Posted by Elliot Steingart
Hanging out with baby boomers is always an adjustment since it’s not something I normally do for 36 hours straight. My parents arrived in LA over Christmas weekend to help decorate my new apartment and teach me the right way to hang pants on a hanger.
My mom, a vegetarian of sorts for the last 30 years, decided to give up chicken and fish for good, she informed me. She read a book by a doctor who claims that by not eating anything with a face and also giving up oils, you can prevent heart disease. This is the same woman who a day earlier sent me a youtube video of a man in the wild being fondled by gorillas. She would be in charge of hanging my collection of eight square mirrors I bought at Ikea above my bed.
My dad was in the bathroom hammering a shower rod over the shower doors. My job was to let my mom know if the first mirror was straight. Without measuring tape it was hard to gauge if the first mirror was centered, and even harder to tell if the mirror was straight.
After the mirror was glued to the wall my dad came out of the bathroom. “It’s crooked!”
There was no way to remove the mirror, but at least the shower rod was in tact. We managed to hang all of the mirrors on the wall thanks to my dad saying either “crooked” or “good” even though the difference between “crooked” and “good” was hardly good.
My dad interrupted our wall mounting by taking out a deck of cards and asking me to pick a card and then re-insert the card back into the deck. He made me cut the deck, haphazardly shuffled the cards and asked “Is this your card?”
Followed by, “Okay—is this your card?”
Next he placed a quarter in each hand and asked me to point to where I thought the quarters were.
“In both hands.”
He opened his fists and both quarters were under his right hand.
“Pretty good!” he exclaimed.
“Yea, cool trick.”
“He does this trick at the farmers market” my mom interjected. “He says, ‘if you can tell me which hand the quarters are in I don’t get a free sample. If you can’t, I get a free sample.”
My father is the kind of person who learns magic to get extra apple slices at the farmers market.
While at happy hour in Los Feliz I was reminded of a conversation that my co-workers were having about if they ever saw their parents drunk. Someone said that they remember their mom once drinking too much when they were a little kid.
“The last time my dad drank too much was the last time I saw him.”
It’s Christmas Eve and my dad is the only patron at this near empty bar on Vermont performing amateur magic for the female bartender to get an extra sample of Delirium Tremens.
In the middle of the night we awoke startled by the crashing sound of the mirror falling from just above my mom’s head on to the floor. The one night my mom stays over in my apartment she is mere inches from receiving a permanent facial scar. Was this my dad’s latest illusion?
In the morning, freshly recovered from her near death experience, my mom insisted we take a walk to Albertsons to buy almond milk. The cashier handed me a dozen “Win Big” instant savings coupons. I also bought a Bingo Lottery scratcher which I handed to my dad to scratch off with my house key. While my mom and I finished unpacking groceries my dad exclaimed, “You just won $500!”
“A Christms Miracle!” I exclaimed.
My mom verified the matching numbers and we headed back to Albertsons to redeem the winnings. After shutting the door I checked my pockets like I always do.
“I left my keys inside.”
“What are we going to do?”
“Who needs keys when you have $500?!”
High from winning the lottery I texted a girl I met two nights ago telling her I just won $500 and that I’d like to take her out the next night. We handed the winning ticket to the cashier who inserted the ticket into the machine, input the lotto # into the system and pressed a few other buttons.
The machine spat out the ticket.
“Not a winner.”
Clearly we had all the matching numbers. My mom, dad and the cashier all saw proof. The cashier tried again and achieved the same result. We decided to drive to the next closest Albertsons. My dad handed me the card back. I looked at the numbers just to make sure.
“B7…I28….N36… G50….” I paused then took a deep breath. “Where do you see G50?”
“What do you mean?”
“There is no G50. It’s G60! I didn’t win anything!”
Twenty minutes earlier I texted Tammy that I won the lottery and that I would take her out. Now I would have to spend money I didn’t have and tell her the only lottery I won involved instant savings on Pepperidge Farm.
As we drive up the hill to the Griffith Obersvatory my mom is emotional that my sister is mad at her and makes my dad call her. We are all upset we are locked out of my apartment. I haven’t showered since Friday and I’m wearing a hot dog tee shirt.
My apartment manager was celebrating Christmas with her family until 8pm leaving us most of the day left to explore Los Angeles on the one day nothing is open. We couldn’t agree on a movie and my mom vetoed Chinese. The magician who could not distinguish a 5 from a 6, suggested we go to the Hollywood Cemetery to see some of the famous people buried there.
“You know in LA we can see famous people who aren’t dead?”
