Well this is going to be short… For once.  Am I right?! Eh? High five!  Zing!

Went to a great show last night.  It was part theater/comedy and part actual musicianship.  Les Funky Bitches Fantastique at the Sidewalk Cafe.  I went because some friendly acquaintances were in the show and the audience.  And there were possibly going to be a lot of them.  In fact, there were only two.  But they’re top of my list of friendly acquaintances (has anyone come up with a word for that? did I in a past blog? I should now… associates? no.) that I like and really enjoy being around.  So it was a great time.  I encourage you to see the group perform on like a second date.  Perfect second date.

And my mom arrives in 4 hours!  We’re gonna chillax, have a nice dinner at a steakhouse here in the neighborhood, probably clean my apartment, go for a walk.  She’s here to be my date to the big awards show I’m part of tomorrow.  In which I may win two awards, but probably not because super super awesome things only happen to me once per year, and they usually wait until the end.  Or did I just make that ridiculous shit up? Yes.  Yes I did.

There’s Always The Bar

I decided to go out for breakfast this morning.  I didn’t even worry a whole lot about the money this time, although why a guy has to drop fifteen bucks every time he sits down to eat these days is beyond me.  I suppose I could have shown some self restraint.  In any case, it was visually a stunning late morning.  The air was crisp and the sun bright, and people were all out with the same idea: breakfast.  And maybe a walk.  But mostly people were sitting in places that serve food and or coffee in groups of 2 or 3 or 4.  Very convivial.

So I decide, since it’s been a very long time since I’ve eaten at a local restaurant, and since it was one of the first places I went to when I moved here, to eat at this giant diner down the street.  This place is huge.  And popular.

I generally feel guilt when i walk into a restaurant with a bar and insist on being seated at a table.  I can see the calculation in the host’s eyes and hear the protests going through his or her mind.  And Saturday afternoon is big business for places like this.  So this time when I walk in I head straight for the bar and grab a stool.  And there was a dapper young stylish couple sitting there too! I tell you, this neighborhood’s going places.  Once the edgy cool-hunters cram as many of themselves as possible into the impoverished and dangerously gritty ghetto right above this area, they will be forced to embrace my middle american oasis with it’s large, cheap apartments and naive attempts to be trendy (some new bars opened. Gag).

Anyway, this old guy grabs the seat right next to me, which is annoying because i like to have space around me when i eat in solitude. And old guys get talky.  But I tend to forget on occasions like this that I probably would love to talk, and who am I to refuse an opportunity to be social with all my whining about the isolation and loneliness?

So he talks to me and I listen. And I participate.  And it turns out he’s an old Turkish film actor, and an accomplished ballroom dancer (Latin styles, only), and he attempts to start up a conversation about soccer but stops himself because I’m American and I know nothing about it.  Which I agree with.  I know nothing about it… but I also know nothing about any of the sports because really it takes way too much effort to follow that shit.

So he shows me his iphone, which has bookmarked a page in Turkish with all the scores of all the games in Turkey.  I ooh and aaah, and tell him I don’t have one yet and that I’m impressed.  We joke about how, now that you can get the temperature instantly on your phone, you don’t have to go outside anymore.  Then he tells me about a recent medical procedure he’s had and how competent and wonderful the medical services in this country are.  I hesitate to nod enthusiastically to this one, as I’m thinking about my own recent “travails” but this doesn’t derail the conversation.  Then he mutters something about women getting too fat these days with their huge asses, not being able to entice decent men.  I reply that some guys like them, and there’s someone for everybody out there, if they look hard enough.  To this he replies that I probably don’t need to settle for the fat girls, as I’m in good shape, like he was as an attractive young actor in Turkey.

Finally, he tells me about his wife who is 21 years younger than he is, who has been his wife for 30 years, and who tells him she loves him every day.  This feels like a big deal to me. So I congratulate him and do a little reflecting on my own life and my own experience with devoted younger women (woman).  They really are fantastic, by the way.

