The Lucky Cat

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     The Surgeon was wearing a tan cotton summer suit and his pale pink necktie had a tiny image of a Japanese Lucky Cat on it near the bottom.

 
       “Where did you get that tie?  I like it!  I like the lucky cat.” I said.  He is a lucky cat. 

        He shucked his suit coat and hung it on the coat rack by my door.  My eyes moved to his hips, back up to his face, and then to his hips again.  He looked thinner than I remembered.  Thinner.  

      “I make my own luck.  I bought it in San Francisco.  Where I was when you called in the middle of the night from that bar.  What am I going to do with you?”

       “I am here for you.”  

       “You’re not getting away with it that easily.”  The necktie came off and was draped over the suit coat.  Then he took a syringe out of his bag and walked over to the refrigerator.  He placed it carefully on the top shelf.  Something for later.  

      He picked up the Brita filter and poured himself a glass of water.  I wondered what it must be like, to be able to just go through other people’s stuff like it was yours.  At the Studio, you learn how to feign confidence and entitlement–fake it till you make it, I always tell the new girls.  Sort of like teaching.    

      The Surgeon doesn’t fake it. 
   
      “Surgeon, you’re very lean.  Are you okay?”  I had to say something. He still had muscle and sinew on him–he gets up at 4 AM and exercises like a deranged, frantic hamster in a wheel, which isn’t too far from the truth–but he was only ten or fifteen pounds away from being gaunt.  Men his age seldom look like this naturally.

      “I’m not sure.  I thought I was, but then my girlfriend broke up with me, and suddenly I had a lot to worry about.”  

       I didn’t know what to say to that. 

       “I was very worried about you.”  The cufflinks went into his pants pocket, and then he started to roll up his shirtsleeves. His speech became slower; his voice more thoughtful.  “Why do you make me worry about you?”

        I thought of the things he’d hid around my apartment and felt my skin break out in gooseflesh.  I’d intended to ask him why he’d done that, and when–that question had eaten away at me for months–but I suddenly lost the courage.  I didn’t want to know the answer.  

                                 *                             *                             *

       Before he left: 

       “You know that I think you’re a beautiful woman,” he said, adjusting the knot on the lucky cat tie.  “But you need to lose fifteen pounds.  You’ll be prettier.  As you were last Fall.”  

        I winced inside, but kept my face neutral.  I knew this was coming.  Last Fall, I weighed 110 lbs.  I am as tall as a man. 

      “Okay.” 

      He looked right at me.  His voice was serious. “Lose it.”

      “I will.”

      He smiled.  Normalcy had been returned.

      Everything was right with the world again. 

EVERYONE’S Dating Online These Days!

      One of my co-workers at the Studio, Amy, belongs to a few internet personals websites.  She entertains us with her dating stories and shows us the profiles and pictures of the guys she’s interested in.  


       “Oh!  Look at this hottie who emailed me!  Margo!  What do you think of this one?”  she turns her laptop around so that I can see the screen.  


       I repeat what I say about almost all of the guys she likes:  “He looks like a meathead!  Think he’s got enough gel in his hair?  Is he wearing a gold chain?” 


      She laughs.  “Fine!  You don’t have to like him!  More meatheads for me!  You can go out with the unsexy nerds.  Nerds need love too.”  


       “And crazy creeps who beat her up in hotel rooms!  Don’t forget those guys!  Right, Red?” says C. 


        Amy pecks on her keyboard.  “Here, Margo, let me see if anyone you might like has emailed me….there’s got to be someone here.  Hmmmm….not that one….not him.  Wait, what about this guy?  He looks kind of like a news anchor.  He is awfully old, though.” 


        She turns her laptop back around so that I can see:

Actual photo used by a member of dating website “Cougar Life.”  NO, I AM NOT A MEMBER!!!
            I mouth drops open.  “What the hell? Is that…?”  

         I get off the couch and run over to her computer.  

        “I think he’s too old to be on Cougar Life, too!  But he’s not bad-looking, if you like the type.  Here’s a picture of him with his niece.”

WTF? 

             I bend over the screen and gaze at the pictures intensely.  

         “Is that…?  That’s WESLEY CLARK!”  I say.

          “Who?”  

          “That’s gotta be Wesley Clark!  Yeah!  That’s him!” 

          “Who’s Wesley Clark?” asks Amy.

          “The General!  He’s, like, a general in the Army!  He ran for President in 2004!  As a Democrat!”

            “Woah!  A bigshot General is on Cougar Life?  Margo!  You should totally email him your pictures and phone number!  Some of those military guys make great Tops!  He’d love you!” 

          “Amy!  Get real!  There’s no way that’s the real Wesley Clark!  He’s an important guy.  No way would Wesley Clark sign up for Cougar Life, much less post his pics!”

          “What’s wrong with Cougar Life?” 

