Posted by Elliot Steingart
It’s good to hear opposing viewpoints. It’s part of the reason I’m in a relationship. My girlfriend told me the name of the Hebrew God is Yahweh. I’ve been Jewish for 27 years and I’ve never heard of Yahweh. It’s worth listening to the other side even if the other side believes in Yahweh. It’s why I watched night 1 of the 2012 Republican National Convention.
I watched PBS’s convention coverage for fear if Mitt Romney gets elected we might not get the chance to watch PBS. He promises to slash its funding which I don’t think is right. If we could bail out Wall Street we should be able to bail out Sesame Street.
I lean left because my parents sent me to East Hills, a progressive magnet school located next to housing projects in one of the Pittsburgh’s poorer neighborhoods. Most kids got bussed out. We got bussed in. At first I thought this was some cruel joke. That is, until I started school and made friends with Jewish kids and black kids and even a child named Ayus born to a Canadian father and and Indian mother.
Our playground had a map of Africa. Together with my classmates, I ran through Kenya all the way to Nigeria and all the way back to Morroco for time out. Attending East Hills made me aware that not all my classmates had a mother and a father or a Gameboy.
At the time of the 1992 presidential election, Bill Clinton appeared on Nickelodeon. George Bush did not. When our 2nd grade French class did a mock ballot the only two people who voted for George Bush were Matt Glunt and Miss Jacesko. I still liked Matt. We played one on one in his driveway after school. He was just different from me. He liked Bush and I liked Clinton along with everyone else I knew.
I was a democrat because my my parents were democrats. Now I try to have my own political beliefs. I know I should read the ballot and research candidates more closely instead of voting for democrats simply because they great names like Phil Angeledes and Zev Yuroslavsky.
I’m the kind of liberal whose political beliefs are whatever the studio audience applauds at on Real Time with Bill Maher. Maybe I’m pro-choice, cool with gay marriage, and think the wealthy should have to pay a little more in taxes. I’m just not going to debate anyone with a different point of view. My friends are still my friends even if they vote republican. They are just a little different which is why it’s interesting to see what these people are like when there is an arena filled with them.
Watching the Republican National Convention is fascinating. In a way it’s like spying on the enemy. The convention republicans don’t look like the good natured republicans I know. These republicans look like extras in a Tim and Eric sketch. There are no Jews and the only black person is PBS corespondent Gwen Eiffel.
The republican speakers remind me of heels from WWF. Rick Santorum reminds me of Chris Jericho, brash, and ignorant to come across like he still has a chance of becoming the republican nominee. If only someone could hit him over the head with a steel chair to knock some sense into him.
Chris Christie is King Kong Bundy, the incorrigible buffoon. He does not have the charm of Mitt Romney, the Million Dollar Man. Though Romney has nothing on Ted Dibiase, only a similar bank account.
Romney, as some have suggested, does not have a defined persona. If what Anne Romney said was true, he seems like a great husband and a good businessman. I’m sure he is both, but I like the democratic party and PBS.
No candidate is perfect, but I’ll favor the one who plays basketball. President Obama killed Bin Laden, pulled back the troops and helped stimulate the economy, at least a little bit. Recently Obama bought beer for everyone standing in line at the Iowa State Fair. Romney wouldn’t do that. He wouldn’t even buy sodas.
Based upon the Republican National Convention, the best praise I heard of Romney is that “Under Mitt, Massachusetts’s schools were the best in the country.” Maybe it had less to do with Mitt and more to do with M.I.T and Harvard. How many African maps did he paint on the playgrounds?
The Republican National convention can cheer on Romney through dinks like Santorum and Christie and newcomers like Ted Cruz, a Spanish speaker running for senate and the guy who looks like Carlton Banks, but I’ll believe in Yahweh before believing in the republican agenda.
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August 22, 2012 | 11:48 am
Posted by Elliot Steingart
Addiction is a scary thing. In ninth grade I was mentally addicted to cigarettes for almost a week. I couldn’t stop thinking about cigarettes until I smoked half a Parliament Light and gave the rest to someone else. I’m lucky that I’ve never been addicted to drugs, alcohol, or anything that would require professional help. No one wants to see an episode of Intervention about someone who can’t stop checking JDATE. Also, dating is no longer a concern because I’m in a relationship, albeit with someone who is trying to kill me.
I’m now addicted to buying lottery scratchers. Getting help is hard. I can’t check myself into rehab.
“I’m here for scratching.”
“You mean cutting?”
“No, scratching lottery tickets.”
“Why are you in the psych ward?”
Scratching is exhilarating. The feeling I get from scratching is similar to an orgasm. I take slow and methodical breaths with each scratch so I can make the feeling last. I use my key to scratch vertically, horizontally and diagonally and after I finish all I want is to do it again.
