fictitious Facebook pages for classmates I didn’t care for. “Hey, 266 people like the “Jerome’s a Bum Boy Douchebag” page. I even had a kid I hated from high school try to invite me to his list of friends. I refused, and he tried again. Finally he wrote and asked why I had refused his friendship request and I mentioned that he had stolen my bike in 7th grade and that I am generally pretty enthusiastic in regards to cultivating grudges.

marx

Hello, I must be going” Is a brilliant Marx Brothers song and routine. It’s also a wonderful description for another FB phenomena. I hope I’m not alone here, but I have at least 5 FB friends who can’t, don’t or wont interact with me for more than 5 minutes without typing “Well, I have to go now.”, “Dinners ready,” or ” I have to pee.” I understand that people need to pee sometimes, or that dinner is occasionally ready, but every time they are chatting with me? I’m dubious. Then it becomes even more awkward because there is no way to ask about your friend’s rate of urination without seeming needy and annoying. Interestingly, a former FB friend once called me those very words. At least she had the class and courage to say this in person to me, which I appreciated and which allowed me to retort using an expletive that women aren’t so crazy about. No, not that one…the other expletive. She asked for it.

In Japanese there is a word; Wa or Wah which is an expression for a collective social harmony. Japan is a relatively small country with a lot of mountainous terrain that isn’t so suitable for habitation and a large population. It can get quite crowded in Japan and ‘Wa’ is the way that people get along through a rather rigid code of behavior and manners. A friend of mine who taught for over a year in Japan told me of a gesture that the Japanese make when they are in a serious rush or find themselves in an urgent situation and simply don’t have the time to say 14,000 sumimasens which is an all-purpose Japanese Wa expression that means “Excuse Me.”, “Thank You.”, “Sorry.” and “Yes, I’m being a rude bastard, but this is an emergency.” This gesture is considered a little rude, yet is still socially acceptable. Probably similar to the charming western custom of farting during a dinner party and then blaming the dog. I must pause here and say, I am a gentleman in these instances and own up…proudly. “Yep, that was me…pass the beans please…Where were we? Oh yes… You were saying handguns, morality and the bible should be taught in grammar schools” So, when a Japanese businessman is in a rush to catch the 3:10 to Kyoto and is in a crowded train station, he will lower his head and place a flattened hand across his forehead (much like Curly from the Three Stooges avoiding a eye gouge from Moe) and plow on through. Everyone understands he’s in a rush.

So, perhaps in the interest of Facebook Wa, maybe we should find a slightly rude but socially acceptable way to get people to stop pestering us with every day minutia or to knock off the “Hello, I must be goings.”

Maybe we should start color coding our friends, or come up with an acronym like LOL when we aren’t in the mood to or can’t chat for long. How about BTD (Busy these days) or CRTN (Cant really talk now) or how about IFWTPBSAE (I’m finished with this piece but suck at endings)

The End. Oh, no, wait . . . it's not.

The End.
Oh, no, wait . . . it’s not.

Epilogue:

I felt a need to revisit this piece as I have recently experienced some FB and former friend dramedy. I haven’t been able to make my faithful editor laugh in a couple months which is one of the reasons I haven’t posted anything lately.

I had a friend. I say friend in that we had been to each other’s homes, exchanged birthday and Christmas gifts, been to movies and other outings together and were familiar to a degree with each other’s lives. He ran a football pool I have been a member of for 15 plus years. I knew this friend from my former job. When I left the job we didn’t see each other much, but we were still friends via facebook. We got together once or twice after I left the job, but saw significantly less of each other.

He became a classic example of the “Hello, I must be going” type that I mentioned. He was on FB daily, several times a day posting news stories, photos and observations, just like I do. However, I found when I reached out to him he wasn’t particularly friendly or responsive. On several occasions I left our “conversations” feeling like he thought I was a pest. Now I have admitted I am hypersensitive, and certainly online/social media communications often lack context and tone. They’re easily misunderstood, and I’m sure I am guilty of coming across as cold, dismissive or whatever at times…hopefully not too often as I don’t want to be a hurtful or mean person. This friend, we’ll call him “Pete” for the sake of simplicity…Pete would write things like “You need to move on.” or “We’ve discussed this already.”…so yes, suffice to say I felt like a pest whenever I reached out to him. I was a little hurt, and I was a little pissed off too as I went through over a year of Pete’s nonstop lamenting about a love interest who was obviously and plainly not interested.

