Inadvertent Humiliation: The Toupee

     It’s been a while since I posted a story about the Biz, so here’s a new one for you:

      Business at the Superstudio is slow, and I’m sitting in the lounge working on a PowerPoint on my laptop (even after all these years, my PowerPoints look like shit.  Like my Mom made them.  Why?  Why?).  

       A woman who works there, C (I’ve mentioned her in the past on this blog–hilarious, intimidating), opens the door and runs over to me.  She is in the middle of an appointment with some dude. 

        “Hey!  Could you come in to my session with me for a few minutes?  He’d really like to have some other girls watch what I do to him.  He’d tip you out, of course.” 

        I save my work on the laptop.  “Sure.  Just watch?  Anything else?”

        “You can laugh at him if you want.  Shouldn’t be hard, right?”

        I quickly doff my sneakers and denim shorts and slip into a red dress.  Reapply some lipstick. 

         Now it’s showtime. 

        When I enter the room, he’s standing with his back to the wall. C is talking to him and holding him by a lead around his neck. She is taller than he is, infinitely more vibrant, beautiful.  She radiates energy, and she’s not even working hard.  This guy is easy. 

        I stroll over to them, hands on my hips.  The high heels click on the marble floor.  

        “What have we here, C?  What are we doing with this one today?” I ask. 

         She says a few things while I take a good look at the man, up close and personal.  

          He’s got some gross, weird-looking patch or mat of hair on the top of his head.  It’s brown, but it doesn’t look like a shade of brown found in nature.  It looks like something cut out from a bolt of faux fur fabric at a fabrics and sewing store.  Faux brown bear fur or something.  

         I say, in complete honesty: “Yuck!  Where did you get this gross old hair extension?  From the crossdressing closet?  Was it on the floor in the corner or something?  Did you  at least spray it with alcohol?  We need to throw that one out!”

         C snorts and starts to laugh and clap her hands.

         Get this: it wasn’t some worn-out costume prop from the Studio.  It was the guy’s actual toupee.  It was his. I assumed someone put it on his head to humiliate him, but no!

          I humiliated him for real.  I didn’t even know I was doing it (and honestly, if I’d known that it was his personal toupee, I never would have said a word.  To his face, at least.). 

          In retrospect, it is kinda funny.  That was a bad toupee.  Almost all toupees are fake-looking and instantly recognizable, but this one was just plain cringe-inducing.  He’d look better bald.  Bald is infinitely better than looking ridiculous. 

“My 5-Year-Old Could Paint That”…some things never change

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     I purchased a blank card for my mother that had a picture of smiling daisies on the cover.   I composed a nice, friendly impersonal note inside of it.  I also included a dozen photos of NYC and me running about to and fro.  I also took a plunge and painted a cringe-inducing picture in watercolor paints on the inside of the card.  So what if it looks like a 5 year old painted it.  It will make my mother happy.  Shit, it’ll probably be hanged on the wall when I go visit for Thanksgiving. 

      I wish I could paint, or draw.  That would be awesome.  My father had (has?) a knack for drawing.  He didn’t practice it (I mean really work on it, you know), but the random doodles and sketches he drew were proportionally accurate and expressive, the way a good cartoonist is expressive.  He’d be making notes on a yellow legal pad at the table or in front of the TV, and then suddenly sketch a Sperm Whale, or a bug, or a Bonsai tree or a pony. He’d draw in ink pen (how?! no way to correct!).  I’d cut some of the images out and hide them away in my books.  I think I still have one or two.  

      I can’t draw like he could.  His father, my grandfather, could sketch quite well…at least that’s what I’ve heard, and believe me, I’ve never heard anyone try to make my Granddad sound better than he was.  Nobody flatters the dude, if you get my drift. So, Granddad had some skill as an untrained draftsman.  He could also play guitar. He was tall, which is probably where I inherited my height and length of bone (my other family are of middling height–quite possibly due to malnutrition in childhood), and he had hard blue eyes.  German, anti-intellectual, worked the oil rigs.   When he died in his mid-30s, everyone was relieved. 

      This is what I did today:

Good Question

      I cried in my bed right after I awoke this morning.  Like, one or two minutes after I regained consciousness.  It was brief and undramatic. It was like what the weathermen here in this schizo weather area (Tri-State) describe as a “light, random thunderstorm!” I don’t think that I made much noise. By coincidence, I had my very best sheets on my bed–the sheets which have such thread count and quality that they are always dense and crispy, even though they are five years old now.  They were a gift to me, a long time ago. I put them on my bed yesterday after I did my laundry and changed my linens.

