Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Just F-ING READ THIS #2: How To Ruin Your Ex's Wedding Day AND Opinion of You Without Leaving Your Laptop

Is anyone else entertained by the bleeding entrails of another human being's emotional dignity? 

I am.

Well. I mean, my own bleeding entrails aren't funny. To me. But they should be to, like, other people.  Otherwise what would the point be? When I make a stiletto-ed, snot-dripping gazelle run down 7th Avenue at 3am, wailing like a menstrual raptor during hormone therapy while being chased by a lover driven to such madness by my estrogenic meltdown he can't figure out whether to offer consolation or knock me unconscious/jam me in a cab/pay the driver to drop my body somewhere in the Palisades, it isn't funny to me. At least at that moment. But I draw comfort once the dust settles that someone who bore witness to my public breakdown might have been able to turn to their drunk friend with a chuckle and say, "Did you just see that shit?"

ASIDE: I believe that no one does visual representations of "bleeding entrails of another human being's emotional dignity" better than Kiki Smith. Just look at how belligerent her art is.

I mean OH MY GOD buy a journal already.

Seriously. Kiki Smith. Google her. ANYWAY.

Point is, Politics Daily "Legal Analyst" Andrew Cohen may have allowed his own break-up pathos to become one of the most entertaining pieces of Loss of Emotional Dignity Pornography the interwebs have had in...well, say days, with a piece that went up a few days ago.

BACKSTORY: On the eve of his former love's nuptials to another man, Cohen "gifted" his ex with the traditional wedding present of a Batshit Backhanded Compliment Meltdown Column, appropriately published in a political web magazine. (Also, someone paid him to do this. Which means my diary must be worth at least $0.50 a word, or around $7000 dollars.) 

Here's Cohen's original post:
The great love of my life marries today and I am not the groom. I had my chance, a few years ago, but did not realize until too late how fleeting my moment with her was meant to be. Whether it was my fault or hers, and, let's face it, it was probably mine, I will wonder always about the life I might have had with the most loving and loveable woman I have ever known. Sometimes, I finally now understand, love, even crazy love, is not enough. Sometimes, as the romance novelists know, timing is everything.

But today is not a day for remorse. It is not a day for lost causes. Today is a day for celebration. The woman I once promised to keep happy 
is happy. She tells me she is marrying a wonderful man, with a good heart, whom she believes I would have liked had we met in different circumstances. She lives where she wants to live. She has selected her life's path. All that is left for me to do is to wish her well and to hope that she has made the right choice; that she continues to find in him what she did not find in me. And I am sure he considers himself today the luckiest man on the face of the Earth.

The present I humbly send her today is this column; this public note, this irrevocable display of affection and support and gratitude; this worldly absolution from any guilt or sadness she felt between the time she said no to me and the time she said yes to him. No one ought to have to carry that with them into a marriage. I showered her with as much love as I could muster when we were together. I still love her and always will. So I am only too happy to offer my toast to her now, one more time, before she takes her vows.

I want to thank her, mostly, for rescuing me from hopelessness. When we met, back in the spring of 2005, I was nearly 40 and had been dating off and on for two years following an unexpected divorce. I had lost faith in relationships. I had given up on love. She arrived, unexpectedly, and showed me what was possible. She raised me up from the emotional dead. She drew out of me the 
poison of divorce and betrayal. Eleven years younger but already more mature than me, she was dazzling, brilliant, funny, and sweet; she both gave and taught me patience and devotion and sacrifice. No woman before or since ever made me feel as desired, needed, beloved, appreciated as she did. No one has yet made me want her more. Some men live their whole lives without this kind of love. At least I had it for one brief, shining moment.

I want to thank her for being so delightful with my son, who talks about her still, and to my parents, who couldn't believe their son's good fortune to have landed such a sweetheart. Until almost literally his dying day, my dad would ask me about her. Near the end, almost exactly two years ago, I did not have the heart to tell him that we had broken up. It gives me peace figuring that he died thinking she'd be in my life when he was gone. And in a way I suppose she is. Rarely a day goes by when something in my life -- the law, journalism, horses, celebrity gossip -- doesn't make me think of her or what she'd think.