As I get up to leave he looks me up and down and remarks that I must be returning home to my beautiful girlfriend.  I tell him I don’t have one and he gives me another look and pronounces in a full-bodied throaty turkish accented english that I’ll be having quite the success with the ladies and that they had better get ready.

There was a lot to this guy and my first instinct was to bury my nose in my book and try to get him to leave me alone.  But I fought it, and he turned out to be very entertaining and a good self esteem booster.  Luckily I also seem to have the urge to talk to strangers at bars, be they breakfast or after hours.

Cold Turkey Sounds Delicious

Recently I’ve grown aware of the fact that the internet is fueling inside me a quiet desperation paired with a low smoldering rage.  And I don’t think that’s good.  Of course by “internet” I don’t mean the whole thing, although there would be some truth in saying it’s eroding my quality of life in subtle ways.  But in other ways it’s been liberating, so I won’t throw the baby out with the bath water….

Or I should say, I’m keeping the bathwater and throwing out the baby.  The baby would be facebook.  Why facebook?  Well here goes a rant:  As people who know me may be aware (and one friend pretty insensitively posted on my “wall”), I’m obsessed with the concept of friendship, and the state of having friends.  I’m probably not professionally qualified to judge exactly what it is in my psyche that’s got me tweaked about it all, but I’ll take a stab.  I’m indulging myself by posting this here because I think there may be evidence that it is something common to many men my age, and may soon become a mass cultural phenomenon.  My evidence?

The movie I Love You Man, about a guy who doesn’t have any guy friends close enough to be his best man at his wedding.  There have been others that hint at similar problems, although I think this is a first to make it the central theme.  So the phenomenon I’m inventing here is dudes in their 30s who don’t have guy friends.  I’ll add “who don’t have many real friends” to that, just because it’s likely the dude with only gal friends has probably slept with many of them, and as I’m coming to understand myself, that leaves certain snags in the relationship which prevent the friendship from being as carefree and rewarding as I fantasize about them being.

Anyway, I don’t think I understand what real friendship is.  Because I have very very few deep friendships that stand up to any sort of stress.  In fact if I were to be totally honest, I’d have to say I don’t think I have any.  But maybe I actually do and I just don’t know what that means.  Here’s the thing, Facebook lets me see that there are tons of people who I would love to be spending time with who are having parties and doing things together without me.  And it’s KILLING me.  But this isn’t anything new to me.  I seem to have always had a hard time getting friends to consistently include me in plans.

My mother always said that I should be more active and invite people to things instead.  Which has planted the seed of self blame which has matured and borne tons of fruit.  Fruit in the form of neuroses, fears, suspicions, anger, dejection, etc, etc, blah blah.  Because she has a point.  I don’t make plans.  Because I mean who likes rejection?! In fact I DO make plans and they are always rejected.  But then again it’s not like I try very hard.  I’m scared shitless by the thought of picking up a phone and asking some dude if he wants to hang.  So shitless that if I get voicemail I leave a half-assed vague message (or sometimes very specific, but passive, like “I’ll be at the Cake Shop tonight for a show, what’s up?”) and leave it at that.  Or the mass text asking what’s going on this weekend.  People seem to never respond to those.  The thing is that I would respond.  I would respond to every single query by a friendly acquaintance (I need a word for friends you can’t fully depend on but like to see) as to what my plans may or may not be, and generally would welcome their attendance.  So I feel like it’s ok for me to do it too; and feel bad when no one answers.

A would-be friend recently told me, when I straight up asked her why she hadn’t invited me to a potluck dinner at her place, that I wasn’t on her A-list and would have to try harder to hang out with her more before I could expect that kind of participation in her life.  The problem with that is I take that seriously (and I had been trying, in fact).  I feel like it’s my fault she didn’t want me there (2 closer friends of mine were there).  So where does that leave me? Desperately trying to do the right things that will make people want to invite me to their stupid birthday parties and dinner parties and concerts on facebook.  And feeling crushed when I’m not.  Even though I know that I’m both expecting way too much from people and giving far too little.

