Wednesday, March 08, 2006

J-Men


One thing that Mr. J and I share, other than our father’s truly unfortunate nose, and our mother’s cheery disposition—is an unhealthy passion for blockbuster movies based on comic books.

Ever on the alert, Mr. J spotted earlier in the week a new trailer for this summer’s X-Men III. We both immediately watched it, and we’ve since been engaged in a rapid-fire e-mail dialogue. We’ve debated the relative coolness of Angel, a mutant curiously blessed with a giant set of feathery wings. (In my book, any multimillionaire super hero is automatically cool. Mr. J argues that wings are lame, regardless of the dude’s day job.) We’ve pondered over who the bald kid in the preview is. (Leech.) And, we’ve come to unanimous agreement that the movie adaptation really screwed Rogue. (As Mr. J points out, in the comic books she could fly. In the movies, the only thing her super powers do is prevent her from getting any ass.)

We’ve also taken the time to consider some more serious theoretical questions, namely, what would we do if we were mutants? Would we feel compelled to fight crime? Or, would we be just as happy to use our telekinetic and flight ability to clean our apartments and beat the morning rush? How would we feel if one of us was mutant, but the other wasn’t? Would the non-mutant feel inadequate? I felt inadequate when Mr. J won the elementary school science fair, how much worse would it be if he could freeze things with his bare hands? Would the mutant sibling be understanding of the other one, or would they just shoot laser beams at him/her?

These are all important questions that will sadly have to go unanswered. Until one of us develops a super hero ability, we’re just going to have to resign ourselves to discussions in the abstract. In the meantime, we’re each crossing our fingers that we’ll be the one to discover the hitherto dormant abilities. Neither of us wants to be the one getting laser beamed.

Ms. J

Sunday, March 05, 2006

VIP Only

On some basic level, everyone wants to be a VIP. Somewhere deep down inside, all of us crave to be on the right side of the velvet rope.

The city’s night life feeds on this secret desire for superiority. Muscle bound bouncers block the doors to even the lamest of clubs. Gaggles of finance types pay into the triple digits for the privilege of sitting on a banquette alongside leggy models. Bridge and tunnel kids stand for hours in the freezing cold, all for the miniscule chance to drink overpriced cocktails with the likes of Paris Hilton.

Perhaps more than any other city, New York is literally flooded with these nocturnal meccas of elitism. In spite of the excess of scenes available, one thing about club land never changes. Club land is always dark. Although the rounded seating may change, the beautiful people will only ever be bathed in the dimmest of lights. Which leads one to the obvious question, why not flip the switch?

Once we give our eyes a minute to adjust, the answer stares straight at us like a cigarette burn on velour. Darkness facilitates our suspension of belief. Just like a five-year-old at Disney World, we nighttime revelers want to believe in magic. We want to feel the steady thrum of an urban life that is as sophisticated and bedazzled as our wildest suburban dreams. In the subtle blue glow of the dance floor, we can imagine that our evening’s compatriots are a glittering pantheon of stars, rather than a sweaty mass of office drones. The chrome is just a little shinier, the suede a little less stained, the carpet nowhere near as worn—and that’s exactly what we want. Without that air of mystery, we’re no longer tres chic. Instead, we’re just…us. We’re mere mortals in a windowless room, with a few tired couches, and a relatively decent stereo system—and really, who wants that?

It’s for this reason that we all make a tacit agreement, to lay low in the black. To light a few candles, turn up the tunes, and allow ourselves to be transported. We’re going to a place where everyone wants to be. A place where the people are prettier, the drinks are tastier, and the music’s always pumping. It’s a place where we belong, and it’s a place that makes it all worth it.

Ms. J

Monday, February 20, 2006

Chance at Gold

I love the Olympics. For the past week and a half, team U.S.A. has been a prominent fixture in my living room. A pantheon of events whose details I’m only vaguely aware of--curling, ice dancing, snowboard cross, and super g. For this week only, I’m their number 1 fan.