Families were mourning their loved ones and my dad is asking for a map.
“Can you tell me how to get to Charlie Chaplin’s plot?”
From there, we took a scenic driving tour through Hancock park, discovered a German sports bar in Koreatown, my mom and sister made up, and we laughed recalling our misadventures over Pad See Ew in Thai Town.
Falling asleep to Christmas Vacation was a fitting end to an exhilarating Steingart Family Christmas weekend. After my parents left the shower rod fell down, and the next day at work I received a little Christmas bonus in the amount of… $500.
11.25.13 at 8:30 am | Learning code of conduct
10.28.13 at 9:09 am | Parents Meeting Girlfriend's Parents,and more
8.2.13 at 9:12 am | Guest blog written by my dad
7.24.13 at 9:38 am | Going home
6.25.13 at 9:36 am | The longest day of the year
5.24.13 at 11:43 am | Taking the Socks off
December 21, 2011 | 11:36 am
Posted by Elliot Steingart
“Elliot Steingart prepares for his biggest challenge yet,” begins HBO 24/7: ‘Steingart vs Himself.’
“I trained for my move to Los Feliz like Marquez trained against Pacquio, minus drinking my own urine. I prepared mentally, and physically to live on my own. I did crunches and asked the guy from Time Warner for decorating tips.”
The dawn breaks and we see an excitable Elliot Steingart waking up from his first night in his new apartment to the sound of church bells. “Ding, dong. Ding, dong. Ding, dong.” Probably, a one time occurrence, he thinks. One hour later churchbells sound again. “Ding, dong. Ding, Dong.”
“Thank you, father, but I’m trying to sleep,” he cries.
Now awake, Steingart returns to the familiar routine of watching a Netflix under the covers on his laptop. He watches “The Fighter” a film about “Irish” Mickey Ward. It’s a story similar to Steingart’s own upbringing as the youngest of nine children living in the shadow of older brother, Dicky his trainer, who once knocked down Sugar Ray Leonard, but has since fallen to the depths of crack addiction. Mickey’s girlfriend, Charlene is the brash redhead Steingart dreams of. Though he would not want Charlene yelling at his mom about how he doesn’t need throw pillows from CB2.
Channeling Mickey Ward, Steingart does two sets of 12 push ups. After which Steingart finds a note that is left under his door:
Are you going to church today? I’m at Danielle and John’s, need a ride to church. If you’re going please call me.
After hearing the church bells and receiving a hand written invitation to attend services, Steingart waits for a phone call from Pope Benedict to formally introduce himself to Catholicism. The good Catholics of Los Feliz are unaware that days earlier Steingart declined to participate in his office Secret Santa. Out of 15 co-workers, Steingart was the only onlooker. Co-workers viewed him as Scrooge. He viewed himself as Jew.
Steingart re-reads the note, and wonders why Rose would need a ride to church since church is two blocks away.
Meanwhile the fight begins, the inner struggle of how someone lives by oneself. Every fighter has those standing in his corner training him for the challenge ahead. For Steingart, his camp is as important to his success as Dickey is to Mickey Ward.
Ryan, his roommate the last three years, had left for Pittsburgh for a month when he received a text from Steingart notifiying him he would be moving out of the house.
“Do what you gotta do, bro.”
Steingart tried calling, but received no answer. It was not the way he hoped to break the news to his friend and roommate. When Ryan returned, his hair grew longer.
“You shouldn’t cut it. It looks good.”
“Your face isn’t as fat.”
“Thanks! I lost 9 ½ pounds on Weight Watchers for Men.” A humble brag, indeed.
It was Ryan who helped Steingart carry his queen bed up three flights of stairs, and move the rest of his belongings into the new apartment.
Ben, Steingart’s friend and second roommate the last two years, continued to serve as audio/visual consultant, unplugging plugs for Steingart, and teaching Steingart the basics of plugging speaker wire into a receiver, and fielded calls once Steingart could not do so on his own, and promised to come over and to set it all up.
Richard, the office manager at his company, welcomed hourly interruptions from Steingart.
“Should I buy the couch from Jennifer Convertibles?”
“Would you get Netflix or Cable?”
“How does this tape measure work?”
Over the last couple of months Steingart has relied on Richard to build a basketball hoop, retrieve his Blackberry contacts, check his car engine, hide a Slim Jim at his desk so he won’t eat it and take bets on college and professional football. Steingart was amazed by Richard’s skill set and ability to take his money. Steingart was the only person in the office approaching Richard at his desk at 9am by saying “Want some action on UCLA?”
