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Friday, July 28, 2006

happy weekend fun joy

the weekend is upon us and it's been an intense, nasty few days here around the campfire, so i figured i'd post a little happy fun goodness.

meet hannes coetzee (no relation to mr. goatse, i presume). he's a south african aloe tapper. he can also play the hell out of a guitar. me? i've been playing for 16 years, listening for 31, and i still have trouble wrapping my mind around this. he is essentially accompanying himself. this is no shtick. a mere mortal would need four hands, two guitars and, i guess, a spoon in order to do what he's doing. incredible. and very happy:

Thursday, July 27, 2006

please make it stop

Vanessa Tiegs makes "menstrual paintings." discuss.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

amy sohn responds!

gentle readers. imagine the tremor of terror that flicked down my spine when i opened my e-mail yesterday and saw a missive from a certain amy sohn (seen here in the current new york mag and, well, here on this very blog). i was half-convinced it was a note to let me know that i could expect to wake up with a meat cleaver lodged in my forehead one day soon -- pearl kung-fu grip, monogrammed: AS OWNS THIS BITCH! but no. with grace, poise and charm she let me know that she enjoyed (!) my post. she offered to send me a rebuttal, more thought-through than her blog post, and engage me in a proper debate. normally i don't like playing fair, but i admit to finding this an enticing proposal. so, without further ado ... here we go (with 20 percent less snark, i'm afraid):

Dear Mr. Nice Guy,

After being alerted to your, yes, only sort of funny, response to my post about SAHMs, I wanted to open a dialogue, call it Nice Guy vs. Mean Girl, so that I could explain myself better and respond to some of your readers' responses. I should start by clarifying that since my husband, Jake, an artist, and I have only part-time care, I am a part-time SAHM myself. I wouldn't know what goes on in the playground if I were never there. So everything I said about SAHMs of course could also refer to me. I am neurotic. I worry about whether my child is crawling or walking soon enough, talking enough, eating enough fresh vegetables, whole grains, etc. But on days when I am not feeling neurotic I find that I frequently become neurotic from being around other others. And I wonder whether a broader conversation would lead to more meaningful, or at least, interesting relationships than the constant mommy pong, as a friend calls incessantly baby-centric dialogue. She also calls a Bugaboo a "Universal Sign of Suckerdom," another reason I like her.

"only sort-of-funny?" nice guy vs. mean girl? oh, it's ON. i'm happy to give you space to elaborate, but i'm a little worried that a more nuanced discussion might actually break out. it's a risk i'm willing to take. let's start with "mean girl." i don't think you came across as mean at all. i can't speak for my readers, but to me you came across as a little neurotic, yes, but who isn't a little neurotic about parenting? mostly you just sounded ridiculously inclined to over-generalize, presume, judge and over-generalize some more. let's give you some epaulets and call you Generalissimo Generaliza, Inspector General of Generalia. yeah, i know, still "only sort-of-funny."

In my perhaps naive way, I imagine that women talked about more or at least more interesting things during the '70s when my mother was home with me for the first 3 years of my life. Nixon was being impeached right before I was born so maybe they talked about that. My mother was in a cooperative playgroup (a dying concept) in which 3 or 4 mothers took care of 6 or 7 babies for a few hours so the other mothers could either work part-time or get other things done. I asked her what they talked about when they got together and she said, "Probably how jealous we were of the mothers who weren't there." Your more reactionary readers will probably think this quote indicates that I inherited some sort of cold-blooded meanness from my mother but what I like about that quote is that in those days you were allowed to be jealous of the women who were out doing other things. You could joke on some level about the sheer relentlessness and maybe even the boredom (!) of parenting. I find these days you are not allowed to joke. People are too precious about parenting and this preciousness, I believe, is not good for kids, moms, dads, or marriages. This is what I was ranting about on my website.

i have read enough John Updike to know that you're probably right: a generation or so ago women probably were less baby-centric than the moms of today. they were also more inclined to get drunk in the afternoon and screw their friends' husbands. so, yeah, a return to the '70s could potentially be a good thing. and you're right about something else: the cooperative playgroup is dying, but it ain't dead yet. have you checked out, in our very neighborhood, Roots and Wings? sounds like something that might interest you. frankly, i don't think you are breaking any revolutionary ground or committing some terrible taboo when you say that moms sometimes get bored. lord have mercy, i have had days where my only company was the drone of the radio (ever hear Morning Edition twice in a row? not pretty) and my dreams of infanticide when naps were abandoned. flip through my archives some time. as far as the "preciousness" is concerned, i don't think preciousness itself is a problem. i think it's probably only a real danger when there's a preciousness imbalance in a marriage -- a preciousness gap, if you will. if mom is off-the-hook googie about her kid while dad would rather be throwing back cold ones with his single buddies, then we have a problem.

What I miss on the playground is humor. People approach the task of child care so seriously. Even when the kids are funny a lot of times I'm the only one laughing. In early childhood there is a lot of worry so this will change soon, and I am sure parents worried about their kids in the '70s, but at a certain point you really do have to let your kid fall on his ass or face or whatever. Not from a jungle gym, but from the eight inch-high walking bar on the Tot Lot.

i miss humor too. especially mine. i used to be more than only-sort-of funny. so i offer my wife as a counter-example (counter-examples being all i can provide to poke holes in your theory -- i try to avoid sweeping statements about a given population. except albanians. don't get me started on albanians). mrs nice guy, unlike her husband, is a laff riot. her current favorite photo of the baby is a picture of her mid-fall, with a look of "hoooolllly shit!" flashing across her panicked chubby face. it cracks her up every time she sees it, which cracks me up -- so here in one woman you have humor and a willingness to let her baby eat it ... and LAUGH at her on the way down. but i will concede one thing (dude, you're more fun to respond to when you are talking about your tibetan nanny, i'll be honest. you're too damn rational here): there are indeed some moms who just won't shut up about the precious little things sally said/did/pooped. these moms are boring. avoid them. there are moms who definitely hover and there are moms who are terrified of feeding their 3 month-old, say, a strawberry ("wait, is he allowed to eat that?!"). i think the real sad thing is a tendency i've noticed in parents to be unwilling to trust their instincts; an over-reliance on experts and a need to be omnipresent. still, i bet every generation in herstory has had these moms in it. so to say, as you did in your blog, that these people are bad for society? ninja, please. deliberate provocation is as boring as scoping stroller brands.

I also miss the opportunity to talk about other things besides mothering. I ran into a college acquaintance on the Tot Lot a few months ago and we were talking about working at home versus in an office, Ditmas Park vs. Park Slope, some old friends we had in common, and I realized how refreshing it was NOT to be talking about our babies. It seems interactions like that are very rare. Yes, I knew this woman, but not well, and I felt a kinship in that neither of us felt a need to talk about what our children were up to, even though we were very capable of watching them carefully to make sure they didn't hurt themselves.

word. my favorite neighborhood mom right now is a little older -- has a 12 year old and an 8 year old. on mondays, my day home, we occasionally meet up and drink too much wine on the stoop while her 12-year-old watches my 1-year-old inside. we talk about our kids as little as possible, unless her kid accidentally runs the dishwasher with mine in it. i really and truly don't know many moms who talk exclusively about their progeny. they tend not to be people i'd enjoy hanging out with. i do have momfriends with whom the conversation usually tends towards parenting, but that's because these moms are my peers, going through similar things, with similar questions. it's one thing to get the official line from dr. spock or whatever, but often it's in the trenches that you learn the dirty truth and awesome parenting hacks.

I mentioned on my blog a new book by Linda Hirshman that basically takes SAHMs to task for setting feminism back. She thinks the way to insure that women work is for them to a) marry older or much younger because older men are more settled in their careers and younger men are unsettled enough thatthey can put in time at home, b) have one child, and c) make their husbands do a lot of the housework.

i honestly have no opinion on the state of feminism.

I am not sure I agree with her that SAHMs set back feminism but I do think that choice feminism is a big, whopping failure, the idea that all choices that women make are equally valid. I don't think the choice to sleep your way through New York City is empowering. I know because I did it and at the end I wasn't empowered. I was just tired and maybe a little swollen. I don't think the choice to be a SAHM is empowering, on a personal level, because I get too much empowerment from my work and would never want to give it up completely. I feel sorry for people who don't love their work and I think the solution is to find different work instead of quit to care for a child. I also feel like it's a waste of a college education to become a SAHM. If I sent my 18-year-old daughter to an Ivy and fifteen years later she was taking care of a baby all day, I would feel disappointed and angry, like I threw away $100,000 which is what my college education cost although now it is much more. I think it's good for women to have career ambition, many interests and many kinds of responsibilities. There was one study in the
Science section of the New York Times that found working women in England to be healthier 30 years later than women who just stayed at home.

me? i have no qualms with sleeping my way through nyc -- do you have any idea how awesome it is to be married to a hot slampiece like my wife ... who earns 62 times what i earn? it's like the holy grail of awesome, made out of chocolate and filled with scotch. but really, what's wrong with raising a smart, thoughtful daughter who has weighed all of her options and decides that she'd be most fulfilled raising her children at home? i think we should applaud that. or would you rather have an illiterate, incurious oaf raising your grand-kids?

So feminism has to find some other way to deal with this whole SAHM/WOHM issue than talking about choices. This is the same reason the pro-choice movement has so many problems. And yes, I am pro-choice. Just as there has got to be another way to talk about women's right to abortion besides "choice/no choice," there has got to be another way to talk about working vs. stay-at-home women besides "two equally valid choices."

no one here said they're equally valid choices. that's my whole point. it's all about context and what works for you. parenting is like drinking wine: if it tastes good then it's the right wine for you; who cares what robert parker rated it? i am, probably to a fault, a relativist. you don't want to stay at home all the time? that's totally cool. ferchrissakes, though, don't tell moms who do stay at home that they're destroying the fabric of society. (and don't tell moms who don't stay home the same thing either; i might be looking at you, caitlin flanagan.)

