Pets On Parade


In Which I Find Church (But Not God)

The Surge and I got into a bit of a disagreement. Okay so it was a fight that ended with him telling me to "shut the fuck up" smack dab in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Times Square. Actually, that wasn't what ended the fight. The end was me storming away. I simply turned on the heel of my size seven Chuck Taylors and stomped down 42nd Street leaving my husband alone with thousands of others.
"Let that bastard go home on his own." I grumbled to myself.

A few minutes later:
"Tell me to 'shut the fuck up'. I'll show you 'shut the fuck up'."

A few minutes after that:
"Bastard! I just won't come home tonight" I continued ranting to myself.

I began to formulate an elaborate plan which involved me getting drunk on red wine in some strange Upper East Side bar and not returning home until very, very late. AND I will shut off my cell phone. Maybe he will think I was mugged. Or maybe kidnapped. That'll teach him to tell me to shut the fuck up. Hopefully he is in tears, ripping his hair out by the time I stagger home pretending to be blissfully unaware of the time.

Speaking of time, I checked my watch. Seven PM. Shit. I've got hours to kill before I can even start drinking. Can't get so drunk I forget which subway to take home. Just drunk enough to anesthetize the agony that is being married... Tell me to 'shut the fuck up'.... By my calculations, I should start drinking at around 11PM. That way I probably won't make it home until 1AM or maybe even 2! Perfect. Kind of. That leaves four hours before I can start drinking. Good Lord what will I do?

My exhausted feet began to beg for a rest. A Barnes & Noble up ahead beckoned like a McDonalds on a desolate freeway. I could pass a good hour in there perusing the bookshelves. Turns out, Barnes & Noble was more crowded than a Nebraska Wal-Mart on a Saturday. Not an empty chair in sight. I stepped back onto a Fifth Avenue ablaze with headlights. As I continued uptown I passed two Starbucks fuller than a Venti Mocha with whip spilling over the sizes. Not an available chair in either place.

St. Patrick's Cathedral loomed up ahead. What the fuck... I'll just go in there for a bit. I entered the elegantly lit Cathedral and was immediately cheered. Candles flickered mysteriously along the walls and there were no annoying loud talkers on cell phones a la Starbucks. No troublesome technology assaulting my senses. Ipods, bluish computer screens, chirping cell phone rings... And there was tons of available seating. Rows and rows of unoccupied benches! Sweet. A reverent hush reigned within the towering marble walls. Finally. Peace, quiet and a place to sit. Plus, I don't have to buy anything except perhaps the idea of God. But fuck it, my dogs are barking.. I need to sit down.

I walked slowly down the center aisle behind a shuffling homeless woman and a man in a snazzy business suit. I watched carefully as the sharp suited man knelt and made the sign of the cross before entering the row of pews. I passed him by, and stopped at a row a couple yards in front of him. Feeling very conspicuous, not sure if genuflecting is a requirement, I went to do the sign of the cross but wasn't quite sure of the proper order. I fumbled and went to kneel like the man did, felt silly and ended up bowing in a distinctly Asian fashion. Bowing at nothing in particular. The kind of bowing a karate student engages in with an opponent before kicking his or her ass.

I sat down and leaned forward, resting my forehead on the back of the bench in front of me. Fuck The Surge. I concentrated on breathing slowly. The murmers of tourists and the comforting smell of smoke from the candles they were lighting soon lulled me into a calm, reflective state. Since I was in God's house and all I figured I might as well have a go at trying to chat with the host.

I used to pray all the time and as I sat there I realized my spirituality is all but dead. It died a painful death along with my Mormon faith. It's tough to carve a new God from that hulking mass of mangled Mormon beliefs. The wreckage is still smoldering and every time I try to touch it I get burned. Like when you burn your tongue on a hot drink and you feel the sore spot for the rest of the day. It's kind of numb and kind of painful. That's how it feels to contemplate God these days.

After a good ten minutes trying to commune with whoever it is I'm supposed to talk to while resting my dogs in a Catholic church I came to the conclusion that I'm more likely to find God in the mountains or next to the ocean than some herculean church with creepy, nearly pornographic statues clinging seductively to the walls and so I quickly gave up the prayer. But the environment was so conducive to meditation that I ended up sitting there for nearly an hour.

People came and went and still I sat. Assuming my head was bowed in prayer instead of the anger and exhaustion that caused me to sit there, nobody bothered me. Ironic. All this time I've been running away from the chaos church created in my life and here I was missing out on the place nobody can bother me with their annoying people-y peopleness. I just need to bring a flask next time and I'm set. Or like, figure out where the priests keep the wine.

Great Balls Of Fire!

