From the monthly archives:

September 2013


by Marinka on September 24, 2013

Last month, I was minding my own business when my husband called.

“Are you home?” he asked, because I absolutely refuse to wear that ankle monitoring bracelet that he got me for Christmas. Why aren’t they called anklets, by the way? It would make people under house arrest feel a little bit better about their situation. And while we’re on the subject, doesn’t house arrest sound like a dream come true? Because most days, I really don’t want to leave the house, but have to for reasons like WORK and GROCERY SHOPPING and ASSASSINATION ATTEMPTS. (Disclaimer: Calm down, I don’t really do the grocery shopping.)

But wouldn’t it be great to be able to call your place of employment and say “look, I’d love to come in this morning and help cover the early shift, but then I’d make you an accomplice to violating house arrest and I care too much about you to put you through that!”? I guarantee you’d get all sorts of awards and maybe even a promotion.

Back to me.

My husband asks me if I’m home and I say “who wants to know?” because that kind of a response doesn’t get any less endearing.

“Just tell me where you are,” he says which makes me nervous because as it so happens I am home, but what if I were at Saks, exercising my constitutional right to buy a lot of shit? I don’t need anyone undermining my freedoms and/or contacting the credit card company with some “temporary hold” nonsense.

Now that he had secured my whereabouts, he lowered the boom. A scout wanted to see our apartment.

Seeing as I wasn’t born yesterday, or even in the near past, and that I’m a dedicated Nightline watcher and therefore familiar with the murderous ways of husbands and wives, I had his number. As far as I was concerned, this was nothing but a plot to get a henchman into our apartment and have me killed. But on the other hand, I had a shitload of laundry to do over the weekend, so there were worse things than getting murdered as far as I was concerned.

Finally, with the formalities out of the way, a real-life scout appeared at my door. He was young, which to me means under a million, and friendly.

“Hi,” he said. “Mind if I look around?”

I didn’t mind, not at all. I was sitting at the kitchen table, and both kids, in their respective rooms, had friends over. There were a total of seven kids and for a moment I thought that I could offer to throw them all in, in case they were remaking Annie, or possibly Oliver Twist.

The Scout took some photos of the apartment and then asked me if we could talk.

“Of course,” I said, even though I was right in a middle of a Twitter rant about the evils of ending a sentence a preposition with.

“So in this movie Morgan Freeman and Diane Keaton are a married couple-” he started.

“Stop right there,” I implored. “I think I know what this is all about. If you want me in the cast as their daughter-”

“No, we don’t,” he said.

“Fine. Granddaughter. Fortunately, I can act a lot younger than my age.”

“I’m a location scout,” for some reason he wanted to impress me with his resume.

“Alrighty. I’ll have my people contact you about my being cast as Diane Keaton’s granddaughter. Or possibly mother. I think you’ll be impressed with my range,” I opened my arms wide to give him a visual. “Go on.”

“They’re a married couple who are looking to move to a different NYC apartment after living on the Lower East Side for a long time.”

“Ah, yes,” I nodded. “The good old boy marries girl and lives on the Lower East Side and then decides to move story. Classic.”

“So this would be the apartment that they’d visit.”

“I see,” I saw. “I am very comfortable with that material. No nudity or anything Republican, correct? And what would you require of us?”

He explained that everything really depended on the lobby. If our lobby was chosen, then they’d shoot a scene (or something, I’m not in the business, so who the hell knows that they call those things) in our apartment. For that, they’d need a day of staging, a day of shooting, and a day of putting all our crap back.

“I want to mention that one of our electric knife blades is missing,” I mentioned. “It’s really crazy because they’re a pair, so how could one be missing? It’s been driving my husband crazy. Crazy, I tell you. I’m telling you this so that your people could keep an eye out for it, please. Both during the staging process and during the putting everything back. That would really help us out.”

He made a note. Probably so that he could be sure to remind everyone to be on the lookout.

He asked me a few questions, mostly about how I thought our neighbors would be if there were film crews in the hallways for a few days.

“There is nothing that my neighbors would love more,” I decided to lie as much as possible. “The couple across the hall has a newish baby, and I’m sure they’d welcome the diversion of many people walking around.”

He took some notes and thanked me for my time. I could sort of sense that he regretted his career of location scout and was going to see if he could transfer to talent scout immediately, although I’m not sure what kind of schooling you need for that.

A few weeks later he called me. Unfortunately, they decided to go with another building’s lobby, so they would not be using ours. Because our building lobby is a huge loser, in Hollywood terms. Don’t think I’m not upset about it. I’ve been giving the lobby the silent treatment ever since.



by Marinka on September 20, 2013

Yesterday I lost a $100 bet to my son.

The details are fuzzy. It’s like a play in three acts, where you basically live for the intermission so that you can either sneak out or get a cocktail to anesthetize yourself against what’s coming.

In Act One, which takes place in NYC in late August, you see Marinka sleeping peacefully, in a way that those who devote themselves to bettering humanity do, when all of a sudden and without any reason, her 12 year old son, appears by her bed. It’s 3 am. “Mom,” he says, and Marinka is jolted awake. The only thing that would make him standing there more terrifying would be if he were holding a bloody meat cleaver in one hand and a classmate’s head in another.

“What?” Marinka sits up.

“I have the worst rash I’ve ever had in my life and everything itches!” he says.

