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Yesterday, Rob and his collaborator

Yesterday, Rob and his collaborator finished their new musical, Vanishing Point. After a frenzy of printing and copying and FedExing, it was on its way.

Vanishing Point will be produced by theaters in Minneapolis and Los Angeles this summer, and yesterday, I had psychic revelations that it would be performed in New York and London within the next year. There is no doubt in my mind.

For my part in the printing, copying, and FedExing (I also handwrote 188 page numbers!), Rob has promised that I will get my photograph on the cover of the program, 75 percent of all proceeds, and certain personal favors that I will not disclose here. Since London will soon enter into the mix, I will also investigate the possiblity of knighthood. I am certain he will agree. This commitment, of course, from someone who fully anticipates a future of wandering the streets of New York with a colander on his head and a tattered musical score clutched to his chest.

Ah, artists. I sure can pick ’em.

On the topic of credits, however, I must reveal that, after years of his arduous work as the undisputed driving force behind this play, it was surprising to find that, on the title page, Rob listed his own name last.

“The order isn’t important to me,” he said when I complained this made it seem as if he did the least work, when in fact the opposite is true. “I know what work I did, and that’s what counts.”

Perhaps so, but now you know, too.

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Tiffany called me at the

Tiffany called me at the crack of dawn about cashing in the Humberto Fund. Today was our last day to do this (the banks are closed over the weekend, and she’s leaving on Monday morning for distant locales). So I dragged myself out of bed and trooped over to meet her, yellow plastic pig nestled in a bag under my arm.
At the bank, we waited in line until the teller finished discussing her outfit and cupping her own breasts. I had thought this transaction would be as easy as pie: dump the coins in a machine that counts and sorts them, then give us the cash. Right?

Wrong.

“You have to roll them,” said the teller, shoving stacks of paper coin rolls through the partition. We needed only one-tenth as many and told her so. “You never know,” she said. “How many coins do you have?”

I held the Humberto Fund aloft, and she stared, transfixed, for a moment before bursting into laughter. We grabbed the rolls we needed and trooped out.

I decided to find a CoinStar machine. This is a machine that, for a small commission, will count your coins and give you paper money for them. They are everywhere in Baltimore, so why not on the Upper West Side of Manhattan? I stopped a passing woman to ask for directions.

“A coin store? I have no idea.”

“CoinStar. It’s a machine that counts coins.”

“I have no idea,” she said and stalked off. We believed her. She looked like she had never seen anything less than a $50 bill in all her days.

Tiffany and I came back to my apartment and counted out the coins ourselves. The Humberto Fund came to a staggering $23.03.
I put the pig in the recycling bin. The end of an era.

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Today, Tiffany and I went

Today, Tiffany and I went out to our old apartment for the last time to clean up and return our keys. Humberto, in jolly spirits, conducted an inspection and declared that our security deposit would be returned. This had been by no means certain, as my couch, so beautiful to look at, has a menacing underside that made a deep scratch in the floor when we first moved in. Humberto walked over the scratch without batting an eye. All was well. For old times’ sake, we secretly recorded him saying so.

It felt good leaving Queens behind, but the borough had the last laugh. Underground, on the way home, we were trapped for almost two hours in the sweltering heat because of problems with the subway. At rush hour. I carried a large mirror that we had neglected to move earlier, and I amused myself by showing Tiffany what she looked like trapped underground for two hours in the sweltering heat at rush hour.

It was not pretty.

(Note to self: warn Joe about that menacing underside before he brings the couch into his new apartment.)

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IN THE CLUTCHES OF HUMBERTO, PART TWO

IN THE CLUTCHES OF HUMBERTO, PART TWO

Setting: Jackson Heights, Queens. June 2001.

In yesterday’s episode: David and Tiffany move to Queens, only to be shaken down by an iniquitous building superintendent.

The only thing we could do was put him off. If Humberto would accept a deferral until Christmas, we would not only have extra time to raise some money, we could also combine the bribe payment with the requisite holiday tip, which is always a lovely way to celebrate the birth of Christ. Such an amalgamation of funds would also allow us to stiff him and leave him guessing as to which area he had been shortchanged. Happy Holidays!

The question was, what would motivate Humberto to accept these terms? What could make him forego the expected hundreds of dollars for half a year, as well as keep him happy enough to provide the maintenance service we might require in the meantime?

It was time for David and Tiffany to strike back.

