I went to the barn holiday party

What I saw: barn friends and Hado at the holiday party.


What I did beforehand: overslept, ate cereal and walked the dogs.

What I wore: very dirty jeans and some other clothes I found wadded up on the floor of my closet, Keen pull-on snow boots, enormous purple scarf.

Who went with me: the Bacon Provider.


Why I saw this show: the ascendence of fascism in America has crushed my already limited desire to cheerfully attend social functions. Nevertheless, a party like this is an opportunity to give year-end tips to the hard-working people who take care of my horses. And to see my barn friends.

Where I stood: in the barn aisle.


Things that were sad: last year when I attended this party I didn’t realize it was all about, so I didn’t have cards and tips with me. It was awkward.  I did bring bread I made, which everyone made a big deal about. That kind of added to my feeling awkward. The other thing that happened last year is I had to have the same awkward conversation a bunch of times about who I was, and how long I’d been at the barn, and which horses I owned, and where I had my horses before that. The third time through these questions I fully flowered, via awkwardness, into an overgrown, surly hothouse  middle-schooler, providing one-word, conversation-stopping answers: two months, two horses, Dutchess County. “Oh,” they asked. “Where in Duchess County?”
And I’d say, “Pine Box,” which they hadn’t heard of.

Also, last year I met the barn owner at this party, and had a conversation with him about cakes or something but whatever I said it was said without knowing he was the owner. I thought he was just some guy. When I found about a few days later that I had been talking to the owner, and not just some guy, I marveled at myself for being so supremely awkward.

One good thing about going to parties where I barely know anyone is I can get away with just shaking people’s hands. On the west coast, I don’t remember even having to shake hands all that often, but here in New York you shake hands with new people and are engaged in this grotesquely awkward air-kissing gesture with people you already know (and sometimes even with people you don’t already know). Some people actually press their cheeks into yours, which feels like a completely unnecessary violation. Others smack you, kiss-wise, on the cheek, which at least resembles something your Aunt Ruthie might have done. Then there’s the two cheek thing, and it’s too, too much.  

So this year, I had to hug my friends and try to dodge the kissing thing, except with the French people, who seem to know what they’re doing and will do all the work so all I have to do is stand there limply, feeling awkward and wait for it to end.

Hado goes for an awkward air-kiss

Things that were funny: I was standing with my friend C. and some other people talking about the bread and someone else walked up to tell me how much they like my bread. Also, I ran into the owner again, and this year I told him how much I love the barn and thanked him. If it was awkward, I didn’t even care.


Things that were not funny: two different people asked me if I make my bread using a bread machine. 

Something I ate: there were home-made linzer cookies, and my husband made me try an inch-long piece of the top of his. It was good, though we thought it should have been rolled just a little bit thinner before baking. I also drank a glass of quite decent red wine out of a red plastic cup. Nothing says “PARTY” in America like a red plastic cup.


What it is: keeping horses is an expensive, labor-intensive business, requiring attentive and careful management. It takes a lot of people, and many hours, and good communication. The work is never-ending. I now understand that regular tips are expected and also some kind of Christmas bonus. This summer I was brave enough to ask some of my barn friends what they tip and was enormously relieved to find I wasn’t doing it wrong.

Who should see it: holiday parties might be supremely awkward, being a weird salad event of tossed religious holidays, crumbled gift-giving, and chopped “being busy,” over a bed of shifting expectations for getting dressed up, but you should go. No one ever says, “Ugh! I wish that awkward so-and-so didn’t show up!”

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What I saw on the way home: Canada geese, headed south for the winter. 


I attended as “a spouse”

What I did: went as my husband’s “+1” to an election night party, hosted by a cable news network, at the Fifth Avenue Empire Room, a rooftop lounge at 230 5th Avenue, in New York City.


