Archive | Etiquette Matters

Communion Waifer

I guess I’ve hit my fill of something, whether it’s the manic pixie paradigm or the malingering winter I’m not sure, but this broad has had it. Coming up from the subway platform at 14th street and 8th Avenue, we were all held up by a 20something waif decked out in gold slippers, a puff of fake white fur, and a tiny blond haircut who was leafing through a children’s library book as she glacially tiptoed up the stairs. She was so caught in a reverie of herself that she didn’t hear everyone’s “excuse me, excuse me” as they attempted to pass her. Finally, I tapped her on the shoulder: “You ain’t that cute, honey,” I said. “Get cracking.” Her face contorted. “F–k you,” she spat out. “That ain’t cute either,” said another lady my age, climbing by her.

I is for Insipid (in the Bowels of February)

My Jewish grandmother had a penchant for big words that began with “I”—so much so that I often wondered if her vocabulary class stopped before the letter “J.” Imminent. Immense. Impetuous. Inimitable. Indubitable. Inimical. Her favorite was insipid. She used that word a lot, always spitting it out with so much relish that it sounded like another of the Yiddishisms she brandished, frequently at my sister’s and my expense. (Look at those goyishe noses! They look just like their shiksa mother’s! ) Lately I keep flashing on it because it’s such a perfect term for what I find irksome about our culture right now. The emoticarnage, the tremulously hyperbolic headlines, the LOLs, the fake-it-til-you-make-it selfies, the definite article-laden titles for spouses and children (The Princess! The Heir! The Hubs!), the kooky animal videos sent to me by suitors who, in another generation, might have demonstrated the good sense to send flowers or chocolate. The proliferation of fake-earnest catchphrases like “can I just say?” “I can’t lie,” and, my least favorite, “so many feelings.” Not to mention the largely accepted tendency to deliver statements in singsong or as questions?

Though I embrace the particular cuteness of any being who tries hard un-self-consciously, I’ve always eschewed preciousness; never had much patience for aw-shucksiness; and would rather people say it than spray it, as the expression used to go. All this niceyniceness is enough to make a kind girl run to snark, at least in this seemingly endless winter. My grandmother was largely regarded as a pill—always picking, never hugging (hers was a hard life)—but she had a knack for calling out, er, mishegos. More and more I catch myself donning her navy pumps, fake furs, and smeary red lipstick, figuratively and literally. Because, really, insipid is the perfect word for these times. She was insightful, nu?

More Cat Lady Chronicles

My neighbor—who has held agonizingly long and agonizingly audible fights in Italian with her philandering husband at least three times a week for the entire time I’ve lived in my building—came up to my apartment this morning and informed me that I had to stop with all the thumping and bumping at night as the gigantesco noise was disturbing her famiglia. I nodded, perplexed. I keep very decent cat lady hours, after all. Then I noticed baby kitty Grace batting her toy with a studied innocence, and ye olde wheels started turning. It is true that my tiny, five-pound feline has been hunting and trapping her evil, evil enemy The Horrible Catnip Mouse with an unusual gusto lately. “At least she doesn’t chase big blondes,” I thought, and fed her a bit of fish.

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy