Monday, November 28, 2011

Mahna Mahna

One of the things I was most thankful for this past holiday weekend was the return of the Muppets. As far as dream jobs go, many mortals would like to become Lakers players, or Lakers dancers, or pastry chefs, or Nicki Minaj. I dream of becoming a Muppeteer.

In a recent statement given to Newsweek magazine, Whoopi Goldberg laid it all out: “I don’t understand why they haven’t brought back The Muppet Show.” (Me neither.) “I think it’s such a disservice, and I’ve said that to the folks at ABC,” she movingly continued.

Until service is resumed, I’ll take what I can get, which is the occasional release of one of these big-screen Disney or Sony productions. The latest iteration isn’t as good as The Muppets Take Manhattan, but it damn sure beats Muppets from Space or The Muppet Christmas Carol.

Speaking of dream jobs, Piggy is now the plus-size editor of French Vogue. I hadn’t known she worked in publishing. Or worked at all. Of course, I may never have taken note of her employment status because I’d been way too preoccupied with the goings-on of Animal and the 2 elderly men who compulsively heckled the performers from the balcony seats. Animal and the 2 elderly hecklers are the muppets who have played the largest role in shaping who I am today.

I’ve never seen a group of kids so underwhelmed with a kids movie. Juice and bathroom breaks were demanded during some of the best parts. Not sure how anyone over the age of 28 months could have been thinking of Capri Sun pouches during the soul-wrenching “Am I a Man or Am I a Muppet?” number.

Which takes us back to why they need to bring back The Muppet Show. The generation that grew up with it is on its way out and, based on the reactions of the members of my makeshift focus group this weekend, so are any future replacement audiences. Extinction is not the responsible option.

If extra hands are needed, I can make myself available for contract negotiations. And I can do voices.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Height of the Night

Over the years, I’ve been on the receiving end of quips and commentaries (usually from those I barely know and have no interest in getting to know) about my height. The assumption is that I must long to be much taller.

I’ve never known what they’re talking about. I love being short. There’s nothing for me up there. I’ve gotten out of and away with so very many glorious things, all because nobody could see me. I’ve only ever wished I were shorter.

Pretty much up until last night.

Before going out, I had to re-tailor my new jeans (for the 3rd time that day) with the garment-cutting scissors I’ve invested in for the exclusive purpose of chopping inches off the ends of my denim pants, so they don’t fall past my toes. Since I’m rarely drawn to the styles or prices of the jeans that stores carry in their “petite” sections, I don’t own any non-capri denim pants that look completely respectable, from top to bottom. And I would like to, without having to pose and pony up for the beleaguered-looking man with the sewing machine who works for my dry cleaner. It’s too bad I never listened to my mom when she tried to teach me how to do my own seamstressing. Short people need to know how to expertly hem for themselves.

I walked to the D train in my street-urchin slacks, with a slew of little white strands lightly tapping at my ankles. Who cares? I was on my way to see Ms. Ani DiFranco and her Come-As-You-Are kind of crowd!

I had a perfectly unobstructed view of center stage until the giant who was assigned to sit in front of me was shown to her seat. A fidgeting giant. The people who later sat in front of her were even taller. I had no window.

Much like Ani, I’m mellowing out as I age. Ain’t nothin’ I could or should do about this, besides coolly stare at the back of the giant’s head - which was as boring as it could get, given that this wasn’t a typical Ani audience. No purple hair or behind-the-neck tattoos. Just a sea of split ends and the unadorned fingers that twirled them. When she lowered her head onto the shoulder of the person sitting next to her, I wanted to hold it down and keep it there.

Ani’s about my height and she mentioned her newfound love for acupuncture and shiatsu, and how those practices can alter certain aspects of your body. “The next time you see me, maybe I’ll be taller,” she joked. At least I think she was joking. I heard the inflection in her voice and the sound of other people laughing. But I couldn’t see the expression on her face, and had already stopped trying.

Friday, November 11, 2011

A Sorry Séance

Scheduling tip: don’t ever meet with a medium immediately before you have to clock in at work. It will emotionally hijack the rest of your day.