And oh yeah, I think SAHDs make better full-time parents because they are allowed to fail, forget the milk or the play date or shower shield. SAHMs don't allow themselves the luxury of failure and they should because it lets you see firsthand that your kid will be all right anyway.

whoa, dads are allowed to fail? will you please have that statement notarized and sent to my bride? you may not be setting feminism back, but you're sure doing your part for chauvinism. again, Generalissimo, it depends on the dad, right? and, to an extent, the kid and the mom. as it happens, both mrs nice guy and i were a little stunned to discover that i am waaay more uptight and hover-inclined than she is -- a total flip of our personality types. i also know a semi-cliched dad who didn't spend a single day alone with his baby until the kid was a year old! he didn't know what the hell was going on. it was kind of cute, actually, but mostly just sad. i know another dad who's been home for three years. he's a musician who gigs on nights and weekends, but he's home with his boy every minute of every day. i've run into him on days where he just wanted call it quits -- told me he was a little jealous that i had an office to return to. statistically, we all have kids who will turn out just fine. you can't just make sweeping statements about us. of course, that reluctance to generalize is why i will never have a book deal.

oops, was that a generalization? any agents out there interested?

Monday, July 24, 2006

my daughter, my deviant

first of all: for those of you who were a little surprised when you opened today's post in the office, let me apologize by saying: HAHAHAHAH! HA! ah. heh.

ahem, yes. anyway. sorry.

so there is a point to all this, aside from cracking my bad self up. my daughter ... how shall i put this ... is, well, a BDSM fiend. only 14 months old and already she's into the leather-straps and the painful-pinches. (her safe word is, i think, "NGUH")

seriously, she's kind of weirding me out. she drunk-stumbles into my closet, reaches up and, every single time, retrieves one of my belts. if i try to take it away, she screams bloody genocide. she then proceeds to spend the next 30 minutes wrapping my leather belt around her neck and tightening it. i'm all "ew! freak! stop!" and she's all ... well, she's all nothing because she's only 14 months old and too busy auto-erotically asphyxiating herself to respond. and also she can't talk.

we have a wall-mounted phone that has an extra long chord under which we park her stroller. on more than one occasion, she's toddled over to her stroller (a maclaren techno XT, for you moms keeping score at home) and she'll reach out for the phone chord. and she'll begin methodically wrapping it around her neck! like a curly-que dog collar, it is.

(this is not particularly sadomasochistic -- just dumb, really -- she also loves to pick up the dishtowel, throw it over her head so she can't see ... and then begin sprinting, full-clip, in some random direction. why!?)

that's not all, people. she's into smothering. there's no happier baby on earth than ours when she takes a big old pillow and holds it down over her face. so she can't breathe. oh. aannnd she's into pinching. when she's in her stroller (and not strangling herself with the phone chord), she sits there pinching the bejesus out of her titlets and thighs! she leaves splotchy purple marks! on herself! what the fuck!? seriously, for her second birthday i'm going to have to buy her handcuffs and nipple clamps. thomas the tank is for tot tards!

anyway, that's all i have to say. i'm disturbed. and, mind you, i am a tolerant sex criminal myself. but this just isn't right. she's so young, yet so advanced. maybe i'm just jealous? i mean, if i think about this dispassionately, who am i to keep her from following her bliss? really. just look how happy those two look in the photo above! simply adorable, right? and they were babies once too, weren't they? imagine them, 45, 50 years ago, toddling around the tot lot. their parents probably loved them once.

so do what i do. play this little game: the next time you go to the tot lot, take a hard look at the kids. one day at least one of them will be starring in a little bondage show of his or her own somewhere. some other little tyke you see will someday be a crossdressing freemason. this little guy? an all-star ball-player and world class cokehead with erectile dysfunction. her? a dental hygienist with 24 cats and a mustache. that little dude? embittered douchebag who writes about himself anonymously online. do the world a favor and take him down now.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

it was 20 years ago today ...

ok, not quite the beatles, but an ass-rawking little historical document nonetheless. it's nearly impossible to believe it's been two decades since i was a wee bemulleted SoCal thrasher, worshipping at the altar of Slash's thundersome hair (and chops).

and as long as we're doing our part for the preservation of music history, here's Method Man describing how he crafts his rhymes. this is a rare peek inside the sausage factory of hip-hop poesy, friends, courtesy of the occasionally-fine Village Voice. TICAL!

I be in that studio racking my brains to make two words rhyme together as well as say some shit in between those two words that make sense. And then, on top of that, transition between those two words to forming words into a sentence that has something to do with what I just fucking said. You know how much work go into that shit? And then to be understood over all that? You know how much work it take to do all that shit?

put that in your blunt and smoke it, haters. shit is hard.