    I put my head underneath the crispy clean sheets and curled up like a shrimp on my side facing the wall and did my little cry.

      Then I got up, went to the bathroom, checked in with Tanita, poured myself a glass of water.  And now here I sit.

       I’m not here to be a coward.

       I went to my Sunday crispy burnout AA meeting yesterday.  As I mentioned on this blog, I have a new service commitment to make the coffee.  I showed up an hour early, but the gate was locked. I waited with other committee people until the guy with the keys came to let us in (he was stuck in traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge). There was no time to make coffee, but I set out the cookies.

       The meeting’s Speaker–the random person who shares his or her personal experience with alcoholism and AA–was good.  (AA culture is that you’re not supposed to talk about what you see and hear in AA meetings, because you have to respect confidentiality and peoples’ privacy.  I think that if I keep this vague and omit details and any identifying info, it should be okay to share here on this blog.  I don’t see how it could hurt anymore.)

      His story was comparatively undramatic. No jail, no hospital, no spectacular train wreck.  His family didn’t drink.  He maintained a modest but respectable job.  And drank.  Sometimes socially, mostly alone.  Went to the bar alone, “for fun.”  Gets older–no longterm partners.  And this wasn’t an unattractive or unintelligent man.  He was likable and there was no obvious reason why he had to live such a damn lonesome existence.  He had no one.

       I was very moved by this. I know what that is like to be alone, or alienated.  That’s something about alcohol which is paradoxical: it makes the loneliness (or even boredom)  comfortable.  Acceptable. Unimportant.

      Invariably, however, something happens–the tables are turned, and your companion becomes your jailer. Drinking becomes the cause of the loneliness. It isolates you and prevents you from being with others in a meaningful, nurturing way.

        Just speaking for myself…when my drinking was approaching its worst…I was going through a very tough time in my life. I was depressed, stressed about school, and basically paralyzed by fear and confusion.  Actually, fear is not the right word.  Terror is more accurate.  I was lifting at the gym in the morning and back again to do five miles in the evening, and my eating habits were becoming obsessive and abnormal (let’s just say…I kept spreadsheets.  Excell spreadsheets.  The data I had.  Oh boy.).  I didn’t tell anyone what was happening to me. Professionally, I kept up appearances–I wasn’t spending weekends in the labs or publishing my ass off or anything, but my grades and writing projects were superior.  Many professors commented on my talent.  But I was slowly becoming a ghost.  I gradually withdrew from everybody I had a meaningful emotional relationship with.  Even the people I loved.  All my old friends, the professors who cultivated my intellect and spent time with me.  

       It was like I was a girl in a raft out in the sea, and my relationships were the ropes attached to my raft that kept me anchored to the shore.

       I untied the ropes and let them go.  One by one.

      I raised my hand and shared a lot of that at the meeting.  A few people came up to me afterward and said that they liked my share and that I sounded really good.

       I eyed one of the men, suddenly suspicious.  “Are you serious?”

       “Of course.  Why?”

        “I was upset.  I almost cried.”

       “What’s wrong with that?” he asked.

      I curled my lip and turned away, throwing my soda can into the garbage.  “Crying doesn’t help a thing.  It’s not dignified in public.”

       And there it is.  I can be a very hard person.  It’s only a minor character trait, and it seldom evidences itself (thank God)…but part of me is very hard.  Especially towards myself.  I’m not proud of it, but it fascinates me, I must say.  Where do I get it from?  My father?

      The man looked confused.  “Why not?”

      Good question.

Housekeeping and Cognitive Dissonance

Update: After three hours of internet research (thank you, Planted Tank Forum!) and many, many failed attempts, and much unladylike swearing and puddles of fish tank water all over my floor, I got the Eheim running again.   

      Pisses me off so much.  Eheim is, supposedly, the premier aquarium filter in the world.  I invested something like $300 for that German engineering when I could have bought some $80 hang-on-the-back shit at Petland Discounts.  German, my ass.  If one single thing in that filter was assembled by a European, I’ll eat my shorts. 