I’d been advised to bring in 15-20 questions, hard-copy photos of the spirits I wanted to channel, and an object I usually carry with me that represents my energy. Ninety-nine percent of my photos of the 3 spirits I wanted to channel are stored away in my childhood bedroom. I knew my dad wouldn’t rifle through those stacks of old albums and overnight mail me an envelope full of choice pics. Especially if I told him what I’d be using them for.

I managed to find one photo of my late favorite uncle. It’s a picture of just the 2 of us, taken almost 10 years ago. It’s the worst picture I’ve ever seen of me. I look like I’m about to be dropped off at rehab (and not one of the better rehab facilities). “Your uncle’s the one on the right or on the left?,” I was asked.

As bullshit would have it, I never needed to show her this truly blackmail-caliber picture - my uncle declined to take part in the morning meeting. “As I told you on the phone, just because you invite the spirits, it doesn’t mean they’ll come,” the medium said, right before relaying that the other 2 spirits she channeled made brief appearances at the outset of the session. Then they just up and left.

I bet they were all livid (but also amused) with me for spending money this way. Some ghosts say BOO. Mine say BOO-YAH!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

This Transcript Is Brought to You by the Neighborhood Watch

Not too long ago, someone busted up a section of the glass in my apartment building’s inner front door. In response, one of my neighbors has established a Tenant Patrol, and I got roped into serving on it. My first shift was last night. Here are some of the highlights (most of the times stated below are approximations):

8:59 p.m. – I step out of the elevator and into the lobby to relieve the husky, tight-lipped boy who lives on my floor. When I last spoke to him in June, he had just graduated from high school and was gearing up for his freshman year at the University of Miami this fall. This is the 3rd or 4th time I’ve run into him since late August, so something’s happened. Probably something pretty embarrassing.

“Is there anything I should do besides looking fierce?” I ask.

“Huh-huh,” he insincerely titters. He’s never found me funny.

“Are there any instructions?”

“No,” he says. He walks to the front door and out into the night.

I take my place at the rickety table. A big TENANT PATROL poster is taped to its front. The chair is comfortable as hell.

9:05 – The teenager who’s rumored to have smashed the front-door glass walks in. He’s one of my favorite neighbors and I think I’m one of his.

9:15 – Another neighbor arrives with his girlfriend. They’re both in their early twenties. I’m very friendly with the building’s teens and early twentysomethings, and I’d been hoping that none of them would catch me doing this. Now they’ll think I’m a loser who has defected to the other side. But I most likely hate the other side more than they do. This is more of a Special Ops gig than a law enforcement role. They should think of me as that kid from Home Alone – this is my house and I have to defend it.

9:35 – I never knew that a lot of these people coming in and out even lived in the building. Maybe they don’t.

9:40 – The Patrol organizer comes downstairs in her slippers, holding a dish of hot food and a large beverage. She’s not scheduled to relieve me until 10, but for some reason she was worried about the table being unstaffed. I tell her to go on back upstairs and take her time with the meal.

9:45 – An argument (in Russian), between a man and a woman, erupts from an apartment that borders the front door. I’ve long suspected that an Eastern European prostitution ring or escort service is run out of this unit.

9:48 – The man from the argument is now loudly talking on the phone (in English), asking someone if s/he would be available to come in for an interview. “What should you bring?” he asks. “Just bring your smile.”

9:50 - One of the building’s drunks walks off the elevator. He says he’s going to the store to pick up some water.

9:55 – The current head of the household in the sex-trade den emerges, decked out in Diesel, to throw out an oddly-shaped bag of trash. He doesn’t say hello or make eye contact.

10:05 – Here comes the drunk, back from his water run. He’s carrying a black plastic bag filled with at least two bottles. He ambles toward my table, reaching into his bag to pull something out for me. Yay! Maybe he’ll pour some Patron for my patrol!

False alarm – he takes out a bottle of fruit punch-flavored vitamin water and a straw, and sets it all down on the table. “That’s in case you get thirsty,” he says.

10:10 – What’s taking the organizer so long? I told her to take her time, but not like this. My shift was slated to end at 10.

10:15 – The sex-trader heads out of the building wearing a red leather jacket, possibly setting off on a recruiting trip.

10:25 – The organizer reappears, with a troubled look on her face. “I’m going to pack everything up and call it a night,” she says. “I ate too fast and now I’ve got gas.”