Wednesday, May 30, 2007

I never thought that I would complain about getting free liquor and food...

...but you see—the Skeeze has started something very horrible. It all began one Saturday morning when we went for our routine Cuban breakfast and drinks. I usually have a Bloody Mary or two; Skeeze gets Jack on the rocks—a friendly alternative to coffee, indeed. The bartender there, finally noticing that we were regulars, did what any good bartender should do and gave us a round on the house. Taking into consideration that the Skeeze only recently started drinking (at approximately age 23), it is understandable that he has the tolerance of a little girl. He tends to get giggly and silly and makes some pretty lousy jokes (sorry, Skeeze--you do). What he also does is overtip. Now, I worked in the industry for quite a long time, so I can appreciate overtipping. 20% is normal, 25 – 30% is really nice, but a $35 tip on a $25 meal? That's ridiculous unless you’re trying to get laid. Skeeze, were you trying to get laid?

I’ll answer for the Skeeze: “I don’t dig sloppy Mexican men [even though I am one].”
Me: Okay, then why did you feel obliged to give him a 140% tip?
Skeeze: But, but, but... He gave us free drinks!
Me: So, we didn’t ask for them. In fact, we actually refused them and they kept coming.
Skeeze: I think I’m going to puke.

So, there you have it.

Fast forward to recently. We’ve gone in a few times for a drink after work and have been getting way too much attention from this guy. Evidently he’s been promoted to a manager in the last month. Now, in addition to free drinks, we're being served free appetizers. Backtrack to the drinks. These things are industry strength/sized margaritas (seriously: abnormally large, joke, ha-ha glasses you might see at some kind of gimmicky Mexican place). It’s embarrassing and draws way too much attention to us. We don’t want to be rude and not drink it, but on the other hand, if we wanted another drink, we would have ordered one rather than asking for the check. This is Tuesday night, not Friday night (or even better, Saturday morning).

Last week, we managed to take the margarita down. We felt pretty accomplished about the whole thing. Assuming we were not done, however, the manager came around with a shaker full of margarita and refilled the clown glass. At this point, we had to feed it to a homeless guy who happened to be walking down the street (we were sitting outside). He had no teeth.

Aside from the manager’s generosity and overbearing service, our actual waitress sucked. This place is known for its bad service, but we’re okay with it. I usually give a 20% tip out of habit and because I go in there so much that I don’t want to deal with offending anyone. So, on this particular night, after the free margaritas and a plate of guacamole and chips, I left $10 on $38.70 despite the fact that I’d only seen the waitress once the entire night. I saw her talking with the manager afterwards and maybe due to my paranoia, she looked like she was annoyed. I’m sorry, is 25% not good enough for you? Did the manager promise her that we were good tippers? Does she expect a good tip for her lousy service? Just because we get free shit, doesn’t mean you get an extra tip. Plus, the Skeeze is the overtipper here, not I.

So, yeah--I’m pissed at the Skeeze. He should have never left that tip. This manager guy now has a hard on for us and it won’t go down. It makes me really uncomfortable.

By the way, there is a new waitress there. She looks exactly like—and, I shit you not—that chick in the movie Dodgeball…the one on the Cobras, from Transylvania…the big nasty teef and hideous accent? I’m pretty sure it’s her. Only, now she’s slingin’ rice and beans on the Upper West.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Starring: The Turtle Fetus.

This past weekend’s trip to San Diego revolved around my sister’s wedding reception but also included gospel brunch at a drag bar and dinner with an ex-mafia friend of mine who looks/sounds like Gilbert Godfrey.

My family gatherings are colorful due to the fact that my dad’s side is inherently raunchy and uncouth while my stepmom’s side is catty, under the guise of "civilized" and "mid-western." My real mom was there as well because, hell, why not? Sister Courtney brought her new husband’s family into the mix. Their most definitive offering to the familial melting pot is that his dad and mom are also his grandpa and grandma. Long story. Obviously.


Courtney is pregnant. This means that there is yet another relative to make fun of: the fetus And so we did.

I found out earlier in the day that she was having a girl, so I called her husband to make fun of him:

“Ha! What good is Courtney? She can’t even produce a boy for you! Flush it!”