During Gay Pride month I had posted “Happy Gay Pride To All My LGBT Friends!”. Almost immediately, one of my FB acquaintances took issue with this and corrected me that the correct term is “LGBT Pride”. We had an argument over semantics. I messaged Pete who is gay and whom both he and I had agreed that PC feel good speech has gone way too far and that we are constantly walking on eggshells with what we say. As usual, Pete was a little dismissive. Maybe he didn’t agree with me. Maybe he was busy…I don’t know. But he messaged “Have a good day Scott.” which I took as a dismissal. I responded “Sorry to have bothered you.” and took him off my friends list. It had been awhile in coming. I was tired of feeling like I was an annoyance. He wrote back to me and said “Why did you say that, I was just telling you to have a nice day” I wrote back an explanation that perhaps we’d been misunderstanding each other.

As I said, there are no bells and whistles when a friend is removed from your list. He found out a couple weeks later, and wrote a rather firm parting shot at me. After speaking to my best friend about it, we decided the best response was no response at all.

Still the whole episode was sad and disappointing, and its conclusion was decidedly unsatisfying.

Editors Note: Oops, I thought I had posted this piece a while back. Umm . . . better late than never?

Looks like fun, huh?

Looks like fun, huh?

It’s probably best to start this rant with a little background into my thoughts on the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) as well as my struggles with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, which the MTA routinely exacerbates to the best of their ability. For those of you who don’t know what Generalized Anxiety Disorder or Panic Disorder is, perhaps I should explain, or try to. For over 20 years I have been suffering from bouts of crippling panic and fear which can strike out of the blue or when I become agitated and stressed. I have often tried to describe it to people who have never had one of these episodes, but I’ve always been at a loss. I feel dizzy, terrified, and short of breath. I have thoughts of losing my mind and/or dying flying through my brain. I tremble and hyperventilate and get tremendously entertaining twitches and spasms, which the ladies really seem to dig. I imagine that I probably look like someone who has smoked a little too much crack and skipped a hearty breakfast. Being aware of how I must look makes things worse and on occasion people have asked me if I am alright. More often however, they give me a strange look and move slowly away from me.

To this point I have combated my anxiety and panic attacks with lifestyle changes like exercise, cutting back on alcohol and caffeine and the like. What vexes me most are people’s attitudes in regards to panic attacks, which is generally summed up in three words “Get over it.” Get over it hmmm? Gee, Professor Freud, I never thought of that. You’re a genius…wow years of therapy and paralyzing fear wasted when all this time I just needed to ‘get over it’. Oh, thank you SO very much for imparting your wisdom upon me!

What other pearls do you have to share?

What other pearls do you have to share?

I was diagnosed years ago with “Anticipatory Anxiety” which means my silly little brain works against me to a certain degree. If I have an impending unpleasant errand (and taking the subway is always unpleasant) I will think and worry about it to the point where I give myself panic attacks when the time comes for whatever mundane but stressful little mission I have to complete.

Panic Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder are two separate conditions within the Nervous Nelly spectrum. Panic Disorder means suffering from panic/anxiety attacks. GAD means being a worrier. I worry about everything. Add to this my creative side and I can find some really elaborate and frankly ridiculous things to waste my time worrying about. I dread when I have a message on my call waiting, because it most certainly will be bad news. Or maybe I’m not having a panic attack after all…maybe I am having a severe allergic reaction to the multi vitamin that I took last night which probably expired years ago and developed a deadly mold spore and…well, you get the idea.

My life in the fast lane

My life in the fast lane

The MTA/subway is a veritable candy store of stressors and anxiety enhancers. I have to take my hat off to them for creating the most stressful and unpleasant mode of transportation possible in a modern American city. When things aren’t stressful enough, the MTA and its staff step up their game by screaming at the passengers through a perpetually broken intercom system and selling ad space to be filled by the most disturbing advertisements humanly possible, prominently displayed to the temporarily captive rider.