What I did beforehand: voted, took the dogs for a sniffing walk, showered, tried to dry my hair, gave up on trying to dry my hair, put too much product in my hair, changed into jeans and a “Vagenda of Manocide” t-shirt, packed my party clothes into a suitcase, drove to town with a woman in a Land Rover tailgating me. When she turned for the highway, I could tell by the dark shadow that I had picked up another tailgater, now on the 30 mph approach to town where it is oh so tempting to go just a little faster. But I didn’t go any faster, so when I realized my new tailgater was a local policewoman, I felt justified. I walked through town and saw the policewoman buying lunch, and I wanted to ask her if she voted and who she voted for, because I was still giddy and stupid and anxious with excitement.


On the train I worked on yesterday’s blog post on my phone, and when we pulled in to Grand Central I found myself surrounded by other women with overnight bags. They were all headed to hotels, too, but then they were headed to the Javits Center for Hillary Clinton’s election night shindig. I slipped going up the stairs.

What I wore: my mother loved dressing well and shopping and spent more time choosing what to wear than she ever would have wanted anyone to know. She had a perfectly organized custom closet as big as a bedroom. When she died, there were so many navy shoes and long, straight-ish skirts and knee-highs and slips in every color and interesting jackets of various lengths and creamy white blouses to wear under the interesting jackets. And unusual jewelry, of course, as well. I still have some, but not many, of my mother’s clothes, but I do have a certain 90s-era off-white silk blouse which I’ve not worn more than once in the 11 1/2 years since my mother’s death. I was thinking it should be my “white,” since they were saying it’s the color the suffragettes wore, and it seemed like it might work under my other pantsuit. I don’t normally pick out and try on an outfit the night before, but there I was, the night before election day, seeing if the pants from my other pantsuit fit well enough to wear. They did. I put on the blouse to see if it looked ok. It hangs out from under the jacket, but in a way that I liked more than I hated. When I took it off I discovered it was missing a button.


When I stopped crying about my haphazard sewing skills vs. mother’s meticulous sewing skills and from stress about the election and then the realization that my mother would have loved HRC way more than I do and generally missing everything about my mother, I clipped one of the spare buttons from the inside of the blouse and sewed it on. 

And so, to the election night party I wore a black Eileen Fisher tank top, the gray Hugo Boss pantsuit with flimsy, unusable beltloops and no pockets (not even too-shallow pockets), gorgeous and understated jewelry from my generous husband, my grandmother’s square-faced Longines gold wristwatch, and an amethyst pin that belonged to another female relative and though my mother made a big deal about telling me who it came from, it was too long ago for me to remember. I also wore net knee-highs and the loafers with heels that I put pads into finally so my feet don’t slide around. 
One of his co-workers complained that
there aren’t any bad pictures of him
Who went with me: my husband, who made plain back in April that he thought the election might go badly, and whose paranoia, as I called it, was informed by his having escaped a totalitarian regime as a child, and his uncanny ability to predict everything. 

How I got tickets: as the guest of the Bacon Provider, I was actually the only “+1.”

Why I saw this show: I blithely said beforehand that I thought it would be fun either way. I genuinely believed that America would not elect a Russian-sponsored fascist. 

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Where I sat: if you were watching live results on the right cable channel, you saw us in the front row. At least one friend did. 

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Things that were not funny: at dinner, I botched the, “…And what do you do?” question again, but I made up for it by being somewhat ludicrously funny. 

By 9:30 one of the marketing people from the cable news network (who had made it clear at dinner that she was repulsed by the orange, frothy fountain of racism candidate, and excited for America’s first female President), announced cheerfully that the disastrous installation of a lying, bankruptcy-addicted, child-rapist as United States President would, in fact, be very good for cable news, what with the advertising sold to air during impeachment proceedings and all. 

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By 10 pm I started to be cold and miserable and when I went downstairs to find the coat check to retrieve our coats I got trapped in a party that wasn’t ours and when a small mob of people crushed into an elevator, I finally saw the hall and found the gap in a black curtain leading to the event I had a wristband for, at which point I was waylaid by a security guy who thought I was headed out of bounds and I had to get all imperious in his face. 