          “Nothing, but a General is not going to be a member, because it would be a scandal,” I explain. 

        “I met my guy on (cheesy trashy internet dating service redacted), and he’s a bigtime CEO,” says C.  “You saw that interview he did on FOX news.”  

         “Yeah, and he’s also crazy and unemployed right now,” I say. “He had to go to rehab for crack cocaine.  That suggests something about his good judgement.”  

       “It was alcohol.  Not crack. His buddy uses crack, not him.” 

      “Whatever.  Amy.  Read the profile.  What does his email say?  That cannot be the real Wesley Clark.” 

       She reads the profile.  

       It is not Wesley Clark.  

       So, there is some scammer out there on Cougar Life posting pics of Wesley Clark.  We found the pics on Google images.  

       Be careful out there, boys and girls! 

Go to the Dentist!

     I went to the dentist earlier this week and wrote a blog post about it that turned into a memory lane essay about dentists I have known.  It took, like, two hours to write.  I enjoyed writing it, but when I finished it, I asked myself: who on earth would want to read this?  So, I’m not going to post it unless someone requests it.  Shoot me a comment or email, and I’ll give it to you.  


     Public Service Announcement: if you’re a poor person in New York (or you just don’t have insurance) and you need affordable dental care, I recommend that you make an appointment at the NYU College of Dentistry clinic without delay!  Without delay!


     I was examined for two hours by two different dentists–a student dentist and an awesome professor dentist–and had x-rays taken for only $95!  
     I was a little anxious because I hadn’t been to the dentist in 4 years.  What can I say–it’s expensive.  Waitin’ on Obamacare, baby, waitin’ on Obamacare! 


      The professor dentist shined the light into my mouth and looked around.  “Well, it looks all right.  No cavities.  Except for that great big one there in the back.”


     I groaned.


     “JUST KIDDING!” he said, and laughed.  


      Happily, I had no cavities.  Everything was healthy. 


      I got a job tutoring for the GRE.  It’s a short contract, but the hourly wage is very good.  


      Will try to post something more interesting this weekend.

Parrot Goodness VII

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      Guess who flew into my room this morning to hang out with me? 

Parrot Sez: “You DON’T want to have to go to rehab!”

Parrot Sez: “Don’t do scary things!  Got any walnuts?”

 In other news, my crappy, malfunctioning internet router finally passed away.  GOOD RIDDANCE!  It will not be missed.

Torturing, evil internet router

    Behold, the dazzling new streamlined replacement.  I want to marry it: 

    
     Because that’s what I need in my life–MORE INTERNET!

Gratitude and Thoughts on the Biz

    This is so sad that I can’t stand it.  I wish I could snatch that girl up and take her to live with me. The film looks excellent, and I’m sure I’ll watch it, but I have no idea how I could sit through the whole thing without sobbing.  






      I am really a very lucky woman.  I have so much to be grateful for.  The women in that video would do anything to have a life like mine.  I have choices.  I have autonomy.  I have a future that is unwritten.  I can do what I want.  Those women don’t have choices. 


     I don’t talk about politics and the sex industry because my opinion about that simply isn’t worth anything.  My experience in it is not representative.  I have the good sense to be humble and appreciative of that fact.  


      I’ll share a little of my opinion now, because that video clip just broke my heart.  This is probably the first and last time I’ll make a peep about it. 


      I conceive of the sex industry as being a pyramid.  At the very top of the pyramid are the sex industry workers like myself.  Women like myself constitute the tiniest percentage of people in the industry.  I am really at the top: I have never done anything illegal.  I have never been forced to do anything.  I have never done anything which could make me sick or diseased. The place where I work is clean and safe, and I can come and go as I please.  Society does not approve of the profession, but it is less stigmatized than just about every other type of job within the pyramid, with the possible exception of Playboy-type nude glamor modeling.  I am paid very well for my services.  I have seen and done things that I found distasteful, but most of the time it is interesting and even fun–I get something out of it.  And I am strictly a part-timer.  For me, this really is a choice.  


       I’m at the very top of the pyramid.  


       There is nowhere to go but down. 


       That Indian girl in the video is at the bottom, along with…how many others?  A few hundred million, probably?  


        She is a slave.  There is not a person on earth who would trade places with her.  Certainly no man.  The most oppressed sweatshop worker in the world would not trade places with her.  Maybe a person dying of hunger in Africa would.  Think about that. 


      It makes me angry when I hear educated women (usually white)  who are at the very top of the pyramid make arguments that sex work is feminist and empowering.  I want to scream at them: maybe it is for you, you self-centered ninny, but what about everyone else?  Once you finish your “I choose my choice!” sermon and send the book you wrote about your six-month career as a stripper before you started grad school off to the publisher, you could take a look at the world around you.  Take a look at how most of the women in the sex industry actually live.  Tell that Indian girl in the clip that what she does is feminist because the men are the ones paying her.  Yeah, right.  