Today I hopped on the N train. To combat the stress of the subway and hopefully avoid a complete panic breakdown, I try to bring things along with me that will have a calming effect. I used to bring a Sam Cooke CD everywhere as I found his voice and songs rather soothing. I also like to suck on Halls honey-lemon cough drops. More recently I have been bringing “The Path To Tranquility” by the Dalai Lama to read. It’s a great book and it has a calming effect on me while reminding me of how karmically bankrupt I am. Two birds with one stone, I like efficiency.

Looking up from the DL’s book I saw the words “AIDS” and “Anal Cancer” in big, bright red letters. Upon closer investigation I saw it was a condom ad placed by the city’s health department and Mayor KillJoy. The ad was explaining that even with the new antiviral medications available today you still run an extremely high risk of anal cancer if you become infected with AIDS. To further demonstrate this, there was a photo of a nervous looking young man and a fucking x-ray of anal cancer. What’s the matter? The city’s health department couldn’t find a photo of some poor bastard lying on his stomach in an operating room with a black and bloody grapefruit sized tumor sticking out of his emergency exit?

It dawned on me that the city posts all kinds of unpleasant ads in subway cars. A recent anti-obesity campaign shows cans of soda, iced teas and other sugared beverages covered in what looks like fat and blood removed via liposuction. Effective, disgusting and a stellar anxiety trigger. Well done MTA and a nice assist from the City of New York and its billionaire, disapproving daddy-pants Mayor.

Charming

Charming

Recently, after having a serious budget deficit, the MTA raised fares and cut services. They hire the best and brightest to run the system and pay these men and women 6 figures and incredible benefits, and the best they can seem to do is regularly cut services and raise fares. I would think that the ad space on the subways and buses would be a source of income. Sounds like a smart move until I saw the MTA advertising themselves. Last time I checked there is no competition. There is only the MTA and no private sector subways and buses. They’re out of money, don’t need to advertise, and yet spend a fortune on print ads for themselves. My favorite ad was touting how hard the MTA is working on improving things. They had a photo of four workers welding a bit of track. Having seen the corrupt union members and “workers” employed by the MTA, I knew instantly that the MTA had hired models for the ad campaign as there is a painfully obvious union regulation which strictly prohibits 4 people from working at the same time. More money wasted…

Other ads on the subway include…

Impotence; A doctor’s ad showing a frustrated and frankly disgusted looking woman and a sad looking guy in bed looking sheepishly for the TV remote.

Anti-Drinking; Depicting an obviously hung-over and disheveled woman who had too many cosmos and ended up sleeping with the nightclubs coat check guy and bouncer. Or, a drunk driver languishing in prison.

Battered women, homeless people, and my favorite ad by Dr. Zizmor; who is a dermatologist with before and after drawings of his successful treatments. In keeping with the MTA’s disturbing ad campaign I think that Dr. Z (as he calls himself…I don’t trust doctors that advertise in subways or use their first initial after “Dr.”) should make his next add using heavily photo shopped pictures of cystic acne, warts, and other sexy skin disorders.

I feel that as a tax payer and commuter that my money would be better spent on some cheerful subway imagery. I want pictures of puppies and unicorns on my anti homeless ads. How about a Cookie Monster condom ad? I’ll even write a catchy slogan “C is also for Condom so we don’t get Cancer near our Colon”
Would it really be so expensive to play some nice classical music on the trains…or some Motown?

I am going to send this off to the mayor and the MTA to be ignored immediately.

Job Hunt Mach 2

Posted: January 26, 2013 by S. Trevor Swenson in Life, Me & Mine
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
I am the 81st down from the right

I am the 81st down from the right

Like millions of my fellow Americans, I am out of work…again. A few years ago my employer of 17 years and I engaged in an F Bomb exchange which excused me from the ranks of the employed for a couple years. Do I regret our four letter word rock opera? Yes and no, but it is spilled milk now. I felt slightly vindicated when I put an “I Hate Pigs” bumper sticker on his BMW to celebrate my one year anniversary away from the job. I actually ran into him during the holidays this year. We shook hands and were cordial to one another.

