*The following are pieces that were deleted from my blog
by "Blogger". They were originally published between August and
I’m vacuuming over by the
kitchen, and suddenly surprised by the length of the cord, (I’d thought
it was only 9 feet,) I look behind myself to see my wife holding the
plug in her hand, and she shouts to me over the whir of the motor,
“Something strange happened to me today”.
Gitty And Esther
“Mommy what does self-righjus mean?”
Gitty took one last drag off her cigarette before stabbing it out in
the styrofoam cup that held the sludge from Esther’s hot chocolate.
“It’s like your father, not letting us see each other more than twice a
month, and not letting you live with me because I refuse to wear a wig
and skirt, and keep Shabbes”, she wanted to say, but instead: “it’s
self-righteous, and it means, you think your way is the only right way
to do something.”
She watched as her daughter tried to select a color for Yogi’s picnic
basket from the crayon fragments scattered around her on the floor,
before settling on purple. “So what do you think you’ll want for dinner
mameleh? I bet we can have pizza delivered to our room, you want
As she passed the bay window on the way to the phone, she
surreptitiously parted the vinyl curtains and scanned the motel's
parking lot for the familiar white vans.
While the two waited for their dinner to arrive, Gitty lit another
cigarette, and studied the gas-station map, while Esther continued to
“What the hell do I need with advice from a goddamned tea bag” I
thought. I got that fortune cookie on Tuesday night, and it says to me
“Good clothes open many doors. Go shopping.” I figured I needed some
new interview clothes, so I did. I bought a new tie, a new shirt to go
with it, and just for the hell of it, a new suit so I could make the
Now, my rents due, and I’ve got three dollars and seventy eight cents
in my bank account until next month, so I go to the bank to see if I
can get an overdraft, and while the bank managers in the back office, I
see there’s this bowl of candy on his desk for anyone to take from, so
I take one, and I take the little red square Dove chocolate, even
though it’s the last one, and there on the inside of the red foil
wrapper, it says “Success comes to those who have no fear; simply leap
and the net will appear”, so before the manager even comes back, I get
up and leave. Just like that. I go next door with my last three bucks,
and I buy a cup of tea, the evening paper, and a lotto ticket. I open
the tea bag, and there, printed on the back of the little tag, it says
“Don’t believe everything you read”.
Each story begins with a choice, one made either by or for its main
character. Consider Yaya. Yaya is a 40 something year old man who works
in garage; though he isn't supposed to accept tips personally, (there's
a lucite communal tip box for the benefit of the entire staff,) from
one customer to whom he's been exceptionally helpful, he accepts the
neatly folded five dollar bill pressed into his hand. Later that night,
he'll use it to buy himself one extra drink, which will effectively
keep him at the bar an extra 17 minutes; during that extra time, he
will meet his next girlfriend, or get in a fight. On the other hand, he
may use the extra cash in his pocket to buy himself two lotto tickets,
a cup of coffee, and a bag of Doritos.
If he chooses to save the bill, and use it that night at the bar, and
he meets his next girlfriend, perhaps she will become the love of his
life, marry him, give him two children, one of whom will attend
Princeton one day and earn a doctorate in physics, specializing in
magnetics, the other of whom will die of leukimia on her 11th birthday,
or maybe the woman will give him herpes.
If he gets into a fight, maybe he will accidentally kill the man who
started with him, or before the first punch, perhaps the two will
reconcile and become fast friends, and discover they are from the same
obscure part of Kenya.
Maybe one of the lotto tickets will win 2.00, or 34,000,000.00.
If it wins 2.00, maybe he will count himself lucky, bless God, and buy
himself a muffin to eat later for desert, or maybe he will buy himself
two scratch-offs, win nothing more, and curse himself for wasting 2.00
when he could have had a muffin. Or maybe he will win a million dollars
a year for life.