       That is why I will never defend any part of the sex industry.  What I do is not sad or wrong, but most of the rest of it is.  I think that the most graceful thing a woman in my position can do is be grateful for what we have. 

Miss Margo’s Dream Jobs

     I don’t know about you, but I have an awesome mailman.  He is always friendly and helpful, and he comes by at around the same time every day unless the weather is bad. 


      Some people bitch about the postal service, and I don’t understand why.  Every post office I’ve been to (except in one crappy place) has been efficient and reliable.  The service was so good and so cheap that I didn’t even pay attention to it until I lived someplace where it didn’t work.  Then I realized how great I’d always had it.  


      The postal service has a sort of romance to it.  Stamps.  Uniforms.  Those weird square autos they drive (who makes those, anyway?  Where are they made?).  I find their bureaucracy charming and patriotic.  A lot of post offices are beautiful buildings.  Have you seen the James A. Farley post office here in New York?  It’s great!  It has an awesome motto on the outside: Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds. Cool! 

cool post office 

      
    I was thinking…I’d sort of like to be a mailman.  It sounds like a good job!  Not working in a post office–that would suck.  I hate working with the public.  I mean delivering the mail, mostly on foot.    Walk around listening to you iPod, people watching.  Working alone.  Having people depend on you, but not a shit ton of responsibility.  Say hi to people’s dogs.  Give em their Christmas cards.  Yeah!  Sounds nice!  


     Makes me think about other dream jobs I’ve had throughout my life.  My first dream job, when I was a very little girl, was to be the mermaid on the Chicken of the Sea can:

Miss Margo, age 5 

Now that I think of it, that thing she’s holding in her hand could be used to hit boys.

      I also wanted to be a veterinarian because I loved animals so much.  Or, better yet, a zookeeper!  What’s not to like?  Running around, taking care of animals all day.  Making sure they are okay.  You would get to know them.

nice bird

      Also: LIBRARIAN!  Libraries have always been some of my favorite places.  I like everything about them.  Librarians are heros, too.  They have strong ethics.  Remember when the PATRIOT Act was passed, and the librarians stood up to it?  They were, like, No way, Jose! Librarians!  

Add caption

      Searching google for the images in this blog post made my morning.  There are a lot of really wacky pictures on the web. 

Signed, Sealed & Delivered

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   I met with my landlord and signed the lease.  





    It’s funny how having a little money changes your perspective.  The last time I saw him, I was so frightened that my hands were shaking.  I haven’t been that scared of someone in years.


    This time, I didn’t even stand up when he entered the room.


     The Surgeon coached me on the telephone about what to say to him.


      “He wants to raise the rent $100,” I told the Surgeon earlier in the day. 


      “Fuck him!  He’s not going to get it!  He’s negotiating; he doesn’t want you to leave.  You’ve got him over a barrel.  Draw this out as long as possible.  Don’t sign anything!  Don’t respond to him until the very end!  Then he’ll be helpless and scared, because he won’t know if you’re moving and he won’t have a new tenant and then he won’t make a profit for the year!”  He sounded thrilled, as if he was engaged in some life-or-death cage fight with his mortal enemy.  


     “You really want me to haggle and bargain with the landlord?  Like we were at a garage sale?”


      “Welcome to New York, Kid!”  His voice was ecstatic–the voice of a man cheering for his team in the Olympics.  “You’ve gotta get with the program!  Get your elbows out! You are way too Whitey McWhitebread!  How can you do all the crazy dangerous stuff you do and then be intimidated by a prick like this?  He’s not GOD!” 


      I groaned.  “How do you have the energy for this?  Don’t you ever get tired of fighting with people?”


      “No!” he shouted happily.  I pictured him bobbing his head like a deranged cockatoo. “This is what I do!  I’m really good at it!”


       He is.  He is indeed.  


       “Call me back when you’re done with him!  Ask him what he’s willing to do for you if you pay him in cash instead of with a personal check!  Because then he won’t have to declare it to the government!  NO TAXES!  He wants that!”  Dr. Crazy Greedhead Cockatoo.  


       “But I am going to pay it to him anyway.  Cash or check.” 


       “No!  Listen to me: that money is worth a lot more to him in cash.   Just don’t tell him that you have the cash on you.  Don’t tell him that you’re willing to give it to him right away.  Dangle it!  It’s a carrot, you hick!  I’m telling you–play this right and you can get your rent reduced!  Tell him you could probably go to the bank and get the money out if he does something for you!  If it’s not good enough, tell him that you need to call your lawyer and go to your room and give me a call and I’LL talk to him.  Yeah!” 


       Oh my God, I thought.  What I said was: “Okay, sure thing.”