I’m constantly tempted. It’s the main reason why I spend so much time at Albertson’s. For most people, Albertson’s is a grocery store. For me, Albertson’s is a casino. I buy chicken salad and bananas just so I don’t look like some kind of lottery junkie. I also do so in order to get cash back. Albertsons has crisp $5 bills, the kind of paper perfect for Strike it Rich, California Lottery’s most marketable scratcher. The commercials make me laugh, but the card makes me cuss. I’ve used God’s name in vain on Strike it Rich more than any other card. The top prize in Strike it Rich is $250,000. Do you know how many lottery tickets I can get with $250,000?
I started out playing less expensive cards like the $2 Luck of the Irish where a pot of gold gets you the big payout and $3 Silver and Gold where the more bars of gold you scratch, the more you win. These cards, like Strike it Rich, have eye catching names that reel you in with the hope that you will be an instant winner. These cards also have less favorable odds. According to lotterycrawler.com, California’s best paying scratchers are Take 5, Hot Streak and Mega Crossword. There are more available prizes and therefore more chances to win. Of course, I rarely find these scratchers at Albertsons nor have I had much luck with them. The last Mega Crossword I played two of the words I found were “lesson” and “bet” as if to say the lesson is not to bet. I was only one letter off from “potato.”
Even if my odds aren’t as good, I prefer a game like Luck of the Irish that does not mock me for playing. In that game it’s also easier to find a potato.
I’m more conscientious about which games have the best odds, but playing scratcher is not an economical investment, or at least it hasn’t been up to this point. I lose frequently, and feel frustrated. I feel like I’m a joke at Albertson’s. No one else gives his cash back as fast as he gets it.
I want to beat the addiction, but I also want to win a lot of money. My plan is to follow a few new ground rules. Moving forward, if I lose money on two straight cards, I take the week off. The next week I need to buy scratcher from a new location like the gas station or the liquor store. I’ll no longer play Strike it Rich and I will give Mega Crossword another chance. I’ll also be sure to ask for lots of scratcher for Hannukah.
I’ll also enter all losing scratchers into the Second Chance Replay. The odds are more favorable in Second Chance because a lot of players throw out their cards thereby excluding themselves from a potential payout.
While creating some ground rules about how I play the lottery might not cure my addiction, I hope it helps modify my behavior. If it doesn’t, I’ll have to scratch that idea and maybe start smoking cigarettes.
August 15, 2012 | 11:44 am
Posted by Elliot Steingart
I need to clarify that I wrote last week’s blog as a joke. Yes, my girlfriend and I quarrel from time to time. We both like to get our own way and that sometimes creates tension. My girlfriend isn’t trying kill me because she clenched my pinkie at Albertsons.
Then I read some of my blog comments, like this one from her friend Maggie describing my girlfriend as someone who “personally seeks out the site of the Hollywood Manson murders on Cielo Drive and and stops in front of the Black Dahlia house for a “photo op.” Sleep with one eyed open,” she suggests.
Dawn, her own mother, posted a comment. “Be careful of any long boat trips.”
Even an impartial reader named Jared noted, “Pretzels! Clearly she’s trying to kill you.”
Time is of the essence. I can no longer dilly dally and take the imminent threat on my life lightly.
My last will and testament will be short as I do not have very many assets. I leave my girlfriend my student loans. I have an automatic payment set up for the 13th of every month. It is a small price to pay for my murder, but I do ask that you pay on time. Please inform them had I known I would be paying off student loans this long I at least would have gotten a better meal plan.
I also bestow to you my collection of Albertson’s Sizzling Summer Giveaway pieces. Please first apologize to Javier from Albertsons about the time I asked him to explain to me the rules of the game and then a moment after asked another employee the exact same question. I did not hear what I wanted to hear the first time and was upset that I did not in fact win $1,000,000. He will understand. Please then ask him for an additional game piece.
You will need to sort through the many assorted pieces on my kitchen table. I am two game pieces away from a $1,000 gas grill and one piece away from a whole new backyard. I do not have room for a gas grill or a whole new backyard in my studio apartment. For these reasons, the gas grill and new backyard can go to my parents. I realize you have not met them yet and that you are planning on killing their son. My parents want to meet you. They are also forgiving. These gifts should help them forget about me as they enjoy the newness of the backyard and the fresh tasting garden burgers if they can figure out how to operate the girll.
I give my record collection to Rockaway Records in Silverlake.
My baseball cards will be endowed to Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters.
My pink shirt will go to the Jeff Griffith Youth Center in West Hollywood.