Friday, July 21, 2006

madison avenue, i salute you

i have no idea what this is an ad for, but sign me up to buy three of them.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

ok, so i took the bait

amy sohn is a writer in new york, apparently in my neighborhood even. she writes the "mating" column for New York magazine, meaning that she is, basically, a poor man's carrie bradshaw. a minor-league name-brand writer with just enough snark and sass to get away without thinking very deeply about her topic du jour. unfortunately her new topic du jour is parenting. this is a shame.

let's take a look at her pointlessly nasty and grossly inaccurate blog. as mrs nice guy describes it, "it's crap writing and mostly crap thinking. but with just enough 'holy shit, i've had that thought too' moments to keep me reading through to the end. (and then hate myself for it.)" because i am good to you, i am including my less-funny-than-i-wanted-them-to-be marginalia in italics:

Here in my neighborhood, Park Slope, I am constantly encountering insane stay at home moms (SAHMs). And I have come to the all too un-PC conclusion that stay-at-home motherhood, despite the way our culture lionizes it, is bad for the child and bad for the mom. And bad for society. It's just plain bad.

hmm, yes. our culture lionizes stay-at-home moms. simply adores them. gives them health insurance and writes songs about them. and the moms i met in the nine months i was a stay-at-home dad? totally insane. we're talking feces-throwing multiple personality-having batshit bananas. clearly this is the beginning of a well-reasoned and researched, articulate treatise on parenthood.

Most of the SAHMs I know are really miserable. The working moms I know hate their jobs and hate working but they're not miserable in the kind of extreme and neurotic, soul crippling, Zoloft inducing Yellow Wallpaper-type way the SAHMs are.

let's stop here a moment and marvel. the moms i know--and boy do i know me some moms--tend not to have crushed souls or zoloft-stocked medicine cabinets. they, in fact, tend to be smart, rational, funny people who are candid about the trade-offs of stay-at-home parenting. oh, also, they actually like parenting. talk about crazy!

When you spend all day with a baby you go a little crazy and I don't think the SAHMs realize how crazy they are. All these college-educated smart women who once had opinions about things and read the newspaper now can only talk about poop and pancakes with kale and Veggie Bootie and natural Cheerios versus regular ones.

first of all, what's wrong with talking about poop? poop is funny. second of all, kale pancakes? ca-ca-crazy! i'm starting to rethink my affinity for some of these moms and start to hating on them too!

My husband and I go to this playground called the Tot Lot near our house and we nicknamed it "Compare and Despair" because all any of the mothers talk about is, "Is she crawling? Is she walking? Oh my goodness, she has so much hair/so many teeth. She's so tall/long/verbal/expressive."

oh dear "compare and despair" is a mite clever isn't it? but amy, do you want to know why parents talk about kids with other parents? because, just maybe, in the tot lot (and this is just a theory) new parenthood is the one thing these people, who are otherwise strangers unto each other, immediately HAVE IN COMMON. sure, some of them are pushier than others and some of them smoke in the tot lot and some of them are passive aggressive and others are nervous nellies. but hey, the tot lot is a free country and it's fun to see the different types of parenting on display. lighten up. it's like a little-people zoo!

It starts with "How old?" and then from "How old?" they get into what their kid is doing versus what your kid is doing versus what all kids should be doing and after half an hour of this you're ready to stay inside for the rest of the summer. They sit around all day watching other babies play and worrying about their own baby's development. This is a lot like watching paint dry.

yes, this is true. every conversation i have WITH A STRANGER in the tot lot tends to start with "how old" because this is a surefire way to start a conversation WITH A STRANGER. it's a golden ice breaker. it's like "what's your major" and "so, what do you do" and "is it hot in here or is that just you" all rolled into one. from "how old" it's natural to talk about the tots for a little while before branching into other more cheerful topics like global warming and the impending third world war. but maybe some people prefer just keeping it to the kids when they're talking WITH A STRANGER.

One day I went to the tot lot with my daughter. I took her out and had plopped her by a play structure when behind me I heard two women talking. "Some babies never crawl," I heard the one say to the other reassuringly. I picked up my kid and we left. That was it. I just couldn't take it. I couldn't stand to be near it even though neither of these women was talking to me.

ah, yes. so instead of letting your kid play peacefully in a playground designed just for her, you took her back to your apartment (or some cafe? or ye olde pink pussycatte dominatrixe supply shoppe?) because you bristled at overheard conversation between two people you didn't know ... conversation i might add that sounded more "reassuring" (to use your words) than menacing; conversation about the shared travails of parenting because maybe some people like to talk about what's on their minds, especially when they don't have a regularly published column in which to air their thoughts.