Each story begins with a choice, and with each choice there are a
You're drunk, and the cold feels like something else, as you stagger out of
her basement apartment, barefooted and bloodied. Damn it, she should
have listened when you told her to keep quiet.
The book in your hand is already falling apart, but you do your best to
keep the pages from scattering in the wind. "Just once more", you tell
yourself, and behind you, just a bit to your left you hear the click.
Applicants must be able to accept criticism, take being misinterpreted and misunderstood
with aplomb, have a high threshold for stress, and be comfortable
making life or death decisions. Extensive knowledge of world history,
politics and religions required. Executive experience preferred. Must
be multi-lingual, able to multi-task, and have advanced problem solving
capabilities. Work schedule is for 6 days a week.
Predecessor is exhausted but will thoroughly train replacement before
Interested applicants may leave their curriculum vitae at any
synagogue, mosque, church, temple, ashram or ancient grove.
I had a dog named Shorty once. I got him from the pound, because they said they were five
minutes away from killing him. Shorty had one eye, a coat of about 7 different colors,
and his back legs were just a little longer than his front ones, making
him look like he was always in the mood to play. My friend Meiron said
he looked like Frankenstein’s dog. When I went to pet Shorty for the
first time, he took a bite out of my left hand, but he must not have
liked the way I tasted, because he never bit me again. When we took him
to the park on Saturday afternoons, he would always chase other
people’s soccer balls and pop them, and when a lady soldier was bending
down to get something out of her backpack, Shorty bit her on the ass.
He must have liked the way she tasted, because he didn’t let go for a
really long time, even though she was screaming, and it took her
boyfriend, Meiron and me together to pull him off. Meiron said we were
probably the first people in the history of Independence Park, to be
kicked out and told never to come back.
When I met Neta at “The Moon” one Friday night, it was love at first
sight. Three days later she moved in, with a footlocker full of her
CDs, Books and clothes. When I picked her up from work on Tuesday
night, we came home to find her locker pried open, her CDs scattered
and scratched, her books torn to shreds and her clothes piled in the
four corners of the apartment: one pile had been shit on, one pissed
on, one vomitted on, and on the last pile was a very tired dog, on his
back, sound asleep.
“It’s him or me,” said Neta.
When we took him back to the pound, the lady smiled at me, took the
leash without a word and led Shorty into the back. As we walked out
into the bright afternoon sun, we heard her say, “Poor thing, we were
beginning to wonder how long you'd be away this time."
You’re not one to give up easily, you tell yourself, as slowly, you ease your
left, then right foot into your own mouth. You swallow. Now, if you can
just manage to get your legs down you think, the rest will be a breeze…
you’ll show them all, and you slurp at your knees, but you can’t seem
to make any headway. Your back is on fire, and your jaw, throat and
stomach feel like they’re going to burst. “Tommorrow,” you tell
yourself, “tomorrow I’ll show them what happens when they say I can’t
Let’s just say, the bus you’re on goes boom, and you survive, not only
survive, but you’re totally fine, like, not a scratch on you… now,
let’s just say, all around you, everyone is dead, there’s no way
they’re still breathing, and let’s just say, you’re walking through the
corpses, and instead of blood and guts spilling out of them, there’s
half a woman lying by your feet, and hanging out of her torso, where
her guts should be, there’s a bunch of CDs and a Walkman, and there, to
your left, is the chest of some kid popped open like a pan of jiffypop,
and where his heart and lungs should be, there are two slightly
deflated soccer balls, and a Sony PSP, and over by what used to be the
front of the bus, you see what used to be the driver, and he’s got a
book sticking out of his chest… so you pick up the book and open it,
and amid all the sirens, and the smoke, and flashing lights, you sit
down on the street and you read, and it says “Let’s just say, the bus
you’re driving goes boom…”
Second Hand Reminiscence
The song “Ein Li Eretz Acheret” comes on the radio, and it reminds you of
her, and on the movie screen of your mind, you see her sitting alone on
the corner of her mother’s bed, listening, like you are, to Gali Atari,
and moved, like you are, because it reminds her of her childhood in
Fade to flashback she’s lanky and nine, sun tanned, pigtailed, sandaled
and shorted, and her brother, Tzion, is there; carelessly they’re
devouring enormous yellow and red summer peaches that drip down their
chins and stain their shirts. Though you're not there, she looks at you
and smiles a drippy smile, the peach’s stone apparent under her cheek.