When the two made a $5 wager on the Cotto/Margertio rematch it was Richard who bet on Margertio, a fighter with only one good eye. Steingart, a victor for the first time, was grateful for his friend Richard who drove all the way from Wittier to mount Steingart’s new television on the wall, and then hang pictures and configure his wireless internet network.
And his parents, the two people in Steingart’s camp who’ve stuck by him the longest, visited the apartment and persuaded him to sign the lease. It was they who called from Target in suburban San Diego.
“How big of garbage can do you need for the kitchen? Make a list of stuff you need an we’ll get it here since these stores won’t be open on Christmas when we come up to help you decorate.”
“Thanks to the people I depend on I am able to live better independently. There will be struggles. It will be boring at times, and sometimes lonely, but it’s nice to have strong people supporting me. Plus I can always go to Church.”
In the next installment of 24/7 “Steingart Vs. Himself,” Steingart wonders how the Jewish Journal will respond to his upcoming conversion to Catholicm.
December 14, 2011 | 11:55 am
Posted by Elliot Steingart
I’m like the Brett Favre of OkCupid, a grizzled veteran hoping for one last shot of glory. I thought I could reclaim some of the magic from my earlier days of internet dating. This time I think I’m calling it quits. As I prepare for retirement, and meet women the natural way (at bars), I’ve stumbled upon some gems in my OkCupid inbox.
Below are my favorite emails that I sent that never received a response. This is a tribute to the dates that were not meant to be, and to the women who were spared hearing about my search for futons.
*These emails have not been edited from their original form. Viewer discretion advised.
Spanglish is a great movie
Feb. 15, 2010 – 6:13pm
I actually do a pretty good Sandler imitation from spanglish. i don’t do it much bc no one i know has seen spanglish.
I would love to travel to japan some day. what brought you to LA? do you go back to Japan at all?
Mar. 12, 2010 – 4:49pm
are dream worthy.
what’s lined up for this weekend? anything besides dinner?
Sep. 17, 2010 – 3:14pm
Hope you have a great fast. If you don’t fast, hope you eat lots of great tasting food tonight at sundown until tomorrow at sundown.
Any exciting plans lined up?
Sep. 18th 2010
Hey, how’s your weekend been? any exciting non yom kippur related adventures? I broke the fast with jamba juice. I also didn’t fast. Are you a rebel like me?
Turns out I also perform comedy (stand up) and have a dog, Pippin (enjoys being pet and eating tortilla chips when i give them to her).
How’s your day going?
May 25, 2010 – 4:17pm
Hope you’re having a great day.
I’m also socially liberal and good looking.
lets talk soon.
What we have in common
Feb. 11, 2010 – 2:57pm
i also love vietnamese food. pho is my favorite. love how you can’t find a pho restaurant without a pun. do you have a favorite place to get pho? 9021pho perhaps?
Feb. 11, 2010 – 11:48am
funny spotting the birthright bus in your okcupid profile. how was your trip? what was the highlight?
recently saw pictures of my tour guide with another trip. felt like he cheated on us with another group of young adults.
hope you are having a good thursday.
Feb. 11, 2010 – 12:12pm
always nice to meet someone who is also not too serious about judaism. been there, done that.
hope you are having a great thursday. any big weekend plans?
None of these ladies were interested in meeting Mr. San Diego, but at least they know that I’m a non-observant Jew named Elliot who likes ethnic foods, lives with a dog named Pippin and had a rather lonely February 11th 2010.
The best I can do is learn from every email I send to unsuspecting women like the exchange below from this past week between myself and a young art school grad whose work I admire.
Interested in Art Work
December 8th 2011 3:22pm
Not sure if you got my facebook, but I’m moving into a new place and am in need of art work. i really like your paintings. do you have anything for purchase, and or could i commision something?
Dec 9th 2011 4:29pm
“Hey great to hear from you! I’m sure we could figure something out. What is your budget/ how large of a piece were you looking for?”
Dec 9 2011 5:19pm
My budget would be around $75—$100. I would need a horizontal piece something that is a decent size. I’m moving into a studio that isn’t huge and would love something nice to hang over my bed. I really like painting 4 and something that would reflect my new life living in the hills of Los Feliz. I love the idea of a glass house on some sort of hill overlooking the city at dusk and love the colors and feel of the painting I attached. Best case scenario is that I could have the piece in hand by Xmas. Do you think this is doable? I’d also love to take you out for drinks as part of the deal.
Dec. 12th 2011 11:16am
Do you think this is possible? I’m trying to map out how I’m going to decorate the place.