I have landed 3 jobs since then. One where the owner took an instant and intense dislike to me. Not much one can do about that. (I once asked my former employer “What the Fuck is your problem with me?’, and we know how that worked out.) The general manager hired me and on my first night of training I was introduced to the owner. I extended my hand to him and he gave me a look of utter and complete disgust. I was actually impressed as I have been working on that look for over 20 years. Well played, Sir! It was a facial expression reserved for finding a hair in your food and it was depressing. I thought I was finally turning the corner, only to have a job dangled in front of me and ripped away after 4 hours. I felt a little better after noticing that this place has a “Help Wanted” sign in their window every week. It seems the owner takes an instant and intense dislike to lots of applicants. Finally! It’s not me, it’s you.

"Oh, darling, I simply must have a Sazerac. Do be a lamb and fetch me one."

“Oh, darling, I simply must have a Sazerac.
Do be a lamb and fetch me one.”

The second job was at a posh and stuffy four star restaurant. I’m not posh or stuffy. (I’m…puffy.) They wear white dinner jackets. I’m more of a leather jacket kind of guy. I lasted 3 whole weeks on the job. It wasn’t for me, and I wasn’t for them. I’m accustomed to fast, turn and burn bar tending. This place demanded that each drink take half an hour to lovingly construct. The drinks were excellent and the man who designed them is world renowned. I just wasn’t the right man for a place that wanted a 28.5 millimeter lemon twist to rim the glass 6 and 1/2 times counter clockwise, while whistling Tchaikovsky’s Waltz of the Flowers, and precisely measuring 16 ingredients to craft a gin and tonic. I’ve checked the want ads; this place is always looking for staff as well. So, I got that going for me . . . which is useless.

Finally, I landed a job at an Irish pub in my neighborhood. I really liked my job. I liked my co-workers, I liked my bosses, I liked the customers, and those who I didn’t care for so much provided me with some fantastic material for my writing and comedy. It was never extremely busy, but I was working again, making money and going to school… what I like to call “having some semblance of a life” I was doing well and considered myself lucky.

I was at this job for a year…almost exactly a year. I spent the slow summer months anxiously awaiting the lucrative football season in Fall. As luck (or lack thereof) would have it, during the first football game of the season, while traversing three little steps in the pub, I felt a sickening pop above the heel of my left foot. Apparently the warranty on my Achilles tendon had just expired. I would be in a cast for the next 3 months. With the exception of McLimpy’s Tavern on E 14th St, no one was hiring staff members in casts so I spent that time catching up on “PARQUE ALEGRIA” my favorite Spanish language soap opera, applying fat from various comfort foods to my thighs, butt and stomach, and fighting my very own version of the Hundred Years War with the New York State Workers Compensation Board and my employer’s insurance company; Apathy Mutual of Hoboken. “We Truly Pretend to Care”

After I recovered, I discovered that my job was not waiting for my triumphant return. My boss told me to bring a note from a doctor and then promptly stopped returning my phone calls and had always “just stepped out” whenever I stepped in. My (former?) co-workers greeted me with a slightly embarrassed humble-mumble-chumbles. People don’t get fired anymore…they become more of an Orwellian “un-person” or more accurately an unemployed person. New York is an “employment at will” state, meaning a company will fire you if so inclined. And it seemed my boss was SO inclined.

It was back to the job hunt for the boy.

"Hi, my name is...."  "YOU'RE HIRED!!!"

“Hi, my name is….” “YOU’RE HIRED!!!”

Had I learned anything during my first crack at being a man of leisure? Yes. I learned that the job market sucks, that many bar owners prefer breasts to experience, I learned that I had gotten spoiled having the same job for 17 years. However, I am a firm believer that we cultivate a great deal of our own luck. The more I am out there, the better my chances of experiencing some good timing or luck. I am also glad that it is winter. The cold weather has added to my motivation in terms of not having to relocate from my apartment to a refrigerator box with a breakfast nook out by where the buses don’t run. Plus, I don’t show up to open calls and interviews drenched in sweat. It’s a bummer to call and thank someone for an interview and have them say “Oh yeah, you’re that sweaty guy, I remember you, Uh, we’ll let you know” I can just imagine some manager writing “Too sweaty” on my soggy resume. Yuck.

Sometimes I go out and just drop resumes off in various neighborhoods with good street traffic and lots of bars and restaurants. I shower, shave and. dress to resemble a responsible and productive member of society. I zip into places and ask “Hi, is there a manager I could possibly drop my resume off with?” Some people are nice. They take my resume, smile and wish me luck. Others are just overtly unpleasant. Last week a haughty Maître’s D sneered ‘”You can leave it” (meaning my resume),” as if it took every fiber of his being to not follow this with “But really, we shant be calling you back.” Lots of hostesses have an utterly charming, smelling-a-fart facial expression when I swing by to drop off a resume and speak to the (never present) manager. Aren’t these women hired to be the “face” of the venue? When did friendliness and basic politeness leave this job description? Should a hostess act as a deterrent? “Sorry to interrupt your texting Ms. Evangelista, I know it’s a lot to ask, but would you be a dove and take my resume, lie about passing it along to the manager and maybe even smile? Judging by your demeanor, you’d think I shambled in here bleeding profusely from both ears and barking in an inappropriately loud voice “Hey toots, where’s the crapper in this joint?”

"Before you hand me your resume, allow me to fetch my rubber gloves and tongs."

“Before you hand me your resume, allow me to fetch my rubber gloves and tongs.”

This time around I seem to be getting more call backs and interviews, which is encouraging. The first time around I could literally go weeks without hearing back from anyone. Of course, I have been to 3 interviews in 2 weeks where the interviewers were incredibly rude and cold. This makes no sense to me. I can understand seeing someone for the first time and deciding that this isn’t the person you had in mind for the job. As much as we like to deny it, we do judge books by their covers, but it’s a good business strategy to paste a smile on one’s face, shake hands, ask a couple questions and muster a friendly “Thanks, We’ll let you know.” Really, the entire industry is based on acting pleasant and nice to people, and especially being able to fake it. Plus, it would be too easy for someone less well-adjusted than I to take offense and call the Heath Department or leave a review on sites like Yelp or Urban Spoon with fictitious tales of rat droppings in the ceviche, food poisoning or rude staff. Plus, you called me. I am merely showing up to an interview that you requested, Smiley.

I step into some places and immediately realize that I stand no chance whatsoever of working there. Lots of Irish pubs only hire illegal Irish aliens, I’ve tried to fake an accent, but I always blow it by humming “Danny Boy” and making some ridiculous reference to Irish Spring soap or Lucky Charms cereal. Other places have nothing but Charlie’s Angel’s rejects struggling with the intricacies of a vodka and tonic. I’m not young and fabulous, so I don’t even bother with chic lounges or trendy nightclubs. I make it a point not to go to places that wont let me in.

The NYC service industry is a unique microcosm. Many places want head shots, bi-lingual a plus and all kinds of other criteria. “A strong background in Northern Italian wines preferred” (For McGinty’s Pub?) This becomes a slippery slope. I think people expect us to embellish, exaggerate and..OK….OK, lie on our resumes and during interviews, but one can’t go too far with this. We’d be found out day one, embarrassed and fired….and being unemployed is embarrassing enough. There was a coffee shop in Union Square that only hired Brazilian models. Another place designed as a honky-tonk that only hired models with a special cocktail dyslexia. “I’ll have a Red Stripe please.” 25 minutes later she would produce a glass of red wine. If you decided to stay and try for a second round, she’d bring Johnny Walker Red. These are the people who are getting the jobs. Yeah, life’s fair.

Maybe I should apply

Maybe I should apply

Years ago I went into a bar in the Village to use of their bathroom. Since there is an unwritten law that people are not allowed to use restrooms without a purchase, I bought a glass of wine that I really didn’t want. It was officially a gay bar (Something cleverly named The Dude Ranch), but in neighborhoods like the East Village, the lines between gay and straight became blurred. People went were they liked the music or the prices. The bartender that day was a swishy, middle aged gay man who was balding with a pot belly. His appearance was decidedly un-fabulous. Still, as I drank my wine and he held court with the handful of customers who were there, I quickly realized he was really funny, engaging and warm. I ended up staying for two more glasses of wine because I had nowhere to be, and we were all having a good time. It dawned on me that this terrific bartender wouldn’t stand a chance of getting a job at 99% of the gay bars in the city. They’d laugh at him and make bitter, queeny jokes about his weight or appearance the second he walked out the door. Then they’d promptly hire the Chelsoid gym rat with no personality, no experience, but who had stapled a beautifully photo-shopped and shirtless photograph of his fabulous self to his misspelled resume.

My point is that the resume my mommy thinks is “Very nice honey” with legitimate experience and references can matter very little. There are many places that are always hiring. They only want the beautiful people working for them. In this economy, the owner of the corner gin mill gets to act like Steve Rubell from Studio 54. I have worked with some very good looking people, and some of them were crackerjack staff members. Yet, sadly it is all too common to find a pretty, yet aloof bartender busily text messaging while hapless patrons wave $20 bills at them in a futile attempt to get the bartender to actually tend to the bar. Eventually, after updating their Facebook status with “My job sucks”, they glance over at the customer, roll their eyes, slam down a bottle of Budweiser in front of them and fetch their change without a word of thanks. Or, when someone orders a scotch and soda, they tilt their pretty little heads and ask “What’s in that?”

Having a resume; it makes me feel all grown-up. I look over my references and continuity and feel proud of myself. Another thing that gives me minor internal hissy fits is when an interviewer takes my resume and wants me to fill out an application. I had thought that the point of a resume is to save time on things like applications. Of course, we can’t roll our eyes when we are handed an application. We have to be cheerful and act as if we were given one off those huge checks from Publisher’s Clearing House. “Oh, goody-gumdrops! You mean I get to hand write everything that is already typed neatly on the paper I just gave you on to a whole new piece of paper?” I loathe these modern redundancies, like when we punch in our account numbers when calling our cable company, and then being asked for the same number 40 minutes later when we finally reach a human being.

It is an employer’s market. I read ads of what they are seeking and it is an extensive laundry list of sacrifice and dedication for the privilege of working for someone. Under “compensation” there is usually a single euphemistic business-speak word “competitive”. Translation: as little as we are able to get away with. Some companies at least try to be creative “Work with a first rate team who are able to think outside of the box.” Well, I suppose that does sweeten the sub-minimum wage pay. While I was working I would look over resumes other people had dropped off. I was also always nice to perspective applicants. It was not uncommon to come across people with Master’s Degrees and Ph.D.’s looking to wait tables and schlep drinks. This made me feel better, while also scaring me a little. I remember showing up to an open call at a popular hotel years ago. I had shown up 20 minutes early, only to join a line of applicants that looked like one of the black and white photos from The Great Depression. In line were stunningly beautiful and handsome young men and women holding professionally designed resumes in sexy binders. They wore beautifully tailored, designer clothes and seemed so sure of themselves. These are the people I am competing with, and many of them are more educated, younger, better looking and possibly more desperate than I am. Personally, if I was in a position to hire, I’d exploit any and all desperation. “Well, you’re certainly qualified; but would you be willing to give me a foot massage and to address me as ‘Most Exalted Daddy Pants’? And by the way, how are you at ‘thinking outside the box?” Looking eager and upbeat takes energy too, more energy than one might think. This made me understand why people stop looking for work after a year or year and a half. It’s tantamount to being pumped up in the locker room for the big game, yet week after week getting slaughtered on the field. The job hunt can be exceptionally draining and soul sucking. It’s hard to keep from taking rejection and a lack of response personally.

Be it ever so crumbled....There's no place like home.

Be it ever so crumbled….There’s no place like home.

I’ll get another job sooner or later, hopefully sooner as my landlord is a little funny about my bringing in partial rent payments in rolled up pennies and nickels and saying “I’ll try to get the rest of it to you next week.”

srsly?

srsly?

I am a lover of language, nuance and expressiveness. While there are certainly terms of this generation that I have no truck with (Oh, it’s like dat huh?” comes to mind); there is one I that I have become quite fond of: the sarcastic and facetious use of the word “Really”.

Since childhood I have referred to the dictionary as “The Big Book”. Maybe I couldn’t pronounce “Dictionary” as a child, but I also like to think that this title empowers the book somehow, like the Ten Commandments on tablets of stone. I have always enjoyed arguing and take an especially smug and obnoxious glee in being correct in a debate. “Oh yeah, ma? Well, let’s just see what The Big Book has to say, shall we?” One of my more nit-picky tactics is to rubbish someone in an argument when my definition is ranked higher numerically than the person’s I am engaged in a debate with.

“It’s right there.” says my unfortunate opponent pointing to the disputed definition.
“Yeah” I retort “It’s number two, mine is number one!”
“So?” they ask when really they should know better.
“If number two mattered more than number one Al Gore or MItt Romney would have been president.”