I wish to be buried in a Jewish Cemetary. I also want to rest in peace. Please make sure I’m in a quieter section.
I would like a simple funeral. Please invite some of my coworkers, my soccer team and family and friends who text me back only.
I would like my dad to give my eulogy. He has permission to share the sad news about the accident at the army base. The one in which a Jeep ran over a box of popcorn and killed two colonels. That is the only joke he can tell. I permit him to tell it twice.
I would like a picture on my grave so strangers knew I looked like National League MVP Ryan Braun. Underneath my photo you can include a few quotes as well, and name my place of employment. I accept the inevitable truth that my gravestone will look like my Facebook page. And like my Facebook page, few people will visit.
Individuals interested in making a donation can donate directly to the Elliot Steingart foundation, a 501C3 Non-Profit Organziation committed to reducing the age of acceptence into a Rated R movie from 17 to 12 years old.
I have never written a will before so I do not know the exact formalities for closure. It was a pleasure writing this will and thank you for reading. And thank you for not asking who will get my money.
August 9, 2012 | 11:38 am
Posted by Elliot Steingart
Any time you leave town you gain perspective. Since returning from my Pittsburgh trip, I’ve thought more about my relationship with my girlfriend. When you dig deeper you begin to uncover the hidden truths in any relationship.
I first dismissed her reckless driving, and grew accustomed to her love of watching television crime. My eyes have since opened to the reality that my girlfriend is trying to kill me.
I can tell she has been waiting for the right moment. After she picked me up at LAX, we enjoyed a romantic evening together. I showed her the pictures I took of the Allegheny County Jail and the 376 sign. We embraced and woke up to each other the next morning. When I awoke all the sheets were held tightly in her hands. Had I not waken up, I believe those sheets would have been used to cover my face and suffocate me to cackles of “Sayonara, Steingart!”
Coming home from work the next day I checked my mail to find that all I received in my absence was a week’s worth of Ikea catalogues and Albertson’s promotional coupons. If I could have, I would have fired my mailman. I nearly threw out my back from the strain caused by lifting the heavy stack of mail. Her plan all along. I finally unloaded the mail onto the bar area of my kitchen where I noticed something I had not seen before—a knife!
“What’s this doing here?”
“My knife is sharper. It’s easier for cutting,” she said calmly.
She prefers her butcher knife to chop her boyfriend into little pieces. She could easily cut me up, stuff my remains into a box and ship me back to Pittsburgh.
You can only pretend for so long when the evidence begins to mount. We agreed to meet at Albertsons for sandwiches before going to see Buddy Guy at the Greek Theatre. I visited the beer aisle and roamed past the chips and pretzels. I waited some more for her to arrive. Growing restless of meandering around the Angel Food Cakes, I ordered a turkey sandwich. After ordering, she jumped up behind me.
“You couldn’t wait for me to order a sandwich?”
“I was waiting for 15 minutes.”
“I came at 6, which is when you told me to come,” she retorted.
“It’s fine,” I assured her. “It’s just a sandwich.”
It was not just a sandwich. I looked into her eyes. In her eyes I saw the look of death. After she reluctantly ordered her own turkey sandwich she latched onto my hand. Her fingers clenched my pinky which was blistered from gripping my driver too tightly at the range. She knew what she was doing. In pain I yelled, “Ow! My pinky!”
The look of the death was the premonition, the grip of death, the execution. The finisher, the butcher knife waiting for me at the apartment. Why would she murder her boyfriend and what would be her motive?
I doubt money unless she wants to pay off my student loans. I have a sweatshirt that she likes, my grey sweatshirt from college. “It’s warm and comfy,” she says.
Murdering me for my sweatshirt seems petty. There must be more that she can gain. It has become clear that there is one thing that I have that she might very well want…my blog! “Some Reservations.”
She is a loyal fan encouraging me to write each week. I have appreciated her support so much I have asked her to write guests blogs. She first wrote “Dating Elliot Steingart” about what it’s like to date me. Out of every blog, this was the most highly praised, and I didn’t even write it. Her follow-up, “Still Dating Elliot Steingart,” was just as adored.
With me out of the picture she could take over “Some Reservations,” build a bigger following, and win her very own “Jewie.”
Yet, I’m still alive. In fact, most of the time we spend together is quite nice. She even bought me pretzels. Maybe I’m paranoid, but if this is the end, the last ten months of blogging have been important to me. My only regret is that I did not omit the word “Jewish” and simply tell people, “I write for the Journal.”
After she reads this, she might actually kill me.
August 1, 2012 | 11:42 am
Posted by Elliot Steingart
Earlier in the year I asked a date about her summer vacation plans. “I’m going to Hawaii.” She said. “Where are you vacationing?”