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Things that were sad: by 10:30 I was ready to move away from the United States for the foreseeable future. The other guests who were sitting outside with us retreated to the party inside or left for home. Drunk, anxious bar patrons grumbled amongst themselves about the tray of extra cupcakes abandoned on our table.  One guy came out of nowhere and asked me if he could take two. I told him they weren’t mine to give away, but, ok, be quick about it. Others came. By the end, people weren’t even asking; they were just taking.

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Things that were funny: when my father was in the ICU towards the end of his life, I realized that he had lost his sense of humor. This was how I knew he was dying. There is nothing funny about last night’s election result.

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What it is: not a good day to be a person of color or LGBTQ. Or both. 


Something I ate: steak and one cupcake.

I violated this cupcake before I ate it.

Who should see it: look away, friends and readers abroad. It’s going to get really ugly. 

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What I saw on the way home: we spent the night in an upscale eurotrash boutique hotel because I had planned for a long night. I had multiple nightmares about crashing my car on the Saw Mill Parkway and woke with a migraine. 

He’s reading about Stalin.

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Outside it was just another bad, gray, Manhattan Wednesday morning. I followed a guy into the subway who was reading the big biography of Stalin I read when I was in business school. He was about halfway through. I let a flustered, old mustachioed woman cut in line ahead of me when I got a coffee and a glazed doughnut in Grand Central and commenced having a big, long, ugly, sniveling cry on the train. White men moved to another car. 

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As we arrived in the sleepy town of Katatonia, I stepped into the drizzle and looked into the dark windshield of an oncoming Audi SUV. I didn’t pause in the slightest before entering the crosswalk, putting my life in the hands of some rich asshole.

I brought bread

What I saw: a raclette party

What I did beforehand: overslept, changed the clocks, ate eggs, posted blog, baked the bread dough I made the day before, gave the dogs the leftover egg, looked for my other pantsuit for Tuesday, read the New York Times, walked the dogs, changed clothes.

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What I wore: Tiffany citrine drop earrings (a gift from the Bacon Provider), mustard yellow Fluevog LoF Kaya oxfords, pink striped socks, gray James jeans chinos, black Tanner belt, pale pink Brooks Brothers no-iron fitted cotton blouse, candy pink Boden cashmere crew neck sweater, antique wool-felted pink sari scarf, gray Ralph Lauren cashmere fingerless mittens, black North Face hooded thinsulate thigh-length parka, mascara, glasses.

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Who went with me: the Bacon Provider 

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How I was invited: in person, at the barn

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Why I saw this show: it was fun last year

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Where I sat: across from my own husband and next to someone else’s husband, who told me two or three times that he is a Republican. I did not tell him that I am not a Republican. I received two texts during the evening, one from my Pilates teacher adjusting the next day’s schedule and the other from one of my kids. I replied to both. I also texted my husband at one point. 

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Things that were sad: this conversation. 
Someone Else’s Husband: What did he do after graduation?
Me: You know, he got a horse job, but he missed his friends, so he moved to Brooklyn, and got a job tending bar…
Someone Else’s Husband: You’re telling me that with your husband’s connections he couldn’t get your son a better job?
Me: He’s not really the kind of person to do something like that.
Someone Else’s Husband: …

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Things that were funny: if there was a dissenting opinion about marijuana legalization at my end of the table, it was not uttered aloud. People around me were unified in the belief that it leads to a lot of car accidents. This was followed with a chorus of condemnation of mobile phones for also causing car accidents. I guess car accidents are of great concern here in Westchester County. I wondered semi-seriously if my texting at the table had been noticed and, if detected, seen as rude. I wanted to look up the statistics about the frequency of car accidents in Westchester, but I didn’t until the next morning.

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Things that were not funny: a person (who appeared to be white) wanted to tell me how “the blacks” in the U.K. are different from “our blacks” in the U.S. I was so astonished and anxious about where this statement might lead, I stopped listening, and their voice became like the voice of an adult in a Charlie Brown cartoon: WAH-WAAH, WAH WAAH WAAH WAAAH. We were soon coming dangerously close to discussing the presidential race. I attempted a deflection by pointing out that my husband, who I could gesture to but probably couldn’t hear me, came to the U.S. as a refugee when he was a child. Someone (who could not have known then told me that the refugees of the past were “christian,” and therefore, “desirable.” I resumed more serious eating and drinking.

