Tag Archives: satire

Really Lost in Translation (like seriously, way, way out there lost)

One night we were walking down the street in Tokyo when a group of Japanese teenagers passed by. They looked like proper enough young lads, dressed in jeans and button down shirts. They were carrying backpacks and school books and I suspected that they were on their way home from a long night of group study. Then Steve and Sebastien started laughing uncontrollably. At first I couldn’t understand why. But then I noticed the hat that one of the lads was wearing, which read EAT SHIT! across the front. The poor kid didn’t even have a clue.


That’s the thing with Japan. The country is rife with horrible, horrible English translations. A young girl we passed in a train station was wearing a hat that read I ❤ Haters, another woman carried a bag that said Tits & Co. in the style of Tiffany & Co. If there’s a vulgar English word, you better believe it has been stitched onto a t-shirt or backpack or baseball cap in Japan. There are probably factories throughout the country mass-producing Valentine’s Day gifts with the words Cunt or Jackass printed across the top just so a young Japanese man can show his special someone that he really cares, in English. Or maybe the Japanese just don’t understand the significance of having a word or phrase plastered across your chest. Americans sure do and they wear their words with pride.

When we were boarding the subway in Osaka I made eye contact with a big black man. When you’re in a foreign country, its comforting to see someone who looks familiar, and most people get really excited. On several occasions Sebastien and I were greeted with a nod from a white or black person, desperate to speak and share in the common bond of not having taken a normal shit in a week.

This man was no different. Once I acknowledged his presence he began shaking his head uncontrollably. Words spewed out of his mouth like a volcano erupting. “Hi, how are you, how do you like it here?” He continued to ask questions without giving us a moment to answer. “Where are you guys from?” he said. Before I could respond he answered for us. “Texas?”

“No,” I said. The only reason he could have thought that was because of my sweater, which said Texas. I bought it because I was cold while waiting for a plane in Lubbock a few years ago. It’s the only sweater I own and I don’t understand why people automatically assume I come from there just because I wear it. Who wears a sweater from the place they are from anyway, except for Canadian backpackers? Most people don’t even like the place where they were born. When I was a kid growing up in Florida I lied and told people I was born in California because I didn’t want to be from there. And no offense Texas, but the sweater doesn’t really attract the right caliber of people.

As we made our way through the country and I kept getting the nod from fellow foreigners, I thought about turning the sweater inside out. I have nothing wrong with the place, I just didn’t want to be mislabeled like the boy who had pussy written on his t-shirt.


One night when we were back in New York, we were having dinner with our neighbors, Mike and Tammy. Mike was wearing his Tennessee t-shirt. He told us how he ran into a man at Whole Foods Market who saw his shirt and stopped him because he also went to Tennessee State University. The two chatted for a while and knowing Mike and his kindness, they probably made plans to barbecue together.

“I run into people who went to Tennessee State all the time in this city,” he said with pride.

“I have a Texas sweater and bums are the only people that stop me on the street,” I said.


Reflections on Reflections

Our cat Siegfried recently discovered his own reflection in the dishwasher. We’ve had him for three years so I’m not quite sure what took him so long. He is a cat of course so some delay is excusable. But now that Sigs found his reflection, he’s obsessed with himself. The cat no longer reacts to food or cat treats or even pieces of dental floss dangled in front of his head. He never comes to me when I call him anymore, but I guess he never did that anyway. He did love greeting me at the door or running up to the window when I would get really excited because there was a pigeon on a tree in our backyard. But he doesn’t care about any of that now.  He is enthralled by himself and will sit in front of the dishwasher for hours, bobbing his head around, no doubt to check out his reflection in various angles.

SigssovainWhen I first noticed it a few weeks ago, I decided that the cat probably got it from Sebastien because of all the selfies on his phone.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m as narcassistic as they come. But I don’t want other people to know. So I take selfies, admire them for a short period of time, and delete them.  If I get hit by a car, again, (it happened before the days of cellphones) imagine how they would eulogize me if they found a cellphone full of nothing but pictures that I took of myself.

“We are gathered here to mourn the passing of Amy, who to our knowledge and based off of her photos, never spent time with anyone but herself, sitting or standing in various poses around her apartment.”

