Dress For Success

Sometimes my life is a sitcom.

Take Friday for instance.

Fridays are generally good days at the office because my boss doesn’t work on Fridays so I have the place to myself and, consequently, I can wear whatever I want. Seriously. Whatever I want. As such, I have, on occasion, taken ‘casual Fridays’ to the extreme.

This particular Friday was the perfect storm of laundry day, summer seasonal clothes change over (that brief period between summer and fall when I forget about all the clothes I own and I don’t trust that it will be warm enough to go without a sweater anymore), and a general sense of not-giving-a-shit-ness.

So this is what I wore to the office, where I work as an executive/personal assistant for an attorney…

IMG_7090

Kindly note the bleach stain, the wood stain stain, and the holes in both my jeans and shirt. Here’s a close-up for you…

fancyclothes

On account of one too many tangos with the snooze button, I was also gloriously, disgustingly unwashed. I know. I can hardly contain my own classiness.

I rolled in to work right on time and found a package on my desk containing a lovely, though broken, pearl bracelet belonging to my boss’ daughter, with instructions to take it over to Tiffany’s (which is right around the corner from my office) to have it repaired.

I don’t know about you, but up to this point, I’ve never had occasion to shop at Tiffany’s. Let me tell you – it’s an experience.

First, there’s a strapping young gentleman in a suit and Tiffany blue tie stationed outside the front doors welcoming you to the store.

Then there’s another strapping gentleman waiting just inside the door to welcome you again, I guess.

Then there’s a third blue tie clad dude (don’t worry, he was also wearing pants) standing in the middle of the store. I’m not sure what his official job title is. He was just posted up in the middle of the store looking both charming and intimidating.

I’m pretty sure all of these men are actually well-dressed security guards, and I have no doubt that underneath the tailored suits and powder blue ties, they’re all tatted up, battle scarred ex-Navy Seals and Army Rangers. At least that’s how I like to think of them.

Then there are the hordes of other employees. Conservatively dressed salespersons wearing sheath dresses and pants suits were positioned behind sparkling glass display cases, while manager types wandered from counter to counter, some carrying clipboards.

It felt a bit like being at a casino, the way the managers were prowling around the salespeople like a pit boss hovering over the dealers at craps table. Except at Tiffany’s there was no smoking, or prostitutes and they were peddling jewelry rather than broken dreams.

But I digress.

At the back of the store, I was greeted yet again by a petite woman in a navy blue suit stationed in front of the elevators. I asked her what floor I needed to go to for repairs. She informed me it was the sixth.

Once inside the elevator, I was met with yet another helpful employee; whose sole job was to push the elevator buttons for the wealthy patrons. Fortunately, it was early in the day and there weren’t any wealthy customers in sight. It was just me and a bunch of Asian tourists who didn’t speak enough English to understand the elevator operator when she asked them what floor they wanted, so she helpfully stopped at every floor until they found one they liked.

They got off at the third floor – sterling silver jewelry.

Alone in the elevator with the button-pusher, I felt distinctly out of place. The plush carpeting, soft music and sparkling, well, everything, really set off the shabbiness of my attire. Mostly I was hoping she didn’t notice the way my flip-flops seemed to echo as I exited the elevator and stepped in to the near silence of the practically deserted sixth floor.

Thwack-thwack.

Thwack-thwack. 

Thwack-thwack.

I thwacked my way over to a large wooden desk where I had to check in with the… I guess I’ll call her the concierge. She asked for my name and I was momentarily stymied. I didn’t know if I should give her my name, my boss’s name, or her daughter’s name. For reasons unknown, I was completely (and irrationally) convinced that they were going to think I had stolen the bracelet.

In the end I gave her my name in case they asked for identification later.

The concierge instructed me to have a seat in the waiting area, but not before a butler – a straight-up butler in a tuxedo – offered me a drink. I was tempted to ask for champagne, but as it was ten o’clock in the morning, I was dressed like a homeless person, and sweating profusely by this point, I thought better of it. Instead, I gestured vaguely to the plastic water bottle sticking out of my purse and said that I was good.

