Wednesday, August 31, 2011

"get some pants that fit"

After tossing my suitcase into the trunk of my brother's car, I walked around to the front seat and gave my mom a hug goodbye. As I got in the car and my brother buckled his seat belt, my mother held the front door open and said - her parting words to me after a week-long family vacation on the Cape a few weeks ago - "Please Josh, get some pants that fit."

My mom has been on my case about what in her mind is an egregious "sagging" problem for years now. Every time I return home, within minutes of my arrival, she makes some pointed remark about my jeans (usually mid-sentence in a story she's telling about something completely unrelated). "Really, Josh? Do you see where those pants are falling on your waist?" "Josh, just being honest, you look completely ridiculous." (A common variant: the television will be on and she'll say something like, "Josh, do you see how Mario Lopez's pants look compared to yours?")

There's something about the clich├ęd nature of the complaint and her refusal to quit the campaign and the fact that my pants really don't sag that low (I swear!) that makes this ribbing mostly innocuous and charming to me. Sometimes I'll protest ("These aren't the kind of pants I wear out in New York!" "You have no idea how people dress," etc.) but most of the time, especially as of late, I'll just respond by rolling my eyes exaggeratedly or hiking my pants up to right below my chest ("Happy now?" "Yes.").

I imagine everyone has something like this with their mom - some weird, idiosyncratic, nitpicky thing that she just can't seem to let go of. In college, every time she brings whatever it is up (on Parents Weekend, at Thanksgiving, etc.) is so irritating; it only makes your parents seem crankier and more out-of-touch. But eventually their familiar, specific nagging feels as much a part of home as your childhood bed. You're 25 and so many aspects of your life seem like they're spiraling, but knowing your mom is out there worrying about the waist of your pants somehow keeps you from drifting out into orbit.

Monday, August 22, 2011

"media WORTHY justin BIEBER video"

About two weeks ago, I got an e-mail from someone named "Kyle" with the subject line "Boy Asks Bieber To Prom." The e-mail was short - explaining that a guy had made a YouTube video in which he asked Justin Bieber to be his date to prom - and it ended with a link to said video. "OK," I thought to myself, "This dude must be spamming blogger types with a link to his video. And, while it seems a little early to be inviting someone to a springtime prom, this is probably harmless."

But the next day I got an e-mail from "Devon" called "Justin Bieber News" which included basically the same message (with a few minor changes to sentence structures). Since then, I have received the same e-mail every day, though each comes from a different sender (the most recent missives have come from "McKenzie," "Ciara" and "Jade") and has a different subject line ("Prom Fever," "This could potentially be a BIG story," "Justin Bieber's Popularity").

I had something of a panic attack a few mornings ago when I checked my phone after waking up and saw I had gotten one at 3am ("EPIC Justin Bieber story" from "Larissa") - I leaped out of bed and set up a spam filter for all e-mails with "Bieber" in the subject line and hoped that would be the end of it. But, as if this multiple personality disorder-inflicted spambot could read my mind, the next e-mail came into my inbox the following day (from "Morgan") with the subject line "Kim Kardashian News." Still the same content about the kid asking Justin Bieber to prom... but with a trickster-y Kim K. decoy subject line!

I must admit I've had a few daymares about being 70 years old and still getting these e-mails every day. I refuse to actually watch the video itself for fear of some "The Ring"-style repercussion. I've contemplated writing back to one of the addresses (they all come from AOL accounts, of course) demanding for the e-assault to end, but have restrained myself from engaging with the enemy.

Perhaps one day I will come to actually tolerate or welcome the e-mails - in what would be a sort of online version of Stockholm Syndrome, I guess - but for now, I will continue to cringe every time I see the red "(1)" on my iPhone, desperately hoping that "Laura" or "Tori" or "Nicki" won't be waiting for me on the other side of the click.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

surreal interactions

1. As I approached a volunteer for some nonprofit up ahead on the street Tuesday, she extended her arms (nearly whacking me with her clipboard) and looked me right in the eye. "If I was drowning in water, would you save me?" she pleaded. I looked down and kept walking past her. "No, sorry," I said.

2. After leaving a rooftop party in Brooklyn on Saturday afternoon (#megaswag), I was craving a sugary drink. I stopped in a nearby deli and settled on a Pomegranate Pear Nantucket Nectars drink. I looked to my left and noticed this guy sizing up the beverage options. He turned to me and asked, "If you had unlimited funds, which of these drinks would you buy?" "Uhhh," I responded, trying to work out the connection between the two clauses. "I just sold my bike, so I have all this money," he explained. "I figured I'd buy a drink." "Oh, uh, well, I'm getting this pomegranate pear thing!" I said, before turning around and shouting "Good luck!" as I bolted to the register.

3. I was in line at Duane Reade yesterday and the woman at the front of the line was loudly complaining about the fact that they only had one register open. "This is a disgrace," she shouted, along with some other unintelligible stuff about "vacations," "brain-dead employees" and "deodorant." She continued ranting even as the cashier rang her up. After she left, the man who had been behind her in line (and in front of me) went up to the register. He took his receipt and then put his hands down on the counter and said to the cashier, in an eerie drawl, "Hang in there. It gets better." He walked out and, as I approached, the cashier just shook her head and widened her eyes. I couldn't think of anything to say so I tried to smile "empathetically" (though I'm pretty sure I just looked like I was trying to hold off a sneeze).