Monday, August 30, 2010

Never Crack a Woman's Knuckles

Never crack a woman's knuckles.

This seems like the kind of knowledge that should be intuitive, that if you want to seduce a woman, it's best not to crack her finger joints unless you have her consent (and even then, you should wait until after you've bought her dinner). Yet last night I was forced to dispense this advice to a clueless Jewish man in his mid twenties. I was at a close friend's birthday party held in an Upper West Side club, sitting next to a guy I had danced with a bit earlier in the evening. It was nearly 3 a.m. and I wanted to leave but my friend, the birthday girl, was still on the dance floor enjoying herself. As I waited, I felt the young man interlace his fingers with mine. I was too tired to fend him off and he seemed rather harmless in general so I didn't pull away. And then he bent my pointer until the knuckle cracked.

"Ow," I said, and pulled my hand from him. "What are you doing?"

"I'm cracking your knuckle," he said, smiling at me. I suppose he thought he was being flirty and playful.


"Cause I want to." And he reached for my other hand and started to press my joints again. I snatched it away and walked off.

This was the second time that night I walked away from an unwanted advance.

Earlier, I had been sitting alone, resting my feet, which were suffering in heels, when what can only be described as a Jewish guido approached me and sat down. His hair was slicked and the top buttons of his shirt were undone, revealing a gold chain with a Magen David on it and a few strands of chest hair. Without asking me nary a question, he launched into a soliloquoy about himself. In a boastful tone, he told me that he worked in finance though he was planning on attending law school. "Where are you going?" I asked indulgently. He smiled and sat up straighter.

"Well, I've been accepted to schools in Louisiana and Florida, and I just have to decide where I want to go." He looked at me, expectantly, as though I should've been impressed that he was so sought after. Now, I'm not the biggest school snob- it doesn't really matter to me where friends went to college or if they attended at all. But if you are trying to pick up girls in the Jewish community, where knowledge of law school tiers runs high, perhaps you shouldn't be using acceptances to unnamed schools in states not known for their law programs to win a girl over. My friend later suggested that maybe he was referring to Tulane but I think that if he was talking about Tulane, he would've said as much instead of the much less specific "Louisiana." After a few more minutes listening to him natter on about himself, I rose from the couch. "It's been really great talking to you but I am afraid I need to stretch my legs," I said, rising to my full height + three inches of heel. And I walked away.

I didn't speak to the Jewish guido again yet I encountered the knuckle cracker once more. As I was waiting for my friend at the front door, he walked past me and said goodbye. He seemed decent (if weird) so I decided to give him some advice. "Never crack a woman's knuckles," I told him. He looked at me for a moment, puzzled.

"So that's what that was about, " he said, realization dawning. Clearly, he hadn't understood at the time why I had stalked off.

"Yes," I said. "I don't like having my joints manhandled."

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Prom Queens: Battle to the Death

Before friend of this blog, a b-girl who calls herself Feta, was battling for the rights to the Oedipal triangle, she was fighting for a sparkly tiara in this NYU student film.

Watch the fists and taffeta fly. (Taf-Feta? Get it?)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Naked Boys Singing: A Revue

Last week Goldstar sent me to see the off-Broadway show, Naked Boys Singing! and generously gave me two free tickets so I didn't have to go alone like a sad spinster.

Basically everything you need to know about this musical is in the title. The performers appear completely starkers in the first song. (Look ma, no Hanes!) In that first composition, they also announced the evening's theme: "No prudity. Just gratuitous nudity." Gratuitous indeed. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Michelangelo's David in the head shot he sent to the producers of Naked Boys Singing!

With no particular theme or arc (unless nudity counts as a theme), the show hopped from one song to another though some sketches involve clothing as props- such as the second one in the show, called "A Bris is Bliss," which was about the joy of you and your penis being the center of attention. In that one, even the "baby" wears an adult diaper throughout the tune. All of the spectators are also clothed and just as in Elizabethan theater, the female roles are played by gay men.

Other musical numbers featured an ode to masturbation ("I Beat My Meat"), naked cleaning and the gym ("Gay man has got to be fat free"). The only songs that fell flat were the ones that ditched the comedy and tried to play the nakedness as a serious matter, as a way of being open and vulnerable. While I don't dispute the notion, it didn't work on stage, partly because the composition was weak compared to the rest but also because one of the soloist in this piece was a pretty bad singer. (Some of these guys were not hired for their vocal abilities.)

Throughout, the male genitalia is treated like a prop, and most of the time the only one. The actors shake and shimmy, their penises and balls moving rhythmically along with them. This was particularly on display when some of the performers did high kicks and jumps.