By virtue of what these mothers do all day, they become obsessed with baby care. They don't "have time" to read the paper or read a book. They don't "have time" to go out and see a movie alone or see friends or go to a museum or have an original thought. So instead they talk about what obsesses them: baby shit, the Britax Boulevard versus the Graco Snugride, the Techno XT versus the Volo, the flushable diapers versus cloth.

if this is in fact true--if all the moms you know only talk about stroller brands and poop (which, i remind you, is funny)--then it's your fault for hanging out with boring people. but i suspect that you are exaggerating in order to work yourself into a froth of faux indignity in order to have some weak peg upon which to hang your smug disdain.

But the worst part of all of this is that the babies/children pick up on all of this neurotic energy and grow up to be really disturbed individuals, totally incapable of making decisions on their own. They don't play with other kids; they just play with Mom. They don't learn how to solve problems on their own or fall on their ass or all the things they're supposed to learn because Mom is constantly shielding them from danger. Of course this is all a big generalization but in general, this is what I observe.

"of course this is all a big generalization" but you don't care about trivial things like accuracy because you smell a big fat you-go-grrl snarky book deal.

As a result of all this danger shielding, Mom is exhausted and depleted and brain-dead, can't talk about anything but baby stuff with her husband, resents her husband for working even though he's got to do it to support her choice to be an SAHM, and then feels guilty if she considers going back to work because somebody drilled it into her brain-dead skull that working mothers are evil. I don't know who the somebody is. I really don't. These are not Republican women I am describing here. These are Park Slope women.

yes, when i wasn't taking orders from the What To Expect Posse -- when i wasn't busy taking notes on the latest stroller technology and comparing my child's physical development to that of other babies -- i was busy thinking about how evil working moms are. especially my wife. boy did i ever resent her for allowing me nearly a year at home with my child. and the moms who were working because they couldn't afford to be a stay at home mom? they were worse than brain dead, they were poor!

I suspect it is the husbands who discourage them from working. Because it's the social equivalent of taking Viagra. "What does your wife do for a living?" asks Jeff, the squash partner at the Racquet Club. "Oh, she's at home with our son," says Michael, and then boasts.

dude. the next time i talk to my squash partner Jeff at the Racquet Club i am totally going to try this line because it's like Viagra ... and ... i really want ... to fuck him.

In our family, we have a Tibetan nanny 2 full days a week and Jake and I split the rest. Our kid is adaptable because she's around lots of different people. There is nothing that only I can do for her. When she's sick and upset we hire our sitter for an extra night and by the time she leaves our kid is better. That's how good she is. We pay up the wazoo for the child care, especially since it's only part time. We love our sitter so much we just bought her cable. But I believe this is a far better option than having one of us (Jake or me) commit to being a full-time stay-at-home parent. Our brains would explode. We would resent the other one no matter what. Our kid would be seriously screwed up and we would go into a financial sinkhole.

so you and your husband -- both writers, right? who write at home? -- have a nanny two days a week and the rest of the time you are ... say it with me, now ... evil stay at home parents? you are just walking the walk, aren't you? and you love your Tibetan sitter so much you just bought her cable! that's so sweet and not at all patronizing. how about social security? also:

But give me a week to live the way they do (which I've done from time to time) and by the end I am thanking my lucky stars that I work. You can only eat at Moutarde so many times, propping an infant on your knee and eating with one hand before you think, I'd rather be on the roof of Soho House alone getting a tan. Speaking of which, how about this idea: Brooklyn House? I'm thinking of taking over the Montauk Club and turning it into a private club for Brooklyn Bohos. Indie rock concerts, a sun deck, and ON-SITE CHILD CARE staffed solely by Tibetans.

a whole week you've done from time to time? wow, that's tuff! but mostly, i love this idea! working getting a tan is so much more fulfilling than parenting. and tibetans are so great they should all have cable. let's fob our kids off on tibetans. forget those west indian nannies! too talk-backy! as for brooklyn house? this is the only well-thought out part of this diatribe. us park slopers are not privileged enough, dammit!

That is the end of my rant. I would turn this into a million-dollar book proposal if I could but I don't think there's enough to sustain 500 pages. Still, I wouldn't mind going head to head on Fox with that twiglike evil shiksa Ann Coulter. Keep your eye out for something by me in an upcoming issue of New York on a topic related to parenting. I'll post the link when it's up.

i am sure you will, amy sohn. i am sure you will.

