Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Parka Please

I may look the part in my boots and scarf, but below the layers I am (and always will be) a shivering Floridian who just can't woman up to the cold. And it's coming fast. I felt it under my bare feet when I stepped out of bed onto a chilled hardwood floor this morning. It was in the breeze that forced me to tuck my chin and tie up my jacket while walking home yesterday. It was in that frigid little transition from hot shower to towel. Before I know it, New York's cold season- all 5 ruthless months of it- will be in full frosty swing.

It will be my third since moving from winter-free Florida. I'll go ahead and give myself a solid D and C on keeping warm in 2008 and 2009. I made honest attempts- a fancy coat from Saks (attractive but worthless), a sad puffy jacket impulsively purchased from Loehmann's (when I couldn't fake warmth in the expensive Saks coat anymore) and a handful of scarves, hats and leggings hardly pulled me through.

This year, I'm not messing around. My strategy: a ridiculous coat from North Face. That beauty below is called an Arctic Parka. Sure, it will make me look a over-stuffed, gender-less, 200- pound Michelin Tire person with limited range of movement, but I will be oh so pleasantly toasty.

Bring it on negative degrees and wind tunnels. Me, the parka and my tiny space heater are ready.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Angry Chick

The other night, while stuck in a momentary “I hate boys” wallow, I turned to the same person I’ve turned to since middle school: Grammy-award winning singer/songwriter/angry chick Fiona Apple.

As an 18-year-old moping around my dorm because a boy didn't like me enough and as a 25-year-old moping around my (dorm-sized) New York apartment because a boy didn’t like me enough, Fiona’s raspy croons always hit the spot.

Lucky for me and my current sitch, her entire second album “When the Pawn Hits” seems to be about a dude who played her. She spends about 30% of the album frustrated and angry with herself and the other 70% telling him off.

Fiona had one. I have one. I think it’s safe to say we’ve all had one- a guy or girl you simply can’t say no to, a person who somehow deflates your brain of all sensible decision-making abilities, your romantic kryptonite.

Newish to the dating world (as I had the same boyfriend from age 19 to 24) this total acquiescence of the upper hand has been tough to adjust to. Sure, I’ve endured plenty of versions of heartache and rejection in the past, but this is all just silly.

Even when the correct thing to do (ignore his call, go home, drop him like it’s hot) is sounding off in my brain like an alarm, I don’t hesitate to do the opposite.

I tried erasing his number. I tried pulling the just friends card. I tried dating his opposite.

The man is a boomerang. I can’t go a month without adding a new scene to our drama. It’s frustrating. It’s exhausting. It’s always entertaining. And I guess in many ways it’s a rite of passage.

Fiona said it best:

“And when the day is done,
and I look back and the fact is I had fun,
fumbling around
all the advice I shunned,
and I ran where they told me not to run,
but I sure had fun."

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The post where I name drop too much...

Since moving to the Big Apple I've had my fair share of celebrity sightings. From way random (Phillip Seymour Hoffman yelling into his cell phone at a grocery store; Danny Devito too small for his SUV; Steve Buscemi beside me at a bar; Mr. Belding drinking heavily) to the ones that make your repeat "Oh my God" like an idiot: Madonna almost bumping into me on a sidewalk; Josh Hartnett seated across from me at a restaurant; Hugh Jackman eating at my go-to sushi place; Lindsay Lo, Cameron Diaz and Elijah Wood at my brother's concerts; and through work (the highlights): Bono, Matt Damon, Natalie Portman, Sarah Jessica Parker, President Obama, Al Pacino, Renee Zellweger, Michael Douglas, Babs Walters, Uma Thurman, Martha Stewart, Ted Danson, Susan Sarandon, Anna Wintour and, uh, the Dalai Lama.

Excuse the shameless name dropping, but I promise I'm building to a good story.

Here's the thing; I used to be a star struck mess.

When I was 13 at an NSYNC concert I saw Joey Fatone's sister on line to get nachos. Not Joey Fatone or even a brother that looks like him but Joey Fatone's chubby sister with an Italian girl-stache. To say I spazed out is an understatement. I literally started jumping up and down, pointing and screaming so wildly my friend (also 13) had to pluck me out of the line, push me into a corridor and coach me into normal breathing again. So, to review, I not only knew who in the world Joey Fatone's sister was but I hyperventilated at the sight of her.

For years this insane reaciton to celebrities lingered. I just learned how to play it off better. I kept an MC Hammer autograph like a love note in my journal for years and can still remember what I was wearing when I saw Goldie Hawn, Kurt Douglas and a young Kate and Oliver Hudson at an airport (denim overalls and, for the record, Goldie said no to an autograph. Kurt said yes.)

