I thought I would have some interesting shit to write about this week. But here goes anyway:
Jelly & The Temps (electric boots, mohair suit?) offer me a proctoring job Tuesday through Friday. Proctoring, you say? What in the name of Moses' wizened old staff is proctoring? The official definition is test-giving, which is more or less accurate.
It mostly involves standing in front of a roomful of candidates testing for government jobs and making sure they don't cheat. It's on a pier way over on the west side of the island that I have to take a bus to get anywhere close to. And it's from 6:45 AM to 6:00 PM. And it only pays $9.00 an hour.
What a perfectly hateful, ass-kickingly boring, mind-fuckingly dry, spectacularly shitty job! Oh, but the stories it could provide, I think hopefully. Maybe it will be the source of a great song or an inspired piece of my patented self-righteous prose. Yes! This is the job for me! I'll take it! This is Friday.
Monday arrives. I'm supposed to go in for training from 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM. Cool, I have the rest of the day to myself. Maybe I'll go get a haircut.
I've been putting off getting my rather shaggy doo done because all the salons in my neighborhood have more Spanish than English on their windows, and I'm deathly afraid of what they'll think I'm asking for. And that's because I'm a big, white, country-fried poopypants, but there's not much that can be done about that short of an Espanol night class.
I decide to wander into Park Slope, where the demographic is more likely to habla Ingles. When I get there, I wander past all the shuttered barber shops and recall a tidbit of minutiae that might've been helpful had I thought of it earlier. Many hairdressers, particularly Mom-&-Pop shops, are closed on Monday because they've been open all weekend. I know this because my grandmother was a hairdresser forever at just such a shop. So maybe I'll wait till next week. But no, the all-too familiar feel of mulletdom creeping down my neck inspires me to keep looking.
I finally find about the most white-bread barber shop you could ever imagine. I mean, spinning peppermint pole, rusted old World War II clippers on the windowsill, bubble gum machine by the door. Floyd could be talking to Andy & Barney just inside, in that creepy, serial-killer way that gives my wife the screaming mimis. Surely these people speak English.
I used to read a lot of Sherlock Holmes in middle school. I was always fascinated by how Holmes could tell where a man lived by little details like the color of the mud on his shoes or what his profession was by the amount of wear on his shirt cuffs. With such deductive skills, he could never be fooled.
Well, my deductive skills are crap. Not only does the sole occupant of this little shop not speak English, as far as I can tell she doesn't speak Spanish either. Lord knows what corner of Transylvania this woman shipped in from, but she eyes me dubiously as I try to explain that I'm trying to grow it out on top a bit, but keep the sides short. "Mm," she grunts.
I'm always afraid to look during haircuts, because there's always that point in the middle of their work that it looks horrible. And you're afraid that though they will finish the rest of it, the horrible part that you see is the stylistic anchor they're building everything else around. But you can't stop them then, because you don't know how far into it they've already gone or whether it's as horrible as you think it will be. So I just don't look. You can see now why I kept the same hairdresser for years in Fort Worth.
So when I open my eyes at last, there in the mirror before me sits Adolf Hitler. Gott im Himmel, what have I done?
In a fit of curiosity the weekend before, I had shaved my goatee and left the moustache. I figure variety is the spice of Geri Halliwell or something, & it didn't look bad with my longer hair. But this...this may be enough to make me re-check my genealogy.
And there is no mistaking it. I read a book of Dr. Seuss' wartime cartoons just last week, so I damn well know what Adolf "Lil' Stinky" Hitler looks like. At least what he looks like to Dr. Seuss.
The hair is slicked down on top, parted very sternly and efficiently to the left, and incredibly short on the side. Lily Von Schtupp lights up a cigarette. "Nein dollars, please." I am speechless. Unable to put my horror into words, or even to suppose that she would understand those words if I were to utter them, horror or no horror, I pay the requested honorarium and prepare myself for the trip home.
New York is known throughout the world for its large Jewish population, and seldom does a day go by when I don't see or overhear a person who is undeniably Jewish. As determined by my masterful deductive skills, which we sampled earlier.
I figure I can turn this doo into something resembing a normal haircut if I can only get home and operate on it for a while with some strategic pomade-ing. But who will I run into on the subway? On the way to the subway? Will they have me arrested for...I don't know, particularly stupid anti-Semitic intimidation? I creep down the block, my head bowed as if I were averting my eyes from God's bright-ass face, and make it to the subway station unaccosted. Standing behind a post, I watch the train pull up and dart inside. Ah. The Asian Train. Bless you, my Axis brethren!
Arriving safely in my own neighborhood (Germany never attacked Mexico or the Dominican Republic, to my knowledge), I decide to call Wifely on my cell phone and tell her of my predicament. Only the phone transfers me to billing department, who informs me that my service is suspended. I had mailed the bill that morning, but it was admittedly a tad late. Damn, damn, damn. With a stick.
We do have a phone line in our room that's paid by the landlord, so I call Wifely on that. Good thing too, because Jelly Temps has been trying to reach me. My sodomizingly vile but surely inspiration-packed assignment has been canceled due to a rescheduling, & I have the week off. Damn, damn, double damn. With a pole.
Don't worry, I've got work next week. I think.
So I took the week to go neighborhood-prowling. We still don't know most of the neighborhoods that get advertised in the rental ads, so I like to explore a few every week. This week, I started in Far Rockaway. You can tell what's next, can't you? I know, I know, but with my recently diminished confidence in my deductive abilities, I had to make sure it was in fact waaaaay the fuck out beyond where any reasonable commuter would live. And it is.
Take that A train as far as you think it'll go, then take it out further. When you reach a barren stretch of mafia-owned shoreline adorned with only the UGLIEST DAMN OLD DECREPIT APARTMENT HIGH-RISES IN CHRISTENDOM, you know it's time to get the hell out of Far Rockaway.
Once I was safely out of Rockaway's range, I decided to go the rest of the way home via bus, which would take me through a few uncharted neighborhoods. A summary:
Crown Heights - Nice, but man, am I white.
East Flatbush - See Crown Heights.
Flatbush - Decent shopping districts, nice brownstones, biggest damn dog I've ever seen chained to a telephone pole. Okie-dokie, then.
Kensington - This I dug. Probably because all the street names are British, & there are lots of trees. And it's close to Prospect Park, always a plus.
Discovered there was a Home Depot within 15 minutes of our apartment. Who knew? Brooklyn doesn't seem like the sort of place that would have a Home Depot. Home Depot is supposed to be filled with ass-crack baring rednecks who are building their dream deck, even though the wife wants a kitchen island, you know how women are, hurrrrnnt! No one has a dream deck in Brooklyn. Or a kitchen island. Well, I don't, anyway.
But this cavernous Depot sported everything I've come to expect. Ass cracks, tool belts, big gray moustaches, wood, wood, and more wood. Even women in lumberjack shirts (different connotation here, though). All the comforts of home. Spiffy! I think.
Went to the Galapagos Art Space, a cool little joint over in Williamsburg (Deep Ellum For Yankees!). The Gypsy Tea Room wishes it looked this cool.
Saw Minority Report. Dug it. Tom Cruise's pecs are sagging a bit nowadays. Makes me feel better.
I think that's all. Like I said, I thought I would have more. But the hair's de-Fuhrered, I have an assignment next week, Far Rockaway can bite my ass, and don't my pecs look grrreat? Life is good.
P.S: Up here, "gyro" is pronounced like it looks. I thought people were shitting me at first, but then I heard Kramer say it on Seinfeld. That's gospel. Year-o, indeed.