Though we were sternly and repeatedly warned not to take photos or even take out our smart phones (since it will be presumed that we're trying to snap a picture of the naked performers), my friend pulled out her Iphone and began typing. She tried showing me the note during the show but I was positive we were going to get caught and kicked out so I motioned for her to put it away. I didn't want to be singled out like one bachelorette had been earlier during intermission. (There were at least six bachelorette parties present.) One of the naked performers bitchily told a woman in the front row, "You're not even married yet and you're already paying for dick."

After the show, she showed me what she had written. "It smells like sex in here," was typed in the notepad. Of course! The smell I had been attributing to the gentleman sitting to my left was apparently coming in waves off the stage, which we were seated just a few rows away from.

(In other non-naked news: I have finally figured out how to add "share" buttons for email, Facebook, Twitter, etc. They now appear at the bottom of each post so share away!)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Letters to Gaza

According to the JTA, Canada Post has just announced that it’s suspending mail delivery to Gaza. “It has been unable to find unable to find ‘alternate routes’ to deliver mail to the territory,” the agency reported. (I guess they are opposed to tunneling.)

Which begs the question: Is there usually a lot of snail mail going between the two places? I would’ve thought email would’ve been the preferred method of communication between our neighbor to the north, which is home to 24,000 people of Palestinian descent, and the blockaded territory. Also, what’s in these letters? Here are is an entirely made up pen pal correspondence between two young boys, one in Canada and the other in Gaza.

Dear Ahmed,

Sorry it has taken me so long to respond to your last letter. I was sick and had to wait a week before I could see a doctor. That’s socialized medicine for you, eh?

Thanks for the hummus (though I still can’t say it with the hard “ch” as you suggested. I spit whenever I try and that’s rude. We Canadians don’t do rude.) Did you get the hockey jersey and maple syrup I sent in my last package?



Dear Jason,

Sorry to hear that you were sick. That sounds rough. Long waits for socialized medicine are the worst. I know just how you feel. Just the other day I had to wait in line to get some pita. What is this, communism?

Thanks for sending the jersey and syrup but unfortunately, I never received them. Maple syrup and winter sports have just been added to the blockade list. To be perfectly honest, I can’t blame the Israelis for that last one. Hockey is a violent sport and jerseys, sticks and pucks can’t be used for reconstructing damaged buildings. I don’t know what the Israelis have against maple syrup, though.



Friday, August 6, 2010

Beware of the Proximity Penis

Today's guest post comes courtesy of Silda Nafil.

Proximity penis. It can catch you unawares. Recently, my friend told me she was starting to have a crush on a mutual acquaintance. She didn't really know why and she mentioned having been in contact with him a lot in the recent past. She also mentioned she hadn't been dating much in the same breath. Uh-oh. I knew what was happening and felt it my duty to inform her that she had a case of "proximity penis."

Apparently, it's not as common a term as I thought so I explained. Proximity penis is the sudden and unexpected attraction to someone due solely on the fact that you've spent a lot of time together without many or any alternative objects of attention. Common setting for proximity penis include: theater, Birthright trips, the many subgroups of the Upper West Side's Jewish dating scene, summer camp or study groups in college. If you were one of those people that made fun of theater or band kids in high school, you should really consider the fact that they probably got all the play they wanted. Lawyers call it "deal goggles." I'm told real medical residents don't spend their time shtupping in the on-call room like 'Grey's Anatomy' would have you think but the TV show is also an example of this. Proximity penis either ends quietly when the person with the sudden crush finds someone they have an actual interest in or the two people act on the mutual attraction and then decide "Um, you' and all but...uhh...bye."

So, why does proximity penis arise? (giggle, giggle) At least from the perspective of a straight woman I can say it probably comes from three factors:

1) Sleep deprivation, something all of the situations above have in common. Being sleep deprived can be as harmful to decision-making skills as being drunk. It's no secret that attraction felt while drunk is not always the most well-advised.

2) Lack of options. The fewer options you have, the less picky you feel entitled to be. A mental bargaining process between their bad qualities and the even-worse qualities of others begins and before you know it you're swapping spit with someone who made your skin crawl just yesterday.

3) A radically different mental picture of the other person than the actual person. This is the very essence of the infection. It could be a la "Shallow Hal" (or turning Jack Black into Daniel Craig, if I were to rewrite the movie) but more likely, you just start to impute all these sterling characteristics on someone who clearly does not have them. A guy tells you one story tangentially involving his grandmother and you award him the "kind to the elderly" and "family-centered" merit badges; even if your boy scout really told the story as a lead in for a fart joke. Nope. Your slightly-smudged lenses steamed up too quickly at the mention of grandma to notice. This is not to say that the objects of the infatuation are undeserving of affection (hey, I was a theater geek!) but under normal circumstances such affection would not be yours.

In Dvora's spirit of self-humiliation. I'll give a few examples from my anonymous life. High school theater: A was a stoner, redhead who did tech. Often while stoned. He was 2 years my junior and worshiped Beavis and Butthead. He seemed to have a crush on me and I decided to reciprocate as theater isn't known for it's wide variety of straight men. We did the stupid flirty dance for a while until he decided to make out with my friend who looked like me behind a costume rack. Their infatuation lasted about 48 hours and the second we heard the rustling of coat hangers coming from the closet, I snapped out of my haze entirely unscathed.

