Monday, August 22, 2011

Fiesta Fruit Hats and other Surprises

Oh surprises.  Sometimes even the most basic things in a life can give you an unexpected jolt into reality. You know what I mean.  Things like finding out the milk you just bought has gone bad or that you inadvertently bought perm solution when you meant to pick up hair dye.  You don’t always know why things happen the way they do (example: You weren’t supposed to have milk because you developed an allergy to dairy overnight and, the truth is, curls are really flattering).  The point is, on occasion you have to give in and let the universe leave its mark… even if you have no idea why.

One such ‘universe footprint’ tread on my life a few days ago – one of those moments that makes you say to yourself, “What are people thinking?” and “Seriously?!”  As the story goes, in the middle of last week I found myself  a local branch of the New York Public Library (NYPL… and acronym which will become important in just a minute).  The truth be told, I’m a frequent library visitor.  I love the people watching (the 6’4” man in a fiesta fruit hat continues to be a highlight), I love picking up books (and occasionally judging them by their covers) and I love the fact that you can go and learn something new every day (from how to make fabric flowers to how to write the next great screen play and from saving the world one vermi-composter at a time to how to hide vegetables in dinner … don’t judge).  It’s all there and I’ve probably researched in, thumbed through or read at least 268 of the NYPLs bazillion book collection.  I’ve also began to embrace the world of DVDs though the library.  I’ve caught up on new and old movies – things I’ve wanted to see but have missed, or things I’ve heard about so thought I should try (example: Rachael Getting Married.  If you haven’t seen it, I can save you some time.  Rachael gets married.  Some stuff happens, it’s not all good, and then, yes, she ties the knot). 

So last week, I decided I would check out three movies: a) The Blindside, b) Life As We Know It and c) The Back-up Plan.  As an avid “re-watcher” of things, I’d seen two of these movies before (hint: a and b), so “c” seemed like a reasonable, well, back-up plan… and I don’t even particularly like Jennifer Lopez.  That should have been my first clue.

My fatal error, was, perhaps, in thinking this J-Lo movie would be different from the others.  I wish at this point I could give away a spoiler to the movie, but I can’t… and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to in the future.  Why?  Well, when I opened the DVD all I saw was a shiny disk with Sharpie letters “NYPL” scrolled around the inner circle of the disk.  “Strange,” I thought to myself, noting that a few other DVDs I have don’t have images on them and can be played on both sides.  That’s when it happened.  I turned the disk over, only to find that someone had switched disks and had left me with, well, adult entertainment.  Yes, someone left me with their back-up plan.

In all likelihood, that’s probably not even the best part of the story.  It’s the fact I had to take the DVD back to the library, make the guy working at the check-out counter open the case and flip the disk over himself.  The words, ‘Oh God’ with a horrified throat gurgle could be heard for meters (it is a library, after all).

Lesson learned: While back-up plans are good, I won’t ever pick mine off a communal shelf again.  As for the library, and hopefully my fiesta fruit hat guy... I'll see you later this week.

At least I know what it should have looked like...

Friday, August 5, 2011

Look, spaghetti arms...

I’ve never had a problem with personal space – I don’t mind people near me, I’m not claustrophobic and I hug my friends.  When you think of cities with a lot of personal space, New York probably isn’t the first one to come to mind.  Of course, your assumptions would be correct.  You just have to walk through Times Square a few times to realize that this city has nothing but people!  That said, New Yorkers are definitely of the ‘keep to themselves’ variety, which means bumping into someone on the street or in a lobby will get you the world’s biggest stink eye.  
Sometimes it feels like being in a magical school of fish, all of whom know the intricate dance of speed walking and sidewalk weaving, but sometimes it feels like you’re in the smallest of sardine cans, unable to stand, let alone make any kind of movement that would be Dancing with the Stars approved.  So the other day when I was on the Subway and a lady reached out to grab a bar in the center of the 40+ degree train and instead grabbed my face with her talon nails, all I wanted to do was exclaim, ‘Look, spaghetti arms… this is my dance space [insert me drawing a one-inch arch around myself], this is your dance space [insert me drawing a one-inch arch around her).’  The point is, you can hug me, just don’t gouge me in the face with your nails… and most importantly, don’t invade my dance space.
Sadly, that wasn’t the worst train offense of the day.  No, that came a few hours later on the way home, when  a man sneezed directly onto my face.  Suddenly, I became the person giving the stink eye… and I think I was justified.  He didn’t even apologize for the million germs he power-sprayed across my face.  Forget the need for dance space, I was just hoping he didn’t have swine flu.  The point is, you can be in my one-inch arch, just don’t sneeze on me… and most importantly, if you do, please apologize.
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