The rest of the Act includes Marinka’s son saying things like “my throat feels funny” and Marinka telling her husband that he has to go to the all night pharmacy to get some Benadryl and her husband saying things like “zzzz” and Marinka having to tap him on the shoulder and asking him to remove his earplugs so that she could tell him that he has to go to an all-night pharmacy to get some Benadryl and Marinka’s husband saying things like “now?” and Marinka saying things like “yes, because he said his throat feels funny and if it’s an allergic reaction and his throat is closing up, that’s a bad sign, although I fully appreciate and respect that as a Christian, you believe in the Resurrection, but I am a Jewish, and I believe in medicine.” All these are things that do not enhance The Marital Relationship, in case you were wondering.

The Act ends with the consumption of Benadryl and peaceful sleep.

Act Two opens the next afternoon, when our young hero is enjoying a fine video game when all of a sudden, the hives reappear. They reappear on his arms, legs, torso and just to drive the point home, underneath his eye. There is a visit to the doctor and a diagnosis of “hives” is confirmed. Benadryl is administered but it does nothing, so there is a cameo by a dose of Zyrtec. At this point in the play some uppity audience members wonder if the arts are now sponsored by pharmaceutical companies while others wonder if calling this dreck “the arts” is a bit much. Various characters appear on stage to wonder about what could be causing the hives? What could the young lad be allergic to, what? There is a musical interlude during which Mama takes the stage for her Grammy-nominated solo of “It Must Be All The Dust That Marinka Doesn’t Clean Either That Or The Hormone-Filled Steak From Costco That She Feeds My Poor Grandchildren.” The audience is moved to tears and/or suicide.

The curtain falls on the Second Act, to thunderous applause, generated mostly because the audience doesn’t realize that there’s a Third Act.

And what a Third Act it is! The curtain opens (after having fallen) to an allergist’s office. Marinka and her son are in the doctor’s office; three weeks later. The hives are long gone, but Marinka is determined to find the cause. Faint cries of “dust!” and “Costco beef!” are heard throughout the scene.

“He doesn’t have any allergies that we know of,” Marinka says. The audience is delighted. It is the first time they’ve seen Angelina Jolie on the stage. Well, except for the first two Acts, obviously, but it’s good to see her again. Everyone understands why Brad Pitt left Jennifer Aniston for her, and although Jen bounced back ok, people still feel bad that she lost out on the coveted Marinka role to Angelina. But seeing Angelina now as Marinka, there really was no choice. No. Jennifer is Rachel and Angelina is Marinka.
“And yet he developed the hives,” the doctor nods.

“And yet he developed hives,” Marinkangelina confirms.

“They were so bad,” the kid pipes in, “that my brother said that I looked like a red tomato.”

The youngster is now referring to his older half-brother who had lived with the family for several years in New York, before returning to the University in Europe (this was explored in a flashback dream-sequence scene in the Second Act; sorry I forgot to mention it!). He did come back to NYC for a brief visit in the summer and now Marinkangelina is concerned that her young son is confused.

“He was not here during your hives outbreak,” she gently tells her son.

“He was!” he says.

“No,” Marinkangelina says. “He was not.”

The doctor is administering the skin prick allergy test on the kid’s arm while this banter is taking place. He apologizes for not having a “Costco meat” test.

“Wanna bet?” the kid says. And Marinkangelina purses her lips.

“Sure,” she says. “Prepare to lose.”

“I bet you $100,” her son says and Marinkangelina extends her slender arm to shake his hand. The wager is on.

As soon as the shaking stops, Marinkangelina realizes that oh, wait. Her stepson WAS there during the whole hives incident. She rushes to her daily planner, which is projected overhead for the audience’s enjoyment, and confirms the worst. She just lost a $100 bet to her son.

He laughs with glee, even as the doctor pronounces that he has a severe allergy to dust mites.

Marinkangelina pales. $100! How will she be able to pay off this wager and afford more Costco meat? HOW?

The curtain falls again. The audience leaps to its feet, hungry for more. Perhaps this will be one of those trilogy plays, like Angels in America but about hives instead of AIDS. Tony Kushner didn’t say that it would be, of course, but perhaps he’s being coy?

Stay tuned!


My Kid’s Homework is Trying To Kill Me

September 13, 2013

I love my son’s progressive school, but sometimes the homework, OMG. It always has to be meaningful and topical and it really makes me miss the mimeographed worksheet busywork of my youth. Like in Math, they had to write their Math Autobiography. “What does that mean?” I asked. “We’re supposed to write what math means […]

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September 11, 2013

Last week the Good Lord tested my marriage as though it were Job. Our freezer wasn’t working and instead of looking into the more affordable murder-suicide option, my husband decided to call some sort of freezer shaman. “Maybe we should just get a new freezer,” I suggested, but apparently I’m married to someone who comes […]

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September 7, 2013

The other day my husband and I had the type of conversation that makes people like me wonder why heterosexual marriage is legal in the first place. Or why people were given speech. “You know,” he started, “we’re going to have to talk about our budget.” “Are you concerned that I’m not spending enough money?” […]

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Dear Grown-Ass Women Who Write Shaming Letters to Teenage Girls

September 5, 2013

I know you’ve written letters to Miley Cyrus. A while back you probably wrote them to Lindsay Lohan. You’ve certainly written a few to the girls your sons spend time with, or the ones you fear they will spend time with. Perhaps a few to your future daughter-in-law? I haven’t read them all, but they […]

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