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What it is: my friend the host has a number of raclette parties each autumn, and owns a pair of neat red Swissmar raclette party grills. She serves very good wine and bresaola (thinly sliced, spiced and salted air-dried beef), two kinds of cheese, the traditional boiled potatoes, cornichons, and cherry tomatoes. I brought a seeded sourdough bread, baked that morning, consisting of white, whole wheat, and spelt flours, and sesame, poppy, caraway, sunflower, pumpkin, and flax seeds. Each person has their own spatula, and gets to improvise their own cooking technique (just cheese, cheese on bread, meat and cheese on bread, cheese on potato, cheese on tomato, etc.). The conversation was lively and fun and really only unpleasant when people stopped talking about themselves.

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Who should see it: we are going to have to have a lot more parties where we talk and listen to each other.  My current method of coping by not listening or replying feels like an unproductive emergency measure.

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I brought a card

What I did: went to a friend’s kid’s Bar Mitzvah party.

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What I did beforehand: overslept, fed the sourdough,  made oatmeal, posted blog, stripped bed, paid some bills, vacuumed, washed sheets, made bread dough for baking tomorrow, went to town to drop my navy pantsuit at the cleaners and to buy a Bar Mitzvah card, turned dough, moved sheets to dryer, texted friend for advice about Bar Mitzvah gifts because when I was 13 I always bought and wrapped a Swiss Army Knife, turned dough, walked dogs, turned dough, took shower, turned dough, regretted stripping bed, turned dough, looked at clothes and wished I had more pant suits, got sheets out of dryer, turned dough, tried to dry hair, bench rested dough, put on jewelry and makeup, grumbled about my hair, final shaping of dough, put on inoffensively conservative black dress.

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What I wore: Wolford black tights, black Fluevog textured loafer Davis heels, fancy black Coach handbag that is larger than many of my evening bags, black Boden dress that is a little  shorter than I’d prefer and frustratingly pocket-less but strikes me as having the virtue of being inoffensively conservative,  Lilith jacket dress. 

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Who went with me: the Bacon Provider (who agreed to autograph some Xbox games-related party swag, because people ask him to do things like that), a gajillion 13-year-olds, and my friend’s assorted, non-overlapping but numerous closest friends and relatives.

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How I got invited: a gorgeous dark metallic-ink-printed invitation via the USPS.

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Why I saw this show: we were promised good food. 

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Where I sat: at the table marked “Xenon.” The party had a science theme. Who doesn’t love the noble gasses?

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Things that were sad: the shoes I picked are slippery on the inside now that they’re broken in and  I purchased some black suede things that you stick inside shoes to prevent the sliding but I forgot all about doing it until we arrived at the party and of course I didn’t have them with me.

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Things that were funny: “I will only get up and dance when they play Hava Nagila.”

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Things that were not funny: there are many Americans who believe that their religion should be the national religion, and we should deny civil liberties to people who practice the “wrong” religion. 

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What it is: congregations have to hire people to stand guard at Jewish and Muslim gatherings  across the United States. Episcopalians and Catholics don’t. But anyway, there were some heartfelt speeches and music and dancing and, yes, good food.

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Who should see it: go to that bar (or bat) mitzvah.  A Jewish kid has spent a really long time learning a bunch of hebrew, and is gonna read/sing it in front of a shitload of people. Then that kid has to give a speech and make sense of the chunk of Torah that corresponds to their birthday. I mean, they might get Noah’s Ark. Or they might get a shopping list. The Old Testament has all those begats, remember? It can be amazing. 
I mean, 13-year-olds can be very smart and funny and have their weirdly specific enthusiasms. You know how you have to close your eyes to sneeze? Being 13 is that moment: when you close your eyes to sneeze. Before you sneeze, giant child. After, baby teen. It’s quite a sneeze.  

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What I saw on the way home: I changed from my heels into Tieks flats (the kind that fold and fit in your handbag) so it was easier to drive. But what was tricky was extracting my husband from the autograph-seekers. 

I went to a birthday party

What I saw: R’s birthday party, at her mom’s boyfriend’s apartment on the upper west side, in Manhattan.

What I wore: Eileen Fisher black pull-on stretch pants that are neither too long (because I buy them in “petit” so they’re above-ankle length), too tight, or too loose, so they’re basically pajamas, but better because you can wear them outside and people don’t ask you if you’re sick; that weird new green blouse-top with a grey floral pattern; black Fluevog heels (which were appreciated by three people at the party); new tiny fancy turquoise cross-body Furla handbag that the Bacon Provider got me for my recent birthday; mascara, and, for part of the night, a party hat.

Always wear a seatbelt, even if you’re a bouquet.

What I did beforehand: took off my party shoes and put on boots and leather gloves to go cut flowers for the hostess.

Who went with me: I went alone, but when The Graduate arrived at the party after I did, it seemed he hadn’t realized I’d be there.

Elevator Selfie

How I got invited: via email, from R’s mom; it was supposed to be a surprise. It was not.

Why I went: when we first moved to NYC, in July of 2011, R (a college friend of The Graduate) went out of her way to introduce us to her family, take us to the opera, invite us to the Adirondacks, and make us feel like we actually knew people. 

Where I sat: between R’s mom’s boyfriend and her old roommate (who may have been accidentally responsible for the lack of surprise).

The hats lit up. I have food in my mouth.

Things that were sad: I have fresh home-brewed IPA to share and forgot that I meant to bring some until I was half-way there. Also, I was in the bathroom when they sang “Happy Birthday,” and there were five opera singers in attendance. Lastly, I forgot my goody-bag, and it had a Toblerone in it.




Things that were funny: party poppers, party hats, Charades (I successfully delivered “The Geography of Sub Saharan Africa” and “Inception”).

One of the primary gestures of Charades

Things that were not funny: the dog hid the whole night; the cars I had to avoid, weaving on the Saw Mill Parkway on the way home; waking up the next morning for an 8:30 lesson.

He kind of always looks like this
What it is: in the United States, people often celebrate the anniversary of their birth with a party. Traditions include, but are not limited to, a birthday cake with candles, the singing of a traditional birthday song, games, a piñata, the giving of gifts to the person having the birthday, and party favors for guests. When my children were young, we had many birthday parties at home, including one with a magician, another with the Reptile Man, and, a particular favorite, a spaceship party where the kids decorated a refrigerator box in the back yard and we had a countdown and blastoff.


Who should go: my brother once told me that you should invite everyone to parties. This is a completely unrealistic rule that I try to follow as much as possible. 

The Graduate had fun

What I saw on the way home: as I waved goodbye to R’s mother, I accidentally hailed a cab. 

Tall

I am standing on Church Street, in TriBeCa, trying to hail a cab heading uptown.  People (and by that I mean New Yorkers) have cab-hailing styles. One, casual, with a relaxed open palm and fingers. Another, taught, high arm, hand waving. Then, the Lunger, who seems prepared to die under the wheels of a taxi. Me, I raise my arm and try to believe I’m tall enough to be seen.
Tonight, I am dressed up, unsteady in high heels, feeling conspicuous in makeup, too warm to wear my fancy party overcoat so I’ve tried to drape it artfully over my arm, and now I’m sweating into it, or pressing wrinkles into it, as I strangle my tiny handbag.  The flow of buses and cars, black SUVS and so many yellow cabs. I want to check the time but I haven’t a free hand, nor do I have the confidence to look away. There is a configuration of rooftop lights I’m supposed to follow to know which cabs to wave at. My ignorance after three years proves to me once again that I don’t intend to stay.
More cars, more buses, more cabs. Every taxi is the same, on the outside, every cab the object of your purest desire. Come to me, yellow cab. Pull up to the curb by me, yellow cab, roll down your window and ask me, “Where to?” Please. I need you.
I give the driver the address of our first stop, where we are to pick up my husband, and then our second stop, at tonight’s event. I slide behind the driver, my outfit twisting around my hips. I sit off balance, my ankles crossed, periodically bumping around trying to straighten my clothes.
“Your husband. Is he a tall man?” asks the driver.
The majority of cab drivers in New York leave you alone. You get in, there’s some discussion of the destination, and you drive. Maybe one in ten has an axe to grind, a nascent worldview to expound upon, a philosophy he can’t resist sharing.
“No…,” I say, hesitating. “More like medium-sized.”
“See?” he says. “I’ll tell you. My daughter, she has a husband. An American husband. A tall man, her husband.”
It’s a work-related function, where we are going. One of those functions I was led to believe we would be attending regularly when he took that god-damned job and we moved to New York.  An awards show? A premiere? Who fucking cares? Most of the time I’m not even invited.
“They come to my house and leave their car in my parking spot,” the cab-driver continues. I ask myself what the hell he is talking about.  “I only get one spot, but they leave their car. I cannot move it because I have no key. She chose this man for herself, this tall man.”
It’s the end of the day. Rush hour. Of course in New York City rush hour is several hours, peaking just after five, I guess. We are on the backside of it, maybe six-ish. I don’t know.
“Your husband, is he smart?”
“Yes,” I say. “He is very smart.”
“My daughter’s husband? He is not smart. He is tall.”
TriBeCa in autumn, 2012
I want to tell you funny stories about New York. I want them to be calm, reflective, backward-looking, and hilarious. I did things in New York and you want to hear about the celebrities I saw there. Like Ian McKellen exhorting me to try harder at Pilates, or Patrick Stewart going incognito in a U.S.S. Enterprise ball cap on the subway. And my memories of the fancy events sparkle with celebrity cameos: Jennifer Aniston, looking skinny and normal and pretty at a premiere, or that guy from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, skulking around like a party-crasher, scarfing hors d’oeuvres and drinks, alone in a t-shirt in a corner. I want to draw New York for you the way you like it drawn for you, with cool old buildings and a vintage jazz record soundtrack. Not real pigeons shitting in your hair but cinematic pigeons, rising in a flock. Expensive TriBeCa lofts where, of course, the AC works. Glamorous skyline shots, the wail of sirens edited out. Cabs roaring past, but never buses running the red. No baked-on dog diarrhea on the sidewalk. No smell of urine in the subway.
The bland niceties exchanged by executives and their wives at work-related functions don’t make for many good stories. The HR guy is usually there. He always manages to remember my name. He knows I have kids and horses. Sometimes his wife is with him, looking like the saddest woman in America. Maybe she looks at me and sees that I, too, am the saddest woman in America. The HR guy asks after my kids and horses. I lie, and say everyone is fine. Always. No one wants to hear they aren’t.
It’s a struggle. I am still digesting, and there are many things I’m not supposed to say. I got smacked down by a Twitter troll last December, after I tweeted that I think New York is run by a bunch of mobsters. No names, no details. My troll made a new account to reply to this tweet, to tell me to get the hell out of New York and not let the door hit me in the ass. I blocked her, and she moved on to tweet at my husband, and at random people tweeting about my husband. I try to keep my Twitter world friendly and nice; I don’t spend my time there arguing with disagreeable strangers, and I block hostile people early and often. After a day’s worth of head-scratching, I realized who she was; I unblocked her, and asked her if her kids know she’s a Twitter troll. After this, she deleted her account.
 