I want to thank her for-- it's now such a cliché that I'm almost embarrassed to write it -- making me want to be a better man. She really did. It happens. She made me less judgmental and more open to new ideas. She gave me a confidence I had never felt before. She gave me incentive to reach out professionally into areas I had not yet gone. I became more productive and back involved in the world. And, most important, I learned how to respond with love when so much love was offered to me. I learned how to trust but also show it. And in some way, virtually every friend, family member and romance in my life since has benefited from the gifts of grace she gave so willingly to me.

I want to thank her for making me laugh, at her and myself, and for making me swoon whenever she walked into a room. I want to thank her for the advice she gave me, and for the soothing tone of her voice during times of trouble. I want to thank her for completely changing my outlook on life. Before I met her, as a single father, I never would have considered having another child. Although it took more time than it should have, I came to realize through her love and devotion that there would be nothing more I would rather do in the world than have a child with her. How many poor souls go their whole lives without the heart-string pull of such emotions?

I want to thank her for giving my life's dream contours and a calculus. I want to live on a farm one day, a farm filled with horses and wireless connections where I can write. And now, thanks to her, I know exactly what I want and need in a partner who might just want to get there, too. That's just another gift she gave me; the gift of knowing what is possible in a relationship; of refusing to settle for mediocrity where it counts, and of taking the chance when something inside tells you it could be love. I sound like a sap. I know. But it's no less true. No matter what my romantic future holds, I know there will be no retreat from the standards she has set. Like the song says, surely someone will one day dare to stand where she stood. I can't wait.

On her wedding day, I want to thank her for all those times she stuck up for me -- with her friends, with her family, with her work colleagues. It could not have been easy, explaining to all those cooler heads, why she was so devoted to an "old guy" who lived so far away. Yet she did it, even after she had decided that she would not throw down her lot with me. That's the sort of character I'd like to instill in my son. It's the sort that we think is all around us but actually is rare. It is courage and self-confidence and the ability to see right from wrong. She displayed it every day, right down to the end. Ours was a romance without rancor; a love affair that ended in peace, not war.

I want to thank her for being such an inspiration. She did not give in or sell out or become one of those poor women of a certain age in 
New York who have put their careers ahead of their lives. When we met, she was living in New York but was not of New York; transplanted from the West Coast, she had not allowed herself to be seduced entirely by the City's charms. She took from Manhattan, like so many other beautiful women do, but she never gave to it her heart and soul. She was always rooted even among the rootless of her age and time. She knew she would one day leave the City, and she did, on her own terms. I admire her for that. I respect her for that. And I love her for it.

It wasn't too long after we met that I began imagining what our wedding day would be like. My second, her first, I nonetheless pictured her not taking it too seriously, laughing off the little crises that always pop up. I pictured her stunning in her dress and with that smile that would melt me. I pictured her having a vodka and soda to ease her nerves. I pictured us laughing a lot. I pictured myself at the end of the aisle. It was not to be. I've known that for years. But that doesn't make the love any less real.

So at last my wedding toast today is sincere: I wish the deepest and most profound love of my life a 
happy life, a good life, one in which she gives to and gets from the loved ones in her world the hope and the passion and the comfort and the support she always and so magically gave to me.

Wow. Good work Andy. This is pure poetry. I mean it. Like a Nicholas Sparks letter. If that letter had been covered in razor blades and the envelope filled with Anthrax. 

But even more enjoyable than Cohen's original column are the pieces it's inspiring in response, which you should also read. Enjoy. Highlights:

* Amanda Hess's breakdown of the letter and its babbling interior monologue at The Sexist, which you can find here: THE GIFT OF CREEPINESS, ON YOUR WEDDING DAY

* As well as Lizzie Shurnick's  How Not to Congratulate Your Ex on Her Wedding Day

Epic. Anyway. I'm off to go stalk Facebook status updates to make sure none of my exes have done something to send me off the deep end, then disable both my ovaries and Internet to insure nothing like this ever has my byline on it. 