Step one: Insurance. We needed evidence against the crooked super, something that would, in a dispute, turn the tide in our favor. We decided to tape him asking for the bribe again, and since neither of us owned a miniature tape recorder, we hid my digital video camera in a toiletries bag and set the sting in motion.
It was a spectacularly executed sortie.

Tiffany held the hidden camera in what we hoped was a casual position as I pressed Humberto for what we wanted. First, I brought up the money, which he did not seem as eager to discuss with me directly. Would it be all right to give him his customary “little something” at Christmas?

He hesitated for a beat, his smile turning down a fraction at the corners.

“Oh, I hope we can work something out,” I said. “Maybe I can make an arrangement with the office.” Meaning the real estate company that owned the building.

“No office, no office!”

He agreed to our terms.

Step two: Raising the Dough. Now that we had six months to prepare, our thoughts turned toward how to get the money. Clearly, hundreds of dollars were out of the question. (If one has to spend hundreds of dollars, an assassin is a much better deal than the superintendent.) A broker I knew said she always paid a super $100 when her clients moved in. Tiffany and I felt this was still excessive, but it was much more reasonable than what he had demanded.

I made an excursion to the dollar store up the street and found a bright yellow piggy bank. It had a wide grin like Humberto’s and soulful black eyes. “Give me your fortune,” those eyes said. We did. That pig feasted on our spare pennies and nickels and dimes (quarters were for the laundry).

The Humberto Fund was born!

The idea was, of course, to convince him of our poverty, both to shame him and to keep him from sniffing around for more. As the translucent pig engorged on copper and silver, we relished the thought of handing it over, of seeing the look on his face.

We never gave it to him.

I regret it now, but it was expedient. As Christmas rolled around, so did a dispute with our upstairs neighbor, who happened to be Humberto’s son; we needed the super on our side. And by then, the fun had gone out of The Humberto Fund. For six months, we had been surrounded on all sides by Humberto’s friends and family, a very noisy and unfriendly bunch that sapped our energy and commitment. We were exhausted, we were going away for the holiday, and we just wanted it over with.

The day we left, I encountered Humberto in the elevator and pressed a thick envelope into his hands. “Merry Christmas,” I grunted, and he smiled his wide smile. Two hundred dollars down the drain, and for nothing.

The Humberto Fund sits on my new mantle now, facing the wall. Through its round yellow ass, I see hundreds of coins. Tomorrow or the next day, we will break it open and use them to buy two organic steaks, and as we celebrate our last week together with Tiffany’s famous beef burgundy, I will pretend I am devouring Humberto’s heart, the way he devoured ours.

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IN THE CLUTCHES OF HUMBERTO, PART ONE

IN THE CLUTCHES OF HUMBERTO, PART ONE

Setting: Jackson Heights, Queens. June 2001.

Humberto cornered Tiffany in the kitchen, away from the prying ears of the workmen. “Is custom,” he said in his thick Peruvian accent, “to give the superintendent little something when you move into building. I help you find apartment, I get a little something. Is custom.”

“What?” said Tiffany, who had never heard of such a thing. We had found the apartment without a broker, and Humberto had done little more than show it to us.

“Custom. Custom.” He pronounced it coostum. “One man move in, he says, ‘Humberto, I like to give you little gift, yes?’ He give me envelope. I go through: five, six hundred dollars. So much, I have to stop counting. You see?” He giggles at the memory of it.

Tiffany felt a lump rising in her throat. It took everything we had to move into this apartment, and here was this villain demanding more still, for doing nothing at all. “Wait,” she said, fighting for calm. “The office didn’t mention anything about a fee.”

“Fee? No fee! Is custom! Don’t tell the office. This is between you and me and David, understand?”

“I think I’m starting to.”

“Is custom,” Humberto insisted. “One man move in with wife. He no give little something. You know, custom. In a few weeks, he in the hospital. Almost die, you see? The wife, she so depressed, she have to move out. You see?”

She did see, although she was unsure by what means our new super was implying this cheapskate was hospitalized. Humberto’s henchmen in the other room? Voodoo? Bad karma? “I’ll have to discuss this with David,” she said slowly.

Humberto nodded and scuttled away.

***

I was horrified. Humberto was a grandfatherly little man, full of smiles. I had thought to bake him a batch of cookies to show our appreciation for the little help he had provided.