       I will never tell the Surgeon this, but I will tell you, Gentle Reader: I simply did not have it in me to bargain hard with my landlord over, like, a few hundred bucks.  Forget it.  Not worth it!  SORRY!  Maybe this is one reason why rich people are rich: they will fight each other tooth and claw over two months’ car insurance money.  Who knows?  Not me!  I’ve had enough stress and humiliation this month, thanks!  


        I made the landlord one offer.  He accepted.  I signed the paperwork and he left.  


       It still hasn’t hit me yet.  


       The Surgeon called me back.  He couldn’t wait twenty minutes. “Well?  What did he say?” 


        “He only raised the rent $5 and I gave him the cash.”


         “NOOOOO!  You could have gotten more!   You are going to learn how to deal with these things, Margo.   You’re not in the sticks anymore! Want me to call him right now?   By the way, I hope you are not running around in flip flops.  There was an article in the Times about all the bacteria on the street.  I don’t want bacteria on my feet.  I mean, your feet.”  


       We now return to our regularly scheduled programming. 

Homework Assignment III

“…that which mediates my life for me, also mediates the existence of other people for me.”


“What, man!  confound it, hands and feet
And head and backside, all are yours!
And what we take while life is sweet,
Is that to be declared not ours?
     Six stallions, say, I can afford,
     Is not their strength my property? 
     I tear along, a sporting lord,
     As if their legs belonged to me.” 
                                 (Mephistopheles, in Faust
From Karl Marx, Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844


ASSIGNMENT: To what substance, precisely, does Marx refer which “mediates (his) life for (him)…?”  Give three other descriptions/names Marx uses to call this substance.  How does Marx use this passage from Goethe to illustrate his argument?  Do you personally find Marx’s argument about this persuasive?  Why or why not?  


4-5 pages, double-spaced.  


Extra Credit Opportunity:  Much has been written about Marx’s rhetorical style.  Based upon your reading of the text, do you personally think the man was probably an asshole?  Or was he just pissed off?  Provide at least 3 quotations.  1 page, double-spaced.  Thoughtful responses will add 10 points to the final grade. 


For the curious, previous Homework Assignments are here (Shakespeare) and here (Orwell)

Psychopathic Advertising

     Woke up at 4 AM and couldn’t go back to sleep.  I hate going through the day with that groggy, unrested feeling.  I have to return a manuscript soon, so I’m working under a deadline, and it’s so much harder to concentrate when you’re operating at about 70% capacity.  

     I am deranged from lack of sleep.  I’d go to the doctor about it, but the last time I did that, a Meddling Psychiatrist fucktard tried to diagnose me with an eating disorder.

     I’ve been crash-dieting for days now.  The scale says results (FINALLY!).  The Surgeon is not going to tolerate me at the weight I was at.  Hell.  I couldn’t even tolerate myself.  

       I trust you with my insane neuroses, gentle reader.  To the rest of the world, I present myself as an educated and accomplished individual, but here, on this little slice of blog, I let it all hang out.  

      Let me tell you about a weird hobby of mine.  Have a shared this one with you?  I don’t think that I have.  

      I collect weird advertising.

      There is a shitload of bizarre advertising out there, and when the mood strikes me, I cut it out or copy it or take photos of it, and sock it away like a crazy demented squirrel.  

      It fascinates me for several reasons.  One, it’s like a nutty psychological Rorschach test.  Two, it’s nifty from a sociological perspective.  Three, it’s funny.  And finally, I have to wonder: who are these people?  I mean, really.  Who comes up with this stuff?  

     Take this one.  I thought that it had to be a joke, but it’s not.  I saw it on the train and online, so the Alberta tourism board, incredibly, not only paid for this but also approved its publication.

       

Create what? Achieve what? Penguins?  Racial diversity? This terrible ad?

        A black dude wearing a necktie in front of a glacier surrounded by penguins.  


      Okay, well.  Alberta probably has about six black residents, so I suppose it is possible that one of them could be hanging out in this ad.  He’s a handsome fellow.   But why is he wearing those clothes in the wilderness?  Wouldn’t a parka be a better wardrobe decision?  And what’s up with the penguins?  Is Alberta trying to capitalize off of them before global warming kills them all?  

 

    Another Canada tourism pic.  Huh?  I like Polar Bears too, but I wouldn’t get this close to one. 

      What about this one.  Besides the fact that it is idiotic and tasteless (but still probably better-tasting than the sandwich it promotes)–if you are going to have the woman give the phallic symbol a BJ, could she AT LEAST look happy to do it?  She looks terrified.  That fucks with my mind, man, it weirds me out.  I don’t want rape imagery in my damn Burger King ads, man.  

BKsevenincher.jpg
The Tucker Max asshole Dudebro who came up with this ought to be shot.

    I hate the way your eyeballs feel when you don’t get enough sleep.