Monday, July 17, 2006

lord, lead us not into penn station

and we're back! trip taken, wedding wedded, in-laws out-lawed. it was, as far as these affairs go, a success. there were some bumps, i will admit, but it was a success. here's the story.

on friday, we headed to penn station as soon as our nanny arrived. we hopped onto our exorbitantly-priced monopolicious coach-class amtrak train. the in-laws would take over from frau nanny whenever they got in from vermont. not our problem! we boarded the train and sat down and heard a toddler cry off in the distance. a crying child? our ears perked. but then we thought to ourselves for the second time that morning: not our problem! cry all you want, little shit! we don't care because we don't have to make you stop. and then the train started and then ... and then we slept! for like three hours!

i love trains. the sweet lullaby cadence of the chugga-chug rumble-clack just puts a body to sleep. especially a body newly liberated of its 14-month-old daughter. thank you, in-laws! thank you thank you thank you. and thank you again.

upon arrival, we checked into our hotel and wandered through adams morgan. for those of you who care, mrs nice guy and i met in DC. big-ass irrelevant digression starts here: i like to tell people that we met because i answered an ad. this is technically true: it was an ad for a vacant room. she and i were roommates in an adams morgan brownstone -- i was attending grad school at GW, she was working for the cigarette lobby (hah! kidding! ... mostly!). aside from us, there were four other people in the house. after three months or so, the lease ran out and the landlord sold the house for the then-staggering sum of $500K.

... this, i will have you know, was a PRISTINE four-story brownstone with a massive top-floor loft and roof access and a yard with a POND and a garage and an income-generating basement apartment ... and it all sold for what that basement apartment alone would now command. why, oh why, did i not have $500K as a 22-year-old grad student?

anyway, mrs nice guy and i moved, platonically, into another two-bedroom apartment in the neighborhood and we lived together platonically as roommates for another YEAR before she violently seduced me. the rest is history, but that is neither here nor there. end of big-ass irrelevant digression. so we were back in DC for the weekend and we checked out our old stomping grounds.

man, our old stomping grounds are a WHOLE lot seedier than i remember them being. has that ever happened to you? memory is a hell of a lens for making your past look prettier.

after that disorienting trip down memory lane, we met up with crazy auntie and uncle nice guy and their crazy son and their crazy friend and we had dinner and way too many drinks. then we met up with our old DC friends and had way too many drinks again along with a second dinner. then we went back to the hotel and slept the sleep of the Unburdened.

then the wedding. oh, man. it was held in the oldest catholic church in the capital. JFK used to worship there ... presumably the mornings after shtumping marylin monroe in the west wing men's room. i did what any self-respecting man-about-DC does in the summer and i DONNED THE BADDEST SEERSUCKER SUIT EVER TO GRACE A BODY CAN I GET AN AMEN?

the groom was a friend that we made after leaving DC when mrs nice guy was studying for her master's at an obscure college in cambridge, mass. he is australian and very dashing and much smarter than i am. now, many years later, i was at his wedding and the wedding was very nice. but a bit perplexing: the ceremony was at noon but the reception not until 6 pm. what was a humble pilgrim to do in the interim? lunch? drink? canoodle? shmooze? stroll? gallivant? run amok? and what about the reception? should i wear a second suit for the evening?

the answers: in the interim one is supposed to EAT LOTS OF BARBEQUE at rocklands. ribs. ribs piled high. ribs piled high and slathered with multiple sauces. ribs piled high and slathered with multiple sauces, accompanied with mac'n'cheese and apple sauce. CAN I GET ANOTHER AMEN? (good people of rocklands: please bring a franchise into new york city, which is so painfully devoid of decent barbeque and if anybody ever tried to tell me otherwise i would have to embarrass them publicly in front of their children because it's irrefutably not true. there is no good barbeque in new york. i have looked. WE NEED ROCKLANDS IN NEW YORK.)

i did bring another suit, but because it is black and made of wool and it was 39,657 degrees outside, i opted to wear my seersucka suit again (i have been told that it is not "authentic" seersucker, whatever that means, which is fine by me because now i get to call it nearsucker, sucka!). also, i chose to wear my seersucker suit because after eating at rocklands i found i needed to be as comfortable as possible as i had developed a severely painful and disturbingly resilient case of explosive diarrhea.

sitting in the cab on the way over to the reception was the most tense 10 minutes of my life. was i going to make it? clearly, as any woman surfing the crimson tide knows, you do not wear white pants every 28th day. well, my sphincter was looser than a $2 tijuana whore on cinco de mayo and despite the heat i was seriously wishing i had opted for my black wool trousers. was i going to make it? ah. i was. within .02 seconds of arriving at the venue and tipping the cabbie 400%, i located all bathrooms within the fancy mansion -- including the secret bathrooms, and those of you who have had bathroom emergencies know what i am talking about -- and quickly introduced myself to them all. one of them, mercifully, was stocked with pepto-bismol and i partook liberally (probably the only liberal thing that had ever happened in that house).

and then i bit the bullet, clenched my cheeks and joined the rest of the gang at the very fancy party which was quite elegant and also very fancy. it was held in a large 1801 Federal estate with lots of typical fancy-estate fixin's, like candelabras and chandeliers and portraits. oh, the portraits! portraits of the old and infirm. portraits of long-dead people, draped in jewels and monocles, aspiring to cement some sort of legacy. portraits of then-famous now-unknowns, desperately grasping at some sort of immortality that money had ultimately failed to secure. there were portraits, also, of this guy:

i mean, tell me you don't want to be him. look at him! the confident curl of his lip? you're born with that. money helps. the size of his belt buckle and butterfly collar? timeless. pointing at his crotch with both hands? hawt. the coup de grace? mood ring.