As the song ends, she’s there once again, sitting at the foot of her
mother’s bed: neck bent, head down, face obscured by that mess of
curls, waiting for something to begin.
When Fidget was in kindergarten, his teacher gave him his nickname because he couldn’t sit
still. He kicked his feet through naptime, drummed his fingers through
story time, and, rather than coloring in his coloring book like all the
other children, he’d play rockets and missles with his crayons. When
Fidget was 22, he won a trip to London by being the millionth customer
to walk into a supermarket, and when he visitted Sotheby’s, unable
contain his fidgetting, he accidentally bought Queen Anne’s sleigh bed
for 93,000 dollars at an auction.
When Fidget went to a benefit dance for Hadassah, he met his future
wife, Na’ama, who thought he was funny because, even though he was
sitting on his own, he seemed to be enjoying himself, dancing in his
seat; when she introduced herself to him, she told him how impressed
she was that even though he was there without a date, he seemed to know
how to have a good time by himself, not like all the guys who just
stood around, lined up against the wall trying to look cool. Every
night in bed, Na’ama would think that Fidget wanted to make love,
because he would shake his leg against her; she interpretted it as him
reminding her of his presence, and not wanting him to feel rejected,
she’d start to stroke his thigh. Six months after they were married in
Cyprus, their daughter, Miri was born.
When the terrorists broke into their house, they hid in the attic;
While the terrorists went room to room, shooting their guns, throwing
handgrenades, Na’ama held her hand over their daughter’s mouth, and
Fidget sat crosslegged, holding them both tightly, but his left foot
was free to fidget.
Getting Used to Anything
I guess it’s true what they say, you really can get used to anything. I
mean, I’ve been here a week and it’s cool and all, but it really got on
my nerves at first, how wherever you looked, just on the fringes of
your vision, everything would go all fuzzy like, and I mean, other than
that, it looks pretty much like my old place, except, you can’t find
anything good on tv, only mushy love stories and Disney cartoons, and
even watching boxing is pointless, because at the end of the game, both
guys win and all they do is hug each other, and you can’t get really
good schoog on
your falafel, no matter how much you put, it’s just never that hot, and
even though I threw myself on a grenade to save a bunch of the guys in
my unit, the girls around here are never impressed, so I haven’t gotten
laid simce I’ve been here, but like I say, I guess you really can get
used to anything.
“It’s the speckled white ones that send you into the next world” says
the candy lady with the pretty blue eyes. You hold the little wood box
in your hand. It’s made to look like a miniture orange crate, and it’s
full of different colored jellybeans.
“What do the purple ones do?”
“That’s a mystery” she says, “I’m only allowed to tell you about the
white speckled ones".
You take your candy home, and the first one you taste is like a trip to
New Mexico; small octagons appear on your ceiling in vibrant shades of
silver, yellow and white, and you go through them. There’s a vague
taste of blue corn tortillas to this one, you think.
Back at your kitchen table, you choose the next one; its surface looks
like liquid opal, and you think to yourself, how could the plain white
speckled one be more special than this? Tentatively, you taste it, and
you’re sitting in a movie theater in Pittsburgh, Pa., and it’s 1943.
There’s smoke swirling around your head, and Micky Rooney is just about
to lay one on Judy Garland, when you feel a Jujyfruit hit the back of
your head. You turn around, and see your microwave flashing at you.
Now, there’s simply no holding you back. You pick up the white speckled
one, and pop it into your mouth.