I just delete them that way my conscience is clear. Taking selfies has become a part of society and there’s really nothing wrong with it, but I sometimes get embarrassed by my habits.

I used to hide other idiosyncrasies from Sebastien like picking my nose or watching re-runs of the same TV show over and over and over ad nauseam. For example, every season of The Office is available on Netflix streaming. So sometimes I would watch a bunch of the same episodes that I’d already seen hundreds of times before. Before Sebastien got home each night, I would sit in front of the TV starting and stopping some other random shows so that those shows would appear in the ‘recently viewed’ window on Netflix and he would have no clue that I spent my afternoon watching a show that I can recite word-for-word. It was tiring. I eventually had to get over it and come clean. And Sebastien’s fine with it.

Married life is all about accepting the other person for who they are. The longer the two of us stay together, the more we peel back another layer of the mask that we present to the world to reveal who we truly are, warts and all.  I just hope that the unravelling continues at a slow pace. Hpefully, by the time we know absolutely everything about the other person, we’ll have no choice but to accept it because we’ll be too old and too lazy to go looking for someone else.


I’ve had some pretty bizarre neighbors in the past: a young gangster who constantly fought with his girlfriend and would get scared when she threatened to call his mom, a French woman who always lamented that the gay guy who lived in the building was not in love with her, and a sensitive, doe-eyed drug dealer who lived with his girlfriend and his girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend.

How times have changed.

Sebastien and I really lucked out with the neighbors we have today. They’re a family from North Carolina and they embody the phrase Southern hospitality. The husband, Mike, sometimes shovels the snow on the front steps for the entire building and every few weeks their daughter will knock on our door with cupcakes or whoopie pies or freshly baked bread. It’s a strange ritual that neither Sebastien or I am accustomed to, but of course we accept it. Because who wouldn’t accept free dessert? In return, I’ve attempted to bake some of my own neighborly treats. Save for a few minor mishaps (like accidentally baking the plastic handled scissors and using 2 cups of baking soda instead of 2 cups of flour) they enjoy the food I make.

We also get together for dinners and game nights and housesit one another’s pets when the other is out of town. We’ve gotten so close over the past couple of years that come time to renew our leases we plan on apartment hunting together. I know it’s unlikely that we will be able to find suitable apartments right next to one another in the city, but we have to find a way. This family is our only chance of becoming real adults. Sure we could read books on the subject or watch a bunch of Lifetime movies, but why do that when we’ve got the real deal living mere feet away–literally.

As Grown-ups In Training Sebastien and I are learning through trial and error. There was the time we all decided to get breakfast together and planned on meeting in the building hallway at 9:10. I cracked my eyes open at 9 that morning and shook Sebastien awake. “We have to go, we have to get ready,” I said. I couldn’t believe that we were failing our first big assignment and I was afraid that this family was going to give up on us, much like Sebastien’s and my grade school teachers did years ago.

I managed to get ready in 3 minutes, but Sebastien took his time. When the knock on the door came I knew it was too late. We were found out as just a bunch of hacks, wannabe adults. Tamy laughed it off and said that Mike was already in line at the restaurant. I jotted down a quick note about how adults show up early for things and then we headed out the door.

To make up for our blunder I decided to invite them over for dessert one night. I made a pumpkin pie from scratch and Sebastien came home with ice cream and whipped cream. We even had enough clean glasses to offer them water or tea or milk. Everything was going so well until Mike asked for a napkin. I wiped my ice cream covered mouth with my shirt sleeve and looked up at him, perplexed. Melted ice cream was dripping off of his plate and down his arm. He looked desperate and feared dripping on our already stained rug. “We don’t have any paper towels,” I said. “You want some toilet paper?”

Fortunately our teacher, I mean Tamy, ran downstairs and grabbed a roll of paper towels. At the end of the night when I was handing it back to her she told us to keep it. “You guys need it more than us,” she said.

We’re slow learners, but we’re getting there. Whenever the neighbors pop over they don’t have to worry about seeing my bras and underwear strewn about the apartment or week-old dishes rotting in the sink. We clean all that now. Or just hide it up in the loft and cover up the smell with air freshener.  So if anyone hears of 2 apartments for rent next to one another, please do let me know. Or I’m sure we would all get along in a really big apartment like the family in Full House.