In the meantime I’m going to attempt to not visit facebook except to answer emails.  Good luck with that, me.

This is a fascinating article on friendship from some BBC magazine.
Where I go to figure out what I’ll be doing alone this weekend.

Days Can Suck

Well, so why does today suck, you might be wondering? Yeah? Ok… first, the medical bullshit.  So I recently got billed for my last visit to the stomach specialist, which was a follow-up to my upper endoscopy, which revealed I have acid reflux… The bill had a charge for a test that wasn’t done.  And now i’m wondering if I should report these assholes to my insurance provider, because they have cut me a check for the amount and they also put a nice toll-free number on it for reporting insurance fraud.  So I called the doctor to see how he would react.

And this is why I sometimes love but mostly hate this fucking city.  You are forced to constantly and actively fight for yourself.  It happens when you get a sandwich at a deli, it happens when you buy an apartment, and apparently it happens when you see a specialist about your recent diagnosis of GERD.  The other guy is ALWAYS testing your boundaries, trying to squeeze you for as much as they can, or trying to get away with doing as little as possible, and it can be a good way to build up some more aggressive skills.  But it gets OOOLLLDDDDD. Especially when people who are supposed to be taking care of you get pushy.

So the guy was like, “So what, it was like 3 dollars more?” And I’m like, no it was six.  But that’s not the point.  So he asks, “Well then what do you want to happen?”

Fuck.  If only I had prepared a list of possible ways they could make this up to me beforehand.  I wasn’t ready for him to put it back on me, but it’s a pretty classic maneuver here in the city, so I should’ve been.  Anyway, my response was that if i ever actually DO have to have this test done, they need to do it for free. “Ok, sure.” he said. “Is that all?”

Asshole.  Of course it won’t be that simple in the unlikely event that i really do need the test.  First off, I will have gone to a different specialist because I’ll be damned if I EVER go back to that prick.  Which brings me to the other part of that whole episode that has got me all upset: I called my general practice doctor to see if he had received all the test info from the stomach guy (the tests they actually ran) and the receptionist put my doctor on the phone.

He said, “Your guy left me a note about your endoscopy.”

Oh… yeah, he didn’t have much to say to me about it. -me

“Well, there’s a note, and it says…blah blah blah hiatal hernia blah blah”

WHAT?!  Hernia?!?!  Well they didn’t tell me about that.

“Oh, it’s relatively small, he says. Not worth getting fixed.”

So my “specialist” who I have seen twice now forgot to mention that there actually is a specific CAUSE for my acid problem.  ASSHOLE!  So now I’m not sure what to do.  Pay him or report him?  I’m leaning toward reporting him.  But that feels like a surefire way to land me some negative karma.  I’m torn.

In other news, facebook has started suggesting events that multiple friends are going to.  This seems like a good idea except in the cases where I wasn’t invited…. which happened today.  This chick i invited to my st paddy’s day thing next week (which i have canceled due to lack of interest…that empty page of attendees was making me fucking depressed) and who was at a party i went to this weekend invited basically everyone on her friends list EXCEPT me.

And I’m sure it’s because I made her friend cry.  Which I would go into but I’ve already beaten that horse to death elsewhere.  Basically, this girl likes me but I’m not rich enough for her so she keeps me at arm’s length.  She also has some serious emotional issues (having confessed to me once that she has cheated on every guy she’s ever been involved with).  And when she asks me my opinion on her situation I tell the truth.  I even candy coat it to protect her delicate feelings, but it doesn’t matter.  She acts like I’ve called her a terrible monster and gets weepy and righteously mad at the same time.  It happened at the party.  Her friends hate me now (again).  Life gets messy sometimes.