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Today, I had a personal

Today, I had a personal training session at my gym. My trainer was Kirk, who certainly seemed to know what he was doing, if his appearance is any indication. He was also very kind. He took what I said seriously, and he believed me when I mentioned I had been to personal trainers before. It is not obvious to the naked eye (or even an electron microscope), but I am no stranger to the gym.

I also told Kirk I wanted to gain weight, and he told me to eat pasta.

The session was fine. He gave me ridiculously low weights to work with, so I did not embarrass myself too much, although it was somewhat humiliating to be sized up as only being able to lift fifty pounds with my legs, for example, when I had done 270 pounds on that same exercise last week. He said he just wanted to see my form. This is fine, because I just wanted to see his form, too. (Rob has been out of town too long, apparently.)

I like personal training, even though it was just my free introductory session. I wish I had enough money to do it more often. In fact, I would like to commission a battalion of professionals to swoop in and rescue me in every area of my life. Cleaning people, dog walkers, acupuncturists, spiritual advisors, personal trainers, editors, guitar teachers, valets, chauffeurs . . . I could just be propelled from place to place, from one set of expert hands to another, leaving all of the details to them. Then I could focus all of my mental energies on what’s really important.

Uh, what was that again?

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Goblin and I have decided

Goblin and I have decided to take a break from our endless work and our ongoing War Against the Malicious, Mocking Squirrels (formally classified as a police action) to bring a new feature to our beloved Upside-down Hippopotamus.

We have decided to become advice columnists.

How hard can it be? Not only are we both very wise, I can read tarot cards, and Goblin can read entrails. At least, I believe that is what she is doing to those entrails. (Goblin, put those entrails down this instant and pay attention!)

Here is our first effort.

Dear Miss Manners:

I am a vegetarian, and I am wondering what to do when responding to wedding invitations that offer a meal choice between two meat alternatives. I do not want to demand a “special meal” from my hosts. Do I not check any? Or check either one and tell the server at the wedding? Or do I just write vegetarian on the invitation?

David responds:

You will notice that I have swiped your letter from Miss Manners’ inbox, an unmannerly maneuver in itself, but justifiable in that we required material for our debut, and it was not as if anyone else has bothered to write. Your letter fit the criterion of being short, and it captured my interest as a former vegetarian and as a confirmed wedding hater.

I cannot help but notice your simpering accommodation to hosts who are determined to be insensitive to the needs of the broader population, as well as unhealthy and politically incorrect. Indeed, you have been handed on a silver platter the perfect opportunity to save a few bucks and ditch the so-called festivities altogether. Granted, this will also mean missing the accompanying archaic customs, the open bar, and appearances in enough amateur video to launch a new cable network, but it is important to stand up for what you believe in. Besides, you would have more fun bowling or attending your own tonsillectomy.

Goblin Foo Uvula responds:

Meat meat meat!

*snork*

Can I go?

But Daddy I’ve only have one Wheat Thin all day! I saw a nighttime squirrel in the park and tried to follow it but Daddy said it was a rat. Dirty dirty dirty!

*lick lick lick lick lick*

Oh yeah. Advice. Shut up and go. And bring home a doggy bag.

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Goblin says: Daddy has had

Goblin says:

Daddy has had a long and hard day and he said I could write his blog for him. Me me me! I write the same as Daddy except I use contractions and I don’t use commas. No no no! That’s the secret code of Boston terriers. It was my inclination not to use capital letters but Daddy said that if I didn’t then I would have to go in my crate for a week. Daddy is very strict when it comes to capitalization and pooping. Poop poop poop!

*snork* *lick*

Daddy is sad because he misses Uncle Bobby and he can’t get his new blog code to work. Daddy ate leftover Ethiopian food and didn’t let me have any. Daddy got mad when I ate a Wheat Thin off the floor but surely he wasn’t going to eat it! Mine mine mine! Daddy is anxious because he is behind schedule on some work.

*lick lick lick*

Today I went for a walk but there were no squirrels. I ran and ran and ran and saw none. Are they vanquished or are they plotting something? Daddy says they saw me coming. They can climb and watch. Grr grr grr! Daddy says I’m queen of the park. I’m the only Boston terrier with a blog.

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Today, playing host to Bryan,

Today, playing host to Bryan, I went to the Apple Store in SoHo, a gleaming temple to a glamorous deity: the Macintosh. Bryan, I believe, was considerably less impressed than I was, but then again, he is from Tennessee. We also went to lunch with Tiffany, on a brief walking tour of Greenwich Village, with Joe for afternoon tea at Tea & Sympathy, and to get me measured for a tuxedo. We rode the subway at rush hour and stopped at a street-corner bargain bonanza of illegal North Face merchandise.

Yesterday, we went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and I already mentioned that we went to the Museum of Natural History the day before.

This sort of thing is what New York means to me. I hope he enjoyed it.

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My new sexy lifestyle is

My new sexy lifestyle is getting off to a wobbly start. Last night, Rob came over to find candles lit, incense smoldering, big band jazz playing softly, and Goblin in her crate for the evening. We fell into each other’s arms, moved over to the bed, and utilized ear cones to cleanse our ears of waxy buildup. If you have never done this, try to imagine us taking turns lying on the bed with a burning (hollow) candle stuck in one ear. Then we watched The Emperor’s New Groove and went to bed.

Ear hygiene and Disney cartoons. My mother has nothing to worry about.

In other news, my friend Bryan came to visit today from Tennessee. Worn out from the previous night of debauchery, I had to drag myself through the afternoon, praying he would not receive the impression that everyone in New York is as boring as I am. We went to the Museum of Natural History to see dead animals behind glass then to Central Park to chase living (and decidedly saucy) squirrels with Goblin. And since Rob is leaving again in the morning to rehearse another production of Vanishing Point, it looks like my new sexy lifestyle may be postponed indefinitely.

I will just have to channel my energy into something else.

“Gee, Daddy, what do you want to do tonight?”

“The same thing we do every night, Goblin: try to take over the world!”

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I have been in a

I have been in a bizarre competition of late. On a site that lists blogs and counts how many people have visited them from that site, I have been involved in an intense battle for third place.

The thing about this site is that nobody ever seems to go there, so the numbers advance on their own at a glacial rate. However, if someone takes a liking to your blog (or if the author of the blog should decide he or she wants a higher ranking), it is possible to click on the link enough times in succession that the number of hits rises dramatically and immediately.

I started out at the bottom of this listing, and someone (I suspect Joe, whose own blog is listed there) gave me a great deal of artificial advancement early on. Once I saw the potential, I decided to take matters into my own hands. Not wanting to disrupt things too much, I advanced slowly, by a few hits per day, until I reached the number-three position.

The next time I looked, the blog called “The Naked Muffin,” which had been in third place and was relegated to fourth place by my brilliant and beloved “Upside-down Hippopotamus,” was back in third place again, beating me by two hits. Naturally, I advanced myself to third place again, beating “The Naked Muffin” again by a few hits. Again, the next time I looked, I the situation had reversed itself: me in fourth, hers in third. This struggle went on for several weeks, until we narrowed the wide gap between the third and second positions to only about twenty hits.

A few days ago, finding myself again in fourth place, I decided enough was enough. The story of my life is that I have maintained a continual struggle to be merely satisfactory, not because I am only capable of producing satisfactory results but because I could not be bothered to do anything else. No longer. I quickly advanced myself the thirty or so hits I needed to get into first place, and there I have remained since then. Interestingly, “The Naked Muffin” has advanced itself only the twenty or so hits it needed to maintain third place.

Sorry, but Rob is not the only one going places. As I type this, plans for my new sexy lifestyle are taking shape.

I’m movin’ on up!

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I was going to write

I was going to write about how I met Rob’s sister, mother, and mother’s boyfriend for the first time yesterday, but since that all went off without a hitch (at least, it did from my perspective; for all I know, they have joined the omnipresent secret society that exists only to thwart me), I have decided to touch upon another subject.

Yesterday, my mother sent me an email saying that she liked my blog but I “give more info than is needed in certain areas.” Unable to imagine what these areas might be, I requested clarification.

Imagine my astonishment when she responded that, in her opinion, I should not write so much about my (direct quote) “sexy lifestyle.”

Sexy lifestyle.

These two words, used in conjunction, are not among those I would choose to describe my daily activities. Possibly the sexiest thing that has happened to me in recent memory was my discovery that I could send my laundry out to be washed by people other than myself and then delivered again, folded, to my door.

Now that is sexy.

Maybe she is reading someone else’s blog, and if so, I want to know about it, because I need a blueprint for a sexy lifestyle. It is time to stir things up a bit.
Watch out world! (And thanks for the idea, Mom.)

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Rob is in the next

Rob is in the next room with a towel on his head. As an added precaution, he has also covered every inch of the bedroom windows with tin foil. And since this sort of information is likely to set off national-security alarms in these fascistic days of Big Brother Bush, I must hasten to add that he is trying to sleep. The towel is to shield him from daylight, as is the tin foil, although the latter may also be the source of the disquieting dream I had about being broiled.

Just kidding: I had no such nightmare. In fact, I dreamed about what our lives would be like when Rob becomes famous, an outcome that will very likely arise in the near future.

I also dreamed that I was a demon sorcerer from another dimension who showed up on the starship Voyager to interact with Captain Janeway, but the chances of that occurring are statistically much slimmer.

Back to Rob. He is sleeping late and will become famous for the same reason: For the past two weeks, he has been involved in an arduous rehearsal process for his new musical, Vanishing Point. Last night, the play opened in Minneapolis, and it was completely breathtaking. Without taking the remotest amount of credit for it (aside from the page numbering on the scripts!), I must say that I have never been so proud of someone in my life. To sit next to him and his collaborators and watch that brilliant and moving work unfold and know that it came from those three human minds (mostly Rob’s!) was not only a thrill, it was a personal inspiration. My life is going to change a great deal because of that inspiration and because this play is going places, and Rob is going with it. At times that thought is exhilarating, and at times it is terrifying; usually it is a mixture of both.

And speaking of terrifying, today, we are going to the Mall of America.

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I am coming to you

I am coming to you live from the Macworld conference in New York, which is as close to a transcendental experience as I have come since the 1993 march on Washington for gay rights. The hallmarks of the two events are similar: both feature an unpopular (but fabulous) segment of society coming together to celebrate and consolidate power. There are, however, differences. The participants in the march on Washington were generally more attractive; the Mac addicts are taking geek chic a tad too far and, on the whole, could do with more sun. The vendors who fed off of the masses in Washington were selling freedom rings, tee shirts, and bottles of water for five dollars; here, they hawk hard drives and solutions for data management, and the water costs only $2.50 a cup. There is also, at Macworld, enough wireless phone radiation to make my hair stand on end, a phenomenon whose time had not yet come in 1993.

What is interesting about events like this is the camaraderie among those in attendance. It is not often I feel like part of a group. I think black people, another largely unpopular (but fabulous) segment of society, may feel this sort of thrill more often. I often notice that black people who do not even know each other will get into conversations, united by the color of their skin. I am jealous of this. Gay people are more dismissive unless those they encounter happen to have enormous biceps or particularly defined abdominal muscles, neither of which I can claim or counterfeit.

I wonder if other groups that meet in convention centers or on the streets of Washington bond so thoroughly upon meeting. If I went into a Christian gathering, for example, would I witness the same effect? I tend to think I would, especially as the flames around my stake really started to catch. I am certain of this result, as the same fate would meet anyone who waltzed into Macworld carrying a Dell laptop; I would be the one who passed around the marshmallows.

So for the moment, I am happy, although I do not believe I will stay too much longer. Being around people who think like me is highly unnerving.

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The Drip

I have just come in from Drip, which is the best coffee bar in my neighborhood. It also runs a dating service for its patrons. Several bookcases are lined with binders stuffed with profiles for prospective dates, and coffee drinkers may spend a leisurely afternoon flipping through these in search of Mr. or Ms. Looks-Good-on-Paper. Having just moved here, I was not aware of this, but on weekday evenings, the place seems to be given over almost entirely to couples on first dates, which the café staff arranges and apparently monitors with the zeal of cruise directors.

Clutching my Saki, I strolled in for a chocolate-chip cookie and a cup of green tea only to feel like a stowaway on an awkward Noah’s Ark.

And then he entered, a younger Barry Manilow type, wearing tight pants and shaking everyone’s hand. Whenever someone shakes everyone’s hand, I immediately hate him (and I say him because the only people who do it are men, and women who want to come across as “one of the guys”), and not because I have a weak handshake, but because it spreads unnecessary germs and false jocularity. So I came to hate the younger Barry Manilow with the passion of Nagasaki, a passion that soared to include Hiroshima when he bellowed that he had arrived for his eight o’clock date. Naturally, he sat beside me, and in the process I noted that he had a rather nice butt, which I often find to be a saving grace, but would it be so in this case?

We shall have to ask Lucy.

Lucy was his arranged date: a lovely Asian woman with bobbed hair and an expression that ranged, during their introduction, from impassive to alarmed. Run, Lucy, run, I projected, but it was too late. The date began.

“I just came from work,” announced the younger Barry Manilow, whipping out her profile sheet from his briefcase. Lucy was not inclined to talk about his career (or, apparently, anything), but the younger Barry Manilow had something to establish: “I work in TV. At CNN. With Connie Chung. I know you know who Connie Chung is!” Lucy shrugged.

The younger Barry Manilow moved along to her profile, which had apparently been composed by a friend of Lucy, for he found it necessary to confirm every detail. “Look here, your friend says, ‘She is focused, entrepreneurial, stylish, and interesting.’ Are you really focused and entrepreneurial?” Lucy was silent, possibly focused on something else.

“Hmm, ‘stylish.’ You seem stylish. Are you stylish?” Reticence must be in style, for she said nothing.

“Well, here it says ‘interesting.’ I guess I’ll find that out soon enough. Ha ha!” He must have been as dumb as he looked; I had long since discerned that Lucy was about as interesting as water vapor.

At this point, the younger Barry Manilow snapped his finger in the air to summon the waiter, using his first name (I hate people who use elaborate gestures and the waiter’s first name). He ordered a drink whose title I could not hear over the music (even though by this point I was openly eavesdropping and transcribing their conversation), finishing with, “Tell the boys to make it a good pour. I’ll make it worth their while.” Then the dreary interrogation continued.

“So, I’m curious,” said the younger Barry Manilow. “What made you pick my profile out of all these people?” Lucy kept her own counsel, but my heart nearly exploded out of my ears. She had chosen him?!?! This was astounding on so many levels. Not only had the diffident Lucy actually expressed some sort of preference, it had been the unlikely preference for the younger Barry Manilow. Further, the match was not the kinky attempt of an O fetishist to generate a more accessible Connie Chung, which had been the obvious (if somewhat racist) assumption.

Eager to turn the conversation back toward himself, the younger Barry Manilow prompted, “Did you like something in my profile? Do you like art? Music? Television? I work in television, you know.”

When the younger Barry Manilow snapped his fingers for the waiter once more, this time to ask for a copy of his own profile so he and Lucy could review it together, I knew it was time to leave these fledgling lovebirds in peace.

Besides, my tea had gone cold.

It is obvious that not only is Lucy not the reincarnation of the journalistic Connie Chung, but neither am I, for unanswered questions linger. Not the least of which is: Did that butt turn out to be his saving grace?

Lucy is not telling.

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My second foray into verse.

My second foray into verse.

An Ode to Rob

Some folks are not as lucky,
As am I, to have a ducky
Kinda guy whose name is Rob;
And I know why this is the case:

There’s, in fact, only one man
Who can be (he really can!)
Good to me and Goblin Foo
When we see his handsome face.

He’s creative; he is smart.
And he’s got a giving heart.
But that’s not the whole of it:
There’s a lot more to this tale.

Rob’s a funny kinda beau,
He’s the best person I know.
But the rest of the statistics
Are more festive to regale:

He believes in UFOs,
And the lurking Jersey Devil.
And crop circles … Robbie knows
That this stuff is on the level.
And that’s why it’s necessary
To wear tin foil on your head,
Although things could still get hairy
With the Goblin on the bed.

He must eat at precise hours
And believes in psychic powers,
But he never brings me flowers
Though I think of that at times.
By his music he’s distracted;
And our time, it gets compacted
While the harmony’s exacted
From the melodies and rhymes.

Still I love him quite a bit,
And that’s all there is to it.
I’ve a ball when we’re together,
Or when I chat with him online.

If I need him, he is there…
Yes, with crumbs on shirt and hair,
But this sums it all perfectly:
Though not perfect, he’s divine.

