Here I am, against all odds (cue Phil Collins song), riding the R train home.

Praise be to Pete and any other noncorporeal entities who may or may not be responsible for preventing a friggin' transit workers' strike. The Wifely and I were up on Sunday night when at 11:56 the union rep told us we could actually sleep. Not that we did, mind you. They were still working out a contract, and a strike was still possible later in the day. But at last it's over, and we can once again ride the train like we own the place.

Just completed a fine, fashionable day with our old friends at Rich Bitch Clothiers. It's a hootenanny. In fact, they had a wine-n-cheese party for a departing employee on Friday. The old gay guys were quite enthusiastic about filling me with vino (!!), but I only got a little buzzed, and I think that was from the stinky cheese. Fashionable people like to stink. They're forever splashing on Eau de Sumpinerother and eating unsightly Japanese concoctions. And liver. What would draw one to the liver, if not its stink? It ain't the appetizing appearance, I'll warrant ye.

I'm actually working for Rich Bitch's masculine arm, Moneygrubbin' Bastard. This has advantages, most notably the occasional Sample Sale, open only to employees, which I sorta qualify for. I bought a bigass bag full of pretty nice clothes for $45.00 earlier this week, and they haven't turned my torso green yet. I had to elbow my way through a bunch of stout, foreign cleaning ladies to get anything, though. You don't wanna do that every day, mon frer. Particularly if you're tall & vulnerable at short-lady altitudes.

Strange, it seems I always learn something at Rich Bitch. This week:

1. Nylon Eisenhower is not a band name.

2. Silky Pig Suede is not a funny phrase. (I found this out when my supervisor caught me writing it down on a sticky note. I told her I just thought it was funny, and the stare...)

3. The only heterosexual men who can get a Rich Bitch gig are black. Don't shoot the messenger, it's true. What it means, I haven't the foggiest.

4. High-voiced, angry gay Asian men running around shouting are THE greatest entertainment on Earth.

5. It's Exploded Dobby, not Exploded Bobby. And that's not funny, either.

6. Nor is Polynosic.

7. Intarsia isn't a woman, it's a design.

8. It's not even remotely suspicious that the only black woman on my floor is the receptionist. And her name's not Intarsia. Apparently.

My boss, Abby, is one of the Little People they seem to have so many of around the premises. She thinks it's cute that I'm married and not even 30 yet. Sometimes New York is a different planet.

And sometimes it's not. Abby likes to crank the local Classic Rock station all day, so I get a little Rock and Roll Hootchie-Coo with my Nylon Eisenhower. The Classic Rock canon is a bit different up here, though. For instance, I used to wonder why, if Elton John could make the list, Billy Joel couldn't. Or why, if they were playing the new Tom Petty, they couldn't play some old U2.

So imagine my surprise when I hear not just Captain Jack, but a damned Billy Joel Rock Block, including Scenes From An Italian Restaurant, a personal favorite. Plus, lo & behold, Where the Streets Have No Name finds its way between Zeppelin's Babe I'm Gonna Leave You (also known as Chicago's 25 or 6 to 4) and Styx's Come Sail Away (okay, so it ain't perfect).

And then there was the Classic Rock Left-Fielder Of The Day, STONE TEMPLE PILOTS. Huh? And not from their Look-We're-XTC era, either. This was a turd nugget from the Look-We're-Pearl-Jam epoch. The pain.

But musical predilections aside, it's a decent job. I think word has gotten around enough at Rich Bitch about me that no one asks if I want the permanent slots they're posting. Either that or I'm getting steadily worse at hiding my loathing and disdain. I know for a fact that I can never again feign enthusiasm in the workplace. Man, I used to brighten the eyes and rush dutifully to the smallest summons with an expectant grin that seemed to to say, "I would be honored to accept your waste." Now I just look at 'em. I appear to have moved from Stepin Fetchit to Lurch. You rang?

Partly it's because I'm getting tired of reading the tea leaves of managerial behavior. Abby's boss is one of those passive-aggressives who stand behind you and fidget because they're sure you're screwing something up. I find that these are best dealt with actively: "Can I HELP you?" That at least makes 'em go fidget in their office instead. And the beauty of temping is that I'm not there long enough for them to develop The Silent Grudge. Ah, fuck 'em anyway.

Being that it was 37 degrees out this week, the Wifely and I decided to attend an outdoor Crafty Flea Markety Thing in Union Square. Carnies, all of 'em. Same crap they have at every Crafty Flea Markety Thing, only this one was augmented by a few more Middle Eastern items, including Egyptian Mythology chess sets. Or "chest sets", as my dumbass friend Richard used to say in middle school.