The first time we get a glossy invite to a fancy event, I plan for weeks; I shop for a posh frock, with special occasion shoes and suitable foundation garments and two pairs of expensive hosiery in case I tear the first pair putting them on. I go on to buy my first and second tiny fancy party handbags, and one is so small I can’t fit a glasses case into it.
By the last one of these damned events I wear a cheap, red tulle dress I buy online. When a colleague of my husband’s turns to me and compliments my dress, I can’t decide if it’s out of politeness or sour dismay. Sometimes, she has to sit near me at these things. I think she thinks she has nothing to say to me. She is wearing a very expensive dress. Like the kind of thing you get at Barney’s, and it’s like $1100. Black. Asymmetrical. And those strappy, $1095 Jimmy Choos. I know what they are, I just couldn’t stand in them, much less walk in them. And besides, why would I when I can wear Fluevogs?  I am happy enough with how I look, in my funky shoes and my polyester party dress. I may never wear the dress again, but it was well under $100 so I really don’t care. You could spend that on lunch in New York with friends if you had friends. I say my thanks for the compliment, but I think she probably hates me.
I mean, what is that: “I like your dress…”? Somehow it communicates something else: “I see you’re wearing a dress.” Or, “I am noticing your dress, and your dress isn’t expensive like my dress.” Or,  “I think your dress is weird. I think your dress might have been cheap.” Or,  “What the hell are you wearing?” Or, even, “Who the fuck are you? Why do you even come to these things? No one here likes you or has anything to say to you. You should just stay home.”
Where do we get our ideas about others? That people care what I spend on clothes? That men are funny and women aren’t? That people judge your intelligence based on your height?
But anyway, going back to whatever night I was talking about, after I’ve done my 3 ½ minutes with the HR guy and his sad, sad wife who sees into my soul, the night where I’m still chipper about a fancy party or whatever.
I want to tell you about this one guy, someone my husband introduces me to, and how blunt and hilarious I think I am, telling him like it is. My husband is polite and professional, always, like he was raised to be polite and professional. I am somehow in this moment incapable of either. Maybe I am always incapable of these things. A question is exchanged between the men without being answered, and I toss out my answer, overly strong and quite inappropriate, like a I’ve taken big slug from a flask of grain alcohol smuggled into church and belched.  This guy, he doesn’t care if I have horses or children. I say something else, trying to be funny.
There’s a flash of recognition on his face. At the time I take it for approval. “I’m on Twitter,” I offer. Today, now, I scream back at myself, “Twitter is free, you stupid twat! Any asshole is on Twitter. Go drink more and talk less!”  Then, I tell him who I am on Twitter. I have done this so rarely. Today, now, it makes me hate myself. 
Within days I am followed by the woman who becomes my Twitter troll. She is friends with this guy. They are professional contacts who flirt with each other on Twitter.
But getting back to the moment before I open my damned mouth, before my husband replies with his polite and professional words, before I volunteer who I am on Twitter: my husband introduces me to this guy. They walk up to me together. There is my smart, medium-sized husband with someone. It is unmistakable. He is tall.

Hot Sauce

There are two bottles. Hot sauce. Two bottles of hot sauce. One bottle is full. One bottle is empty. The empty bottle is your past. Your past is hot sauce you already ate. Or, someone else ate it. Hot sauce that is no more. Hot sauce that made the eggs ok. Hot sauce that made the burrito more awesome. Hot sauce that was essential to the tacos. The hot sauce of yesterday. It is gone.
The full bottle is full of hot sauce. Someone opened it already, so there won’t be any frustration with the little plastic seal if you need the new hot sauce. It is ready for you and your eggs. Or your burritos. Or tacos. You might even use the new bottle of hot sauce in a new way. You might put hot sauce on something you’ve never put it on before. You could eat outside. You might make a new friend, and invite her over, and serve her hot sauce. The full bottle of hot sauce is your future. It is filled with inspiration to do new things in spicier ways.
“Actually, it’s ‘Cholula.'”


There is something else: President’s Party. Properly punctuated. A sticker, on a water bottle. A label for a party that you were not invited to. A party that required stickers. And you weren’t invited, and you didn’t go. Do you wonder what they ate there? Do you think the music was good? You are pretty sure the wine wasn’t the cheapest wine, and the music might have been top-drawer, whatever that means. And the food was for the president’s guests, so the best this president had to offer. What partying president is this? A president of a nation? Of a club?

And whose water is that, anyway? And is there maybe a fly floating in that water?