IMG_6662

[Why can’t the waiting area at the DMV be this nice?]

As I was the only person in the room, I didn’t have to wait long.

Another woman wearing a Tiffany blue neckerchief called me over to one of the many alcoves built into the walls. It was kind of like a bank teller window, except for classy. Each alcove was made of highly polished wood and peppered with a plethora of richly upholstered armchairs.

I sat down, grateful that from her vantage point, none of the holes or stains on my clothing was visible. I took out the bracelet and handful of loose pearls that had already fallen off the broken string and emptied them into a shallow velvet covered tray.

Blue neckerchief proceeded to ask a lot of questions for which I was thoroughly unprepared to answer:

BN: When did you purchase it?

Me: It was a gift.

BN: How long have you owned it?

Me: A couple of years I think? I don’t really remember.

BN: How often do you wear it?

ME: Um…not very. I work in an office and it gets in the way when I type. I wouldn’t want it to get scratched.

She proclaimed that the pearls were in excellent condition, and continued with her lengthy examination of the bracelet. She looked at each individual pearl through the jewelry equivalent of a microscope, checked the little gold Tiffany tag for authenticity, and counted each pearl. Twice.

Then she asked for my hand and wrapped the remains of the bracelet around my wrist, asking if I liked the fit. I said that I was sure it would be fine. Thankfully, my boss’s daughter and I have a similar build and I was hopeful that the repaired bracelet would still fit her.

I signed several forms, agreeing to pay their exorbitant (per pearl) price to restring the bracelet and made my way through the waiting area. Both the concierge and the butler wished me a pleasant day as I passed. I smiled and did the same.

To their credit, all of the employees treated me with the utmost politeness. Any perceived awkwardness was one hundred percent in my head.

I was relieved to be back on the elevator though. This time there was an older gentleman manning the buttons. The elevator was packed full of tourists who were also dressed casually. They weren’t on my level of grunginess, but they made me feel marginally better.

The elevator stopped on the second floor for an attractive young couple that had obviously been perusing the engagement rings. Once on the elevator, they huddled close together, each putting a hand in the other’s back pocket. I was at once revolted and seething with jealousy.

My job done, I decided to wander around a bit and check out some of the displays. I took a few covert pics with my phone. There were tourists everywhere taking all kinds of pictures, but I tried to keep it discreet, partly out of a sense of pride for being a New Yorker who wanted to look unimpressed by everything, and partly because I kind of wanted them to think I was casing the joint, if only to have the opportunity to get tackled by one of the hot security greeters.

IMG_6664IMG_6663

Even I couldn’t pretend to unimpressed by this though…

IMG_6666

Admittedly, it’s not the greatest photo, but I wasn’t about to stand there all day trying to get a good shot, lest I be mistaken for a tourist. Because honestly, I’d rather be mistaken for a homeless person.

I guess that saying about dressing for the job you want rather than the job you have is true, because I absolutely don’t want to be an assistant anymore. Apparently, I want to be a homeless gypsy. Which is convenient, because that’s exactly what I’m going to be at the end of the month.

More on that later.

Stay weird, everyone!

S

Viva Las Vegas – Part 2: Midgets and strippers and crab legs, oh my!

Yikes.  This post is beyond overdue.  I’ll admit that I’m a hardcore procrastinator from back in day, but this is ridiculous even for me.  Sorry about that.  Part of the delay has to do with the fact that there is a very real reason for that saying, ‘What happens in Vegas…blah blah blah and the rest of it.’  I know that now.  When I published ‘Viva Las Vegas – Part 1‘ I was still flying high on bright lights and shiny things, sleep deprivation and the Vegasness of it all, plus I was probably still drunk.