Saw Solaris, which was good, even if you did keep expecting to see noisy black monoliths popping up at any second. It did leave me in one of my creeped-out moods, which can be interesting. When I get like that, the tiniest, stupidest things suddenly look sinister. I got one of those moods after watching Signs, & nearly wet myself when a mop leaned over on me in the bathroom. And I don't even wanna talk about walking in front of our back door window after seeing The Blair Witch Project.

But this time I was freaked out by the M train. As I've mentioned before, the M is the stupidest train ever to squeench itself into a station. It goes ALMOST where we need it to go, but not all the way. Consequently, there's never ANYONE on it. It pulls into the station like a badly dressed, ham-handed suitor and goes, "Eh? Eh?", but no one trusts it. So after this movie, we had been standing at the Pacific Street station for a while & no R train had come, so Wifely says, "Come on, let's just get on the M."

The arthritic old thing lumbers into the station and the doors open. Everyone but us looks at the thing as if it had just drank out of the toilet. But no, in we go, into the mouth of doom, as its putrid lips close behind us like it's a frikkin' asteroid-burrowing space worm. And we are the only beings on this train. It's just not right. I've been on the R train at 4:00 AM, and I've never had the thing to myself. So now I start getting creeped out on the Wifely:

"What....what if this thing doesn't actually go anywhere?"

"What do you mean? Of course it goes somewhere, we see it at 36th Street all the time."

"Yeah, but where's it going now?"

"Presumably to 36th Street."


"What the hell does that mean?"

"What if it's going back to the yard?"

"Why would it go back to the yard?"

"Why wouldn't it?"


"What if it takes us back to the yard?"

"It won't."

"What if we have to spend the rest of the night in the train yard?"

"Shut up."

"Ssssshhhh!! Did you hear that?"

"Yes, it's the brakes."

"No, no, not that. It sounded like someone moving."

"Oh, for the love of..."

"It's coming from that direction...AAAAGGGGHHHH!!!!"

And with that, the conductor steps out of his control booth and jumps a little himself. It could be that he seldom sees passengers on his Peteforsaken train, or it could be that the larger of these passengers is clutching the smaller one in fear.

Anyway, enough tales of unbridled cowardice...

Been playing Last Minute Santa this week. Danged if it don't just creep up on you like a water moccasin at Possum Kingdom. Afore you know it, ye been bit. Though I have yet to see a snake up here. I think the rats eat 'em all. I do enjoy buying stuff for people, though. I'm neither a very good penny-pincher nor a gifted capitalist, but this time of year I can always blame my spending on Christmas.

(A brief aside: I see from the sign in front of me that El Clon comes on Telemundo at 10 PM. Looks like white people wandering in the desert. The Exodus? No, they weren't white. Anyone know what El Clon means? I have to know.)

I'm facing a dilemma. It's a rather stupid dilemma, actually, but it bugs me nonetheless. When Wifely and I opened up our individual bank accounts last year, I got a Visa check card for both accounts. So I wouldn't get the cards confused, I wrote "Me" on the signature line of mine. In 5 years of retail, I never once looked at the signature line on somone's card. In 28 years of living in Texas, I've never had someone look at the signature line on my card.

But TWICE today, I had to argue a cashier into taking my card even though my signature wasn't on it. It's the damndest thing I ever saw. I was told each time that it's to verify my identity. Well, I'll tell you what, if I stole a credit card and it had the owner's signature on it, I wouldn't really be that stymied. It ain't that hard to forge, really. I dunno, I think it's a half-assed security measure, but I definitely don't want the headache of arguing with bullheaded cashiers. I know, because I was one. Ah, fuck 'em anyway.

I did a brief Seminar Tape Operator gig last Wednesday, and found myself at the Helmsley Hotel (of Leona Helmsley fame). Very la-de-da. Whilst there, I took a lunch opportunity to check out the UN building, which I'd never seen. It's pretty boring, actually. It's just a mid-sized office building with a circular driveway and a group of Asians in front shouting "Free my chicken!!!" or some such thing. I guess I'd expected to get a whiff of world influence and political intrigue, but it kinda looked like an old Montgomery Ward with a skyscraper poking out of the top. No wonder nobody listens to them.

Actually, the UN features prominently in this research I'm doing for my Six Day War book. I like this business of becoming an expert on things. Who'd have thought you were supposed to research something before pronouncing loud and hard-assed judgement on it? I'll have to tell Bill O'Reilly about this.

Train's pulling in now. Wish I had more to tell, but it's Christmas, goddammit. We're heading up to New Haven this weekend to partake in a Texas Expatriate's X-Mas Bash with our friends Burke & Michele. Actually, she's a Yankee, but we'll have her saying "y'all" before long. And oh, yes, there will be a Lord of the Rings viewing. Put me in a fucking wizard hat, twist my nipples, and call me Mr. Spock, why dontcha.

Or at least tell me what the hell El Clon means.



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