Clearly, he had more lofty requirements.

Tiffany and I asked around. Our friends in other areas of the country were scandalized, but those living in New York’s outer boroughs knew better. Fail to bribe your building superintendent when you move in, they said, and get ready for the worst year of your life.

Welcome to the Third World, we thought as we considered our options. Even if we wanted to pay even a fraction of the considerable sum Humberto had hinted at, we could not. We were penniless.

But not, we decided, helpless.

(Tune in tomorrow for Part Two of In the Clutches of Humberto!)

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Oh well I’m movin’ on

Oh well I’m movin’ on up
(Movin’ on up!)
To the West Side,
(Movin’ on up!)
To a shoebox apartment
On the gro-ou-ound.
Oh I’m movin’ on up
(Movin’ on up!)
To the West Side.
(Movin’ on up!)
I am finally Manhattan-bound!

My microwave won’t fit in the kitchen!
My dresser won’t fit at all!
But I got hardwood floors and a fireplace,
Two closets, and a brick wall!
Now I live near the B train,
And Goblin can walk in the park,
I can see Rob,
Whenever I want,
And let’s not forget Mark!

Oh well I’m movin’ on up
(Movin’ on up!)
To the West Side,
(Movin’ on up!)
To a shoebox apartment
On the gro-ou-ound.
Oh I’m movin’ on up
(Movin’ on up!)
To the West Side.
(Movin’ on up!)
I am finally Manhattan-bou-ou-ou-ou-ound!


(Who says Rob is the only lyricist in the family?)
Yes! Today is the day! It will no doubt be a chaotic mess, so send me some positive energy. And tune in to tomorrow’s thrilling blog for the first of a two-part special report: In the Clutches of Humberto. Now the tale can be told!

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Tomorrow, I get a new

Tomorrow, I get a new home. Today, I am very much afraid that I destroyed someone else’s.

I refer to the birds, the sparrows who built a nest under my air conditioning unit. Today, I hired Mario, the building’s porter, to come up and remove it from the window. As I had not heard any avian activity since returning from Minneapolis, I had every reason to hope that the family had moved out. They had not.

Removing the machine uncovered a lovely little nest, woven from feathers and grass and cigarette wrappers. In it were two small, white eggs with dark speckles. Tiffany and I had both thought we had heard baby birds in the previous two weeks, so these were either eggs that never hatched, or we were imagining things.
After the air conditioner came out, I tried to fix everything up as best I could, but the nest is now exposed on the windowsill. A few minutes later, I saw an adult bird out there, nosing around, but it departed soon after, and I have not seen it since.

Does anyone know what, if anything, I should do? Will anyone join me in sending some white light to–or saying a little prayer for–these poor creatures?

Is this a bad omen? Bad karma? Bad feng shui?

Do sparrows have a capacity for revenge? Thankfully, I have an unlisted telephone number, but they do have a bird’s-eye view and a wide network of associates.

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Today, I thought I would

Today, I thought I would gush about how sweet and talented and handsome my boyfriend is, because I have not yet done so in this space.

Sweet: This week, even though he is quite occupied with other matters, he volunteered to host my dog in his apartment so I might pack for my move without having to worry about her. This is fine with Goblin Foo Uvula, who likes him more than me.

Talented: In Minneapolis, I was fortunate to see him perform some of the songs from his new musical, and they are amazing! In fact, I cannot get them out of my mind.

Handsome: Rob is very, very handsome. Yesterday, he was apparently wandering around with his butt crack hanging out of his loose shorts, but I am quite sure nobody minded.

I just needed to put that out there. I will be wry again tomorrow.

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It occurred to me moments

It occurred to me moments ago that the names “Frankenstein” and “Santa Claus” have the same cadence. It is possible, therefore, to make strategic substitutions.

This is my current favorite:

Here comes Frankenstein,
Here comes Frankenstein,
Right down Frankenstein Lane.

However, what if we do this . . . ?

Here comes Frankenstein,
Here comes Frankenstein,
Right down Santa Claus Lane.

This leaves open the question of exactly what has happened to Santa Claus that his traditional path has been usurped.

I would love to know if the reverse is possible, as well, but there are, for some reason, dramatically fewer songs about Frankenstein to work with.

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American Airlines flight 2972, Minneapolis

American Airlines flight 2972, Minneapolis to St. Louis. I occupy aisle seat 12D.