Gift Registry Remorse

So it’s been two years since Sebastien and I got married and I don’t regret any of it. Well, that’s not entirely true. I glance around my apartment at the array of gifts my friends and family gave us for our wedding and I can’t help but ask myself, why? Why did I ever think I was going to use a garlic press or make meals for 6-8 people in a crock pot on a regular basis. And what kind of a photo was I ever going to put in a frame the size of a window? 

And I blame nobody but myself.

Sure there were tons of web pages that offered how-to’s, top ten lists of what every home needs and suggestions on what to skip. Of course I chose not to listen to any of that practical advice, opting instead to openly mock these helpful sites and magazines. I even attended some events hosted by Macy’s and the Wedding Channel on how to build a wedding registry. But I was there for the free food and only scanned items when I thought an organizer was getting suspicious.

My carelessness and indifference wasted the time of my loved ones who wanted to get me a gift that I requested and it has caused quite a commotion in our humble home.

photo (13)From the day we opened our lovely set of Emeril pots and pans Sebastien has done nothing but bitch. They are stainless steel with an aluminum base so everything sticks to them. I tried to explain that I picked them out because they didn’t have any toxic chemicals in them but Sebastien said that he didn’t care. A few months later I bought him a non-stick pot and told him to take out a life insurance policy.

He also complains about the Crock Pot I asked for because I never use it and it’s taking up too much space in the kitchen. Its true. We only have enough counter space for a much needed coffee pot and block of cooking utensils. I eventually stuck it on top of the fridge. I did try to use it a week ago. I pulled it dow and blew off all of the dust and cobwebs that have been accumulating on it. I browsed through the book of recipes it came with and decided to make Lemon Chicken with Rosemary. But that was as far as I got. The recipe said to cook all of the food first and then stick it in the crock pot for 10 hours.  Clearly, the makers did not understand the point of a crock pot. Set it and forget it, right?

photo (14)And I should have asked for at least three sets of bed sheets and bath towels. I like to have extras on hand because neither Sebastien or myself likes to do laundry. And sometimes I like to use the sheets and towels tat we do own to clean up beverage spills and cat vomit. Don’t worry visitors, I promise the sheets are clean when you come. And all of the weddings gifts people have give to us are on full display, whether or not they’ve been used is another story.


A Bittersweet Reminder

I love mail. Whenever I hear the metallic clink of the mailman’s key opening our rusty boxes in the hallway I race to the door like a dog expecting the arrival of its master. Mail is what gets me up in the morning and what beckons me home at night. And I don’t care what kind it is either: magazines, Value Pak coupons, letters from my alma mater requesting donations because they think I am wealthy and successful thanks to the education they provided. Whatever it is, I’ll gladly accept it.

I find mail to be especially wonderful at this time of year because people send me cards and gifts and money for Christmas and my birthday.

The other day I received a catalog for 1-800-FLOWERS, the latest issue of The Economist and a card from my dad in the mail. I felt the envelope for money or a gift card, but it was too hard to tell. It was still a bit early in the season to receive something but my Dad always wants to be the first to get Christmas gifts our or to wish his children a happy birthday. I think one time he called me twice in January to wish me happy birthday for that year and for the following.

I dropped all of my things inside the apartment and ripped open the envelope, all the while guessing how much money was inside. Thirty one dollars for my 31st birthday, $100 for Christmas and my birthday combined…I couldn’t wait to see how much. But as I read through the first lines of the card, my mood turned from excitement to confusion.

WITH LOVE TO A SPECIAL DAUGHTER AND SON-IN-LAW the card read. It was white with pink roses on the bottom and there was an image of a sunset on the beach in the upper right hand corner. There were none of the usual holiday identifiers like Christmas trees or stars or even baby Jesus. And how did my dad find a Christmas card that was so specific to a daughter and son-in-law?



I opened it to the inside where there were two more pages of this cryptic writing. There was no check or gift card in sight. I shook the card like a monkey waving a banana peel, but nothing dropped out. Skimming the remainder of the words, my eyes moved over to my dad’s signature, above which it read HAPPY ANNIVERSARY.

I had completely forgot. Which is strange because we got married on the same day that Christopher Hitchens died and I swore that I would never forget that day.

*Take your time with that last joke, it took Sebastien a few seconds to get it, too.

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