Courtney went around showing those little x-ray pictures of her baby at her reception. [What the hell are those things called again?]

I noted immediately that it looked like a turtle. She agreed, but contended that all fetuses look like turtles.

About an hour later, I heard her husband’s dad/grandpa saying, “Courtney, did you get too close to the sea turtles in Hawaii? That thing looks like a turtle.”


When the champagne toast came, I sensed that Courtney was feigning for some booze (probably because she was saying, “Damn, I need a drink!”)

I reminded her that even though she couldn’t have a drink, her baby might want one. Here, my father gave me the look of death as Courtney poured the baby a couple ounces of champagne.

My dad decided not to talk to me anymore. It was because of this and because he was mad that I called out my other sister for not wearing a bra, thus exposing us to profound amounts of nippage. I mean, my Mormon grandparents were there. Speaking of them, grandma asked for a glass of orange juice. I got her a glass, which she noted was especially yummy. This is about the time when I heard my aunt screaming, “Do you know what’s in there?”

Rum punch. Probably the first sip of alcohol she ever had in her life. Clearly her mother was not as accommodating as Courtney.

Somewhere in the background, my mother was declaring to the masses that, “Boy, David is a good looking Jewish man. This is what a modern Jew looks like.” (She’s Jewish—of the Mormon variety, of course).

My uncle, not knowing that to call someone “Jewish” is not an insult, contended that “When I was young, all my friends were Jewish. I didn’t think anything of it. It was just normal.”

Oy vey.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Many Species of New York Room-Renters

I made the mistake of listing my room on Craigslist before talking to Paulo C’s cousin. I’m moving out in 6 days, so this past Monday I figured I should probably get rid of the room. The Skeeze was out of town so I had no means of talking to Paulo C’s cousin (he’s my translator). I figured she would definitely want me to get rid of it, but 70 responses later I found out that she wants to wait a while to list the room; she has some freeloaders coming in June who will be using the place.

When I listed my room with the Diablo, I probably got about 20 responses over a period of a week or two. That room was $1,300 plus utilities so it narrowed down the responses to those who could afford it (I sure as hell couldn’t) and were willing to share with a random roommate. After all, for the same price you could probably get a studio a few blocks North and live by yourself. As for my current room—it’s quite the commodity coming in at an unheard of $500/month, no utilities. I mean, you get what you pay for: it’s small and comes with a built-in smelly, non-English speaking smoker with a perennially exposed pelvic region and way too many guests, but the place is pretty cute and somehow you end up saving money despite living in New York City. Had Paulo C’s cousin let me rent the room out, I would have given it to the person willing to bribe me the most. There’s no doubt in my mind that I could have got a grand. That is, if they didn’t mind tripping over the two Brazilians who are currently sleeping on our living room floor to look at the room. Sigh.

Here are some of the different renter species I encountered in the process:

The Stalker Species
This species is pretty standard. His/her system consists of calling during the night (while you’re sleeping), in the morning (7 a.m.) and in the afternoon (inevitably while you’re at lunch or in a meeting) just in case you weren’t available the other 650 times they called. This species convinces itself that you are not answering because you are busy, not because you are deliberately ignoring it.

The “Talks so Goddamned Fast I Can’t Understand His Name or Number" Species
…and thus has no chance of graduating into the "I Will Bribe You More Than Your Other Candidates Will" Species.

The “Uses Room Hunting as an Excuse to Brag About Herself” Species
I’ll let this email excerpt speak for itself (by the way, she was also a member of the “Expresses Interest via Template Email” Species)

I'm 24, have been in New York for almost 2 years now, and havebasically led 3 lifetimes in those 2 years.”

-Translation: “People are pulling on me from every direction. I’m in high demand.”

I came here initially to be a magazine editor (beauty and/or fashion), ended up doing freelancefashion styling for [redacted], then worked as an assistant for a fewfreelance stylists, then worked briefly at an ad agency, then fellinto the advertising side of publishing [redacted] and am now en route to becoming a Buyer at [redacted] (I'm a merchandise assistant in theFine Watches area). I work the typical 8:30 to 6pm, M-F."