“The opposite of Hawaii—Pittsburgh.”
It’s no Hawaii, but Pittsburgh is home, and there is no substitute. It’s where I lived until I turned 17 when I moved to San Diego with my parents in the middle of my junior year of high school.
Before moving I made a list of pros and cons. A con was moving away from all my best friends. A pro was Mexican food. It was hard making friends at two new high schools. Since then I’ve tried keeping all the ones from Pittsburgh.
Ten years later Zach and Goldsten pick me up curbside at Pittsburgh International in Zach’s four-door 8 Cylinder Honda Ridgeline and drive me straight to Mineo’s, my favorite pizza place. While savoring each bite of the oiliest, and greasiest cheese pie found anywhere, Zach forced me to look at his phone.
“Will and I send these to each other,” he said as he flipped through multiple pictures of his own poop floating in the toilet. A whole photo album.
“This, I call the corkscrew,” he said showing me a log encompassing the entire bowl.
The enormity of Zach’s bowel movements made me cringe and cry from laughter, and never want to eat next to Zach again.
I’m not on the east coast often so it was important that I make it down to Virginia to see my best friend, Brad, now a second year medical resident. I drank a large coffee and a tall glass of water, and stopped to pee in every blimpie off the Pennsylvania turnpike. I had to pee so bad in Somerset I even paid a $5.90 toll to do so. I would have rather pooped to get my money’s worth, or at least taken a picture to send to Zach.
Brad was there waiting for me outside in the muggy Virginia heat. We gave each other a hug.
“Appreciate you coming down,” he said.
Brad took me to his local pool where he suggested we challenge three ten year olds to a game of water basketball.
“Let’s do it,” I said.
As soon as I got the ball, three rascals are jumping on my back, scratching and choking me. When it was my turn to defend, I put my hands up to block a shot and one of the kids started shouting, “Rape! Rape!”
“Yo! Don’t shout that.”
Not the southern charm hospitality I expected.
Brad showed his brother, Matt and me around Charlottesville where every block someone recognized the good doctor. Even when Brad wasn’t being recognized he would still make conversation. While throwing the football around campus a female carrying a clip board asked Brad, “Are you registered to vote?”
“Yes, I am.” he said. “And you’re hot.”
This kind of confidence led Brad to invite two different females out both nights I was there, and even allowed him to order another round of drinks after the waitress yelled, “Last call, ya’ll.”
Day two at the pool it was Brad who treaded water the longest and bested us in a walking race the length of the pool. During adult swim we played basketball for an hour and acted like the kids who we played with the day before minus the rape accusations. Matt lounged with a towel covering his head, I ate nachos at the snack bar and brad swam laps for 30 minutes. Brad was more laid back outside of the water during our final night, but did pause for a serious moment. “I have to ask you both a serious question,” he said to the girls. “How many vibrators do you own?”
Probably the least serious question in the history of conversation.
Back in Pittsburgh, my dad flew in to celebrate my Grandpa’s 90th birthday over lobster tails at my Uncle Steve’s house. I don’t see my grandpa often nor do I know the next time I’ll see him so it was nice eating lobster tails with him and taking pictures with all the Steingart men, one of those pictures that you rarely get the opportunity to take.
“What was your favorite decade, grandpa?”
“Because you were making babies?”
I took a picture of grandpa holding up the lobster. When I’m 90 I want to eat a lobster with my family on Beechwood Blvd.
I took more pictures as Zach and Goldstein drove me around the city. They knew I hadn’t been in town for a while because most Pittsburghers don’t take pictures of West Mifflin and the Allegheny County Jail. I wanted to remember Pittsburgh and the places I would never want to live.
It took the entire trip to persuade Ross, the boss, to join Goldstein, Zach and me for a day of Kennywood, one of America’s great amusement parks. My Kennywood geography was still on point. I could tell you how to get from the Jack Rabbit to the Potato Patch and peer pressure you to ride the Pirate Ship. It’s waiting in line that your friends remind you how in high school you used to walk around with a cane and play the spoons. Now I’m the guy who yells “Here we go, Steelers. Here we go,” during the first big dip of Phantom’s Revenge!
During my trip I saw old friends like Tanzer and Rudkin who I did not expect to see, and Ad Roc who agreed with Zach about how when I wear my glasses I look like Rachel Maddow. Zach called me a bike (boy dike).
Before I left every friend I saw called or texted to say it was good to hang out. It was not only good to hang out, but important. As the years get away from you, it helps to remember the real reason you love Pittsburgh, apart from the sports teams and pizza. The Burgh’ is home to the Steingarts and my best, and most loyal friends. And despite how old we are, we’re basically still the same, especially Brad and Zach. Definitely Zach.