There’s something a little funny about the Olympics. Take figure skating for instance. Every four years, we all tune in to watch skinny little men in sequined bodysuits take turns flinging themselves in time to classical music. We don’t really know the rules behind what they’re doing. We don’t have the foggiest idea how they’re doing it. And, if we’re honest, we don’t even necessarily have any interest in figuring it all out. As my cousin asked during a recent family dinner, “would you rather be a world class men’s figure skater…or, just have a really solid jump shot?” The table unanimously voted for the jump shot.

All of that said, you can’t deny that there’s something uniquely compelling about the Olympics. For me, it all boils down to the simplicity of it all. There are so few things in life that have such simplicity of purpose. Hundreds of athletes from across the globe, all focused on achieving ultimate perfection. Whether it’s the perfect run down the ski slope, the perfect spin on the ice, or even the perfect whatever the hell it is that curlers do--they’re all in pursuit of the same goal. They all want to achieve perfection in this one moment.

Four years of trying to explain to your friends what curling is. Four years of falling on your ass with no audience but yourself. Four years that all boils down to this one moment. This one moment where we’ll collectively hold our breath, as hundreds of athletes from across the world, go for the gold.

Ms. J

Monday, February 13, 2006

By Myself

Actual conversation I had with a friend the other day.

Friend: So what’re you up to now?
Me: I’m actually just about to go to the MoMA
Friend: Oh cool, who are you going with?
Me: Just by myself.
Friend: You’re not going with anyone else?
Me: Nope, just me.
Friend: Dude . . . that’s really sad.
Me: . . . thanks . . .

So has my life really become that pathetic, or was my friend overreacting? Being in a line of work with high work hour fluctuations, I frequently find myself with lots of free time at random hours. This has led me to try to figure out socially acceptable activities I can do by myself.

In an ideal world, I feel I should be free to do anything without worrying about a lack of companions. I think the problem stems from the incorrect belief that people assume an individual by himself must be completely friendless (a gross exaggeration to say the least). While objectively we all realize how untrue this statement is, it nonetheless permeates our decisions. For example in college, some of my friends were so scared of the specter of eating alone they would plan their meal hours in advance. In the worst case where they couldn’t find anyone, they would grab food from the dining hall and quickly scamper up to their room. Their reasoning being that if they were going to eat alone, they would at least do it in the secrecy of their own rooms.

Yet New York is not college, and I’ve found that for the most part New York tends to be somewhat more amenable to solo adventures, but often arbitrarily so. For example, while seeing movies alone is frowned upon, cultural events tend to be acceptable. Eating out varies depending on the restaurant and the meal. Who decides these things?

Personally for me, the problem is further complicated by the fact that most of my friends in the city are guys, meaning that even when I do find one friend to go out with, we’re limited by the set of activities that two straight guys can comfortably engage in. Yet even despite our precautions, I’ve lost track of the number of times people have assumed I’m part of a gay couple. But I’m getting ahead of myself, right now I just want someone to explain to me the rules on single person activities. Any takers?

Mr. J

Friday, February 10, 2006

Code Name J

If products are measured by the degree to which they improve your quality of life, then my iPod is the best thing I’ve bought in years. The iPod’s ascent to my most treasured possession has to do with the single fact that it provides a soundtrack for my life. What can I say, everything sounds better in stereo.

I’ve recently taken to techno music during my commute. Although it may seem a bit odd to be bobbing along to club tunes at 9 am, I find that it makes my daily grind seem much more glamorous. It makes me feel more than glamorous. It makes me feel like a spy.

I’ve never been particularly coordinated. Crowded into a subway car, trying not to jostle anyone, and desperately hoping to keep myself upright--I consider it a success if no one loses an eye on the way uptown. Which is why, a Matrix-esque soundtrack appeals to me. No matter how clumsy I may be, the music makes me feel invincible. Forget about the guy who elbowed me on his way in, he’s lucky I don’t whip out a flying roundhouse kick. Throbbing bass in my ears, I imagine myself hovering mid-air, cloaked in a long black trench. Crammed into some sweaty stranger’s arm pit, I allow the music to take me to a better place. It’s a place where I wear dark glasses. It’s a place where I annihilate alien agents. It’s a place where Keanu Reeves hangs out. Overall, it’s a place where I kick ass.