-Transaltion [I totally love this one]: “Came here to be an editor, but ended up an assistant. People clearly don’t know talent when they see it.” *

”I also moonlight in PR for a record label. I was definitely all over the place for awhile, but am now ready to settle in (at least, career-wise).”

-Translation: “I’m ready to settle down career-wise, but I’m still whorin’ around in the relationship department. Know anyone?”

“About me…I'm trying to think of what to say… “

-You mean the above wasn’t the part where you talk about yourself? (I even skipped a few paragraphs. There were 6 total in this thing).

Here the “Uses Room Hunting as an Excuse to Brag About HerselfSpecies offers her myspace address in case you need her background. Because, you know, you haven’t already heard enough.

The “I’m Looking for a Roomie!" Species
This species is looking for not only a room, but also a best friend and confidant with whom she (obviously it’s a she) can do the following:
-Watch T.V. while eating caramel popcorn
-Gossip about boyzzz
-Drink pink wine
-Bitch about work
-Go shopping
-Decorate! "Our place is going to be the cutest apartment of all of our friends" (Because we obviously share all of the same friends now)

The “I Don’t Do Drugs ‘Cos Drugs Is Whack” Species

This species is a not-so-distant cousin of the “I Don’t Like Drama” species. Basically, if you’re even throwing it out there, then you’re a crack whore/drama queen. It’s like me saying “I’m not into people with acute cases of psychoses and occasional episodes of neuroses.” Ummm. Yeah.

The “I No Speak English” Species
I already live with this species, but wouldn’t it be, like, so multi-culturally sound to have an English-speaker, a Portuguese-speaker and a Cantonese-speaker all living in perfect fucking microcosmic harmony? They could all walk around pointing at shit and pretending that if they talk just a bit slower they’ll start speaking one another’s languages in no time! “Issss thisss yooouuur milllkkkk oorrr miiinnnneee?”

There were others, too, like the “We are Two Foreign Student Who Want to Share Your $500/month Room (and thus take up twice as much space in the shared living areas like the bathroom and kitchen and living room, not to mention the hallways)” Species, and the “I’m 65 Years Old and Have 2 Cats” Species. I just don’t have time to list them all.

* I laugh, but, umm, my story isn’t too far off. Sigh.

Friday, May 04, 2007

"I'm Not American"

Last night, Paulo C's cousin had a group of high-pitched Brazilians over to celebrate somebody's birthday (could it have been hers?) I still owe her a present from Christmas.

I was in a shitty mood because Dave and I are in the middle of a domestic dispute, and the last thing I wanted to do was fall asleep scratching my hives under the influence of Portuguese. I don't know where Paulo C's cousin rounded up all these people but they were my age; one was Russian, one was American, and the rest were Brazilian. All of them spoke Portuguese and English. All of those who weren't Brazilian wanted to be Brazilian. Well, except for the Russian, because Russians are pretty hard up on Russia and all.

My biggest pet peeve is a person who wants to identify with another culture so bad that he will disown his true culture in order to fully convert to the preferred one. Especially if this person is American and is "trying on" different cultures how others might "try on" different religions; pairs of pants. I say "especially if this person is American," but the odds are pretty much 99 to 1 that such a behavior is that of an American. I've yet to hear a Russian or a Mexican or an Australian disowning their motherlands. I mean, really.

So yeah, I suspected that all these people wanted to be Brazilian from the onset, but my suspicions were confirmed when I heard some chick (it's always a chick) saying, "I don't feel like I'm an American. You know, I don't identify with the culture. Sometimes people ask me if I'm French or Brazilian because I don't seem American, and I say, 'I don't know; maybe.'"

Wow, is that fucking deep or what? She is above everything that America stands for. And, if you ask her exactly what it is that America stands for, you better believe she'll ramble off some textbook cliches to the tune of: "Drive an S.U.V." "Drink Starbucks." "Superiority Complex." "Greedy." "Ignorant to the rest of the world [not enlightened like myself]." In my opinion, the greatest tell-tale sign of an American is an identity saga similar to the one she is currently entertaining.

I am totally interested in what her Brazilian friends thought of her when she said that. I would assume it was embarrassment for her. In Brazil, the idea is that no matter where your ancestors are from, you are Brazilian if you were born in Brazil. The irony thickens. "I don't feel American." For Christ's sakes...