Then there was Birthright. Birthright trips have all the right conditions to nurture proximity penis and it was basically guaranteed on my trip with a grave gender imbalance and many of the men being gay or already spoken for by girls with scary acrylic nails. J (or was it B? or T?) seemed great on paper (he was going to be a doc-tor!) but trying to have a conversation with him was torture. He just had nothing to say. So we skipped the talking and swapped spit for a while until I fled when he suggested we cuddle and connect. Thanks buddy, that was all the connecting I needed to do with you.

There were more college examples than I'd like to disclose, although one involved a friend whom everyone else knew to be gay but proximity-penis-illusioned me. I'm actually still good friends with him and we both find my cluelessness regarding him to be hilarious. Speaking of "Clueless", I diagnosed Cher's crush on Josh to be a classic case ages ago.

If you think YOU have proximity penis, follow the British example of: Keep calm and carry on. The shiny lure of proximity penis is short-lived. If the situation the set off your crush has passe and you have not recovered then there was a misdiagnosis. However, you must wait until this point. A proximity penis hookup averted is another "Phew!", not "the one that got away." Go forth and pine safely!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Book Mitzvah

First there were bar/bat mitzvahs. Then came the faux mitzvahs. And now there are book mitzvahs.

On Monday night, I attended the launch party for Susan Shapiro's Overexposed, the first book she ever wrote (though not the first one published) at Arte in the Village. Since the novel was reaching market after 13 years on the shelf, Ms. Shapiro decided to forgo a traditional launch and throw it a "book mitzvah" instead and enlisted Rabbi Dan Ain (of the New Shul and 92Y Tribeca) to speak, lay hands on the tome, and proclaim, "Now you are a book."

(One friend noted that the book had not had a bris and therefore should not be eligible for a book mitzvah but I argued that the arduous editing process, which entails the "killing of darlings," as William Faulkner once said, is just as painful as the removal of a foreskin. Or not.)

The quasi religious ceremony was complemented by an open bar, a heart shaped platter of chopped liver and various forms of cold cuts. The only things that were missing were the gefilte fish and Manischewitz wine.

The party wasn't the only thing that was Jew-y. The novel itself is very Semitic. It's based on Ms. Shapiro's early years in New York City (after she relocated from Michigan) as a young Jewish writer who switches lives with her WASPy mentor, Monica Yates (daughter of Richard), who moves marries one of Ms. Shapiro's doctor brothers and becomes the daughter her mother had always wanted. In the interests of fiction, the novel's protagonist is a photographer instead of a writer. (My mother already has the daughter she's always dreamed of- my older sister, who is married with two adorable little girls.)

After Rabbi Dan finished officiating, Ms. Shapiro invited all those who have helped her over the years to light a candle on stick it in a cake which was decorated like the novel cover. First came the shrinks. She is not shy about her love for therapy- her last novel was called Speed Shrinking. Then came a long line of various editors, agents, etc. who have helped Ms. Shapiro over the years. I watched with growing anxiety as the beautiful cake was turned into pin cushion for the candles. I understand the importance of thanking and honoring everyone who has helped you professionally and otherwise but as a Jew, it was hard to look on as something like that happened to a lovely dessert.

The cake was cut up for general consumption and though I had told myself I would not partake- I had watched wax drip all over the frosting for at least 30 minutes- I still ate it with gusto. It was better than the cake I had at my bat mitzvah (and not just because my name had been misspelled in three different ways).

If only we had played Coke & Pepsi and limbo. Then it would've been perfect.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

To be 16 again

Well, yesterday I was. I attended the Lilith Fair (now just called Lilith) at its New York City stop, which was actually in middle of nowhere New Jersey (otherwise known as Holmdale) and my inner 16 year old girl rejoiced. As a teenager, I regularly listened to the triple suicide cocktail of Sarah McLachlan, Natalie Merchant and Tori Amos and way over identified with the lyrics but I wasn't able to attend the concert series in its heyday.

Which is why I jumped at the chance to ride NJ transit to yesterday's show. Though the crowds were a bit thin (as was the roster), I still sang my heart out. I was also able to predict most of Sarah McLachlan's set, which is why my friends anointed me "#1 Sarah McLachlan fan girl."

On the train ride back, we wondered about who would perform if the Lilith model was applied to the ladies of hip hop. Here are some of the names we came up with.

Lauryn Hill
Jill Scott
Queen Latifah
Mary J. Blige
Missy Elliot

I know that this list was actually longer last night but right now most of the names escape my memory (I did get in pretty late- almost at 3 a.m. and am pretty tired.) Feel free to add others that would fit the bill.