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 If anyone out there has an Eheim Pro II 2026 filter and you know how to troubleshoot it, please shoot me an email:

   The motor’s running, but but I think something wrong with the impeller.  The indicator ball isn’t moving.  I had a problem last year with the gaskets and fixed it.  I’ll check again tomorrow, but right now I’ve been working on this for two hours and I’m homicidal.  

     Changed the water. The fish should be okay overnight. 

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Cognitive Dissonance is the feeling of distress and confusion you get when you hold two or more conflicting ideas or values in your head.  

      For example: 

      Belief 1:  I despise cleaning so much it makes my hair bleed.
      Belief 2:  How a woman maintains her house is a testament to     her feminine honor. 

       See how that works out…?  Isn’t that FUN?   

       But wait–it gets better!  The cognitive dissonance I experience regarding housework is quite layered and complex–truly, it is unresolved. 

       Belief 1:  It is lazy and bourgeois to pay someone to do something that you are capable of doing for yourself.  
       Belief 2:  The idea of having a cleaning lady makes me want to weep with happiness.

        And there’s MORE!  We could do this all day!  I do do it all day!

        Belief 1:  I absolutely do not want to have that kind of relationship with another human being. 
        Belief 2:  I would rather code datasets or gut fish than put laundry away.  

        It goes on and on, but that’s enough for now.  You get the picture.   There is no solution.  There is no way out.  Every option is bad.  I cannot hire a maid without feeling like a failure and dying of shame.  So I must clean, and despise it, and be aware that I don’t have to be doing all of it myself.  

        I always told myself that if I ever lived with a guy, I’d have to pick someone who was a total neat freak.  Neat freaks keep everything really clean because they can’t tolerate it otherwise.  PROBLEM SOLVED, right?  But no…living with a neat freak causes other stresses.  My mother’s a neat freak, and living with her was like living in a museum (it did cause me to be very neat, however).  The Surgeon’s a neat freak, and I can only imagine how spazzy and tyrannical he must be at his house.  Remember the first scenes in that Julia Roberts film, Sleeping with the Enemy?  When Robert’s OCD psycho husband said something like “You didn’t hang up the wash cloths the right way!  And the labels on the soup cans have to be facing outward!” and she cowers “I’m sorry!  I forgot!”  Yeah.  Good times.   

         Surely I am not the only woman in the world who has to deal with these inherent contradictions. Actually, I know that I’m not.  One of the most astonishing internet flame wars I’ve ever seen happened on one of my favorite blogs, I Blame the Patriarchy, over women and housekeeping.  The commentariat on that site are all feminist brainiacs with strong opinions.  When they started to debate housekeeping, domesticity, and the ethics of hiring a maid, it was a spectacular Chernobyl-level meltdown.  I read it for, like, four hours.  

     (update 2:25 PM: here’s the link to the exchange…it’s too provocative and entertaining not to share, though I hope linking to it doesn’t cause Twisty to be mad at me :  )

      Why?  Because if you hate to do chores, there is no way out of this mess.

     I’m writing this now as I procrastinate running back down to the laundry mat.  And doing laundry is not even that bad!  Know what’s the worst?  The worst chore in the world?  

       Not bathrooms.  Bathrooms are okay.  Gotta have a clean bathroom.  I never minded having to do that one.  

       Not mopping floors.  The swiffer makes short work of it.

      Not cleaning the bird cages.  I want my birds to have clean homes!  

       Not ironing.  Ironing is kinda relaxing, actually.  

      The worst?  Putting away folded, clean clothes.  

       I hate it!  I hate it so much!  I hate it so much that I will actually take clean clothes out of the hamper and wear them!  I will live out of the clean hamper clothes!  ARGHHHHHH!

      Yeah.  Putting the clean clothes bad.  Even worse than cleaning the microwave.  Ugh.  

       What chores do YOU hate?  

        Filing this one under “complaining.”  Oh yeah.  

NASA Mohawk Guy: Awesome Nerd of the Moment

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    When I was a little girl, all the kids wanted to be astronauts.  Can you imagine?  It was the end of the Cold War, and the space race was part of the dick-swinging competition we had going on with the Soviet bloc.  NASA was glamorous.  The rich kids at school went to astronaut camp in the summertime.  They brought back samples of astronaut food, like dehydrated ice cream and shit.  It was very fashionable.  Can you imagine?  Is there a single kid in the USA who wants to be an astronaut today?  Hell, can you imagine if the USA had enemies who were white people who could do calculus?  White people with a navy?  Recipients for the nobel prize in science?  HOW ROMANTIC…!  

        But I digress.

        I bring this up because I was watching parts of the video feed of those NASA guys landing that “Curiosity” robot on Mars.  I’d forgotten NASA even existed.  Talk about some Cold War dinosaurs!  But I have to say: I was really happy for them.  They were so happy when they landed that robot!  They were crying!  I cheered for them.  GOOD JOB, GUYS!

        I was talking about it with some girls at this campus where I tutor today.  

          “Did you see the hot mohawk guy?” one of the girls asked me.

         I thought she was making a joke.  “A mohawk guy?  At NASA?  What, like an engineer punk or something?”

         “Yeah!  He’s, like, a twitter sensation!” she said.

         I had to see this for myself.  I don’t remember a hot mohawk guy!

          Meet Bobak Ferdowski (do names get any nerdier?), hot NASA mohawk guy:

Bobak Ferdowsi - NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab Holds Viewing Of Mars Curiosity Rover Landing
He is cute…but I am oddly fascinated by the longhair…

Yellow stars?  What? 
Bobak Ferdowsi - NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab Holds Viewing Of Mars Curiosity Rover Landing
Tears of joy at successful robot landing!

            I tried to find video of this guy.  I had to see if he wasn’t just, like, some engineer’s teenaged son who was brought in on “Go To Work With Your Parents” day.  

        Of course, the internet obliged.  The internet hath everything, doth it not?  

         Mr. Ferdowski is actually really, really smart (waaaay smarter than Miss Margo, that’s for sure!) and he has a very nice disposition!  I can’t remember the last time I saw someone this smart on television who was not also some hideous, demented political creature or an opportunistic pundit.  Three cheers for you and your NASA colleagues, Mr. Ferdowski.  You guys are a class act.  It’s nice to see someone on TV for doing something admirable for a change.  “If my mohawk gets people excited about science, then that’s what I’m all about!” he says.  COOL!

       Here’s his interview.  Cool guy, huh?  

Alcoholic Coffee Wars

   So, yesterday I went to my Sunday A.A. meeting.  It was good.  The speaker was great and the shares were great (they tended to focus on the professional consequences of active alcoholism…yikes…I remember what that was like) and everyone liked my cookies!  

        The chairpersons had a business meeting afterward, and I stayed because my sponsor says that I ought to get a service position.  

         It was interesting.

         Wait–no, it wasn’t.  Remind me again of why I hate business meetingsAny business meetings.  At school.  At work.  Fucking business meetings!  Meetings render everyone idiotic.  I hate them so much!  Nothing ever gets accomplished. 

        So, yesterday…the treasurer–who is a lawyer–says, “It’s summer, so attendance is down.  We’re a hundred bucks short on rent money.  We need to negotiate with the Church for reduced rent this month.”  

        A woman raises her hand.  “We ought to stop providing coffee and cookies until our financial situation gets better.”  

        Oh no you didn’t..!  OH NO YOU DIDN’T FUCK WITH ALCOHOLICS’ COFFEE! 

             Hands immediately go up (not mine, btw.  I don’t drink coffee). 

         Retired navy guy gets called on.  “We can’t get rid of the coffee.  Newcomers depend on it.”

        “We can’t afford it!” says the woman.
        This turned into a debate.  And it went on and on.  Yours truly, Miss Margo, is broke, but I was almost ready to offer to buy the coffee myself just to end this stupid back-and-forth.  It was like they were negotiating the Treaty of Versailles or the SALT talks or something.  

          The woman stormed out.  Yup!  She picked up her purse and left!  I wanted to quip–because I don’t really like her–“Don’t let this affect your serenity!”  But I didn’t.  Because I am mature!  haaahahahahahahhahaha

          Eventually, the chairman said, “I will buy the coffee myself.”

         Another guy raised his hand.  “But what about the Seventh Tradition?”

          Shoot me now! 

          Chairman says: “I’ll get it!  It’s just for a month!  I’ll get it!”