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I am a busy little

I am a busy little bumblebee this weekend, and I am afraid there is not an original thought in my head. However, not to leave you blogless, I decided to share a couple of fun passages from the book of short stories I am currently reading. These are from the works of Hector Hugh Munro, more commonly known by his pseudonym Saki. I like him because, brilliant as he was, his first book was not published until he was thirty-four, so I have some time to go.

From “The Jesting of Arlington Stringham”:

“Arlington made a joke in the House last night,” said Eleanor Stringham to her mother; “in all the years we’ve been married neither of us has made jokes, and I don’t like it now. I’m afraid it’s the beginning of the rift in the lute.”

“What lute?” said her mother.

“It’s a quotation,” said Eleanor.

To say that anything was a quotation was an excellent method, in Eleanor’s eyes, for withdrawing it from discussion, just as you could always defend indifferent lamb late in the season by saying “It’s mutton.”

From “Sredni Vashtar”:

[Condradin’s chant for the ferret-god hidden in the shed]

Sredni Vashtar went forth,
His thoughts were red thoughts and his teeth were white.
His enemies called for peace, but he brought them death.
Sredni Vashtar the Beautiful.

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Today was a disaster from

Today was a disaster from the moment I opened my eyes, but as keeping my eyes closed was not an option, I suppose I weathered it well enough. I will spare you all of the boring details, but the source of most of the anguish was the state and corporate bureaucracy involved in selling my car, a process I had wanted to go smoothly since the buyer is my ex-boyfriend, with whom I am still on very good terms. Possibly less good terms after this, but I am doing my best.

In a related and equally annoying turn of events, I took six large boxes of books from storage at my ex’s house and delivered them to the only used-book store in Baltimore that still seems to be open and accepting merchandise. I was asked to leave them until the owner could appraise them and call me with an offer, which I did. Later that evening, as I pulled up in front of my apartment in Manhattan, my cell phone rang with the news. I held my breath as I waited for the verdict. There were several thousand dollars worth of books there, after all, and I was prepared to take a tremendous loss. Anything less than three hundred dollars, I thought, and I will have a charity pick them up and take the write-off. Three hundred dollars would be a more-than-fair asking price.

The offer: thirty-five dollars.

I choked on my own saliva, faked reception problems, and hung up. I suppose I will have to deal with this over the weekend, along with a multitude of other evil. (I would blame Spuds for all of this, but it is quite beyond his capability.)

After returning the rental car, I took Goblin for a walk in Central Park. We paused to appreciate a reggae duo composed of a Rastafarian and a painted clown. Then I headed home to lose myself in the highlight of my day: filling the new shower pumps I bought at Target with shampoo and conditioner.

I am scouring my horoscope for signs of improvement.

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Once again, I have had

Once again, I have had that awful experience for which the only true remedy is to stop appearing in public. While dining with my ex-boyfriend and his new boyfriend, someone cheerfully waved to me from across the restaurant. Someone I did not recognize but who struck me as familiar. Someone, I feared, I had slept with and immediately forgotten. I sent back a jaunty wave, a “sure I recognize you, you old son of a gun” wave, and then hid behind my ex-boyfriend and his current boyfriend, both to rack my pockmarked memory and to discourage the familiar stranger from approaching.

I could not conjure an image of him nude, which meant that I had likely not seen him in my bedroom or at the gym. I also could not think of any other venues from which he seemed familiar, and the unpleasant suspicion dawned that I was having that other awful experience, that in which I was responding when he was actually waving to someone behind me.

I was on the verge of fleeing the establishment in horror when the light grudgingly dawned. It was the ex-boyfriend of my other ex-boyfriend, Joel. Once they were ex-boyfriends, Joel’s ex-boyfriend once sent over a note with a waiter asking me on a date while I was sitting with my other ex-boyfriend, who at the time was my current boyfriend. The note said that I had a nice smile, an assertion I viewed with suspicion. Nonetheless, my then-current (now ex) boyfriend insisted for some mysterious reason that I attend the date with my ex-boyfriend’s ex-boyfriend, which would have been the most boring evening ever if I did not learn that my ex-boyfriend’s ex-boyfriend was the current AA partner of a man who stalked me before I met my other ex-boyfriend. The fact that the stalker also had a boyfriend was a plot twist that only serves to complicate the retelling.