No, The Surge does not have an itchy case of crabs taking over his nether regions. I'm talkin' Great Balls Of Fire!! Jerry Lee Lewis style. Of course, knowing Lewis, a bad bout with crabs or maybe a severe case of blue balls inspired the classic tune in the first place.. but that's neither here nor there. What I'm laboring to impart to you, gentle reader, is the fact that I sat in on a Jerry Lee Lewis piano extravaganza! "The Killer" (Jerry's handle round most parts) tickled the ivories of the blood red piano with panache and his voiced sounded superb.

The Surge, who, along with millions of other citizens of rock, considers Lewis the king of rock'n'roll, stood there in the record store with an enormous grin splitting his beard nearly in half. Really. You would have thought I just handed him a home-made coupon book with 100 "Bearer Entitled To Sex With Monica Today" coupons tucked inside. Although come to think of it, if this unemployment thing continues into December that coupon book may very well be all The Surge can expect under the Christmas tree.

Fifty years ago Lewis recorded for Sun Records with Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison and Carl Perkins. All of 'em are dead now, of course. And still, Lewis plays on. If you've seen Walk The Line, the Johnny Cash biopic then you probably remember the depiction of Lewis as the crazy-talented, wild boy who loved the ladies (including his 13 year old cousin, once removed) and was known to upstage Cash and even Elvis. He used to set his piano on fire for Godsakes! In short, dude's a legend.

As he made his way out of the in-store performance Jerry Lee Lewis approached The Surge, shook his hand and smiled. I was so flummoxed by my proximity to the man, the myth etc.. that I only managed to snap a few poorly framed photographs. I guess you could say he shook my nerves and he rattled my brain. (hey-OH!!)

What, you ask, could possibly top a close encounter with Jerry Lee Lewis? I'm going to play a Leonardo DiCaprio and raise you a Jack Nicholson. And a Martin Scorsese and a Bono and a Matt Damon and a Lou Reed and a Billy Joel and an Alec Baldwin. That's pretty much a royal flush, by Hollywood standards. No shit. After the Jerry Lee Lewis gig we rounded the corner and walked smack into a premiere for The Departed, Scorsese's new flick starring DiCaprio and company.

We stood there, mouths agape as sleek limousines slid up and spit one famous celeb after the other onto the storied street in front of Ziegfeld Theater. First Matt Damon. Then Alec Baldwin and Billy Joel. Lou Reed nearly sprinted down the red carpet into the theater in an effort to avoid the screaming press lines. Bono and The Edge pretty much ignored the crowd and headed straight to the red carpet and the phalanx of reporters whose constantly flashing cameras nearly sent those of us perched across the street into epileptic fits. Then Jack arrived, stepping from his limo and flashing his trademark grin to the assembled before he was promptly swallowed by the crowd of mucky-mucks shmoozing on the red carpet. Bummer. No time to get any good photographs of the man who alternately scared the shit outta me (The Shining) or had me crying (One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest) during my formative years.

"Mommy why won't the movie stars come to this side and visit us?" A sweet, little girl clutching the metal barrier nearby asked.
"I don't know honey. I guess they want to make it inside before the movie starts."
Just then, a small, eco-friendly car rolled up. Eyes scouting for limousines and giant SUV's, most of us in the crowd ignored the tiny car. Until Leo DiCaprio popped out and strolled right over to the barrier behind which I stood. I, who up until this point had managed to keep my cool, rolling my eyes at the giggling gaggles around me who screamed like banshees every time a limo rolled up, immediately lost my shit and screamed louder than the adorable nine year old standing next to me. Jesus, I probably knocked her down and trampled the poor thing in my excitement that Leo was standing not two feet from me!

Me, the girl that viciously decried all the swooners that fell in love with Leo after the Titanic phenomenon swept the world - I was screaming like a bobbie soxer for a 25 year old Sinatra. "Sure Titanic was a good movie", I'd say as this friend or that cranked up that damn Celine Deon song and cried for the drowned Jack Dawson. "It was historically accurate, excellent action etc.. But the script was for shit! I'm the king of the world. Please. I've witnessed better dialogue on Days Of Our Lives for crying out loud!" They just snuffled, called me callous and turned up that oversinging automaton Celine in all her chest thumping annoyingness.

I longed for the days before Leo rode the Titanic to superstardom, when he turned out performances like What's Eating Gilbert Grape, Marvin's Room and The Basketball Diaries. I was even okay with the acid trip that was Romeo and Juliet regardless of the fact that I wanted to sock Clare Danes squarely in the jaw. I don't know why. I just did. Some actresses have that affect on me. That priss Nicole Kidman, for example, could use a painful nipple tweaking and I hate Catherine Zeta-Jones on sight. It can't be explained. I wrote off Leo as another blockbuster chaser and gave him over to the millions of tween girls the world over. Yet there I was last night, nearly kneeing The Surge in the balls then vaulting over the metal fence in all my twenty-nine year old glory and pouncing on my new husband Leonardo DiCaprio.