Man in front of me: middle aged, red hair, goofy smile, Southern accent like Foghorn Leghorn. Before takeoff, he stands and yells to a colleague, seated much further back in the plane, “What aah yew doin’ tonight?”

Colleague yells back, “Having dinner with Richard and the gang. Are you coming, too?” He does not have a Southern accent.

“Ah asked Richard if he wuz doin’ something for dinner, and he said no. Ah guess ah’m not invited.” Surprisingly, this does not dampen the goofy smile of the man in front of me. He sits, launches the opening volley of a flight-long assault on the man next to him: “Hey, have ah seen yew before? Yew look famillyir. . . .”

Man next to me: about my father’s age, reading a book called Is Jesus Sick?, and carrying a fiction book with a cross on the cover. We ignore each other until he places a napkin on the seat between us. It has a realistic drawing of a demon on it, and he orients it toward me. Rather well done, actually.

He sees me looking at it. “I just found that. It fell out when I opened my tray table.”

I tell him I thought he had drawn it. He gives me a look. I sip my orange juice and return to my book about Mary Magdalene. He eyes it but says nothing. People who are very interested in whether or not Jesus is sick do not seem to be interested in Mary Magdalene.

Later, I notice him place the demon back behind the upright tray table for the next person to find. I think that demon has been flying the friendly skies for a while, popping out to surprise passenger after passenger.

As we disembark, a woman who looks like Tipper Gore swoops in and begins a conversation about Christian books with Mr. Demon Napkin. They have read the same series about the end of the world and find no end of delight in this topic.

Unnoticed, unnerved, Mary Magdalene and I creep away.

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What would happen if three

What would happen if three alien puppets, a deformed candlestick, and an anthropomorphized crocheted sphere came together to reenact the most recent wedding of Liza Minnelli? The curses fly in “Mother of the Bride,” as Minnelli (Green Alien, last seen as Christina Crawford in “Alien Dearest”) is confronted by the ghost of her mother, Judy Garland (Punching Alien, masterfully wreathed in construction-paper flames), who questions her choice of husband, David Guest (E.T. in a bow tie).

Elizabeth Taylor (Crocheted Sphere) and Michael Jackson (Deformed Candlestick) shine in walk-on roles.

Springing from the [adjective edited] mind of Rob, this puppetry tour de force should largely answer the question of why he is my boyfriend.

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Did you ever do anything

Did you ever do anything so stupid that you wanted to tear out your own brain and smear it down a wall? That is how I felt today. I will explain.

My trip to Minneapolis was uneventful, but I did learn two important things:

1) American Airlines really does have more legroom throughout their economy class than any other airline.

2) St. Louis is in Missouri. (Who knew?)

Governor Body did not greet me at the airport with a pot of steeping green tea, but I forgave him, given my eagerness to reunite with my boyfriend, who has been here since last week. My hideous stupidity was revealed at said reunion. Although I had made a special trip into Manhattan on Tuesday to pick up an important prescription for Rob, I had packed it in a bag I did not remember to bring with me.

After recovering from my tears of frustration, I made an emergency call to Tiffany, who is rectifying the situation as I type this. Thank goodness for her and FedEx and Rob’s forgiving nature, or our hostess would be scrubbing brains out of the woodwork.

I also forgot my toothpaste.

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I am traveling to Minneapolis

I am traveling to Minneapolis for a week, beginning excruciatingly early tomorrow morning. The trip will also include a weekend in a place called Grand Rapids, as well as two airport layovers (going and coming) in St. Louis. I have never been to St. Louis, and I am not at all sure which state it is in, but I am fairly certain that the two former destinations are in Minnesota.
I have been to Minneapolis before. It is a cool city with lots of good people. Across the river is another city called St. Paul, where, I am assured by Minneapolisites, no one ever goes. On my last trip, I announced that I wanted to see St. Paul, if only from afar (I did not believe it was really there), but I was told this was not permissible. (I still do not believe it is there.)

The only other things I know about Minnesota are:

1) St. Olaf, MN is the origin of the mythical Rose Nylund and, if she is to be believed, astounding numbers of herring.

2) The state governor is somebody named The Body, who is not as cute as Goldberg, but I would not mind discussing political ideology with him over a nice cup of green tea.

I mention all this not only because my blogging may be spotty for the next several days, but also because some of these places have funny names, which it amuses me to see written out.