Monday, July 19, 2010

#23: I Am Polly's Total Inability to Ride the Subway, or, How to Break a Drunk Man's Teeth

Since this blog's been brooding harder than a Belle and Sebastian fan held hostage at a Jonas Brothers concert without his cardigan sweater, I thought I'd lighten things up a bit. Specifically with drunken fisticuffs, lesbians and a new "Reasons my Father F-ing Rocks," in which Daddy Dearest coins the phrase "gorilla snatch" (hint: that's in reference to his arch nemesis' labia). So, the first in a series of non-brooding posts: That Time I Got in a Fist Fight With a Latino Man on the Subway. (My second failure at riding the subway like a normal human being.)

Now, anyone who knows me understands I'd rather be bound, gagged and forced to listen to a vegan propaganda opera scored by sitars than voluntarily quote Chuck Palahniuk.

That being said: "How much can you know about yourself [if] you've never been in a fight." - Fight Club

With that quote in mind "Get in a Fight" made the original Hitch List because, despite my desire to avoid the hipster bandwagon (mainly because I get carsick from riding all the way in the back), I fundamentally agree with Palahniuk's philosophy there. A good full contact fight can do more to unlock the primal core of a repressed suburbanite than all the ayuasca at Burning Man...and I'm mildly curious as to whether my core is made of hot, liquid badass or limp angel-hair pasta. 

ATTN. EDITORS: This press release embargoed until 2am or your 4th vodka/Redbull

While I have an advanced degree in shit-talking (from New Jersey U), I've never actually gotten in a physical fight, i.e. the kind where pieces of your body make contact with pieces of another person's body without the shared goal of orgasm. The closest I'd ever come before this post's incident was

A) The time some married drunk threatened to kick the ass of my boyfriend for cock-blocking his attempts to bed my best friend. I flew into an overprotective rage and threatened to "slit" his "fucking throat myself" while making belligerent hand gestures until wingman Ariel and two other friends pulled me off him. I have no idea why I said this, because I don't carry a knife appropriate for throat-slitting. 

B) The time 10-Year-Old Me slapped my 7-Year-Old Sister in the face over the last Fruit Roll-Up. (She started it.) NOTE: It was one of those awesome rainbow flavors and therefore worth fighting for.

Despite the deeply introspective nature of both events, I learned nothing about myself during those encounters, except that the darkest parts of me are willing to hit a blood relative in the face over a rainbow-colored corn syrup carpet rolled in plastic and marketed to children during Nickelodeon's Doug.

My fight cherry was recently popped when I stepped onto a rickety Brooklyn-bound subway train with intent to see some hipster band play a late-night set with a friend. With just two other passengers in the car--a middle-aged woman reading The Fountainhead and a nebbishy 30something guy in a skinny tie--I happily plopped myself down on one of those L-shaped tetris-piece seats near the door. There, I commenced standard "Please Don't Talk to Me" protocol: iPod in, journal open, eyes down. Also, knees shut. 

Two stops later the doors parted to reveal a bleary-eyed, balding, mustachioed Latino man (PS: This is not a Racist post. This isn't evan a Poor Little White Girl Victimized By A Demon Minority post. This is a Drunk Jaggoff Whose Race Is Relevant Because He Looked So Much Like An Oversized Cheech Marin It's Worth Mentioning post. Cool? Moving on.) reeking of tequila and swaying slightly on the platform. He waved a limp hand at some equally hammered pals, stepped into our car, examined the four dozen empty seats ready to cradle his drunk ass all the way to Brooklyn....then sat down right next to me.

Every woman knows what it's like to be leered at in a totally inappropriate way. It's a creeping, burning sensation that registers on some piece of skin facing the perpetrator, then slowly spreads across your consciousness like sexual harassment napalm. Doppel-Cheech Marin was an advanced leer-er...and his gaze was a tactical air strike on the right side of my body. 

But I can handle a leer. What I cannot handle is a lime and salt-scented hand reaching into my peripheral vision and toward my be-legginged knee. 
"Mami, tu estas bonita," he was slurring as the hand approached its target. I channeled Daniel-San and waxed-off the incoming set of digits, propelling them to one side with my forearm while vomiting expletives. Doppel-Cheech look perplexed.

"DON'T TOUCH ME, understand? No nos moleste? Leave me alone."

"Ehh....," Doppel-Cheech grunted, both hands up in surrender. I went back to the journal.

Just as I was getting my narrative back, a brown face and neck crept into sight from the right again, Cheech's nubby mushroom nose near-level with my eyes, hands creeping to my seat.