i am getting tired of typing this post, which means you must be bored to tears reading it. sorry. the point here is that aside from a particularly unexpected case of exploding ass syndrome (EAS), i managed to have a pretty damn good time. the live band helped. they were called, i shit you not, Powerhouse. and they were from baltimore and, i shit you not again, they were awesome. when we arrived they were playing a smooth-ass rendition of george benson's Breezin' and their repertoire included the ike 'n' tina version of "Proud Mary" and an incredibly insane michael jackson medley that started with "i want you back" and went through "bad" and included a choreographed thriller-dance and a bizarro monologue about how, granted, "billie jean may not be my lover but that don't mean i touched on no little boys!" okaaay.

so, yeah, good time. sure, due to my assplosions i had to excuse myself from the table with an alarming and embarrassing frequency. but i drank enough champagne to quell the rumblings in my tummy -- or at least to not notice them -- the unintended consequence being that i had a hangover the next morning that absolutely required a spicy bloody mary at the wedding brunch ... which instantly re-waxed my waning EAS. such are the paradoxes of my life.

we made it back into penn station on sunday in enough time to put the girl to bed. mrs nice guy took her parents out to dinner in order to thank them for not letting her die while we were away. i opted to stay home and mind the slumbering child, mostly because i wanted to sit undisturbed on my toilet, shedding silent tears as i felt the last of my life-force leave my body through the back door. and you know what? i still want rocklands to open a branch in new york.

Friday, July 14, 2006

leaving on a jet train

so mrs nice guy and i are about to get on a train to DC. for the weekend. without the baby. and the angels sang and the trumpets blew and the rocketsredglare.

we have a wedding to attend in our nation's fair swampland capital. weather forecast: 900 percent humidity at 115 degrees. who cares?! sleep forecast: while not attending nuptials, the wife and i will cram more Z's into one weekend than were in the entire last 12 seasons of sesame street. we might even just skip the wedding and sleep.

sleep. it's the new sex.

anyway. the in-laws are coming this afternoon to relieve the nanny and will stay with the baby until/if we come back on sunday. i suspect that mater-in-law will abscond with the child, who she loves more than we do. between you and me, it's a little eerie. the woman has a baby-nice-guy fetish. i fear she will set up some alt-interweb baby-fetish group while we're out of town. (and now, if you google "baby fetish" and "it's the new sex" you will get this blog. splendid.)

Thursday, July 13, 2006

nail number 2 or 3 in my coffin. i am losing count.

so in their infinite wisdom, the powers that be asked me to participate in a panel discussion at work for the benefit of the interns. only mildly terrified of large herds of over-eager earnest 20 year-olds, i agreed to share what little wisdom i have acquired in my brief and painful professional journey to mediocrity. i gave a mortifying little account of my career to date--as did, much more charmingly, my four colleagues also on the panel--and then i awkwardly fielded a couple questions. mostly painless. until.

until after the little panel discussion, that is. i was back in my office, packing up my things for the day (you know, tools of the trade: hacksaw, nail polish remover, baked beans) when one of the interns walked into my office, shocked.

intern: wait. are you OLD?
mr nice guy: wha?
intern: me and rebecca were listening to you talk about your experience--you know, grad school, internships, jobs other places--and we were adding it all up only it didn't add up. you must be old.
mr nice guy: how old did you think i was?
intern: 26? 27?
mr nice guy: and how old do you think i am now?
intern (thoroughly disgusted): like, 31?
mr nice guy: exactly ... so am i old?
intern: you look young. that'll be good when you're really old. like 40.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

and then this happened

so anyway i realize that--with the exception of these two posts in rapidfire succession--there have been no entries here in about 100 years. there are a few reasons for this which aren't that interesting: one is that my darling bride and child left town for an extended holiday weekend at omi's house (i had an inconvenient work schedule that kept me stuck in new york doing lots of naked-alone-bourbon-drinking-in-the-bathtub, you know how it goes). and the other is the fact that nothing interesting is happening in our thoroughly uninteresting and generally worthless lives sans interest.

still. be that as it may, there is one thing that happened that i would like to tell you about. it happened about a week ago. i was at work. it was about 4 pm. i got a call on my cell phone. it was the nanny. "gee," i said to myself. "i bet the nanny wants me to pick up some milk or maybe some more blueberries, which my daughter can't seem to possibly hoover enough of into her tiny blue-turning face." (incidentally, our little smurfette has been pooping blue for about 12 days now because she will eat nothing except blueberries. at least she's eating ... right?) so i answer the phone. "hello, nanny!" i say with jocular jovial jocularity. "want me to pick something up?!"