Now here is where my obnoxiousness differs from your garden variety pest or annoyance. For up to the next 72 hours I will shove this in their nose in the most creative manner I can find.

“Hey, um when a little kid has to go to the bathroom and they say ‘number two’, what does that mean exactly?”

For weeks after a debate with my mom I would leave copies of the Big Book everywhere, open to the page of the disputed word. My mom started hiding her highlighters.

But I digress…

According to the Big Book “Really” means:

Definition of REALLY
1
a : in reality : actually <things as they really are> <there was nothing peculiar about her doing this, really — Peter Taylor>
b : truly, unquestionably —used as an intensifier
c : very 2
2
—used to emphasize an assertion <really, you’re being ridiculous>


Examples of REALLY
1. The dog runs really fast.
2. The water is really hot.
3. She’s a really nice person

I remember this was an important word as a child. First because little kids have next to no decision making power. It’s a delicate and precarious life resting on the whims of parental units and other grownups. So we need a lot of confirmation:

“I thought we might have dinner at McDonalds tonight.”
“Really?”
“Nah, let’s try the kelp and tofu quiche recipe from that hippy cookbook you love so much.”

My mom had her tiny torments too.

“Really” was also used as filler when we were assigned essays and reports of X number of words. Remember counting and re-counting the words as a kid? 500 words seemed exceptionally unreasonable when I could just as easily say “It sucked”. So, we filled our book reports with as many “Really’s” and “Very’s” as possible and hoped that the teacher didn’t notice. Ever the rebel, I made a point of handing in essays with 498 words. (Sticking it to the man since 3rd grade.)

“Tom Sawyer was a really, really, really, good book. It takes place a very very long time ago. It’s about a boy named Tom Sawyer who is really, really ,very, very smart…”

See? I stretched 23 words to 32.

The contemporary definition and use of “Really” is among my favorite terms today. This definition hasn’t made it in “The Big Book” yet, so I had to visit a favorite website; Urban Dictionary.

REALLY

1. An exclamation used when you can’t believe that someone has said, asked or done something so stupid, or unbelievably stupid. Often said very sarcastically.

2. A brief way to question the integrity of a person or an act. Implies, “I am so unimpressed with this, and disappointed in you for doing such a thing.”

That’s perfect. This fits my repertoire of constant disappointment and disbelief in the world and most of its residents. A fair estimate would be that I say or think “Really” approximately 3000 times daily…perhaps 4000 if I am running late, doing errands or using public transportation. Since it is my S.O.P to take things too far, I am frankly amazed that I haven’t taken to staring at various offending parties with my patented annoyed face and asking aloud “Really?”

Another facet of “Really” is that it requires a specific tone and a unique facial expression. How many words can claim this honor?

My ex-girlfriend when I was naked except for socks and glasses. “Really?”

I have been going to the same Dunkin Donuts for over 10 years, with the same coffee order, from the same woman…to this day; she repeats my order back to me, getting every aspect of my coffee wrong.

Me: (Said slowly in the hopes that today will be the day where she finally gets it right)
“I’d like…a small coffee,… with a little milk….. make it dark,…. and two Splenda, please.” I cringe and brace for impact.

Dunkin Donuts employee with the lazy eye and severe coffee dyslexia:
“Large coffee, with cream and three sugars?”

Really? REALLY?

A mother of 8 at the laundromat decides that the folding table for everyone’s clean clothes is the perfect place to change her baby’s rancid and over stuffed diaper, when there is a bathroom 5 feet behind her.

Really?

At the grocery store, after all her items have been scanned, the woman who has been on her cell phone suddenly realizes they will have to be paid for and spends approximately 40 minutes digging pennies and nickels from the change purse that took her 10 minutes to find.

Really?

A public toilet seat covered in urine with its contents unflushed.

Really?

Maybe we live in a “Really?” kind of world. People post excruciating minutia on Facebook and get butthurt (another most excellent contemporary expression) when all 306 people they are “friends” with don’t comment, like or otherwise stroke them. Not me, of course, I have a strict rule of posting 40 times or less the daily antics of my cats.