When the neighbors complain about the stink, the super breaks down your
door, and when they find you on the kitchen floor, you’re still
smiling, with a chunk of meteor sticking out of your forehead.
After Daddy died, Grandma moved in. Since she had a hunched back, she couldn’t
sleep in a bed like normal people. Instead, she sat in our old easy
chair in the corner, so that she wouldn’t be in the way. As Mom and
everyone grieved, she sat. She sat through summer, when we had a
blackout, and the air conditioning stopped working and it was 100
degrees in our apartment, and she sat through fall when we had company
over for the first time since the funeral.
One day Grandma said, "I feel like this chair is swallowing me", as
little by little she became smaller and smaller.
When I asked Mom, she explained, “it’s just her scoliosis; she used to
be much taller, but that’s what happens. You just shrink. Plus, she
doesn’t eat much.”
One day, when we were doing spring-cleaning, Mom handed me a broom and
told me to go sweep the living room. When I got over to the corner
where Grandma’s chair was, she wasn’t there.
“Where’s Grandma?” I asked. Mom came into the room, with her yellow
gloves, carrying her bucket and sponge, and wiped a stray hair out of
her face with the back of her wrist. “I don’t know,” she said, “she
must have gone home or something.”
I sat down in Grandma’s chair. It was much cushier than I’d remembered
it. I leaned on the handle of the broom and cried. She never even said
Last night my brother in law died. When we went to the apartment he’d been
staying in, we found his wallet, cellphone, keys, slippers, clothes,
and a half crushed, half smoked pack of Marlboro 100s. It was in truth,
the Marlboros that were the saddest thing to find: something so
personal, and so disposable: a half smoked pack, from a half lived
The Trouble With Cheap Tampons
Ma’ayan was in the bathroom and I asked what the problem was.
"I just got my period and I'm out of tampons. I hate to do this to you,
but will you run out and get me a box?"
It was 11:45 at night, and the only place open in our neighborhood was
the corner bodega. When I got there, there was one box of tampons. They
were in a dusty faded red and white striped box, looked about 20 years
old, and the writing was in some language I'd never seen before, but
they were definately tampons, as far as I could tell. I bought them and
shuffled home to my dear girlfriend. She was a little grossed out when
she saw that the box was so dusty and old. "They're gross!
I could get toxic shock or something!"
Nonetheless, she used one, and we went to bed.
The TV or my need to pee or both woke me up at 4:34 and I groggily made
my way to the bathroom. When I got back, there was Ma’ayan sound
asleep, naked and spread eagle on the bed, and there, poking out of her
vagina was not the usual white string, but something that looked like
the tip of a tiny lion's tail, and it was wagging.
"Ma’ayan!" she snored at me in response. I opened up my cellphone and
shined the blue light on her crotch. It was definately a tail of some
kind. I gave it a little tug, and suddenly saw a little cloven hoof
sticking out below a small brown hairy rear. As I pulled more, Ma’ayan
began to wake up. "What are you doing? We can't have sex.. go back to
"But there's a little horse or a goat or somthing in your vagina!"
She sat bolt upright, turned on the light, and looked down, and
suddenly began to sob, but not like she was upset or even shocked or
scared... she actually seemed happy.
"I knew if I waited long enough, I'd get one... don't you see? It’s the
giraffe I wished for on my sixth birthday!" and she pulled it the rest
of the way out.
There, sitting on the bed, between my girlfriend's open thighs, was a
3-inch tall baby giraffe, trying to get its land legs and failing
"He’s so cute!" she squeeled. He was, but...
"I want to call him Benny. Quick, go get me some milk from the fridge."