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I have divined the secret

I have divined the secret to interacting exclusively with nice people who will never disappoint you.

Pay them.

Karen, the broker who found my new apartment, was a delight. She told anecdotes about working with Jerry Seinfeld and laughed at my jokes. She reassured me that I am a desirable tenant for whom any sane landlord would kill. She negotiated fantastic lease terms. When my check was returned because of a clerical error, she broke the news gently, saying, “I told our accountant that, if it were anyone else, I’d be worried, but since it was you, David, I knew everything would be fine.” (And everything was fine.) She asked to come over and meet Goblin. For a while, she telephoned two or three times a day.

All of this cost me only her $2,500 commission, but I am going to see if she would accept $5,000 for a year of friendship.

I love her.

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Yesterday, while walking to dinner

Yesterday, while walking to dinner with Joe and two lesbians, I saw a saw. That is, I beheld a hand tool that cuts wood. Discarded on the curb, it looked new and shiny and perfectly serviceable. How funny, I thought. How incongruous. How New York.

I now believe that, like a dropped fork, the saw was an omen of things to come . . . dire things, things with jagged teeth that snag and maul.

But first: dinner. It was delightful. The food was delicious. The lesbians (brought together by Yenta Joe) hit it off immediately. Sparkling conversation flowed.
And then the saw took over; my doom was assured.

We went to the movies and saw Unfaithful, quite possibly the most anguishing film ever produced. One happy couple’s descent into a hell of lies and intrigue is luridly documented through lush cinematography, potent dramatic tension, and exaggerated emotional manipulation. It is basically the story of good people who make excruciatingly bad choices, choices that make the viewer wince in dismay at every turn. My wince muscles have whiplash. Joe and I were so traumatized that we asked the lesbians for their permission to leave halfway through. They did not give this permission. We stayed. In an effort to ignore the movie, Joe took out his knitting and worked on a scarf. With nothing to distract me, I buried my face in his shoulder as the horror mounted and the brutal fist of despair closed around my heart.

Do not see this movie.

The experience was not without its comic relief. At one point, no doubt as overwhelmed as we, a woman at the other end of our row began smoking a cigarette.

“Are you smoking a CIGARETTE!?!” a nearby man demanded. “Is that a CIGARETTE?!?”

The woman, flustered, apparently intoxicated, said, “No. I’m just smoking a cigarette.” She then began coughing uncontrollably.

The man shouted, “Put out that cigarette! Leave this theater!” Another man stalked out to find an usher (amid cries of “snitch!”), who came and gave the offending woman an ineffectual lecture. She was not, however, ejected, and she spent the rest of the movie enhancing the drama by coughing and banging some sort of alcohol bottle against her armrest.

Eager for serenity, I came home to walk Goblin and stumbled into more madness. Crazy people in the park across the street began shouting at each other, and a nasty fistfight ensued. Horrified, I ran back upstairs and called the police, who never came, but as I watched from the window, the crazy people apparently made their peace and sang happy birthday to one another.

I then wrote my boyfriend a depressing email and went to bed, the twang of that portentous hand saw reverberating in my ears.

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Yesterday, I was awakened by

Yesterday, I was awakened by birds, extraordinarily loud birds, which had settled their family into the prime location under my air-conditioning unit. (Actually, I was awakened by my alarm clock because Rob had to be at the airport early, but those birds started in soon after.) “Ha ha,” said the birds. “While your ass was still asleep, we were building our nest from scratch and laying our eggs. Now, we are living the Avian Dream, with four chicks and a two-car garage, and what have you accomplished?”
I wanted to show them what an opposable thumb could accomplish by turning on the air conditioner over their vacant little heads. Instead, Tiffany called her friend the aspiring park ranger, who in turn promised to call the Audubon Society for advice. In the meantime, the aspiring park ranger recommended, should we happen to see any of the babies, it was best not to make eye contact. Apparently, newborn animals form an instinctive bond with any creature that meets their eyes early on, and it would not do to have these birds become too trusting of humans, the most dangerous species of all.

Considering that some of my most disastrous moments with the most dangerous species of all also resulted from eye contact (albeit across a smoky room), I was willing to entertain this theory.

For further advice, I called my friend Bryan, a birdwatcher from Tennessee, who wasn’t home because he was out watching birds, the supercilious kind that would look down their beaks at an air conditioner in Queens, New York. He called me back later.

