Free-Floating Hostility

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Hostylefax: New York

Apologies for the lull in posting. Friday was my last day at work, and six hours later I hopped the red-eye to JFK. Before flying I invited April and Alex out for dinner, the plan being to get me drunk enough to fall asleep on the overnight flight. That part of the plan backfired, though, because by the time they went home to Sac I was exhausted and immediately took a nap. In short, I was alert as hell all night. Fortunately the middle seat in my row was unoccupied, so I put my feet up and did my best, despite the small child who whinged and howled all the way from Minnesota.

My parents picked me up from the airport with Ponto in the car. It was important that I have a chance to get to know him without Rhoda present, because she had been rather territorial of David when he came home from college and we weren't sure what to expect. The weather was foul beyond imagining, the type of 100-degree 80% humidity day on which I imagine the miasma theory of disease was born. We had a quick breakfast and then I ran off to say hello/goodbye to Ryan, who was ironically flying to California that afternoon.

When I arrived, Sarah was fixing us pancakes made with cottage cheese and lavender. We ate them anyway, and they were good. I got to meet Lucy the Labradoodle for the first time, though she was not particularly interested in me, and I helped Ryan pack primarily by pointing my toe at things and making helpful suggestions like, "Maybe you only need to take one volume of Harry Potter camping." He ran off to catch his plane, while Sarah and I took Lucy for a walk in the incredibly foul air. I had arranged with Sarah ahead of time that I would nip around the corner to my mom's gym for a bit at 1:00, where she had finegled me a week-long pass. So when Jeff phoned and asked if he could come play with us, he understood that he was just going to have to wait because I had been on a red-eye and felt gross. Mom's gym is very, very nice--the shower drains are made by Fiat.

Mom had to meet someone soon after our workout, so she volunteered to take my dirty clothes back with her and throw them in the hamper. I gratefully accepted, only when I got out of the shower I realized I had given her the sneakers I was wearing when I walked in the door, and my other shoes were back at Sarah's. I wrapped plastic bags around my feet and phoned Sarah, sheepishly asking if she would care to meet me at Equinox with a pair of shoes. That was a funny coincidence, because Sarah had just been thinking about my bare feet. She had come up with a recipe for home pedicures and she wanted to try it out. She complied with my request and the four of us ran some errands. Sarah and Lucy went to Petco to by a mint-flavored ball for Lucy's breath and a hair clipper which the cashier failed to ring up properly causing Sarah about 40 minutes of ethical quandary. Meanwhile Jeff and I went to a deli and purchased some things like grape leaves, manchego and tortilla chips that altogether cost more than diner meals for the three of us would have, this being the Upper West Side.

During lunch, Sarah tried unsuccessfully to convince Jeff of the pleasures of the homemade pedicure. Sarah had whipped together a concoction involving sugar, more lavender and some aloe. As we were eating she had a further brainwave, "Hey, don't throw out your olive pits," she said, "We can use them as exfoliants." She also revealed to us her latest trick for home-made bath products. "While you're in the bath," she explained,"You eat eda mame, and when you're done you float the shells in your bathwater." We looked at her blankly. "It's kind of like a soy bath, which is good for your skin," she elaborated. "It's kind of like bathing in your own leftovers," Jeff replied.

Then it was pedicure time. Sarah lent me a pair of sweats, and as we sat on the rim of the bathtub we rubbed our legs with olive oil in the ancient Greek style, and then attempted to exfoliate with the pits that Jeff had meticulously divested of olive meat before spitting them into our pedicure dish. The exfoliation was not a great success, but the olive oil felt nice. "You're missing a great pedi-cuuure," Sarah called out to Jeff in the living room. "That's intention-aaal," he called back, before returning to his issue of Real Simple. Next came the sugar concoction, and Sarah had done an excellent job on this one; it really felt like the real thing. The sugar, being granular, turned out to exfoliate better than the olive pits, too. We rinsed, then applied peppermint foot lotion and a variety of sprays. At this point, Lucy developed a sudden interest in me, sniffing around my olive- and sugar-scented calves as we painted our nails.

Mike had phoned me with the news that Queenie was in New York, too, so we made plans for drinks back at my parents' place. The four of us agreed to a cab ride, during which Lucy refused to move out of the space directly under my knees. Rhoda and Ponto barked intimidatingly when Lucy came in the door, so Mom shut them up in the bedroom and allowed Lucy the run of the apartment. "Momm!!!" they whined, "There's another dog in here, I'm telling you. Another dog!" The noise was rather distracting, so a little after Queenie and her lawyer friend arrived, Lucy was shut up in my bedroom (Sarah was concerned about leaving her alone, so she stayed in my room with her and read Vogue) and the Gordon-Cash dogs were allowed to roam free. Eventually we tried for a diplomatic solution, and the hosts behaved themselves, but Lucy growled anxiously until we left.

Queenie, it turns out, has just settled with DuPont on behalf of a bunch of workers who were poisoned by exposure to teflon. It turned out that her lawyer friend was an ex-comp lit scholar, so she, Sarah and my mom discussed why it was that post-modernists think they are the last living Marxists. At this point my dad whispered a request to switch seats with me, and leaned over to Jeff to say, "I can't understand a fucking word they're saying. Let's talk about something else." I thought for a moment he was going to ask Jeff to explain to him what the Internet was for the fourth time or so, but they talked about Jeff's job instead.

The elders went off to dinner with some other people, and the younguns headed out to a bluegrass concert. We didn't make it though, because we realized it was late and humid out. I was planning to meet up with David, only my cell phone did that thing it does where it dies unexpectedly and then goes into a perpetual vibration until the battery is removed. So instead we went back to Sarah's, by way of Food Emporium. Those of you who know Jeff understand the significance of the Food Emporium jingle in our lives, but the store itself proved rather disappointing. The line "someone's got my eye for quality," was particularly brazen, I now feel. Jeff is not someone who takes food quality lightly, so while I got substandard vegetables to make into my salad, he opted for steak. He fixed it with some sauteed onions and squash; Sarah ate the steak not the salad.

Sometime after dinner I began to pass out on Sarah's couch and she sent me home. David was coming in just as I was. "I want to go to bed right now," he said. "Me too," I answered. "Why are you so tired?" He explained that he had been up the night before composing songs. He sang me some of the better ones, including "If You Live in Mali, You'll Never Get Famous" and "10 on the Gay Chart." David and I in fact stayed up another hour or so catching up. If I'm tempted to post on What's in David's Vocabulary I will lead with "Maria Full of _____," which apparently can be used anywhere. For instance, when his cell rang he interrupted me with one finger raised. "Maria full of telephone call," he explained.

I went to bed at midnight.

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