nanny: "sob sob cry sob weeping sob cry YOUR BABY cry sob weep weep I'M SORRY snivel weep snuffle sob IT WAS AN ACCIDENT!"
mr nice guy: "i am having difficulty processing what is happening. it appears that you are crying and repeatedly saying my baby's name. once i recover from these five simultaneous coronaries, i will become irrevocably insane. please try to tell me what's happening in english."
nanny: "sob sob THE DOOR IS LOCKED cry weep whimper BABY IS INSIDE."
mr nice guy: "oh. god. no. god."

so there you have it. what happens once has a habit of happening again. history (and hysteria) is doomed to repeat itself. the nanny was outside of our apartment and the baby was inside. and i could hear the baby crying over the phone, through the door, over the understandably extreme distress of my nanny. and so, having been in this selfsame situation before, i took a deep, calming breath and murmured to myself: HOLY SHIT MY CHILD, WHO CAN WALK, IS LOCKED INSIDE THE APARTMENT ALONE WITH FLYING JAGGED KNIVES ON FIRE AND SWEET-TASTING DRANO A-BECKONING FROM EVERY WET OUTLET!!!!!!!!!! and, of course, my wife who i love with a burning flame of love-fire and adoring love, is not answering any of her 13 phones or email addresses. as usual. she is none the wiser. lucky wife.

so i tell my boss as calmly as possible: "um, i have to go home a little early because my nanny seems to have locked my INDEPENDENTLY MOBILE CHILD alone in the apartment alone without supervision and alone." my boss, who i will love forever, said "ok, bye."

by the way, it takes me at least 45 minutes to get home. no matter what.

so i left the office and i ran in circles like a meth-addicted headless chicken in search of a taxi. it being rush hour, i found no free taxi. i did, however, notice that something deep inside my wounded knee at some point went CRUNCHCRACKLEPAIN but i was too stoked with adrenaline and dadfury to care. so i descended into the bowels of our fine cellular-free subway system. i caught an express train going in more-or-less the right direction up to a point. when that point was reached, i got off the train and ran up the stairs to the street (feeling and, more worryingly, HEARING my knee go click-clack-crack-fuckyou-click-asshole-crunch-eatme as i ran) in search of another taxi. i found a taxi. it was 542 degrees outside and because i was en route from work, i was wearing like 9 layers of clothes. i was soaked from every pore. (people, do you want to know how many pores i have? no. you don't. i have a lot of pores. and they are all too eager to deliver sweat directly into my 9 layers of work clothes at a moment's notice.) as i hopped into the cab, i had my 6th heart attack in 20 minutes as i envisioned my unsupervised daughter eating fresh cat feces.

so i get into the back seat and i say BROOKLYN PARK SLOPE FAST BIG TIP NOW. and the cab driver, i swear on my own future grave, says verrrrrrrrrrry slooooooooooowly "aw, man, i just came from there. no." and my head, right before it explodes, manages to say I WILL PAY YOU MORE MONEY THAN YOU HAVE EVER SEEN IN ONE PLACE AND I WILL EVEN DRIVE THERE MYSELF AND PAY ALL SPEEDING TICKETS FOR THE LOVE OF GOD GET ME TO BROOKLYN OR I WILL KILL EVERYONE YOU HAVE EVER LOOKED AT.

and he goes "ok, ok." and he starts driving. i look at my cell phone and i notice that i have one voicemail, which i am convinced is from the morgue. reluctantly i check the message and it's my neighbor. and he says "mr nice guy, CALM DOWN. we broke into your apartment. EVERYONE IS FINE SO YOU CAN RELAX. also, i hate you."

as i begin weeping uncontrollably, i try calling the nanny. she answers her phone. but she is STILL CRYING! hmm. calmly, i say "so everyone is ok, right? and by everyone i mean my daughter and if she's not i will ruin you." and she says "yes, she's fine. she's laughing. she has no idea anything went wrong -- the whole thing lasted 10 minutes. i am so sorry." and at this point it becomes possible, instantly, to become the most magnanimous dude this side of warren buffet and say "oh, no worries. i've done the same thing once before. we're all human. ha ha!" of course, if things had turned out differently, i would currently be serving 914 consecutive life sentences.

so, that happened. when i got home and tipped the recalcitrant cabbie $800, i found the baby sitting in her bath, splashing away. the nanny was still visibly frazzled, so i gave her a tall glass of wine. i hugged my daughter. everyone was alive and healthy and alive and together and alive. there have been moments in my life when i thought i knew what it meant to feel relieved. i was wrong. this is what relief -- pure, gluttonous relief -- feels like. relief is delicious. i could eat it all day. my baby was just fine. hallelujah, or however you spell it.

ok, so it's a week later and i still can't really walk without limping and my knee is quite possibly an official goner, but you know what the best part of it all was? i got to go home from work early. all in all, parenthood is awesome.

a little late for father's day

there are none funnier: