Archive for April, 2011


I never cared for Mickey Mouse. I don’t find him cute.

Hmmm. Do you suppose “Mouse” is his actual last name? Who knows? And I don’t really care. I just know he irks me with his high-pitched voice, his freakishly oversized shoes (and you know I love shoes!) and his syrupy positive attitude.

As for the real thing: we had a mother’s helper when I was a kid who brought her pet mice with her. I thought they were cute enough in their cage. And I even thought the one resting on my palm was cute – first and only time I ever touched a mouse – until it simultaneously peed in my hand and bit my finger, drawing blood. The little creep was lucky I didn’t feed it to our cat! My babysitter from hell put him in my hand to show me “how cutesy- wootsy he is” – not!

So, I don’t like cartoon or real mice.

I’m not a morning person, no matter what time my morning actually starts. (Yes, this relates, hang in with me a moment.) I tend to stumble around, as if I’m not familiar with my own apartment, until the caffeine kicks in.

My eyesight is laughably poor. (Yes, this relates, too. You should know by now I like my tangents.) I wear my glasses first thing because who wants to shove little pieces of plastic in your eyes when they are still gummy from sleep? That means things viewed peripherally (where the lens of my glasses don’t extend) are blurry I-don’t-know whats. So, shadows startle me, fallen leaves from my houseplants turn into scurrying bugs and the irregular wood grain of the floor holds assorted creepy crawlies from my myopic caffeine-jonesing morning perspective.

When I saw a shadow move across the floor one morning, my first thought was, Man, my eyesight sucks.

My second thought was, Wait, did that “shadow” make noise?

But then my thoughts returned to a desire for more caffeine.

As I came back from the kitchen with more coffee, the blurry something brazenly ran right next to me, making actual scurrying noises. I’ve never heard a mouse running across the floor, but I knew it when it happened (once the coffee woke up my ears).

And the cliché of shrieking and jumping on a chair when seeing a mouse – completely true! Well, except for the jumping on a chair part – too much of a physical demand first thing in the AM. But I kind of twitched violently, spilling my precious wake-up fluid.

Oh, this mouse was going down!

Besides, I don’t want a roommate, especially one that wasn’t paying rent.

I kept thinking about a forensics show I’d seen about the Hantavirus, caused by mouse poop. A mousey virus that killed people.

This was a potentially lethal mouse!

Yeah, yeah. You think I’m overreacting. But then you probably like Mickey Mouse. Or you’ve seen cute little field mice scampering outside of your equally cute house in some rural area and say, “Aww.”

Folks, this is a New York City mouse! A big (O.K., not so big) tough rogue mouse that had scaled multiple stories to invade my space! A mouse with attitude and chutzpah (non-New Yorkers, look it up). Whether or not it had disease, it scared me. Yeah, big (O.K., also not so big) tough me was freaked. It was a mighty mouse (no capitals here as I don’t mean the heroic cartoon mouse I actually liked from childhood.)

So, now what? I may slaughter all manner of things in my horror short stories. But I didn’t really want to kill this little (yes, I reluctantly admit it was quite small) critter.

First, I covered my bare feet with shoes. Now my feet were safe. A good first step, ha ha. Next, I tried to figure out where the mouse had actually disappeared to. I knew it had to involve a hole of some sort.

Sigh.

Have I mentioned how screwed up and decrepit my Manhattan apartment is? There’s poorly cut holes where pipes emerge under my kitchen sink and behind my gas stove – plenty of room for a mouse.

But the biggest holes weren’t even holes, they were looming abysses.

I have heaters that are recessed underneath my windows and hidden behind a removable metal panel. Take off the panel, and you see the floor just stops, but the apartment doesn’t. The lazy hack who’d designed (and that is so not the right word) my studio, just hadn’t bothered to extend the flooring all the way to the wall. So, herein lay the afore-mentioned abysses that led to the space between my place and the apartment below, at least  ten to 12 inches wide in places and who knew how deep.

Can you say, “Hello, mousey”?

The panels had little doors that flipped up so you could stick your arm in and adjust the heat without removing the whole thing. And the door on the left never did close correctly. I was betting it was literally a mouse door.

Well, problem solved. I’d just duct tape the door and prevent him from scaring me awake in the future.

Done and duct taped. While I was at it, I taped up every crack and crevice around the heaters. And in the kitchen, too. I didn’t really know what kind of behind-the-wall access it had – was it like a big mousey city, with numerous intersecting “streets” back there? I wasn’t taking chances.

After using up most of the duct tape, I was feeling very smug.

Until I saw it again.

It ran exactly in the direction I had predicted it had come from: the panel door that hung partly open.

Which I had just taped closed.

I think it may have banged its nose on the closed door (no, I didn’t feel sorry for it and you can’t make me, not in my apartment!). So, it did a rapid turn, took off in the opposite direction and dashed behind my desk.

Sigh. 

Shades of “Tom and Jerry”! I swear, sometimes my life is a cartoon. (Though I’m much cuter than Mickey, but I’ll admit Jerry is probably as cute as I am, another mouse I do actually like, being as clever and conniving as he is.) Actually, at that moment, I felt very much like the clever but luckless Wile E. Coyote in one of his many failed attempts to trap the roadrunner.

Fine! I untaped the stupid door. Come on in, mousey!

How exactly was I supposed to communicate with the mouse that he could now leave the way he came?

Rodent speak failed me.

I simply waited, perched on my bed, where I had a good view of the room.

I got impatient. I threw various non-lethal objects close at hand toward the desk to get the whiskered squeaker to move: tissue box, books, shoes.

Finally, it got the hint and ran back through his doorway.

I ran almost as fast to retape the door. 

About ten minutes later, I heard a shriek from the woman below me.  I knew that kind of screech. I pictured her cowering on a chair.

I had to smile. I like the woman downstairs with her 4 AM parties about as much as I like Mickey. Hearing her scream had almost made it worth dealing with my temporary rodent roomie.

Almost.


A lot of people I’ve met from other states think life is really like “Sex in the City.” Yeah. Right. I’m a writer (like Carrie Bradshaw) and an editor and I have noooo problem affording Manolo Blahniks by the truck full with my salary. Yeah. Right.

And, of course, I’m more than happy to strut down NY sidewalks and streets in said expensive heels. (I’m not saying “Yeah. Right,” again here because I’m tired of it now. But you can infer I’m sneering and rolling my eyes.)

Have you ever looked closely at a NY street or sidewalk? I mean, really looked. If you’ve only seen them via TV, probably not. Let me assure you, they are full of potholes, cracks, crevices, grating and sticky wads of gum and other things I’d rather not look at closely and wouldn’t ask you to either.

So, when Sarah Jessica Parker’s Carrie was tripping along her way in stilettos, I guarantee you she would, in reality, off camera, be tripping a long way. It’s fine if you only walk from your limo to the entrance of some event, usually padded with red carpeting. But for the real women of NY …

Here’s the real deal: I’m meeting a guy for a first date at a restaurant a few blocks from my apartment. I’m wearing a fab little black dress, clingy, but not slutty, and my killer red high heels with a black stripe down the sides (O.K., so maybe the heels are just a smidge on the slutty side, but, you know, in a classy way).

Usually, because some of the best-looking heels hurt after a while, I wear flats and carry heels in a tote, I then change into the fab shoes right outside whatever restaurant, bar, event etc. I’m going to. (My male friends roll their eyes and make fun of me. My girlfriends completely understand.) But since it was such a short distance from my apartment, I figured my feet could handle it.

Little did I know my shoes wouldn’t fare so well.

I’m half a block from the restaurant when one of my heels gets stuck in a sidewalk crack. Really stuck. I tug upward repeatedly and finally free my shoe – but not my heel. It’s still stuck in the crack while the rest of the shoe is on my foot. Lovely! Not lookin’ so classy now. I bend down, not in the least bit gracefully give my unbalanced feet, and yank the hell free and just stare at the stupid thing. Cheap not Manolo Blahnik shoe (more like Payless)!

I have two choices. I can hobble into the restaurant, which is a lot closer than going back to my apartment, and embarrass myself on my first date. Or I can hobble back home (just as embarrassing), change my shoes and be late, which will probably piss off my cute date.

Sigh.

I limp into the bistro and greet my date. He’s not looking at my feet. I explain the situation and he bursts into laughter. Yeah, I tend not to pick sensitive guys.

I tell him I just want to sit down, enjoy a meal and then deal with the gimp back to my apartment to change. (Not that I really want him to come back to my place afterward as that is not something I do on a first date. Having been stalked a couple times, I prefer not to even let a guy know exactly where I live until later in our relationship. But cheap fashion has kind of forced my hand, er, foot.)

I have had many other instances, just wearing heels for a short bit on my lunch hour or something, when a heel gets caught in a grate or other trap and, though I free it without it breaking off, it strips the leather (assuming I splurged and am actually wearing leather shoes) off the heel. All you can do is glue it back down. But it leaves a sad remnant of the lovely heel it once was.

With one of my cheap pair of shoes with many scuffs marring the plastic, the shoe repair guy told me I could do a better job with a magic marker than anything he could do. I own just about every color of maker out there.

Sigh.

O.K. So, I’ve learned my lesson about cheap shoes. On the other hand, the most expensive pair I own costs a whopping $72 plus tax, and were much less comfortable than dirt cheap pairs I own. In fact, these gorgeous “expensive” shoes of mine I dubbed my taxi shoes. People think it’s because they are half yellow and half black. But actually, they hurt so darn much when I’m not walking on carpet (and said carpet is not usually of the red variety in my social circle) that all I want to do is call a taxi!

So, the moral of this story is, ya gotta be filthy rich enough to strut your tootsies in expensive shoes on the streets and sidewalks of NY that you can afford another pair when they snap off.

And even if you can afford a new pair at whatever price range, when you have a fab pair of shoes that meet an untimely death, it breaks your fashionable little heart! I mean it’s a shoe! Right ladies! (Or at least you gals who can’t get enough like me.)

I feel I should say something like, sole sisters unite. But that would be silly.


One of the things I really love about New York City is there are restaurants serving almost every kind of food from all over the world – except, in my experience, really good Texas barbecue beef and pork. I know from the good stuff, having gone to college in Houston. I used to buy barbecued meat at the Houston airport (yes, believe it, airport food doesn’t always suck) from a vendor who knew how to wrap for air travel, and bring it to my dad, who couldn’t get enough of the rich smoky goodness. (O.K., now I’ve made myself really hungry and I don’t have time and money to fly to Houston for dinner!) And if you readers out there do actually know of good Texas BBQ in New York City, please, please, please let me know.

Anyway, lots and lots of yummy interesting food can be had in the city. And it’s always fun discovering new places. So, one day, I was shopping in the East Village with a friend and we decided it was time to chow down. But where? So, many choices and a whole lotta “been there, done that” – we wanted to try someplace new.

So, we’re walking along, perusing menus in the windows of restaurants that displayed them, and peering into the interior of others to decide if we deemed them worth a try. Nothing really struck us as very compelling and different.

As we were approaching the end of one block, we saw a guy wearing a waiter’s uniform come tearing around the corner. He held something furry at arm’s length, that swung from his clenched fist.

What the hell? My friend and I stood transfixed, watching.

The critter was about half the length of his arm and the tail, which he was holding it by, was fluffy with fur. But it was not the right shape to be a cat. And furry meant not a huge rat. It was a grayish color. No stripes on the tail, so not a raccoon.

The waiter continued running till he came to a tree in a sidewalk planter that was full of weeds. He threw the creature into the planter and vigorously scrubbed his palms against his apron. He looked down at the animal and shuddered with fear or disgust, and then rapidly disappeared around the corner he’d come from.

“That’s too big and hairy to be a rat,” I said to my friend. 

He agreed.

“I can’t stand it; I gotta know,” I said.

We both grinned and walked toward the mysterious critter.

Nervously, we approached the planter and peered into the weeds. Was it still alive? I wondered. If so, it was likely to be pissed at its rough treatment and might take it out on us. If it was dead, it might smell really bad, which is not my idea of an appetizing pre-dinner experience.

But we had to know.

Unfortunately, this was in my pre-smart phone days and I didn’t have a camera handy. So, no emailing a photo to a friend to ask, “what the heck is this?” Or Googling guesses as to the animal’s identity.

But from what I remember from the last time I went to the Bronx zoo, we were looking at a very stiff and very dead possum.

Yes, a possum.

Now we have lots of squirrels, mice, pigeons, a hawk or two and, unfortunately, rats in NYC. But possums are not native to the area. You don’t see them just hanging around in Central Park or ambling along your window sills. On the other hand, we have our share of nutty characters who like their exotic pets, illegal thought they may be to keep in an apartment. (Goggle “NYC tiger in apartment” for some examples of really stupid “pet” owners.)

I don’t know much about possums – whether they are dirty, disease-ridden creatures, or cuddle worthy (the later is unlikely given the sharp-looking claws the dead one was sporting). But I and my friend were pretty sure we didn’t want to go to a restaurant that had them hanging out in the kitchen, or wherever that waiter had found it.

“I think we should skip that block entirely,” I said to my friend, pointing in the direction from which the waiter had come.

“Ya, think?” my friend agreed. “Eighth Street’s got some good eats,” he suggested.

So, onward we headed, eventually finding a nice cheap Middle Eastern restaurant that seemed completely free of possums.

(And props to me for never once making puns about the impossumbilty of it all!)