He was lovely. And unlike my encounter with the aforementioned Ms. Kidman in which I panicked and failed to properly document my celebrity elbow rubbing for posterity, this time I managed to collect my senses long enough to take a photograph so you don't think I'm making the whole thing up.

Toilet Paper Treaty

The battle is over and I am declared victorious. Take that you toilet paper usin' and abusin' motherfucker! You thought I would capitulate on Saturday morning, didn't you? You thought I would give in when I was scouring the sink and the toilet. Oh yes. You sat there on the bed, all smug-like, reading your New York Times. Whilst I sprayed and scrubbed, you pretended like you weren't closely watching to see what I would do. And then you made your way to the bathroom, probably presuming that during my bathroom cleaning endeavors I had slid the forlorn little cardboard tube off the metal thingamajig and replaced it with a fresh roll of Quilted Northern.

But you were wrong, dude! I left it there for you because I'll be goddamned if I was going to change it again. Sure it only takes twenty seconds. Well, there was that one time when I was drunk and had to change it with fumbling, sweating fingers. It took a few tries but even then I managed it in under a minute. But you. You! You seem not to notice the empty roll dangling there, nary a shred of toilet paper to be found clinging to the cardboard. Oh, you had no trouble opening a new roll of toiletpaper. No problemo. You must have been in there a good, half hour. Plenty of time to read five or six articles in the New York Post and tear open that fresh package of toilet paper. But apparently there was no time to slide that new roll of TP onto the thing. Instead you sat the fresh roll on the back of the toilet where it could fall into the toilet at any time! Must've just forgot to change the roll, right? Forgot my ass. I'm onto you mister.

Our toilet paper impasse continued into Sunday. That morning, when nature called I again saw that empty cardboard roll mocking me from it's vantage point next to the toilet. In my sleepy haze I automatically began to remove the tube - even got so far as to release the cylinder toilet paper holder from it's home. That was your plan, wasn't it? But I'm wise to you, you wily son-of-a-gun.
"Well played". I chuckled to myself. You almost had me. I very nearly fell right into your little toilet paper trap. Almost. But you have to wake up pret-ty early in the morning to pull the wool (or toilet paper as the case may be) over these discerning baby blues. And then I one-upped you. Instead of taking the mature, adult route and just replacing the empty cardboard roll already I slid the empty tube back on the cylinder and clipped it into place. It's all about principles, buddy. I used a liberal amount of the TP you left sitting haphazardly on the back of the toilet and put that roll on the floor.
"Checkmate, motherfucker."

This morning I anxiously waited for you to finish your daily constitutional and leave for the gym. With great trepidation I stepped onto the battlefield we call a bathroom in reconnaissance for the toilet paper carnage that surely awaited. And what to my wondering eyes did appear? A fresh roll of toilet paper is hanging proudly from the silver cylinder, flapping gently - a white flag of peace. Sure the toilet paper is unrolling from the bottom instead of the top like it's supposed to! But I am still declaring victory. One small step for womankind, one giant leap for Monica.

Autumn In New York City

Yesterday we struck out for the Upper West Side to see the sights and smell the smells. First stop; Riverside Park. But before we could get to the park I decided I was hungry and so we detoured into the first bodega we stumbled across.

Strangely, I settled on purchasing three hard boiled eggs. Three for a dollar, the sign said so I forked over my dollar and exited the store clutching a paper sack of hard boiled eggs. I've never bought hard boiled eggs before. Seems like a gamble. Like purchasing milk after the expiration date.

We strolled along the Hudson through a still green Riverside Park. Wind whipped off the water as I peeled and ate my eggs (delicious!) and chased them with mouthfuls of Diet Coke and a liberal amount of my own hair.

As the sun began to kiss the New Jersey skyline we decided to wander in a new direction. Ended up at Zabar's on 80th Street and Broadway. Zabar's, founded more than 70 years ago, is a New York City institution. This unbelievable food palace is a blend of a gourmet market, deli and department store (offering smoked fish, caviar, cheese, bread, deli meats, coffee, bread, cakes, housewares, and more). The store is open 365 days a year and I'm told there is always a Zabar somewhere on the premises.

They say Zabar’s has to be experienced, in person, to truly be understood. "You have to see the crowds, hear the banter of sales help, smell the croissants baking, admire the rich brown hues of coffee, sample cheese from every corner of the world."
After a frantic moment trying to decide what to order my eyes fell upon the soups du jour. I spent the next three minutes vacillating between Butternut Squash and Lobster Bisque. In the end, the crisp autumnal day resulted in an order of piping hot Butternut Squash to go.

The Surge with his coffee and I with my steaming soup sauntered into the grassy median of Broadway, copped a squat on a bench and watched the day go by. I shared my bit of soup heaven with The Surge while we talked about nothing special... and it meant everything.. A finer moment has not been spent by either of us in quite some time.