“Really” comes from “Real” as does “Reality”. Reality TV may be the most popular entertainment medium in the world today. Yet, the many of the successful reality TV shows generally have lots and lots of “Really?” moments.

Honey Boo Boo.

Really?

Her disgusting family.

Really?

On The Learning Channel.

REALLY?

3 million viewers.

Really?

"Nice attitude"

“Nice attitude”

In the film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Ferris Bueller has a bitch-on-wheels sister named Jeannie who resents (among seemingly everything else in her universe) her brother’s popularity and ability to buck the system. She storms down to the principal’s office where the secretary asks her blandly, “Well, hello, Jeannie. Who’s bothering you now?” This brief movie snippet popped into my head during my morning exercise session. It’s a question I could be asked daily…probably several times a day.

“Who’s bothering you now, Scotty?” could be a regular column for me if I possessed any kind of continuity whatsoever, and if there was a market for reading my daily grievances. So far I have found 19 people in the world who are even remotely interested in this… and that took me 6 years. I consider it a major achievement.

So who (and what) is bothering me today? Hmmm well it’s only 8:43am, but I’m a pro and managed to find some people who are bothering me already (yeah, I’m that good)

On my way to the park to exercise I encountered 2 separate sidewalk hogs. One was a woman with what looked to be about 400 children. It may have only been 5 or 6, but it was difficult to tell as they were an unruly swarm running amok. I stopped short to avoid one, waddling into my path. I tried to take a step forward just as his brother strayed in front of me and stared off into the distance. I tried to take a step back, but there were 2 more there behind me. They were so beautifully and efficiently underfoot, I would swear they had Navy SEAL training to coordinate this. After a few more seizure like dance steps I was forced onto the road. I glared angrily at mom, who was pregnant (of course she was). If she can’t keep them on a leash or shock collar, she should at least stop pumping ‘em out. I’d be a happy man if 1/10th of the people I glare at angrily on a daily basis would catch my glance, realize the error or their ways and apologize. Of course she paid no attention to me, or her brood. She was most likely on her way to a doctor to see if it was possible to get pregnant, while being pregnant.

The second sidewalk hog was an old woman with a yappy little Maltese dog. Granny and pooch had their leash stretched across the entire sidewalk waiting for Fido to drop a deuce. I stopped and waited… and waited. I glanced down at the pooch who looked up at me with a bored “speak to the management” expression. I then looked at the management. Granny ignored me until I heaved a loud, impatient sigh at her. It should be noted that the volume of my impatient sighs has, in the past inspired people to call the police with noise complaints. The blue meanies show up at my door and ask if I have been sighing again, and then announce that they “don’t want to have to come back here again”. Eventually granny spoke up. “Come on Angel, don’t you have to go?” It made me think that there might be a need for an invention of a new retractable leash and harness for little dogs. Push a button and they go flying back through the air “Arooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo”. Practical and entertaining. Eventually I stepped over the leash, because God forbid she would actually pull Angel back and allow the human being use of the sidewalk. Another reminder of where I sit in the world’s pecking order…right behind a dog’s BM. I growled at the dog and glared angrily at Angel’s mommy. She ignored me too. Is it too much to ask for people to pay attention to the perpetually scowling angry man?

I made it to the park and started doing my laps. This went well for a short time. I had my tunes with me and most of the others in the park were elderly, so I felt young and fit. I made it a point to burn by an 80-something year old bag and her walker. I can roll along at a pretty fast pace, especially after I have had my morning coffee, cigarette and annoyances. The smooth sailing was short lived of course. On my last lap a father and his 3 or 4 year old daughter on her new Christmas bike played a beautiful defensive scheme on this Tom Brady. Her bike was pink and frilly with training wheels, sparkles and pictures of Dora The Explorer giving the world the finger on its wheels. It reminded me a great deal of my first bike…when I was 16. Daddy’s little princess was zig zagging all over the track and the joggers, homeless trash diggers, dog walkers and most importantly I had to dodge her version of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. The theme for the day seemed to be obstruction. I was half expecting to find a VW bug parked in front of my door on the second floor of my apartment building when I got home. I spared dad and brat my scowl. They had taken their obliviousness to a group level. I did, however, cup my hands over my mouth and yell after them; “There’s no Santa Claus, you know! Mommy and daddy are big liars!!!”