Although I haven’t tried it myself, my husband tells me that listening to music during work has the same effect. He spends a lot of time in front of the computer, and techno makes him feel like he’s breaking enemy code. We admittedly might be escapist, but as far as we can tell, life is much better with a back beat. It’s like being in a movie. The best part being, we’re the star.

Ms. J

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Get Your Licks In


Over lunch today, a friend shared with me an interesting problem. The woman he’s been seeing recently has a penchant for aggressive licking. As he described it, “Imagine someone jabbing you with their tongue.” He then proceeded to demonstrate what a tongue jab looks like. Needless to say, it wasn’t pretty.

The licker apparently explains herself with a giggle, followed by an “I’m just playful.” It wouldn’t bother my friend so much if she reserved this signature move for private occasions. As it is, she’ll routinely use the tongue jab as a greeting. They’ll meet each other at a restaurant, he’ll go to hug her, and she’ll slobber onto his cheek. When I noted that her affection has canine qualities to it, he agreed that it was one small step away from sniffing each other’s asses.

Although my friend has decided to stop seeing this woman for reasons unrelated to her tongue, his predicament does raise an interesting question. When one encounters individuals who seem to have missed the boat on issues of intimacy, do you correct the situation? If only as a public service? If a guy is a crappy kisser, should you try and fix him, before setting him back into the sea of dating? If a girl’s blow jobs border on hazardous to your health, should you raise an alert, before unleashing her on the masses?

It’s definitely awkward. As it is, my gentlemanly friend has responded to Lady Licker with a “That’s sweet, but I’m really not that playful.” In other words, he’s politely told her to take her tongue and shove it. It’s unclear though, if Lady Licker just thinks my friend is a prude.

If anything, these people persist in the pool of singles precisely because everyone figures it’ll be someone else’s problem. Who knows though, one man’s problem could be another man’s dream. Somewhere in this great city of ours, maybe there’s a guy just waiting for that special someone to reach out and lick him. If you are that guy, buddy, have we got the girl for you.

Ms. J

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Can I interest you in . . .

Before I moved to New York, every New Year’s I would watch the ball drop in Times Square. What with Dick Clark and Auld Lang Syne being my main memories, Times Square always seemed like such a warm, family-friendly place. Since moving to New York, I’ve discovered that Times Square is so family-friendly that everyone feels the need to bring their family there, and as a result it is an uncomfortably crowded mass of families. But nonetheless, I still like to believe that one can feel safe at Times Square with the kiddies.

Given this, imagine my shock this Saturday night as I was walking up 8th Ave, only a block away from Times Square, when a man came up to me and said, “Hey, you interested in any ladies? We got Asians, Blacks, Latinos, Whites, whatever you want man!” While I must admit that I was slightly impressed that affirmative action had spread to prostitution, I was rather taken aback by the boldness of this individual to approach me in such a manner. The man mistakenly took my silence as being on the purchasing fence and decided that he needed to elaborate on what services I could purchase. He then ran through quite an exhaustive list of various sexual acts and their prices, thus destroying any shred of doubt in my mind about his intentions.

Even though I ended up declining his offer that night, I strongly believe prostitution could win awards for their customer service (heck my cable company could learn a lot from them about providing the customer with a wide variety of services and pricing packages). More importantly though, I still am in shock about how this type of activity can take place so close to a tourist Mecca as Times Square. I keep wondering if this is sheer coincidence or if there is actually a reason these two activities are located right next to each other. (“Kids, why don’t you and mom take a ride on the Party Bike? Daddy’s going to go look for . . . umm, Broadway tickets . . . yeah, Broadway tickets!”) At the very least, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to keep a straight face the next time a visitor tells me they really want to see Times Square because they hear there’s so much to do there.

Mr. J