"I'M TELLING YOU TO LEAVE. ME. ALONE!" At this point, both of our fellow passengers were watching, but not saying a thing. 

Doppel-Cheech got angry. "Mami, whasss it is your problem, eh?" I noticed as I silently glared back at him that one eye was wandering off on its own like the fat kid with ADD on a museum trip, further evidence that I attract life's congenital mishaps even more reliably than reality TV shows.

I was determined to stand my ground, lest the dick see he was scaring the shit out of me and gain some sort of situational foothold. "You are the problem, now PLEASE back off."

He did. For about 1 minute. Then the shit hit the fan.

I felt one of the wandering hands reach behind me toward my shoulder, causing me to spring out of the seat so fast I almost stepped out of my own shoes and into the metal stripper pole strap-hangers cling to during urban commutes. I was a banshee at this point, brandishing my tiny index finger like a switch-blade and screaming at him to back the fuck off. We were hurling through the tube toward Brooklyn at top speed, the sound of squealing wheels only emphasizing that I was in essentially trapped in a tin can trying to fend off a tequila-fueled sex demon with no way out. 

Instead of backing off, Doppel-Cheech stood up, squared off and asked me why I was "such a fucking beetch."


Thanks to years with Alex, a former all-state wrestler and devout MMA fan, I know how to successfully execute a d'arce choke, which looks like this:

Thanks to the immortal film Monster Squad, I also know how to do this:

And thanks to a year and a half living in Bushwick, Brooklyn, I actually OWN one of these...and it was in my purse at the time:
 Yes, these are eye-gouging knives, made to look like kittens.

Did I utilize any of the above tools or techniques?

No. Of course not. Instead, I blacked out, probably squealed like a ferret dropped in a bathtub and remembered the one piece of advice Alex gave me when I announced I was moving to the big city alone: "Always surprise them with first blow and make sure it's're small as fuck and that's your only hope unless you've got a gun." (Thanks, Alex.)


I remember the stubble on the underside of Doppel-Cheech's chin as he swaggered toward me. I remember cocking back my right wrist, fingers drawn in. And I remember stepping forward as fast as possible while driving the heel of my right palm up toward his chin as hard I possibly could. The impact of my hand clicked Cheech's jaw shut with a sound like ice being chewed, then snapped his head back until his eyes (at least the one not meandering off to Mordor or wherever the hell it was wandering) were at the ceiling. Cheech stumbled until the back of his knees hit the rim of his seat, the combination of now-halting train and terrified Irish girl sitting him down in the process. 
I've no photographic evidence of the encounter, but I hired an extremely reliable police artist to sketch a rendering of the event. It looked something like this:

As the train stopped I hurled myself toward the doors, screaming at Cheech--both of his hands at his mouth while he moaned--to stay where he was and not to follow me. The doors opened. I ran out, passing Nebbishy 30something Man, whose hadn't said or done a thing the entire ride. "And FUCK YOU TOO."

Cheech didn't follow. The doors shut behind me and I was alone on the platform save for a few late-night commuters straggling toward the exit. 

Having survived the whole shitshow, I did what any self-possessed woman with adrenaline coursing through her veins would: I burst into tears and called my mommy. Who didn't answer because she was watching American Fucking Idol.

It took me about 15 minutes to collect myself and figure out what to do next. I didn't know the subway car number, had no injuries, was unfamiliar with the section of Brooklyn I'd ejected myself at and generally wanted to pretend the entire thing never happened. So, instead of calling the cops, I headed back underground, got on a fresh train (after looking for a car with lots of people on it) and went and saw Beach House shoe-gaze their way indie-rock glory. My friend bought me a warm Blue Moon. I probably should have hit him in the face for that.

So. I don't know if the whole event technically counts as a fight. But it's as physical I've ever been while in a state of utter panic, so I'll count it. 

Here's what I learned, Tyler Durden:

1. I need to begin learning Brazilian ju-jitsu. Like, immediately. 

2. When finally faced with the opportunity to use it, I will forget about the MMA d'arce choke entirely.

3. Stubble leaves marks on the heel of your hand for 2-3 days.

4. Adrenaline makes me cry.

5. If you're nearly black-out drunk and all the odds are stacked against you, I just might be able to kick your ass.