It's been 3 weeks now, and Benny has become part of the family. He's
brought us closer than we ever were, and he's not even high maintenance
or anything. The trouble is, he's now nearly 9 feet tall. The Karils,
our downstairs neighbors have started to complain that they hear
clopping on the floor at strange hours of the night, and plaster is
falling on their heads, and our chandelier, the one my mother bought us
for the new apartment is broken. The other day, Mr. Karil cornered me
in the elevator, and I had to tell him that my 300 pound Aunt Margi is
staying with us and she’s a slightly deranged aging flamenco dancer...
I had to promise that we'd only let her practice in the afternoon.
Also, the ashtray that became a litterbox that's now a sandbox that's
sitting in the middle of our living room is becoming insufficient, and
since Ma’ayan works days, and I stay home, I'm the one who has to empty
it 3 or 4 or 5 times a day, and I've already stuffed up the toilet
several times. Giraffe poop doesn't smell much but it's pretty big and
can really stuff a toilet. Don’t quote me on this, but I think we're
going to end up having to move to Jersey or something soon.
The Episode With The Lizard
At first it didn’t register. It’s like, when you see something out of the
corner of your eye and your subliminal mind tells you in great detail
why you couldn’t possibly be seeing what you’re seeing, so your
concious mind, the wimp that it is, just says “ok, you know better”,
and gives in.
But there it was; on the top edge of the black marble backsplash, in my
kitchen on the Upper East Side, was a green Anole, looking like he had
every right in the world to be just where he was. Searching
surreptitiously for something to coax him into, I considered the
possibilities that might have brought him to me, but the more I
considered, the less sense it made. The last time I’d been in Miami was
over a year ago, and I was fairly certain that, had he stowed away in
one of my suitcases, he’d have either been discovered by now, or, more
likely, dead, a sneaker casualty; but like I said, here--
incontrovertibly, (and apparently in good health,) he was. I settled on
a black oblong plastic take-out container from Noodles 28, and poked
two small holes in its’ lid with a pairing knife before gently scooping
him up between top and bottom. Figuring I’d take him where we always
take mice to be released from our “have-a-heart” traps, I slipped on my
top-siders and headed out the front door towards the East 86th street
entrance of Central Park.
“So, have you done anything about finding a job yet? What about school?
Are you doing anything about going back to school?”
Annoyed, I was about to answer when I realized I wasn’t on my
cellphone, and that it was my perforated take out container that
talking to me.
“You know, your life is just passing you by. You’re not getting
younger, and I’m just concerned your going to wake up one day in your
sixties, and realize you’re still waiting for your life to begin”
“Shut up.” I hissed, “You’re a lizard. What would you know about waking
up at sixty and realizing anything? Besides, I’m waiting to hear back
on something I submitted to The New Yorker.”
I quickened my pace towards the park, while it occurred to me, the two
smoking barbers I’d passed on eighty-eighth and third had interupted
their own conversation and were staring at me.
“You know,” he said, “ you can wait forever. In the end, nothing really
comes from waiting. Why don’t you call them back? Be proactive for
crissakes! And what about that volunteer position you were talking
about? You know, a lot of valuable contacts can be made that way.”
“The guy from The Central Park Conservancy already emailed me back. He
said they only have high school students volunteering in the office in
the Summ… I’M TALKING TO A LIZARD!!!”
“And? And what if I was a guy with a long white beard and a staff?
Would you take me more seriously then? Look, don’t let the package fool
you guy, I’ve been around a bit.”
“Yeah? Like where?”
My take-out container sighed impatiently. “For 24 years, from the day
you and your family moved to Miami, I sat in your room, just behind
that red toy clock on top of your bookcase. I watched you throughout
junior high, high school, college… all those part-time jobs you got and
lost, every time you came home depressed after school, or a bad date,
or just a bad day… I’d crawl out onto the ceiling over your bed and
read over your shoulder when you were writing in that sketchbook of
yours, I read every word. You were good, morose, but good. You showed
promise. You had keen insight. But you never could get over what
everyone on the outside kept saying… you’re not normal blah blah blah,
you’re weird, you insist on doing everything differently, just to be
different, anything possible just to not fit in… you don’t know how to
take direction… and what did you do? You ate it all up. You believed
them! You let them get inside you, until there wasn’t anything left.