Thank goodness the ex-boyfriend of my ex-boyfriend who was the AA partner of my stalker (who also had a boyfriend) did not come over to say hello as I dined with my other ex-boyfriend and his current boyfriend as a way to kill time while my current boyfriend is working in Minneapolis.

I had forgotten his name, you see, and the introductions would have been a bitch.

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Today, I went to my

Today, I went to my new acupuncturist, Roberta Mittman, who took a moment to compliment me on my skin. “You have nice skin,” said Roberta Mittman. I somehow interpreted this as, “You look far younger than your years,” which put a spring in my step for the rest of the day, until I went out for drinks with my younger brother Mike and his ex-girlfriend Alison and did not get carded. Curse you, Roberta Mittman, and your empty compliments!

Alison, fresh from the zoo, was lovely and did not appear to be carrying a taser, although she sat within arm’s reach of a heavy cardboard tube. A heavy cardboard tube that in her hands, I have no doubt, could be transformed into a vicious weapon of mass destruction.

I am going to inquire if she can babysit Goblin next weekend.

As for Mike, who is on the verge of quitting his job and moving to Guatemala to learn Spanish, I have to say it was a joy to see him. Not only has it been a long time, I also took a quiet satisfaction in the discovery that he now looks older than I do.

Sorry, I’m gay. What did you expect, arm wrestling?

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Rob left today for Minneapolis,

Rob left today for Minneapolis, and I miss him. To keep myself occupied, I went to the gym and worked out then sat in the steam room. At one point, a very attractive naked man came in, adjusted the temperature without asking me, and began the elaborate process of massaging shampoo into his long hair, as if he were Connie Selleca in a Pantene commercial. I found it a pointless exercise, but he seemed to enjoy showing off. I wondered at this, as he was obviously straight (no gay man would behave in this manner; no gay man would have long hair). Later, as he strutted and posed around the locker room, I exchanged a “she thinks she’s all that” look with another man who found him equally amusing and/or irritating.

Speaking of hair, Rob got his cut before he left, and it looks very cute.

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My friend Joe works with

My friend Joe works with an animal communicator to translate demands and negotiations between him and his dog, why she should poop on the paper and why she will not poop on the paper being the chief topics of discussion. On the verge of opening U.N.-style diplomacy with Goblin, I complied a few weeks ago when he asked for photographs of my dog and me that this communicator could use to establish contact. I emailed them so he could print them out at work and was in turn informed that everyone in his office thought Goblin was absolutely adorable. A couple of people (a couple of people!) felt I was mildly attractive.

Earlier this week, I put a photograph of Goblin online, and Rob transmitted the URL to his sister, along with that of this blog. She later emailed me rapturous paragraphs about my dog’s appeal and happened to mention that, oh yeah, my blog was OK, too.

Last night, after an astounding performance of Shakespeare in the Park, Rob and I came home to walk the dog. We had traversed only a short distance before one of the stars of the play (Zach Braff, who played Sebastian in Twelfth Night and is the star of TV’s “Scrubs”) came strolling down my street with two companions. Seeing Goblin, he exclaimed how adorable she was and continued on. He did not spare me a glance, which is fine because I have not spared his television program a glance, but come on now. Enough is enough!

What has Goblin got that I do not?

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Today is a day I

Today is a day I could easily be snarky. Rob and I awoke at 5:30 AM and dragged ourselves over to Central Park to wait in line for Twelfth Night tickets. For the past four and a half hours, I have been trying to get comfortable on concrete and deflect the hundreds of insects that have designated me their special prowling territory.

Despite this–because of this–I am in a delightful mood.

At one point, I awoke from a light doze and turned around to see the woman behind us also sleeping. She wore a tan cap with the words “Life is good” embroidered in tiny letters on the brim. An understated understatement. Life is good.

Now pardon me while I walk Goblin and return to the line.

Later…

The lengthening line transformed into a New York bazaar in my absence. A grumpy flautist on Rollerblades serenaded the assembly with the theme from Star Wars and selected hits from Celene Dion; a mime dressed in white distributed vellum-wrapped booklets entitled “Verse from Le Mime”; the ringmaster, an officious employee of the theater, worked the queue with her policy on saving places.