          FYI: I have to say, I really dig this chairman.  Always have.  He is a handsome Englishman and I have a bit of a crush on him. Don’t worry, I would never ask him out–AA is not a dating service; I don’t go there for that.  The dudes there are strictly off-limits in my mind.  But jeez, he is so cute!  He’s educated, too.  Whenever I make a literary reference, he knows what I’m talking about.  I spend at least two or three minutes every week thinking about giving him oral sex. 

        FINALLY it was time for me to raise my hand.  “I need a service commitment!”

         Handsome Englishman says: “You can make the coffee, Sheriff!”

          Everyone applauds.

           “But I don’t know how to make coffee!  I don’t drink coffee!  I don’t know how to taste coffee and determine whether it’s good or bad!”

            Well, the facts, as they say, are irrelevant. 

             Despite having never drank a cup of coffee in my life, it is nevertheless my duty to brew coffee for fifty junkies every Sunday.  The committee has spoken.  


Torture Me Please, Mr. Neeson (II)!

Update 4:45 PM:  I stand corrected.  This movie is actually pretty damn lame.  These CGI wolves look awful!  Whose retarded idea were they?  Why couldn’t they use real wolves?

    Oh well.  I’ll still watch the movie at least once more.  Who am I kidding?  

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  I’m watching this movie called The Grey while I bake cookies to take to my crispy burnout AA meeting.  

       I hate action movies, but this one is really good!  And have I mentioned today just how damn HAWT Liam Neeson is…?  Lord have mercy!  How is it possible for a man to be this attractive?  Oh my God! I’m only twenty minutes into it, and I’m probably going to have to take a break and run to my room and get off! 

Why yes, Miss Margo, I am the most sexy man in the world.   See you at 8? 

       The airplane crash scene was scary, though.  I hate airplane crash scenes.  I’m scared to fly in planes.  

      How can I meet this spectacular man and persuade him to rough me up a little (or a lot)…?  Does anyone have any recommendations?   Think I could somehow hire him to do it?  If he hits people in movies, he could do it for real.  How much do you think it would  cost?  

       He also looks really big.  When he dies, he should donate his massive cranium to science.  It looks as big as the faces on Mount Rushmore.  Yikes.  

      Now he’s fighting a huge CGI wolf with his bare hands.  HAWT!

      I gotta set a timer.  Otherwise I’ll burn the cookies for sure.   


     A few years ago, I had a relationship with Steven, a veterinarian.    I’d met him when I brought my birds in for checkups.  We were together for about six or eight months. 

    We were with some of his friends in East Hampton on day when he asked me: “Have you ever been in love?” 

     The question startled me. It seemed bizarre.  

      “Yes, of course I have.  Why do you ask?” 

      “Well, you don’t seem like the type,” he said. 

       I had absolutely no idea what he was talking about.  It made me really confused.  Who doesn’t fall in love..?  Everyone falls in love! 

        I came home and told my Canadian friend what Steven had asked me.

        “It’s true,” said my Canadian friend.  “You don’t seem like you need to be loved.  It’s really weird.  Especially for a woman.” 

       Still perplexed, I went to my expensive analyst. 

       “Of course you need to be loved,” she said.  “Love is a basic human need.  You just don’t expect to get it, because you have never been loved properly.” 

        It was then that I remembered something the Surgeon had told me about myself:

        We were about seven months into our relationship, and things were starting to get pretty heavy.  It was getting very personal.  I was still working a few shifts a week at the S&M studio he’d met me at–he hadn’t insisted that I quit yet, though he was starting to bring it up. We were staying at the Hotel Wales on the Upper East Side.  We’d been drinking vodka, but I remember the night very well.  I pushed him hard, very hard.  Out with it, out with it.  I knew it was there in him.  

       The suite was as far away from other guests as possible. I’m still surprised, in retrospect, that nobody called the cops.  Hours and hours. People were catcalling from  the sidewalk below.  I found a tangle of my dark gold hair on the bathroom porcelain the morning after. 

        Before he left, he sat next to me on the bed.  I was laying on top of the nice white quilt.  On my stomach, with a smile on my face.  The bruises and welts were already coming up on my back, quick and eager as mushrooms after a Spring rain.  He was icing me down.

        He looked down at me.  Uncharacteristically silent.  Considering.

      “That’s your problem,” he said, more to himself than to me. “You’ve never been loved.”  

       It didn’t register at the time.  I was off in happy la-la land.  Obliterated.  

      I wondered, the next morning: What did he mean by that? 

     As I woke up alone.