Dec 12th 201112:16am
“Hey Elliot, the problem is that I have pretty much sold out of everything I have made—my paintings usually sell for 2-4 grand.”
It appears I low-balled Amy by $4,000, demanded the painting by Christmas and then asked her out. So, sometimes the best response is no response. That is unless you write a response to not receiving responses in which case I’m fine if you respond. Just don’t write to Mr. San Diego because you’re not going to get a response.
December 7, 2011 | 11:56 am
Posted by Elliot Steingart
Before I move in to my own place I figure it would be good to practice spending time alone. I’ve had good practice as it’s been some time since I’ve been with a woman. That, and I don’t mind spending time by myself watching HGTV and listening to Warren Zevon and eating rotisserie chicken with my bare hands and wearing my Penn State sweatshirt. I am content participating in these stay at home activities, but in order to start my life I must visit retail chains, something I rarely do alone.
I prefer not to use the term “running errands” because I think of joining my dad on endless trips to the bank or dry cleaners. For extra cash when I was a kid my dad would wake up early on Sundays and deliver the New York times to 10 homes, no more than a mile apart in Squirrel Hill, our neighborhood in Pittsburgh. It took him so long he would deliver Sunday’s paper on top of Monday’s.
I was the only child who suffered emotional damage from the boredom of waiting for my dad to choose which tennis racquet’s grip he liked best. But then he bought me gummies or baseball cards and the world was full of hope and glossy images of Twins first baseman Kent Hrbeck . Back in the family Accord, we would play the “look alike game” during which my dad would point to someone who kind of looked like someone we knew and then say with great enthusiasm, “Look it’s Mike Tobias.”
When I sat shotgun he would let me steer the wheel until I veered too far left on Beechwood toward South Linden. He even tasked me with delivering the majority of the papers on the route when I was strong enough to lift a whole Sunday New York Times.
As an adult male with no dependents, I’ve thought about becoming a Jewish Big Brother so I can take my “Little” to buy toilet paper and look for futons. I’d even take him for a soda if he behaved. I’m not ready to look after a child just yet. I’m just beginning to look for futons by myself, like two days ago when I visited a local futon shop in West Hollywood.
“Were you the one who called earlier about Aruba?” Asked the sales clerk, the only indiviudal in the store.
“Yes, I was.”
“Welcome. Make yourself at home.” He said.
My temporary home was a warehouse full of beige futons. “This is Morpheus,” he shared.
I took a seat on this sharp, modern looking futon named Morpheus. “How much is this guy?”
“Usually $459, but today Morpheus is marked down to $389.”
Sitting on Morpheus was like sitting on the floor. “I think Morpheus is too low to the ground for me,” I responded.
“Did you want to see Aruba?” He asked as he guided me toward the kind of futon that’s only passable in a college dorm.
“You’re sitting on Aruba. It’s the same length as Jamaica, but it’s wider and there’s more head room.”
“Oh. Can I see Jamaica?”
“Right now we just have Aruba in stock. Jamaica is in West LA at the moment but we will soon have Jamaica in olive, mocha and chocolate.”
I looked back at Morpheus to avoid making eye contact with the sales clerk. Why was this chocolate colored futon named Jamaica?
And why was every futon in the store mentioned in the song “Kokomo?” Bermuda, Bahama, the only futon missing was Key Largo. I’m sure she was in West LA with Jamaica.
Standing right in the middle of all these futons seemed exciting before I began to imagine all the long, restless nights of sleep each of the futons would cause.
“Why don’t you lie down and try out Cabo?”
I nervously laid on my back and stared at the ceiling so I wouldn’t have to see a grown man watching me lie on an uncomfortable futon. I crawled in the fetal position and grew more self concious. I gathered myself and jumped to my feet. “Are all futons like this?”
“It’s just the way they are made.”
“Well, this is all good info to have. Thanks for your time.”
“I hope this helped give you a better idea of what you want.”
I walked aimlessly around Target looking for duvet covers. 300 threads? What do I need all those threads for? With my Kmart bedsheets I can count all the threads myself. I sat on the only futon displayed in the store and then inquired about a 37 inch television, and left.
These two errands on an empty stomach left me famished and yearning for my father’s company. There is no bond between father and son wasting time in a retail store. Even seeing a Stan Tucci look alike near the Best Buy escalator wasn’t quite the same.
I have no problems being alone, but I’d rather suffer with someone else.
Dad, I guess what I’m trying to say is—you’ve always been like a father to me, and I really don’t want to ever look for a futon again so please buy me a small couch for Hannukah/my late January Birthday.
Your favorite paper boy,