I’ll tell you, it makes me sick what they do, these self-riteous
cannibals of the spirit. They took you, a creative, dynamic,
intelligent and sensitive individual, and, because they were afraid of
that side of themselves, or maybe, who knows? Maybe because they
were jealous, they did everything in their power to crush it in you.
And now what do you do? You spend your days in your room watching t.v…
or maybe you poke around on the Internet, or you write a clever
sentence or two in your blog. You’re wasting your life! Honestly, it’s
Stopping for a red light on the median of Park Avenue, I sighed, a wave
of something that felt like sadness and the realization that I was,
even after so many years of therapy, living the victim of others’
conceptions. “So, what do I do now? I’m lost. I feel like I don’t have
anything inside me. No ideas come. And if I do get an idea, it’s like I
just don’t have the mental energy to do anything with it. So tell me,
please, what do I do?”
The take-out was quiet for about ten seconds, then,
“I’m a vegetarian!”
“You’re not exactly asparagus though you know.”
“If you eat me, the weight of your past will become like steam; in its’
dissipation, you’ll become light yourself. You’ll have drive, vision,
and clarity. You’ll finally get over every failure you allowed yourself
to be defined by. If you eat me, you can let all that go.”
I opened up the white plastic box and the lizard crawled out onto my
cupped hand. I looked into his face and he looked back at me and
blinked. I closed my eyes.
He just goes to me, “You’re going to misunderstand what’s about to happen to you, and for
that, I am profoundly sorry.” and sticks the knife in, and that’s it,
game over. Except that it wasn’t over at all.
So, what happened see, I'm on my way home from Food Emporium, when I
see this homeless guy I kind of know. Well, I don’t really know him,
but whenever I see him and his dog, (he has a dog) I usually give him a
couple of bucks or buy him some food or something. This time, I was
broke, and I’d just used the last of my foodstamps for the month, which
sucked big time, because it was only the seventh. So, I see him sitting
out front and it’s freezing outside, I mean like in the teens and
windy, and he’s sort of huddling behind his cart inside 3 or 4 coats
and when he sees me, he says hi because I usually give him some money
or buy him some food. So I notice his dog isn’t with him, but there’s
this other homeless guy, maybe 60 or 70, (it’s hard to tell) talking to
him, and he’s really skinny and he's wearing this old looking army
jacket but he looks kind of peaceful and stuff, so I ask my friend,
well, he’s not really my friend, but you know what I mean, where his
dog is, and he tells me he’s been leaving his dog with a friend because
its been so cold and this way he can go into the subway at night or go
to the shelter and stuff...so, I’m standing there, talking to him and I
feel a little guilty, you know, standing there holding groceries, on my
way home, so I tell him I don’t have any money this time, but I just
got him some cheese and a bottle of water, and I take a package of
string cheese and a bottle of water and give it to him, and tell him I
just used the last of my food stamps, maybe so he realizes it’s kind of
a sacrifice for me or something… then the other guy smiles at me, and I
smile back, thinking he must see that I’m a good person or something,
not like all the rich snobs that live around here, and I say to the two
of them have a good night and stay warm.. so I’m on my way home now,
and I turn onto my block and suddenly he’s right there in front of me,
and I have no idea how he got there, because I just left him in front
of Food Emporium, and he’s got a knife, so the thought “how the hell
did he get in front of me so fast?” is replaced by “who's this asshole
in front of me with a knife?” and he just goes to me “ You’re going to
misunderstand what’s about to happen to you, and for that, I am
profoundly sorry.” and that's it.. it's like a flash, no pain even, and
I’m here, in this stupid waiting room, and some guy's tellin' me I'm
about to be drafted into Heaven's army or something, because there’s
some kind of angelic war going on..
So, what about you? How’d you get here?