Hundreds of people showed up, and I congratulated Rob for getting us there first. He said that this was my introduction to his life-long obsessive habit of arriving early to wait in lines. He also said that I could blog about the fact that he sleeps with a towel on his head, but I will save that juicy tidbit for another day.

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At eight o’clock last night,

At eight o’clock last night, overcome with the desire to impress him, I decided to cook dinner for my boyfriend. I invited him to come over at nine then hurried to the store to buy two steaks and a broccoli.

There was however, a problem. Add this to the list of my un-American attributes, but I do not know anything about choosing a steak. I do not know anything about preparing a steak. I do not know anything about cooking a steak. I do not have steak knives, steak seasoning, or a steak recipe. In the grocery store, faced with the staggering array of cow fragments, I did the only thing I could think of: I called my mother.

She was not home, so I called Joe.

Joe, kind soul that he is, talked me through the meat selection process (we chose two sirloins) and came over to help with the preparation. I think he originally meant to supervise, but after I refused to handle the carcasses, he converted my kitchen into an operating theater and went to work.

First came trimming the fat, a gruesome surgery that left more blood dripping down the walls than Freddy Krueger. Then he rubbed seasoning into the meat. I did not own what he deemed the proper spices, so we used a combination of black pepper and Mrs. Dash. Then, the hour of Rob’s arrival at hand, he provided explicit directions for the actual broiling (which he made me repeat back to him), gave me a rousing pep talk, and disappeared in time for me to maintain the shaky illusion of competence.

In case you are wondering, dinner was a triumph, and Rob practically licked his plate clean. When he eventually reads this, he may be disappointed to learn that it was not a meal entirely of my own creation, but I am consoled by one thing: I may be a disaster in the kitchen, but my ability to find wonderful friends is unsurpassed.
It was a fabulous evening, and I owe it all to Joe, Rob, and Mrs. Dash.

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In other news, I have

In other news, I have just come home from watching Lilo and Stitch, a delightful film obviously created by someone with an vigorous imagination and a Boston terrier. I gave Goblin a hug as I walked in the door.

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Rob asked if he might

Rob asked if he might give his sister, Rindy, the URL of this blog as a way of letting her discover more about me before we meet in person later this summer. While I approve of the idea, I hope this is not the first entry she reads, for it will give her an utterly skewed vision of my character.

Or maybe not.

Today, I was so hideously rude to somebody that I immediately fled to a bench in Central Park and cried. After getting up over two hours later than normal, Rob and I were leaving my apartment, I to walk Goblin and he to return to his own apartment to take care of some business. I emerged from the building first and paused to hold the door open for Rob, at the same time attempting to balance the dog’s leash, her poop bag, her training clicker, and a bag of reward treats.

Goblin is trained to rush directly to the curb to go to the bathroom, but apparently the lateness of the hour, my further lingering, and the fact that the sofa from someone moving out next door was completely blocking the way took their toll. Before walking four feet, Goblin began peeing in the recessed area directly outside the front door of my building. In front of several witnesses.

I was mortified, but the situation immediately intensified when one of the onlookers, a prim woman in her fifties, chose to confront me for allowing this.
“Shut the hell up!” I screamed. I forget what else I said, but it was not a cheerful comment on the weather.

The woman was obviously devastated at my insolence, but not so much that she did not continue to press the matter. “I am the managing agent of this building!” she announced, not, I thought, to take control of the situation, but to establish that she had never been so affronted on her own territory. After a few more words about my dog’s unclean habits, she retreated to the curb. I was feeling bad enough by this time to offer a halfhearted apology, but she used the opening to press the matter further.

Goblin and I continued our walk, and my horror at my own reflexive behavior mounted with each step, until I was so overcome that I had to sit down and regain my wits. Brushing away my tears, I then rushed home and called the management office to leave an apologetic message on her voicemail. This seeming insufficient, I wrote her a humble letter to further beg her pardon and invite her to a conciliatory tea at my apartment.

Three things continue to haunt me:

1) Where did this outburst come from?

2) What if she thinks I am only apologizing because I found out she is my building manager, as opposed to the fact that I feel genuinely awful to have needlessly hurt the feelings of another human being?

3) What if she thinks I am a bad person? What if Rob does?
One thing is clear: the move from Queens to Manhattan has brought out more of the New Yorker in me. I only hope that the southern gentleman in me emerged in time to make up for it.