Then I moved to New York where a week doesn't go by without at least a SNL star or Bravo housewife sighting. After two years of this, I thought I was totally cured of my star struckness.

I frequently choose to leave work on time rather than wait around for whatever celeb who's hosting the event I'm planning to arrive. I don't get the same rush. I'm not mesmerized anymore.

Well, at least this is what I had convinced myself of until about two weeks ago when one sighting left me utterly handicapped.

I was putting the final touches on a long banquet table I had set up for a dinner party- adjusting the napkins, straightening the chairs, checking the glasses for smudges- when someone standing directly across the table, leaning in to read a place card, made me look up.

The instant my brain registered Leonardo Dicaprio's perfect face, I'm fairly certain my heart paused. My mind blanked. My limbs went Gumby beside me. I was a zombie, mouth open, eyes unblinked for at least a minute. He's tall- a broad, thick, dreamboat of a man. His tan glowed. His gelled hair glistened.

A waiter bumped me out of the way to light a candle in front of me. I tried to regain use of my feet and legs. Then the adrenaline rush came. I sprinted to the other side of the table to squeeze my coworker's arm until she also spotted him. We silently freaked out together then attempted to snake through the crowd forming around Leo to get another good look. On our way, my boss, also a little giddy from the excitement, grabbed my arm, spun me around and announced, "Do you want to meet Dicaprio?"

As he said this I realized I was now standing less than one foot away from Leo. If I had proper use of my arms I could have touched him. But, at this point and for the remainder of my time near Dicaprio, I was an bumbling mess. I couldn't speak more than "Oh my God." My heart was pounding so hard I worried I might faint.

My coworker, aware of my freak out, suggested that we walk out of the crowd. I went where I was tugged. I wish I could say I confidently introduced myself and shook his perfect hand (like I had every opportunity to, dammit) but controlled speech and movements were just not possible for me that evening.

Seeing him up close was everything the little girl who went to go see Titanic in theaters 8 times could have hoped for.

The reaction should probably embarrass me, but it doesn't. In a lot of ways it's comforting. Just when I think too-cool-for-school New York has changed me for good, I get a reminder that I'll always be the dorky Floridan who flipped out over a Fatone. And that's quite alright with me.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Reach

I take my last sip of sake.

He asks for the check.

The bill comes, tucked in a black leather booklet, propped just a smidge closer to him than it is to me on the table.

It's formal dinner date number three (or maybe four. Either way, very new.) We're at a pretty swanky sushi restaurant in Midtown (complete with ambient music and bubbling rock garden bathroom sink.) It wasn't a bad date. He looks cute. Conversation is flowing, enough. I'm quiet for a couple minutes contemplating whether or not we'll smooch after dinner.

He finally unfolds the black leather booklet. I position myself for "the reach", a particularly insincere one.

Ladies, you know "the reach" I'm referring to. The let me move my hand in slow motion toward my purse, rummage through aimlessly and maybe start to mutter something along the lines of "What do I owe?"- a choreographed set up for the guy to shew away my credit card and insist that he's "got it."

When one performs this reach there's rarely any intention of actually contributing to the bill. It's just what we lady folk do. We don't want to seem entitled or unappreciative so we "offer."

My male readers (all three of them) are likely scoffing at their computer screens. The reach represents everything manipulative and hypocritical about modern women blah blah blah. I disagree. Look, I hate the word entitled too, but in the courting stage of a budding relationship all women are absolutely entitled to a few free meals. It's the only shred of chivalry we've got left. And, at the end of the day, it's not all about us. Paying for a girl's dinner- refusing the reach- is a timely opportunity at the end of a date for a man to puff up, pound his chest and showcase the masculine charm all girls want. Pick up the check. Pull out her chair. Open her door. Text her to make sure she got home OK. This stuff really works.

Back at the sushi restaurant, I'm in mid-reach.

"So umm if you want we could maybe split the check this time, if you want," I suggest quietly. My hand is wrist deep in my purse pretending to search for a wallet.

"Sure, that works," he replies casually.

My stomach drops. Uh, buddy, aren't you familiar with the reach?

"Yea, totally. Here you go." I fake a smile, pluck out my credit card and launch it at his face. Kidding. I poltitley place it in the black leather booklet.

It was sushi in Manhattan. It wasn't cheap.

And just like that I started to like the dude a whole lot less. Don't get me wrong. There were certainly other reasons why that meal became our last. But, when recounting the saga to girlfriends, I couldn't help but bring it up.

Is it shallow, snobby, superficial? A little bit. But it's true.

For the record, I'm only campaigning for free meals in the beginning. Once you're an item it's more than acceptable to split the bill or offer to pay for him.

Just consider this post a public service announcement. Fellas, suck it up and pick up the first few checks. I promise we're worth it.