Now that I have my wits about me once again, I’m kinda glad I didn’t post the rest of the story right away.  See, a majority of my most faithful readers are members of my family and I’d like to be able to look them in the eye when I say, ‘Please pass the stuffing’ at Thanksgiving dinner next week.  Basically what I’m trying to say is, you’re getting the watered-down, good judgement-y version of the story. Again, sorry.

When we last left off, I was bemoaning the fact that there wasn’t enough spectacle in Vegas.  Then this guy rolled up…

It was early Saturday afternoon and the bride, my new friend/fellow bridesmaid Gina and I were on our way to the Forum Shoppes, an über fancy mall connected to Caesar’s Palace.

‘Look!’ Gina yelled, pointing emphatically at the rolling billboard. ‘Midget Wrestling!’

‘We’re so going to that,’ I replied, awestruck.

‘Um…yes,’ Gina said.

‘You’re both insane,’ said the bride.

‘Yes,’ I agreed.

Naturally, I was convinced that the sudden appearance of that rolling advertisement was a sign from Jesus that I was supposed to trek across town to the dirty side of Vegas to watch midgets beat the shit out of each other.  Turns out, it totally was, but I’ll get to that later.

The girls and I planned to spend a few hours strolling the mall and maybe get a mani-pedi before figuring out our plans for the evening.  Five or six hours later we were still shopping and too hungry to bother stopping at the nail salon so we went to a second mall and got dinner at Cabo Wabo instead.  I had tacos twice in one day.  You’d think I never left West Harlem.

After dinner it was decided that no one else was as interested in Midget Wrestling as Gina and I.  Well, that’s not exactly true, but the group we were rolling with are huge OU (University of Oklahoma) fans and that night was the season opener against UTEP (University of Texas at El Paso) so they already had plans to watch the game at a bar on the strip.  I get that, sort of.  I mean, of all the sports, football is by far my favorite, but MIDGET WRESTLING!! Come on!

So it was that Gina and I were the only ones to hop in a cab and head over to the Riviera that night.

While The Riviera isn’t exactly the dirty side of Vegas, it is directly across the street from Circus Circus which is in a demonstrably sadder part of town.  Come to think of it, being at the Riviera was a lot like being back home in New York.  I had quipped to a friend that being at the Bellagio (and that part of the strip in general) was a lot like being in Times Square in that it’s loud, full of tourists, and covered in flashing lights.  Whereas heading north on the strip toward the Riviera is remarkably like heading north on Broadway in that you wind up in a place that’s still loud and brightly lit, just instead of wealthy Asian tourists, you see a lot more toothless crackheads just hanging out on the street…with their children…at 2am.  Seriously.

Okay, so maybe it wasn’t that bad (except that is sort of was), but suffice it to say that Gina and I were not the targeted demographic for this particular event.  There were a whole lot of sweat stains and beer guts and mullets, but we didn’t let that ruin our good time. We got into the spirit of things and had a blast.

The tag line for the evening was “Half the size, twice the violence.”  And it was true!  All of the competitors had to be frisked before entering the ring.  I’m not even kidding.  I know the whole thing is staged, but you can’t imagine how funny it is to watch a whole group of angry midgets getting legit frisked for knives.

Although knives were frowned upon, other props were perfectly acceptable.  For instance, in the first match between Skinny Timmy ‘Leader of the Midget Mafia’ and Little Fabio (so named for his flowing Fabio-like locks), Skinny attacked Lil Fab with a tiny baking sheet!  It actually looked more like a toaster oven tray, but it seemed to be effective.  That is, until Lil Fab somehow acquired a wooden bat and a trash can lid.  He gave Skinny quite the beat down, which was cool cause I was totally rooting for Lil Fabio.  According to the announcer, he has midget power.  I believe it too.  That guy was fierce. And he was at a disadvantage because he was a lot smaller than Skinny.  I don’t think Skinny Timmy evens qualifies as a midget.  He seemed more like a hateful short guy with a meth addiction to me.  Anyway, after about five minutes, he took the fight out of the ring and right into the crowd.  This proved to be an error in judgement when Lil Fab threw Skinny into a trash can and literally rolled him off the stage for the win.

The next match featured a tiny Mexican guy named Mad Max or ‘The immigration sensation.’  He wore a flaming unitard and a giant chain around his neck.  His opponent was a black dude called Lil Rampage.  He wore track pants, a wife beater and was covered in prison tats.  This was the shortest match of the evening (oh!).  Seriously though, Mad Max obviously wanted to get to the bar early that night because he went in for the kill almost immediately when he tried to choke out Lil Rampage with the chain.  Lil R countered with a purple nurple (not even kidding – that is a direct quote from the announcer).  Then he returned the favor by choking Max with his own chain! FTW.  For his victory lap, Lil Rampage got frisky and started motor-boating a well-endowed bride-to-be sitting in the front row. If only Gina and I had planned ahead, we could have brought the whole wedding party!  That could’ve been us!  Le sigh…

Next match: The Machine vs The Halfling – Florida vs NYC – which is perfect because Gina is from FL and I live in NY.  While the first two matches were all about perverse curiosity, I had a vested interest in this one.  Though I probably would’ve supported The Halfling anyway, regardless of geographical loyalties because I’m a huge LOTR nerd.  In any case, NY brought his A game that night.  He actually tried to tea-bag FL.  It was tres classy.  In the end, NY housed FL and kissed his little biceps when he was done.  It was adorable.

There was a short break before the title fight was set to begin.  Gina and I did a lap around the arena and almost bought this t-shirt but didn’t cause it only came in L, XL, XXL, 2X, etc…

Time for the title fight!  Little Show vs The Baby Jesus (I told you it was a sign from Jesus that we were supposed to be there!)

Standing at a statuesque three feet, six inches tall, the wrestler styling himself ‘The Baby Jesus’ was our big winner of the evening.  Sorry for the plot spoiler, but honestly, with a name like that how could he lose?  You should’ve seen this little guy.  He did all kinds of crazy acrobatics and flips and shit.  It was pretty impressive.

Rather than give a blow-by-blow of this one I’m just going to quote the drunk guy who was sitting next to us.  I think it more than adequately sums up Extreme Midget Wrestling:

This is the type of entertainment that brought down empires.  The decadence is overwhelming.  You know, I’m actually kind of glad to be a passenger on the crashing plane that is American culture.  Oh! Trash can to the face!  That’ll get you every time!

If you thought that was the end – you’re way off.  The grand finale was an Eight Midget Battle Royale but we didn’t get to see much of it.  By that point, the drunk guys who had been hitting on us for the last fifteen minutes realized that they were running out of time to try to convince us to go home with them and they significantly upped their game and were getting more aggressive so we left.

Then came the most frightening cab ride of my life  and I’m a New Yorker so that’s saying something.

Our delightful Ethiopian taxi driver regaled us with all kinds of stories about the people he’s picked up in his cab:

Like the time he had a hooker in his cab and got into an altercation with her that required police involvement.  You see, he refused to take her money because she kept it in her…er…well, let’s just say that it was in an area that was inaccessible to her pimp and anyone else wanting to avoid a sexual assault charge.  He had very strong feelings about women in her line of work, which makes me wonder how this gentleman came to settle in Vegas of all places.

We quickly learned that this particular driver had strong opinions about pretty much everything.

Like how he got very nervous when he inadvertently picked up two Mormon (pronounced Norman) sister wives and promptly asked them to get out.

Then he wouldn’t stop talking about religion and kept asking us which church we would be attending in the morning and if we needed a ride – in a completely non ironic way.  We were petrified.  Another sign from Jesus?  I certainly hoped not.

Fortunately, we made it home without incident.

The next morning(ish) we spent some leisure time relaxing by the pool.  This time it was my turn to overdo it a bit.  In my defense, we were drinking all sorts of frozen concoctions that tasted like they didn’t have any alcohol in them at all!

I was not feeling my best, but I still accompanied the girls to the mall where the bride had a hair appointment.  The plan was to get all dressed up and do Vegas old school style that evening.

While the bride was getting her hair did, I somehow decided that it would be a great idea to take part in a focus group that paid people to watch tv and answer a bunch of questions afterwards.  Gina agreed to come with me, but only because we were allowed to bring our frozen margaritas with us.

Though the sign makes the place look like an STD testing center (which would probably be much more useful than a research center – especially in Vegas), it wasn’t.  They just made us sit in little cubicles, watch a twenty-two minute sitcom called ‘Two Broke Girls’ (which was pretty awful) and then analyze a bunch of commercials.  I made eight dollars.  Win.

Then I started to feel really not so good.  I soldiered on through dinner, but then decided to take a little break from Vegas.  I went to bed at 6:15 that night.  It actually worked out perfectly though because once the rest of our group heard how awesome midget wrestling was, they cancelled their plans for glitzy Vegas and got all dressed up for the midgets instead.

I napped HARD.  And I am proud to say that I was able to rally afterwards.  I woke up, got dressed all fancy and rejoined the group around eleven o’clock.  Up until this point, it had pretty much been a girls weekend and I hadn’t spent all that much time with the guys in our group.  I almost forgot how serious these dudes are about Vegas. One guy in particular, who I’ll call Mr. Vegas, really knows how Vegas is done.

After calling a bunch of cabs to accomodate our entire party, we caravanned over to a strip club called the Spearmint Rhino.  Apparently, it’s very well known.  Mr. Vegas told us all to wait while he went to ‘talk’ to the bouncer.  I’m pretty sure he did one of those awesome money handshakes that only guys can do [sorry ladies, I’m all about equal everything and stuff, but I’ve never seen a woman successfully pull off that move] because two minutes later Mr. Vegas waved us over and we were ushered to the front of the line and through the velvet rope.  Once inside, we were escorted to a special reserved section.  I had never been to a strip club before so I was pretty impressed with the whole thing.

This is where the story is going to get spotty.   I’m going to skip to the highlights:

*The whole place reeked of smoke, booze, sweat and shame.  I was wearing a new dress that evening and I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to wear it again.

*I made friends with an Australian stripper named JodiAnn.  We talked for almost an hour.

*The midget wrestlers showed up at the strip club!!!  They were in the special reserved area right next to ours!  I definitely saw Lil Rampage and Lil Show, but there could have been more of them.  It was hard to tell because whenever any of them would get a lap dance, they would kind of disappear.

So anyway, we were at the club for a while.

<awkward cough>

When we were finally ready to leave, Mr. Vegas gave a nod to someone and a few minutes later we were escorted outside where there was a stretched limo waiting for us.  It was awesome.

The next morning was departure day, so we all met for brunch at the famous Bellagio buffet.  It was a lot.  Everyone was going bananas over the crab legs.  Frankly, I was unimpressed.  Maybe because I typically vacation in Maine where fresh seafood is much more plentiful than in the Nevada desert.  In any event, I was so ready to be home.

I had pretty much done everything there is to do in Vegas except gamble, so when I got to the airport I put $14 into a slot machine and promptly lost all of it.  Though when you consider the fact that I earned $8 at that focus group, my net loss was only $6.  That’s not so bad.

Overall, Vegas is not my town.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, I had a ball.  But it would not be my first choice for a vacation getaway.  I could just as easily get drunk, turn on a strobe light, smoke a pack of Marlborough Lights and happily flush money down the toilet at home.

Viva Las Vegas – Part 1

So Vegas was…a lot.  Of everything.  All the time.  There were so many people, flashing lights and spinning things, I was in sensory overload before I even got off the plane.

Also, it’s hot.  Ungodly, feel-your-internal-organs-baking-inside-of-you kind of hot.  To all of my desert-dwelling friends who’ll say, Oh but it’s dry heat so it’s bearable.  Stop it.  No it isn’t.  Maybe if there were trees or some shade of any kind anywhere it might have been okay (except between the hours 10am – 5pm when it’s never okay), but there isn’t so it’s awful.  I am clearly not desert people.  I’ll take the arctic chill of the north Atlantic over the arid heat of Hades’ armpit any day, thank you very much.

That said, I don’t think anybody goes to Vegas for the great outdoors.  I certainly didn’t.  I was there as part of the bridal party at a Jack and Jill bachelor/bachelorette weekend.  It was really the groom’s show, but the bride wanted to have an entourage of her own (she actually bought us tank tops saying as much – in silver sparkle letters no less) so a few members of the bridal party came along for the ride.  [It just occurred to me that if the bride reads this, she will probably kill me if I don’t point out the fact that the tank tops were a total joke and she only bought them because they were on super sale. Like five dollars.  Which for Vegas, is practically free.  Besides, she’s not ‘that bride.’  I would never be friends with ‘that bride.’]

I feel that I should also take a moment to explain that this was no ordinary Vegas weekend – as if there were such a thing.   What I mean to say is that I was rolling with a crowd who REALLY knows how to do Vegas.  These guys are regulars on the strip and I was not at all prepared for the level on which they operate.

For one thing, they all have well-paying real people jobs.  Some of these guys make stupid money, at least by my starving artist standards, so I was highly impressed and slightly terrified by the amount of disposable cash they had to throw around.  I, on the other hand, never could have afforded to take the trip at all if it hadn’t been for the generosity of my friend and her fiancé who graciously donated a ton of airline miles, points and love to make it so that I could be a part of this weekend.  Thanks guys!

I had never been to Vegas before and if you happen to be a frequent visitor to the blog, you’ll know that my expectations for shenanigans were pretty high.  As you’ll recall, I was expecting hookers and dwarf knife-fights to break out on every corner and while that wasn’t exactly the case, Vegas did not disappoint.

I didn’t get to see much of the seedier side of town because I was staying at the Bellagio.  Yeah, it was ridiculous.  That place is humongous.  I got lost on the way to my friend’s suite (which was an entirely different level of awesome) more than once and the groom quipped that if you travel too far down any one hallway, you go back in time.  I think it’s probably true, so I wasn’t about to test his theory.  Plus it would’ve been a really long walk.

Our first group outing was to the Hofbrauhaus for some traditional German food, music and oh so much beer.  A little too much for some of us as it turned out, but this is neither the time nor the place for that story.

We rallied nicely though and got up bright and early for a lovely girls-only brunch the following morning.  Ok, actually it was lunch at Margaritaville the following afternoon, but who’s counting?

After lunch we spent the day shopping at the Forum Shops at Caesar’s Palace, which is by far the fanciest mall I’ve ever seen.  The shopping in Vegas is not to be believed, if you’re into that sort of thing.  Which I’m not.  Or at least shouldn’t be…but never mind.

[Spiral escalator!  Also, if I had $500 I would totally be rocking that Elie Tahari dress right now.  You can’t tell from the picture, but it’s actually blue, textured and shiny and somehow, someday it will be mine!]

Up until that point, everything about the trip had been very posh, but I put an end to that pretty quick, as I am often wont to do.  For instance, because direct solicitations are not allowed on the strip, the prostitutes (or their pimps more likely) hire people to hand out mini comp cards containing their name, picture and phone number.  I call them Hooker Trading Cards and we collected tons of them.

[I worked hard to stage this photo.  It took me forever to find cards where the hookers were clothed enough to be include on the blog.  I like to keep it klassy.]

Speaking of klassy, I mentioned to a few of the girls about how Vegas was confounding many of my movie-based expectations.  I was expecting more mobsters and card sharks and less Asian tourists, more glitterati and less chain-smoking, fanny-pack clad Midwesterners and old ladies in track suits.  I bemoaned the fact that, aside from the throngs of people and behemoth hotels, I thought there would be much more spectacle.  Five seconds later, we saw this:

Can you say, game changer?

One of these days I’m going to get myself killed…

NYC can be a dangerous place.  Especially when it’s hot out.  Like today.  It’s hot and humid and awful outside.  It puts people in a bad mood.  Especially people who have to rely on public transportation.  Like me.  And the large Latina who I’m pretty sure wants to kill me.  Here’s the story:

I was coming out of the subway at 137th Street and because I was on my way home from a commercial shoot, I was carrying my tiny rolling suitcase that I use for all of my background gigs…

[So cute, right?]

I’ve also been struggling with a mild case of Post Pilates Paralysis all day, so between the heat, the suitcase and the fact that my legs don’t work, I was not walking at my usual brisk NYC pace.  I was doing what I like to call ‘The Ogunquit Saunter’ because that’s the only speed you’re supposed to walk when you’re on vacation and Ogunquit, ME is where my family and I would always stay.  Until we started going to Kennebunkport, ME, but ‘The Kennebunk Saunter’ doesn’t have the same ring.

Anyway, as I was trudging up the subway steps I could hear someone making impatient tongue-clicking noises behind me.  The stairway was packed and there were tons of people in front of me so there wasn’t a single thing I could do about it.  Except maybe run over an old lady, but like I said I was having enough trouble walking on my own and was in no condition to mow down even the frailest of old ladies.

When I finally reached the top of the steps, I quickly dropped my suitcase while simultaneously un-telescoping the handle (I have become a master of this) and proceeded out onto the sidewalk. Because I was on the right side of the staircase and needed to go left, I had to merge with the rest of the stairway traffic.  I mustn’t have done a very good job of it because Miss Impatient Tongue-Clicker (who turned out to be an exceptionally large Latina whom I will now call LL for short) gave me the loudest impatient tongue-click I’ve ever heard.

First of all, I don’t know what her problem was.  The people in my hood generally operate on only one speed – painfully, deathly slow.  On a hot day like this it’s even worse, so she shouldn’t have been surprised by the lack of forward momentum.  Unless she doesn’t live in this neighborhood which doesn’t really make sense because I can’t think of any reason why someone would want to come up here if they weren’t headed home to a cheap (yet somehow still overpriced) apartment. In any case, she seemed not to know the Hamilton Heights getting-off-the-subway routine.

LL: (EXTREMELY EXAGGERATED TONGUE CLICK with accompanying sigh. I bet there was also an eye roll, but since she was behind me I don’t know for sure.)

Me: Sorry.

LL tried to get around me, but she had to stop short lest she trip on my adorable little suitcase.  She was not pleased.

LL: ‘Scuse me. (Tongue click) GOD. (Then came the dirty look I was waiting for.)

Me: Oh, I’m so sorry. Am I in your way?  Next time I’ll try to better anticipate where you’d like to walk.

LL: You talkin’ shit?

Me: No. I’m talking sense.  Bitch.

.

Okay, that didn’t actually happen.  But that’s totally what I would’ve said if I’d thought of it earlier. And if I wanted to have my hair and earrings ripped out.  Probably.  What really happend:

LL: ‘Scuse me. (Tongue click) GOD. (Mildly irritated look.)

Me: (meekly) Sorry.

Then I ran hobbled all the way home.

I ❤ Harlem

.

Update: It dawned on me that this post might come across as a teensy bit racist.  Rest assured, I have (or at least I had) friends of every race, color and creed and I love them all.  LL (a moniker I used only because I’m so fond of alliteration) is probably a lovely woman and I would never assume she was a bitch simply because she was a Latina.  I assumed she was a bitch because she was being an asshole at the time.  I always try to give people the benefit of the doubt and treat everyone the same. For instance, if I saw a woman of color bleeding on sidewalk, I would never pass her by without helping simply because she was a different race than myself.  I would walk by because I’m generally very busy and probably wouldn’t care.

Zing!

Good night everybody.

Look how handy I am!

This air conditioner is insulated with 100% old tube socks and duct tape. It was missing those little wing dealies on the sides so I improvised.  Works great though. Let the coolness begin!

[Note (that I added after finishing the rest of the post): I was going to end this post here, but then I started reminiscing about my first second car* that was also held together largely with duct tape so I’m going to tell that story now.  Of course that story is actually a story, rather than just a picture of an air conditioner so it’s considerably longer than my original post and you don’t have to read it if you don’t want to. Except you should, because it will probably be awesome.  Probably.]

[*My first car was a Buick something-or-other that blew up on the Mass Pike the day after I bought it.  Seriously.  I would’ve tweeted about it, but we didn’t have Twitter back then so I couldn’t.  I probably should’ve known that car was going to be a fiery, smoking lemon though because I bought it from a guy whose company was called Yenom Motors. It wasn’t even a real dealership.  There was no car lot or anything. This dude brought the car to my house.  Apparently it was the only one he was selling at the time. Cause that’s not weird or anything. Also, Y-E-N-O-M Motors is M-O-N-E-Y spelled backwards.  Thankfully, I got all of mine back and, with a small loan from mom and dad (which I am totally going to pay back someday!) I bought a much better car from a legit dealership that had an actual store front and everything.]

[I just learned that I’ve been using brackets wrong for a really long time, but I like the way they look and infinitely prefer them to parenthesis, so I’m going to keep using them willy-nilly whenever I feel like it.  Deal.]

This is where a transition sentence goes to help make the start of the next paragraph less awkward.

You know, that duct taped a/c may be the most ghetto-tastic thing I’ve had to do since my old ’95 Ford Taurus aka ‘The Tank’ died in a flaming blaze of glory on route 84 West in Hartford back in 2007.

The Tank was such a great car. I bought it for something like $4,000 back in 2001 and it was in fantastic condition. It had all the bells and whistles – automatic everything, a radio, a car phone…remember car phones?

Then I drove it for a while and because I don’t have the best car-ma, it got progressively less nice over the years.  For instance, the back bumper was held together with duct tape after getting hit by a shuttle bus in a parking lot…

The front end was already smashed up a little bit from another previous accident, so the headlights and front bumper were scavenged from a junk yard and attached to my car with zip ties…

…and those zip ties totally withstood a devastating highway crash. So that’s pretty awesome.  Someone should tell Detroit to start using zip ties in the manufacturing process.

Other funny things about that car:

– One of my gear-head friends helped me with the junk yard scavenging and re-attaching of the headlights, but we couldn’t get them to sit evenly, so every time it rained they would fill up with water and short out the light bulbs. Rather than replace the headlights, I just drilled little holes in the bottom of the plastic so the water would drain through and it totally worked! Because I’m a genius with cars.

– The lock on the driver’s side door was broken, but only on the outside. So I had to unlock the passenger side door and use the automatic lock on the inside of the door, then walk around or climb through to the driver’s side.  I did that for almost five years.

– If you lowered the driver’s side window all the way, it wouldn’t come back up without pulling it with pliers while simultaneously pushing the automatic window button. So whenever you wanted to open the window you had to make sure to stop with two or three inches to spare or you were effed.  Especially in the rain. Or winter.  Or if you wanted to park anywhere in Hartford.

– The rear view mirror would spontaneously fall off from time to time.

– There were no hub caps on the Tank for the last few years and I have no idea where they went.

– There was only one working key to the ignition. Copied keys did not work. My one key was sort of bent and if the bend didn’t go the right way the car wouldn’t start.

– Aside from oil changes, the time my battery died as I was driving down the highway, and the one time I needed to get the serpentine belt replaced, I don’t think I ever took that car into the shop – for anything. Meaning, I never had the brakes done or put decent tires on that thing. I was basically driving a rusty, zip-tiedy, duct tapey deathtrap.

For over two hundred thousand miles.