Now let me digress for a moment to ask what kind of person has Caller Identification and not an answering machine? I have an answering machine and no Caller Identification, which means I have to pick up the phone to see who is making it ring. If I am not busy, I will converse with that person at length, even though that person may be calling the wrong number, or not speak English, or be peddling a rival long-distance service–or, as is increasingly common these days, a combination of the three. If I am busy, or when I am not at home, my answering machine will take staticky messages that I will ultimately ignore, but at least by leaving a message, the caller feels as if he or she has accomplished something. This sense of accomplishment should be its own reward, as far as I am concerned, because I would not dream of returning a phone call.

Bryan has no answering machine; I was frustrated for the rest of the morning. The birds went about their merry lives. Bryan’s Caller Identification led him to call me back that afternoon. The birds listened in. “What kind of birds are they?” he asked. I knew he would.

“Sparrows.” Why not? I knew they were not crows, pigeons, seagulls, eagles, swans, or ostriches, so they must, by process of elimination, be sparrows.

Sparrows, he told me, leave the nest after fourteen days. This is cutting it close, as I have to remove the air conditioner in fifteen days, when I change apartments. Joe purchased that, as well; he wrote me a check and everything.

In the meantime, if I am a good person, I will not use the air conditioner, no matter how hot it gets. If Joe is a good person (which he is, despite his assertion to the contrary), perhaps he will accept a few stowaways in the deal. Only, I will warn him, try not to pay attention to anything they have to say. Nobody likes a smug sparrow.

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Last night, I saw

Last night, I saw Alison, the former girlfriend of my brother Mike. I was strolling down the mean streets of Queens, noting the various aromas, when she appeared, clad in a black evening dress and carrying a taser. I called out to her. Startled, she raised her weapon, ready to fire. Her eyes darted from side to side as if she were watching a particularly chaotic tennis match, and then she recognized me. “Shhhhh! I’m undercover. No one must know I’m here.” She was still doing that thing with her eyes, and I was beginning to wish I had stayed home. Suddenly, a shot rang out! Pedestrians screamed in Spanish and Hindi as they scattered to the winds. Alison fell to her knees, a corsage of blood blooming across her chest. “Tell them . . . tell them. . . .” she murmured before her secret died with her.

No, wait. That was someone else. Alison came to my apartment, and we ordered Chinese food.

I think Mike told her that I was giving away my couch for free. She eyed it hungrily all evening, then when it was time to go, she pulled out a taser. . . .

No, wait. That was Joe. And it was not a taser so much as a jar of apple sauce. A jar of apple sauce he did not quite explain to my satisfaction. But he did decide to buy my beautiful couch, and aren’t some questions better left unanswered?

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My mother has weighed in

My mother has weighed in on this blog, and she thinks it has a clever name. Some of you may find this shocking. Not the adroitness of “Upside-down Hippopotamus” (which was not my idea, in any event), but that I would start a web log of my private life and tell my mother how to read it. If you fear a resulting self-censorship of any juicy details, please be informed that I already promised my boyfriend, Rob, that I would not write about our sex life.

And if, upon reading this, my mother should be stunned to discover I have a sex life, that would seem to be the makings of another juicy entry for your reading pleasure.

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I have a beautiful sofa.

I have a beautiful sofa. I am told this by the only person to answer my ad, Marie, who has frosted hair, a lavender pantsuit, and the thickest Queens accent I have ever heard. “Oh, I’ll tell you right now, it’s beautiful, but it’s too dark for me,” she says as she catches sight of it. “Too dark. Everything I have is light.” I tell her to sit in it anyway, to make herself at home. She does, reluctantly. “It’s comfortable, but it’s too dark. Too dark.” Her husband is waiting in the car, and she scurries out, back into the light.

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Credit where it is due.

Credit where it is due. I have wickedly stolen the idea of a web log from my friend Joe, who writes about his sex life, and Wesley Crusher, who writes about why he is not as obnoxious as he appears on television. I do not yet know what I will write about, but readers who share my actual experiences will no doubt notice that I have spruced them up for publication. I cannot be blamed for this; I am not a notably exciting person. Those of you in Tennessee who imagine that life in New York City is an everlasting and inevitable pageant of theater, gallery openings, and nights on the town have never witnessed my typical day of sitting around the apartment, in my pajamas, entranced alternately by whatever is on the computer screen and reruns of “Three’s Company.”